August 6th, 2008
Vizu provides customized poll widgets for Blogs and web. A publisher can set up a public question with desired no of options. The publisher can access the results from his Vizu account. These poll widgets are best useful to get public opinion either to enhance your product / service or to conduct a survey. It shows current stats after voting. You get to know your opinion is public opinion or not.
Vizu is best suited for casual opinion / survey. Recently I saw Vizu is being used to gauge public voting for a design competition. There was a prize for publicly voted entry. There were 8 participants and everybody was using their social networks to get ahead of others. Vizu was showing instant result and this was motivating them
The product is technically very sound. It does not allow you to make multiple votes from the same IP. This also has cross browser linking. If one has done voting from Firefox, one can not make vote from IE. But in case of dialup connection there are programs through one can acquire dynamic IP. This can significantly change the results.
But a small feature would have made this product more useful. Providing an option to publisher whether he want to publish the results immediately after the poll or want to set a time line for the result. So it’s up to the publisher when he wants to publish the results. No body will get to know the stats till a deadline. Showing results after a poll can motivate people to make fraudulent votes. If the publisher is using this for casual survey he can show the stats immediately after the casting the vote. If its being used for some serious purpose than publisher can set up a deadline. This can significantly bring transparency in the result
August 3rd, 2008
Email systems has a great system in place to filter spam. Human intervention adds to its filtering capabilities by making classification of a particular email. “Report Spam” and “Not spam” have become almost standards in all the web email clients. I am not sure about corporate email clients. Still I receive spam emails in my inbox sometimes.
Mobile communication still lacks a system in place regarding spam. At the same time spam level is not so intense. Spam is still limited to promotional / alerts / telemarketing calls and messages. For some users getting an insurance investment call could be useful. For some users it might be quite disturbing in-between work. I get a significant no of telemarketing calls. I feel like comparing no of telemarketing calls on my mobile versus Viagra emails in my Gmail spam folder per day.
Once my mobile gives a message notification. I feel like opening it. Guess most of the time either its bank alerts or promotional messages. I have done enough of “don’t disturb me” stuff. Guess it does not work as efficient as expected.
I think when once receives a voice call, the screen should flash whether it’s banking/shopping category call. If one is interested one can receive the call. Also after one finishes a call there should be mechanism to tell the system whether it was a spam call for you. After sometime there will be a pool of spam numbers in the system. Changing a telephone no is not as easy as creating a mail account for spam.
Unlike spam folder all my unwanted text messages can reach to a spam folder in my mobile without notifying me every time. When I am getting bore at airport I should be able to check all promotional, unwanted alert messages. I hope for a spam free mobile communication in near future
July 8th, 2008
What is a media type in context to the internet? I would say images, video, text, would be the basic ones. Now say someone wants to create a web application which supports uploading and display of images. On top of that also wants to create a social network which helps the uploader share and comment on images.
Now this is not a new idea and many people have done this. The formost 3 which come to mind are Flickr, Picasa and jpgMag. All three support uploading of images. All three have support for comments on images. And in all three users have the ability to share with friends and other users. Then what makes them different? The basic mediatype is same and the basic features are also same.
Mediatype and basic features are the skeleton, what differentiates these applications are the outer details. And especially here the GOD is in the details.
If you compare the upload restrictions in flickr and in picasa(for the free version):flickr - 100MB per month , picasa - a nerdy 1024MB (which makes it exactly one GB). Now people with digital cameras and who shoot even on and off if they upload regularly will cross the 1024 Mb limit in picasa soon. Then they would either have to delete some images or stop using it. While in flickr theres a continues flow of fresh images even for a free user. That keeps a users page continously fresh. What I have personally seen is people use picasa to upload 200 pics from one trip, all the images to it. While in Flickr they might only upload the better ones, so that they don’t cross the 100 MB per month mark. This difference in itself changes the quality of the pictures in both the sites.
jpgMAg caters to an even niche audience. They have a voting feature which they use to select some pictures and then print them to make a magazine. So here the submissions are mostly based the the current running theme which they declare. And needless to say such serious business brings in the experts. The satisfaction (and the money) which the selection of your picture for print brings increases the quality of pictures manyfold. And their upload restriction is “only 10 a day” which makes the pages even fresher. So these and plenty more features determine what kind of social network these sites have.
The whole point of this post was that only a mediatype doesn’t make a web application. I have seen people saying kwippy, plurk, twitter in the same breath. As for kwippy just give it some time to work on those outer details which would set it apart.
December 9th, 2007
I will tell you people a story today. Well not a whole story, just an incident.
So the evil man got in the way of The Bride. And his head fell in one neat stroke of her katana. If I make this into a movie there are two ways I can go from here. One is the gory japanese style ala Ichi the Killer, of which Quentin Tarantino is quite a follower. Another is the regular action film, where the director has chosen the genre of the film as non-gory, decides to just let the blood flow slowly. What do you think will happen to the evil man?
We will discuss scientifically what should happen lest the above incident actually happens outside a studio.
