D conference, 6th edition of digital Pandora's box!

All things Digital is the yearly conference of the tech world, hosted by Wall Street Journal and has been going on since 2003. Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher shoot questions mercilessly at the opponent, be it the richest man on earth, Bill Gates, or his most innovative counterpart Steve Jobs.
The D6 or the 6th edition, was held from 26th to 29th of May and was eagerly watched over by the Geeks. It was really a Pandora’s box which opened Microsoft's ideas for Windows 7, Yahoo's own Jerry Yang's confessions, Facebook's Toddler CEO Mark Zuckerberg's amateurish answers. You have all that. It a complete, 3 day long soap for techies.
Last 3 days I was doing no work in office, but following the whole D thing. And thanks to the D6 website, I could get nice video highlights, and transcripts of the happenings. I wish I were in California rather than in some remote town in India, so that I could also get to see these things live.

Nevertheless, the 6th edition was pretty interesting to watch, it kept up with its tradition. Remember the Bill Gates- Steve Jobs sharing the podium in last year’s version? That is the best thing about the D. There are no cuts, no second takes, no cover ups. The sharp tongues of Kara and Walt battle with the big corporate legends, and even audience get their chance. It foams out so much information.

I will brief some of the highlights of this year, before I write separate blogs for those which I feel are very much interesting and useful.

First and foremost, as always the Microsoft, wherever they go they pull crowd. This time it was Bill Gates along with his long term partner and CEO Steve Ballmer, and discussed about the Yahoo! deal, the Vista debacle, and more interestingly the first sneak peaks on Windows 7.

Then you had Jerry Yang along with Yahoo! President Sue Decker almost struggling to put up a smiling face and say Yahoo! is not dead! Yahoo! is rising.

Also, the sandal CEO, Mark Zuckerberg at last shed his habit of wearing sandals for public meets! No that is not the big news, he along with Sheryl Sandberg opened up about what is actually Facebook, “Share, share, share, share…” he kept on saying this so many times. It was clear, though he is too good a techie, not yet trained completely for the public speech. And between share, he also said, Facebook is not interested in Microsoft deal or an IPO right now.

We had Melinda Gates talking about pulling Bill out of Microsoft for more efforts on philanthropy, and their plans on how to make the world a better place.

Apart from that there were many others like Rupert Murdoch talking about news in general and news.com in particular. Amazon.com’s own Jeff Bezos and much many. But I will end this blog with some interesting quotes.

“No product we have shipped including Windows 95 has given 100% of what i wanted in that product…” Bill Gates, when asked whether Vista was able to achieve what it expected to.

"I do think I'm the best person to run Yahoo. Not only because I bleed purple, and bleed Yahoo..." Jerry Yang, when attacked asking whether he should actually remain Yahoo's head.

"Eric (Schmidth) and Larry (Page) came over to my apartment, but I didn't have enough furniture, so Eric sat on the floor.." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, when asked about his relationship with Google.

"we have a culture that is very much about "we need to do better". Vista has given us more opportunities to exercise the culture than some other products we have shipped." Bill Gates, again on the Vista failure.

"Kara:Do you use MySpace? Murdoch: No. Kara: Facebook? Murdoch shakes head: No", media veteran, and news Corp. head Rupert Murdoch.

That will all in this coverage I suppose, I will come back again with the individual events, which I found interesting, till then here is link for you to feed upon.
All things Digital website.

Also check out my tech blog with a sense of sattire and humor, sillytech.

Post Yahoo!, Cashback challenge from Live.

Post Yahoo! debacle ( I don't consider it a debacle though), Microsoft is working hard, it seems. Their creative brains are being squeezed to get innovative and useful ideas for the net. This time around I would try to cover some of the new innovations and improvisations by Microsoft.
Live Search Cashback
How did Google own the web? Search engine and ads related to that. Yes, and this is what Microsoft tried to rip apart with a Yahoo! takeover. But when Balmer said, we have different strategies, he was not bluffing.
The mastercard ad says "there are somethings money can't buy, for everything else, there is mastercard" The same will apply for Live search cashback. The basic idea is, you search for the goodies you want to buy online using live search. You get the list of shoppers' who sell the item and the price each of them offer. And once you choose a shopper and go forward for the deal, Microsoft will pay you a bonus, for using their search system. Yes, they are sharing the revenue directly with the consumer. Nice idea. And they are not keeping anything back. They are sharing the FULL profit to the customer. That is indeed a bold decision. No, that is not the only reason why you should opt for Live cashback. It offers innovative features like bottomline price, where you get the actual price you will have to pay, after tax, shipping etc. So you won't be fooled to go all the way to the merchant site, add to cart etc and at the end find a different price.
Also, enrolling is a breeze, just submit your mail id and go ahead with your purchase, you get the incentive and in the subsequent purchases, the cashback account accumulates the money. Once it reaches 5$ you can request payout.
I tried with searching for "windows vista ultimate" and I got a couple of hundred deals, it was easy to choose one from the list, as each search entry had details of base price, product details etc. I went ahead with my choice, and enrolled to Live search cashback. The price of the product was 180$ and I got a cashbak of 10$. Yeah! it is that huge!! I would whole heartedly recommend this, not just because of the cashback, but the genuineness of the idea. (Don't get baffled by the low price, I bought an OEM version).

Community Clips
You already have your Youtube for videos, but Microsoft is bringing up this new portal for people to post help videos on Microsoft Products like Word, Excel, powerpoint etc. You can join the community, post your videos, share information, rate videos, etc. Looks nice. It is still in the Officelabs, waiting for it to come public.

