Sunday, June 21, 2009

How To Access Twitter From Work


In most cases, especially with financial services based IT organizations, Twitter is blocked. Avid twitter users obviously find a way around to be in touch with their stream throughout the day.

Using mobile phone is always be an option, but with high priced GPRS, working with links is usually not that easy. Especially when you want to share a link with your friends. You also have the option of using Adobe AIR based Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic, DestroyTwitter etc., but all of these directly connect to Twitter via Twitter's API which gets blocked by the Net Nanny anyway.

Most of it may be known, but I am listing few ways to access Twitter while at work.

iGoogle Gadgets

iGoogle is always a rescue point for geeks. It helps bring in content from various sources on one page.

  • Tweete - This gadget is quite useful with host of features which I will let you explore. You can change the theme of the gadget as well.
  • BeTwittered - I used this gadget for quite sometime, but got blocked eventually, probably, owing to the usage that the Net Nanny tracked. Advantage with BeTwittered is that, it periodically looks for updates so that you don't need to refresh it yourself. This is not the case with Tweete.
Ginx

Ginx is web-based client for Twitter primarily targeting link management. It has all the features including "retweet" and automatic shortening of URLs. If you are a first time user, you will need an invitation code for accessing Ginx. Unfortunately, they donot have not given provision for me to send out invites, but you may get the invitation code by following @ginx on Twitter.

Mobile Version of Websites

While most of the users are hooked on to Twitter using mobile interfaces like Dabr, Tweete, Slandr etc through their mobile phones, these are great for desktops as well. All these twitter clients are great because they give a compact view and also give features like retweet, search, follow/unfollow etc. Being the mobile friendly version, these websites are quite fast as well. The official mobile version of Twitter is not as flexible as the ones that are mentioned above and usually blocked at work being a sub-domain on Twitter.com

In the case of Slandr, you need to note that the links that you pull up from the stream will be launched in a mobile friendly format (using Google's GWT service) even on your desktop. So if you want to see the full blown version of the website, you will have to manually copy the URL from the address bar and launch it again on another window.

These are the few from my experience, but if you know of more, do let me know through comments.

Happy tweeting till then ... Use responsibly. You get paid for working and not being there on Social Media!

(Note: I would have loved to put up some screenshots, but because Blogger is blocked at work, I am posting this via email which does not work great with images.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Watch When You Use WolframAlpha

In my previous post about WolframAlpha, I compared it with Google where I mentioned that it is a great resource for research analysts.

But having gone through the Terms Of Use of WolframAlpha, I would say use the content from WolframAlpha carefully.

Few snippets are below:

"The free Wolfram|Alpha service is available for ad hoc, personal, non-commercial use only." ...

"If you make results from Wolfram|Alpha available to anyone else, or incorporate those results into your own documents or presentations, you must include attribution indicating that the results and/or the presentation of the results came from Wolfram|Alpha. ..."

"Failure to properly attribute results from Wolfram|Alpha is not only a violation of these terms, but may also constitute academic plagiarism or a violation of copyright law. Attribution is something we expect you to give us in exchange for us having provided you with a high-quality free service."

"... if you are constructing a very large number of deep links, or any deep links that are created automatically in response to user input given on your site, you must take into account the restrictions enumerated in the section "Ways You May Use Our Free Service and Its Results." If you construct a website that induces others to use our service contrary to those terms, you are inducing them to violate our Terms of Use, and can be liable for those violations." ...

There are not many such hassles with Google.

So, whoever planning to start using WolframAlpha, do go through the Terms Of Use.

Is Twitter Just About "What are you doing?"

Twitter started with "What are you doing?". 


But over last couple of years, Twitter has evolved and the user community has learned various ways of utilizing twitter. It started off with something like "I am having coffee", and now have become a medium where users link to information and at the same time get information. Not just that, it has become a medium to build your brand and give a personality to your brand. It has given a lot of brands and users access to a large audience. 

