Dimdim – The art of sharing


For those of you who read my blog, or know me personally you may have heard of DimDim, even if you have read my recent column in the Delhi Metro. I simply love this product/service. I am writing about it again because its just come out of hibernation, during which time it managed to collect over 300,000 customer, hence they obviously didn’t sleep too well πŸ™‚

DimDim, gives nothing away in its name, but I guess all “cool” websites don’t. In short it allows you to work together. How many times have we come across the terms groupware, collaboration, teamwork, remote working, the list goes on, BUT rarely have we come across a product which actually makes it happen. Sure there are websites which allow you to share files (I still email people), you can conference call on Skype, and even IM people, but few tools let you do it in one place.

So how does it work?

Once you’ve gone through the sign up process, you login in, and are presented with a control panel (remember no software to download or install, its all in a web browser), this allowsΒ  you to invite DimDim colleagues OR just email new people, and invite them to your “meeting”. Which can either be now, or in the future. Then you decide to share your desktop, a powerpoint, or simply the provided whiteboard, where you can scribble and make notes, that all can see. To aid communication, they have a built in webcam system, voip, and also IM, hence you choose howto talk/chat.

Enough of the praise, surely it can’t be that perfect, and I admit it does have a few hiccups.

1. When you upload a powerpoint it takes forever, and I am on a 2Mb connection

2. I had problems inviting people, tell a lie, the individual who I invited kept crashing (possibly his fault)

3. It should allow you to hide particular apps on your desktop, like netviewer, eg share your desktop BUT not you msn chat

4. The webcam refused to work, maybe its because mine is built into my Mac

However I shouldn’t crib too much, webex, netviewer have been doing this for as long as I can recall, and they stil crash, and the plus point to DimDim is that its FREE!!. So if your a web design team who needs to show their clients what you do, or need to make a presentation, or simply like to scrawl on a whiteboard, DImDim is for you.

DimDIm have shown what is possible, they started off small, little money, down in the backstreets of Hyderabad (a little artistic license here :-)) raised money, moved to sunnier climbs in the valley, and now have everyone talking about them, good luck to DD and the team.

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How do you raise $10million ….. Asklaila


Nope, I am not on drugs, and most of whom read this article, will have already learned of the news, hence am a little behind the times, but I prefer to be the tortoise and not the hare…

$10million raised from Lightspeed, Matrix and SVB. Now I am never one to question money, in fact the more startups which get money the more will benefit, BUT I think we need to take a closer look at what asklaila is, so in my xmas period I decided to see what it does.

I think the Asklaila team may hunt me down if I was to call it a search engine, BUT it does have a really big search box on it :-). But who am I to call a Pie a Pie, what asklaila is supposed to be is a local review service…again I am not sure of this because their FAQ link does not work either.

Asklaila allows you to rate a search result. Imagine searching for Pizza, if the link is good you login to asklaila and you rate the website. Its a good way of ensuring the best links get to the top. BUT and this is not asklailas fault, user’s tend to only view the first handful of results, hence the ones which are rated will always get to the top and get rated again, the others will not see the light of day. This is similar to the problems that Digg is now facing , a few users control what most people actually view. I haven’t had time to test the spam protection, I hope it is there.

In addition Asklaila allows you to send the search results by sms and email to others…always a nice touch.

But thats it, it seems to have some sort of directory, and seems to be a mix of manually created indexes, and automated results, i.e a cross between Yahoo of old and Google of today. The rating feature is a nice touch, but Mr Google has also thought of this feature…and is about to launch across its website.

If Asklaila is a local review website, it should be a little concerned that websites like Judy’s Book, Zipingo, and Insider Pages, have all closed their doors in one way or another.

I am not a user of asklaila, and am yet to come across someone who is, I would really like to hear from anyone, man women, child, mammal (of any kind) who is using this, cause I maybe missing something here.

On a side note: Guruji I hear has pulled in another $10 million in addition to the $7million is has burned through

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As if I need a break, I have recently been hit with several emails, all about startups who have updated, or added value to their products. Instead of reviewing these startups again, I am adding them to my “Interval” sections. The first one is Picsquare.

Picsquare allows you to upload your photos and then have them printed digitally. The update from there team concerns yahoo photos, which closed earlier this month for Indian users. Of course yahoo users can upload to flickr, but flickr has limited storage, picsquare has added a feature which allows you to export your pictures to them. Picsquare will offer unlimited space, and you have the value add that you can get your pictures printed on items such as mugs and t-shirts.

