Archive for July, 2006

Skype Credit Expiration sucks!

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Was trying to SkypeOut a buddy in London and found that Skype gobbled up the 2.40 Euros left in my account. They have some weird 180-day rule — which covers the forfeiture of balance after 180 days of the last SkypeOut call.
It seems they remind people via e-mail; which may have landed to junk mail folder straight in my case. Why can’t they send an alert to the Skype Window itself? The same place where they show the credit balance all the time?
Sucks! Weird..F***
I’m not alone. Here, here, and here

Following The Pirates, er, pirates follow the market

Monday, July 17th, 2006

In 1996 from the footpaths of New Delhi near Red Fort I bought my copy of Bob Cringley’s Accidental Empires: How Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions.. for INR 10 (around 25 cents in USD). That’s how free markets work. It looked like a local reprint (I still remember it was a Penguin publishing reprint).
John Batelle is excited about the popularity of his book, “The Search”, reaching the streets of Mumbai. In India the legal edition of John’s book is priced at INR 728, which is close to the Amazon’s price in US. If the cost is prohibitive, people will figure out a way to get access to it. That’s where pirates fill the gap.
And yeah, I also bought albums of Mariah Carey, Europe, Scorpions, Metallica, Madonna, AC DC, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, U2, etc when none of the record companies were legally selling them in India in late 80s/early 90s 🙂 Markets figure them out.

Linksys’ stupid LiveChat service

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

Here’s the chat transcript with Linksys support. I was looking for a driver of the Wireless Network Adapter WPC55AG v1.2, which I couldn’t find any where. Usually, I’m the last one to contact support.
Mechelle R. (10342): Hi, my name is Mechelle R. (10342). How may I help you?
Unknown: Hi,
Unknown: Unable to find the driver for wpc55ag v1.2
Unknown: I tried from the downloads
Mechelle R. (10342): Before we begin, I need to ask a few questions that will help me assist you better.
Unknown: sure
Mechelle R. (10342): May I have your full name?
Unknown: Why that’s necessary? Does it help you to find the answer I’m looing for?
Mechelle R. (10342): This is for documentation purposes.
Unknown: Sorry, I’m not going to give my name.. (purposefuly nasty here, so that I get sthg. right away)
Mechelle R. (10342): It’s okay.
Mechelle R. (10342): May I have your phone number starting with the area code?
(What stupidity, LinkSys is asking for Phone Number now)
Unknown: Please, if you can provide support without asking me for personal questions, great…otherwise thanks for having me pony up 100 bucks at the store..
(I lied here, the Network Adapter came for free from a buddy)
Mechelle R. (10342): I apologize for that, but we need it also for future reference.
Unknown: …and there is no way without that?
Mechelle R. (10342): Okay.
Mechelle R. (10342): Anyway, would it be okay if I call you Khaitan since you didn’t give your name?
(How did they get my name? There was form which had first name/last name and phone number. Why can’t the pickup the name from there? The Phone number was not required in that form)
Unknown: i’m hanging up and gonna send it to some of the bloggers about cisco’s poor service — it’s been 5 mins and you are still trying to personalize this session instead of providing answers…totally useless
(Nasty me here)
Mechelle R. (10342): I do apologize for the inconvenience. We just want to verify.
Unknown: verify what?
Mechelle R. (10342): Okay then.
I close the chat window here.
Bunch of BS and nothing else. Total time spent 6m, 34 seconds. Problems Solved = 0. The Wireless Adapter is going back to it’s owner.

Writable Intranet

Monday, July 10th, 2006

“Writable Intranet” is the corporate intranet of the future where employees collaborate using Wikis, Blogs and applications interoperate using RSS. The Writable Intranet does not have series of static pages where information is disseminated “top down”. It is the place where employees collaborate, exchange thoughts, create plans, capture meeting notes, track projects, create documents (not word documents but documents which are web pages and have version control). The Writable Intranet marks the end of e-mail as the collaboration platform. The Writable Intranet means that enterprise knowledge is “free” and searchable by anybody. The “freedom” implies that knowledge is neither in e-mails and nor in documents but in easily accessible and searchable repositories. The Writable Intranet means information which is a constant source of data to other people who make modifications at will.


Collaboration in the Intranet: The existing ways are fundamentally flawed

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

Fundamentally flawed? Ye, right. Do you remember that the last document you created for your project plan is in the folder //HD4567Share/CorpDocuments/Plan/? Worse, an updated copy of the document is in Sue’s e-mail. Even worse, Sally has updated with her 2 cents and uploaded it on Notes. Go figure!
Mostly collaboration within the intranet is built on top of two technologies viz. e-mail and documents (and documents within your e-mail). Most communication around e-mail is 1:1 or 1:Many or Many:Many, everybody keeps adding their “stuff” on top of the original thread with corrections, clarifications, modifications to the original. A way too many times you have to scroll/wade through to figure out which is the most important e-mail with the most up-to-date/accurate content. And then that e-mail gets archived in one of the “folders” somewhere. Imagine a discussion on a Sales strategy or a Marketing plan. Yeah, you may have had face-to-face meetings, but the little oh-so-forgotten meeting minutes are still in e-mail. Imagine looking for the outcome of such a meeting 6 months down the road — It would be an exercise in vain.
Why this mess? Two-fold, collaboration platforms are draconian and proprietary. Wrote in word, can’t edit in HTML, your word document in e-mail is outdated the moment someone opens up and hits save. Using e-mail as the default publishing mechanism and document repository is killing the organizational knowledge. My exchanges with a former colleague are now in my mailbox. Good or bad, my boss doesn’t event know what ideas we exchanged for that product roadmap! Organizations are not to be blamed for this, there was no one-click publish platform to enable collaboration and knowledge exchange before e-mail. The over reliance is troublesome. Bob Sutor suggests PDF is good until no one wants to edit the document. Not bad, but how about few people collaboratively editing a document before it is published to a larger audience. We’re not there yet, at least not without paying a large fortune.
Come Wikis, Blogs, RSS, JotSpot and other platform. Don’t get this wrong, MediaWiki, the defacto Wiki platform and most of the other wikis still store the content in a data store which is not tuned for harvesting, publishing using other
tools except MediaWiki — All presentable content on Wikis are still HTML. The challenge as David Berlind puts it is “interoperability” of proprietary applications, their protocols. It’s the “walled” systems for content management, document management and e-mail management which are guarding collaboration. David points out that RSS alone can rescue us there:

With RSS as both the notification mechanism and the content subscription mechanism, you basically have a single technology that takes e-mail, e-mail attachments, and far too many round-trips (of email, to fully facilitate the collaboration) completely out of the equation.

Wikis by themselves have the power to change the way corporate intranets disseminate and share knowledge. It’s not a surprise it is easier to find a place to host a webpage and edit it’s content (or maybe even run a Wiki) on the public internet. Have you ever tried hosting a page in your intranet, if you were successful; how easy it was? Even if there are a few companies listening, the future of “Writable Intranet” is here. What I fear most? The whole story of Wikis, Blogs, etc. getting diluted by vendors like Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, InterWoven, etc. by claiming that “yeah, we also do Wikis, Blogs, RSS” and then locking that information down in their proprietary store (a la import all formats but export none!). Keeping a close tab on this one.
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