Microsoft Ventures in India has announced the launch of JumpStart, a hotline to provide startups and entrepreneurs with a resource to ask business and technical questions. Continue reading JumpStart, a dedicated helpline by Microsoft Ventures to answer startup queries
I’m sure you might have heard of the saying ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. It is much easier to express your ideas using pictures/infographic. But the problem with infographic is that it takes a lot of time and effort to create a good looking and information rich infographic.
Well, that’s where the web app called Infogr.am comes into play. Infogr.am tries to make the infographic creation effortless and simple.
Their homepage is really simple and elegant. When you click the huge ‘Start Now’ button, you will be taken to the login page. You will have to login or register before you can start creating your infographic. Like most new web apps, Infogr.am allows you to login using either Twitter or Facebook account. You can also register using the traditional email based sign up process. Once you login, you can instantly start building your infographic.
There are options to create basic charts or infographics. Currently there are only about 5 templates for both infographic and charts. But all of them are pretty neat, elegant and quite different from one another. Hopefully they will add more templates soon. Along with textual data, Infogr.am also allows you to add your own images to your chart or infographic which is pretty cool.
Once you select a template, simply enter the data through an interface that reminds of Excel and within minutes you will have your chart or infographic for download. You have the option to save your work to their online library as well for future retrieval.
What I liked about infogr.am is their design. It is extremely simple and it doesn’t take any effort to create stunning graphics. I just felt that it would be better if they could provide a few more templates for us to use. Their website says that they will be adding a store section soon. So we can expect premium templates in the future.
All in all, Infogr.am is an excellent service that delivers what it promises. If you are a person who wants to create charts or infographic without using any image editors, you should definitely check this one out.
Most people today use more than one social network. You either have a Twitter account or Facebook account or both. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a service that would aggregate all your social content into a single webpage?
Well, RebelMouse does exactly that! It’s a service that allows you to aggregate your social feeds from Twitter and Facebook and is created by Huffington Post’s former CTO Paul Berry.
Signing up for RebelMouse is a pretty straightforward process. You can either use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up. Once signed up, you will be taken to the RebelMouse dashboard. Here you can configure your Facebook and Twitter settings. You can include your profile, the Facebook pages you administer and apps you own. For twitter, you can add different accounts on Twitter. While you need to be the owner/admin of the Facebook page that you are adding, you can add any public Twitter profile that you like.
You can even add multiple persons to administer your RebelMouse site. You can add them as Editor, Administrator or Guest. Once you have added the feeds, your post will automatically start appearing. At the moment, RebelMouse is offering a free account. But paid accounts for individuals and businesses with a top level domain name will be added soon, according to their site.
The interface of the site is pleasant to see albeit a little bit cluttered. They provide a few options on the fonts and that’s the only customization option you will get.
Coming to a conclusion, it’s an easy to use service to aggregate your content. Will anyone want to visit another site for social updates is an entirely different question. But considering they got about 12,000 signups within the first week, that isn’t an issue.
When it comes to job searching, having a resume that stands out, has all the relevant information and one that is a reflection of yourself definitely helps.
ResumUP is a web 2.0 service that creates a visually captivating resume for you. You can either login using your Facebook account or LinkedIn account. ResumUP will then analyse your data and convert it into a graphical resume.
The signup is a pretty straightforward process. As I mentioned above, you can use either your Facebook or LinkedIn account to login. Once logged in, you can immediately start building your resume by clicking the My Resume button at the top of the screen.
You can either choose to have a normal non-graphical resume or the more compelling graphical one. Most of the data will be automatically added depending on the information on the social profile that you used to sign in.
Apart from the general information such as education, work experience etc. you can also include more detailed information about your identity and skills using an easily manageable grading system. The Identity rating system was pretty straight forward to use but the Skill set infographic had me thinking for a minute to setup. May be that was just me, but I think they should have had made it just like the Identity section.
Once completed, you can share your resume using various sharing options provided by ResumUP, as well as download it as a PDF or PNG for attaching with emails or taking a printout. One thing I liked about the Export feature was that you could control the amount of information that you actually wanted in the PDF/PNG. That is, if you were intending to submit your resume to a particular company or individual and didn’t want to include your ‘intention’ such as the salary or position you are expecting, you can do that.
All in all, it is a very easy to use service with an easy-to-use interface. There aren’t many templates to choose from, but the one it uses is really compelling and interesting. I felt that one drawback was that there was no way you could download it without the ResumUP watermark. It would have been nice to have a paid option to download the resume without the watermark. So if you are a job seeker looking for a way to beef up your resume, ResumUP is a definitely a nice service to use.
