Scoble on Autism

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I usually don’t talk about my personal life on this blog, but I will depart from that for this post. Robert Scoble visited us in our Pleasanton office yesterday, and myself and Raju did about an hour of video interviews and product demonstrations. After the interview was over, we went out for coffee at Peets, where the conversation turned to kids. That was when I mentioned autism and how that has impacted our lives. Once I get going on that subject, I just can’t stop – I think we ended up spending more time on autism than on Zoho.

Scoble has a nice post up on this topic. I am not a hero, it is my wife Pramila who is the real hero in this. She is the one who has been relentless in seeking cures, educating herself first and then me on the latest treatments and so on. Without her relentless energy and drive in attacking this problem, I don’t believe my son would have made the progress he has made. Of course, we still have a long, arduous journey ahead. And we are not alone in facing this: the CDC estimates that 1 in 150 kids (and more than 1 in 100 boys) are now affected. It is a bigger tragedy than AIDS, and it is a virtual life sentence for most of the impacted kids, unless we find a way to help them recover.

Thank you Robert, for writing about this. It means a lot to me personally, and it means a lot to parents in our situation. If you are a new parent or going to be a parent soon, I strongly urge you to educate yourself about autism, and about vaccinations. The medical establishment, for the most part, is still in the dark ages on this subject, and particularly, play-by-the-book pediatricians don’t really know much about the subject to be good guides. Parents have to educate themselves. We had pediatricians telling us “Nothing is wrong with your child, he will be fine”, based on that casual 2 minute interaction during those busy days we went for the shots. We just wish we had been more paranoid.

I am not an anti-vaccination activist (we have employees in our Chennai office afflicted with polio), but it is still worth asking the question “Are we over-vaccinating our kids? How much is too much?” My son’s condition worsened measurably after we gave him 3 shots in one day, right before he joined kindergarten, because the school told us that we hadn’t been up-to-date on his shots, so we had to complete them before he could come in. I now really wish I hadn’t taken him for those shots, or at least staggered them over time.

I urge you to read these books, and educate yourself:

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives


What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Children’s Vaccinations

Kearen Integrates Zoho

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I am glad to announce yet another API partner for Zoho (Sheet) – Kearen. Kearen recently integrated Zoho into their Dashboard application. For those of you who don’t know Kearen, they offer dynamic data visualization solutions. In plain English, they gather data from multiple sources (like databases, Spreadsheets, XML etc) and show visually rich dashboards (built in Flash) integrating the data. This one liner does not do justice to what they do. I recommend taking a peek at their website for more details.

With this integration, Kearen users can bring in data directly from Zoho Sheet as another source (thanks to our API) and view it in their desktop. Rob Griebel from Kearen created this short video showcasing this integration.

Zoho as seen by bloggers

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Some recent blog posts on Zoho that we came across. From one of the edublogs,

Now this blog is to compare the two leading web based programs, Google and Zoho. Both have the amazing access ability. It is no surprise that Google has developed this online software with their boundless online resources. I am sure Google’s software will only improve, but they have some catching up to do in my opinion to Zoho. I give Zoho the first prize. Zoho Writer contains many of the same familiar. The command bars are very well laid out and easily recognizable. In my opinion easier than Google and easier than MS Word. It can improve if it studies Apple Works…still the best word processor in the industry.

Zoho Sheet beats Google Spreadsheet. The commands are more familiar. It is easier to add columns of numbers, sort names and so forth. It appears to have studied MS Excel to develop its capabilities. That is a smart choice. Apple has the word processor. Microsoft has the spreadsheet.

Zoho Show versus…no equal with Google. Show can easily read and edit any show saved in PowerPoint mode.

I am impressed with the concept. I believe Zoho has the edge in developing online software.

Claire says,

I did Zoho as well as google. I had a lot more fun with Zoho. I love their spreadsheets, and the documents are a lot more fun and clean.

We like the Mahatma Gandhi quote, “Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow” you have at your blog, Claire :-)

Suresh at Digital Quest observes,

You may have noticed that when you find a link to a document or spreadsheet file in a Google search result, and you click on it, Google offers to open the file using Google docs or Google Spreadsheet. But the problem with Google is that you need to sign-in before you can open the file.

