Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Google Reader

For all those out there who are passionate about RSS aggregator and are looking for the best offering out there which helps them best track what they are following on web on day today basis, there is something to cheer about. Google has released a completely revamped Google Reader . As always, they were very modest while releasing this completely new RSS aggregator. The philosophy for the new UI is simple: Your inbox for the web. And they have done this is most elegant way. I have been trying quite a few web based RSS aggregator. Yahoo along with its new Yahoo! Mail also released a completely new RSS aggregator, which is quite similar to new Google Reader. However the service has bit of glitches. It does not show you how many of the feeds are still unread. Also at times the RSS feeds do not come through properly. Its bit slow when you browser through the long stories. But Google reader comes with superior "Google User Interface" and unprecedented usability. So intuitive. So cool. Yahoo! made a great point with their new Yahoo Mail by integrating your email inbox and web inbox in one service. Probably even Google would eventually integrate their Gmail and Reader to one interface. Lets see.

RSS feeds have been one of the great revolutionary things of Web 2.0. I think after Email, IM, the RSS is next great thing, which happened in Internet. Sometime back I attended the presentation at a conference talking about shift in the way we deal with Internet. Instead of pulling the information out from Internet, we would be pushed with the latest information, which are of our interest. That was 2003. And within few months of that conference, technologies like RSS and ATOM came into existence. And within few months they have became so prevalent or pervasive. RSS is getting applied everywhere.

Talking about the ways RSS technologies is being applied. News Sites, Blogs, Forums, Corporate websites are few examples of where RSS is being applied. Now a days even all the social networking sites like Flickr, MySpace and email services have RSS feeds. With RSS, you can create one dashboard which you go every day for monitoring the new content or activities at different blogs, forums, news, any new photo getting uploaded at Flickr by your friends or any new job that got posted on the a particular job portal matching your criteria. In some places RSS feeds are taking over the old Email alerts, which of late has got bad reputation of spamming your mailbox. RSS is a new way to market the new features or inform the users of the new launches.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yahoo! Mail beta

If you haven't heard of the new Yahoo! Mail, do check out The interface is close to Microsoft Outlook. Some of the features which stands out among the tonnes Yahoo! has put together for this beta:
  • Tabbed mail browsing
  • Right click menu shows the custom menuitem from Yahoo! and not the default browser context menu
  • Split view of message list and the message content. Similar to any desktop mail client
  • Compose window is quite similar to Outlook
  • One can view RSS feeds subscribed in My Yahoo.

Of there are some in Gmail which are quite handy and not yet in Yahoo! mail beta:
  • Attachment is not that seamless like Gmail
  • Messages are organized in conversations which is till not the case in Yahoo mail
There should be many more. However, Yahoo! has done a great job with this beta. Earlier they released the new Mail search which was again quite outstanding.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Startup School

Harvard University seems to be organizing "Startup School" annually since 2005. I stumble upon the notes from the 2005 event over here and for 2006 over here . The conference deals with various learnings and experiences around how to go about starting a company of your own. I am yet to go through all of these but bet that it would be interesting read. Its for sure that there are great learning in store for some one who wants to venture in to start something of his own or for those who have just got started with there small shop in software. I have been following quite a number of sites which collate and bring in experiences and war stories from those who are successful entrepreneur. Venture Voice is one of them. Venture voice posts interviews with some of the successful entrepreneur both in software and non-software field. Sometime back they had organized "Venture Voice Startup Workshop" a similar event like Startup School. You can check out the coverage of Venture Voice workshop over here. The pod cast has great set of learnings on what are the factors influencing the success of a startup.

I always have a thought of doing something of my own at some point of my career. But for now, would continue working with the corporates, garner some experiences and then would see.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Whats the better language for my application?

What’s the better language for my application? Whether I should be using PHP, or Java or .Net? Or how about Python, Ruby on Rail (RoR) or our very own C language? Now that’s the question most of the system architect or sometime even the programmer would have come across at some point of time. Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software fame ran the story titled “Lanuguage Wars” on his blog addressing exactly the same. Of course there is no straight formula or a matrix out there, which helps you decide which is the better tool for my application. All this programming worlds have their own pros and cons. They have large ecosystems build around them. There is lot of talent pool available for this skill sets.

According to the article an important thing, which helps you decide is the skill set you have at your disposable. Apart from this the specific needs of the applications like the application should run on Unix and Windows platform or likes. Apart from all this, the one thing, which I would consider, is the application frameworks and reusable components or libraries available out there in the community of these programming worlds. If there are some frameworks or the set of libraries, which would fit in readily in your application, then it’s a big advantage.

Writing Hacks

Getting started with writing is something real difficult. Whether its writing a blog entry, or an essay, or an article or some time even a elaborate email explaining some specific scenario of a project and the implication due to same. Speaking and writing are two different skills. A guy who speaks well need not be a good writer always. Writing has its own hacks. Scott Berkun has posted a very good essay titled Writing Hacks – Part 1. The essay brings out good insights on how to get started with writing something. The essay teaches good hacks such as starting with single word, then a sentence and then the whole thing. Overcoming psychological barrier of getting started with writing is something every one has to deal with in their life at some point of time. Even for me, I had hard time putting together my first posting on this blog. Even though it was just an introduction but still you write something then erase it and then write something else and on and on.

Scott Berkun is always a good read. He has a unique and intriguing style of writing. And when he shares the tips on how to get started with writing and how to write better, then it should be great. Whether its writing something or doing a painting, or designing a UI for an application or sometime even writing a piece of code, for all of this you have to break a similar kind of barrier. How to get started? And once you get going it becomes easier. For me writing a piece of code appears to be easy now then what it was before 3 years. All this because I have been doing it for quite sometime. Same would be the case with writing. Once you get going for sometime, you become more comfortable. Another thing, which I felt was a major barrier for writing something, is the concern for quality of content. You read lot stuff here and there and you feel that you should be writing of the same quality. I overcame this by thinking as of I writing for my self. It does help in getting started. Once you have confidence you can expose your writings on the blogs, etc.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Web Archive

This is cool. Have you ever wondered what was the home page of Yahoo! 10 years ago? You can do this. I ran into this site which allows you to see how a particular website or a webpage looked way back in past. Pretty cool. This is how yahoo looked on Oct 17, 1996 and on Apr 05, 2001. And this is what Google looked like on Dec 02, 1998. Quite good if you want to see what was the retrospectively what was registration page for Yahoo mail and how it has evolved over the time. Of course there are some broken links here and there when you open the archive version of this sites. But all and all nice, handy utility to give a peek on the state of Internet 10 years ago. Good for those who are writing essays on evolution on Internet or evolution of Google and their home page.