It seems like ages that I have posted an editorial here!
Aditya Kane completes 3 years!
Well, I feel ashamed to share this good news little late!
Aditya Kane, our Editor-in-Chief has completed 3 years with Devils Workshop 3 days back (on August 26)
Thanks Aditya for safeguarding DW against all spammers and greedy evils. I don’t care what Google Analytics, Alexa or AdSense stats tell about your performance.
Pride cannot be measured by any tool and I am proud to have you as Editor-in-Chief at DW… 🙂
My Status Update!
From last few weeks, I am finding some time to purse my oldest hobby i.e. writing here on Devils Workshop. I posted few articles recently mostly on Ubuntu and server-administration stuff. Well these things are what I am doing these days mainly. I always find it hard to write about things that I am not involved in. So in future you may not read about windows, facebook, social-media, wordpress-coding from me.
I am heading a wordpress company but on daily basis I am not coding anything on WordPress since long. So no wordpress-coding articles from me! I spend my free time with Ubuntu, Nginx and sever administration stuff. Also, I am learning Ruby (and Rails). So my articles will be mostly related to this…
Things that are changing…
As I am finding some time to spend here on DW, we restored our support forum back. Feel free to use it – https://devilsworkshop.org/support/. I will try to personally answer any query related to my knowledge domain within 24-hours (except weekends!) I am married now, so weekends are sometimes reserved… 😉
Last week, when Microsoft removed the covers of its new email service called Outlook, it has won many praises (including from yours truly) for it’s minimalist design. The service claims to have better spam fighting mechanism along with better controls for managing emails.
It seemed like Microsoft has a real winner on its hands and it could hurt Gmail badly. I thought a bit about the possibility of Outlook.com ever coming close to being a Gmail killer. These are five reasons why I think Outlook.com will not be a threat the Gmail.
#1. Email is not a Social Network
Five years ago, I had email addresses of my friends from my childhood. But we hardly connected as such via email and most of our interaction was done through Orkut, which was the most popular social network in India at that point of time. Most of us have simply stopped using Orkut and are now on Facebook. But guess what we have not changed, it is our email service providers.
People do not dump their email service as easily as they might do with social networks.
#2. Better Design is not Better Service
Outlook.com does have a great design and UI. But that does not automatically mean better service. Gmail has “undo send”, “desktop notifications” and along with dozens of under the hood features, makes it a very powerful service to manage email.
Outlook.com has some improved features like spam filters and newsletter management, but it is still not tired and tested. Some might argue that Hotmail has great anti-spam and email features, but if it did, why is Microsoft trying out a completely new approach to email?
#3. Microsoft did not create Hotmail
Microsoft did not create its email offerings with from the ground up. They bought into the business by get Hotmail for a price tag of $400 million. Microsoft has never really took the internet very seriously, it was still offering 2 MB free space when, Gmail came to the party with 1GB free space for email.
It also underestimated the importance of search on the web and possibly surrendered many advantages to Yahoo and Google subsequently. Microsoft just might not have it in their DNA to get web, sort of like how Google does not get social.
#4. Gmail is too important for Google
Gmail is 8 years old and people who used Google, never did it by signing into their website. Today, most times when I am using search, I am logged into my Google account. Google can track your search queries and tally it to your Google account, allowing it to give you better results. Why does everyone have a Google account? It is because of everyone has a Gmail account..
#5. Email might be dying
Remember all those internet memes, jokes and funny photos that were circulated by your friends and family on email. Today, this part of the interaction and sharing is happening on social networks. Even companies are trying out various techniques to reduce the email workload, so their employees have more time to do the really important things. In other words, email might be dying and could become irrelevant in the next 5 or 10 years. Microsoft’s Outlook.com might be great but it might be arriving to the party so late, that it might be arriving after the party.
I left out technical comparisons between Outlook and Gmail for the main reason, that technical options usually do not prompt one to change their email service. Outlook.com is on the right track with social integration, which might attract users from the under-20 age group, who usually are more prone to adopt newer email services.
Yesterday, Microsoft reported a loss for the first time in over 25 years. It was the first time they reported losses after it became a public company. A lot of people have written about the shocking decline of Microsoft and some even were writing obituaries.
