Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Alexa is Amazing

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

I got my Alexa device as soon as they made it available in India. I played around with it as a user initially, but soon the technology kid in me took over and started developing skills.

A few things I learnt, which I did not know before about Alexa are:

  1. There is a history of all the commands we give Alexa. Wait, this is not the usual history with text, it also stores the exact audio recording of the voice command given to Alexa. This is scary – when you realise that they have proof of every interaction you ever had with Alexa 🙂
  2. I can now listen to my books on Kindle using Alexa. Earlier I used to buy books on Audible for more than 15USD. Now, it is less than 5USD, delivered to my phone, plus read to me by Alexa 😉
  3. There is a whole new world of Visual User Interface / Visual User Experience (VUI/VUX) which has to mature as it has been least explored so far.
  4. They have separated the skills by region. This means, when I build a skill for India, it will not be available for consumption in US or Europe. I am not sure if this is a good move, but it is an interesting move. I guess it will keep content geography centric and provider more accurate results.

A few topics where I am still pondering over the long term business strategy are:

  1. Without the ability to have the same Alexa voice skills in my phone, I am limited to using Alexa in the house (may be, like some of my friends, I should also get a Alexa Dot for every room.)
  2. Without the ability to communicate using a picture or a video, I am limited to voice based interactions only. May be the future versions of Alexa will come with a camera (or better if Alexa phone is launched!!)

I am comparing Alexa with Hey Siri and OK Google (and to certain extent Watson too) to see how they will compete in the long run.

Will publish some skills on Alexa, that I hope will be useful for everyone.

Meanwhile, I am still thinking of making life easy for any one to extend their existing conventional services (such as websites) to be extended to work with these voice enabled systems.

Due to this level of fascination I have with these products, hence the title – Alexa is amazing – because it simply is.

Indian Roadside Shops copying Internet Brands

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

While browsing online, I came across two specific pictures which had a common pattern: Creative road side shop keepers copying popular internet brand names and coming up with their own shop names.

In one instance, a person opened a mobile soft drink stall called Gogola and nicely copied Google’s style.

In the second instance, this person has started his own mobile fast food stall called Facebook Chaat.

It caught my attention and so I am posting it here.

Apple to allow Flash on iPhone and iPad

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

This week Apple has made a significant change to its developer agreements and it is going to change the marketplace.

Apple’s success with iPhone and iPad have been complimented very well by the App Store in the iPhone. With its tight control over the App Store, Apple has made sure every single application goes through its ‘secret review’ process. As a part of these restrictions, Apple had also made the developers sign an agreement that they will not use certain third party tools such as Flash, as well as restricting third party applications in the iPhone or iPad applications.

This week, Apple has relaxed some of these restrictions – out of which two of those are highly significant.  They are listed below with details


Google search in China goes to Hong Kong

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Google has started redirecting users going to its search page in China to their Hong Kong website. So if you type it will automatically redirect to

This is a significant move in its plan to get out of China. Though Baidu is the most popular search engine in China, Google was anticipating to pick up search traffic much more in the near future. The recent hacking attempts in Google servers, supposed to have been done with backing from hackers in China, has helped Google with its decision to pull out.

This also means that the search market just got atleast 20% more traffic available to be consumed better after Google’s exit.

This is a very interesting situation and will keep you updated on this.

Google and the myth of universal knowledge – A Book Review

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I am currently reading a book called Google And The Myth Of Universal Knowledge. This is a book written by Jean-Noel Jeanneney – originally in French and translated in English by Teresa Lavender Fagan.

This is a good about the view of an European, who is the president of Bibliotheque Nationale in France. The book focuses on the announcement from Google about an attempt to digitize the content of many books available in many libraries around the world.

I was quite fascinated by it as I am also interested in preserving the content from ancient literature in Tamil, where the writings are all mostly on leaves or metal objects and they tend to erode and degrade over a period of time. I also wanted to get some insight into how learned men and women around the world, with the similar interests are trying to preserve the cultural heritage from their history that they value a lot.

This book has a lot of useful information about the view of Google outside the US. It is also interesting to know how the stand of a private organization, irrespective of the vision or the mission on hand, can be viewed differently by different people based on their interpretations of the end goal.

Update: I have finished reading this book. As I kept reading through the book, I learnt a lot of new things which I did not know before. For eg. the number of countries in which this digitizing effort has already started – including India. I also learnt about the outright rejection by the author about the intentions of Google, irrespective of what they claim to do.

Overall this is a good book to read, by any one who is interested in knowing about Google and its search related future plans on library and books related topics.