Twitter created the buzz of real-time search with its search feature. Twitter's search feature would have never taken off and become a huge hit without the link sharing and "retweeting" apart from just saying "what you are doing". 

Twitter search has no value if link sharing and "retweeting" stops. All you will be exposed to will be just opinions and some nonsense from the users. Links will connect tweets to facts/evidences which makes Twitter more friendly and services like Scoopler, oneRiot etc. will enhance the acess to information. (Even Google is now inspired by Twitter to create a real-time search feature.)

I have encountered people who unfollow users who tweet links or retweet. Fair enough. It is upto users how they want to use it and its your decision to follow or unfollow a particular user.

I follow people who just write what is in their head and I also follow people who constantly tweet USEFUL links. And I love them both. 

Twitter, for me, is about "What do you want to share?" than JUST "What are you doing?" ... 


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bing Is Here

The first thing that came to my mind was "Chandler Bing" from Friends TV series but did not find Bing as funny. Neither did I find Bing that serious. Bing was launched recently.

My first impression after loading the home page was that there is something outdated about the page. I am not trying to criticize here, but when a search engine is named as a competitor of Google, it better live up to some minimum expectations. One example is when you search for "Google" on Bing, it give you two results. First one is the Google website and then a set of news on Google. Then it forces you to click another URL to see other results. This probably is not the right kind of user experience that I want.

One other observation is about how the image search compares against Google. I would just say that Google wins it hands down, because of the amount of relevant results that Google gives us. I searched for my name on Bing Image search and it gave me hardly 7 results, at the same time Google gave me 439 results of which atleast 50% were relevant images.

For exploring more on how Google and Bing performs against each other, I suggest checking out this webservice.

Till then have fun "Binging" as I go back to "Googling" ... Hope to see Bing match up to Google's level someday ...

Monday, May 18, 2009

WolframAlpha Vs Google

There is sudden buzz about WolframAlpha being a "Google killer" and I was quite surprised how that can happen when Google has been around for so long and it has vast amount of data already indexed.


Then, it turns out that WolframAlpha is a computational engine which targets at delivering the numbers in a meaningful format. 

I searched for "distance from New York to New Jersey" on WolframAlpha and it gave me the exact distance in miles (52.61 miles) and it also gave me results in meters, kilometers, nautical miles (??) and centimeters (??????). On top of it, it gave me direct travel time taken by flight, sound, light in a fibre and light in vacuum. Now most of the data that it returned are something that I do not care about. When I search the same on Google, I get links to distance calculators. 

After going through the examples, I could gather that, WolframAlpha in its current form is a great resource for research analysts who play with data. It is not that Google cannot provide this data, but WolframAlpha makes this data understandable and much more accessible 

Search for "India literacy" on Google and you will get 61% as the first result (without even digging the link) and this was present before WolframAlpha could do it with it computation engine based on Mathematica.

Is WolframAlpha a semantic search? I don't agree entirely. The structured queries as per their examples are fine, but here is why I am saying it is not entirely semantic.

I did see some weird responses as well. I searched for "voting age US" and it did not give me any result, whereas "voting US" gave me the result as "18 years of age; universal".

I searched for "US viting" and WolframAlpha interpreted it as "US Vitina" and showed me the distance from the US to Vitina in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Google prompted me and asked "Did you mean: US voting".

WolframAlpha has taken online computing to a different level, but not yet usable by common internet user who is used to Google. They are working on a lot of stuff right now and may soon come up with something far more robust, but will it challenge Google at any point? No I don't think so, just because the purpose of WolframAlpha is completely different from what Google is designed for. 

Again, Google Squared is in the news now and is being termed as "WolframAlpha killer'.