It might be tempting to say that in the supposedly ‘post-pc’ era, Microsoft with it’s Windows platform is dying. But it is not the PC sales that have hurt Microsoft, but it’s strategy for the web.
In 2007, Microsoft bought a company called Aquantive for $6.4 Billion. It was supposed to rival Google as an advertisement platform. Unfortunately, Aquantive could not make profits and Microsoft had to write it off. This has led to a loss of $442 Million past 3 months.
Writing off on failures even at the cost of declaring losses, is indicative that the company is trying to focus on its core competencies, which are selling operating systems and Office software suites. So despite a reported loss, Microsoft stock went up after the news broke out.
The revenues of Microsoft are up by 4% despite slow sales of Windows 7. A slowdown of Windows 7 purchases will probably continue as Windows 8 is expected in October.
Microsoft’s Journey From Arrogance to Humility!
Microsoft has made a lot of aggressive moves which were arrogant in the past. They under-estimated companies like Google and Apple about 10 years ago. They pretty much disregarded the internet as a medium itself.
By ignoring mobile platforms, they let Apple with their iPhones and Google with Android become big players. Microsoft was so arrogant because it was making big money for so long; that they simply did not pause to think, that they were surrendering their future.
They kept throwing money at Bing and then making purchases like Aquantive to challenge Google. Unfortunately throwing money does not always get best results and today despite Bing growing slowly, it is far from being a profitable venture for the company. The fact that they were not taking web technology seriously was evident from how Internet Explorer 6 as a browser survived for over a decade.
But recently, Microsoft has woken up to reality and has tried to shed it arrogance. First signs in recent times has been it’s “Browser you loved to hate” campaign for IE9. Instead of suggesting other browsers were useless or pathetic, they were admitting that their previous versions were poor but it was time to give their new version a try.
A Humble Microsoft is Good News
Companies find it hard to become humble. In other words they find it hard to admit defeat. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple as its CEO, he shed the arrogance and famously refocused the company into concentrating on its core products. He also gave up on the idea of trying to defeat Microsoft.
An almost bankrupt Apple, was suddenly focusing on creating something new for the future and the rest is history.
Microsoft seems to be getting a lesson in humility and they seem to be focusing not of beating other companies but rather to improve their products and services.
Microsoft unveiled Surface tablets a few weeks ago. The tablets are not trying to compete with iPad directly. The tablets are designed differently and it is looking to bring something different in the tablet niche.
Windows 8 also is designed very different from previous versions of Windows. This refocus exercise by Microsoft is finally good news because in the end consumers might be the real winners.
What are your views on the future of Microsoft? Do drop in your comments.
Yesterday Anonymous, a hacktivist group has staged its first protest across several cities in India. It was protesting against internet censorship by the government and also certain ISPs. Internet censorship has been a hot topic of discussion for a while now but in recent times it has reached a tipping point in India. The Twitter hashtag #OpIndia was used to organize the multi-city protests across the country.
The group takes its inspiration from the movie V for Vendetta where a masked anonymous vigilante launches a political revolution.
Recent instances of online censorship in India
Internet censorship has been a hot topic of discussion over the past few months in India. You might recall a famous (rather infamous) demand by a Minister to have manual screening of all online content put up on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The minister later flip-flopped on the issue saying he wanted some sort of monitoring of content.
There there was the Delhi High Court case against Facebook and Google. It had asked the websites to remove objectionable content or face bans. There were even comparisons drawn to how a system like China needed to be developed. The case still continues on the courts.
Internet Service Provider (ISPs) companies have often been accused of blocking access to websites on an adhoc basis. Popular file sharing websites have routinely been blocked by certain ISP’s who have links to Bollywood studios.
Laws pertaining to Internet usage in India are also a little unclear. For instance apparently certain content which is deemed offensive should be removed within hours. It is impossible to adhere as what exactly constitutes offensive is not defined with explicit clarity.
According to IBN Live some ISPs started to block video and filesharing websites like Vimeo. This was in response to a court order blocking certain links which were infringing copyright laws. The ISPs in question blocked entire domains instead of just those particular links.
Anonymous’ OpIndia hackers retaliated with attacks on websites owned by a political party along with some official government owned.
