June 30, 2008

Microsoft Retail Future Vision..

I am waiting for this to happen.. shopping experience would be awesome!!


Video: Microsoft Retail Future Vision

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 29, 2008

Bye bye FullShot.. Welcome Evernote!!!

Here is a secret!! I am a screenshot junkie! I take lot of snapshots of portion of computer screen for any of the following reasons..

  • I have to remember that stuff for future use.. (say I made some money transaction over internet, and bank website has provided me details about transaction confirmation.. I dont copy stuff and mail them or store them somewhere.. I just take a quick snapshot and save the JPG on the disk!)
  • I like some website or software interface and want to share stuff with somebody! (I share such stuff a lot! I send snapshots through email attachments a lot)
    • Though, this activity has been taken over by Mento now! And coolest stuff is, it posts the thumbnail and hyperlink on my WWW Activity Stream..
  • I need to refer to something later on.. for research purpose.. (If I am just surfing internet and found something on interesting which I dont have time right now to do research on! I just take snapshot and put reference to it on my ToDo widget on desktop!)

Till now, I had been using Inbit's FullShot software (thanks to one of my friend who gifted it to me!) Its undoubtedly awesome piece of software for taking arbitrary screen snapshots! If you learn that software entirely, you increase significant percentage in productivity!

Main problems that I was facing with Fullshot was, snapshots taken on one machine were only on that machine.. Many a times, I had to remote into my office machine just to take a look at the damn snapshot that I took during office hours! I was looking for a solution that includes S+S model.. where I can integrate snapshots of all my machines (there are bunch of them that I work with regularly.. sometimes it becomes painful keeping things in synchronization!)

Before I got evernote into mainstream, I added my snapshot folder in Live Mesh profile so that all the snapshots on all the machines are synchronized! (Even before I got live mesh into mainstream, I had been using Windows Foldershare.. there is a lot of history associated with this dragon!)

But then, I got Evernote which is exactly what I wanted!! I moved all my snapshots into evernote (there are appx. 780 screenshots in my store increasing everyday!).. Here are advantages that I get using evernote over all my past systems!

  • Add it once and get it everywhere! (No more synchronization issues.. Take snapshot on any machine and with just one click snapshot gets saved to evernote, which all other machines get automatically - of course, through evernote system!)
  • Search within snapshot! (Would you believe it?? But, this is Evernote's Mastery!)
    • Just imagine, I have taken snapshot of my bank confirming payment of my Mobile bill.. and after 15 days I have to refer to that confirmation again due to some issues.. now, I just search for my mobile number in evernote and that confirmation surfaces in matter of milliseconds!) It searches images like its a text stored in there!
  • No computer access, dont worry, access it from Web Interface!!
    • This is high relief for me.. Sometimes it happens, I am at somebody's home and need to access these snapshots quickly.. Its just a login away.. I login on evernote website and get access to all my snapshots along with search features, on the web!!
    • I dont use Windows Mobile or iPhone right now, but evernote has mobile client as well!
  • Storage : I am using free account from evernote as of now! which gives me 40 MB of uploads every month! (appx 100 snapshots every month = ~3 everyday!) If I am running out of this limit, I think I would be happy to pay for it!
  • Screenshot Taking procedure is awesome!
    • Evernote has a small tool called Universal Clipper which takes snapshot like charm! Not just it can take plain screenshot, It can also add it to the Evernote collection with just one click OR copy the clipped area to clipboard (as bitmap for pasting it in outlook email!) OR save it as external JPG! OR Mark it with various color pen provided by the tool (to highlight or something!).. In short, love this tool!

So, after a long time, I have Good bye Fullshot and welcome'd Evernote to my always running tool! Like they say, One needs to welcome change.. and Softwares are no exceptions to it!!

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 28, 2008

How do I.. create my blog with my own domain name for free?

It was before few days, when I got an email from Hyperwebenable.com that they have been watching my blog for some time and would like to offer me a free domain name (.com/.org/.net/.info anything) that I would like and host it on their servers. They would show two banner ads on all pages that I show in exchange of that..