Note to Wolfram: ... I am not looking for distance from New York to New Jersey IN CENTIMETERS OR NAUTICAL MILES, and I am definitely not interested in how soon light will reach NJ from NY in vacuum. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Advent Of Real-Time Search - Checking Scoopler

Scoopler Social Media Search
Real-time web is the next big thing and there are quite a few real-time search services that are creating buzz around. Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Twitscoop, Scoopler etc. Most of these like Tweetmeme and Twitscoop focus around Twitter updates, but OneRiot and Scoopler takes it further to include other services like Digg. Scoopler, which I would really call a "social media search engine" covers Flickr, Youtube, Delicious and other services.

Scoopler keeps it simple and structures the information very effectively. It shows tweets in real-time along with the popular videos, links and images from Youtube, Flickr, Digg etc. Along with it, it also stores your last three searches thereby making it easier to switch between your results.

While your at discovering information through the search, Scoopler makes it easy by showing the entire headline and instead of going to the URL, you can get a "peek" of the content in the target URL and "share" through a host of other services.

Scoopler Peek

More than real-time web I am inclined towards onDemand web as written in the post by @rickmans. With that in mind, Scoopler comes up with too many tweets if you search for a hot topic (Eg: Adam Lambert while American Idol is being aired) and keeps pushing information onto your screen. There is no easy way, time or provision to make sense of the flowing information especially when it is a hot keyword. A "pause" button is critical for Scoopler (or for any real-time service), like in a Tweetmeme or a oneRiot.

Its not eye catchy from a look and feel perspective and I think a lot can be done to improve it.

But, I like Scoopler more than the others right now available.

... and before I finish, Scoopler uses a less known Cloudant, a distributed database service firm (a new type of database) funded by Y Combinator.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Watch What You Post In Your Social Networks

Pouring out your frustrations online? Posting pictures of the wild party that you had? Hold on ... 


A recent survey done by CareerBuilder.com reveals that one in five employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. Some of the critical findings after surveying around 3,100 employers were:


 41% - candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs

 40% - candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information

 29% - candidate had poor communication skills

 28% - candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee

 27% - candidate lied about qualifications

 22% - candidate used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.

 22% - candidate's screen name was unprofessional

 21% - candidate was linked to criminal behavior

 19% - candidate shared confidential information from previous employers


 They have also provided suggestions on how to have a clean digital social life:

1. Clean up digital dirt. Make sure to remove pictures, content and links that can send the wrong message to a potential employer before you start your job search.

2. Update your profile regularly. Make sure to include specific accomplishments, inside and outside of work.

3. Monitor comments. Since you can't control what other people say on your site, you may want to use the "block comments" feature.

4. Join groups selectively. While joining a group with a fun or silly name may seem harmless, "Party Monsters R Us" may not give the best impression to a hiring manager. Also be selective about who you accept as "friends."

5. Go private. Consider setting your profile to "private," so only designated friends can view it.

 So, that gives you a good reason to go cleanup stuff ... and may be think thrice before you post those random outbursts of frustration at work. 

 Be responsible! Have fun ...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ginx - Review

Ginx is a web based twitter client. I started using it because Ginx let me access Twitter stream where Twitter was blocked.



The primary advantage of using Ginx is the way it lets you know the URL before you click.
 

The other benefit of Ginx is auto URL shortening, a service which not many twitter clients provide. When you click the Ginx URL, it opens up on a page similar to Digg Bar. Ginx, however, supports the URL shortening and expanding only for one URL per tweet.

Ginx also provides the history of clicked links as a stream.

The demerits of Ginx overshadow its merits, probably because it is still in pre-alpha phase. 

- Sync up with Twitter was a major issue which they seemed to have fixed. But I still see a lag in the stream and is not quick in its sync up with Twitter.

- Although Twitter has updated "replies" to "mentions", Ginx is still lagging behind in the implementation when clients like Slandr rolled it out immediately on their versions. 

- Ginx does not show you which client was used (Eg: TweetDeck, Web, Twhirl etc.) to send the tweet by any user which most twitter clients support.

- I did see another issue which was pretty hard to digest. A particular user showed up on my stream whom I had un-followed using Ginx. Now that is not cool!

