All posts by Soumen Halder

A web 2.0, startups and photography enthusiast. Lately found on Twitter @hsoumen. A cinephile and a zealous cyberflâneur. He also authors his own blog Ampercent.

Storytelling With Cowbird Adds A Personal Touch To Them

cowbird-logoCowbird a new startup aims to change the way we express ourselves on the web. With time, the emails changed into messages, messages were trimmed to SMS, then came status update and finally we are more happy tweeters. Storytelling was an art, an art that’s about to be forgotten as we tend to speak less, more often. Cowbird plans to change that.

A new network for storytellers who still love to tell a story, get involved in a conversation or express a moment as a poem. True there are quite a few places you can share your proses, blank verses etc or express your literary skills. Yet readers can’t truly interact with you and your words. Cowbird is here to bridge the gap. It offers a brilliant way to share your writings, an audio where you narrate it as well as present them with a great snap that says it all. Impressive, isn’t it?

cowbird-tell-your-stories

Start a story, write your words, speak it out, let the emotions flow as you take a trip to the past or savor a moment. A picture is worth a thousands words. Cowbird takes note and lets you add an image that represents your words in the best possible way. Assign tags, add locations and people to your story. Like other social networks, people can engage with your stories by loving them or by being your audience.

Comparing to Facebook’s way of storytelling (with Timeline feature) this is completely different. On Facebook, the storytelling revolves around an individual, whereas this startup combines stories from different people in form of a Saga or collection. The saga is curated with an interest specifically motivated by a happening or a thought while the collections are stories regarding random ideas.

Jonathan Harris, the founder, also gives a perspective where he aims to document people’s lives in the form of storytelling. A Wikipedia for life’s experiences. It is quite interesting to see a startup taking the risk of going off the trend which presently encourages using fewer words to share. Despite all odds the startup has a sizable amount of storytellers. The startup yet again proves that developers still need to focus on a more substantive approach for their apps to make them more engaging.

So now that you have a way to tell it, what’s your story?

Build An Infographic About You That Also Acts As A Résumé

If you are a professional, the value of a well formatted resume is immense to you. So far, you were left with choices to forward text based CVs to employers. A modern trend however requires us to have a LinkedIn profile or a webpage documenting your work and skill sets. Services like Chimp, Follr or About Me served great for creating a web based portfolio. Revu is a newer choice and alternative you can try if you are willing to have an infographic based portfolio webpage created curating the data on your LinkedIn profile and a lot of images.

revu-online-resume-porfolio-cv-builder

Signing up is straight and simple. On the homepage, type in your email, password and a desired username (which will also be your résumé URL). Next you will be asked to connect your LinkedIn account with the tool. Afterwards here are some key elements you can add to your résumé using Revu.

Personal Data

Fill up some basic information about yourself. You can also add an old-style(PDF, DOCX, DOC, ODT) résumé to your profile in case any visitor to your  profile wishes to take a look at a regular text based CV. You can add custom links to your websites and your social network profiles too.

Timeline

This is the visual representation of your work experience. Feature the job descriptions you think adds weight to your resume and hopefully impresses an employer from the area of your expertise.

Infographics

This is the best part of your Revu profile. An image always tells things in a better way. You can add a wide range of information that you wish to share about you. It can be things like the vital stats or job duties you have performed (or are capable of doing), or trivial data about how you spent your pastimes or how your interests have changed over the years.

Porfolio

If you want to showcase your creations here is where you can post images and details about any project you’ve worked on. For instance, if you are a photographer, go ahead and show off some of your amazing clicks.

Education

This section deals with your academic career. Any degrees, certificates or diplomas that you’ve obtained can be displayed here. The added advantage is that you can even display images as logos of the institutions you’ve been a part of.

Work Examples

This is an extension of the portfolio section as you are able to let visitors download documents you have created as a part of your work.

One way that Revu stands out from the lot is the image based layout it creates. It no more a secret that images are visually more engaging and illustrative than texts are. Another thing is that the entire biodata is shared in a single page which provides a better browsing experience unless you are really stressed while scrolling. One important thing that Revu misses out compared to Follr is the auto-updation from RSS and other sources as new information is generated. Although, Revu provides a unique way and its mode of presenting a CV suits better for anyone whose skill sets are better shown in graphic. For others, well, it still remains a good choice.

Evernote For Android Gets Smarter – Now Takes Dictation Too!

Evernote has been a great way to take or carry around your digital notes. Be it an audio or image or a clipped webpage, Evernote offers a nice way to collect them and keep the notebook in sync across all your devices. The Evernote client for Android just got better with the new speech to text feature that enables you to take notes just by recording anyone’s dictations.