I went ahead with the offer and just got http://jigar-mehta.com

I am still in the process of setting it up and their administrator is working with me to allow me setup everything I want (Right now, I am enabling google talk/jabber chatting on that domain with email and calendar through google apps). Once I am fully done with new domain, thinking to transfer to the new domain! (though, for some time, I will continue cross posting..)

If you want to get your own domain name for your blog, go ahead and tell them about your blog..
http://tinyurl.com/3rryao

Shifting the blog got me in touch with Wordpress once again (my domain blog is wordpress based).. I feel like, wordpress is much more better than blogger! But anyways, blogger has got some pros too!

PS: Though they have not yet enabled advertisements on my blog but I guess they will do that in future!

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 25, 2008

How do I.. Keep my files synchronized between multiple machines..

This is the issue faced by many people using more than one computer/devices.

Well, at the same time there are multiple services out there in the cloud that tries to solve this issue..

I have used following services which can solve this issue..

  1. Windows Live Foldershare
  2. Microsoft Live Mesh
  3. DropBox

Dropbox and Live Mesh are still in private beta where you need an invite to join the service. Windows Live Foldershare is in beta but anybody having Live ID can join.

I am running out of Live Mesh invites right now, but I have few DropBox invites available.. If you want, leave a comment with your email id, will send one!

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 22, 2008

Company will provide Broadband Internet connection at home, to all employees

Yesterday we had a FY09 Kickoff party @ Grand Ashok.. Neha Bhasin from famous Viva group was there to rock the floor. Had a nice time with the group.

Apart from business update, there were few announcements.. One of the most interesting one (the one that earned highest clapping) was "Company (Microsoft, India GTSC) will provide each employee with Broadband Connection at Home" (until now this was provided per business-need).. Though, I had been using Broadband @ home from the day I entered bangalore, but I really liked Management's decision to provide it to all employees.. It will help them stay in touch with latest happenings while at home and leisure time!

Another announcement that got everybody's attention was Microsoft, India GTSC will donate appx 1000+ Desktop Personal Computers this year with latest Operating System and latest hardware configurations (Windows Vista, Multi-Core) to NGOs. Basically thought here is to give something back to the society.. A huge initiative, Congrats to the leader who thought about this idea, loved it. If you know any registered NGO within India, who can be really benefited from a personal computer, please let me know (leave a comment here, I will contact you!)

My company Rocks!

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 20, 2008

Dare to suggest or discuss an issue with Windows UI ??

Are you a designer mind? Do you love discussing UI / functionality related issue ? Can you think of better way to solve an issue with Windows UI / experience? Do you like suggesting things? If yes, then here is a great site that lets you discuss and 'vote' regarding windows UI issues..

http://www.istartedsomething.com/taskforce

Very nice site that I enjoy spending some time with every now and then. I love to see how different users looks at various features and what they expect.. There are also great people out there who gives really great ideas to solve complex problem in efficient way! My personal favorite on the site is 'digg' style box to cast your vote (positive or negative).. You can also leave comment to back your ideas..

Though, this is not Microsoft Official website (Microsoft should comes up with something like this to get feedback from community) but, I hope Program Managers from Microsoft will take a look at this site to 'listen to' what their users are saying (which is their primary job, I guess)!

Go, advice Microsoft to build your Dream Windows..

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 19, 2008

Blog crossing 1000+ page views per day with 850+ new daily visitors..

Woo hoo.. June 18th was somewhat special in the terms that my blog crossed 1,000 Page Views marks.. (Generally this has been from 700-800 average daily page views with 500-600 visitors).. Looks like Chris's twitter and respective friendfeed post has helped getting people's attention on my Live Search blog-post..

Following is what my Woopra shows..

image

Though, time spent per visitor per page (47 seconds) is not very good.. But I think Woopra's algorithm for counting it has some drawbacks (say if you come to any page, read it for 10 minutes and leave the site without clicking any other link, Woopra counts it as zero second visit!! and I think its not woopra's mistake, because there is no way to track such visit's accurate timing..)

