Thejesh GN

A Blog, A Website and A container for all my views with excerpts from technology, travel, films, india, photography, kannada, friends and other interests. I am Thejesh GN. Friends call me Thej

Is @tweet4blood successful?

Posted by Thejesh GN On March - 5 - 20105 COMMENTS

Its been a year since I launched @tweet4blood with VSR‘s help. It’s not a great geek work, it’s a simple two page application based on twitter api. It didn’t take more than an hour to design and code the app. But for me its been one of the happiest moment as I was trying to use technology and social media in use.

Ever since I launched it, I have been thinking about its success. Is it number of page views? or news paper coverages? or is the number blood requests? But then I thought number of blood donations made due to tweet4blood is the right measure. Even though I couldn’t track it properly, followers of tweet for blood were very kind to send some responses. I am pasting two such mails verbatim here.

1. First Response
“I am a regular blood donor. I always look for opportunities to donate blood the moment three months pass since my last donation. I have registered with multiple blood banks and websites to alert me whenever they need blood of my type in the vicinity. But such systems have turned passive and I started visiting blood banks to donate blood instead of donating it for a person who is in immediate need, admitted in a hospital.

Few months back I came to know about tweet4blood. It is the twitter way of spreading the message for any blood requirements. Since people tweet with blood type, location and phone number, it becomes easy for me to get in touch with the patient and do my best. Earlier, I remember, I used to receive bulk mails for blood donation requests. But things such as tweet4blood have made things easier. My only concern is, India’s poor, who are not exposed to communication channels like emails are twitters may be suffering. We need to address this concern.
- @sharadaprasad

2. Second response
“Social networking is a lot of hype and little substance. It is difficult to find a functional application of a social networking platform that does not include a heavy dose of self-aggrandizement. @tweet4blood on Twitter stands-out as an exception. It is functional and practical.

How have I used it?
- As a donor, on three separate occasions I have called a mobile number that was RT’d by @tweet4blood
- On all three occasions I was late, despite calling within a few minutes of receiving the tweet!!
- In other words, the person who answered, said the equivalent of “I appreciate the call. We are covered. We have been flooded with calls from donors.”

I rest my case!
- @anand_bala

I know it’s not a popular site but I think even if it has helped at least one on this planet earth. It’s successful. What do you think?

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The Debut

Posted by Thejesh GN On February - 26 - 20107 COMMENTS

Its 11pm, I am back from the office of Bangalore Mirror after completing my first ever byline article. It wasn’t meant to be like that, I went there to meet few friends and talk to them about an opportunity. But then thanks to all the staff they forced me to sit there and write. I was there for two hours, I got to know more about print media in those two hours than I had known for my entire life. It has its own process, logic and way. Thanks to friends at BM for all the help.

This year is an year of crazy experiments. One of the craziest idea is to work for different types media, mainly print and audio. So this is where it starts. Lets see how it goes.

Let me be clear. The article is not a master piece. If it is in a good shape then its the effort of editor (or is it Desk?). Thanks to them.I am sure I will improve over time. And of course thanks to UT for the tip.

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Open Data in India

Posted by Thejesh GN On February - 24 - 201013 COMMENTS

These days my work mainly involves around government data (or the data that I assume govt should provide). You must have already seen the open data initiatives by both USA (Data.Gov) and UK(data.gov.uk) governments. I am not sure how good or the bad the data is but the initiative as such is a great move. For that matter it is not just countries but the cities like London have opened up their data. I think its high time for democracies like India to open up the data. Well at least the govt bodies of so called silicon valley of India, Bangalore’s BBMP or GOK to begin with.

Imagine raw data you will get to play around, its programmers heaven. Imagine the kind of mashups we can build with election results and geo data. As of today even though we have some kind of data on-line. Its very distributed, not open and of course not developer friendly.