However, with Zoho Quickread you don’t have to be registered to use it. Anyone can open the files using Zoho applications. This is really wonderful.

Thanks, all!

Sridhar gets interviewed by ‘The Hindu’

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‘The Hindu’, India’s National Newspaper interviewed Sridhar, our CEO. From the interview:

It’s the classic David versus Goliath battle being played out in the 21st century. And it’s no surprise that this battle is being fought on the Web. We are talking of the great race between Web behemoth Google and Zoho, the Chennai-based underdog, to launch a suite of online office apps.

However, Sridhar Vembu, CEO of AdventNet, the company behind Zoho services, doesn’t see it as an all-out battle. “That would imply that there can be only one winner, which I don’t agree with. Business is not like sports in that respect. It is perfectly possible to have a profitable, growing business without ‘winning’ the market in the sense of being number one”

Zoho is part of a new wind blowing across the tech landscape – it’s called software-as-a-service (SaaS). “I believe Web services represent the future of software. There are huge productivity benefits to individuals and businesses in SaaS, which is why it will take off.”

Won’t companies and individuals be worried about privacy and safety issues when it comes to allowing all their sensitive data to be in the hands of a third party provider? “On the contrary, there is nothing more unsafe than critical corporate data being stored in laptops. While there is no such thing as perfect safety, your data is much safer in a professionally managed datacenter than in a relatively poorly managed end-user PC or laptop.”

Does the engineer in him cheer the “less is more” philosophy being practiced by startups that believe software should not do too much? “Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. For 50 years, all you could do with a phone is to make a call, but now people expect a digital camera, music player and more in their phones.”

“The designer faces the challenging task of integrating all these features in one device, of balancing the need for features against the need to keep the product simple. It is a question of striking the right balance, and that balance itself keeps evolving over time, as customer needs and fashions change.”

Read the whole interview. Thanks to Murali, Ramesh & ‘The Hindu’!

Zoho Projects Update : Additional responsibility for Managers & more

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A limited functionality in Zoho Projects that many of our users have been pointing out : Only the Administrator (the one who sets up the Zoho Projects account) can add new Projects. With the latest update, Managers can add projects too.

The ‘My Home’ page of Zoho Projects added a few niceties. The Administrator and the Managers can now view it based on any other user (to get a bird’s eye view of what an Employee’s project calendar looks like). Task notes can be seen on mouse-over of the ‘Notes’ icon and the task timer can now be updated from the ‘My Home’ page itself.

A task can now be easily copied (upto 6 copies). Documents uploaded can be seen in a list view or a thumbnail view. And the images can be previewed before downloading. Recent forum comments have been made viewable at the right panel of the forums page. Search on files uploaded can now be performed based on tags as well as file extensions (eg., typing .doc will get you all .doc files)

The new features as a Zoho Show slide show above.

Single Sign-off in Zoho

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Today, we have changed the logout behavior of Zoho.

Previously, users logged in to more than one service, have to do logout from each service individually. Clicking the logout link in a service will only close that service’s session and will pose the user with links to logout from other logged-in services. This was to avoid users from getting logged-out from other logged-in services. However, this may lead to a security hole for users sharing desktops (like say, browsing centers, test labs etc).  To overcome this, logging out from a single Zoho service will logout the user from “all” the logged-in services from now on.

Due to this change :

1) Before logging out from a service, user has to ensure that there is no unsaved information in any other services (kept open in other browser sessions).
2) If a user wants to logout from only one service, he can just close that browser tab and continue using other services.

Formatting options in Zoho Planner

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Zoho Planner offers some formatting options. You can put these options to good use while making your To-Dos lists and Notes. Say for example, you can use Bold text for highlighting a particular To Do to convey that it is more important to you than others.

The help page for knowing the various formatting options can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Text Formatting‘ link at the bottom-left of your Zoho Planner page. Also, this Zoho Wiki page helps illustrate the various options as well.

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