Category Archives: tech

2 days of effort down the drain…

Its always hard when you put in a lot of effort in doing something but it doesn’t work out well. In that event, the one consolation you have is that you did give it your best shot but it wasn’t meant to be.

However, even harder task is when you spend a lot of time preparing for something, to the exclusion of a lot of other things, and don’t even get a chance to have someone look at your work. Something similar happened today. I worked on preparing a presentation (for a company interview, what else πŸ˜‰ ), but got eliminated in the first round itself, while the ppt was actually scheduled for the second round! It is ironic though, spending so much time on something that you know you may not even get to present.
Anyway, thats what the internet is for: sharing ones work without having to undergo distribution charges for the content! So heres what I did prepare, a study on some features that could be added to the multi-protocol IM service: Meebo (Now my previous post makes sense as well I bet!).
The presentation is a bit incomplete/simplistic, because I of course expected to be able to explain it all in much greater detail, but hey, feel free to leave your comments.
Most of the revenue assumptions/estimates are in an embedded excel as well as a word doc with a hypothetical blogpost introducing one of these features.

PS: Awesome background/font template credit to Amit Goyal.

Using the meebome widget to chat with visitors to my blog

I was playing around with Meebo recently as part of prep for an interview, when I came across this cool product they have called meebome. You can see the widget active on the right side of my blog page in fact.

For those who don’t know, Meebo is a multi platform IM client, allowing you to sign into multiple networks like MSN/Yahoo/Gtalk/Facebook chat etc from a single browser window. Around since 2005, they are VC funded and started showing ads last year, finally trying to monetize on the huge community that they have built up over time.

Its a nifty little widget, allowing you to interact with visitors who visit your blog in real time with IM style private messaging, something Meebo is known for. Unlike some other similar services (shoutbox?) that allow website users to leave messages, Meebome is pure IM, so any messages you leave will NOT be visible to others (except me of course :P). The only requirement being that I need to be signed into Meebo for the live chat to work, which is reasonable.
I have interacted with a few visitors to my blog through Meebome, and must say its an interesting experience!
Meebo has recently been building quite a community website around the core multi-platform IM product that they started with. They have partnered with multiple website with their Meebo bar, allowing people to stay logged in on other sites, and display ads to those users, of course. With their increased user-base, this seems to be an interesting play, and may perhaps bring them to profitability as well.
So wanna talk? Ping me using the widget, and lets see if I am online!

Google enables https by default – Finally!

A day after the beginning of the Google-China soap opera (still ongoing of course) and the reported mail hacks, came the news that Google was making Gmail more secure by enabling https access by default (reported here and here). While https access has been available to users since at least beginning of 2007 (earliest reference I found, check here), you had to go into settings to turn it for default use or use a different URL to login. The funny part is that even last year, privacy advocates had asked Google to enable it by default.

On a personal note, I had enabled this sometime in 2008 I believe, when they introduced a setting to switch and choose the more secure option.

Google says that the switchover was planned since six months and was NOT related to the China issue and reportedly wouldnt have prevented the attacks.
Sam Schillace, an engineering director at Google Apps, said the shift to default HTTPS was not prompted by the attacks and, to the best of his knowledge, would not have averted them. The move had been in the works for some six months, during which time Google engineers did extensive testing and made numerous technical fixes to enable a smooth transition.

However, the announcement itself was prompted by the attack news. β€œThe Gmail team decided, why wait?” he said. β€œWe want our users to be as safe as we can make them be.”

– from Nytimes Blogs

The funny part? If this was ‘completely unrelated’ to the China issue and Google had planned it all along implies that Google was pretty much prepared for the transition. Indeed, the above comment mentions that it was in process for about 6 months, with ‘extensive testing and technical fixes’.

However, if you look at the bottom of the announcement page (here), you see that multiple applications from Google itself, including Gmail Notifier, Gmail for mobile, Google Toolbar, offline Gmail and the iGoogle email widget are all having incompatibilities/issues with the https default setting. Now if this was planned in advance, I dont think it would have been too difficult for Google to simply push out updates for these products. All that was needed was a check to switch to https inside the app automatically if it detected that the user account was configured as such!

Bottomline: While it may have been under consideration, this was clearly a sudden decision without the ‘extensive’ testing that is Google’s trademark. Why they dont they just admit it? Dunno…

How to play amr files?

The reason for this post? A couple of audio calls I had recorded on my mobile phone for a report we were doing. However, when I transferred them to my laptop to transcribe them, I realised that they are all recorded in the *.amr file format. This is apparently a standard for speech recordings and used by multiple firms (including Sony Ericsson on my k790i). On top of it all, I don’t have the phone anymore (got a new one, more on that later), but I needed to read the files. Amazingly, most of the standard players I use, including winamp, windows media, and even VLC were of no help (license issues apparently).

A search on the net led to, and the reason for this post. Its a pretty light and useful piece of software for what it does. Theres a simple UI. Just add your files, and go ahead and play them, or convert them to WAV or MP3 formats. The reverse is also possible (in case you want it). Best of all, there’s no trial period or anything. The software is free.
So if you need help with this strange looking format, you know where to go.

Uninstalling Xobni – Outlook is fast again!

Now first of all, Xobni is a great tool. I have been using it for a couple of months now. Its installs an Outlook add-in that makes search pretty quick inside of outlook itself and definitely better than the built-in default Windows search. Plus it has added social networking features and integration with Linkedin/Facebook etc which helps pull in contact information. While I have been a fan of Xobni for a while, there have been rumblings of discontent recently.

The first issue was when I found that I needed to split up my PST files (getting too large) due to the huge mail volumes here at ISB. Apparently in between, Xobni disabled the ability to search multiple PST files when they introduced a separate premium version. While older users were still allowed this, I had to go and reinstall my OS (moving to 7 RC), so lost out on this ability.
I finally moved back to my old tested and tried free desktop search tool, Copernic. I enabled only email search for the tool. While I may not have it available as an add-in, its still pretty comprehensive and accurate enough.
The fun actually started once I uninstalled Xobni today. Outlook suddenly became much much more responsive. Folders opened like that! I just realised that my Outlook had become so slow over the past few months, but I had just gotten so used to it that I stopped noticing it!
So if you have it installed. Try removing it once and see the difference. Trust me, you dont want to go back to it, advantages or no advantages. Oh, and give Copernic a whirl. Its an excellent search engine for files/mail etc on the desktop. I find it better than windows and Google desktop search as well.