Second in line is Guruji. That indian search engine which picked up $8 million in funding (does anyone know how many people search using this). Anyhow the update is that they have now added a movie timing search. Confused so am I. I can see why people may search for music, images, in forums etc, but movie timings, but then I asked a few friends, and for them its bliss. According to guruji, 20% of searches in India are for entertainment, so this would be a good way to get customers to use guruji.

So I gave it a go…or rather my bollywood obsessed wife did (tks Anhsul), she gurujied (okay made that up, not sure which verb applies here) for Jab We Met . The timings match those at pvrcinemas.com perfectly. I know one search does not make it ideal, but I think I nice idea, call it vertical search.

Then I went to google to see what it can do. First link went to oneindia, which had a table of timings. All in all a good idea, $8millon worth not sure, but its a start,…keep it up.

Whinge: Since I am talking about upgrades, figured I may as well mention something which is absolutely useless from yatra.in. Yes the guys with deep pockets, who wish to control the travel portals in India. Choose a flight, fill in details, then select credit card…can I find England, UK, or Great Britain, nope, I can find Laos, South Africa, Norfolk islands (where is that), but no UK. Surely even then non-geography qualified developer would know that there is a small island out there called Great Britain. So I email support, what do I get, a cut and paste reply, 3 days later, no help. Why am I complaining on this blog,Β  simply to make a point….lots of money does not equal a great service or product.

Next Post: How do you raise $10 million for a startup in India ?

It’s big, It’s back and it’s hairy…Proto

Okay not so much of the hairy part, but Proto has just finished over in Chennai, and although alot of companies have presented, my interest lies only with the Internet ones. So here goes:

Have covered this one last year, but for all those who haven’t heard about it, tolmolbol across like a social network, but underneath the covers there is far more, you can post classifieds, search for businesses, or even write reviews. The UI is a pleasure for an Indian based entity, but I have a nagging doubt that it does too much, in fact it does everything, tells you the best restaurants, allows you to search for businesses, question is “Whats the focus?, Why would I goto Tolmolbol?”

Since its a local guide, wouldn’t it be great if I could have local offers on this website for local people, i.e if I live in Saket (Delhi), then local businesses their would give me a discount (Note: for a coupon system get in touch with offersforshoppers).

I’m perplexed, its seems to be along the lines of the old link exchanges, except here you are not really exchanging links, but can create an ad (this part is really simple, you login, create ad, place budget, and then place onto a list of websites, such as indiatimes) , so instead of exchanging links Tyroo have taken the google adwords model and moulded it somewhat.

Downside is that googles adword model covers millions of websites, whereas this covers 10-12 (I am sure this will grow). So if you are a small business you can now get ads on some of the biggest portals in India for a minimal cost, and little effort.

I leave this quick review with a question “Have you looked at tailgate? that is where the banner ads are going, transactional banners”

Interesting!, they have some money in the bag, hence someone else out there likes it also. What this website aims to do, is make your life easier, i.e take care of the information overload, and allow you to find what you want, when you want.

I am sure there is some complex algorithm working behind the scenes here. So how does it work ? You register, and then add your favorite blogs/feeds etc, you then get some html to cut and paste into your website, which effectively feeds through info from the blogs you have added. For example, I would add a few blogs I like, send the html code to my friends, they now start getting the feed that they want.

Again I end this post with a question, “Wouldn’t a product like findory work better?, no registration, no adding of blogs, simply click on links and as you do, it fine tunes all the feeds on your home page” Taking this to another level, lets say I had minekey had 20000 blogs added to there website, and I pasted that code to my website, wouldn’t it be great if every time I clicked on a hyperlink, that my feed were fine tuned…maybe this is what happens πŸ™‚

Wow, one word, I am lost more than most in Delhi, in fact all of India, being from the UK, and I just tested with 3 delhites sitting next to me, We tested Saket Sports complex to Pandara road, and Qutab enclave to New Friends (Note: Bug here, I get Faridabad twice here ). It worked perfectly, okay enough of the congratulations, for those who didn’t work it out from the name, or my description, Routeguru helps you find your way. You can have the directions sent to you via sms also.

