Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

From the Ask Jack (Jack Schofield @ The Guardian) Column

June 19, 2008

Sharing words online, via Word documents

I work collaboratively with a group of colleagues. We wish to work on a common Word document hosted online. Andy Godden

JS: There are several online word processing systems that will enable this, as long as you don’t require too much compatibility with Microsoft Word files. I think Zoho Writer is probably your best bet (, but ThinkFree, Google Docs and Adobe Buzzword are also worth a look.

Liked the way Zoho Writer got precedence over others! Are you using Zoho?


Facebook & Its Apps

May 3, 2008

One of the TechMeme stories now is about most of Facebook’s apps being useless & the consequences of it. Nick O’Neil at allfacebook writes,

I’ve been wondering myself if Facebook would eventually start removing inactive applications and more spammy applications from the application directory. In my own opinion this would provide for a better user experience given that navigating 22,000 applications is not very feasible.

Do you think Facebook should start removing spammy applications from the platform? What changes do you think should be made?

Facebook apps are in a way similar to blog sites & their relationship with Google Adsense. Just like Facebook’s most apps being ‘fun’ ones, so are most of the long tail blogs – either splogs or scrapper sites, are inactive or have very few visitors. But as Google needs to keep these blogs for maximizing its returns, so does Facebook have to keep as many apps as possible. Tough rope to walk then for Facebook to clean up apps, be friendly with as many developers as possible and at the same time give its users a good user experience.

Vasanth Sridharan at Silicon Alley Insider,

Who benefits? “Good” app-makers and app-marketers, obviously, as well as Facebook, which gets to unclog its system. Oh, and it’s good for Facebook users. Because with 23,000+ apps on the site, it’s hard to find ones you want to use, whether or not they’re actually useful.

But this is most beneficial for app factories like Slide and RockYou, who should be able to consolidate their already substantial lead.

If we apply Pareto’s rule, the top apps belonging to Slide & RockYou already should be taking in most of the traffic. Slimming down the 22,000 apps will increase their share marginally. So, while the cutting down of apps will definitely benefit Facebook users, it’s a dilemma now for Facebook itself. My prediction : they may cut just a few very spammy ones.

Facebook should be providing a default set of best apps from across categories to choose from when a new user joins (not sure whether it is already there), something similar to what Netvibes (modules) or Bloglines (feeds) does. Give more importance to productivity boosting apps and such. And encourage top app providers like Slide & RockYou to produce really useful apps in categories other than ‘fun’.

On Businesses embracing Office/Sharepoint, shunning Vista

April 3, 2008

Ben Worthen has an interesting post at the WSJ blogs titled, “Businesses Embrace Office, Shun Vista” pointing to a recent survey done by Forrester Research. The following paragraph caught my attention.

Businesses are moving to Office because they want to use another Microsoft product: SharePoint, software that helps workers manage and share information. Eighty-seven percent of the businesses Forrester surveyed say they’ll buy SharePoint within the next 12 months. Collaboration is hot these days, and SharePoint gives information-technology departments a tool they can offer as an alternative to Google Apps, Zoho, MySpace or whatever other technology workers find on their own.

A couple of inferences from the above. 1) It is Sharepoint as an alternative & not the other way around. And 2) 87% of the businesses  (the ones who are in charge of buying software for these businesses) are to buy Sharepoint inspite of their employees finding on their own & using Google Apps, Zoho or other new technologies.

Writing a book : Google Docs Vs Zoho Writer

January 24, 2008

Philipp Lenssen has a very nice post about his experiences with writing a book using Google Docs. A cool initiative indeed showing how an online word processor can be used for a big project like that of writing a book!

From his post,

The base document we’re working on is the outline. It’s a linked table of contents which helps us to organize the broad shape of the book, and also see the status of progress. I’ve bookmarked the outline in Firefox and added a keyword shortcut within the bookmark properties, so to open it I just need to type “gohacks” into the browser address bar.

Each document/ hack uses the basic same template. I didn’t use the default Google document styling because I don’t like the overlong line lengths it creates when you use a full-window browser, so I added a <div> wrapper using the “Edit HTML” tab.

I don’t want to manually type Brian’s email address all the time in the “Invite people” dialog, so I’m just typing “Brian” and then hope for the auto-completion dialog to pop up. Now, Brian doesn’t use a Gmail address as his main email so I’m usually writing to his O’Reilly address. This makes Google Docs wrongly assume that it’s not necessary to show that Gmail address of Brian in the auto-completion dialog.

While glad to see the clever hacks he uses (I like the Firefox bookmark one!) to overcome the shortcomings, can’t but wonder how easier it would be to use Zoho Writer instead. Especially since Zoho Writer supports Zoho ID auto-suggest while sharing, margins, headers/footers, offline editing based on Google Gears, and footnotes/endnotes which have just been announced (very useful while writing a book, I believe). And I’m reminded of this post as well, which while being very limited compared to Philip’s excellent tips, can be of help too to budding writers thinking of using an online word processor for penning their books.

All said, Zoho Writer being in Beta & in rapid development like Google Docs will have its own quirks.

Disclaimer : I work for Zoho

On online privacy & safety of documents

November 23, 2007

While an average netizen finds it a huge convenience to have online email accounts, do credit card transactions, take money from ATMs, do online trading, have their savings bank accounts online, it is baffling to see the question on privacy and safety of documents online alone arise repeatedly. May be it is due to to the very long standing norm to have everything on one’s own laptop/desktop. Any other plausible reason for this unreasonable fear?

Thanks to this Narain’s post & the question from Manian in the comments which triggered this post. : Afternoon session, second day

October 7, 2007

Some lively discussions as we moved from the presenter-audience mode. Anyone who had questions aired them and there were experts in the audience answering them. Obviously, Google had the most questions. Next on is a discussion between what companies expect out of SEM/O agencies. CEOs of Sulekha & Bharatmatrimony in talk with Vivek (communicate2) and Rajesh (Position2).

Yet another presentation from the pinSTORM folks

October 7, 2007

That’s the third one! And the topic is ‘Search marketing on steroids’. More marketing talk following  Vikram’s on what efrontier was doing. But it is nice to know what the PPM companies do behind the scenes – the tech & methodology being followed basically.

Complexities in PPM

October 7, 2007

That’s what Vikram is talking about now. And his company Efficient Frontier is taking a new algorithmic approach for the optimal performance of a client’s PPM campaign. Second day starts

October 7, 2007

Ratan K K from pinSTORM’s got a intriguing title – ‘Song and dance for a click’. Says internet spend in 2010 will be $44 billion and 23 will be from search. : First day sessions come to an end

October 6, 2007

A nice quiz brought the day’s proceedings to an end. Actually, there ‘s much more planned for the whole evening – party & dinner at a cool karaoke coffee pub. Hmm, gonna miss that one 😦 Will be back tomorrow morning.