- The stats keeps on changing and most of the times does not show the accurate count. By stats, I mean number of people I am following, my followers and number of updates. 

Even manual sync with Twitter does not fix this. The stats shown above is when I have 252 followers and over 1700 updates. 

- It shows all sorts of replies sent by the people I follow which clutters the view on my Ginx page. Twitter and most clients like Slandr, TweetDeck etc. handles this as per Twitter configuration.

Ginx is a good concept with its URL shortening/preview functionality, but they have to work on getting the basic functionalities stable. Real-time is another "in" thing which, if they implement, can make it more popular. In its current form, it is hard for Ginx to pick up market share in this competing environment.

You can follow me on twitter @knkartha ...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

iCloud - OS/Desktop In The Cloud?

According to the post on Geek.com, first desktop in the cloud has been launched. iCloud allows users to have free online storage (upto 3GB free), applications, virtual desktop and backup.


It provides you with 30 free applications and at this moment, supports only IE and Firefox.

Does this service make sense?

iCloud gives you a whole host of options including a command line console. It also manages internet outage, which they explain in their Q & A section:

... if no Internet connection is available when attempting to save or perform changes to a document, icloud will simply store all changes in a transaction buffer that will be sent and synchronized to the data center once an Internet connection has been re-established.

In my first trial, after playing around for 5-10 mins, my IE crashed (which I can probably attribute to Microsoft), but my in subsequent trials, iCloud/IE refused show me a desktop. Firefox was no exception. It got stuck after using for 5 mins. I had to kill Firefox process to get my other applications work. Having encountered this scenario, I want to point out few things:

- iCloud has to evaluate providing an alternate provision to access the data in case the browser or iCloud desktop does not show up. Uptime of the service is very critical.

- Customization options to make the desktop lighter to a level which a user wants to use will become essential from a user experience perspective.

- After 8 years of development, even if it is an Alpha release, I would expect the application to be relatively fast, but it failed my expectation.

I think is a revolution in the making and I hope their beta release focuses more on performance and reliability more than functionalities. Also, there is massive amount of data going to be stored in the cloud once the user community starts using this application more. It's probably time that they also start thinking about monetization model.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Telecommuting Revisited

In my previous post I talked about the benefits of working from home. Just when I was researching on quantifying the benefits, I spotted a recent article by Ted Samson on Infoworld about telecommuting. Interestingly, Ted covers the same points that I mentioned in my post but has given references to some telecommuting experiments and quantified benefits. 


He drives the point from the perspective of sustainable IT. Ted lists out the benefits:

1. Increase employee productivity
2. Save companies money
3. Benefits the environment
4. Incentive for current and prospective employees

I would also include business continuity as another benefit with incidents like WTC attack or  worst snow fall in the UK having tremendous potential to affect the operations.

For productivity, he cites the example of American Express:

American Express teleworkers produce 43 percent more business than employees at the office, according to Colorado Telework Coalition. Productivity increased 31 percent among the 9,000 telecommuters in British Telecom's workforce of 80,000, according to the Telework Foundation.

 When he talks about productivity boost, he does not mention every single employee. It is critical for the company to have right recruitment structure to hire right kind of employees, set expectations and manage them effectively.

He also has provided data from Canadian Telework Association and ITAC The Telework Advisory Group of WorldAtWork around the cost savings by implementing telecommuting.

According to the Telework Advisory Group of WorldatWork, employers can realize an annual per-employee savings of $5,000 through telecommuting.

... AT&T reports savings of $3,000 per office, for approximately $550 million, by eliminating or consolidating office space. Meanwhile, about 25 percent of IBM's 320,000 workers worldwide telecommute, saving Big Blue some $700 million in real estate costs.

He also refers to Sun's telecommute program where Sun employees benefited by saving on fuel, time and wear and tear of car. He also refers to Cisco's Virtual Office package which gives remote workers and in-the-office experience.

