Doodles galore at gapingvoid

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Logging into Bloglines today what do I see but the number 36 next to gapingvoid! Clicked on the link thinking it’s the usual Bloglines bug of getting older/read items only to find it is otherwise. Hugh’s on a catooning spree (thanks to his new M-Tablet PC) for the last 24 hours & I liked the following doodles.

Zoho Sheet Private Beta Launch

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We are pleased to launch the private beta of Zoho Sheet, an online spreadsheet application. If you want to try your hands on the Beta, provide your email id at http://zoho.com/sheet and we will send you the invite.

Features currently supported:

  • Create web spreadsheets (zoho sheets) and manage them online.
  • Import any excel spreadsheet and use it online.
  • Export zoho sheet as excel / html.
  • Use any excel style functions (sum, avg, etc). For autosum alone, we have provided a quick button on the toolbar. For the rest of the functions you can type in the formula. Note: All formulas start with an = sign.
  • Format and decorate your cells with font styles, colors and different alignments.
  • Copy Paste from external sources (excel, html, etc).
  • Copy Paste within the zoho sheet. Formulas will be copied relatively. Very useful when you want to apply same formula for multiple cells.
  • Tag your zoho sheets. You can tag and find your (and other public) spreadsheets with ease.
  • Share your zoho sheets with your friends and control their access levels.
  • Publish your zoho sheet as public for anyone to find it and use it.
  • Feel the same user experience as using excel.

Zoho Sheet Screenshot

More features such as charts, multiple sheet support, etc, are coming soon. If you would like to see any specific feature in it, get back to us at support (at) zohosheet (dot) com.

Coming Soon, Zoho CRM 5.0

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It is time for the next grand release at Zoho. Zoho CRM 5.0 is to be launched soon. The speciality being it will both be offered as a hosted service & and as a downloadable product.

If you are outraged by the $60+ per user per month that other CRM vendors charge or if you are a small company with just a 3 member sales/support/marketing team, Zoho CRM is for you. We are to offer Zoho CRM for Free upto 3 users & to charge a very nominal $12 per user per month. And the downloadable version is to cost $495 for 5 users.

Salient features include

  • Sales force automation
  • Customer support & knowledge base
  • Workflow rules for managing tasks
  • Easy mass mailing for email marketing
  • Campaigns for planning your marketing activities
  • Order Management for managing quotes, orders & invoices
  • Easily customizable through drag & drop

User feedack for Zoho Planner

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Thanks to Dion Hinchcliffe giving Zoho Planner this award, Zoho Planner has found some very good audience lately. It has been praised highly and invariably compared against Backpack & RTM. Some comments from users below :

From Gaston Garcia of HermanoBrother :

Hi, just writing to tell you that I’m loving this.

I had used backpackit by 37 signals, but then it’s got all the pricing things. And also, the fact that I can have calendars all around in your application is great.

The effects are also balanced and very useful.

One thing though: in Firefox 1.5, on Windows XP, while I write, I can’t see the cursor blinking.

From Terence Reis :

Awesome work. Now if I can just get past the default factor I am really tempted to change Zoho for Backpack.

From Ian Tromp :

Is it possible to switch to European date formats – 22/2/06? Great looking product, which might just see me switching from RTM…

Thanks to all the passionate users using Zoho Planner & for all the feedback you had been giving. Coming to the feature requests, the most important one that everyone’s been requesting is re-ordering of ToDo lists. Yes, we now know how important that is. We are working on it & it will be available soon. And there are other requests like RSS feeds (Dion’s request too), having Zoho Planner remind you through SMS & GTalk, having the European date format (as Ian Tromp wants above), supporting a mobile version, single sign-on with Zoho Writer etc.

Of bugs, the most cited one is the blinking cursor not visible in Firefox 1.5. Others include images not resizing properly, many of the Wiki syntaxes not working & updating a page using emails not happening.

We are working on making Zoho Planner bug free, feature rich & still more usable. Not sure about us keeping our promise? Read what Ismael Ghallimi has to say of Zoho Planner :-)

On Fanatics, from Firefox

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Firefox Marketing Community Website, Spreadfirefox carried this (via) article relating to loyalty to a company and fanaticism sometime back.

In my opinion it’s ridiculous to have “loyalty” to a company. I base my evaluation of products only on their own self-worth and merit as a product, and not on any pre-conceived opinions about the company that develops it or distributes it.

Its not always loyalty to a company or organization either. It could simply be that someone has a high opinion of a certain peice of software because they have always used it, and haven’t had any appearant problems with it.”

