Thoughts Sans Boundaries

Yahoo!’s Achilles’ heel

Posted in internet stories, technology by Aditya Moorthy on November 11, 2009

Yesterday I wrote a post after hearing Yahoo!’s CEO Carol Bartz speak at the AmCham event in Singapore. In it I noted that the biggest problem that Yahoo! faces today is a weakening engineering team (or to its effect) and innovative products. This morning I read this post which says Rasmus Lerdoff the founder of PHP has left Yahoo! after several years of contribution to its engineering team. This comes at a time when several star engineers have left Yahoo! in the recent past.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/10/php-founder-rasmus-lerdorf-leaves-yahoo/

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Carol Bartz at AmCham, Singapore

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on November 11, 2009

I had a chance to sit through a speech by Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! today at AmCham Singapore. I’ll make this a quick post about my opinion on today’s speech.

I went there with a bit of expectation to hear her speak as the (relatively) new CEO of Yahoo! I read through her bio in Wikipedia beforehand to put the person in context and I should say, I was quite impressed by what she has achieved in her career. At the time of reading, it struck me as to why would she take up a position as Yahoo!’s leader given that at the outset it looks like a lost cause to head a company that has paled against it’s competitors in terms of new landmark innovations in the recent past. People at that position and at that age (I am very broadly generalising here) would want to leave a legacy behind, especially in her position for what she has achieved at Autodesk.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, the speech was terrible and pathetically weak in my opinion. She kept using Autodesk instead of Yahoo! more than once (and I can attribute such slips to jet lag or hectic schedule). The statistics she was throwing (with the expectation I suspect, to impress her audience) was totally irrelevant and who cares now whether Yahoo! manages 100 billion emails a month? I am sure many in the audience must have more such tidbits to throw around and we didn’t want to hear them again! There was no new insights that I gained (which I already didn’t know). No strategic thought process or direction as to where Yahoo! was heading and mind you, many of those sitting through the sessions where shareholders as well. No indication of any new innovation coming out of Yahoo! No clear growth plans for emerging markets. No clear solutions for SMEs and enterprises as to how they can leverage Yahoo!’s platform. In total, nothing beneficial to the audience at all.

To cut her some slack; I understand that 30 minutes at AmCham in Singapore is not the great venue to talk about grand plans and I am sure she has a million things running through her head to manage shareholders and board of directors expectations. But one needs to also bear in mind the time that several key leaders and business people have sacrificed and have gathered to hear someone at the forefront of Internet and Technology speak. But well… what can I say. Being the head of Yahoo! is not easy and not going to be any easier in the near future until something radical happens to that company.

At the end after several cliched Q&A banter, I was itching to ask her my question. I, for once would like a CEO of a struggling company putting up a brave face to the world, to come out and say loud and clear – what we are doing sucks and we would like to hear from you as to what you think we should be doing, our strategies don’t seem to be taking us anywhere and we have little clue as to how to bring this company out of the woods and compete in real terms rather than the legacy the company has accumulated over the hay days of the Internet boom. Guess what, I did ask the question and I got a politically correct answer from her – we have made some tactical mistakes in the past but our current strategies are sound and will yield the right results – this in effect was her answer to me.

Let me not scathe anymore. I am sure she is doing the best she can and I do sincerely hope that Yahoo! does become one of the leading players in the Internet services space.

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A great new discovery today

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on December 22, 2007

I had completely stopped blogging for a long while but something I found made me to come back and write about it. The new discovery I am talking about is called Qik. It is a new Internet cum mobile tool that lets you stream live video feed to the Internet and let you save it in your profile to view later. Robert Scoble had talked about it a few days back but I didn’t bother to check it until today. This new stuff is mind boggling. The technology might not seem like a path breaking new invention but the creators of Qik have cleverly put together some available technology and built something that has the potential to become the next big think in the Internet world.