Anyways, Thanks a lot people, hope you enjoy the content! Just thought of sharing this because crossing 1000 page views for this blog is first time in my knowledge Happy

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 18, 2008

How do I.. “Download new wallpapers from internet and change desktop look automatically”

If you are using Windows 7, use this theme which downloads wallpapers dynamically from Microsoft servers (those which featured on Bing.com homepages).

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 7, 2008

How do I.. "Keep my notes accessible everywhere"

The problem is:

  • How to keep my Notes accessible everywhere! Such that,
    • If I am at my desktop machine, I can access them with just one click! (without opening any website and logging in!)
    • If I am roaming with my own laptop, I should be able to access / add / work with my notes over there, with just one click!
    • If I am outside and dont have access to any of my machines, I should still be able to access my notes and work with them!

Introduction:
I have been facing this problem from a long time! I tried many solutions! but none of them could make me speak "Perfect! Thats what I want".. So, search continued.. And just before couple of months, I read a blog post saying "Evernote is designing WebService based client as a next version!"

I had used Evernote previous version v2.0 which was not-so-effective for me! But this new version, Evernote v3.0 seemed interesting! I wanted to hear more about it so, followed Evernote on Twitter, Subscribed to their RSS and registered for Private Beta access for their new system! I did study with all that was available at the moment and found Evernote 3.0 can become Perfect solution for what I was looking for!

And one good day, I got access to Private Beta.. (Its still in private beta, if you need access, let me know)

Solution:

  • Evernote 3.0 has Three main components..
    • Desktop Client
      • They have Clients compatible for both Windows as well as Mac.
    • Web Client (Access it here)
    • Mobile Client
      • They have Client compatible with Windows Mobile as well as iPhone. (Though, iPhone Client is still in Development.. having iPhone SDK still in beta.. I think they will release it once SDK is fully released).
  • How it helps for the problem in discussion..
    • Desktop client can be downloaded and installed on windows and mac. After installation, You give your unique account credentials where your notes/images/snapshots will be stored.
    • This data is stored both locally as well as on the cloud.
      • Evernote provides 200 MB of space to store this data in Free Account, but I have heard they have Premium model as well.
      • It will automatically synchronize the data on all all your devices (be it PC, Mac, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Web).
      • By default your notes are Private (only you can see), but if you want you can also make them Public so Everybody can see them!
    • You can also add a note by sending an email to your 'special evernote email account!' As simple as that!
    • Most important feature of Evernote is, It can search for Text within Images (which has proved to be a life saver for me!)
      • Say for example, you take snapshot (PrintScreen saved Snapshot) of your computer screen and add it to Evernote, it will be able to search for text from that snapshot!
      • If you have taken a snapshot from your mobile phone for a product which had description written, you can search text in that photo!
    • In case, if you dont have access to your computers and want to access your notes in emergency, you can enter secure area of Evernote Website, provide your credentials and Voila! You get access to all your notes, search them, edit them and remember, all your devices are automatically in sync..!
  • Usability in desktop software!
    • They have got one of the best designed Desktop Client (I have tried on Windows)
      • You can tag, annotate, write notes with Ink, Group by various attributes and search your notes from desktop software! UI is designed with great ease.
    • They have a tiny application called Universal Launcher which is small but powerful app.
      • If you are in any application (be it Outlook, Notepad, Word or Browser.. anywhere).. You select any text and press "Win + A".. That will automatically add selected text to your Notebook in evernote! Just one keystroke! (I love this feature!)
      • If you dont have text to be added, you want to take a snapshot of your screen and add it to your Notebook, you can press "Win + PrintScreen" which will allow you to select area of screen to be clipped and once you are done, that will silently be added to your notebook!
    • They also have an AddIn for Outlook. Which will help you add your email message to Notebook with just one click!

I can just say one word after using Evernote.. "Perfect!!" My search stops here! I have been using it from few months and have got dependent on it!! It has saved me a lot of painful hours looking for information.. My account summary on Evernote website says (I have appx. 675 notes stored in my evernote account with lots of them Snapshots/Images!),

image

I think this is one of the S+S system which I dont have any suggestions for! Its truly Perfect! Infact, the icon they have chosen for Evernote is also cool!

image

Happy Evernote'ing.. Happy

Stay tuned.. Wave

How do I....

