Google Pages

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Google’s AJAX powered Web-Page builder is here. Perhaps the web alternative to Microsoft Frontpage in its Beta, or an AJAX powered Yahoo Geocities, understandably it’s not quite there yet. Upto 100 MB of Free Hosting, this seems to be an early April Fool’s Day present from Google. Fully powered by AJAX and feature rich, the interface is easy to use and folks who wish to build Web pages needn’t suffer from HTML Handicap anymore. Strike one. Now, back to speculating what else could they possibly release on April 1st.

Crash

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Mozilla Firefox has two extensions called Crash Recovery and Session Saver, which is quite handy when there are about ten tabs open and the browser unexpectedly crashes. While most of the web-services offer an Autosave/Recover feature, it’s a sorry state to see a part of the work being swallowed as a result of the crash. In case of most Blog service providers, in accordance with Murphy’s laws of Cyberspace, always while posting long blog posts, the browser somehow would stop responding. The recovery tool will restore a text, that is short by several paragraphs than the last version prior to the crash. It would be brilliant to have a recovery tool that recovers till the last typed sentence, if that isn’t asking too much.

Beyond the spam filter

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While providing an invitation to someone about a web-service (such as a Gmail invitation) most of the times, that e-mail is marked as spam and one has to log in to the spam folder and fish out the message. There isn’t a solution to this problem. So far, I didn’t experience the problem with Zoho Writer – for there are more files shared by and with me rather than stand alone documents, which goes on to say how people are making full use of the Online Word-processing potential. But this article points out that a similar problem was encountered while sharing a document with Zoho Writer.

The solutions that the article suggests aren’t perfect (as pointed out in the article itself.) The article suggests

(a) Using the sender’s e-mail and make the invitation more personal

(b) Sending out an e-mail first explaining what this is all about first.

The text of Gmail invitation is customizable, making it more personal than a generic text, yet it gets marked as spam. However it is always helpful to have a more personal invitation. The text of the invitation would be a lot better if it was in the following format:

“You have been invited by [sender’s name/e-mail] to view/edit (as the case may be – read only/read write) the document created using Zoho Writer. Zoho Writer is an Online Wordprocessor that you can use to create, edit, share and publish documents. To know more about Zoho Writer click here (supplemented by a link to blog posts about Zoho Writer)”

For someone who isn’t used to the idea of Online Word-processors, Office 2.0 and Sharing, it can all be very confusing. While I send out invitations, I send a separate e-mail first, explaining the process before sending out an e-mail invitation. The simplest solution will be to have a customizable message field within Zoho Writer itself, where a user can type in the text about what sharing is, prior to sharing it with a technically disinclined friend.

Then again, the problem of the e-mail getting marked as spam isn’t solved by merely personalizing the invitation text. (I get lot of personalized Spam, so to speak :) ) This calls for an understanding of how spam filters work so that this issue can be fixed at least partially. This also calls for intelligent spam filters (and not merely “powerful” spam filter), that can distinguish between genuine e-mails from other third party websites and spam.

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 :-)