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 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, 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. 


             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. 


             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 ...