Tap the icon to create a new note and in the toolbar below long-press the audio note tool (which you previously used for adding audio notes). You will notice a new icon (mic in a speech bubble) popping out. Select it and the audio tool icon will be replaced with it. Once you are ready to take a note, tap the new speech-to-text icon and start talking. The tool promises to detect the words and auto-fill the text description of your note or the title depending on where the typing pointer is set. This also appends the recorded audio to the note for further reference.

evernote-android-speech-to-text

However, like any other app that uses the speech to text feature, Evernote (for Android) also has serious limitations regarding the pronunciations it can interpret. As you can see from the screenshot above, the words I exactly uttered for the title and description are “Hello this is awesome” and “You can now dictate to take notes with Evernote for Android“. I do not possess a perfect news-reading accent but I can speak words that are easily comprehensible for any average literate. Considering that fact, the note taking accuracy for the app is impressive.

However, the introduction of the feature is quite relevant to the context of the app. The newly added feature is quite a help if you are someone who need to take notes now and then. No matter how handy your phone’s keyboard is or how big the screen is, someone taking dictations for you is always a relief.

evernote-for-android-widgets

Apart from the improvements made in the main app the Evernote homescreen widget for Android also got updated with new customize-able skins and widget elements. You can get them here. The updates were meant for the ICS (Android 4) phones although it worked fine for my Gingerbread device too.

Draw Something To Say Something, The New Addiction For Smartphones

draw-something-omgpop-thumbnailA picture is worth a thousand words. With Draw Something app, it is just one. A new app for the iOS and Android that combines sketching to words is sure to stay here with a certain kind of madness of its own.

Find the right word for the picture you are challenged with and vice versa. Yes, the game is dead simple. All you are required to do is paint or guess. You can challenge anyone from your Facebook or email contacts. You can also create a game with any random user who is also playing the game. Once you are connected you will be asked to guess the word that best describes your partner’s sketch. Or you can just draw something that best illustrates the word you have chosen.

draw-somethin-ios-android-omgpop

The app has already recorded 20 million downloads in just 5 weeks as told by the developer, OMGPOP’s CEO Dan Porter, to Business Insider. If that number does not make any sense, consider the fact that the popular Instagram has an entire user base of 27 million.

The app certainly has a level of addiction that keeps you glued to it. The fact that simple freehand sketches for simple words can be drawn by any average user is perhaps the key reason the app is already trending high among smartphone users. Also noteworthy is that despite being a two-player game the app is seeing high download score proves that the viral quotient of the game where the user itself is generating the buzz while seeking out for partners to play with. The app has an ad-supported and a premium version. Give it a try and find out how DRAWSOME are you.

Download Draw Something by OMGPOP:

1. Premium Version for iOS and Android.

2. Free Versions for iOS and Android.

Sneak Peek At Photovine, Google’s New Photo Sharing App for Smartphones

google-photovinePhotovine is the latest photo sharing service from Slide, which was acquired by Google back in 2010 to aim the Social Gamingdomain. Last month there had been speculations about the service and now it is a reality. However, right now it is in the invite-only stage which means you will have to either wait for it to go live or head over to the Photovine official website and request an invite. Until then, let us take a quick look at its features.

google-photovine-2

It seems from the website’s layout that the app has been designed only for the iPhone. However, it may soon be available for Android based smartphones too. The service aims to share photos with other people allowing them to add their own photos reflecting the same mood. The photos can then be grouped together based on the user generated tags/captions. The idea is to grow an image by linking it to other related images in turn creating a photo vine   with no limits.

Considering the line, A picture is worth a thousand words, photos with tags like My Dearest, At the beachor Christmascan grow into a photo vine that can tell you what others have to say. The concept is simple and viral. Let your images speak for you!

Meanwhile check out the Photovine official teaser video.

Photovine is expected (as indicated on their greeting email) to send out invites later this month. So, go ahead and book one.

Apptivo: Business Management At Zero Cost

apptivo-logoBusiness of all volumes has a necessity in common. A platform to better relate, collaborate and to manage the workflow. Be it employee monitoring or working on a task at hand, the job is to unite all the efforts to develop a more systematic and productive environment. Big enterprises have their custom build software to meet their specific demands. However budding entrepreneurs since being on a limited budget needs to rely on free tools available. Well in case you are looking for one, here is Apptivo, a web-based app, that can take care of almost all the business needs you can possibly think of.

apptivo-signature-image

After filing up the sign up form get started with the application. You will get to choose from the category of apps you want to have included. You can select them later on too. Here is a review of the app categories you can have within the service.