I was just thinking about starting a new category on this blog, named "How do I.." (like, I have another category, "How would it be.." where I write about my Design Ideas to improve a produce or service)

As the name "How do I.." suggest, my main goal is to share basic usage information about different software/system! (be it a website or software or device !!) I will start with a unique problem to be solved and will probably note down one or more solutions to it. Probably you will also find some of them as cool as I do!

I will write some post in this category shortly!

Stay tuned.. Wave

How would it be if, "Google Reader gets Rules support!"

I was a hardcore FeedDemon fan! Especially after it taken over by NewsGator, it became better than ever! But then I tried Google Reader in parallel (version 2).. and I was forced to retire FeedDemon (though it became free!)

Google Reader is one of the site that is opened by me at least 5 times in any working day! (all days are working days for me right now.. at least when I am in the city!) Over the time, I have got a huge collection of RSS subscribed!

image

Its good, that Google Reader supports Labeling the feeds (so I can categorize them and focus on what I want at a particular time!)

But now, while dealing with so many feeds and traffic, I think its necessary to have Outlook-like (or EMail like) rules support in Google Reader!

Following are the Use-Case I can think of!!

  • One can create a rule to Mark items with specific word or entire feed As Read (without reading it)..
    • One would say what's the point in having such a feed in Google Reader! Well, The day Google Reader released its Search Feature, I was the happiest user! I had thought of many things about this feature.. Now, I have my own customized Search Engine (My own Google, that Serves me for what I am interested in!!!)
    • So, there are few feeds in my Google Reader which were added just so that they get added to my 'Personal Search Engine'.. I never wanted to read those few feeds on regular basis.. But What I want is, when I look for those Items, I should be able to search them quickly in my Personal Search Engine! (using the search feature of Google Reader..) One example of such item is, Feed from Books website where newly published/added book in specific category is syndicated over RSS.. I have all those new books (information about them) feed in my Google Reader which I dont want to read everyday (who has time!) but when I search for an ISBN in Google Reader, it should show me that Feed..
  • One can create a rule for an important feed such that any new post in that feed will send you an IM on GTalk/Jabber.
    • This will be really cool, Taking RSS to next level! (Instant Notification!)
    • Though, there are many sites out there who allows you to get RSS notifications over IM (like, try adding imfeeds@gmail.com to your google talk!), but having it integrated within Google Reader will be Awesome!
  • Marking items with specific items as starred items!
  • Automatically share the items from specific source or one having specific words.
  • I would love to have an ability to automatically post an item (or link to it!) to my blog if it contains specific words!
    • Just imagine, you publish set of photos on Flickr, which FriendFeed aggregates, which comes to Google reader (if you have subscribed to friendfeed RSS), and you already have a rule in place that posts Flickr related photo upload again on Blog! All your blog readers will automatically be able to see Flickr Photo uploads!! (this can cause recursive effect as well, but I am sure we can find some solution to get rid of it!)
  • EMail item to somebody with specific words or from specific source!

If you think there can be some more interesting use-cases for Rules feature in Google Reader, feel free to leave a comment..

Going forward, I would love to have GMail and Google Reader Integrated! Designing UI for this merging is going to be a challenging part, but that should be the way to go!! (no point in having two window [or tabs] having opened all the times!)

I think Google Reader has undoubtedly become Favorite RSS reader of the Mass.. Others should just retire!! (No offence, if you are BlogLines reader!!)

Go build your piece of cake! And yeah, if you are a geek feel free to subscribe to my Google Reader Shared Items

Stay tuned.. Wave

What will it take for Live Search to Win!!

Microsoft has been a leader or really a good competitor when it comes to software (and now slowly, I can say in hardware devices as well)! But when it comes to Web Search it is not the leader, neither is it a big competitor comparing the Market Share.