What about India?

All said, this works very well in the US and Europe, but how does it apply in India? 

Accenture, IBM, Texas Instruments and Wipro were planning to start telecommuting on a war footing basis. Cisco is also known for encouraging telecommuting and one of the pioneers in the field. 

Let me try some math here. 

Considering an average of Rs. 1500 is spent on travel per month by an average employee (which would probably on the lower end) and with 2500 employees, the collective expense to be at work in a month is Rs. 37.5 lakhs and close to 85000 litres of fuel. Over and above this, there is wear and tear of the vehicle, traffic jams, health issues due to pollution and climatic conditions.

This is just a very basic idea of the savings. Having said, all this, telecommuting is not something that can be implemented overnight. Careful planning along with responsible behavior from employees is very critical is successfully running a telecommuting environment.

Do share the experience, benefits and challenges that you or your company had while implementing telecommuting. 

6 Ways To Monetize Twitter

Twitter as social media needs to come up with a business model
Twitter has been around since March 2006 and has been growing ever since at an exponential rate. However, Twitter does not have a revenue model and has been running on venture funding from various Venture Partners. In the long run, the moment investors stop funding it, Twitter may not be able to sustain its unprofitable business.


Users on Twitter have figured ways to make money (Magpie, Twittad etc.). There are non-profits who raise funds using twitter.

In a hilarious interview, Twitter Founder Biz Stone stated that Twitter is focused on creating value right now and not business model. It makes a lot of sense considering that there is a lot Twitter can incorporate to increase the value and experience. But being around for over 3 years, it is high time that they start thinking about how to sustain their business. In fact, they are. Evan Williams, Twitter's CEO and co-founder tells The New York Times:

"If I say any particular idea, it gets made too much of," he said. "We think Twitter will make money. I think it will take some time to figure it out."

I will still try and put in few of my ideas to monetize Twitter.

Tweet Words

           On the same lines as Google's Ad Words, Twitter can implement "Tweet Words" (I could not come up with a better name ...) where advertisers can send ads using DM or as a tweet based on keywords that the advertiser is interested in. The number of such tweets or messages will be consciously limited by the advertisers for the fear of spamming the users. This can also be done by targeting user's home stream page as banner ads. One other option is also to change the service to include ads and then create an Ad Free service which can be a paid one. 

Power Accounts

           Twitter sets API usage limit and there are Tweeple who want to use more that what is allowed. Here, Twitter has the option of creating a paid model where users/brands can pay and use Twitter API extensively without limitations. I also see a lot of users following more than 10,000 people. These users may be using search/filters to read the content that they are interested in, but when Twitter limits the "following" count to 2000, there is money lying there for Twitter to reap. For any person who wants to follow more than 2000, Twitter may charge them with a nominal amount and there are enough users/brands ready to utilize this opportunity. 

Corporate Accounts

           There are a lot of brands/corporates (Dell, Accenture, Google, Yahoo, Capgemini and many more ...) who tweet and increase their brand value. They very well can do it by using their own blog or fan pages on Facebook, but Twitter is a great source for them to get traffic and value. A partnership model can be setup with these corporates in a way that both parties can benefit. Lets say, Twitter can provide analytics facility for these corporate accounts helping them track where the traffic is coming from and probably also helping them on trend analysis. 

Get "Suggested"

            Twitter has "suggested friends" feature is largely the source of followers for high profile accounts. If there is a paid model to get into the list of suggested friends, small/large brands will always want to utilize to reap benefits and I am compelled to think that these brands would not mind paying for it. 

Communities

             ExecTweets is a sponsored site featuring feeds from "top business executives". On the similar lines, Twitter can create specialized communities for users to participate by paying a nominal fees. This, however, will have to be different from the regular membership that every user has. 

Goodies

             Not the greatest of ideas, but Twitter can come out with goodies. What I mean by this is, convert Twitter Bird and Fail Whale into commercial commodities that can be sold and I am pretty sure, they can make some quick bucks out of it. 