Interestingly Anonymous posted this tweet after some of online attacks.
Final Thoughts on Anonymous Protests!
Internet freedom is very dear to probably all internet users. Mostly people are unaware, that these freedoms can be restricted. The protests as long as they are peaceful will help in the long run to make people more aware of their internet rights which they might take for granted.
One major challenge for such protests is to keep their focus on internet freedoms and rights rather than come across as groups that support online piracy.
What are your views on Anonymous #OpIndia protests? Did you attend any protest in India? Do drop in views and experiences in your comments.
As some of you might have noticed, our Devils’ workshop got a new logo & design. 🙂
Last time we redesigned DW was almost 2 years back. In 2 years, WordPress has evolved so much that we couldn’t keep updating DW theme at faster pace. We have too many sites in our network and separately updating each for latest WordPress features was a tough job.
But with this new theme, we are moving all our sites to our new open-source theme framework – rtPanel. This and all future themes will be developed as a rtPanel’s child theme. This means if we add a new feature into rtPanel framework, it will be available into all rtPanel’s child themes (unless somebody abused child-theme development guidelines!)
New Design, New Goals!
With this new design, we have some new goals. A lot is changing about the way we operate DW. Some of changes might be shocking!
DW will use Google-AdSense only for now onwards. If we decide to consider other ad-network, it will be BuySellAds. Apart from AdSense, we will only consider direct Banner-Ads sales.
LESS Social (networking):
We have decided to show social icons on single-posts only. No more cluttering archive pages with literally 10’s of social-icons!
For small-social stuff we decided to keep here, we will use our own rtSocial plugin. rtSocial is very low on resources and while developing this theme, we found few more ways to optimize it in future release!
Going anti-social will personally help me focus more on content-part and also community of guest-bloggers & readers here.
MORE (Quality) Content:
The moment we removed ad-networks which were bloating this site, I realized that we no longer run DW to make money only!
Once slow-loading ads were thrown out, next target is poor content! We are working on streamlining work-flow for guest-bloggers to make it easy for them to contribute to DW. This will raise quality-bar of posts here IMHO.
MORE Community Oriented:
We will be bringing back long-abandoned DW support forum back. Support forum will help us answer reader questions as well as questions from guest-bloggers. We will continue to answer questions on twitter and our facebook page but support forum will have highest priority.
We are also experimenting with some WordPress comments enhancement plugins. Integrating with third-party system like Disqus/IntenseDebate is also into consideration. The goal is to make it easy to comment here!
I already received few emails praising new DW logo. The credit for same goes to our design team lead Sneha Mutha. Sneha created a nice new design also, which is slightly different than what you are seeing here.
We coded many things on live DW server so that we can have first-hand experience of issues that other developers might be facing while working on rtPanel theme framework. Our senior developer Joshua with Prakash and Nitun will keep optimizing this new design till we don’t get it right!
As always, we love to hear your feedback & criticism via comment form below. 🙂
Internet censorship was something we never imagined in India. There have been calls for bans on social media networks by some groups but no one really gave such ideas any real importance. Then came the bombshell from Indian Government’s Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal who first wanted internet websites to screen all their content. Screening online content is just another definition of ‘online censorship’.
Today according to this report on NDTV, a Delhi High Court Judge warned Facebook and Google that if they failed to create a mechanism to remove objectionable online content, they would block these websites like China does.
Why was the case heard in Delhi High Court?
The case against 21 internet sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and more for objectionable content has been registered in Delhi High Court. These are complaints against posts and images that are objectionable. I am not a lawyer, but it is a little strange to ask for filtering of content created by billions of people every day. The case is not about removing objectionable content but filtering this content.
After the court’s observations, the government of India has also now sanctioned prosecuting these websites.
What could happen next?
The worst case scenario, is that websites like Facebook and Google cloud be blocked. I do not think Google or Facebook will adhere to any screening unless India does have a law that defines what exactly needs to be blocked, removed or screened. Personally I doubt the Indian government would like to see itself in a club that contains mostly autocratic regimes from around the world.
Also these are observations of a High Court in Delhi. The Supreme Court could also be approached to also address the issue if websites could be held accountable for content created by third parties (users).