It is always a big challenge to break the monopoly, especially when you are dealing with unbelievably good and growing competitor! Personally, I love working on almost impossible challenges (because when you achieve something which was really impossible, its out-of-the-world feeling! Though, I know it attracts high failure rate and risk as well!) It takes something more than extra-mile to reach that place! According to me (and many authors that I have read!), The key to win is, "Keep users in front of you, for all that you do!".

Well, I had thoughts about "Improving Live Search to Win" in my mind roaming around, from quite some time.. But could not get chance to materialize them into a blog post. This weekend, I decided to finish this pending task.. I want to list few things here that Microsoft (Live Search Team) can do in order to Win in the Search market! I know, Microsoft is FULL of smart & intelligent people, and may be some of THE BEST minds are thinking over this problem 'day-n-night' relentlessly.. Here are two cents from my side (being a drop in the sea, who's not in the position right now to make direct decisions Happy)!

Here are main four themes around which my ideas can be grouped:

  1. Innovation:
    Though, people say Microsoft is no more Innovative! I completely dis-agree with them.. I see innovation every now and then with all the products I use from Microsoft. In-fact they are full of innovations! MS is the company who took PC industry till this point (where you and me having multiple machines helping us work efficiently!) I believe, Innovation would help Live Search beat competition as well! Here are few thoughts that I have collected..
    1. On the main page, show Today's top three/five viewed search results! (be it from News, Science, Tech, Blog category!). This will add dynamic content on the search engine home page which will pull lot of curious geek!
    2. If Search query has any spelling-typing mistake, it should suggest correct spellings. (which live search does right now to some extent, but I am talking about suggestions not just for dictionary words but also comparing page rank/likeliness of result pages!)
      1. Say for example, I make a typing mistake and type, “jiagr mehta” (instead of “jigar mehta”), Live search can not suggest me right now! (where as Google does!)
    3. Live search should expose verbs to search for particular category from main page.. Something like,
      • “blog:latest live writer CTP” : should return me results about blog posts about live writer CTP..
      • “news:US presidential elections”
      • “tech:woopra release”
    4. Allow users to subscribe for latest search results, which has rank worth of appearing on first page (for those keywords). Notification for such results would be available to users through IM! Just imagine, you have registered for “Earthquake China” keywords and you get an IM as soon as that unfortunate event happens!
    5. If user clicks on any word in particular search result's description (which is a content snippet from original article!), it should dynamically expand that search result showing 5 more continuous lines for that. This will allow users to read more information about the article on search result page itself (before clicking on correct result! - This will also improve click-through v/s success ratio)
    6. Auto suggest query and result about the most popular item on the sidebar as and when user starts typing in. (this can be challenging in real time, but what is not!)
    7. Provide more context to user query in search result preview: Right now Live Search (Same story with Google as well) provides very poor context of searched words in search result..

      e.g. searching for "Petrol price increase India", it gives result saying

      Petrol, diesel prices may rise after Jan 17-India Business-Business ...
      Petrol, diesel prices may rise after Jan 17 5 Jan 2008, 0329 hrs IST , Diwakar & Sanjay Dutta , TNN ... timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Petrol_diesel_prices_may_rise/articleshow/2676215.cms

      As you see in above result, actual content from the result page is hardly one line.. If more context is provided to user, he will be able to more efficiently select correct page by reading that information! (What I think is, its not a MUST to have first result the best one, if user is able to find his intended result on the first page without miss each time, every-time!, that should be absolutely fine! - Though, first result as best one is always good!)

    8. Use empty space on the results page to show more information that user might be interested in!

      Apart from sponsored results, there can be lots of things that can be shown on results page which can help user.. (I know, this will increase the wait time for user, but with the help of AJAX today, all these 'extra' items can be triggered to start loading after showing basic 10 results to user!)

      e.g.

