BarCamp Chennai – Day 1 Wrap-up

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Day One of BarCamp Chennai was a cool affair. By the time Ranjith & I were there, Kiruba was making his ‘Unconferencing the Conference: The Making of Barcamp’ speech. After the brief ice-breaking period (where Kit Kats were thrown all around), we started off with the presentations.

    
Ganesh presented Voice Snap, a voice messaging system which basically does asysnchronous voice storage & retrieval. The beauty is they can do it over the net, mobile & landline. Nice concept & seems there is some good adoption in India. Examples included Radha Krishnan, the mercurial Collector who uses it for receiving complaints from his constituency people, IOB (Indian Overseas Bank) using it for receiving customer calls, Indian Airlines using it for coordinating its Haj activities, professionals using it for legal/medical transcriptions etc.

Next up was Vinu who presented his personal/vertical news reader MyToday. Something like a public news aggregator. cool part is he has a Wiki where you can ask for your own vertical area which you would want to see of what the web’s talking about. And another good thing about MyToday is that it has a mobile version.

          

And then there was Vijay who spoke about his Project InfraNET. He has a big aim of giving all the citizens of India a number similar to the SSN. Nice thing is he’s looking for students to code his project. Arjun Ram’s news aggregator Taazza sounded well too. He is betting on his own algorithm that generates similar tags for like-minded news articles. The mshup with Google Maps was excellent. And there was Flickr integration too.
Could meet up with people like Prashanth Rai & J Murali during lunch. Prashanth’s been a regular Zoho Writer user & it was nice hearing how useful he found Zoho Writer for all the collaboration stuff he’s involved with. He promises to use Zoho Creator when he comes up with an application idea that he would really need. Murali who has his biweekly Netspeak column in ‘The Hindu’ (it would be great if ‘The Hindu’ archived all his Netspeak columns under a single page) was interested in Zoho as a whole – both in the technology front & as a company. As I was sick with cold, couldn’t socialize much :(. Hopefully the situation will get better tomorrow.

Track 2 in the afternoon had Amit Agarwal‘s ‘How to make money from blogs’. Think it was the presentation which generated most interest :). Being a full-time blogger himself, Amit had a few good tips to give of how to make blogging your profession. Though the bloggers were a bit apprehensive about making money from blogs (lots of ethical & moral talk), seemed everyone was interested in the concept.

      
Couldn’t be there for much of Rupya.com Ganesh’s ‘SEO & Google Adwords’ as Charles presented Zoho Creator in Track 1. Many had their first taste of Zoho & Zoho Creator did invoke quite an interest with the participants.

      
The above photos along with a few more can be seen at my BubbleShare account. Please pardon me for the poor quality of snaps as I’m new to taking photos.

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Portal 2.0

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The New Updated version of Netvibes supports Tabs (Zoho supports Tabs within a browser tab too) and offers multi-lingual support (German, Croatian and Hindi!). Is Portal 2.0 the next happening thing?

Pageflakes too, seems to be pretty popular choice of a Portal service. It is interesting to note that Google’s Personalized Home Page or Live.com are no where close in terms of their number of users. Not surprising, since the extent to which services like Pageflakes or Netvibes allow customization is much greater than what Web-Giants have to offer. For instance, Netvibes supports readymade modules for Box.net storage, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Del.ico.us, Digg, to name a few popular sources. Pageflakes offers modules for Zoho Writer, Alexa and even an Address Book.

While it is true that any number of feeds can be added by a user, the popularity of Netvibes and Pageflakes is proof that people want the service itself to come packed with a lot of features; proof that people want more.

Zoho Polls

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We are pleased to announce Zoho Polls – 100% free online polls.

http://zohopolls.com

- Are you faced with a lot of options and need opinion from others?
– Are you struggling to make a decision?
– Do you need to choose the right option?

Welcome to Zoho Polls. With Zoho Polls, you can create online polls (public / private) and share with your friends and colleagues to get their opinion. You can create a poll to either vote or to rate a set of options.

Create a voting poll when the user needs to select one option from a set of items. Examples: Who will win the upcoming elections? Do you think Web 2.0 is hyped?

Create a rating poll when a user needs to give a rating for each item in a poll. Examples: Rate the prototypes of our new interface, Rate the menu in today’s lunch, etc.

Features:

  • Public and Private polls
  • Polls to vote / rate.
  • Insert poll into your blog / website
  • Discuss / Comment on each poll
  • Tag your polls and search / discover polls based on tags.

