Latlong – Gets You There

Gets you there, that’s what they say.

The product under review here is a Direction Finding service that works over a plain text message from any mobile phone .

Imagine, you being stuck in an unknown place in Bangalore and want to get to some other place. The possible options would be the use of a voice guided GPS system, say on your very own Smartphone or to ask someone passing by. To people with Smartphone and those without, ONZE Technologies India Pvt Ltd introduces Latlong, an SMS service, wherein, people can search WHERE a place is and also HOW to get there from any other place (in Bangalore). An SMS would be way cheaper than a GPS navigation service. You may argue that there are WAP enabled map sites to find directions but, this service is easier to use, less time consuming and cheaper than most other services.

This product named Latlong is the brainchild of a privately held company housed in Bangalore, India, called ONZE Technologies.

As the product says, ‘Latlong – GETS YOU THERE’, it is a direction finding service. All that the end user needs is a phone that has the capability to send and receive plain text messages. Let me attempt to explain how it actually works:

Say, I wanted to get to Jayanagar 4th Block from my house which is in Chamarajpet. What I would do is, type an SMS in the format,

GO Jayanagar 4th Block FROM Chamarajpet

and send it to 9008890088, voila, I have the directions in the reply:

GO 4.1 km via>>

Uma Theater,Chamarajapet>>Gandhi Bazar DVG Rd Junction>>Nettakallappa Circle>>South End Circle>>Nanda Talkies Rd>>Jayanagar Shopping Complex,4th Blk

After reaching South End Circle:

START-South End Circle

GO ON Nanda Talkies Rd TOWARDS Nanda Theater Junction,GO 0.4 K

CONTINUE AT Nanda Theater Junction 0.3K AFTER South End circle bus stop,GO 0.5 K ON Nanda Talkies Rd

TURN L 225m AFTER Abhaya Ganapati temple(R),GO 0.4 K ON 30th Crs Rd

END-Jayanagar Shopping Complex

CALL FOR ASSISTANCE: 08041307394 (9am-7pm MON-FRI)” (Very much self-explanatory)

The other service that it provides the user is the Location service wherein, when the user wants to find the address of a place, can find it through a similar service, but with a differently formatted query. Say, I would like to know the exact address of the company that has built this product, Onze Technologies. I just have to send an SMS in the format,

WHERE Onze Technologies

to 9008890088 and in the reply I would get the exact address of the company,

“1. ONZE Technologies (India) Private Limited

Ph:08041307394

37th Crs Rd,5th Blk,Jayangr

CLOSE TO Good Shepherd School

2.2 km FROM South End Circle”

along with the phone number and nearby landmarks.

This product also answered complex queries such as ‘GO Jayanagar 4th Block Dominos From Jayanagar 9th Block Corner House’. I was totally amazed by the capability of the product to handle such complex queries. I would rather go in with LATLONG than any other services that are currently available because of the ease of use and the cost incurred.

LATLONG currently is operational for places in Bangalore. Hope they can make it all over India.

In all, LATLONG is an amazing product. Our rating would be 5/5 considering its efficiency, capabilities, speed of operation and its ease of use.

Let us know what you felt about the product.

Zook-The new Mobile Q & A Platform

This review is about a new mobile search engine(answer engine to be more precise) unlike the existing ones.

Imagine a situation where you are in some place and want to find out some eatout or a coffee shop or anything else around that place(considering you are new to that place). You or rather I would certainly not Google/Yahoo! it. Even though if it does it wouldn’t be optimised for viewing on the go on a Mobile phone.

So what follows will introduce you to a solution that handles this situation very well.

The product in focus here is Zook.

Zook is a product from Bangalore based company called Ziva Software.

Ziva has built a patent pending Technology to build the worlds first interactive “Mobile answer engine” that provides precise answers to users queries. The QA Engine is part of Ziva’s Manas Platform™.

As Zook quotes it:

Manas Platform™ is compatible with any language, any vertical/segment, and any number of heterogeneous information sets. In other words, the search and access paradigm remains the same across multiple verticals. For this reason, Ziva’s search paradigm is referred to as the Lateral Search™ technique.

So let me explain how Zook actually works with a use case.

