Narain is the founder & CEO for 360 Degree Interactive, a web services firm based in Chennai, India. This blog is about his personal views on Web 2.0, RoR, Social networking,Digital media, interactive advertising, SaaS, Service Oriented Architecture, India Inc, rural education, Web standards, mobile 2.0 and more.

Monday, January 31

Funniest Error Messages

Just come across this error message gallery. Just can't stop my laughter with this. Chk the most funniest Error Messages

Wednesday, January 26

What was 2004 with Mahesh Murthy

Mahesh Murthy is one cool guy in India who is an avid technophile and a promising entrepreneur. He writes for Businessworld. The following are his predictions which were on 2004 January and he likes to crosscheck himself with today.

A little more than a year to the day, yours truly published a list of '10 predictions for 2004'. It's crunch time now. Here are the predictions with my comments a year later in italics:

1. BPO will be big for India, not for Indians:
BPO work will go up at Indian subsidiaries of US and UK firms. No broad-scale opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs... The multiples here will be lower than those for IT service firms.

Pretty much bang on, if I say so myself. Daksh got sold at less than 3x revenues. Ditto for GE's BPO.

2.IT services will go over the hill:
If you believe businesses go through s-curves, the coding-for-cheap business will have reached the mature top of the curve... and the stock will calm retirees, and not excite day-trader types.

Well, I was wrong - and right. The coding coolie shops did well on revenues, but punters aren't buying their stocks. They're up 20 per cent - 40 per cent for the year - same as the market.

3.IT products will be where the action is:
Look to see a few acquisitions of Indian product firms by overseas firms, and a few IPOs that will sizzle. Indian services firms will also start buying product companies as last-ditch measure.

The acquisitions are happening. Certainly one IT product company I know (and co-founded) is up 400 per cent. Others aren't far behind.

4.Investment bankers will wake up:
So M&A activities will go through the roof...

Bang on again. I think my friends in suits have had a busy year doing deals in everything from steel plants to machine tool companies to, yes, the odd Internet company.

5.2004 will be the bull year:
The Google IPO in the US and Reliance Infocomm IPO in India will set off yet another tech mania (a saner one) on both sides of the Pacific. Both will make acquisitions, on both sides of the pond.

The Google IPO turned out to be legendary... Reliance will push its IPO after the brothers make peace. But who thought we'd see a Sensex 6000 so soon? Moi?

6.China will be a threat in services, not products:
Indian manufacturing will come of age... our bhai-bhai friends will make inroads into IT services, where we're still inefficient.

Our manufacturing went head-to-head, and survived. Chinese IT services firms are making inroads and revenues - in China. Not outside it yet. We have more time.

7.VCs will come back to India - though later:
True-blue venture capital will come back to India by late 2004...

They're back. 'Nuff said.

8.Politics will attract professionals:
The age of Lalu Raj will end... A new breed of ex-professionals will start making their mark here.

An unprecedented 141 Lok Sabha members under 40. Chief ministers making Powerpoints. Business triumphing over politics in Karnataka and Maharashtra for infrastructure's sake. Not bad.

9.Roads and retail will make a difference:
...This big overdue investment in infrastructure... will not just help companies make money, but also turbo-charge our economy...

Malls exploded. And continue to do so. Roads are getting better - even in Bombay. Things are finally looking up.

10.We will make movies for the world market:
...A few directors will forsake India, and find fame overseas with films for the world audience, not NRIs.

A few tried. We didn't get anywhere. Guess they'll keep trying.
Courtesy: Businessworld Magazine
Seems like what he said a year back most of it worked. Let me post sometime later about this year's predictions, if he is writing any.

Monday, January 24

Microsoft website in Tamil

It's surprising to see that the lazy Seattle giant has actually taken a serious step in localisation. Microsoft has actually taken a concrete shape to compete in the local markets in india. The first step being their website in Tamil. Don't be surprised, It's true and it's here to stay.

Have a look at this snapshot and go to the Ms-Tamil Page

Way to go for all leading MNCs in India

Friday, January 21

Firefox Quick Tip

Just accidently found this neat tip in Firefox.