Try it out and send your valuable feedback to support (at) zohopolls (dot) com.

Zoho Sheet is Live

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We are happy to launch the Public Beta of Zoho Sheet. Sign-up for your free account and maintain all your spreadsheets online.

Check it out at :

http://zohosheet.com

What can you do with Zoho Sheet?

  • Create and manage your spreadsheets online.
  • Import any excel spreadsheet and use it online.
  • Export your Zoho Sheet as excel / openoffice calc / csv / pdf / html.
  • Use any excel style functions (SUM, AVG, IF, 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, cell wrap and different alignments.
  • Copy Paste from external sources (excel, webpage, etc).
  • Copy Paste within Zoho Sheet. Formulas will be copied relatively. Very useful when you want to apply same formula for multiple cells.
  • Apply dollar currency or percentage formatting to your numbers.
  • Create Graphs / Charts to analyze your data.
  • Print Preview your sheets before printing.
  • Auto Saves your sheets every 1 minute.
  • Tag your Zoho Sheets. You can tag and find your (and other public) spreadsheets with ease.
  • Share your Zoho Sheets with your friends for collaborating on a spreadsheet and control their access levels.
  • Publish your Zoho Sheet as public for anyone to find it and use it.
  • RSS feeds for public sheets and sheets with specific tags.
  • Clone public sheets to your account.
  • URL APIs to view and import excel spreadsheets present on remote servers online through Zoho Sheet.

More info at our What’s New page.

Let us know your feedback which will help us improve. Send in your comments and issues to support (at) zohosheet (dot) com or use the Feedback link at the top of our pages.

Here is a sample screenshot. Click to enlarge.

We would like to thank all the beta testers for providing us some great feedback. Keep them coming.

Ramesh

Web Identity

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Om Malik’s blog carried a guest column on The Power of URLs.

As we all know, the URL is a powerful and extensible concept… it represents the most fundamental element of the web and it continues to grow in breadth and depth of its utility.

People rely on names or URLs in the blogosphere. And it doesn’t end just with blogs, for, podcasts, photos, videos, and as the writer mentions, profiles on social networking sites of a particular blogger too are being followed by readers or readers.
As a tangent,

Aggregation can now be customized, and it can be done by machine.

Most bloggers link their Podcasts, Videos, Comments, Tags pertaining to them and just about anything they’ve contributed to the web, and so blogs really aren’t just what blogs were intended to be; they are more like Portals.

So there is News, Commentary, Opinion and Links that stand testimony to arguments, Audio, Video and a whole community of several readers who religiously follow those. Astonishing what a few random alphabets are capable of!

Inventions & how societies view them

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Been reading “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond for some days now. Quite a fascinating book I should say.


Writing about the “Necessity is the mother of invention”, he gives some examples where the opposite has been true – like with the airplane, the automobile, the internal combustion engine, the phonograph & the transistor. Was surprised reading that Edison didn’t intend to use the phonograph for replaying music, it took almost 50 years (and World War I) for Otto’s engine to be adopted in a mass scale & how untrue it is to say that James Watt invented the steam engine. (apparently there were earlier designs & working models before Watt’s).

He then elaborates upon of how hard it is to persuade a society to adopt a new technology. Some good examples given are of the USA finding it reluctant to use transistors instead of vacuum tubes & Sony taking advantage of buying the transistor licensing rights from Western Electric and of Japan falling back to using swords even after guns being introduced there in 16th century. There has been cases of anti-engineering succeeding too like with the QWERTY keyboard.

If you are interested in knowing more about what makes different societies think/do this way or that, “Guns, Germs and Steel” is a real good book to read.

Issue with posting to Blogger.com blogs

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David Torke strives for saving & preserving Buffalo’s architectural heritage. David’s a regular Zoho Writer user using it to post to his fixbuffalo blog at Blogger.com. Got a mail from him yesterday saying that he’s unable to connect to his blog from Zoho Writer. Checking with the Blogger Status blog got us this :

Some users are experiencing problems creating new posts via our Atom API. We are working to get this fixed. In the meantime, you can create new posts via the web interface.

Thanks David, for alerting us & the Zoho Writer community. Zoho Writer users, please post to your blogger blogs through blogger’s web interface for now. And, do post your thoughts on Zoho Writer at the Zoho Writer forums. You can mail us too at feedback(at)zohowriter(dot)com.

Update: As David confirms in the Comments, the Blogger Atom API is working fine & you should be able to post to your blogger.com blogs from Zoho Writer.