I sent a Query “Coffee Day Jayanagar”(Oh! I love Coffee!) to Zook’s SMS service number 57575665.

Here is what I got as the reply.

Zook: 3 matches: For details reply with choice(1,2,Etc)/M for more results. (Pretty straight forward).
Me: 1
Zook: Cafe Coffee Day Cuisine: Coffee Bar,Address Brigade Homestead,Opp Maiya Nursing home and Garla Garnet, Ground Floor, 519/a, 9th Main, 4th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore-32

So these were the answers from the answers from Zook itself. There is a also an active Zook Community that also drives the Zook Platform. The community is the part of Zook’s Peepal Network™

As Zook quotes it:

Ziva’s mobile-specific social networking platform (referred to as Peepal Network™) has been built groud-up to support mobile-based communities. Peepal Network™ utilizes user’s location as well as the time parameter to support transient and time-sensitive social networks that can be dynamically formed based on user’s current location as well as other interests. The flexible nature of the Peepal Network™ can be used to power a number of mobile-specific social networking applications — which includes reviews and ratings, tagging, music/video sharing, etc.

These are the answers that I got by the Zook Community (Which is a highly active and growing community) :

For your query “Coffee day Jayanagar”, <USER_NAME_X> says
1. Coffee Bar,Address Brigade Homestead,Opp Maiya Nursing home- +918064526490
2. #52,A-22,2nd Mn,32nd cross,,Jayanagar 7th block +918064528292

and one more answer.

Looking at this result I was amazed that so much information and to the point information can be got with So less, which I am sure no other service provider can gurrantee or claim.

Apart from this they also have a WAP based interface, the results for the above query as seen on WAP Broswer can be seen here.

So all in all I felt Zook is a good service that has an even better technology that is driving it.

Zook is currently available in Major cities around  India.

So I rate the product 5/5 for its innovation,usability and correctness.

Zook was also nominated for the Mobile Monday Global Peer award 2008 in at the mobile world congress,Barcelona.

Let me know your thoughts on this and do try out Zook.

Coming up: An interview with a core Member of the technology group at Ziva Software.

On Startups!

In this post I would like to highlight a few things that I’ve understood  about startups.

For starters you can have a look at what a Startup actually is here.

Well although a start up is a great place to work in, there are a few things that also come with this package that you wouldn’t like.

I would quote a plus and a negating factor for that quote(If there are any).

1.

Good Thing: A huge bank balance is something that you can actually expect from a startup.

Downfall: But with this comes long hours of work, less or no personal life.

2.

Good thing: You will make it big if the product or the start up takes off.

Downfall: If the product/startup fails then everything goes down the drain that includes your job as well.

3.

Good Thing: Your learning curve improves exponentially and you can expect better paychecks when u change

Downfall: This also means when you come out to the market, you are left with a very few options that you can look into. This is because either someone cannot afford you, or you’ve done some quality work and wouldn’t like to work in anything that doesn’t do justice to your skill level.

Well this is just how I look at a start up. Views may defer from individual to individual.

Let me know what you feel.

SnappyFingers

In this post I would write about this new promising product called SnappyFingers.

What is SnappyFingers?

Apart from sounding catchy, SnappyFingers is a vertical search engine company based out of Bangalore. They claim to be building the most comprehensive database of Questions and Answers on the web. Unlike other search engines SnappyFingers only focus is on crawling and fetching Q & A and FAQ kind of results. They also claim to provide a comprehensive list of FAQ’s by mining their database.

How it works?

Unlike WikiAnswers and Yahoo answers which actually has someone ask a question and get an answer against that question, SnappyFingers actually crawls through the web and builds a comprehensive database and comes up with a answers at pretty good speeds.

I actually wanted to check if they really do what they claim they can do. So I just made a query “What is ruby”. I was really amazed at the result. Have a look at what I got here.

Comparison with other search engines and Q & A kind of applications.

I asked the same question “What is ruby” at different palces and here is the result.

On SnappyFingers

On Google.

On Yahoo Answers.

On WikiAnswers.

So how does SnappyFingers stand out?

Imagine this scenario where you just want a quick answer that would kind of provide quick overview on something that you are looking for, in this case  “What is ruby”, you would usually expect  a quick and to the point answer rather than going through the whole process of learning internals of it.This is where SnappyFingers stands out.

