Tech Review

28th October
2013
written by admin
Pubcon_sketchnotes

Pubcon Sketchnotes

This year pubcon’s center of discussion was Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, a new search engine algorithm that was launched few months back.  With the launch of this algorithm google is redefining the search space and taking it to a new level. In broad stokes these are the areas that google is focusing:

  • Knowledge Graph: Things not strings. Knowing what’s really behind a query.
  • Voice Search: Getting better and better
  • Conversational Search: Think pronouns, dereference the pronouns by maintaining an episodic memory during a conversational session
  • Google Now: looking steps ahead where people may not even be querying
  • Deep learning: Thousands of computers being used to learn neural networks

More about hummingbird – Core quality changes:

  • Hummingbird: If you’re doing a query, it might be a natural language query, and it might include words you don’t need. “What is the capital of everlovin’ Texas?” Hummingbird is a step in the direction to figure out the words that matter more and give those words more intelligent scoring. There’s a lot being written about Hummingbird and the fact is it doesn’t affect SEO. It makes the results of long-tail and specific queries much better.
  • Panda softening: There are always those grey-zone sites in Panda’s targets and some new signals they’ve added are meant to ease up on those sites.
  • Detecting/boosting authorities: If you’re a topical authority, keep deepening that content.
  • Smartphone ranking: If a searcher has a phone that doesn’t do Flash, Google is less likely to deliver results with Flash

Future trends of search include:

  • Machine learning: Google will keep trying to figure out how to add more value to searchers
  • Mobile: In 2011, YouTube had 6% of traffic from mobile phones. In 2012 it was 25% and in 2014 mobile is expected to be 40% of YouTube’s traffic. If you haven’t figured out your strategy for mobile, you better be thinking about it.
  • Social/identity/authorship: Knowing who you are and identity can make a big difference. It’s a long-term signal that you’re a person people listen to.

Treat search engine as another person if you show authority and ownership of content people will listen and so will search engine. –

Content optimization trends for future

  • Social Content: This plays front and center of search engine indexing. Increase in crowd sourced content publication and generation. Be Consistent, Be Interesting and Be Authentic.
  • Social Sharing: Organically grown social sharing is a huge indicator of authentication indicator.
  • Visual web: Web content media type will continue to increase from a text based to a more picture and video content.

 

3rd April
2013
written by admin

To all the learning tech people

I came across an article on forbes about failure in leadership training. In this the author has taken time to explain how the “training” methodology has failed especially for teaching leadership skills to people. Here is an exert from the article where the differences between training and development are explained.

  1. Training blends to a norm – Development occurs beyond the norm.
  2. Training focuses on technique/content/curriculum – Development focuses on people.
  3. Training tests patience – Development tests courage.
  4. Training focuses on the present – Development focuses on the future.
  5. Training adheres to standards – Development focuses on maximizing potential.
  6. Training is transactional – Development is transformational.
  7. Training focuses on maintenance – Development focuses on growth.
  8. Training focuses on the role – Development focuses on the person.
  9. Training indoctrinates – Development educates.
  10. Training maintains status quo – Development catalyzes innovation.
  11. Training stifles culture – Development enriches culture.
  12. Training encourages compliance – Development emphasizes performance.
  13. Training focuses on efficiency – Development focuses on effectiveness.
  14. Training focuses on problems – Development focuses on solutions.
  15. Training focuses on reporting lines – Development expands influence.
  16. Training places people in a box – Development frees them from the box.
  17. Training is mechanical – Development is intellectual.
  18. Training focuses on the knowns – Development explores the unknowns.
  19. Training places people in a comfort zone – Development moves people beyond their comfort zones.
  20. Training is finite – Development is infinite.

I want to stretch this argument little further and say this applies to all domains of knowledge. In the past decade (in reality little over a decade) a lot of time and money has been spent over training. Building training tools, technology, methodology, and content. This is what we all know it as the big “e-learning” industry. What has been forgotten in this goose chase of training is “learning”. I am sure many of my other learning colleagues will agree with me. A lot of time and money has been spent on how to deliver the content online/offline, browser/mobile app, flash or no flash on and on. We have not spent enough time to think how much the consumer of this content aka training is actually learning.

Giving a multiple choice quiz at the end of 15 page slide deck is not measuring learning. I was fortunate to work with some of the best instructional designers who get the concept of a fine balance between presenting the content so that users get it at the same time choosing the right pedagogical methods. I am big fan of learning by doing, capture the experience , inferential learning – let the users connects the dots in their learning space. This is what fundamentally differs us as a race.

