Saturday, August 03, 2013

~ Browser History ~

If you happen to be like me, where you want to share a link with a friend / colleague which you read few weeks back & forgot the URL. Then we now have a beautiful Chrome extension for finding it easily.

I know we could use the default Chrome Search history feature, but this makes it more easy & interactive. Install the extension here.

~ High level view ~

~ If you have viewed more pages from a specific website then it maintains the chain of events too ~


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Sunday, June 30, 2013

~ R.I.P Google Reader ~

It has been quite a journey with an application or service that I have used consistently for about 7 years now. From the basic functional web app to the feature rich upgrade, Google Reader has seen been a very decent application / service from the stable of the search giant, Google. 

Lack of active users, is the reason why Google is killing the service. I seriously doubt if that is really the case & most of the internet seems to disagree with such reasoning. Agree that, the way we consume information has changed over the last 3 years, after the rise of Social Media applications. The consumers cannot choose the shelf life of an product or an app. Companies change their strategy based on their business objectives. 

The retirement of Google Reader has provided an opportunity for many companies to fill the void. Not sure if the new application can perform as good as G Reader, but there are a lot of alternative already available:
  1. Digg
  2. Pulse
  3. Feedly
  4. AOL Reader

There are reviews available on the web for each of them, just Google them. With very limited usage of the above services, Digg being my current favorite. Shall post my review of Digg after spending additional time with it.

Don't forget to download your Google Reader data via Takeout.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

~ Smart watch from Apple? ~

"To convince people that they have to wear something, it has to be incredible," Cook said. "If we asked a room of 20-year olds to stand up if they're wearing a watch, I don't think anyone would stand up." 

If The Verge is to be believed then that above observation from Tim Cook, makes him a realist. Many of us don't wear watch these days unless for fashion statement. I wear them occasionally. Not sure if  Cook made such a statement to stop the trail leading to Apple's next wearable tech gadget, which could very well be a smart-watch.

However, Tim Cook feels that the market for wearable computing is "interesting & profound" which is ripe for exploration by many companies. When asked about Google Glasses, here is what he had to say 

It’s probably not likely to be a mass market item, Cook said. “It’s probably more likely to appeal to certain markets,” Cook said. I'm interested in a great product. I wear glasses because I have to. People generally want glasses to reflect their fashion, style, etc. So this is difficult from a mainstream point of view. I think the wrist is natural. I think there are other things in this space that could be interesting. Sensors are exploding. It will become clearer over time.
I feel that with ever expanding world of technology & manufacturing we are just churning out more smart devices for the same purpose - mobility & function. Lot of smart devices which are already in the market - Smartphone, Music Player, Tablet, Laptop - overlap the feature set over form factor. I have a music player, smartphone & macbook. The most I use during my day would be - Smartphone, Macbook, Musicplayer - in the order which is mentioned, when it comes to mobility. The pattern would resonate with most who own more than one mobile device. I feel people would prefer owing one unified device {carry/wear} over many devices for same feature set. 

There are already many next gen devices out there & also a talking shoes which is beginning to shape the ground for the next big thing - Bionic Technology.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

~ Apps & UX ~

We never seen so many companies vying for users who want to have a pie in the so called social web sphere.

This is not the first time were we are seeing so many companies offerring the same service / app in different formats. Off-late many of the old players are redesigning their web offerings to take on the disruptive upstarts.

It happened with the following, where the existing players were challenged & eventually upstaged by the new entrants:
  1. Blogger vs Wordpress vs Tumblr
  2. Yahoo & Hotmail vs Gmail
  3. MSN Messenger vs Skype {Before MSFT acquiring it}. Hangouts is trying to take on Skype with the latest unified messaging
  4. Symbian & BB vs iOS & Android 
  5. IE vs FF & Chrome
  6. Flickr vs 500px vs Instagram
  7. Dropbox vs Box vs GDrive
  8. MySpace vs Facebook & G+
Over the last couple of years after the explosive growth of mobile phones across the world, the internet has turned from content consumption to content generation. There is so of much user generated data across various web applications that we have surpassed all the data from the dawn of civilisation. As Eric Schmidt says, "We create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003". 

Here is an infographic which depicts a day in the life of internet.