Collaboration:

This part is dedicated to sharing documents, storing contacts, putting up events and you also get a fax service (paid).

Sales:

The sales category lists tools to deal with customers, leads, probable options to create sale and orders.

Project Management:

This part is all about managing projects and maintaining a scheduled timeframe.

Employees:

Manage your employees in a better way. Keep records such as designation, department, pay scale, legal info and lots more related to a specific employee.

Product Management:

Listing items and customer requirements are dealt with using the apps included in this section.

Website Management:

If you want to market your business online, these tools will definitely help you manage your domains and blogs. If you do not have any domains as of now, you can create them here as well. You can even configure your online payment gateway with this tool. Listed services include Paypal, Google Checkout and many others too.

Invoices:

Apptivo comes with a standalone invoicing service which you can use to request payments from your customers.

Customer Services:

This being one of the key factors for any trusted business, Apptivo provides two basic tool to deal with it. One is designed to handle cases raised by customer complaints and suggestions. Another deals with RMA (Return Material Authorization) specifically.

Fund Raising:

If you are looking for tools that let you handle investors (present and probable) as well as funding rounds there are three tools that can let you do that efficiently.

Marketing:

This is perhaps the most important element for a growing business. Hence, you get a complete array of 5 tools included in this section. These take care of campaigns, loyalty management, message templates, pricing, promotions and targets.

Supply-Chain and Sourcing:

Finally these two sections handle the supply chain of your business. Managing relations with manufacturers and suppliers to logistics, all are being taken care of with the tools listed under these two sections.

These comprises the only free tools offered by Apptivo. You get to buy more apps if isn’t included among the free apps.

With the quick overview of the online tool or rather collection of tools it can be inferred that this definitely promises to be a powerful business companion to anyone who is looking for a free alternative. Provided the benefits of a web based alternative in many cases such as platform independence, installation overhead, portability etc this tool deserves to a worthy try. However, take a good look at them yourselves and let us know, if you liked it or not.

TIP: We have previously covered OpenPetra, an open source project that lets you achieve a part of the tasks mentioned above.

Google+Facebook: Get Going with Facebook Without Leaving Google Plus

google-plus-facebook-iconUPDATE: This plugin has been reported as spam and the links are disabled till further updates. Refer the comments section for more details.

ight from the launch of the new social network, there has been huge buzz around Google Plus. Now that Google has opened doors to everyone, it would be worth watching the public response. With Google Plus giving Facebook a run for their money, here is something that can make things even worse for the latter. Here is a browser extension that will let you access Facebook from within Google+. So you won’t have to miss out on your already over-burdened social-life (thanks Facebook) while being on Google Plus.

1. Head over to the Google+Facebook download page and get the extension for your browser. Use the Google+Facebook button.

get-google-plus-facebook

2. Allow the download to start if your browser (most likely Firefox) blocks it. Install it as you do for other add-ons or extensions.

3. Now log into your Google Plus account and you will notice a Facebook button to the left of the Home button in the top navigation. Click on it.

access-facebook-on-google-plus

4. You will now need to use the fConnect button to connect your Facebook account.

5. Once prompted, allow the request for permission to access your Facebook data.

access-facebook-on-google-plus-2

Voila! you will now be able to check your Facebook wall feed from right within Google Plus. You can also update Facebook using this added functionality.

update-facebook-from-google-plus

The extension is available for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

Users of both the service will naturally love the added usability of Google Plus. However there are limitations to the extension currently. You cannot comment or like any of your friend’s activities or updates the Facebook way unlike any other popular apps. Well that would mean I’m too demanding. Whatsoever, it definitely is a good attempt to bring things together specially when socializing is the word of the day.

NOTE: You can also try and get a Facebook lookalike Google Plus and vice versa with a little help.

Fastpreview: Preview Images from Context Menu with All Embedded Information

fast-preview-iconThese days almost everything gets documented with images. Digital cameras, mobile phones and even screen capture applications deliver images with lots of info (geo tag, resolution to more detailed EXIF info, meta data) included within the file. These information is necessary for many purposes like studying the conditions for taking a similar snap. However, Windows explorer manages to reveal some of them while failing for most. FastPreview comes to your rescue.

FastPreview is a free tool that you can use to see all the embedded information within an image. The tool once installed, adds:

1. FastPreview tab in the file properties dialog box. This can be used to view/copy the values for the embedded info. You can copy a single attribute or copy the entire information with just one click. Adobe eXtensible Metadata Language (XMP) information, EXIF Camera/Image information, IPTC Media information can be obtained from the FastPreview tab.

