“Your Online Office” at PCWorld

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Michael S. Laskey at the PCWorld has a good article titled “Your Online Office“. Some excerpts :

The sites clearly have something Microsoft currently does not: the ability to create easily shareable documents, spreadsheets, and calendars on any Internet-connected PC, regardless of OS–and without your having to install expensive software. After creating or editing your doc or worksheet in Google’s offering, for example, you can use one-click publishing to put it on public display at a unique Google-created URL. Or you can collaborate by sending an e-mail to workmates containing a link to edit a particular document. Both ThinkFree and Zoho offer similar sharing options.

All the suites largely mimic Office’s interface with familiar menus and toolbars, and create a desktop-app feel with Ajax (asynchronous JavaScript and XML). Largely credited as the magic behind the more interactive “Web 2.0″ approach, the popular Ajax style of Web programming means that users don’t have to wait for a page refresh after making changes, and it can also enable right-click menus specific to the online application instead of to the Web browser.

Though the online apps are currently lacking in comparison with Office, they’re developing fast. …one advantage of a fully online app is that you don’t need to download (or pay for) updates to obtain newly added features or fixes–next time you log in, they’re already there.

Zoho also offers fee-based products, including a “Virtual Office” suite with e-mail, documents, and calendaring that a company can run on its own servers, along with other productivity tools. The Virtual Office on-premise version is free for up to ten users.

The online suites that do stick around will no doubt continue to evolve quickly.

The online office apps from Zoho continue to evolve (followers of this blog would know it) and we have come a long way since we launched Zoho Writer Alpha in September 2005. Already there are students, teachers, lawyers, writers and people of all professions around the world using Zoho. If you haven’t yet, do give Zoho a try. You don’t even have to register as we have quick create and demo options for you to give a feel before you can jump into the online office bandwagon.

Children’s Day Celebrations

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For the non-Indians reading this post, a short primer. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was very fond of children and they affectionately called him ‘Chacha (Uncle) Nehru’. So Nov 14 his birthday, is celebrated as the Children’s Day every year in honor of him.

AdventNet is a young company and the average age is around 25. We have a lot many folks just into their 30s who have married recently & have kids (that includes me ;-)). And remember, AdventNet also funds the site named Jambav targeting children of all abilities and their parents.

So, with this background, hope you all can see how well Children’s day would have been celebrated. We chose Nov 18 (a bit late but then it was the nearest weekend) as the day to celebrate this year’s day with the kids.

There were fancy dress competitions, dances, song recitals, mimicries and much more. And the highlight of the evening was the amazing performance given by the kid drummer, Siddharth. He is a prodigy of sorts, having already won many an accolade not only in India but across the world. He is just a fourth grader and he had the crowd on their feet. Just watch him perform below.

Update : WordPress isn’t accepting the YouTube code to be embedded here. To see Siddharth’s performance, click here. (turn your speakers on)
Some snaps from the evening, of course as a slideshow in Zoho Show ;-)

As you can see from the snaps, we parents had lots of fun too! Looking forward to next year’s celebs already.

The Nintendo Wii Excites this Non-gamer

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A few weeks ago, I was in an electronics store, more to just browse around than to buy anything. I saw an inviting booth to check out the Xbox 360, so I decided to sit down and try it. After about 20 minutes playing or rather trying to memorize the A-for-this, B-for-that mapping, I gave up. A couple of 10 year old boys who were watching my effort, took ever, started playing the same game, and gave me one of those what-is-the-fastest-way-to-commit-suicide moments. Video game consoles are never going to be my thing.

The irony is that my wife works in the game console industry. She brought a Nintendo Wii home this weekend to play with. I wasn’t too thrilled to try it at first, but I was blown away once I did. The “wand”, which is a simplified remote/controller that you actually “play with” (so in a tennis game, you actually pretend that the wand is a tennis racket) is amazing. I could master it in a couple of minutes, and within 10 minutes, I was even winning (OK, I set it at the lowest possible skill level, I have to build up my self-esteem, right?) My father-in-law, who is 63, tried it, and he could do play passable tennis too. In fact, I got so sucked into it my hand started hurting after some time, because of all this waving this imaginary racket around. May be it detected that too because it gave a helpful “Time to take a break?”

Nintendo Wii is product strategy executed right. Rather than getting beaten in the ultra-cool-graphics pissing contest, they have focused on getting non-gamers into the market. From the first appearances, they have succeeded admirably. Great show, Nintendo.

You may have noticed the URL redirections …

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In the last week, you may have noticed that when you type in zohowriter.com it goes to writer.zoho.com. This is a change we are making to all Zoho services. The old URLs will continue to work, so your bookmarks, embedding etc. are all fine, because they are all redirected to the new URLs.

Why did we make this change? It turns out that both IE7 and Firefox 2 now don’t automatically log you in to zohosheet.com, if you are already logged in to zohowriter.com. Due to new security changes in the latest browsers, services have to be on the same domain. With this change, single sign-on should work smoothly in the new browsers now.

ToDo Lists – Inking them on Paper Vs Having them Online

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Anne Zelenka has a nice debut post at Web Worker Daily. She lists the advantages of having one’s todo lists on paper compared to having them on an online personal organizer. Liked the comment that one Mr. Peter Bell made there :

I used pen and paper for a long time and still do while “on the move”, but I find a simple Notepad/Textmate style to do list invaluable. Why?- I can always read my typing – not always true about my writing
- I can easily re-order tasks which I almost always have to do. Try re-ordering 30 tasks on a piece of paper – ten times. Then trying doing the same using cut and paste on a laptop . . .
- I can find tasks by keyword so I can afford to have plenty of “some day” tasks and just find them via search.
- I can easily save my historic “done” tasks – again for searching by project or other key words down the line.

The above’s true for Zoho Planner too. I have tried the yellow sticky notes before but it didn’t work for me. Too many of them cluttered my work place and I found them impossible to organize. All tools have their own advantages & disadvantages. Like you can use the Notepad/Textmate when offline (with Zoho Planner it aint possible) but you would need your laptop always for accessing them.

More document formatting options in Zoho Writer

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How badly have you wanted to set margins to your Zoho Writer docs? It is now there. There is a new ‘Document Property’ icon next to the ‘Print Document’ icon. Clicking on it will get you the document properties pop-div. You can specify the margins, set the font face, size & bg color. Note that if you choose to select some text within the document and apply fonts, it will over-ride the overall document settings (as it should).


When inside a table, the ‘Format’ menu now lists formatting options for cell/table.


There are options for bulleted lists too. Right click on a list and you will see the ‘List Properties’ menu item.


While using the ‘Export’ option in IE, it was sometimes blocking this function sighting security reasons. This issue has been fixed.