Lightweight laptop backpack for those on the go – STM Impulse

I am a sucker for productivity apps and tools. As much as I love carrying over a dozen tools, cables, adapters and my 11K mAh (yes, you read it right!) battery pack with me, I try to make sure that I have the right laptop bag before I step out. Yeah, I have a fetish for bags – if there is one store than I’d stop by in a mall, it’s got to be the one which has bags on display!

For the past few months, I have been alternating between STM Revolution, STM Velo and a backpack from Samsonite. While STM Revolution is my all-time favorite backpack, I was looking at something which is smaller in size and lighter in weight – for days when I do not need to carry a lot of stuff. Something that is good enough to throw in the *must haves* and step out without much load on the back. I quite liked STM Impulse Backpack and thought of checking it out.

Fast forward a few weeks and I received a STM Impulse Backpack. I decided to go for the black, medium size bag. Packed in a shiny cellophane wrap, the tag & branding caught my attention, once again. The bag is lightweight – perfect to carry your Macbook Air, iPad, Kindle and a bunch of cables without hurting your back, while you’re on the road.

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The Rise of Social Gaming & Casino

I was looking at online gaming industry and stumbled on some facts about the Social casino gaming. It seems social casiono has picked up quite a bit and has prompted several casino operators to create their own online games. I found GigaMedia and DoubleDown Casino to be very active, as compared to a dozen others trying their luck in the online casino gaming market. But with the number of games on the World Wide Web, I wonder if they’ll stand a chance in the particular gaming niche dominated by Zynga and Caesar’s Interactive Entertainment. Continue reading

Group-buying is not just about Spas, anymore.

The fact that a lot of group-buying websites that mushroomed in 2010, either closed down or changed their model, doesn’t really reveal the current shape of online-deals market in India.

After my experience with 2 of the worst eCommerce websites in India, I was doing some study on the evolution of group-buying sites in the country, the kind of products & services which are doing well online and the ones which are not. Some of the information I found was fascinating.

There was a time when most of the group-buying sites were selling cheap deals for Spas and Restaurants. The problem with the approach was – focus on the customer and not the merchants. Most sites started to charge a token, which meant – the customer pays a fixed amount to the website and may or may not avail the product / service by paying the balance to the merchant. It’s interesting to know that only 8-10% customers actually availed the vouchers. This was a step towards losing merchants’ faith or getting those merchants on board which did not bother about their brand. Continue reading

Mailbox for iPhone didn’t impress me much!

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Today morning, I was lucky to get access to the MailBox app. There’s so much that a queue to get something and good reviews for the same, can do to you!

Mailbox is a nice email app, but nothing revolutionary, as I expected. After having used it for a day, I realise that it’s better marketed than built or conceived as a product! Early access to a ‘few’ folks, brilliant idea of reserving the app in advance and all that topped with the icing that allows you to download and keep looking at the ticker! This game looked very interesting, in a good sense.

However, while there was so much noise about this app ‘changing’ the way we’ll handle email, I realised that it is for a certain ‘kind’ of users. They’re definitely not the ones who have considerably high volume of emails coming in.

Not just that, it tries to mix the task app and the email app, which for me, serve very different purposes. I would instead wish for an excellent integration between the two. Not a replacement of either.

Reminds me of John Gruber, who rightly said that this app has a different target audience, those who are very gmail centric and have one email address.

I would agree with John on the fact that this won’t replace the Mail.app on iPhone for me. I love labels, folders and the ability to ‘manage’ email.

Bryan on Pandodaily correctly calls it a ‘feature’, not a product!

If you love giving away the control of your email and hide behind the curtain of procrastination fabricated within a good UI, you must try this app. :-)

Here’s an interesting conversation I had with Tim Van Damme (@maxvoltar) of Instagram and Chris Herbert (@hrbrt) from MacWorld, on what they feel about Mailbox. Turns out that Tim is liking it for his personal email!

Twitter conversation - Mailboxapp

Delivering Un-happiness!

Last year, a friend of mine recommended me a book – “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh. Entrepreneurs who run an eCommerce business would have read it at least once, if not more. But I know of some, who I guess, haven’t.

I want to order a copy each for those who run Zoomin and FloraIndia!