Click on a link directly - opens in a new window or parent window depends upon the target set.
Click on a link + shift - Opens in a new window
Click on a link + Ctrl - Opens in a new tab

Golden rules for Designing "Bad User Interfaces"

You quite often hit upon some document which outlines what is best on a particular category and we forgot that after our cup of tea. So at SAP, they don't want this to happen, so they actually did the opposite, by bringing the top 10 Bad User Interfaces. Along with that, my take on providing Bad user interfaces are the following:
1. Never provide user guidance
Example: If you have a form with a phone no. Field to be filled in by the end user, don't provide him how he needs to fill in his number. Is it XXX-XXX-XXXX / countrycode-state-user no./ no-hyphenated nos only/

2. Never organise your screen
Example: If you have a web page, let the contact page be one end of the site and the contacts in your office in the other side. Let the user explore it. He will spend some more of his time with your site.

3. Build your screen for single browser
Example: Always & Only test with world's leading browser from Seattle and let the other 30% of the users are not required for your organization.

4. Don't provide accessible features
Example: Our application is only for people with a P-4, 2 GAB RAM & 800 GAB HIDE with all the add-owns the motherboard can accommodate. We don't worry about other people, who use alternative ways to access internet.

5. Made by you. Made for you
Let's build the application, which pleases your project manager or your Boss. Clients, why should we bother and customers are those homosepians, unfit to understand the masterpiece you have created.
On a serious note, SAP's Design guild actually provides a whole lot of useful information for a Web Professional.

Thursday, January 20

Picasa 2

Picasa 2 is Google's Photo management software. Well, that sentence will not justify the usefulness of this software. There are no. of surprises this small software has.
Surprise 1: I have downloaded one to my machine and it indexed all my collection within 3 minutes. Quite often I forgot, that this is from Google ;-) so is the speed of searching

Surprise 2: It arrange the photos in a year based timeline with individual folder. I am able to track some of the images I saved way back in 2001. You also have a mini image corrector built-in like cropping, contrast adjustment and like.

Surprise 3: Brilliant Timeline view. First time, i jumped out of my chair to scream, what an interface, sexy transitions. This also comes with a Slide show view and Oops!! forgot to mention their icons & panels. Looks like Google learned a lesson or two from Apple in creating icons & panels. Way too far than any other stuff i have ever seen till date in image management.

Surprise 4: This is absolutely FREE. Yes it is. I can't believe my eyes on that. Such a great software and Google is giving it free.
Download your copy now. no excuses any more.

On a sidenote, Google actually integrated all their free downloads and gives us as a single download. This single download consists of Google toolbar, Google desktopbar, Google desktop search, Picasa Photo organiser, Gmail Notifier. See here to download

Nvu - Open Source Web Authoring system

via Sitepoint's newsletter, I just read about this website. Nvu (pronounced as N-view) is a first open source, complete web authoring system for end users. Designed with non-techines in mind, Nvu has all the feature sets you expect in a full fledged, paid web authoring system (read: Dreamweaver / Frontpage ) This is a giant leap in the area of web development. I am not sure, whether Nvu is build with a CMS system like contribute or a blog publishing system.
Nvu is based on Gecko, the layout engine inside Mozilla; it's a super-fast, very reliable, standards conformant engine maintained on a daily basis by a wide community of developers. Its remarkable support of XML, CSS and JavaScript offers the best authoring platform on the market. Its architecture based on XUL makes it the most extensible editing tool ever.
The main difference they claim of Nvu are
1) Emphasis on ease-of-use for the non-technical user,
2) Robust WYSIWYG editing,
3) Integrated web file management,
4) Enhanced handling of forms, templates, etc., and
5) Extensibility which allows advanced users to build their own extensions to Nvu with a just a dash of JavaScript. For instance, it will be very easy to create new "smart widgets" (i.e. a calendar, a date/time widget, a mail widget, etc.) and integrate them with one click into Nvu.
The features are well, awesome. I really like the integration of CaScadeS, the full featured CSS, add-on for Mozilla browsers. Although it takes it's shape from Mozilla composer source code, Nvu clears most of buggy elements and presents us with a cleaner, professional, more standards driven, today's technology tool.

What's more, this is a stand-alone tool you can work with. Just download, extract the zip file and run, that's it. You don't like it, delete the folder and get back to your chatting with your girl friend, it's so simple to work with.

