Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Google Talk Guru!


You login to GTalk at any point of time and you'll find one friend always available online and who is sure to respond to your ping! Add guru@googlelabs.com to your GTalk.

Some of the things have definitely got simplified with the talk guru. Earlier you'd have opened a calculator for calculations. Now simply type in the chat e.g. 665775+8876. Result is right there in your chat box! Stuff which you'd have searched using browser (and of course Google search), now the guru can answer them. One answer at a time. Type 'next' for further result and so on.
























Currency conversion is also close to you now. Type in '50 INR to USD' and wow result right there (disclaimer from Google in addition to the result :) ). I only found that the talk guru is moody about returning results of word meanings. See below same word I typed after 'define' but got different results:




















You can get answers of many more things:

Sport scores:
score arsenal
Weather:
weather Nairobi
Calculate:
123 * 45
Currency:
120 KES to USD
Definition:
define laptop
Translation:
translate earth to French
Web result:
web Mount Kenya
Help:
help translate


Isn't this a cool friend? At least I feel yes for those who are online on chat most of the times.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Social Media Bubble


We've already seen one internet bubble boom and bust around year 2000. Investors were investing in the dot com companies without even knowing the cashflow model or vision of revenue. Unjustified amounts were being invested. Venture capital was available and being used in plenty.

Currently we see a similar situation. Lots of VCs are putting their money in and around social media. Even the apps which are built around any of those social networks have heavy investments. The case is true many a times in scenarios where these apps do not even have huge user base. You must have seen colored wheel in coverage recently. Yes I'm referring to Color. They've spent $350K on getting the domain name color.com and another $150K on getting colour.com. It'll definitely enjoy the benefits of coverage but actual users  do not have wow feeling toward its app (It'll improve is another story!). If say 2 years later they decide to sell off the company will anyone pay half a million just for the domain names?

There are many startups without a good number of users for their apps (and in fact apps too without creativity!) but with ample of funding with them. In this battle field of social media there are of course a few winners/leaders like FaceBook and Twitter. FB has been valued $75billion while Twitter $10billion. At least in case of FaceBook there is a revenue model. But what about Twitter? Will you have same enthu and affection toward Twitter if it is being populated by ads? Of if you are being charged as user or have to pay per tweet?? Still I feel we should exclude these two examples from our discussion. They are really popular, have huge user base plus people are addicted to them (at least as of now.....but a few years later will you be doing the same??). Let us talk about the mobile and web apps around these popular social networks. Will they be able to give the expected returns to their investors?

It is high time to recheck whether the valuations are realistic or over-hyped. Else this bubble will keep expanding and reach its elastic limit soon!!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Weekly Report (19-25 March 2011)


To begin with our week's tech report lets start with funding.
8thBridge, which is a social commerce platform providing customizable and interactive experience raised $10 million in series B funding.
STELLAService grabbed $2 million in early stage funding- STELLAService comprehensively evaluates and rates online businesses to highlight the best in customer service.
CrowdFlower got $7 million- CrowdFlower takes large, data-heavy projects and breaks them into small tasks that we distribute to an on-demand workforce around the world. Our technology then aggregates the results and controls for quality.

The big news in acquisitions area of the week started with the news of AT&T buying T-Mobile in huge amount.
Shutterfly acquired Tiny Prints, which publishes cards, calendars, invitations and other stationery stuff.
Gilt Groupe bought Decorati which is all about interior design and home decor.
Wallgreens acquired Drugstore.com plus all the sites owned by it.
Facebook bought Snaptu, a mobile app startup.
IBM is to acquire Tririga, real estate and facilities management software provider.

Oracle's net profit of third quarter 2011 jumped up by 78%. Big leap, congrats!

Orkut has come up with Like button. It is a 'like?' with a set of smileys to choose from!

Google has come up with new Chrome icon. With same color scheme and color arrangement the logo is turned to be a 2D one with no shine effect on it (I can draw it very easily on paper :) ).

Twitter completed its 5 years this week. Launched interesting video on its birthday.

LinkedIn crossed a major milestone of 100 million users this week.

Google released its first online magazine Think Quarterly http://thinkquarterly.co.uk/

Another evidence that Yahoo is trying hard to keep upto mark after new Yahoo Mail is now Search Direct. It is on parallel lines to Google Instant search.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Buzzwords- How Much and When to Use?


It definitely does magic sometimes. May be you don't even know something but its usage impresses audience. What is 'it'?? Buzzwords. Word of caution: Its overdose can annoy the audience and show void in you!