2.   A nice image preview functionality within the context menu.

fast-preview-context-menu-tab

The tool also comes with an image viewer utility. Whenever you open an image using this viewer the image is opened in a mode to fit the screen. You can rotate your images from the viewer without losing the image quality.

fast-preview-image-viewer

The tool is compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7 32-bit and 64-bit versions. However, the 64-bit version needs SSE3 capable CPU.

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

For all who really wants to learn a bit of Photography studying examples, this tool is a lifesaver. The information provided for any image as I studied them really gets down to the most simplest detail like whether or not the flash was fired during taking the picture. The context menu preview proves helpful only if you have your explorer thumbnails disabled or else it seems a little waste of screen space. As a whole this a useful shell integration to know more about images.

[Download FastPreview]

GeeMail v1.0: An Adobe AIR Desktop Alternative for GMail

geemasil-logoMany a time just opening a browser for the sake of checking your emails isn’t a great option. Specially if you have a browser starting which means losing out on your memory resource. GeeMail is a desktop client for GMail distributed by Sourcebits. This small application helps you to check your email right from the desktop. It allows you to perform elementary email tasks too.

Some of the best features of GeeMail are as follows :

1. No configuration is required to allow communication with your GMail.When you are online just run the application and login as you will from a browser. It will automatically fetch your mails from Google.

2. You compose your mails offline and click send. When GeeMail detects an internet connection it will send your mails automatically.

3. The user interface looks exactly like GMail . So you don’t have to spend time getting used to it.

Installation:

1. Download GeeMail. The tiny app runs on Adobe AIR platform. Hence you need to have it (Adobe AIR) installed on your PC before you could try GeeMail. In case you don’t have Adobe AIR already, download it here.

2. Run the geemail.air file to install GeeMail in your computer.

geemail-installation

3. You need to confirm the installation to start it. Click Install.

4. Installation preferences are already checked for you. Change them if you need to and click Continue.

geemail-installation-preferences

5. Once the installation is complete, the GeeMail window will open up asking for your username and password. You will to need provide that in order to log in to Gmail just as you do while using a browser. Following is a look at your Gmail account using Geemail.

geemail-window

7. Click Sign outwhen you are done and it will sign you out of your Gmail Account.

During my brief experience with it, it performed a bit slower than the regular Gmail web interface. However, the interface is brilliant and put together in a clean manner unlike other heavy-duty Gmail desktop clients. GeeMail is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac.

Nice, isn’t it? Though it is not offering the extra edge as of now, don’t be surprised if it does so in future. So from this point on, you need Gmail, u won’t need a browser.

OpenPetra: Administer Your Organization With Open Source Advantage

open-petra-logoOften non-profit organizations or small scale businesses have to buy costly administrative software packages to run their organization. It is a heavy cost burden for such organizations with low budgets. Selected as the “Project of the Month” for the month of May by SourceForge, OpenPetra is an outcome of an effort keeping in mind such organizations.

OM International, a Christian mission agency, wrote a software called PETRA. Developed during the nineties, the package was used in 80 offices of the organization located worldwide. To take the advantage of the open source community and to use the tool for the benefit of others who needed it, OM decided to change it to Open Source development process, which motivated the existing developers and also increased the potential for the software. OpenPetra is the outcome of the newly adopted development process.

open-petra-main-window

The OpenPetra project offers a free and easy to use administrative software package for non profit-organizations. It has multi-user, multi-site, multi-currency, multi-language support and much more. It has six modules integrated into it . The following is a brief description of the modules:

1. Partner Module: The main functions of this module are to manage subscriptions, contacts and bulk mailing as well.

2. Finance Module: This module maintains general ledger, payable accounts, double-entry book keeping, budgeting and donation processing . It has the support for almost all currencies.

3. Personnel Module: This module manages personnel information for both short-term and long-term employees as well as process new job applications.

4. Conference Management: This module manages group assignments, accommodation and allocation, arrangement of arrivals and departures as well as attendance tracking.

5. Financial Development: This module manages project funding.

6. System Manager: This module is used by system administrator(s) to manage user accounts.

From 2004 to 2009, the code was developed code on .NET platform. In June 2009 OpenPetra was published under the GPLv3. Now OpenPetra has standard tools and open source databases for better development and implementation. OpenPetraSetup requires Windows XP (or later) or Linux, and uses about 24 MB of disk space. The backend must be a Relational Database Management System. Currently supported are PostgreSQL, MySQL and SQLite.

An important fact is that the software is modeled after an application that has been in use for an extended period of time in a sizable, global non-profit organization.

Though this promising project has areas of improvement, it has great potential for easing the administration of various kinds of organizations.

[via SourceForge Blog]