Archive for the ‘crossposted’ Category
Hell has frozen over! Blogger is rolling out a new backend. On second thoughts, it is only getting a bit chilly out here, but it certainly ain’t cool enough for things to freeze over. At least not yet. Apparently, the greatest of the changes is in a place where the end user, like you and me, don’t see much of. Blogger is going off the static publishing set up (one where it would pick up content from its database and spit out static HTML and XML files based on the templates and settings you had specified) and moving to a new set up where all the content is served dynamically (the way in which WordPress blogs functions now).
The immediate change you’ll get to see is a top bar, quite similar to wordpress.com once again, that will show you as logged in and also display other useful information, if you are logged in. Behind the scenes, and I am guessing here, the entire operation would now move to an application server (probably the same server that handles the posting/editing backend) from the old set up which was probably serving a directory of files based on the host header. The other significant change is the authentication part, for which you can now use your Google account (for new blogs, not for existing blogs) or your old Blogger account. The logic there is quite mixed up and needs a lot of work.
That said, the new beta is a complete dud compared to WordPress.com. The interface is still the dated, clunky one and true to the beta label, some of the stuff is broken, like the new WYSIWYG layout editor that was spewing out Ajax debug information on to my screen when it was not functioning as intended. Access control is nice, but I did not see the option for controlling access per post and determining access on the blog level is not a fun thing to do.
The good points? Well, the archive links are laid out much better now and there are Atom feeds for posts and comments (per post too) now. There is also something called “labels”, which looks like a bastard child that resulted from a love making session between tags and categories. Pretty nice, but once again it is something they should have had yesterday.
But someone really has to get some new default templates into the system pretty soon. I am sick of seeing the same 10 all over the place. And the upgrade itself is symptomatic of how Google treats Blogger, more like a stepchild than as a product that deserves a whole lot more of attention and resources allocated to it. Yeah, I know, it is not easy to roll out features for a framework that supports a huge number of users, compared to something like wordpress.com that is new and had a clean sheet of paper to start with. But it can’t be that difficult either. After all, it is all just a data, pulled in and out of database servers and presented on web servers.
Thanks to Chris, I stumbled upon Windows LiveWriter. Till date, I’ve used a variety of blogging clients like wbloggar, ecto, Performancing for Firefox (the current one) and almost everything else that supports the Metaweblog API. And I have to say I am quite impressed. The only weak point I can see is that it does not allow easy Technorati tagging like how Performancing does. Now, for the positives:
- WYSISWYG authoring with non-MS Office mangled HTML source.
- “Web Preview” that allows you to see the post within your blog’s layout without having to publish it.
- Multiple account support (meaning that you can post to Blogger, WordPress, Windows Live Spaces etc).
- Spell check (ahem, one feature that’s badly needed for most bloggers).
- SDK to integrate other services (that should take care of my tagging complaint).
- Support for RSD, Metaweblog API and Movable Type API (in layman lingo that means it would support most of the blogging services out of the box without forcing you to wade into the ugly tech details).
- Absolutely spanking support for embedding images.
So the verdict for now is that it is really a non-Microsoft product in terms of being usable and irritation factor. There are downsides like being based on .Net and a standalone application. But for most Average Joes, this would really be a great addition to the regular blogging toolbox.
p.s: The spell checker does not have the word ‘blogging’ in its default dictionary. Now, that’s really hilarious.
When you start a new business in an already crowded market place do make sure you get one thing right – go out of your way to satisfy your initial set of customers and treat them like you’d treat the most valuable person in your life. This holds true even more in the food industry where established tastes and loyalties are hard to switch and you get more or less only one go at getting them to move.
Yesterday night, I wanted to order out from a new joint in Saket, called The Blue Tandoor, because I was more or less sick of the existing joints there. There are more than enough eateries out there, mostly around the PVR Anupam area, but almost all of them follow the cost saving approach to cooking non vegetarian food, which uses the base marinated meat that’s given the final treatment/masala/garnishing according to the order.
The only other joints in the vicinity, who do it differently are Cafe Rendezvous and Swagat in Malviya Nagar and neither specialise in doing Mughlai. So, at least in theory, they do have a window of opportunity in serving to a niche within the food spectrum that has a ready and massive audience in the area they are located in. But they botched it up and in a terrible way.
Firstly, their menu card did not have the minimum order figure listed anywhere. Second, it was priced too high, at Rs 500. When your price point of your main dishes is at an average of Rs 250, it would be hard to top that figure. And most people who use home delivery don’t often order three course meals, thus making the “sir, please get a starter or a dessert” line a non-starter.
I spent five minutes with them ordering what I wanted to order, after which the chap told me that it fell short of the Rs 500 mark, following which placed the order with my regular chap who was only too glad to serve me, and even better they call up the day after asking if there were any problems with delivery and quality. Five minutes after I placed the other order, the chap called me back clarifying that the manager had said they would serve me. Nice, but it was too late by then.
I have seen this across Delhi, that new joints or even older ones, don’t value their new customers. Most times, going out of your way just once for a new customer could win him/her for you for a long time. And good service also works to get you brownie points in terms of peer-to-peer reviews. One satisfied customer often leads to many more from the same segment. Just one among the many points that’s lost on them.
One of the funnier sides of the recent blog ban is that it has given a bit of a glimpse into possible numbers related to bloggers in India. From the numbers on BloggersCollective, which I guess is the largest number of Indian bloggers/blog readers from India assembled in once place, we have more hype than actual numbers to back it up when it comes to participation.
At the last count there were 432 members in the group and if we were to invoke the 1% rule and extrapolate the audience possible, the number would be 39600 (99*400) who contribute to the process strictly within the Indian context. I’m not taking the other 32 into account because a lot of the bloggers become part of the 39K number due to their participation on other blogs and also there is no way to account for Indians who read blogs from India while being abroad.
Attribute an average of 3 page views per user to that number and you’d still get figure of only 120,000 per day, which across 432 blogs is a very low number. Low enough maybe to start a whispering society, but not large enough constitute a readily marketable or easily targeted demographic. Please don’t tell me that such a number has been quite effective, as shown by the banned blogs episode; effectiveness and scale are two different things. Besides, a lot of the bloggers are media people, which certainly did help in getting good enough traction on the mainstream media.
Another contentious point is that blogging by itself does not do much. It does well only when it is sold as part of something more easily recognised, like how Indiatimes does it with ‘News Blogs’ on timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Does that mean blogging in India is no great shakes? Right now, I think the answer is ‘yes’ and I don’t think it will take off at a major level till the vernacular crowd moves in and that is a different story in itself.
Meanwhile, NDTV.com launches its blogging service, replete with avenues for cross domain scripting attacks and numerous other holes. A ten minute inspection of it already has shown ways to steal posts from other people, requiring almost no technical knowledge, making our gaffes look pre-pubescent in an instant. C’est la vie, I guess.