When you are new to the corporate world and a jargon falls on your ears you are bound to feel respect toward its user- 'This man has in depth knowledge and superb elocution'. As time passes you hear the jargon from everyone's mouth (even your HR using the same technical jargon! ..dumb struck?). Gradually you understand how much the person has real knowledge and how much is talk the talk.

There was a time when everyone right from director to lead was using OOTB. Think OOTB, do OOTB blah blah. In fact some context appeared invalid to me- how the hell is it about 'Out Of The Box'....it is a known methodology and we've to follow it, simple.(I'd started hating the word and also who ever used it!!) Too much of anything is really bad! 'Agile' is another such widely used word by anyone and everyone!!

You are in a common meeting, a meeting across all the teams and departments. If each one starts using buzzwords specific to their unit will the communication and hence meeting be 100% fruitful? May be most the times other teams have not been able to grasp the exact meaning. Possibility- a buzzword can mean something in your department while it can mean somthing different in other department. Just a possibility, possible right? Better use common language at common meetings.

Speech givers (rather speakers ;) ) limit the use of buzzwords in your speech....otherwise very soon your audience will start playing Buzzword Bingo!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Experimental features of Chrome

Chrome has a lot of features which are experimental. If you want to enable those features, simple type about:flags and a big list of features will appear in front of you. Side Tabs, Print Preview, Native Client, Web Page Prerendering, Experimental Extension APIs, Block all third-party cookies etc are my favorites. Here are the screenshots to give you an overview of experimental features:





Monday, 21 March 2011

New API Explorer

 Google recently released Google APIs Explorer, an interactive tool that lets you easily try out Google APIs right from your browser. The URL is : https://code.google.com/apis/explorer.


But if you want to play with APIs from various sources, Apigee console is probably the best  place for you. Here is a quick description from Apigee website:
"Apigee is for a new internet of APIs - where billions of mobile, tablets, and set-top apps connect in a web that has moved beyond the browser. Over 150 enterprises and thousands of developers use Apigee technology to make their APIs better."



Saturday, 19 March 2011

Weekly Report (12 - 18 Mar 2011)

StumbleUpon received $17 million in series B round of funding, which will be utilized to increase the core discovery technology and yeah job openings!!
Jumio which eases out payments on mobile received funding of $6.5 million in first round. Interesting thing is that funding has come from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
BoostCTR, the ad service, got $1.64 million funding.

Google acquired Green Parrot Pictures. It is a digital video company and motion based editing of video is its niche. Its technology is used widely in film industry. So can we expect enhancements to YouTube..or a totally new YouTube?
SuccessFactors acquired Jambok. Jambok is a social business platform that unlocks knowledge, expertise and ideas to make the workplace smarter. We make it easier for you to: Engage Employees, Enable Social Learning, Facilitate Communities of Practice, Rollout of Strategic Initiatives.

Getting to hear a lot of wow wow about recently launched IE 9 (but I wanna continue being with my favorite Chrome :) ).

Skype is providing free WiFi throughout Japan using Skype Access as well as Skype credit vouchers for free.

Twitter cofounder Biz Stone who is currently creative director there will be acting as social impact advisor to AOL.

Google AdMob which provides monetization tools for iOS, webOS and Android launched beta SDK for Windows 7.

New Google Analytics now has a completely new interface. Like iGoogle they have followed widget-based approach to simplify the UI. You can add multiple dashboards and each dashboard can have multiple widgets. Re-arranging widgets in your dashboard is very simple as it supports drag n drop.You can now set any event as a goal in Google Analytics.

There is a new version of iPhone app for Google.

Yahoo mail has got a completely new super cool interface. Check it out!

After seeing success of Groupon, Facebook has also jumped into the deals market. Refer the screenshots:


Friday, 18 March 2011

New Google Analytics

New Google Analytics has a completely new interface. Like iGoogle they have followed widget-based approach to simplify the UI. You can add multiple dashboards and each dashboard can have multiple widgets. Re-arranging widgets in your dashboard is very simple as it supports drag n drop.You can now set any event as a goal in Google Analytics.






Getting Paid for - Effort Or Innovation?


Now it is like a rule that once a company is founded may it be from any domain, it has to have its website. Few years ago when this unwritten rule did not exist and internet market was on boom each and every industry started going online. Everyone started entering into the process of changing manual tasks to computerized ones. This period of metamorphosis boomed the IT services industry. Getting a high profile and wealthy client plays a major role in success of the service provider company. There are many million dollar Indian companies in this sector at present. 