Now when we have so much of data, we need a good UX to represent it. We keep witnessing UX changes with many web apps & off-late mobile apps too. Of the numerous apps, Social Networks keep users actively engaged  with - sharing, likes, comments, tweets, instagrams, pluses, RTs, etc. In order to attract New users & turn them into active participation companies are Now redesigning applications. Google revamped Google+ offering last week which looks like 3 column Pintrest-styled offering and today we see Flickr UX look like combo of G+ photos & 500px.

There is more to UX design than what meets the eye. I like the way Om puts it:
I don’t know James, but my sense from reading his post is that he approaches design through a visual lens. Unlike him, I am not a designer and so my way of thinking about design is influenced by not mere visual aspects, but also how things are constructed. I don’t just love the shoes because of how they look — though that matters — but I also look at where the leather comes from, how it is stitched together and what kind of craftsmanship has gone into it. From shoe trees to little patterns on the toe to the packaging to the font on the label, all of those little things add up to the design aesthetic. 
I have come across many Existing Users who have welcomed the new UX changes to G+. While few lamenting the design change. In case of Flickr, few loyal users are upset with the UX & others are hurt over the current 1TB free offering, while they have been paying for their Pro accounts for years. However, with New entrants go through Paradox of Choice deciding which service to go for & remain loyal. It takes a bit of experiment with an App before one concludes whether UX is more important over feature offering. There is no Universal answer on how a person decides what is best. UX definitely plays a major role in creating the stickiness with an User.

Here is an insight into what went into thinking of redesigning of Google+. Om chats with Fred Gilbert, lead designer of Google+
Gilbert explained that when Google started working on the new look, the idea was to take a lot of information and show it in as simple a manner, giving the eye the visual cues to understand the importance of content. Bigger photos, for instance are indicative of their importance. Photos become bigger based on analysis of past relationships to the people and the content and their ensuing interactions, Gilbert explained.
Underlying these visual cues are a lot of data analytics. This data-informed design is actually a clever approach and the wave of the data-informed design. Gilbert said that usually when companies undertake a redesign of their website, it is based on some kind of data they have collected over a period of time. For Google+, data is informing the design, except at a much faster speed and is hyper-personalized based on who you really are. “Data and design have to be used together to tailor experiences,” said Gilbert. 
Application, be it web or mobile, is getting more personal in the manner we use. We act as curators, choosing what we like to consume from various sources to be Social. It would be great one day where data-informed applications can recommend / suggest what goes well with our taste. Need to see how well Google+ fares in recommending contextual content with #hashtags.

Only time shall prove it, if brand new UX { or unlimited data offerring } will get New Users or upset the existing Loyal Users. One thing for sure, companies need to keep innovating & competitive against the upstarts to remain active in business.

~ G+ Community Page ~

 ~ Facebook Page ~

~ Flickr Stream ~

~ Google + Album ~

~ LinkedIn Home ~

~ Google+ Home ~ 

~ 500px Home ~

~ Pinterest User Page ~

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

~ HTML5: The vanilla web diet ~

A very informativa talk by Christian Heilmann, developer @ Mozilla, on the current state of web application development using HTML5 & the state of modern browsers. He asks the developer in coding for future  specs over applying the rule of common denominator in determining the browser support of a feature.

You can watch the talk or check out the slides here 

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

~ Social Media Data & Tracking ~

Following are some of the use-cases where the product - Viral Search - could be used:

  1. Allow the media companies trace how the story travels
  2. Study what content connects w/ the audience & generate those content
  3. Crowd control during riots, natural calamities, emergency situations, monitoring audiences, etc
  4. Used to control {engagement} the minds of how people see news
  5. Elections would be a good use-case too

MSFT is a partner with Facebook, wonder if they get access to FB User data as well? Need to search N read how they got access to a Billion Tweets to carry out this analysis.

What do you think of it?

Via The Verge

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Monday, January 28, 2013

~ True Lies ~

All the Social Media Gurus & Managers, how would you deal with such a scenario. 

There's just one problem: The story that sparked this social media firestorm may not be accurate. How do you restore the image of the Business once it has taken negative publicity even though the whole thing has gone viral?

What would you do to recover from social media mob or backlash? Most of the times, technology could be a catalyst for your business. At times, they do have side-effects.

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