All posts by Tehseen Baweja

Tehseen likes to write about Internet tools that make life easier. Check out his blog at Ijaar.com for more good stuff or follow him on Twitter @tehseenbaweja

Hugo Chavez Now # 1 Twitter User In Venezuela, Hires 200 Poeple To Assist

When it comes to the micro-blogging network Twitter, let’s just say Hugo Chavez had a change of heart. Around 3 months ago when people in Venezuela used Twitter to express against Chavez, he suggested to the National Assembly that the internet should be regulated. However, it looks like he had a sudden change of heart because he has not only joined Twitter recently, but has also become one of the top Twitter users in Venezuela.

Chavez currently has 250,000 followers and with a need for so many tweets, he has hired 200 assistants to help him. He explained that the aides will help in answering thousands of messages he receives every day. Within a week of joining Chavez has also been included in over 8,000 Twitter lists. He also knows people are making fun of me because of this sudden shift in his perspective, but he does not care:

Some criticize me, others insult me. I don’t care,” he said. “It’s a form of contact with the world.

Over all, it seems to be a really smart move from Chavez since now he would be able to respond/manage the fastest growing medium being used against his leadership.

Students Who Caught Stealing Teacher On Camera May Be Punished

New technology has always sparked debates over privacy, be it Facebook exposing your details to the world or somebody recoding a video without permission. But how about some students who couldn’t get any help from the school over their disappearing money and eventually caught their gym teacher on camera doing the theft? Is that right or wrong?

Video

Many of us might say that students did the right thing, but officials of North Marion High School in West Virginia wouldn’t necessarily agree. Their stance on the issue:

A school spokesman said it’s possible the student who recorded the cell phone video could get in trouble as well because students are not supposed to use their phones during the day.

After being confronted with the video, Steve Simmons, confessed to the crime and said he had been doing this for years. This year alone he had accumulated around $400. School hasn’t yet decided what the punishment might be but whatever it is, it would be totally unjustified given the fact that students broke the rule to catch a thief. More so, because this is something the school is responsible for. If the school had taken appropriate measures when students complained about the theft, students didn’t have to use a mobile phone to capture the thief on video.

Here is a link to the original news story and the actual video.

[Via TechDirt]

How To Delete Your Account From Any Social Network or Web Service

Tired of Facebook? Getting lots of spam on your Meebo account? Don’t think you need Last.fm service any more? If you have a desire to delete any of your social network, blogging or email account but just don’t know how to do that, DeleteYourAccount is a great resource to learn that.

DeleteYourAccount is a simple website that contains detailed instructions on how to delete your account from major web services including direct links to pages or email addresses you need. Simply browse through the alphabetical listing to find your desired web service or look it up using the search box. You can also check out the web services that have recently been added or web services that are popular.

If you delete your account by following the instructions but realize you didn’t want that, the website also has detailed instructions on how to get it back. This information, however, is not available for all the services. As of now, you can find instructions on deleting your account for around 25 different web services. This makes me wish for an app where I can provide my username/password for different web services and automatically get my account deleted without doing any manual steps.

Delete Your Account

Zynga May Break Away From Facebook, Launch Zynga Live

Let’s face it, with 246 Million Monthly Active Users, Zynga is the largest developer and partner Facebook has. But the relationship between them is getting quite sour due to Facebook’s new restrictions. Recently, Facebook announced that Facebook Credits will be the sole mode of payment that can be used by developers and Facebook will take a 30% cut of it.

Now some developers don’t mind that but with the size of revenue Zynga has, it will have to pay tens of millions of dollars to Facebook each year in fees. Zynga, of course, doesn’t like that and discussions with Facebook over this have not gone pretty well. As a result, Zynga may be planning to launch an independent social gaming network called Zynga Live that will host all Zynga games and let users interact with each other. Ideally, users should still be able to log-in using their Facebook or Twitter accounts and share their scores on Facebook using the Open Graph. However, no details have emerged as of yet on the structure of Zynga Live.

Another demand by Facebook that didn’t help was of agreeing to make Zynga games exclusive to the Facebook platform. There is no confirm news of when this might happen but once it does, Facebook’s PR team will have a field day. After all the privacy issues and recently negative reputation, severing ties with its largest partner is the last thing Facebook needs right now. Facebook will also have a busy day explaining things to its investors, few of whom are also stake holders at Zynga.

Track The US Oil Spill On An Interactive Map

We have been hearing a lot about the US oil spill and how serious it can be. Everybody seems to have their own version of how fast it is spreading and where it is right now. Well, New York Times has again come up with an amazing tool to track the spill.

The interactive map shows you where the spill was each day starting on the 22nd of April. You can click on play to see a slide-show or click on any particular day to see the status on that day. The data is sure to be reliable since it is coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The map also clearly shows the site of actual oil rig explosion and the closest land and fishing water.

The tool is updated daily to include the latest information. As the spill gets closer and closer to the land, it is one of the best tools to track it and get the bigger picture without going into much details. New York Times had previously also come with a similar tool to track the effects of the Iceland Volcano and the flights being delayed due to it.

US Oil Spill Map

iPad Launching Internationally on May 28th, Indian Customers Will Have To Wait More!