IT industry has grown, in size as well as from infancy to adulthood over the years. IT services is definitely a good area, it caters to specific needs. But do we want to continue getting paid for efforts and not for innovation? Does India give birth to companies like Google or Apple? We can take the outsourced product development to India or contribute to product development in MNCs in India. But can Indian IT companies give a product which is being widely used? As of now we must be have just a few, countable on hand number of products originating out of purely Indian IT company. Yes startups have contributed to the list of products which are being used world wide and there are Indian products popular on web like SlideShare. But the pie of these ones is too small compared to the total size of our IT industry. 


I agree that product development is in its childhood phase here. For startups it is a matter of prolonged wait period for achieving success, which means higher risk. Services is immediate money (money as per work/time) kind of business. If you have client and hence work then you are earning. It faces lower risk as against product development which is a matter of tremendous patience where you know success or failure only after the launch of the product. It is high time that we change our image from cheap programming cost to great innovators. 


I've heard many entrepreneurs say- 'we actually wanted to develop product, we've our ideas too; but to generate revenue we are into services. We'll start working on product once we get enough money'. I'm very curious to know and see really how many of them can migrate to product development! Is our ecosystem still not mature enough to promote working on something without ROI? Do we want to continue with time and material billing? Or we want to get paid for innovation??


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Intellectual Property- Whose Is It?


Many of us want to contribute to some project or publish work individually apart from office work....but mostly without leaving our jobs! Do you even know your employer can claim intellectual property right over such work of yours? You might argue that you used none of your employer's resources, not even your time at office; then how can the employer claim such rights. It is high time to know your agreement with your company.

Some companies encourage employees to do stuff of their own. They even grant them the so called 'bench time' when asked for. Sounds exciting, huh? Read your offer letter or agreements signed so far. You might find statement to the effect that company will own IPR on such stuff. In some cases they own IPR on anything that you do while you were employed- so may it be your weekend or your time at home! You must be feeling extremely discouraged if you are getting to know for the first time. But rules vary from company to company, country to country and state to state. So no defined solution for this. One easy way out is to get things clarified and understand the agreement even before you join them. This might be a theoretical solution and not a practical one. You might not have even thought of doing any work beyond the office work. Decently talk to your manager. Preferably do not launch anything that might compete with any of your employer's products. Despite requesting your employer if you do not get a no objection for your work, extreme solution would be to quit. Hopefully you won't have to encounter such scenario. If your employer owns everything that you do in non-office hours you can very well explain that they own anything and everything done by you....say a virus by you floating around :)

It is ideal not to use any of your employer's resources- say computer, time or even internet. All set to own intellectual property of your innovation?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

HTML5 Pointers!

It's a chrome extension which offers a nice collection of HTML5 resources.

You can customize the resources. Right click on the extension icon and select 'Options'. Options page will appear. Select/unselect the checkboxes against the name to make it appear/disappear in the list. You can also add a link not listed by default. Add links and names for them in the 'Custom Links' section. Select the checkboxes against them and click on 'Save'. The next time you click on the extension icon you'll find your customized set of links available!






Here is the link to download:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/aoppafgebigncioehnmdmljdmjiipigk


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Viewers'/Readers' Choice

I'm excited to see and share the same with you- page views > 1 lac !!  Here are the stats:































Hoping readers would contribute equally on sharing their thoughts(comments) some time :)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Weekly Report (5 - 11 Mar 2011)

Twitter changes terms and conditions on API usage : They don't want you to compete with them on Twitter clients.


iPad2 Launched- Thinner. Lighter. Faster. FaceTime. SmartCovers. 10 hour battery.



LinkedIn Today : News aggregator for LinkedIn users.




YouTube acquired Web video production company Next New Networks.


Google acquired BeatThatQuote.com. From John Paleomylites (MD of BeatThatQuote.com) :
"7 March 2011 - BeatThatQuote.com today was sold to Google for GBP37.7 million. We think this deal is a tremendous opportunity for our company to develop new and innovative options for personal finance in the UK."


