Jeff Bezos the CEO of Amazon, yesterday revealed on a television program “60 minutes” that the company was working on sending five pound packages to people using drones. This would reduce the delivery time to 30 minutes. Amazon has been disruptive many times in the past and with same day delivery might even put small exclusive stores out of business. But using drones instead of actual people to deliver a package from a warehouse to a house in 30 minutes is disruptive on a totally different scale.
Such a drone does exist and is works in a program called Prime Air. The drone will sit on the conveyor belt and pick up the relevant package. Fly over to the recipient’s house and gently place the package down. According to a Verge article, the drone will travel over 10 miles and most importantly 86% of Amazon’s packages are smaller than 5 pounds. So the scope of using this drone is huge.
The video below shows how the octo-copter or drone will work.
But will drones for delivery work?
Amazon still has some technical problems like how to ensure they do not drop packages from the sky or manage to avoid people and things while landing in the real complex world. They also need see how the drones could sense where to place the package. The video demo the package is dropped in the front yard but what happens to packages that need to be delivered to high rises. But Jeff Bezos has declared 2015 as the year when the program kicks off and 5 years to get it running at large.
But those are just technical issues, there are major political and employment issues to deal with too. Lack of an actual person delivering packages means loss of jobs. Delivery inside 30 minutes could put provision drones or specialized stores out of business. Drones with sensors and cameras scouring over neighborhoods means an almost total lack of privacy which is something that will not be very popular.
Finally would local government bodies allow hundreds of such drones to fly through their airspace and not find it unsafe? Amazon will have to work very hard in convincing people and governments to firstly make this technology really viable.
Was this just a massive PR exercise?
The whole delivery by drone thing does sound like a major PR exercise for Amazon. They can always go back and claim a multitude of reasons to say the project did not materialize but what happened yesterday almost every media outlet was giving Amazon coverage and mostly in a positive light. Yesterday was “Cyber Monday” a day traditionally people shopped online in the US. And which name is the biggest in online shopping world? Amazon.
So basically Amazon got massive publicity on the biggest day of online shopping in the US. And they got this more or less free as this was news coverage not an ad campaign which costs millions of dollars.
So what do you think about Amazon’s drone program? Think it will succeed or will it be such a proto-type that got them a lot of publicity on a very convenient day?
The Galaxy S IV was launched in 50 countries which included India. Now when phones are launched companies try to find the weirdest possible ways to sing praises of its device.
So what did Samsung do?
They hired Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh and made him dance to a song that was a remake (copy) of Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ music video. The words of the song were “S for Samsung style”. The Korean lyrics of the song were further changed into praise filled phrases about Samsung’s Galaxy S IV phone. The song is even more ridiculous than I make it sound.
Below is the full video.
If I was ever going to buy Samsung Galaxy S IV, I think this video would have definitely changed my mind.
Jokes apart, Samsung might be doing great business and also selling millions of phones. But they definitely need to learn that it would be better if their phone did the talking and not some bizarre over the top song and dance show.
YouTube is the king of online videos with more than 48 hours of videos uploaded every hours, recently it has crossed 4 billions of views in a day. YouTube has great feature of embedding the videos on any Website or Blog, this help in promotion of videos as well as retention of users on the site. Earlier users could only view the videos but were not able to get information about the videos (descriptions), nor were they able to share it from the site where videos are embedded.
To share users has to visit the YouTube video page. But now YouTube has rolled out two new drop-down button in the embedded videos which allow users to view the infromation of videos as well directly share it to Social media sites without leaving the site.
Share Video directly
There are two new drop-down button added in the embedded videos at the top right after the title of video – Share and More info. With Share button, which open a sharing page on the video itself allows user to share video on Facebook, Orkut, Google+ and other major sites.
It also allows user to embed video as they do on YouTube, with all available options like embedding-size and the starting point.
Get information about the videos
The ‘More info’ button displays the Channel on which the video can be seen, along with the no of subscribers of the Channel and an option to subscribe to the Channel. If you have already signed into your YouTube account, after pressing subscribe button, you will be automatically subscribed to the channel otherwise a popup will appear to authenticate.
Details of the videos as well as no of views and likes and dislikes are also shown. This feature of videos can easily turned on/off. It is good for the user to get the information about videos without going to YouTube. Users can also like or dislike the video while they start watching the video, those button appear on the same title bar.
This will be hugely important for people creating video content on YouTube to be able to use it on a website without losing out on the social juice.
What you think about these changes YouTube done on embedded videos? Do drop in your comments!
Gone are the days when finding information on some topic would mean a visit to the library. It’s the age of Wikipedia. But with the Wikipedia articles getting longer and our attention span becoming shorter, it seems another change is imminent. Qwiki is one such tool that might be helpful.
Qwiki aggregates information from various sources and presents it to the user in the form of a video. So, instead of a long, often boring article, you get a short, highly informative video.
The presentation is narrated by a computer generated female voice in American accent. It sounds pretty natural, though there are some problems in non-dictionary words or non-English words. Subtitles are provided to avoid confusion.
Qwikis are computer generated with data mostly from Wikipedia and Wikimedia with some parts being from other sources.
Qwiki covers a huge number of topics. The API page it says it covers more than 3 million. I tried searching for various topics and was surprised by the things already covered. From Hindi movies to Howrah Bridge to Chandni Chowk could be found.