What's inspiring here is the commitment of the promotors. Normally, you see an open source project taken up very well with much fanfare and end up beyond their beta versions. The promotors here confirms their commitment to proceed further and to release the official, user-centric Ver.1.0 of this project. I have downloaded and looking forward to test it for a future project. If I am satisfied with the performance, i think it will be a good add-on for web development projects. Download your copy

Tuesday, January 18

Microsoft Office - Hindi

Just saw the information at the Microsoft's site (But why is that going to to, can't they have a registeration?!!) This page gives you a detailed information about the MS-Office Hindi

Monday, January 17

End of a brilliant Dream

This month, it is said, that the management of Transmeta finally decided to shut down. What a brilliant idea it was originally. The idea of this chip making company is to develop a mobile chip which can be upgraded via a browser. I first came to know about this company, when Linus Torvalds, (the founder of one of the greatest ideas of our time - Linux) joined this company. From there onwards, off & on I am have developed a liking for this company purely because of their "most original idea". But it is sadly proved that ideas alone wont make a business. Let me learn that from this brilliant yet sad debacle of this company. Good Bye Transmeta

Read the news about closure here

Sunday, January 16

on Book Fair

Was on Chennai's biggest Book Fair for 2-3 days. Bought a whole lotta books this time. Some of the prominent Books which i bought in my mother tongue (Tamil) includes ,

The Life & Death of Che Guvera
World Cinema by S.Ramakrishnan
Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono
Monk who sold his Ferrari
Confesssions of a Catholic Priest by Jean Messier
Detailed narration of 9/11 - P. Raghavan and a
whole lot of "Kavithais" of prominent poets in Tamil

Along with my technical books, i have just added a heavy load on my shelf. Will make me busy for atleast 3-4 months.

Saturday, January 15

Sony 101 - Course Overview

Blogging for future referenceSony 101 -

I am finally with my own Tamil blog

After much deliberations, i am finally launched my tamil blog. It's said that everyone is thinking in their mother tongue and expressing in English (atleast for me ;-)!!), so i decided to take a plunge into directly transmitting my thoughts in my language itself. It's is said, that the largest non-english blogs are from Tamil.

You can take a dough on my writings here: Urpudathathu (direct translation meaning useless, care-free, indifferent about things)

Wednesday, January 12

Yahoo Desktop Search

Joining the bandwagon with Blinkx, Google and X1. Yahoo has launched a beta Desktop search. I have downloaded to test the application. Let's see who wins in the long run. Will post a detailed review sometime later this weekend.

Tuesday, January 11

Community Blog in Tamil for Tsunami Relief

There are more blog posts on Tsunami and everyone is doing their bit to bring back life for the people who lost it. Tsunami relief operations were discussed in details in tamil blogs. 20 days later, after the emotional outburst is slowly settling down, it is time for us to unite & work on the rehabilitation for the victims.

With that in mind, myself & Vasanth has started a community blog in tamil squarely aiming at the relief, rehabilitation operations needed for the tsunami. The blog is called as "Relief Tsunami" and will be operating like a community blog. We dont' want to restrict any thing related with Tsunami relief & rehabilitation. To reflect Vasanth's words, we can even speak politics provided that will help the relief operations, more tuned with social dynamics & environmental political issues.

This blog will be in Tamil. Anyone who is interested in participating can send an email to vasanth or myself to provide the login-password for the blog to post. Even simply you can leave a comment to this post in my blog or Vasanth's blog.

It's time to shed our emotions & tears to move forward to bring back the life for those who think they lost once for all.

Help a Child back to school & get a Gmail Account

I am throwing a freebie here. Go log on to Help a Child get back to School site and donate and send me a request for gmail account from the same email ID. If your payment is thru' i will give you a Gmail Account. It's worth spending few $$$ for Kids to get a 1GB email account ;-)

Monday, January 10

Help a Child to get back to School

It's been a great pleasure for me to associate with the wonderful team at Akshara Advertising Chennai. I have infact, blogged my experience on Jan 1 of my collection drive on streets. This time, I am proud rather excited to announce an initiative, master minded by Anand Siva (VP) of Akshara Advertising, Chennai.

The initiative goes with a single-minded purpose. To help the school children get back to school.. We are providing school kits for the needy children. Complete details are available in the website
Help a child to get back to school

If you are reading this blog from a corporate network, pls. do take 2 minutes to Copy + Paste the url to your internal email system to spread the word.

The credit goes to Anand for ideating this. I am thankful to Anand Siva and the entire team to be a part of this initiative. We have done the web site and tracking the response for the same. The same is also reflected in our corporate site's intro. Feel free to go & contribute to bring back the children to school.