Google and Facebook’s Defence…
Almost every social network has a procedure to remove objectionable content from its website. Another issues is India does not have a Data Protection Act which lays down privacy laws for online content. So internet companies tend to adhere to community rules from the US.
Google is not even hosting the content but only pointing to links to content written and hosted independently.
Holding websites responsible for user-generated content is the same as holding a telephone company responsible for what was discussed on the phone by users.
As someone who lives in India, a country with free press and no internet censorship, the suggestion that China is a model we want to follow – is very depressing and disheartening. 🙁
Web censorship of any kind tends to be abused and ends up killing innovation. What are your views on internet censorship and the possibility of it happening in India? Do drop in your comments.
The year started with civil revolutions happening in Egypt, where a lot of credit (sometimes unfairly) was heaped on the role played by social media. By the end of the year Facebook had competition, Steve Jobs was no longer around and companies like Skype and Motorola had new owners.
Here are the 10 most interesting moments in technology in 2011.
Steve Jobs was ill and was already on leave from regular CEO duties at Apple. Jobs did show up one last time, at a keynote event for Apple and introduced iPad 2 to a rousing reception.
iPad 2 has been a blockbuster hit for Apple in 2011 and rumours are that Apple is scrambling to release iPad 3 on Steve Jobs birth anniversary.
#3. Google has a new CEO
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to hire a professional as a CEO. His name was Eric Schmidt. Schmidt managed to look after Google quite well for over 10 years but 2011 was the year the passing of the torch was done. Larry Page took over as CEO of Google in April 2011.
Google had been working on a new social network for many months. It finally unveiled the new weapon against Facebook. The name was Google+ and it sort of borrowed ideas from Twitter and Facebook.
It did race to 10 million users in 2 weeks, but it has hardly dented Facebook as the undisputed king of social media. But it will be interesting to see how Google keeps tweaking and improving Google+ to match up to Facebook.
#5. Google Buys Motorola
Android OS never had its own hardware for optimal performance. This is what probably prompted Google in buying Motorola for $12.5 Billion. Motorola is an iconic company in the cell phone market but it had been losing out to Nokia, Samsung and Apple over the past few years.
We should expect to see a lot of new great products from Motorola in 2012.
#6. Apple Rise to top
Apple overtook Microsoft in terms of profit. It had defeated its arch-nemesis in terms of profits. Apple rose to become the most valued company in 2011, with stock prices going through the roof. It apparently has more cash reserves than the US does as country. It will be interesting to see how Apple conducts itself now that it is no longer the underdog.
#7. Microsoft Buys Skype
Skype is one of the most used messenger for video chatting. Microsoft bought the company for a cool $8 Billion. This was Microsoft biggest acquisition but even months later, it is unclear how Microsoft will leverage Skype. Maybe with Windows 8 release in 2012, it might bring about something interesting.
#8. Steve Jobs Passes Away
The magician at Apple, finally succumbed to cancer on October 05, 2011. Apple fans across the world were in mourning after Steve Jobs passed away. Tributes showered in from heads of states, politicians and his contemporaries in the technology world.
#9. Facebook’s Reacts to Google+ with Timelines
As Google+ rose to prominence, Facebook felt the heat. Facebook could take its user for granted for a long time but with Google+ around they had to pick up their game.
They introduced a massive re-design change called Timelines. Timelines has be received with mixed reviews and many are unhappy about it being so easy for other to look up their old Facebook updates. Timelines is still being unveiled slowly and the jury is still out on whether Facebook has come up with a winner.
#10. BlackBerry Outage
If you were a blackberry user, you probably were a victim of this outage. Blackberry’s messaging network had a downtime which lasted not for hours but for days. The outage was fixed but it will take some time to repair the damage done to BlackBerry’s reputation.
The year 2011 was full of ups and downs in the tech world. Famous technologists died, big companies and services flopped while newer names came into prominence. The year 2012 will probably be full of stories with its origins in this year.
Hope you enjoyed our coverage over the past year and let me wish all our readers a Happy New Year.
If you follow a lot of blogs, there is a good change you have come across Alltop. Alltop is a blog feed aggregator created by Guy Kawasaki. It has all the top blogs and website featuring in different varied categories like Tech, News, People, Health, Culture and more.