In the last 4 years, eCommerce stores have mushroomed in India at a never before pace, supposedly making our lives easier. Personally, I love this shift and believe that it’s a solution to multiple problems (We can talk about them, some other time).

From the time when using credit cards on the Internet was a nasty affair, to having Cash On Delivery as a payment option, today – we have come a long way. However, the eCommerce companies that are making this a bumpy ride for customers are the sorts I just mentioned. (Oh, I am REALLY serious about getting their postal addresses, for a hard-cover!)

Last week, it was a birthday of someone in the family and I ordered a photo frame from Zoomin and some flowers from Flora India. Little did I know (as if!) these two will conspire together to give an unpleasant experience and hence, make me rant about them! Continue reading

Closing down Media Redefined – Why? and What’s next?

We declared Media Redefined as closed, a few hours ago. I was swamped with questions asking me - Why? and What’s next?  I decided to use long form of writing to put down my thoughts.

It has been a challenging and eventful journey of little less than 4 years at Media Redefined. Bringing on new business and delivering value, working with our favorite brands across domains, hiring & building some of the best talent in the social media space, making more friends than enemies and letting the waist size increase from 32 to 36 – it was a magical and enlightening package!

But, just as they say – All good things come to an end, so does the agency Media Redefined.

What started with 2 of my best friends I ever made on the Internet, moved on to be one of the known businesses in the Social Media fraternity. I am grateful to more number of people than I can possibly mention here. They all know it. But, Gaurav and Honey deserve a special mention.

Starting the business out of a garage and bunking college to mark my attendance at work, was not so funny. It was about time when I decided to let go the job offer I secured at the college campus placement to become a businessman. In case you’re a student and if you are getting carried away by this post, you must read this.

So, why did we decide to close it?

  1. I stopped seeing longevity in the business. We were clocking similar revenues for the last 2 years and it did not seem to change for good in the near future. The cost of entry to this business was getting lower every year and the ticket value going down.
  2. In India, social media continues to be just the icing on the cake when it comes to marketing, which I was always interested in. The way it is looked up by both – brands and agencies, the evolution is very slow and naive.
  3. No matter what, Social Media – the way it’s done in India, is monotonous and more often than not, executes in silo. Integrated marketing, Social web innovation, Influencer relations, etc. continue to be buzz words and only a few brands believe whole-heartedly in them. Most brands are afraid to ‘be’ social. Instead, they spend money to ‘do’ social media.
  4. For many, it’s just about content publishing on Facebook, Twitter and now Pinterest and Instagram. Of course with good creatives and images. It’s challenging for a social media agencies to showcase the power of social web across all functions – marketing, sales, customer service, segmentation, influencer relations, etc.
  5. We were strong at technology and understood metrics pretty well. That’s when we decided to build Dokito, a social media analytics product. We released that internally and have used it with our clients for over 6 months. However, due to infrastructure, scalability and resource issues – we couldn’t launch it for public yet. Yes, it’s difficult to ensure profitability in a service business and along side, ship a product.

What’s next?

It’s been a lovely experience of being unemployed for nearly a month since I decided to move on. It’s a great feeling. I wish I could live like this for more – may be not!

This was more like a rejuvenation before I get into a new role, very soon. The new hat shall have Product Marketing inscribed on it. More details, soon. I am hopeful that it would be interesting and challenging enough to keep me happy.

No matter what, I would miss all the fun and learning I had at Media Redefined.

P.S. For those asking about the assets associated with Media Redefined, we were contacted by a few buyers to buy the name and assets associated with Media Redefined. We decided to go ahead with an offer from a known internet entrepreneur in the U.S. who prefers not to be named as of now. Media Redefined and some of the associated digital assets are now sold.

Update: After exploring & evaluating all the opportunities, I’ve decided to join Zoho.com as Manager – Product Marketing. I shall be telecommuting from Delhi.

Zoho.com offers a comprehensive suite of award-winning online business, productivity & collaboration applications. Zoho.com is a division of Zoho Corporation, a privately-held and profitable company. With offices in CA, Austin, Chennai, Yokohama and Beijing, Zoho Corporation serves the technology needs of more than 6 million customers worldwide.

Search for the perfect Messenger Bag!

For many of us, a disconnected holiday is a blessing in disguise. Our lives were never the same, a decade ago. It’s interesting to visualize our lives under the prism of personal technology.