Once I saw what Robert was doing live with his mobile phone, I knew I had to register for it and I did. It is currently supported on a number of mobile phones. All you need to do is provide your mobile phone number and Qik will send you an invitation that will let you download and install a small application in your phone and bingo, you are now ready to stream live with your Internet connection on your phone, be it GPRS, 3G or Wifi. I put up some video of mine today and this thing has got me excited all day. I simply love this service and glad to be one of the firsts to be using it.

Some of my initial thoughts:

Positives:

1. The whole sign up process is extremely simple. No huge web forms that asks all your history to sign up. All you need is a mobile phone number and you are ready to rock.
2. Currently supported on a number of popular phone models, one of which happens to be mine, Nokia E65
3. The web site is very simple to use and no cluttering with too many features which you might never or seldom use
4. The video practically live with few seconds delay which is fantastic
5. All the videos gets saved in your profile which acts like your personal youtube account will all the videos you uploaded
6. Another great feature is when the video is being watched live by someone, they could type a message on top of the streaming video and the message pops up on your phone. This stuff is really freaky and cool.
7. Great support and very passionate people behind the product development. Had a first hand experience with a support request.

Areas of improvement:

1. There is no guide for non-tech users to install the application in the mobile phone. If the phone is set up to install applications then this happens seamlessly but if you had blocked something in the phone then you need to first unlock it before you can install it. This happened to me since I never install applications in my phone, I completely forgot about resetting it to install the application. Fortunately, Bhaskar Roy, VP, Product Management was still checking emails and he saw my support request and immediately replied with the details to install it. Kudos to good support.
2. It would be great if I could see how many people are watching my video while I am streaming. I am sure that they are already working on something like this as this would be THE request from heavy users.
3. A good feedback form so people can leave their comments and suggestions
4. I think the FAQ should be expanded to include how to comment, which is not very intuitive
5. The live feed appears only on the home page (at least as far as I know) so if someone starts to stream after I begin and if the browser is refreshed then the latter video takes the place and mine goes to the film strip in the bottom of the page
6. It would be great if I could download my videos to my computer for offline viewing. Currently the only way to watch it is when I go to my profile. I am sure, I should be allowed to download my videos and keep a copy on my computer.
7. I would like to stream from my computer as well and wouldn’t want to use only my mobile phone
8. I am not sure how it would work when someone owns two phones. Will two profiles be created? I guess that’s the way it works now and there should be a way to link more than one phone to a single profile and vice versa if it makes sense to some users
9. It would be great if the the tagging process happens on the My Profile page itself instead of clicking on each video and enter the tags.

That’s all I can think of for now. I am sure that my 3G bills are going to sky rocket this month and I will have more to say as I keep using the service.

Great job guys, keep up the good work going.

What’s wrong with Meebo widget?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 27, 2007

I have the Meebo widget on my blog and even if I am online on Meebo it says that I am offline on the blog site. Does anyone else have the same problem? This has been happening for a while now and I thought it might be a temporary glitch. I use Firefox by the way.

Pownce invite finally arrived

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 27, 2007

So, I finally get my Pownce invite and my initial reaction is – It’s pretty cool, much cooler than twitter. It is quite simple to use, I would say as simple as Twitter itself. There is no posting by phone or instant messaging which Twitter provides. Maybe it does as I have still not explored it. I like the organised interface. It is better than Twitter. It lets me change my theme for the blog site. The only negative point I see is that scrolling is not smooth as the background is kept static. I don’t know the rationale behind this. So does Twitter but somehow the scrolling is faster in Twitter. Maybe the culprit is the AJAX code (if at all it exists in Pownce). I haven’t explored that either.

Overall, I like it but I am not sure if I would be using both Twitter and Pownce, for that matter I am not sure if I would be using microblogging at all. Maybe while I am only my biking trip 🙂

Here’s my Pownce profile and Twitter’s, not that you are going to find something useful in it!

http://pownce.com/kanmoorthy
http://twitter.com/kanmoorthy

You never know what’s in the bag…

Posted in internet stories, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 25, 2007

Facebook is facing legal action from ConnectU, which claims that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea while at Harvard.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6914843.stm 

What is your take about the $100 laptop?