Personal Blocklist (by Google) : The personal blocklist extension will transmit to Google the patterns that you choose to block. When you choose to block or unblock a pattern, the extension will also transmit to Google the URL of the web page on which the blocked or unblocked search results are displayed. You agree that Google may freely use this information to improve our products and services. Here is the download link:


https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nolijncfnkgaikbjbdaogikpmpbdcdef




Enjoy a completely new experience with VentureBeat posts.
>> Its a real chrome-app and not just a bookmark.
>> VentureBeat posts are presented in the form of a wallpaper.
>> Mouse hover on the images will display the title.
>> Click on image to read its full article.
>> Share your favorite VentureBeat posts on facebook/twitter etc.
>> One click access to various sections like ENTREPRENEUR CORNER, MOBILEBEAT, MEDIABEAT, SOCIALBEAT etc.


This chrome app is made by a VentureBeat fan and is a gift to all VentureBeat fans. Here is the link to download this app:


https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cmnamfmhlboefhcfjkanmpfjpfkcefgl




Google chrome is getting better and better with speedy development. We'll soon cover the new features of google chrome 10. Stay tuned!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Weekly Report (26 Feb-4 Mar 2011)

A service which lets a group send messages, share photos and updates; Beluga has been acquired by Facebook. Best thing: available for android as well as iPhone + totally free!!! Disney acquired Rocketpack, which gave first HTML5 Facebook game.
Kuliza acquired GizaPage which pulls real-time social media content into your website. Both are Bangalore based companies.

Egnyte, which provides business-class online storage solution at a cheaper cost received funding. The company developing Family Village yet-to-be-launched Facebook game, Funium secured funding; expected to launch in coming 2-3 months. DynamicOps grabbed good amount. Its softwares automate the delivery of IT services and has cloud automation. ProspX- a collaborative platform for insurance industry, received funding in series B round. Syncapse which provides social media management services and product got funded.

To talk about new products there a lot this week. Lets discuss a few of them. Cooliris has come up with cool immersive 3D ads for iPad in partnership with InMobi. Similar ads for iPhone and Android will be launched soon. Good thing is the ads are very light-weight and interactive. Mobile payments startup Square will be processing $1 million mobile payments everyday..very soon. Noteleaf service has been launched. It enhances Google calendar for entering more info and sends you notification as a text message on mobile with all the info just before your scheduled appointment. Apple CEO introduced iPad 2....I'm keen to see how the market responds to this new device! Microsoft's search engine launched Bing Deals for mobile as well as PC.

About 1.5 lac Gmail users were stunned to see their emails attachments and chat logs missing. Finally got recovered.

While I was still engrossed enjoying the new Google Recipes(you can opt not to go for certain ingredients!), Google introduced new Google Profiles.
Google Recipes-


























New Google Profiles-





















Another interesting feature the search is providing now is social search. Have a look-


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Recommendations

A few years ago if you'd have heard the word recommendation you'd have assumed that the person is looking to pursue higher education and applying to universities. So much has changed since then. We've travelled from friendly testimonials to recos, initially because of social networking sites and now professional networking sites. Now asking for reco is not restricted to seeking admission in a university or job. We are beyond this. If you are asking for reco on LinkedIn does not imply that you are looking for job change. May be you want to make your resume look good or get words of appreciation before a person forgets you ;) Reasons might be whatever but experiences must be similar and plenty!

How often have you got a recommendation within a few days after you request for it and that too without any re-re-reminders? Very rarely this is the case! People can read, chat, spend time on networking sites. But when it comes to writing a reco...the most difficult part. Or is it that writing good about someone is a difficult part ;) May be yes. Case is similar to writing comments on a blog; if folks have to say it is yuck then plenty of comments...to say wow- hardly any! You may even receive response- 'first you give me reco then I'll give you'! Got any reco without you requesting for it? If you are on a high power(management ;) ) position then this must be usual(subordinates keep giving without asking)....if no then situation becomes interesting. Firstly you are glad to receive and accept it. After some time thought starts to crawl- does the person expect the same favor in return? You are clueless and don't know whether you should have accepted it or not :D

Ask for recommendation from a person who has feeling of self-importance(unwarranted!). He can simply opt to not reply or divert the topic if he doesn't want to give reco. But no, despite that he'll call you and something to this effect- 'My reco carries a lot of weightage, so I don't go on distributing it. I give it to the really best ones'. Ha ha, he got one more chance to beat his trumpets and fill more void to his self-importance feeling!!

If a person needs your recommendation and you had not found him as a bright person or may be he was forced to resign then what? You can keep the recommendation concise, mentioning only the good points you'd noticed about him (I'm sure every normal person will have something good!). That will retain credibility of your words and will also maintain relations healthy. Sounds fair?