The announcement came officially from Apple earlier today. iPad has only been available to US customers as of now and be launching in  UK, Canada, Italy, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and  Switzerland on the 28th of this month. Sorry India and China, you’ll have to wait a little more.

Pre-ordering of iPad for these countries will become available on May 10th and the prices will probably be announced at the same time. Apple has already sold over a Million iPad devices in the US and with this international launch, the numbers are gonna go crazy. Almost 5000 apps have already been developed exclusively for iPad and the more than 200,000 iPhone apps are also usable on the iPad. Apple also claims that iPad users have downloaded more than 12 million apps so far and over 1.5 million eBooks have been downloaded to iPads.

Come July and another nine countries will see iPad. These include Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand and  Singapore. Do you think Apple should’ve made the launch in more countries simultaneously? Tell us in the comments if you are planning to buy one.

GQueues: A Task Manager That Syncs With Your Google Account

With hundreds of to-do lists and task managers available on the web, it is hard for any one of them to stand out. But GQueues still does that partly because of its rich features but mainly because of its seamless integration with Google. GQueues allows you to sign-in with your Google account so you don’t have to waste couple of minutes filling out a registration form.

Once in, you can start making Queues and add tasks to your Queues. Each Queue can be renamed and have a unique color to easily distinguish it from others. Items can be added to a queue with a single click, can be duplicated, sync with Google calendar, add tags or even add notes to each item. Items within a Queue can be easily re-arranged by dragging them to the desired position. The whole queue can also be reordered by date or item name.

Clicking the check box next to any item marks it as complete and move it to the ‘Completed’ tab of that queue. All open items can still be viewed in the ‘Opened’ tab. Complete queues can be shared via a permanent URL or embedded in a web page or blog. Queues can further be sorted into different categories such as Home, Work, Fun or any other ones you need.

Even though most of the features are free, GQueues does offer a lot of premium features for $25/year such as email/SMS reminders, assigning tasks to other users or advanced integration with your Google calendar. Gqueues can also be integrated with Google Apps which makes it all that more useful. Here is a video showing off some of the features offered by GQueues:

[Via LifeHacker]

Scribd Joins Microsoft and Apple in Ditching Flash for HTML5

We told you earlier that Flash and HTML5 are going to battle it out in 2010. Well, the heat is on and it seems like Flash isn’t gaining much ground right now except may be Android’s support. In a recent blow, the popular document sharing service Scribd has decided to ditch flash and adopt the new HTML5 standard.

Scribd CTO claims that HTML5 provides a dramatically better reading experience compared to Flash. But let’s face it, as a major we service, they would not want to miss out on the iPad frenzy by keeping up with flash. Previously, Apple and Microsoft have also openly denounced flash as an inferior technology than HTML5 and have decided to convert to HTML5 for all their applications.

Scribd hosts tens of millions of documents so it will take a little bit of time to convert all of them, but they have already started doing so. By implementing HTML5, the documents will no longer be enclosed in a box or a frame, but every document will be like a separate web page. Almost all major browsers will be able to read Scribd’s documents and documents will still be embeddable in other sites using an iFrame.

With Adobe still firm in defending Flash against HTML5, the war is anything but over.

LinkedIn Turns 7 Year Old Today

LinkedIn didn’t gain much popularity until 3-4 years ago but it is a fact that this professional social network is older than most of the major sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. LinkedIn was officially launched on 5th May 2003 and here is a screenshot of how it looked back then:

Even though LinkedIn only has a little over 50 Million users compared to Facebook’s 500 Million, it is highly targeted towards professionals and offers much more serious networking opportunities. LinkedIn has an estimated valuation of over $1 Billion now which will only grow with time. One thing that might have kept LinkedIn’s growth sluggish for a while is lack of third-party apps and plugins to expand the network’s functionality. Something that helped Facebook and Twitter tremendously in achieving an exponential growth in their early years.

The news about 7th birthday was revealed by a Tweet from a senior LinkedIn executive, and was celebrated in the India office. What do you think about LinkedIn’s current direction and market position? Do you think Facebook might step over their boundry soon with a professional version?

Apple Acquires Siri For Close to $200 Million

When Siri was introduced a few weeks ago, it made a few people very excited about the direction of web. On the surface, Siri is a simple iPhone app that can act like your personal assistant and doing tasks like reserving a dinner table, calling a cab or checking the weather in a certain city through typed or voice commands. But what really made some tech gurus excited was the technology behind the app.

Siri, does not have a website or a simple data base that it pulls information from, rather, Siri glues together certain APIs available on the web to carry out simple tasks for you. Even though the number of APIs connected together by Siri are pretty small right now, but the potential it promises is nothing less than extra ordinary. It seems like Apple understood this pretty well and hence acquired Siri for an estimated sum of around $200 Million today.

This will give Apple a hold over one of the most promising mobile and web technologies and if Apple is able to patent this technology for iPhone, it will be a huge below to Android. Besides the API thing, Siri also has a fantastic voice recognition system that is better than most of the stuff in the market right now. If smartly used, it will give Apple a lot to build on in next few years.

Siri