Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Switch Back to Old Facebook Design

Facebook has once again become the center of criticism of its users. This time the bone of contention is its new design. Around 1.7 million users worldwide are not happy with it and they’ve formed this group to show their disapproval. Actually, the new design of Facebook is meant to give the Twitter feel and provide more space for advertisements. New and old design, both have their pros and cons. But as far as Facebook is concerned, it has ridiculed the demand of switching back to older one. But if you have become habitual of the older design and want to keep using that, here’s an easy trick for you. You can get your dear old Facebook back in just three easy steps:
  1. Add the “Facebook Developers” application (from here)
  2. Click on “Go to application” and close the page
  3. Follow this link
It’s simple, isn’t it? Those who adore older Facebook should try it out. Although, I rather prefer the new design myself.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Google Noticeboard for Indian Villages

Recently Google India Labs announced Google Noticeboard. Google Noticeboard is an application targeted towards not-so-technical public for sharing information. People can create text messages or record voice snippets and post them to one or more digital noticeboards. Google Noticeboard allows user to engage in public communication with communities without much technical know how.

According to Google's CEO, this could be the "poor man's email." I personally would rather call it "poor man's wiki & email." This seems an excellent idea to me and can do the same to the villages that wiki has done for general Internet collaboration. Communities with access to shared computers can use this application for exchanging messages related to community announcements, social interactions, local buying and selling, and information that is of wider interest to the community. This is probably first social media initiative of its kind which bring collaboration and communication to Indian villages.

It works as Firefox plug-in and I visualize having Kiosks in villages having Google Noticeboard pre-installed more like bank ATMs. Seeing the application design, I can guess that is definitely one of the objectives. Though the success seems a distinct future and the first priority for Google should be create technically better application. User interface and usability is going to be key for this application and more attention is required to make it user friendly. Presently the application seems confusing and difficult to use.

Though we must congratulate Google for such an initiative for Indian villages. I wish Google all the best and success for this application.

International SMS are Free on Google Voice

Today my GrandCentral account is upgraded to Google Voice account. If you don't know GrandCentral, the basic idea around GrandCentral was "one phone number for all your phones, for life." This one number works very well for me as I keep traveling to different places. Also GrandCentral can ring my laptop computer using Gizmo, so I can take calls from my laptop itself.

I was eagerly waiting for it, as I am an extensive GrandCentral user and some of the news features are very useful for me. Some of the new features are -
  • Free Conferencing (Up to 6 users. Though it is not working for me right now)
  • Free SMS (both inbound and outbound, so I can receive SMS on Google Voice phone number, which makes it true replacement of a mobile phone.)
  • Free Voice Transcription, so that I can read the voice messages in your inbox. I hope it is better than me in understanding American accent :-)
  • Free US calling. Not only I can initiate calls from the Google Voice website, but also I can use my regular US phone for making calls using Google Voice account. Also international calling is almost as cheap as skype, though not free.
Coming back to free International SMS, here are some of he key points -
  • International SMS are for free
  • Once you get a response of a SMS, Google generates a unique 406 number. This will connect to their international number but will cost Google Voice rate.
  • This Google Voice 406 number can be saved in your in your contacts and one can initiate SMS, bypassing Google Voice online.
New registration to Google Voice is available on invite only, so if you don't have existing GrandCentral account, you will have to wait for your invite.

Update March 23rd, 2009: Recently my international SMS to Netherlands are failing and I am not sure whether Google has stopped International SMS.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Windows Live Profile, Yahoo Profile and Thousand Other Profiles

Here is another proof of the fact that Internet giants Microsoft and Yahoo are now really scared of Facebook and Twitter. Today my Windows Live Messenger (MSN messenger) asked me to update my Windows Live Profile. On the Windows Live Profile, I’ll be able to share my status, notes and general profile information like my hobbies with my friends or with open public. One important feature that I found missing is that it does not allows you to get a friendly URL. For example, my Windows Live profile URL is whereas I would prefer something like

Anyways, this is another social networking platform to keep everybody posted about you and what you are doing. There are quite a few social networking tools already competing in this space. Recently, Yahoo also changed its good-old profile pages and changed them into a full flagged social networking platform. Now with Yahoo profiles, which is presently in beta, you can connect with your friends and keep them posted.

Now with so many profiles - Yahoo profile, Windows Live profile, Facebook profile, MySpace profile, Orkut profile, LinkedIn profile etc., maintaining them is becoming almost impossible. Hope there will some tool soon where we can manage all these profile at one single place.