It is not often that you find enterprising web apps from Indian developers that cater to a diverse group of people. (Forgive my ignorance if you do, and send their links to me) So when I am asked by one of the developers, a friend of mine on Twitter, of this brand new online writing app I pretty much jump at it like a really hungry direwolf on a bunch of scared stags.
Indite is a… how do I put it… writing and thought aid that features a very minimalist, distraction-free environment (for the most part). The developers describe it as a “spatial text editor” that, in turn allows you to create short snippets of texts or “blurbs” across multiple sheets. These can be collated later and downloaded as a plain text file or a rich text file with formatting.
It holds great use for me as a mind mapping tool to lay out the different aspects of a story, an essay, or even this post:-
You simply click on any region of the screen and start typing. A tiny box will pop up to show you what you have written. You can use HTML markdown to format the text and that is just *very nice* if you ask me. There is no save button anywhere in the app, because everything is automagically saved. All you need to do is login to Indite to see your thoughts arrayed across.
Collating text to export is as simple as selecting the blurbs you want and pressing Ctrl+J (if you are on a Mac, ⌘+J) and it opens up a new window with the blurbs in an ordered manner along with an option to save it to disk.
It is indeed quite a charming little app, currently in an open beta. However it does suffer from being slightly sluggish. I am not entirely sure if it was just my ancient laptop. There is no mobile version for this as of now. The app, however, does load on an HTML5 capable browser and is even slower than on my laptop.
The app also needs an active Internet connection and has no failover if the connection is lost and you type away happily and shut the page down without exporting and saving it.
That said, it is still in beta. I cannot wait to use this when it comes to a portable device!
Microsoft India has announced the launch of Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in India. In a first for any technology company in India, the incubator will host 10 early-stage startups and help them build businesses in Cloud, Internet, and Mobile that can take the advantage of the Cloud such as e-commerce, mobile, media, social applications, gaming, education & healthcare, or even enterprise products.
The four-month incubation program will provide the selected startups with all the support and mentorship as part of a deep immersion program with the elite technical and business leaders in the industry, as well as at Microsoft, and investors with diverse experiences. The selected startups will also have access to all the resources of Microsoft’s BizSpark program and $60,000 in Azure credit through the Microsoft BizSpark Plus program. The program is part of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), and hence the inducted startups will have access to the global resources of GAN.
Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure is hosted in Microsoft’s state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Bangalore, and you would have to be full-time on the site for the four months. The facility offers everything from work areas, meeting rooms, communications, video conferencing to even a usability lab for filming product demos. The incubator is not open for only Indian citizens/residents, but anyone from anywhere can apply. Of course, you would have to be in India during the program.
At the end of the four month program, Microsoft will organize an Investor Demo Day where Microsoft executives as well as angel investors and venture capitalists will check out your technology and listen to your pitch. Microsoft will also organize informal dinners each week and invite key industry leaders, influencers, and thought leaders to speak on relevant topics.
In a conversation over Skype, Amit Chatterjee(Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd) mentioned that success of this program will be measured by the success of these startups. Microsoft would not retain any equity or IP from the companies and is not a stakeholder in any way. Although, there are no definite plans, he was optimistic that if successful the program can scale up to include more startups in next phases or extend to other cities with a similar thriving startup ecosystem. A similar program has been announced in Seattle few weeks ago and one has been kicked off in Israel.
Starting today till July 1, 2012, you can apply for the program. Ten applicants, selected through a rigorous process of screening, will be invited to join the program in starting September 3, 2012. Details: http://www.microsoft.com/india/accelerator.
Remember old days when your friends waited for a chance to sneak peek into your diary to have a look at your long kept secrets? Or the times when our daily lives were neatly archived into a silly notebook? Journals, micro-blogs, note-taking apps replaced them with time. The secrecy and simplicity got suppressed with sharing features and usability. 280daily is here to gratify the dissatisfaction users whine about. The short, simple and private journal app can log your day in just 280 days and it stays encrypted and private to you only.
Sign up for a free account and don’t offer a Facebook (or Twitter) login. Wonder why? It’s not a product built with sharing in mind. Once you are in, click the “New Entry” and you can add a note for the current day or the previous ones. Adding images or an interesting link is also allowed. View your entries in a grid to get a quick look at your notes which is good way to track your daily activities. You can configure the app for better appearance and performance that suits your needs. The “Overview” option allows you to get an overview of your notes which also provides a link to the summary of your daily activity(that looks something like the screenshot below).