Loved it, really did, the difference between this and most mapping websites, is that it works like we currently work, it minimizes the use of street names, but uses points of interest, eg, Pass ESC hospital on the left, and then petrol pump on the right, first mapping tool that works in India, guys I know a team in Bangalore who are looking to integrate maps into their website, get in touch. Awesome, and guess what no questions πŸ™‚
As the website says, voice and personal messaging. Its quite simple really, you can get your friends (and enemies) to dial a local number in India, and leave you a voicemail which you can access via the web. For example, if I am travelling, they can leave me a message, and I can pick it up just as I retrieve my email. But I have lots of questions for this one…deep breath

1. Can I just redirect my existing voicemail (say with airtel to this number), i.e users can then just dial my normal mobile number, and when it switches to voicemail it goes to your network.

2. What about voice to sms, look at spinvox, they have built a platform, which allows you to send a voicemail, which gets converted to sms and sent back to you, great if in a meeting.
3. What about integrating this into some note taking system, e.g. there are lots listing, todo list systems out there like tadalists, vitalist, basecamp etc, now what if I could send myself a voicemail, this would then get sent via email to my list. Look at vitalist forum, they do this with a voice provider in the US, you are traveling, need to add a note, you dial a number, send message, it gets added to your todo list. This would then be a premium product you could sell.

If you want hotels, without the fuss, and want to read what others have said, Inasra is the place to head. You fine tune your results, first by city, and then by items such as price, cuisine , ratings etc. They claim to have 3500 hotels, which I guess would appeal to most tastes. Currently with a lack of reviews, it looks like a directory listing, having said that, I think this has a future, link it up with routeguru above.

Now I’m not really a cricket fan, (admitting this may be a fatal sin in India) hence this review is very biased, why would this be at proto?, don’t get it, and I am not sure what’s web2.0 about it. Its a great cricket portal, where you can play games with your friends etc, but….still confused how does it fit in.

And that brings the web2.0/Internet segment to an end, there were other companies, mobile apps, enterprise, but those you will find on other blogs.My favorite has to be routeguru, it has a focus, it is different, and it solves a problem. To the proto organizers, would it be possible to get a list of those who didn’t make it to the final, I don’t see why they can’t get coverage on the blogs, even if they couldn’t get to the final.In summary, we have a mapping system, a local guide to businesses, hotels, data mining, voicemail and ad network, oh and cricket.Just think if they could all work together, the mapping gets added to the local business and hotel websites (the mapping in return uses the businesses and the hotels in their directions, from where a hyperlink could take them to the appropriate website). The ad system needs to get businesses to buy ads, tolmolbol has these businesses listed, and inasra has hotels listed, ready made target list. The data mining could then be used together with ad system and add info to websites.I know its not perfect, but I feel for any of these startups to get traction they need to work together, burrp over in mumbai has restaurant reviews, which am sure needs directions, offersforshoppers has coupon system which needs businesses, get together guys.

The reviews up above are preliminary, so if something needs to be corrected do get in touch, also I will be reviewing a couple of the ones above in detail on the e-hub blog.

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What’s hot and what’s not – Reviewgist


Nivio has been going great, alot of people have asked for accounts, and we have had to phase them, demand was far higher than we expected, however this post is not about Nivio, but about reviewgist. Guess what its a site which reviews….

Big deal…but wait, when you start to use it it gets better. I was in the market for a laptop, and these days you usually fire an email around to people to ask their opinion, well this website, pulls feedback from other sites such as PCmag, and collates all the positive and negative feedback into one place. In addition it has a nice reviewmeter which lets you easily see what is good and what is not.

It also compares prices, finally someone is comparing prices, but the prices are from US based websites, as are the comments. The useability is a little poor, but with a good UI guy in board this can be changed quickly.

They claim to do semantic search, and without going into too much detail, semantic is the way to go (or at least thats what I’ve been told by an old colleague for the last 4 years). the semantic part allows them to pool together all the reviews, take the ratings, and give the reader a overall sentiment on the product, quite cool. I am not sure how accurate the ratings are, and I guess only real user feedback on the website iself will tell this.
There is a billion dollar market for comparison websites, and review websites, India is way way behind the pack, but hopefully its changing…good luck guys. They are based in gurgaon, and are hiring, to if your looking get in touch.

Oh I promise to be more regular, than I have been, Nivio was killing me, in addition for my sins I am also now a editor on ehub, emilychangs blog in the US, hence will try to get Proto mentioned up there, so any comp who did not get chosen to present at proto, let me know, I’ll try to get you reviewed in ehub.