Posted in life, society, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 24, 2007

The $100 laptop the brain child of Professor Negroponte (OLPC)is ready for mass production. It has come a long way since it was first proposed five years back. I have been sporadically reading about it in the news about the progress. At first when I heard about it, I felt it was a brilliant idea although I wondered why a $100 cap was put to it. The developing and under-developed countries suffer mostly because of lack of education and direction in life in general. Most people don’t have opportunities and worse don’t have opportunities to create opportunities. I know it sounds like a play of words but what I mean is that when a society is given the opportunity for the younger generation to educate themselves then they in-turn create more constructive opportunities for themselves and for others to improve their standard of living and more importantly reduce the violence which is so rampant in these parts of the world.

Professor Negroponte has a very holistic project on his table when he took upon the task of providing education and the laptop is only the means for it and not an end in itself. If the product is as usable as it is claimed then most NGOs and NPOs can come forward to fund its production and distribute them in the remote corners of the world to help children learn. The cost in itself then becomes immaterial since an organisation which supports this cause will surely come forward to fund it even it it going to cost a little more. Currently the cost is at $175 and they are trying to bring it down to $100.

I think it is a great project, what do you think about it?

Caught in the Google’s view of the web

Posted in life, musings, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 17, 2007

The title borrowed from the statement made by a friend of mine. Well, the background is that my friend who made this statement is German and apparently he has been building a house for his family. Recently the roof of his house started to vibrate during heavy winds and later found that the concrete mixture used to build it was not correct and it had to be re-built. So he is moving out of the house now to live in a hotel for few days before the roof could be repaired. Obviously this is quite a discomfort given that he also has a toddler to take care of. To ease his position a bit, I told him that there is an Indian proverb (used in my native tongue) which effectively says that when you start a project and have numerous problems in the beginning, then the later part of the project life would be much as ease. This arises out of the belief that more problems you face in the beginning then more incorrect things are set right at the beginning itself, leading to a much smoother sailing later. Of course you can philosophically apply this to life itself. The more you struggle in the younger days, the middle and older days will be relatively at peace.

He asked me for the source of the proverb and a link on the Internet. I was searching for it and got a mail from him that he is looking at the Wikiquote for Indian Proverbs while I was doing the same thing. When I told him that I was doing the same thing, he came up with this comment that we are caught in the Google’s view of the web.

How true! For me increasingly the gateway to Internet has become Google. Even if I know the URL of a site, I sometimes type the keyword of the site on Google toolbar and then click the first link that props up, which invariably is the right link. Isn’t amazing that we have become so reliant on Google and potentially Google can skew our views just by being a gatekeeper of the Internet? Thank goodness that their motto is ‘do no evil’ or are they really sticking to it…

Did Spock got spocked?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 12, 2007

He he, Robert wrote about the new personal search engine Spock and lo! the site goes down with a zillion hits.

spocksitedown.jpg

Is the Pownce website down?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 8, 2007

It is 11.53 PM in Singapore (GMT +8). The Pownce website seems to be down for some reason. I don’t have an account and wanted to check if there was any update about new sign ons and lo! the homepage is inaccessible.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

Do you have the same problem with Twitter?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 8, 2007

I just signed up for twitter and found an annoying thing with the website. Every page I visit, I get a warning message that should the browser display both the secure and non-secure content?

Can’t the Twitter developers do something about it? Most people use browsers with default settings and it can be quite annoying to click “yes” to every page you visit.

A nice animation work…

Posted in creative, internet stories, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

This is a really nice flash animation work. Check it out.

http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/34244097/

By the way, if you are looking for a creative artists community where you can see different artist’s works then deviantART is quite an interesting one to spend some time on.