It’s a fact that the internet plays a major role in allowing us to work and play remotely or from different places. I keep meeting a lot of bloggers in the country and it’s fascinating to listen to their stories of travel, work and the perfect blend of both. Often, I am overwhelmed to see the stuff they carry with them all day or during their trips.

My current role doesn’t allow me to experiment too much with my lifestyle, but I do love to carry a lot of stuff with me when I am on the move. And when I say that, I mean a LOT OF STUFF!

The stuff I carry

The stuff I carry

Having said that, I have always wanted a bag that’s made with not just a good material but a good thought process – good design & aesthetics. It’s so disheartening to own a bag which has no zippers above the flap to hold your earphones,  so that you can take them out within seconds when you need them. There can be more ways in which a bag can disappoint you to an extent where you would want to switch to a new bag.

I carry a Targus BackPack which I love for the way it is designed. However, I was looking for a Messenger bag to alternate between days. Some amount of research I did left me with mixed reviews on messenger bags from Timbuk2, Belkin, Victorinox, etc. I trolled in forums having threads with as high as 100 posts discussing messenger bags. It was fun! I thank my friend @ShayonPal who helped me with pictures of the Victorinox messenger bag he owns. I almost bought it!

However, I was confused between a couple of options I had. That’s when I stumbled on STM Velo and it’s review on Cult of Mac. I looked at some more reviews and videos and it was not too long before it impressed me! The Australian brand, STM was not known to me but the product looked impressive. The fact that almost no one was talking negative about it on the inter-webs was a convincing enough reason for me to decide on it.

I approached the company and today, I got my STM Velo Small (Burgundy). The bag is designed to perfection and the quality of stuff, the stitches, the zippers – all fall in the right sweet spot. You’ll be surprised to know that it’s the ‘small’ size that I got and it could accommodate EVERYTHING you saw above!

STM Velo - front

The key highlights of this bag include;

  • Good protection to the laptop with great cushioning.
  • Great design. Very thoughtful!
  • Separate section for the laptop to take it out at the security check without opening the flap
  • Space to hold a Kindle & an iPad.
  • Enough zippers and pouches to contain stuff for survival on almost any day!
  • Comfortable strap to carry the bag, plus a soft handle to hold it.
  • Side pouches with zippers to carry a water bottle & an umbrella.
  • Available in Small and Medium sizes for 13″ and 15″ laptops, respectively.

It’s truly a great everyday messenger bag and I would recommend it to folks who carry a lot of stuff with them, people who travel to work  or those work to travel. ;-)

Some pictures of the bag:

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In case you find it difficult to get this bag, you can reach out to Sundar at the following address;

Lucky Star Computers India Pvt.Ltd
17& 18, 2nd Floor, Park Square Mall, ITPL,
Whitefield, Bengaluru-560066
Tel: 080 28026551 / 52 / 53

Speaker Deck = SlideShare minus the Jazz!

Everyday, the Internet continues to (pleasantly) surprise us! Be it the Instagram acquisition by Facebook or stuff like the best of DrawSomething. Sometimes, it’s the coffee bean for the day that gets you charged!

Recently, I stumbled upon Speaker Deck - Share Presentations without the mess. One thing I really liked about the product is the simplicity (No wonder, the GitHub team is behind it!). It allows you to upload a slide deck (in PDF), share and embed. Just that! This reminds me about the early days of how Slideshare was. I really like some of the features of Slideshare , but the ads are too intrusive. For someone who needs to share a presentation and limit it to just that, Speaker Deck is not doubt a good alternative.

With some digging around, I found OrderedList and here’s what Steve Smith, the founder has to say about Speaker Deck. It’s been 7 months since it was launched and I hope it continues to be clean as it is, today!

But, does it make sense to switch to Speaker Deck and toss the Slide Share Pro account I have? I guess I would wait for a while before I take that decision. :-)

For now, here’s my first upload on my Speaker Deck account;

Notes from Martina Navratilova’s talk at IBM Software Universe 2011

2011 made me read, listen and meet a lot of people. People I’ve always admired for one reason or more. One of the most memorable ones include listening to Martina Navratilova, live at IBM Software Universe 2011, at Hotel Renaissance in Powai, Mumbai.