The Qwiki page has the Search box at the top, Qwiki at the centre and related Qwikis below that. There are no ads. Social sharing buttons are available at the top of the Qwiki.
The seek bar has thumbnails that help find portions of the Qwiki so that you can quickly jump to any part of the Qwiki.
There is a Related button below every Qwiki that displays a list of related Qwikis. Links to Wikipedia, YouTube, Fotopedia and Google search are also available at the end.
Qwikis load very quickly and I have not come across any buffering issues. There are some bugs or errors that come up, such as, in the Qwiki on Web server it says “below is the most recent statistics of the market share of the top web servers”. There is no such statistic.
That said Qwiki is a great tool for some quick learning. If you are looking to just get introduced to something new, then using Qwiki makes sense. Do try it out and drop in your comments.
Google Docs is one of my favourite ways to co-ordinate work with colleagues. Sharing and allowing people to work on a document in real-time is a great idea. Recently, Google is allowing only giving access to commenting on a document you share.
This is useful when you want some users and their opinion but do not want to grant them rights to make changes themselves.
Just open the document you have on Google Docs which you want to share.
Click on Share and add the people want to share the document with.
Now select a new option ‘Can comment’and click on ‘Done’.
Here is a video I made on how to only allowing comments while sharing a document.
People spend literally several hours a week watching videos online. YouTube and Vimeo are the big boys of online video streaming, and often users might like to download the videos or a song into a mp3 version for listening to at a more convenient time or when offline.
Tubget is an online web service which allows downloading of videos from YouTube and Vimeo.
Just type in the URL of the video from YouTube or Vimeo and click on start.
Once done, the video will be processed and will be ready to be downloaded. It also gives option for cropping the video before you download it.
Users can also select sound quality, video resolution along with the type of file you want the video to be downloaded into.
It supports AVI, MOV, MP4 and other popular video formats.
Google+ might be grabbing headlines in the past week for being one of it’s best ‘social media’ products. But there is one more Google owned service which is highly social. That service is YouTube and it has its own very interactive social environment.
Not a lot has changed with YouTube’s designs and how it displays the videos and playlists. Related videos still pop-up in the right hand column and in general there seems to be just a lot happening while watching a video.
YouTube has unveiled Cosmic Panda which is a way for users to test out its new layout and display options.
Below is the current layout while users play a video.
Notice how the suggestions are on the right hand column and the resize options are hidden.
Now after signing up for the Cosmic Panda test on YouTube, the same video showed with some more interesting changes.
I noticed that the comments and suggested videos are shown in tabs below the video while video size can be changed more easily than before.
If you have your own channel on YouTube, you can even check out the new themes and layouts made available for the YouTube Channel. Head over to Youtube.com/cosmicpanda and try out the new features and design layouts for YouTube.
Also let me know if you like the current layout or the new one planned through your comments.
Google has announced a lab feature called SmartLabel which quickly creates a notification label and applies it to emails automatically.
SmartLabels in Gmail Labs
Just look up under settings and click on Labs.
In GMail Labs, search for ‘SmartLabels’ and you will be shown the smart labels feature. Enable it and save the changes.
Once SmartLabels is enabled, similar emails are automatically sorted out and you can find them under a new label called notification.
Here is a short video on how to go about it:
This is a nice improvement for users who are not using Filters. I have an alternate Gmail account which does get a few updates from subscriptions and also get some personal mail. Because I do not use this account everyday, I was lazy enough to not take time and create filters on this account. I found SmartLabels a better alternative.
One of the most irritating part while watching a movie on your computer is the delay between the audio/video streams! I see many friends often downloading a different print of the same movie. That’s a lot of work for most broadband users in India and many other countries.
But if you are using the VLC media player, then you can simply synchronize audio/video using keyboard shortcuts “f” and “g” as highlighted in the screenshot below. After some trial and error you will get the characters’ lip-synced.
On Windows OS, if “f” and “g” do not work, try “CTRL+F” and “CTRL+G” respectively. You can also edit keyboard shortcuts by clicking on “Change” button in same window (see following screenshot again)
YouTube is all over and just like it grew more influential in 2009, it continued its domination of being the number one website to share videos online.
Recently YouTube released certain trends to help people look for latest trends. I decided to look for the top 5 videos which were tech related. I must say all the videos are not really tutorials or highly technical, but it probably comes under tech culture.
#4. “Take me Out” by Atomic Tom LIVE on NYC subway
This was a song sung by Atomic Tom on a NYC subway train. The video is tech related because the entire song was recorded and played with instruments using only iPhones and its applications. This video was viewed over 4.17 million times.
#3. Iggy investigates an iPad
Iggy is the name of the cat who in this video investigates an iPad. The natural curiosity of the animal along with iPad touch sensitive apps make it an amusing video. This video was viewed over 7.2 millions times.
#2. iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo
This video has two characters discussing the iPhone and is a sarcastic take on how people are looking to buy an iPhone only because of the brand and not so much know much about its features. This video was viewed over 11 millions times.
#1. Annoying Orange: Pacmania
We all realized this year that Pacman still evokes massive mania as Google found out when they put up a pacman interactive game as a doodle on their homepage. On YouTube is a video which has a fruit changing places with Pacman in the video game. This was viewed over 12.3 million times on YouTube.
Most of these videos show how Tech brands have become iconic in our everyday life and that is the main reasons of these videos becoming so popular. Do drop in your comments and let me know which one is your favorite among these videos.