Watching Now!!!

Though having hectic schedule , I am watching the following DVDs.
  • City of God
  • Bus 174
  • Bowling for Columbine
Will post on these movies/documentaries in a week's time. Quick review: City of God "brilliantly told story of a horrific social conditions of Rio in Brazil"

Sunday, January 9

Dear IE, i am leaving you once for all

Dear IE,

Thank you for being a pain in my ass for all these days. It's very fortunate that your father aka Bill Gates has made you so invincible with the Operating system. It's very unfortunate for me to work on the OS without any further choice in my office. But to say the least, you bugged me like anything, anytime u wished.

I had all sorts of issues from you. Improper alignment, sudden crashes, security holes (btw, with you these are not holes, but a deep valley ripe for the hackers to have their own garden build & maintained inside!!), unusual structure of opening 15 windows for viewing only 8 sites in my machine and you block the entire task bar with your windows, un-user-friendly features. The lists goes endless. I tried every trick in the book to set you right, but like a notorious kid, you always escape from me and continued mischives in my machine. Like a rogue kid, you bring your evil friends aka virus, trojan with you everyday.

It's time, i adopt a new guide to continue my journey on the internet. Though it is disgraceful to say goodbye to you once for all, thank you so much for teaching me a lot about what your parents aka Microsoft for. With every farewell, you always have some sort of good memories you carry with you. Being from the richest parent, i doubt i have anything great to take with me as you memories, but a mind full of issues & troubles i have encounterd all my way with you.

Good Bye IE. May your Soul rest in peace once for all.

For more obituaries to IE, chk Digital Proof

Thursday, January 6

The "C" class Post soon!!

"The role of blogs in corporate outreach and image making has been a hot topic lately. A recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found blog readership increased by 58 percent between February and November 2004. In December, Highbeam Research launched a initiative to encourage bloggers to cite its research in their posts." - Read the full news

and that's a post I can opt for. Chief Blogging Officer (CBO) HBO, where Movies are the rage, for CBO posts matter i suppose

Your Mobile. Your World.

NTT DoCoMo has a futuristic tour of Tokyo. Something we can hope in few years from now in India

Top Ten E-Business Trends for 2005

eMarketer has this prediction. I just took a copy for my own. Download my PDF of this.

Inside this PDF, you see 10 changing trends for 2005 & the near future. The predictions & my take on these technologies, channels in ( ) -s
  1. Alternative Advertising - (heard of Podvertising!!)
  2. RSS (Feeds. Feeds and more Feeds. btw, it's not your BJP coalition partner )
  3. AOL Changes (It losed customers. will it regain!!)
  4. On Demand TV (the remote control is world's powerful weapon)
  5. Wireless Broadband (The difference between the sky & earth is blurring)
  6. Radio Frequency Identification [RFID](Now every product comes with a patch!!)
  7. Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP - think Skype)
  8. Linux ( the Penguins are moving!!)
  9. Cross-Channel Retail (Amazon goes offline. Barnes & Noble Online)
  10. IT Security (Still you will have an African Emperor unclaimed wealth available in your Inbox for few thousand dollars)

Look ma!! I made my film in my Laptop

I was having a chat with Balaji, my friend, who actually revolutionised the way Tamil Film Industry does the Editing in 3 years. Insightful, resourceful and on top of all, this man aggressively moves faster in post production technology. He runs an edit suite called "Edit Spot" inside AVM and a part of many hit malayalam & tamil movies. He just informed me, that he is the first guy to have HD capability to edit in his laptop with Avid, chuckingly. Man!! This guy will go places soon!

The crux of the matter is we were discussing about the rise of the iPod as a medium and how other companies din't even come near to where Apple has taken it. Suddenly i had this wildest idea. Creating a full-fledged movie in a box.

Our overall bundle goes like this. With a laptop (good one with your Editing software, more RAM, more HDD), using iPod as an external HDD or an external HDD, live sound recorder and also a storage of audio effects storage, a good digital Camera (Sony leads always!) and a camera mobile phone(with blue tooth & GPRS) for connectivity and a few DV cassattes. That's all!, take a care, hire a few talented actors, book the spot and just shoot!. Your movie can be previewed, edited, viewed, color corrected, effects added, post-production made on the spot. When you are out of the spot with 2 full pack of Lays on your table, you finish the editing of the movie in your laptop and take patch shots in your DV camera and that's it. The movie is ready for release.