      1. Allow user to group results from particular domain!
      2. Allow user to sort results from freshness of result page! (many times, I am looking for latest information and have to go through old articles!)
      3. If result is 'marked as news article', publish date of article! (This will help user decide to ignore too old articles! or choose the latest ones..)
      4. Provide user a small section of ‘Recommended Picks’ (more on this later in personalized theme) which will help user stay up-to-date with latest happenings he is most interested with.
    9. Implement 'Smart Scrolling' on search results page such that, there would be NO next and previous page links! As user starts scrolling the page, live search keeps on appending results! I think this would also help in improving overall search experience.
    10. Natural language interpretation! This is going to be a need going forward! If I write "What was the stock that gained highest today in NASDAQ" or "What is latest news about NASA's Mars mission" Live search should be able to point me right to the information! (I see companies like PowerSet taking a giant leap in this direction, and that is probably a nice to have feature today! [and probably must-have in near future!])
    11. Donation to charity institutions on usage of Live search was on my mind but its already officially announced as, ‘Search and Give’.. A very good Idea.. (Though, it needs to get completely integrated with Live Search! I don’t understand why Different Search Provider in IE for Search and Give!!)
    12. Live Search already have “Smart Answers” Which is actually a great way to give user something ‘extra’.. I would like to suggest following additions or modifications to it..
      1. If I search for any Movie Name or TV Show/series,
        • It should show me some vital facts about the movie (by partnering with IMdb)
        • Allow me to directly land on the page on NetFlix where I can add that movie to my Queue
        • Gives me inline option to buy for that movie (with some discount offered by Cashback) or add it to WishList.
      2. If I search for some Person Name,
        • It should show me basic information about that person (like e-mail, web-site URL, Profession, City etc.) [Probably by looking at public information from social networks like Facebook/Orkut/MySpace/FriendFeed or Professional networks like LinkedIn] and provide link to their public profile
      3. If I search for Song track,
        • It should provide me option to play that track inline (on search result page) [by partnering with Napster]
        • An option to buy that track OR entire album from Napster/iTunes/Amazon!
      4. If I search for City Name,
        • Give me Whether Information for that City
        • List current time in that City
        • One top breaking news that happened last in that City!
        • Link to map for that city (linking to Virtual Earth page!)
      5. If I search for any Software Product name, [MS can build advertisement model for having custom messages for this category!]
        • It should list Product’s full name with latest version number linking to author’s web page.
        • Option to download/buy that product directly from Smart Answer!
        • Two flagship products from the same company hyper-linked to their Info page.
      6. If I search for ISBN,
        • Book’s cover page snapshot with more information about that book (like Author, No. of pages, Selling status (bestseller), Awards etc.
        • Option to buy that book from Amazon
      7. If I search for any Product’s Model Number
        • More information about that product (including small snapshot)
        • Option to buy it (with appx price & cashback!)
      8. If I search for Email address (I am not sure about privacy concerns around this!)
        • It should give at least Full name of this person! [Can be derived from search index and social network’s public profile pages]
      9. If I search for some Company Name
        • If that company is listed in any stock exchange, today’s latest stock quote chart should be shown.
        • Company’s Web-site URL should be listed
        • Very basic information about that company (may be their vision or mission statement!)
      10. If I search for any API (Application Programming Interface),
        • It should list signature of that function and link to web-page with more information about that API. (e.g. for Win32/.NET APIs link it to MSDN)
        • It should provide me link to sample snippet code which exhibits usage of that API (be it Windows API or Third party libraries API like STL).
      11. If query matches with any of Guinness World Record (e.g. “most t-shirt worn”),
        • Provide more information about that Record and hyperlink to more information about that world record.
      12. If I search for DHL tracking number (or formatted tracking number for any courier company, for that matter)
        • It should show me current status of shipping (by partnering with respective courier companies)
      13. If I search for formatted flight number,
        • It should list schedule for that flight for current day (giving user interactive options to see the schedule for next few days – AJAX way..)
      14. If search query contains two Cities,
        • It should list best & cheapest flight (probably with some cashback) between those two cities hyper-linking directly to partner airline site. (May be MS can use FareCast here!)
      15. If query contains some file extension (like “.pst”),
        • Give more information about that file extension and software program to open those files. (I think Microsoft already maintains this database for Windows Vista, that can be used)
      16. If query is an Idiom or Phrase,
        • It should provide meaning of that phrase (by partnering with encarta or dictionary.com)
      17. If query term contains only a single word,
        • Show meaning of that word (synonyms, antonyms) and a sentence using that word!
      18. If query contains Magazine name,
        • Show link to more information about latest edition of that magazine (if its readable online, show few top stories with links)
      19. If query contains Phone number [again not sure about privacy concerns around this, but I guess there are premium/free services out on Internet which provides this service! – If that is not feasible, it can also be derived simply by crawling the web!]
        • List information about owner of that number!
      20. If query contains URL to some website,
        • Show WhoIs information about that website!
      21. If query is simply IPv4/IPv6 address,
        • Show Basic information about that IP address (one I use normally is here)
      22. If query is just some DLL name,
        • Give information about that DLL
        • Link to download that DLL (or package that contains that DLL)
  2. Reliability:
    1. Providing THE BEST results every-time is very crucial for Live Search while being in competitor phase, because a single poor result will drive user back to his 'old daddy'.. - And I think MS is working towards this very very hard.. I know Live search index has improved exponentially in last few months.. And they are onto it!
    2. Need to win TRUST from users! A user should have confidence (which people hardly have today) with live search. Of course, this does not happen over-night.
  3. Efficiency:
    1. As a user of Live Search, I want FAST search results (I know MS acquired FAST, but I am talking about Speed here!).. If Live Search can provide search results blazingly fast (at least as fast as the competitor), users will think about using it! Today, Live search is NOT-SO-FAST as compared to other options available!
  4. Personalized User Experience:
    1. Add social element to Search!
      Today, I see SOCIAL on the web with big buzz, I see people becoming more and more social than ever! Microsoft has largest online community (with MSN msgr), MS should leverage this and help users socialize search experience as well! There are few ideas floating around my head!