A UI design mistake by Nokia?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

I have been using mobile phones for the last 10 odd years and have used a number of different phones and always found that Nokia’s software and its UI design to be spectacular, until now of course, as iPhone has been launched. Recently I got the Nokia E65 and I think it is a pretty decent productivity phone.

The one thing I find of late to be quite annoying is the way you lock the keypad. The phone automatically gives you the option to lock the keypad when you close the slider and you can choose yes or no. But if you fail to respond for a few seconds, the option disappears and the only way (that I know so far) to lock it is to click the power button on the top which gives you options to switch off the phone, lock the keypad or change your profile settings. The annoying thing is that the switch off option is the first and while you navigate to the second option to lock keypad if you press the middle button (the big select button) on the phone, it selects the first option and switches off the phone. I wonder why the designers did not consider the fact that most people hold the power button for a couple of seconds to switch off as that has become a common knowledge. Very few people look for option to switch off by pressing the power button once.

As the navigation buttons on the key are close to each other it is quite easy to make the mistake of choosing the middle button and bang the phone is shutdown. I would say that the option to lock the keypad should be first or somewhere in the middle after the profile options as most go to that menu to quickly change profile from loud to silent. The switch off option should have been the last.

Nokia, can you do something about it?

My E65 camera sucks

Posted in life, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 2, 2007

I am utterly disappointed with my phone camera. I mean when Nokia can make such spectacular camera for N95 why not make something half decent for E65. The pictures have lots of noise even in bright light. Well, can’t do much about it now. But I am gonna save money for the iPhone next year 😉

Below is a picture of the washing machine I am buying for our new home next month, shot from E65. Click on the picture to see the full version

30062007_washingmachine_2.jpg

Viddler the video man

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on June 28, 2007

There are umpteen sites out there which boasts of video hosting services, offering all kinds of interfaces and features to easily upload videos. So, I came across this new service Viddler. What’s so cool about it that one should use it?

  • The video can be embedded on a website or a blog entry. I couldn’t embed one myself as the button in the wordpress dashboard wouldn’t function properly. Still getting used to the new WordPress service.
  • The application has a really cool way of tagging the videos. It is completely flash driven and once can click on the timeline of the video and create tags based on specific video moments. This is one feature that I like very much as the tags can be highlighted when the video is playing and if tagged properly it can put the video content is perspective. Whoever thought about it deserves a pat in the back!
  • It lets you write comments on specific moments of the video and start a discussion in-turn.  This is very similar to the tagging feature but instead of tagging, the users can write comments and then reply on other’s comments. Another of my favourite.
  • One can record a video from the webcam and directly save it on viddler
  • And it has a nice search facility

I still think it has a long way to go before it can think of competing with application like YouTube. But I think applications such as these will eventually push for better services from bigger providers like Google and MSN

Go ahead and fiddle the viddle…

I am hooked on to meebo

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on June 27, 2007

I simply love this service. I even added the meebo widget on this blog and you can message me from the blog that you are reading. Isn’t it cool?

I can now manage all my IM lists in one location online and I can see who is online without worrying about installing the applications in all the gadgets that I carry. Great work meebo team!

Windows planning online file storage?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on June 27, 2007

It is already be old news by now but there is renewed interest in Techmeme about this topic. Last year Ray Ozzie, CTO of Microsoft made a statement that they are looking to get into the area of online storage by leveraging its huge server farms making file storage online, thereby accessible anywhere, anytime, code named as Live Drive. There is also intense speculation (for quite a while now) that Google is planning something similar service, popularly codenamed as Gdrive.

I think they are really cool products as it changes the way we manage and operate PCs. Imagine high-speed bandwidth on several of your devices – mobile phones (with integrated music player), laptops, desktops, PDAs and various other mobile computing devices and you could access all your data anywhere. You are talking to your friend about a song that you have stored in your online “drive” but can’t play it as you don’t have it in your mobile phone cum music player and all you have to do is simply log on to your online “drive” via wireless Internet, download the file and play it on your device. It opens up so many different avenues for new ideas and applications.

Can’t wait to try them all!