Lesson from Google Reader: Don’t get attached to free products

As Google decided to say goodbye to Reader, a lot of my friends who are bloggers ended up being angry and sad. I am no exception, I am totally disappointed with Google for being so soulless but I think with time the anger will be gone.

There is already a mad scramble for finding Google Reader alternatives and we will surely find one or two companies come up with a worthy replacement over time.

But there is big lesson to be learnt from Google Reader’s impending demise. That lesson is do not fall in love with free products or services.

Free services are never truly ours!

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I spent a lot of time on Google Reader. I created folders and shared bundles. This was time that I gave to Google Reader and it enriched my experience and possibly others too. All that is gone and its mainly because I do not own my data. I might be able to download it but I won’t be able to use it the same with with another service.

Lets take a look at all the free services we use. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Search and so many more services. I love these services but with the end of Google Reader, I realise that all our data on these services is not really ours. We spend hours on Facebook and Twitter but really do we get out of it as much as we give it. We give our time, upload our photos, get social interactions.

Yes, we can back-up our data from Facebook but can we take the social interaction to another service? No, we cannot. If I am unhappy with Facebook and move to Google+, I have to start from scratch. The same goes vice-versa.

To be honest I am glad that Google Reader was built on RSS feeds. I could take my RSS feeds to another reader or app and continue without too many issues.

Sure I will miss Google Reader but I won’t exactly feel I have to start from scratch. Now what if Facebook closed down? I might be able to move my photos and download my updates. Even backup my contact lists but what about the countless social interactions which make our social networking experience truly rich.

Lesson for Bloggers!

This is a big lesson for bloggers. If you are using a free service like Blogger.com or WordPress.com you might want to rethink your strategy. These blogging platforms are free and host your content free. They are likely to remain free for a long time to come. But what if one of them closes down? What happens to your years of writing and building a community? Maybe if you blog very actively, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a domain and some hosting.

Atleast data from blog (including comments) can be migrated but I know many who create great content only for their social networking pages and profiles. That is a very risky thing to do and it is better to truly own your content.

Let us be fair to Google

I started this post saying I was angry with Google but to be fair to them, I can see that Google Reader was a product that was not exactly going to grown. This is where smaller companies like Flipboard and Feedly might thrive as their core business will be dealing with managing feeds.

It is interesting to note that no other big web company like Facebook, Yahoo or Microsoft has a half decent competitor to Google Reader. Google has just gone back to its core competency, which is big data and the data from Google Reader I suspect was not large enough.

Fetch.io – Download / Fetch Files and Stream Them Fast

Downloading huge files hosted at rapidshare, megaupload etc is always a hectic task. If you don’t own a premium membership on such sites then they’ll impose various restrictions on your download. They will ask you to wait, limit your downloading speed and wouldn’t even let you resume your downloads. This is why users have always looked for a file leeching / fetching service.

Fetch.io is an excellent web service that downloads such files to their server at really amazing speed and then lets you download the same file from their server at great speed and with resume support.

Features of Fetch.io

  • Support for several file hosting sites and the BitTorrent..
  • Ability to fetch files at a blazing speed.
  • Fetched file are uncompressed so that you can download,share or stream them straight away.
  • Video files are automatically encoded to suitable format for playing them on iphone/ipad and other devices.
  • Single step registration plus you’re provided with 20GB of space and 40GB of bandwidth free of cost.
  • Directory based file management with a lovely AJAX powered GUI.
  • Open API platform : if you are a developers, you would love it.

These features certainly set it apart from other similar services. I personally loved fetching torrents. 🙂

Link : Fetch IO

“Giveaway of the Day” – Download Licensed Software for Free Everyday

People generally tend to look for pirated versions of software that are available for download from torrents and tons of other resources.

An interesting website I came across recently is Giveawayoftheday.com which provides a licensed copy of a particular software everyday for download.

Each day you will find a new software available for download for 24 hours. This is a completely legitimate service and the giveaway is provided with prior permission from the publishers of the particular software.

The software which this website provides for download range from audio editing, audio/video conversion, up to alternatives/add-ons to MS-Office, office utilities etc. You can check their previous Giveaways till today here.

You can add Giveaway of the Day to your RSS feed, or get email updates everyday as well.

Few things to remember:

  • A particular software is available for download only for a period of 24 hours and cannot be downloaded later.
  • You cannot re-install a particular software after a PC crash or install the program on another PC after the giveaway day is over.

Link: Giveaway of the Day

Top 5 Websites to get Online Guitar Lessons

A good tutor is essential if you want to master the art of playing the guitar. Although guitar tutors take a lot of money and dont really teach at the speed at which a person wants to learn.