      1. Give a very quick way for a user to “Star” a particular search result. Give user functionality to share his 'starred' results through RSS feed! Give it a cool name, "Live Search Feed" Winking
      2. Design a portal where user can do more with his 'starred' search results like,
        1. Search them with Full Text Search
        2. Give a quick way to email a particular search result or group of results to a contact!
        3. Give ability to tag those results.. (suggested tags would be nice feature! Even this manual tagging can be used for many other purposes like keywords verification!)
        4. Ability to group/sort through days/month/domain-name/result-category(whether news/tech/science/blog)
        5. If a particular search result is also tagged by anybody in his/her contact, give them ability to discuss over that result by providing ability to add threaded comments to it!
          • Concept similar to that of FriendFeed.. Where each search result would become a discussion topic! This would prove great for people doing research/study from search results!
        6. Ability to automatically blog daily 'starred' search results on user's live spaces! (Let them share with their community what they searched for and liked!)
        7. Ability to Digg/Twitter/Delicious/FriendFeed/Facebook about the search result with just one click! (that is possible today due to open APIs)
        8. Annotate particular search result with own research text and ability to share it with friends/family. (May be comment feature will make this one duplicate!)
        9. Ability to IM a particular search result to self or a friend (over MSN network).
    2. Give users their own customized search engine!
      We all are living in ‘Information Exploded’ world today! There is a lot happening and available to us, many times, we waste time digging for something which is important to us! (this becomes lot bigger question for Geek!) If Live search can solve this problem, it would definitely win love of many people!

      1. System should be able to detect user's style/need by looking at search patterns! If one can detect what a particular user is generally looking for, A system can be built which gets intelligent and more perfect over time such that,
        • If I am a developer of C#, I should not have to write "C#" keyword every-time I search for 'create thread sample'! (It should automatically show me C# sample on top of results!)
        • If my queries and click through results are around latest developments in telecom world, Live Search should be able to suggest me "Recommended reading" anytime some breaking news happens in that industry!
      2. My personalized search engine should be able to allow me increase/decrease rank for pages from particular domain! (even personalized blacklist feature would be nice!)
      3. There should be a section in search result that shows search results for my email conversations! (If I am logged on to my Live account while using Live Search!)
        • Or may be, give special search verb that searches emails instead of web (something like search query “email:I will call you on sunday”)
      4. As described in 4.1 <Social touch to live search>, there should be a section on result page that searches my ‘Starred’ search result items!