Again another labs product. Not much of a breakthrough idea in this, there are many sites like Rentacoder, getafreelancer, etc doing the same. The basic idea is, you post a job; logo design, article proofing, small webdesign project etc. And coders bid for it, you choose your coder and get the job done. Nothing new, except that it is a Microsoft's!

Live Search Cashback
Community Clips


Merge your Identities over the web

let me ask you a simple yet confusing question, how many identities you own in the internet? It would not be easy for most you to answer. The yahoo, Google, AOL, MSN, blogger and so on. There are many services over the internet, and each time you register for a service, you are adding another identity. Haven't you felt this is getting unmanageable over a course of time? At least some people felt it. That gave birth to the OpenID foundation.
OpenID is decentralized and open way to manage all your identities in the internet. No it is not like those digital wallets which remembers all your user accounts, it is different. OpenID does not add a new useraccount to your long list, but it helps you use any of the existing identities as your OpenID. Your Yahoo account, your AOL account, or your blogger ID. The list of services that are becoming OpenID compatible are pretty long and it is getting longer day by day.
OpenID foundation has created a Open and free framework which anyone can use and adopt in their site, and eventually become OpenID provider. So once you choose your OpenID provider, whom you trust, you can use this ID to login to any other website supporting OpenID. And most of you are already OpenID users, if you have a Yahoo, AOL, WordPress, Blogger account holder (the list is longer).
Anyone can become OpenID provider and have access to the OpenID database, does it sound vulnerable? At the end of the day, you only chose OpenID provider of your trust, so you have the choice. Also OpenID uses technologies like HTTP, SSL, Diffie-Helman etc to make things more secure. So start converging.
OpenID website
What is OpenID?
OpenID Providers
How to get OpenID?


Xobni, Nitroboost your Outlook!

I was going through the unsuccessful takeover attempts by Microsoft in the recent times. Along with big guns like Facebook, Yahoo, etc I saw a lesser heard, weird name, Xobni. If you are wondering about the strange name, Xobni is inbox written backwards. But, except the name everything else about Xobni is clear and straightforward.
Xobni is a plugin for the Microsoft Outlook, which helps you organize, manage and analyze your mail, contacts and the mailing patterns very easily. It integrates itself nicely into your outlook, as a retractable sidebar and provides you extensive information whenever you select a mail on main panel. Like, it tells you about the person sending the mail, how many mails you people have exchanged, the past conversations, list of attachments exchanged, the graphical meter on time of day he usually sends you mails. And for each contact, it creates a profile containing his rank (based on your interaction with the person), his social network, i.e. the people whom he sends mail frequently. It also extracts his contact details and phone numbers.
The best part is the side bar is designed in a very neat way to access all the information. Xobni is also highly stable. I never had my outlook crashed because of Xobni. And in fact Xobni has made the mailing experience as interesting as if you are in Facebook or MySpace. You get to know the people with whom you are dealing with and whom they are dealing with. You also have the Xobni analytics which brings in even more analytic details about the mailing patterns.
Simply put, it is like adding a nitro button to your Outlook. Right now in the public beta phase, I got a chance to download and install it. You can download the Xobni beta from the Xobni website, and the package is very small (3 MB). Installation is also fairly simple, a few mouse clicks and you are ready. Next, Xobni will index your mails and get itself ready for the show. This might take a few minutes, depending on your mailbox size. Once this is done, you get a revamped and empowered Outlook. It is really worth using. Once you get along with Xobni, you can’t do without it. That is the kind of impact it makes on you.
On the downside, Xobni works only on Outlook 2003/2007 under Windows XP and Vista. I was disappointed to find Xobni is not of use in my office running Windows 2000, really a big let down. Another thing is Xobni does not work on your outlook pst files.
Outlook has been dominating the mail client market for over a decade. But, the improvements have been happening in snail pace. Third party apps like this could boost up the development cycle and make it better.
Xobni Website
Xobni Download


Yahoo! bid for Microsoft: spoof

Here is a blog which gives you a funny view of the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal, in fact the spoof is about Yahoo! bidding for Microsoft. Makes nice reading.

Yahoo! to bid for Microsoft???


Live Mesh, seamless sharing across devices.

Think about this, you have a new business idea, and you create a rough plan from your home PC, then while travelling you refine the plan from your PDA and simultaneously your colleague also adds his ideas to the document and it instantly reflects in your versions. I am not presenting you my new idea, but this is what Microsoft presented in their latest Web 2.o conference, and they called it the Live Mesh.
Using Live Mesh, you can share documents, files, folders etc across your PC, notebook, Mac or even PDAs. It does not end here, once you add devices to your "ring", you can even run programs across the devices. There is a central web based control panel called Live Desktop, which lists all your shared devices, folders etc. You even get 5GB free space in your Live Desktop to store the files.
It goes even beyond this, you can even colloborate with your partners using Live Mesh. Using your Live ID you can see who all are accessing your shared files, and on your desktop you even get the notifications on latest changes in your documents. At the extreme, you can live chat with the people who are working on your files. All you have to do is download the Live Mesh software to your desktop and presto! Your ready for the seamless colloboration and sharing.
Now, that is what Microsoft means by Live Mesh. It is not completely ready as yet. The sharing across desktops, and working with other users is ready by now. But Live Mesh for devices and Macs are in the pipe. Also, whatever is available, is available through invites only for developers. So you have to wait for some more time until you can lay your hands on this.