Zoho Writer on various internet appliances

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It always comes as a surprise when people try using your product in ways you didn’t expect them to. Though we had intended Zoho Writer to be used on desktops and laptops, that too on IE/Firefox/Mozilla browsers, we get interesting user feedback. Sample these :

This one’s from Warren T of Houston, Texas:

Let me give you some background. I recently purchased an MSNTV2 internet appliance for a friend who is going to have surgery soon, and will be out of action for some time. Read: Not able to sit upright at a computer. Anyway, I was thrilled to find your software and had planned to have her use it to edit our CBT scripts from her propped up position in bed. (We all work in multimedia CBT production).

When I signed up for the account, I did it from a desktop PC. Later, I signed on to Zoho from the MSNTV2 device and all was well. I started a new document and was typing along. Then, I hit a return (enter) key. That triggered a keyboard sequence signal that immediately shut down the MSNTV2 device and caused it to reboot. Tried it many times. Same thing.

Don’t get too upset. I’m absolutely certain the problem is with the MSNTV2 device, and not your software. I am merely providing this feedback in the event you encounter this issue from other MSNTV2 users. Too bad that it wouldn’t work. MSNTV2 offers something they call a word processor. Ha ha ha ha. Unfortunately, you can’t save the document you create. It’s weird. You have to sign on to an HTML page and enter your text between the and commands on the screen. Your only choice from there is to print it.

Your product is a natural for people that use internet appliances. I hope that Microsoft’s MSNTV people will fix the problems the unit has with certain protocols or someone will come up with a fix. I have some ideas of my own but no time to work on them.

One final piece of feedback. I Googled and found Writely. I setup an account with them and their device fails on the MSNTV2 before you ever get to the part where you create a document.

Moving away from MSNTV… (phew!) In terms of a software being a good idea, I think you-all are really on to something useful and that has loads of potential. I have already shared with my regular desktop users at work the ways which we could use it.

And Andrew Turner of High Earth Orbit tried Zoho Writer on his Nokia 770 Tablet

I was checking out a certain internet tablet and was wondering about the ability to write, share, and collaborate on documents using such a device. I imagine being in a conference, or meeting, and having a small tablet in which I have my own notes and share with others.

Zoho Writer at first seems to work well within the embedded Opera browser, but doesn’t actually let you view or edit any of your documents. The interface is there, but no one is home. I assume Opera isn’t handling some of the Javascript calls for displaying available docs or the editing toolbar. Also, Zoho even on a desktop has the annoyance of not automatically saving. Therefore, you can be halfway through a new document, click a document from your library on the right, and the doc you were working on is gone. Yay, loss data – I’m always a fan of that.Update: the developer of Zoho is aware of the issues regarding Opera/Safari & the possible loss of data when changing documents (there is apparently a 45 second auto-save of documents) and they are working on updates.

So, the result? Online, collaborative, sharing document editors are quickly rising, and there are no extreme barriers to entry on the bandwidth or technology front. Now comes the hard part, developing good, consistent User Interfaces, stability, and hopefully a little love from the community.

Not to mention, folks who want a mobile version of Zoho Writer (so that they can post to their blogs!). Sorry to disappoint you all. I believe Zoho Writer will support as many internet applicances as possible in the near future. And thanks to Warren T, Andrew Turner & the countless others who are out there trying out in Zoho Writer in every possible internet applicance having a browser screen!

Instant Messaging: Simplified.

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A few days back, I remember writing this. Then, Meebo announces a Single Sign-on, amongst other things. (via) The problem of Gtalk not having an Invisible mode seemed to bother a few people, but Meebo settles that issue. Also users having several accounts with the same IM service provider – say 3 Yahoo accounts each having a different list of contacts, a Meebo user can sign in to all of them simultaneously (and invisibly, if necessary). The tool tips indicating user status is pretty cool – instead of having an indecipherable icon (say, for “Timed Out”) and a truncated Status message. People love to customize that field, and it’s often a sorry sight to see a long status message (and people’s creativity) getting truncated due to space constraints.
The best thing that could be said about Meebo’s new set of feature release is that Sign up is a simple three step process – no activation or other irritating procedures. Much like our own Zoho’s Sign Up, which requires only three fields to be filled and no e-mail based activation. Like they say at Meebo blog, not having e-mail verification or complicating the Registration procedure is way of building friendship with the users. If there are two services with similar features, of which one has a lengthy sign up process and one doesn’t, people would rather save time and key strokes by signing up for the latter.

From the response they’ve been getting, it looks like Meebo might be the next thing that Corporate Firewalls will target. :) Add Conference Calling/ Group Chat facilities inside Meebo, and it could be one of the most chased after web based service in recent times.