Twitter has to come out with a comprehensive business plan. Microblogging is relatively young and without a good business model, Twitter may not survive to become as big as Evan Williams claims it to become.


Do follow me on Twitter @knkartha ...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comparing Social Software Desktop Clients

There are a bunch of desktop clients available for Twitter, but here I am trying to target the clients that allow accessing other social networks, and facilitate cross posting. With this sudden surge of social networks and a lot of people are getting on to multiple networks like Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Yammer, Twitter etc and it is high time that we have clients which connect to other networks too.


Twhirl

Twhirl has pretty slick interface and connects to Jaiku and Ping.fm. It uses Ping.fm to connect to other social networks like Facebook and MySpace but does not connect by itself. Twhirl does not let you see the status updates and activities in your other networks on your desktop client. Instead, it just facilitates cross-posting your updates only. The application is light weight and very user friendly.


TweetDeck

TweetDeck is one of the widely used desktop clients for Twitter. It has Spaz, Snitter, Twhirl, DestroyTwitter etc as competitors. TweetDeck has column based view and you can add quite a few columns for search terms that you want to track. This is apart from your own stream, replies stream and direct messages stream. Twhirl does not give you this flexibility. TweetDeck recently brought out a pre-release version which integrates with Facebook where it allows the user to view status updates of friends on Facebook as well as post messages from Twitter on to Facebook. Being a pre-release version, they have kept it pretty simple. TweetDeck also has API usage statistics and Twitter status. It, however, needs to provide more customizations for the UI like changing fonts and resizing columns.


AlertThingy

AlertThingy's enhanced version was recently released and allows access to Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, Basecamp, Flickr and a host of other social networks. Apart from messages, you can post links and photos on to Facebook which is not provided in TweetDeck or Twhirl. Not just that, AlertThingy lets you access news feeds too which I think is pretty cool. It lags behind in customizations of the UI though. It comes as a very handy tool when you want to use Twitter with Yammer and Facebook. They also have a FriendFeed version. If your popup notification is ON, it can become a little irritating after a while whereas TweetDeck and Twhirl have pretty slick notification system. TweetDeck and Twhirl also scores with reply and re-tweet buttons placed on the Avatar rather than as a separate "Option" in AlertThingy.

All three of these are built on Adobe AIR which makes it work on both Windows and Mac. AlertThingy is rich with functionalities and looks like it has become complicated, but Twhirl and TweetDeck keeps it simple. TweetDeck offers better experience in its simplicity.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Facebook Integration On TweetDeck Helps?


TweetDeck has a pre-release version out with Facebook integration. Now, there is AlertThingy that connects to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Yammer etc which seems to be far more comprehensive. TweetDeck, however, has the edge of being one of the most popular tool that works with Twitter.

What you get from the Facebook integration is "status" messages. This integration helps us work from single platform to connect to all the social networks and communicate. But, for me, Facebook integration does not make much of a sense except for the fact that it just lets you see the status messages or cross-post messages on to Facebook.

The power of status messages on Facebook is just like tweets on Twitter, but with lesser frequency and more privacy. Status messages evoke participation and communication through responses in the form of comments. But with tools like TweetDeck and AlertThingy, the commenting feature takes a hit. Not just that, for friends who have not signed up on twitter, you need to respond through Facebook by logging in. TweetDeck and AlertThingy fails here.

If Facebook lets developers access comments through their API and TweetDeck can come up with a innovative UI design on Adobe AIR to pull comments from Facebook and also give provision to post comments back into Facebook, then the integration makes a lot of sense and is useful for social media geeks.

I used Facebook integration feature on TweetDeck for couple of days and did not see any benefit.

Did anyone of you find TweetDeck-Facebook integration in its current form useful?

And Here Comes The Flying Car

No more road trips?

Seen flying cars in movies? Here comes one for real.