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mGinger – Make money from your mobile phone


Finally, your phone can be used to earn you money, instead of just costing you. mGinger (haven’t worked out the name yet), allows you to read ads on your mobile, and make money from them as you read. I have just signed upto the account, and am awaiting my logon code…still waiting, but figured may as well describe the service.

Registration is straightforward, you need your name, phone number and a few location details. In addition to this, you must select 5 Interests, such as music, gaming etc, this will “fine tune” your ads that you receive. Sooooo, where’s the money, well for every ad that you receive you get 20 paisa, and for every ad that your friend gets you get 10 paisa, and if your friend’s friend’s gets an ad you get 5 paisa. Now it may not sound like much, but it could add up.

I have a question for the developers though, what if I purchased a few sim cards registered them, and then simply just sat there and watched the ads roll in, never really looked at them, how do you know I have actually read them.

Some quick maths tells you you need 5 SMS for 1 Rs, hence before you get paid i.e at 300Rs you need 1500 SMS. To me that is very very high, my phone holds around 250 SMS, and if all I got were ads, I think I would lose the plot.

You can control at what times of the day you get a message, and also what type, but for this to really strike it rich I think we need more money per message

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Nivio – Microsoft Windows online Desktop

Nivio - Windows now has Wings

Just when you thought it was safe to delete my blog link, I’m back. Sorry last month just took so much out of me, and I had to earn a living, blogging tends not to pay well, at least not as yet.

But just to let you know what I have been tinkering with, I decided a quick writeup about Nivio would help.

The Idea – The world is moving online, slowly but surely, email is already there, calendars, messaging also, the applications are starting to follow with Google apps. So why not put the entire desktop there, together with all the applications you can imagine. Nivio allows you to access a desktop via your web browser, just like you login to email, you can now login to ‘a’ desktop. This desktop is always live.

The Process – You register, you login, and you see Windows XP. So now what? You either need some applications AND/OR you need some of your files from your local PC to work on. The clever people at Nivio have just added two new tools, Nivio Sync, and Nivio Control. You can now select applications from a list which will immediately get added to your desktop, and using Nivio Sync…guess what, you can upload, download and Sync you data.

If you need an application which is not available, just let us know on our forum. We try to add applications once a week from the list.

Firefox plugin coming soon…more on that later πŸ™‚

So what is this for? I hear you say, well aside from being a little fun to do, there is actually a few problems we wanted to solve.

Imagine that you are a student who needs to use Visio for a month, well now you can, imagine you are a parent who wants to let their children learn about a PC without having to spend all that money, well for about the price of a Big Mac per month, you now can.

How many people have a laptop from work, but can’t really “play” on it, well all you need to do, is fire up your web browser, and login to Nivio, and have your very own desktop.

In India the price range will be 200/400 rs per month for student/professional. We are of course knocking on Redmonds door to see if this can be done for free, but up until know Redmond is closed, if someone knows howto open, please send me the key.

Okay will stop there, this is a blog after all, and not a sales pitch πŸ™‚

In Nivio you have the worlds first online desktop/webtop which is Windows XP, it looks like Windows, it smells like Windows, because it is Windows.

Someone asked recently who is the team, well there is Sachin, Jon, Indrani, Deepika….Iqbal….Rajnessh, Manoj, Prabind…did I mention “Iqbal” :-), and several others whose names I have left of for security reasons….well not really, just haven’t got all their names in front of me, so if you are part of the Nivio team, and want 15 minutes of fame, just add your name.

Oh a quick roll call of all those who wrote about us, particularly the blogs in India…all listed below, if I have missed you, just shout your name out…once finished shouting, post on the blog πŸ™‚

Theregister Vnunet Webyantra Uhuru Keznews Emilychang e-hub Netscape Techaddress

Softpedia Gyanin CXOToday Rambhai Geek.com Chip.de Winfuture.de Yigg Thevista

Bendetto Spiegel Digg

We need all the help we can get, hence spread the word, feel free to Digg it, Reddit it, Blog it, Stumbleupon it, stick it on Newsvine, Slashdot it (Okay a little risky) tell your neighbour, whisper it in your girlfriends ear (maybe not), run on your PC at work, add a shortcut to your desktop, send us a few application requests…and more importantly than all this, give it a go, and let us know…hey that rhymes…Oh and if you are from Redmond, Windows now has Wings.

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