That’s almost everything that I can re-collect right now.. It may be possible that some of the ideas are already implemented by live search (which I am not aware of).. But I tried my best to confirm they are not! I may be missing many other thoughts as well, but I will use Comments section (as I generally do!) for adding those..

If you want to add any, feel free to add them here in Comments section!

This is probably the largest post I have ever written, but I think I had to start some day!! Winking

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 5, 2008

How would it be if, “Outlook can allow me to ignore specific email thread!”

In an organization, its common that you are part of many discussion groups. Not everytime, you get useful content (for you!) on there! I was just wondering if Outlook had a feature to allow me to ignore a particular thread such that all emails that comes for that thread would automatically be deleted!! I think outlook can create in-memory (short-term) client side rule to do this!

A small feature, but would be useful to many people! I hope it would be there in Office 14!

Stay tuned.. Wave

How to keep track of all your public photos with free Flickr Account?

Flickr has been a buzz in online photos from some time! Till now, I had never got a chance to use it.. (Picasa and Live Gallery fan here!) But yesterday on advice of one of my friends, I tried using Flickr! I have free account for which I was not aware of limitations.. I started uploading my new photo collection (appx 300 photos)..

And what I found was, with free account you can have only most recent 200 photos on photostream (which is I think very bad)! Flickr also provides functionality of marking photos private which nobody except you can see.. Another kind of upload is public upload which is available to anybody in world. So, I was trying to find out a way to get rid of these 200 photo limitations.. While reading documentation, I found that all photos which I had uploaded (which may be more than 200) are still stored on flickr servers but its just that they are not shown!

One thing can be done to temporarily resolve this problem is, Get your public photo RSS stream and add it to google reader (I have added it to FriendFeed, my Flickr stream which friendfeed stores forever is at, http://friendfeed.com/jigarme?service=flickr). So, you can still find individual photo link and access to all comments for that photo even if that photo is not one of most recent 200 photos!

Though, I have still not been able to figure out how to keep track of Private photos like this! Review of service is almost very good except these free account limitations! They have got good social touch as well. But one has to understand it costs real money to host and serve these photos over Internet Happy So, they also have to have revenue model!

My PhotoStream (feel free to add me as your contact, if you wish),
http://flickr.com/photos/jigarme/

Stay tuned.. Wave

June 3, 2008

Get your domain name totally free of cost!

Want to get your own domain name without spending bucks? These days its very easy to host your basic website files (HTML and client side scripts) in any free web space provider (like Live Skydrive or Google Pages).. If you want to get your own domain name for free of cost, go ahead and create one by clicking here..

CO.CC:Free Domain

Stay tuned.. Wave

First post from Windows Live Writer 2008 Tech Preview..

Windows live writer team just released “Windows Live Writer 2008 Technical Preview”.. Installed it and posting my first post using it..

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One feature that I liked is, now, we have “Edit”, “Preview” and “Source” tabs at the bottom of edit area..

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Another one I liked is option to automatically link words..

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Also, now windows live writer has got Auto Update functionality!! It rocks!

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Go, download your copy!!

download

Stay tuned..

Hooeey! Forget about distributed browser history issues..

This is something I have been craving from a long time! In fact, I had written few papers about this solution before some time.. Hooeey is a company who has implemented this idea in a nice way..

It solves a unique problem of having browser history distributed on different machines (if you are using more than one personal computers - which is very common these days!), it stores the history on a centralized place (their server) and lets you search through all the history.. (you can also create rules about what links you dont want to store in history, those links don't get transferred to the server!)

Video is worth million words, Take a look..

Stay tuned.. Wave

VARAHA on eTV Gujarati..

Before I joined my present company, I was working with VARAHA.. I just found their latest product release featured on a regional TV Channel.. Way to go, team..!

Stay tuned.. Wave