Best thing to do is learning on our own using the biggest tool at our disposal – The Internet.

If you are a beginner and want to learn, you should buy a cheap yet a good quality guitar. Go into a local shop that sells all kinds of Indian instruments. It would not cost more than Rs. 2,000 to get a basic non-branded acoustic guitar (Try bargaining).

Brands such as Grason, Givson, Hobmer, Java are all Indian made brands, which are cheap and perfect for beginners. While selecting a guitar, check the neck of the guitar. The neck should be perfectly straight, without any curvature.

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Following are some websites for Guitar enthusiasts who are willing to learn the guitar and want to learn as quickly as possible.

Indian Guitar Tabs

A comprehensive forum for all your Hindi song needs. It also provides tabs for songs in Marathi, Bengali, Pakistani and English. There are forums for help regarding what musical instruments to buy, guitar maintenance tips etc.

Hindi Song Notes

There is a massive database of songs on this websites which can be used by both the guitar and synthesizer players alike. You can also upload tabs that you wrote yourselves on the website.

Indian Guitar Cafe

A forum similar to  Indian guitar tabs, it also provides help to keyboard players, as well as aspiring singers in need of lyrics of Hindi and English songs.

Indian Guitar Chords

This blog by a guitar enthusiast gives tabs of Hindi and Bengali songs. It also provides the user with an online tuner to tune his guitar to the right scale. There is also a dedicated section for learning music theory.

YouTube Channel of Pawan Jalan

Pawan Jalan’s YouTube channel takes the cake with easy-to-understand videos and proper explanations so that the person watching them can play along, and also understand the positions of the chords and notes being played. His regular updates have been subscribed bymore than 5,000 people on YouTube and has gathered quite a fan following.

Do drop in your queries, comments and feedback. 🙂

Online Learning – Free certification courses with ALISON

When the World is heading towards global reforms and education is a mandatory a tool for progress, Internet has been an effective tool to reach a great deal of audience who either don’t have time or probably have weak financials. With the advancement in Education policies, online Education certification is no more a dream.

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ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive Systems ONline) is a web-based company based in Ireland and stand for their strong social commitment. It provides online certification courses in various domains such as IT Learning, Liberal Arts, Health, Business, English Learning and even provides content as per School curriculum.

ALISON is just not about Free Online education, but ALISON wants to build standards in Distance education by making a global impact over lives of people. The ALISON model is supported by advertisements and many of the courses are sponsored by its publishers. Rest of them get a share of the revenues earned through Advertisements.

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So what are you waiting for? Get Started now to give your career a turnaround..

Link: Alison Website

Survey Monkey – Online tool to conduct FREE Market Research

Did you ever feel the need to ask your friends and colleagues about their opinion on some product?

Real-life Example:

Suppose if you are looking to buy a new Smartphone!

My Case:

I was looking for a new smartphone for myself and faced with tremendous confusion..

The Process:

I consulted many of my friends for their opinion on certain brands and models.

The Result:

The pattern I used to collect their opinion was somewhat haphazard. I ended up in an opinion-bin with lots of random opinion.

The Solution:

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One of my friend’s always keep saying, there is nothing you can’t find on Google! Yeah, he proved right even this time, I searched and found the website “SurveyMonkey.com” which lets you create surveys for free and post them directly to your friend lists on Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook and other social networking websites.

All about SurveyMonkey

  • The website is all about doing Market Research in a formatted and organized way with even input data being validated.

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  • Chose what kind of answer you are expecting by selecting the type of question.

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  • One feature I must share is the question Logic which can be added to any question. The question Logic saves time by not asking questions which are not necessary. For example – If there is a market research on Nokia E5, ofcourse you would be looking for specific opinion from people who have actually used the mobile phone and not just from every passer-by. So if there is a question which asks “Did you use or presently use Nokia E5?”; for people who answer ‘Yes’ would be asked further specific questions or else the general questions would follow and finally the survey would end.

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  • Safety of your data is guaranteed by SurveyMonkey which holds the US Federal Law Section 508 compliance certification.  Data is carefully kept and is available in a PDF format also.
  • Generate charts, prepare real-time reports using the Survey results and even share them with your friends.
  • Now what? Do you want Survey Monkey to even write the questions for you? Obviously it can’t, but it can definitely help with the available Question templates. Howz that?

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Few of the above features are available only in the Paid plan which is available for as low as Rs. 415 per month (annual payment). To view the plan details, click here.

LINK: SurveyMonkey

Recharge your Mobile and get to eat FREE at McDonalds!

Editor’s Note: Currently McDonald’s, Voucher is removed from freecharge.in and hence is not available.