Learning is a beautiful thing that happens in human cognition and we are still trying to understand the mechanics about the process. To all the learning technology, practitioners, content developers appreciate all your work but we are not done yet. There is still lot more for us to do.

 

4th October
2011
written by admin
Thunderbold

Thunderbolt

Last Week finally my long awaited Thunderbolt monitor has arrived. It is breeze to setup like any other Apple product. I use the USB ports that the monitor has in the back and hooked up my back up drive, headset one thing i did not like is there is no “safe undock”. My backup drive is a 2 TB that i have set up for Time machine and every time i undock the Mac complaints about unsafe ejecting of the drive. If you know me i hate when people yank devices out without gracefully ejecting the device. So needless to say the “unsafe ejecting” message was bothering upon searching for a solution i found this little apple script that does the job really well (thanks to Shawn at Chompingatbits.com). This is a simple script that basically sends message to the machine to eject all attached drive now my system is ready to undock. I save the script as a little “Undock.app” and launch it every time i am ready to undock. Here is the process:

  1. Open “AppleScript Editor.app” found in the Applications -> Utilities folder
  2. Paste the following code into “Untitled” applescript window:
  3. tell the application "Finder"
    	eject (every disk whose ejectable is true)
    end tell
  4. Go to File -> Save. Name the file “Undock” and choose “Application” as the file format. You can now run this from Spotlight or create a shortcut in your dock if you prefer; just as with any other application. Your external drives will be ejected after running this script.

 

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23rd March
2011
written by admin

I like karaoke, my choice of songs are Hindi soundtracks. Over the few months i have been trying to find a DIY solution for a karaoke system. I am always on a shoe string budget, so any thing that will let me do things for cheap (read free) i am all up for it. So this is what i did.

First the hardware:

  • A home audio system
  • Microphone (wireless preferred, i bought this)
  • A simple channel mixer, this is mine
  • Now that you have all the necessary hardware in place, its time to get Karaoke tracks. There are several options you can buy karaoke CDs or use some of the online services like Geetnet, Meragana (huge collection, i would recommend this if you have $). Since i was on a budget i wanted to create my own karaoke tracks. I have invested and built a huge Indian soundtrack collection and also i am not a big fan of having lyrics scrolling before me. I can handle lyrics very well. So after several trial and errors here is a very straight forward process i found to create your karaoke tracks by removing the vocals.

    Removing vocals from audio track

  • Get a copy of Audacity
  • Open the mp3 file of your choice in Audacity
  • Open File

  • First split the track by using the track tools
  • Split Track

  • Select the left track and apply the “invert” effect, from the “Effects” menu.
  • Invert Effect

  • Then use the “mono” feature for both the tracks.
  • Mono

  • Save changes and export to MP3.
  • You will need Lame library to successfully export to MP3. Get Lame library here for both Mac and PC.
  • Sample audio

    Original with Vocals

    Karaoke ready version

    Now you have a perfectly optimized sound track for karaoke with reduced vocals. All you have to do now is plug in the audio from PC to the one of the channels in the mixer. Microphone goes into the other channel. Plug the mixer’s audio out to your sound system.

    Happy Karaoke!!

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    3rd March
    2011
    written by admin

    Couple of weeks back @nedkumar came up to me asking for how i archive my tweet stream. While i was answering his question i realized i dont have good archival method. I use a combination of Instapaper, Evernote (love it!!), tweet favs and once in a month tweetbackup. Then i realized there should be a way where i can automate this process and not have to give away my data to others (like tweetbackup). So over the weekend i explored. WordPress is a very easy for me to setup and fairly comfortable playing with to make it do what i might need. I also knew that i can get RSS for tweet searches and user profiles given these two i started playing around. Quickly i bumped into twitter tools, it communicates to twitter fairly straight forward and then you have an option to make every tweet of yours as a new blog post. On further looking i found this awesome instructions from Mike Bogle. He uses mainly FeedWordPress to do the job.

    After couple of hours of tweaking and tuning up my twitter archive is humming along well. I archive my most watched hashtags, my stream (including mentions, RTs) and my esteemed friend @mrch0mp3rs “Beard Trust” list. Twitter doesn’t give you rss for lists, i used http://twiterlist2rss.appspot.com/ to get the feed. Over the next few days i will continue to organize and build the site with more content.

    Friends if you want me to archive your stream let me know i will more than happy to do or teach you how to do it :).

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