Seamless and clean interface makes the daunting task of documenting every day quite comforting. Since the notes are private you need not worry about privacy. Use succinct sentences while taking down notes for a day. Tracking your progress for a task at hand and at the same time trace the shortcomings are a bonus to what you can achieve with this simple application. So if you are looking for a journal app that doesn’t need you to fill-up a dozen of entries like categories, tags for organizing content or give into the most contemporary need of sharing, 280daily does a great job.
Photo tours around the globe is a great pastime with Google Earth and Google Street View. The brilliant imagery in a spiffy interface is indeed a great way to kill time. Now add to that a little bit of geospatial data in form of videos, audio and images. You get Meograph. So far telling a story that covered a wide time span and lots of places was hard or was in pieces. Meograph combines them into a single experience.
Developed by Misha Leybovich, the new tool lets you navigate through places and annotate them with relevant videos, images and audio thereby creating an illustration akin to presentations. Take a look at the demo where the life of the celebrated music artist Whitney Houston is illustrated dexterously using clips from her music videos, movies she featured, songs that she sang and snaps relating to her. The entire sequence of events is narrated to present a more lively storytelling.
Meograph is in the making now and all you can do is watch the demo videos to get an idea of what can be achieved with the new app. You can also request for an invite. The new concept also brings in a new type of media which is kind of a blend between video and presentations. An experience that you witness when a company executive presents a quarterly growth report, only this one’s more enjoyable. Interesting part is this can be a brilliant way to imitate what Facebook so affectionately refers to as Timeline and can be embedded on any webpage. Hopefully the service will open doors this summer.
Dropbox is great way to keep your files in sync or have a backup. Google Drive is out and perhaps you are planning to switch sides. Most surely you wouldn’t be willing to let go of your “hard earned” storage with Dropbox referrals. If you are looking for an alternative use for Dropbox, try using it as a private web gallery for your photos. Wondering how? Well you can always create a public(or selectively shared) folder and put some designed web pages in it and create a website to show off those images. Well if you find the task daunting, Openphoto will do all the hard work for you. All you need to do is use your Dropbox or Amazon S3 account to sign up.
Sign up for Openphoto by entering your email, opting for a unique URL and granting permission to your Dropbox or Amazon S3 storage. Once you are into it, go to the upload page and upload some of your favorite snaps. You can just drag and drop files to upload them. The upload is powered by Plupload a file uploading service. As the files are listed hit the “Start uploading” to initiate uploading.
Use the Menu at top left corner to go to the gallery or manage photos. You can create groups to add people to share photos with, which is good for creating a private network for buddies. You can also edit uploaded photos to share them with group or add tags to them for better chances of finding them.
Sadly uploading via the Dropbox desktop client is not possible which means if you add an image to the OpenPhoto folder within the Apps folder in Dropbox will not add it to your gallery. Also you cannot use Dropbox and Amazon S3 storage at the same time. The app is somewhat similar to Lightbox only Lightbox can be handled with both mobile and web interface. An app for iOS and Android for Openphoto is wanting in and would have been better to get users more willing to join.
However the network being closed, lets you create a more private page for people you choose to share with. Also the core concept behind this app is to create a social experience without letting others control your data. Your data stays with you and you have sole ownership of the photos on Dropbox(or Amazon S3) and you can take them down anytime you choose. The idea deserves credit in an age where almost every other social network is more concerned about feeding off your data or information you generate. Photo sharing being the latest startup trend, and privacy a major concern, the idea might work for people who want a network for sharing their images without the notion of being chewed for the last bit of data. I just loved it for the second choice alone. Take a look at my album if you wanna get started with how it looks.
Strategists recognized the concept of branding as being powerful and influential. While traditional branding was associated with companies and products, the inception of LinkedIn took the concept of branding further to a personal and professional level.
An interview with the co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, disclosed his insights pertinent to “how the start-up of you” is correlated with personal branding. Hoffman underpins the importance of a brand and justifies his thought with a number of reasons.
He states one should think about relating with people. They need to realize they “live in a networked world where people Google” them as they are surrounded by “relationships that exist over decades”. People have started to think of an individual as someone “they come to with an opportunity” or “someone they come to for a quest on expertise”. He further affirms that people consider whether a person is someone “they want to work with” or not.
Why a brand matters?
Hoffman stresses that there is substance behind a brand and not just the image. People consider one’s capabilities, how one has succeeded, how one’s relationships are with people and whether one has worked with them in good ways.
All these causes attribute to the fact that the “brand-of-you” is one part of “the-start-up-of-you”. For more inspiration, here is the short clip:
Those of you who still do not have a LinkedIn profile, you might soon be signing up there.