They still are in BETA and you wouldn’t be able to see good results for all searches.

But I am sure this would be a great addition to the web space. This would help students,teachers and people seeking quick answers.

Though the capabilities of search engines like Google,Yahoo and others are undeniable, SnappyFingers stands out when it comes to quick answers and to the point answers.

I would soon try and get in touch with the Founder of the company and ask him a few questions about the roadmap,business model and how they intend to make it better.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment on what you felt.

Tweets through SMS!

Tweople,

Ever wondered how you can get Tweet updates from Twitter on cell phone for free. Well I did at least.

Now I can Tweet as well as receive Tweets on my basic Sony Ericsson phone without GPRS/Wi-Fi.

Ok, enough of the blah blah.

Here’s how it can be done step-by-step:

  1. If you want all the Tweets on SMS then click on the RSS “Tab” at the bottom left hand corner on Twitter. (I only get the Direct Tweets).
  2. If you intend to get only direct Tweets then, point your browser to Tweetscan and search for @yourname. Then click on the RSS tab somewhere on the top of Tweetscan screen.
  3. Now use a service that would send email updates/SMS updates when ever your RSS gets updated. I use Pingie.
  4. Pingie send SMS alerts only in USA. *Very Sad*. The next step will let you how you can work around.
  5. Point your browser to Mobee.in, which is a free Email-To-SMS service provider. You need to do a few basic configurations there and you are done. You canconfigure Mobee.in to send an SMS when ever you recieve an email from pingie@pingie.com.
  6. You will start receiving SMS for every Tweet you get (Direct Tweets in my case).
  7. Follow your Tweets even when you are offline.

All this is free.

Let me know if you need any help. Feel free to comment.

Google Chrome!

This is an old post from one of my other blog.

Although I am an ardent Firefox freak I couldn’t help falling in love with Google’s Chrome.

Here I would highlight a few features that caught my eye.

  • First up it’s up for download at http://www.google.com/chrome/.
  • The browser looks stunning.
  • Real estate has been used sensibly.
  • It has a built in JavaScript console. I need it as I debug and write a lot of JavaScript code.
  • Tabs are at the top of the screen which saves a lot of space.
  • Status bar is not displayed all the time and comes up only when we hover over it or something needs to be displayed in the status bar. Saves a lot of space.
  • It’s got auto fill as well which suggests the most popular sites with that name.
  • Search bar has been removed and you can search for a term by typing in the address bar and Chrome says “Search AAAA with Google”.
  • The above feature also adds up to a lot of space and a clean look.
  • It has an “Incognito Window” mode that which lets us browse in stealth mode. More on this link and link.
  • When you hit ‘CTRL + F’ don’t worry if you don’t see a search bar at the bottom. It gently slides from the right top corner of your browser.
  • Chrome has a built in “Task Manager” that lets you end or close processes in Chrome that aren’t responding.
  • When you open a new tab, don’t be amazed, it shows the most visited sites, option to search history, recent bookmarks and closed tabs. More on that link and link.
  • There is also a “Create Application Shortcut” option that lets you add a shortcut to the current open tab/window selecting one of three options. More link and link.
  • “Dynamic tabs” lets you drag and drop tabs across the tab panel and place it where ever you wish. Also you can pull out tab from the tab panel and use it as a new window. More on that link and link.
  • “Crash Control” lets you check how much of your computer resources each open tab is using. You can also close misbehaving tabs using the built in task manager. More on this link and link.
  • To protect you from malware and phising sites Chrome would show a warning if it suspects that the selected website is not safe for browsing. More link and link.
  • “Instant Book marking” can be done by clicking on the star icon next to the address bar. More link and link
  • “Simpler downloads” is one more stunning feature in Chrome. As you click on a link to download any file the download starts at the bottom of theChrome
  • window. Once downloading is done you can drag and drop the file onto your desktop or to any folder of your choice. More link and link.

The other thing I liked about Chrome is it doesn’t ask “Chrome is not your default browser, Shall I make it default question” … Wow

What I miss link are Firefox plugins like TwitKit and lot other Firefox specific features. I will not let you go so easily Firefox. Love you.