I am excited about this proposition. I will test this out in 2 months and post you what i learned. The journey of an independent film-capturer (who am I to compare myself with legendary film-makers) just begins. Watch this space!!

Wednesday, January 5

Outlook Best Photos Collocter's Issue

Outlook has came out with a Collector's Issue of Best Photos of 2004. Worth buying it. Chk the magazine Website here and buy it offline ;-)

The images which moved me.

1. An image of an old HIV patient taking shower in Taiwan
2. An Iranian Traffice Cop trying to control the traffice dancing on the road.
3. The cover image of a Bangkok Siege on road with a School Kid being the hostage.
4. Anti-war protests in London Streets
5. "I am Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq" - Taking Saddam to Court in Iraq
6. Taj celebrating 350th birthday a view from the boat.
7. Rape of Manorama ( The most daring photograph i have seen in the recent times. Not because of the imaginary, but the commitment & rebelliousness motives of this photograph. This photo is a testimonial what Indian Govt. did for the North Eastern states in last 54 years..)
8. The GAY couple marriage exchange in California. (Look the World is heading towards bi-sexual!!)
9. The now infamouse Nipplegate - MTV awards function with Janet Jackson

Worth a buy!!

Flash 2004 in 2005 - What to Expect ?

As everyyear passed by, there is a sense of curiousity in all new media developer's mind, where will Flash move next ?

Mattew David @ Informit, has done a few crystal glazing for us.

His predictions // copy+ paste here without permission :-) //

Here goes:
10: Maelstrom, the new Flash Player, will come out this year. No surprise there. I am expecting a lot of nifty new features in this version of Flash.

9: Video will get better in Flash. Much better. If you did not catch the news when it was posted to one of Yahoo!’s finance sites, then you may have missed that is providing the new video CODEC. I hope it is the whole CODEC as the one at rocks.

8: A new version of Flash Communication Server should be out. I am hoping for BIG improvements over performance. Let’s try and get more than a handful of people video conferencing for each server.

7: More Flash. Much more Flash and it should be everywhere. Now that Flash 7 has hit the 80% saturation mark, expect to see some cool stuff.

6: More wireless support for Flash Lite. Macromedia is making great strides in this area. Make sure your next cell phone supports Flash Lite.

5: Flash Applications on your desktop. More Flash out of the Web Browser. I think 2005 will be the year you start to see applications being built with Flash. And, they will not be hosted inside of your Web Browser – they will be just on desk top.

4: iPod support for Flash. OK, this one is just a nice dream, but as you may know, I love my iPod and a match of Flash and the iPod would be marvelous.

3: More specialized Flash products. We have seen Flash Paper from Macromedia and a host of other Flash products from third party vendors. This year the products are going to mature from cute to cool. How about a photo album tool build in Flash? Or an office system?

2: Better server products. Flash is only as good as the data fed to it. Products such as Flash Remoting, FLEX, Lazlo and other products are bringing the data. Expect more from Breeze and other products to help bind finesse and information.

1: A new version of Flash? Oooh, that would be cool. I really want to see Macromedia give Microsoft and Longhorn a run for it’s money.

Tuesday, January 4

Cuban Council. Not affiliated with Fidal Castro

The above title is the footer of this brilliant design studio. Was reading Jason Fried's post on the digital-web's poll. Of the top 10 companies to work for, i dint see only 2 companies. One is Cuban Council & the other is LudiCorp, although i am using their excellent photo sharing application Flickr.

Cuban Council literally rocks!!

Monday, January 3

Get the Look Series

The Get the Look Series gives you an overall idea of the trends in webdesign. Worth a visit and take things with a pinch of salt. For a web designer & developer, this series will certainly be an eye opener in terms of visual cues, color schemes, site architecture, site trends and others. Go, Get the Look by Adam Polselli.

Saturday, January 1

First Post on the new year

Welcome 2005. Amid of loss, calamities & lots of tragedies, this new year has born over here. The first gift presented to myself for the new year is a book called "Competing for the Future" by Gary Hamel & CK Prahalad. And the first page i randomly read was about 2 companies Alpha & Beta. Beta being the small rival. Alpha being the big multinational, multimillion dollar company. The excerpt is that how Beta wins over Alpha by clever strategy and its nimbleness. Certainly the same kind of attitude i would like to keep up for this new year.

Wishing everyone for their dreams come true this year.