What we need today is an open data initiative, where GOI and state/local govts can publish data in a developer friendly format. Even though I am not an expert, by developer friendly I mean, open standard, online, search-able, semantic data. Unfortunately in India it might take years for Govt to come up with such a plan. So as active citizens, how can we force the govt to that? or should it be taken up by an NGO or Society? or should we the citizens start a simple community project of collecting and publishing data?

Btw as an interim solution I am bookmarking all the Govt related data on delicious with #open-data-india. Feel free to tag/comment more about available data.

Updates:
1. Paper on Open government data study: India is an interesting read. I was interviewed for this paper.
2. Check datameet.org for data enthusiasts and also google group for related discussions.

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From an IT Engineer to HomePlanGuru

Posted by Thejesh GN On February - 3 - 20103 COMMENTS

This is one of the case where the person tried his hand in DIY project and made it his job after wards. Viru wanted to re-plan his fathers house, which he did as a DIY project, but then he thought he can do it for others too. Thats how HomePlanGuru started. Go ahead and read the interview I did with this outfoscion.
1. How come you came with the idea of HomePlanGuru?
HomePlanGuru is now HomePlanGuru.com (since I’m doing it online completely & that is how I’ve registered my company name also).

When I was in Infosys, I renovated my father’s house and constructed few new rooms. Since I was very good in Engineering Drawing, I used that trait to plan every inch of my my house. I was inspired by US buildings (when I worked there) and Infosys’ building quality. I used the same concept for my house. After building it, I realized that to build such a good quality house, it is not that expensive and by proper planning, we could get almost all the functional features that are needed for the house. Since the Indian Customers are not aware of many things about quality, I thought of sharing my experience with them through HomePlanGuru.com and make Indian homes on par with developed countries homes.

2. Are you an architect/civil engineer?
Fortunately, NO. (Had it been yes, then the concept of HomePlanGuru.com wouldn’t have come)

3. Did you plan your own house? Did HomePlanGuru came out of it?
Yes!

4. How do you use your past experience in your present work?
My IT Knowledge & experience helps me a lot in my venture. This is how it is:

  • I use IT processes for everything starting from ‘Requirements gathering’.
  • I use technology (free softwares like OpenOffice, Google Sketchup, etc) for planning and Email & Online Chat for communication.
  • I developed my own website which wouldn’t have been possible had I not been in IT.
  • I’m in the process of developing a product for Builders & Customers for which I’m using my IT skills.

Read the rest of this entry »

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When building community sites, we will always have the problem of chicken and egg. Nobody gets involved into your community if they don’t have critical mass, and critical mass wont get built if users don’t join the web community. How are you going to solve this problem? I think it can be solved to some level by “Standing on the shoulders of the giants”. One way is single signon.

idselectorBut the true single sign on for the web doesn’t exist yet, but bigger players on the web have so many users that, we can consider them as sso providers. Allowing our users to use one of the established service providers userid/password pair gives us the advantage of converting their users into ours. It also reduces the pain of creating Yet Another User Id/Pw for the user, reducing the entry barrier for our users.

In my personal experience at ubuntuAtWork.org, I have seen 45% increase in registration after we opened up register/login using FB Connect. There are many other success stories.
Solutions:
In the market we have three big compitators

  • OpenID : Platform and vendor independent. Standards set by an open standards committe. Big internet companies like Google, Yahoo, etc are supporting them. OpenId is a distributed identity provider and has the biggest user base in the world. The usebase also includes the users of gmail, ymail, wordpress, LJ etc
  • Facebook connect: Facebook is worlds biggest social network as of today. It has free APIs for the usage.
  • Google Friend Connect: is the compitator to Facebook connect. It has bigger user base in India considering the people on orkut and people using gmail (yes, gmail over took Yahoo recently in India)

Integrated solution: Combination of OpenId and facebook connect will give us bigger advantage. It gives us a large internet users we could target. Drupal the platform used by many communities by default supports OpenId at core. And its not difficult to use it on the wordpress and Joomla. Facebook connect is a simple API, the required modules exist for drupal to implement this. Read the rest of this entry »

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