We had submitted our blog to Alltop.com under the Tech category quite some time ago. Last week we got confirmation that our Alltop submission was accepted. 🙂
If you visit tech.alltop.com and see the last blog featured or right-hand corner at the end of the page. It is our very own Devils’ Workshop.
If you have an account at my.alltop.com, then surely add our feed from Alltop’s Tech category.
I recently completed a thousand posts on Devils’ Workshop. I am not particular about numbers and was not aware of being so close to the milestone. Thanks to my friend and colleague [email protected] for a timely tweet reminding me, that I was nearing a 1000 posts on DW. That tweet got me thinking about my journey as a professional blogger.
I am a professional blogger today but it was not something I had planned. At my previous job, I felt stuck. The routine work paid well but was boring and uninspiring. After a long day of work, I would spend hours trying to write a short story or update my personal blog. In other words I was falling in love with writing.
Vivek Jain a friend and later a rtCamper, read a couple of posts on my blog and introduced me to Rahul Bansal (the guy who started DW). He was looking for someone to run this blog. He was himself making his move from being a blogger to an entrepreneur and I was the lucky one who became Editor-in-Chief of this blog. 🙂
Lost in the Woods!
In the beginning I felt lost. I was blogging for a well established blog and in charge of it. It had a ready-made community around it. What did I know about Blogging when I took charge? Absolutely nothing.
I tried to write what I felt would be useful for others. Writing posts after posts, I felt sometimes like giving up blogging entirely. I felt totally lost in this new world. I could write well and I knew that but I started wondering if I could blog well.
Then one fine day, Google created their social experiment called Google Buzz. I simply did not like it and wondered why did Google bother with such a social network and worse embed it into my Gmail. I stepped out of my comfort zone as a blogger and wrote a blog post exclaiming why Google should have just bought Twitter instead of creating Buzz.
The post was not a very popular one but it was appreciated by people whose opinion I respected. With that post I could say, I found my blogging voice and no longer felt lost.
‘Think Different’ was a slogan for Apple’s advertising campaign. I am not a Apple fan particularly but a big fan of this quote. I might have written some decent posts but I still did not know if I could make a career in blogging. Blogging was fun but at times frustrating. Also you spend a lot of time alone, work at nights and read a lot. You end up reading a lot of things which are repetitive and sometimes your writing becomes predictable.
Then a movie named ‘Inception’ was released and one Sunday afternoon I toyed with the idea of comparing the movie’s storyline with the realities of social media. I did not like the post at all but it did start me off ‘thinking differently’ about my blogging. I ended up writing about how Inception the movie was similar to Blogging. This time the post became quite popular. 🙂
Making a Difference
As a blogger you can sometimes feel like you are not making much of a difference. Early this year wrote a post about the SpeakAsia scam. It was a Ponzi scheme and thousands were signing up. My post was well appreciated by many and some even changed their mind about investing in such a scheme. It was very pleasing to know that what I wrote was making a true difference to someone. That post made me learn to be proud of being a blogger and the difference they can make.
I learnt a lot of things as a blogger. I am not entirely proud of all my posts but not really embarrassed by any one of them either. There are many people who I would thank for making and shaping my blogging journey. Firstly I would thank Rahul , who gave me this opportunity to run Devils’ Workshop. It is a credit to him that he allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn blogging at my own pace, in my own space. I would have to thank all the bloggers I have worked with. Each one has taught me something importantly good.
After a thousand posts, I am nowhere close to being satisfied but I know what I want to do. The last thousand posts were very eventful and great fun, hopefully the next thousand will be even more eventful and fun.
About TDIS: Thank Devil Its Sunday [TDIS] are posts which are not the regular Dw fare about tutorials, how tos and updates. Posts under TDIS are usually more casual and personal.
This week was interesting for internet users in India. India’s telecom Minister came under immense criticism because he asked companies like Google and Facebook to remove and monitor content on social networks. This amounted to internet censorship and there was a lot of criticism against such ideas. Google+ circles also made into Gmail and Facebook has finally started rolling out Timelines on user profiles. Posts on these topics were the most popular. 🙂