I grew up playing lawn tennis and it is the sport that I enjoyed the most. I’ve played it at various levels but this post isn’t about bragging. So I’ll let it be. :-)

Here’s an abstract of what Martina said on motivation, goals, teams and people;

“Champions make things happen, they don’t rely on others.”

“You got to have goals and athletes know it the best. Remember to take one step at a time and that every single day counts.”

“Don’t be afraid to lead.”

Martina had to make changes in footwork after 26 years of playing, after she started to lose matches, starting with Steffe Graph. She had to *adapt*.

“Responsibility is important, so is determination.”

Martina Navratilova quoted her coach: “Everybody has a will to win, but very few have a will to prepare.”

“Everyone is unique – with talents & abilities.”

“Strive for excellence but not for perfection. Making mistakes is fine. Just don’t make too many of them.”

“Being good at your worst – the ability to bounce back using all the resources you have is the key to achieve your goals.”

“Don’t overdo it. Take care of yourself. Feel good about yourself.”

“Participate in some sports activity.”

“It’s OK to be nervous but what’s important is how you deal with it.”

“No business or individual reaches at the top without a great team.”

“Be an innovator, play to strength – mine was forehand.”

“No matter how fast the ball is coming to you, if you know where is it going, you’re good”.

“The beauty of sports is you don’t see religion or origin. It’s the person and his game that’s important.”

What NOT to do with Bloggers!

Having worked closely with brands, agencies and bloggers in the past 3 years, I can say that each day comes packed with as much fun as it has challenges to take up. With Bloggers (esp. tech/ mobile bloggers) now being on the center stage, along with the journalists – the power of web publishers can not be ignored. I like calling it community journalism!

Brands have started to understand it. Thanks to agencies and their compelling pitches for blogger related campaigns!

The idea is to throw up the product/ service to bloggers, allow them to soak their hands in it and come up with an *honest* review. Bloggers aren’t paid for this. There are exceptions though! (It reminds me of an excellent story on ‘Bribing Bloggers‘ at JoelonSoftware, published 5 years ago. )

That isn’t as simple as it looks to be in 4 lines of text! Why? Each one has his own agenda to propagate, and I guess fairly so. Brands needs reach, engagement, sales & support. Agencies need money, clientele, experience. Bloggers need content exclusive content, first hand information, opportunity to interact with the product team, traffic on the blog, etc.

Did I miss something? – Credibility & Authority. Everyone needs it – Brands, Agencies and Individuals.

In the whole process of coming up with an interesting, engaging concept around bloggers and cool products/ services, we as human beings (read – Brands, Agencies and Individuals) tend to overkill or over-tune some dynamics. The dynamics of creating an ROI on the Internet. I guess we as human beings should identify the bars and encourage healthy reach/ engagement programs, much before brands and more importantly consumers begin to consider this exercise a fake practice.

This post is *inspired* by a discussion started on facebook by a known tech blogger in the Indian blogosphere. It’s against some Blogger Campaign and involves bloggers who participated & those who chose not to. Interesting conversations are what I will leave you with. While I wrote this post, I see it has attracted more than 34 comments and 21 Likes, within an hour.

Some screenshots (includes a comment from, yours truly);

 

You may view the entire discussion thread.

Disclaimer: I am the cofounder at Media Redefined, a social media and web technology agency and have been a blogger. For those asking me of our involvement with the brand or this campaign, I would like to clarify that we are NOT associated with it. Moreover, this case isn’t just about a particular brand, agency or individual – instead it’s a story on how we need to fine tune our initiatives to ensure a healthy communication and know our responsibilities as whosoever we are.

Feel free to share your thought as comments/ tweets! Cheers. :)

UPDATE: Within 24 hours, this post has got more than 500 views from twitter & facebook alone. Today I noticed, there is a huge rage amongst the Indian blogger community as well with the twitter #hashtag #IndiSammyScam. Here are some screenshots of the conversations;

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Click to enlarge

There is another post by a blogger highlighting some details. I am not sure about the authenticity of the story but here it is.

Personally, I use an iPad2, but have used Galaxy TAB 10.1. I liked the product and I feel the bloggers could have been reached and communicated in a better way to avoid this crisis. From what was positioned to ensure reach, this is a classic example of how the bloggers can get offended in absence of proper communication & lack of clarity in expectations.