Why? Why oh why? What is the need of such a discussion do you ask. Becaue there is a difference between the science questions we grew up solving in school and that we encounter in our day to day life. In the school questions, all the variables are defined. You already know what is known and what you have to find out. In the real world the exact problem is not very evident. It is not even evident that there’s a scientific question around. There are prejudices, supersition, common sense and a lot of other such words floating around. So if you know what the exact problem is, the solution is just elementary school standard.
The above diagram is pretty self evident. And apart from the normal pressure head, there is a lot of lose in pressure due to kinks and bends in the pipe.
So when someone is beheaded, the pressure at which the blood will spurt out is =
P = (density of blood) X (gravity) X (height of head) + (a considerable lose factor)
Since our arteries are pretty branched the lose factor will be quite high.
Conclusion is that the blood will spurt for a moment of time to a height close to the top of the head (at least). The at least is because extraneous factors like the air resistance, the lose factor, etc. After the initial moment of spurt since the system is now not closed (less amount of blood in the system), the speed of the splurting blood will ebb and then change to a flow.
November 4th, 2007
Email could be business decisions, system failure alert or an opportunity in peer group.
It has more meaning than just information. Emails have become more of management tool. You become forerunner if you access & respond fast.
I have multiple email accounts. Even multiple accounts in single email client for different purposes. Every time I have to log on to many accounts. Once I signed out,I no longer know whether it has got a new email. There are lots of sync mechanisms. Import mechanism, which can import email from one inbox to other.But still I think it lacks a good design. There are many add on software available which can manage multiple email accounts. But I check my emails on different machines.
Gmail itself is well designed with awesome search capabilities. Can I use this design and search to access my outlook and Yahoo mail ? Consider a design I am proposing.
From the drop down user selects one account and it loads all the emails in this skeleton J . One doesn’t have to go different email clients. Different sign in. If I am checking my Gmail account. A pop-up can inform me whether I have received an email in my outlook and vice versa. All my Gmail tags can be replaced by the folders name if I select my Yahoo ID. I am not sure technically how much can be achieved but strategically this utility can simply multiply Google’s email business revenue.
April 6th, 2007
I travel in 4 to 6 different buses a day. Mostly for work, as fun travel is reserved for the autorickshaw. And it has been 3 months since i have been in delhi. So I have travelled a lot in delhi buses. Most of the travel is made interesting by interesting people and the tape/radio. From haryanvi folk songs to Black Eyed Peas from the radio, there is always something for everyone.
And the bus tickets. It’s the tickets which made me think of how the whole system is designed. And most of the times I travel by private buses not by DTC(govt buses), simply because they are what I mostly get.Though I have travelled in many different buses, along different routes, I keep getting the same tickets again and again. And only a very few have the bus registration number printed on it. The first thing which seemed most probable was each ticket meant a bus operator. But then I found three different types of tickets on the same conductor. Also seen on bus insides is a painted sign, “Ticketless travel is like, begging”, or “Ticketless travel would be punished by a fine of Rs. 100″. So the first question which came to mind was, how do the conductors prevent people from traveling on old tickets. When I examined the tickets, I noticed the 4 digit number on each ticket. That figured, as the conductors can keep track of what numbers (and what design) they have sold in a day. And if someone claims to have taken the ticket, showing them an old one, they can check the ticket number and check.
The number on the ticket does solve one problem, of preventing people from getting a free ride. But there are still some problems left.
When the conductors run out of a particular denomination of ticket, say of Rs.2, they tear the Rs. 5 ticket through its middle, making a hole in it. A Rs. 5 ticket with a hole in it is Rs. 2. So this implies that they don’t have to give an account of where each ticket went to the owner. So how does the bus owner, who most probably has 10s of buses, keep check on his conductors and prevent them from cheating him.
From what I have seen and I have seen a lot of tickets, all of them have only a 4 digit number. That means for each design of ticket there are 9999 unique ones out there. But the designs are so few and the people who travel on buses so large, that I am sure that there are multiple lots of a single design with 0 - 9999 printed on them. So if the conductor wants he can easily get the same design and series of tickets from the market. Here I am assuming that they don’t print 5 or more digit numbers. One because to print each number means additional complexity, with less marginal returns. And two because I don’t think the bus owners do a lot of accounting, i.e. No. of tickets == X Rs.
From what I know of delhi buses, I guess their owners use mafia techniques to keep them in check. First time caught stealing, a thumb, second time a foot, third time into the Yamuna…
Also a problem which I personally face is of fending conductors who have weak memory, who ask me to take ticket a moment after I have bought one. One of my friends suggests asking him,”hey first give me my change, I just gave you a Rs .100 note.” HA haa..that would test their memory for sure.
What I have done in this post is inspired by Newton’s thought experiments. The simplest way of finding how all this works is, just asking some conductors and bus drivers. But that would take away all the charm of reasoning out of it. I want this to remain a semi-mystery like the ‘BeanBag‘ signs painted across mumbai. People do have some wild theories about it.
If you have any different idea or find any flaws do point them out.
Also points to ponder while you get bored in your (office)/(college)/(wherever else you get bored), over these:Are Akaash and Pakash(a word with no meaning for all I know) printed by the same printer? If so why? Did he get bored with one design? Did he loose a font. Or by workers of one printer who stole the printing molds and slightly changed it to prevent copyright violation?