"Terrafugia Transition" is first flying car and it passed the first flight test on March 5th, 2009.

It can fly up to 450 miles at 115 miles per hour.

"... two-seat, four-wheeled, carbon-fiber-composite aircraft, which can fly up to 450 miles at 115 miles per hour and is distinguished by folding wings that ratchet out of the way when it’s on the ground. That makes the craft just 80 inches wide, narrow enough to tool down the highway—where it can go up to 65 mph and get 30 miles to the gallon."

The video of the first test:



I want 500 meters stretch infront of my apartment so that I can take off this "car". I am going to write a letter to GHMC for leveling the road.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Working From Home

Let me say ... I love it.

Working from home is not a new concept but in India, probably it is not encouraged. I am not talking about people who are into free lancing. This about those people who work for large enterprises and works along with a team to deliver services.

Now, why I love it?

1. Freedom: It lets me operate the way I want to and the pressure is far less compared to being nailed down to a ergonomic (or not so ergonomic) chair and the manager or team lead breathing down your neck.

2. More productive: Given the freedom and environment that I am most comfortable with, I get more work done than when I am in office. In fact, I log into start work earlier than what I would do when I am in office. Moreover, when I am at home, I somehow feel more responsible towards what needs to be delivered and does not feel that I am stretching myself.

3. No distraction: Working from home is a bliss if you need long hours of concentration. It is next to impossible to get that level of concentration if you are in office where people bump into you and end up in casual conversations that you sometimes cannot escape and ultimately lose time.


4. Other benefits:
  • No commute
  • No traffic jams ( and no heart attacks)
  • Save fuel
  • No pollution
  • Not stuck with canteen food (especially when Chinese Combo has banana and curd rice)

These were personal benefits. But, for corporates, there are huge benefits by promoting this culture.

1. Save on the infrastructure - Reduce investment in power, desk space, desktops, phones and other company utilities. Instead divert fraction of this investment to setup better servers and connectivity infrastructure (VPN, Bandwidth, 3G etc.)

2. People care - Employees benefit out of less travel (health, time and monitory benefit). The concerns of work-life balance by employees get addressed as they get to be at home and they feel responsible for their own time.

3. Business Continuity - For any incidents like 9/11, this kind of operation model always helps with such attacks never affecting the services because you don't station all you employees at one place. One recent incident was the snow fall in the UK where most of the services were disrupted. But there was one case where Silicon.com ensured business continuity by having people work from home.

Working from home has its own set of challenges which corporates may dig out. I am going to try an give some answers here for those challenges.

1. Collaboration & interacting with a team - While this may be one of the prime concerns, instant messaging (IM), VoIP and collaboration tools like Google Docs are always there as a solution to this. For the conference facilities across geographies, there are virtual platforms like SecondLife that can be tapped to reduce travel.

2. Monitoring the staff - Yes, this is a problem. Working from home culture is not going to start working just like that. Unified Communications Technology can be used to create monitoring mechanisms. Clear roles and responsibilities need to be defined for the employees who form a team and thereby creating accountability.

For people interested, here is a post about tips for working from home.

There are some things I miss when I work from home. The human interaction, all the gossips and office politics :). But then, there is Facebook, Twitter and IM for that (i know, not for human interaction). These not just things for personal use. Its high time business starts using these and avail the benefits.

C'mon, this is age of the internet.

Having said that, I have some work to finish before I go to office tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bespin: Coding In The Cloud


Introducing Bespin from Dion Almaer on Vimeo.

This is a radical change in development. This probably can be called as Coding-as-a-service. The best part for me is that your development environment is accessible anywhere, anytime.

Read more about Bespin and how you can contribute ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Macbook Wheel - Notebook With No Keyboard



Innovation getting better ...

- No keyboard
- Hummingbird battery that powers the laptop for full 19 mins before it needs to be re-charged

What's puzzling is how to type using the wheel to scroll to each alphabet. Looks cumbersome ....

Will wait for the next generation ...