I hope all of you carry a mobile phone and most are Pre-paid ones (though I carry a Post-paid too! 🙂 ). Recharging of cell phones is now an important part of our daily lives and no one would like their available talktime showing zero. Owing to this and with increasing Internet usability, lot of companies started their Online recharge facility quite early and that too without any extra charges. However the website I am talking about here gives back their users when they recharge for any amount; seems interesting? Read on to know more.

Freecharge a Mumbai-based firm, is offering one of the latest innovations in the mobile commercial world. It is offering an equal amount of Vouchers or coupons for brands like McDonald’s, Cafe Coffee Day, Naaptol, Dominos, Basking Robbins, Yatra and few more like this for the amount you recharge through the portal.

Yes, this is quite funny that even in this electronic world they are sending vouchers through normal post only.

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I would quote an example from my experience. I recharged my Reliance GSM mobile for Rs. 109 (since I get a full talktime on that) and I was asked to select coupons worth upto Rs. 150, so I selected 3 coupons worth Rs. 50 each of McDonald’s. The reason I selected McDonald’s and nothing else was that McDonald’s vouchers are redeemable on the equal bill value itself which means if my bill is Rs.150, I can use all my vouchers worth Rs. 150 (Rs. 50 x 3) to have anything and pay actually nothing! Isn’t that cool?

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Note: Rs. 10 extra charges (irrespective of your recharge amount) for delivery of the vouchers to your place.

You can recharge for almost every cell phone carrier like Reliance CDMA & GSM, Vodafone, Aircel etc and get set go. Please do comment on how much useful this website is going to be for you!

LINK: Freecharge

Get McAfee Antivirus Plus 2011 FREE for 6 Months!

With the onset of the new year, retailers and manufacturers are trying to attract more consumers. One such awesome deal has been offered by an Online e-Commerce portal. It is offering a 6-months FREE subscription to the Plus 2011 version of the McAfee Antivirus software.

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Image Credit: Offer retailer website

About McAfee

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Image Credit: McAfee Official website

McAfee boasts of surpassing Norton and Kaspersky in terms of PC protection through its #1 technology to detect and defunct Viruses, Spyware and Malware. This is just not a statement and is even a proven fact. See McAfee official website for details.

Save Rs. 520!

McAfee Plus 2011 is available for Rs. 1040 in India and $49.99 in the US, for 1 year & 1 PC. With this offer, you are saving a total of Rs. 520 (in India). So what are you waiting for? Grab it immediately, the offer ends on 10th January, 2011 at midnight.

Link: Offer

Learn Web Development with Mozilla’s School of Webcraft for FREE

Here’s a great opportunity for budding web-developers/designers like me!

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Mozilla is set to begin a new training program for web-designers and developers in Jan 2011 for students and professionals, which would provide a 100% free developer training resource run in partnership with the Peer 2 Peer University.

The School of Webcraft is not a new establishment, as 15 classes were held in the previous semester, but they were more or less related to non-developer topics such as SEO. Now, Mozilla is trying to get around 30 classes for the January semester.

The length of the classes would be between 6-10 weeks. They’ll cover topics relevant to web designers and developers, including HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Any one who considers himself a novice or an expert can join the course. The course is expected to be started on January 26.

Students can learn through a combination of free and open learning materials, online study groups and hands-on assignments that test their skills.Since its an open project, expert developers can join in as well, and share their knowledge with the learning community. the Peer to Peer University claims that their classes are globally accessible, 100% free and powered entirely by learners, mentors and contributors.

By creating a completely free, open training ground for developers and would-be developers, Mozilla hopes to remedy some of the problems surrounding technology education.

Registrations for this program start on January 8 2011. If you are interested to learn more about this program, you can join their mailing list here.

Link: Mozilla School of Webcraft

Free Ram Optimizer – Clear up RAM on your computer for a faster computer

Ever since I was not happy about my Laptop’s performance, I started looking for a small handy tool (software) for utilizing the maximum of my RAM efficiently. And that lead to the discovery of a really neat app (really, its just 332 KB) namely – “Free RAM Optimizer XP”. Though you will usually mis-understand the name and will think that its meant for the Windows XP operating system, however I have been using it on my Windows 7 Professional version and it has never given a problem.

The software is a small window which silently sits on your Taskbar’s Notification area and automatically keeps optimizing your system’s RAM usage. However you can easily disable the Automatic optimization and just keep doing it manually whenever you feel like doing so.

Don’t forget one thing that it just optimizes your available RAM, it cannot increase the RAM memory available. So be cautious while changing any settings otherwise it may lead to your system going dead slow.

My Personal Advice

If you are using the manual setting, don’t clear more than 1% of your total RAM at once.

Download Link: Free-Ram-Optimizer-XP