Saturday, November 18, 2006

MS going after Linux users?

Check out these recent comments (Linux users owe Microsoft) from Microsoft. Its a scary and most undesirable move for the open source community. Sounds like MS has finally devised a strategy o battle the mounting competition from Open Source -- "If you can't beat 'm sue 'm!"

SuSe Linux users appear to be covered thanks to the MS-Novell deal.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Outsourced Email

A hosted email service makes a lot of sense particularly for small businesses. In this day and age, it makes no sense to maintain your own mailserver, spam protection and the works. Google's Apps for your domain, MS Office Live are both similar to Yahoo's small business offerings. All three save businesses the headache of managing their email. The best part is that its possible to pop your email when you use these services. This means that if you love MS Outlook (or any other mail client) but hate Gmail (or Yahoo Mail, Hotmail interface) , you are still in good shape! Hopefully, someday "everything" will be free provided there is still money in ads! :-)

Sitemap Unity is Great News

Its great to see that the big three MS, Yahoo and Google have agreed to standardize on the Google sitemap XML protocol. We use the Google sitemap, so we are particularly thrilled to hear this!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

UC Berkeley class lectures on Google Video

Saw the news about UC Berkeley making lectures available on Google video. I think its a great step forward and a small peek into the future of education. Wonder how the faculty feel about this? At one level the exposure is certainly good for them. At another level they might want to actually benefit monetarily from the "open access" to their lectures. In ny case, its a great step forward by the University.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Brandon Hall goes Social Networking

The Brandon Hall folks seem to be making a foray into social networking. In concept, this seems like a fine idea both for their subscribers as well as for themselves. But I suspect they have clearly ticked off a whole bunch of their potential users by phasing out their popular Yahoo Group. I think it was a bad move to squash a successful email list to start with. Not to mention that it was a PR snafu to force users to move to their new social network. A number of subscribers to the yahoogroup have now formed a new group.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Buffet's Contribution

Having praised Gates for taking the lead, it will be shame if Warren Buffet is not given similar or better kudos for his recent decision to contribute to the Gates & Melinda Foundation. There is excellent column in today's WSJ (subscription required).

"...But the title should really go to Mr. Buffett. Mr. Gates, after all, is following a well-worn path, in the footsteps of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Mellon. Mr. Buffett is blazing a new trail. He is giving his massive fortune to another man's foundation, he's not asking for his name on the door, and he's insisting the money be spent as it comes in, rather than build up over generations to provide some intimation of immortality...."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Gates leads the way!

Microsoft has often been criticized for not being innovative and for its hard charging ways to destroy competition. Despite such constant criticism, one must admit that Bill Gates decision to phase out of his current role to focus on philanthropy is certainly a great sign of leadership. Doling out money is one, but focusing on it full time is quite another issue. Hopefully, his business success can help him meet with great success in his philanthropic endeavors.

Firstly, announcing the change well in advance was a smart move to avoid any panic on Wall Street. What makes the timing more interesting is that it comes at time when Microsoft is severely threatened by Google and other companies. I guess the master businessman figured that Ray Ozzie was capable of living up to the challenge. Besides, perhaps he figured that business challenges come and go but you live only once. I can't think of how else one can explain a change of heart on the part of one of the world's toughest business leaders. In any case, its great news that the world's richest man has made philanthropy his primary focus. One can only hope that this inspires other business leaders to follow his lead!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Google Trends: No interest in the US for eLearning!

Hats off to Google for releasing another useful service!

If you look at the cities where elearning searches are coming from, notice that no states in the US not make it to the top 10! Surprisingly, the leading the elearning search category is Tehran in Iran!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Techniq Platform: Skype Integration

One of the leading "really cool" technologies that have come to the forefront in recent times is Skype. The power of free PC-PC phone calls over the Internet was unimaginable a few years back. Today, it has become quite common place with a proliferation of VOIP telephone providers.

At Vitalect we were quick to notice a clear and direct application for Skype in the web-based learning business. While taking a self-paced online course, its highly possible that learners might have queries whose answers they are unable to find anywhere in the course. I these circumstances, ther best bet is to reach the instructor of the course. On the Vitalect platform we have provided this capability though the use of the Skype's powerful and reliable technology. Thanks to this interface, the Instructor is just a click away.

Customers of the Vitalect platform can choose to enable this feature in the Vitalect Techniq Tutor dashboard at the time of initial setup. Instructors can be specified at the course level. Learners who don't have Skype installed will be prompted to install Skype before contacting the instructor. Instructors can pre-announce and schedule office hours to inform their students about their hours of availability.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Techniq Platform-MS Word Integration

The Techniq platform is now integrated with Microsoft Word. Users can easily import a MS-Word file into the Techniq Platform. The content in these files are automatically indexed and hence searchable. The content can then be categorized and tagged appropriately. The content can also be edited within the Techniq Platform.

If you are looking for a common searchable repository for content from your Word files, Powerpoint as well as training content in elearning form, the Techniq platform is your answer!

Friday, March 17, 2006

New! Powerpoint import to Techniq LCMS

I am happy to report that we now allow easy and seamless import of powerpoint files into the Techniq LCMS. This integration makes it possible to leverage your existing powerpoint files while getting the maximum out of the Techniq Platform. Once you import the powerpoint you can easily structure the contents, as well as add additional content like FAQ, Audio, Audio script etc. Further more, the content is automatically indexed and can be searched. Importing Powerpoint requires no Powerpoint plugins.

If you have hordes of powerpoint content and have been struggling with getting them onto the web in browser independent, searchable form, the Techniq platform is your best solution! Besides, for all those Powerpoint lovers, this is a must try feature!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Search across courses: Addressing Learner Impatience

Research has shown that the attention span of most internet users is only a few seconds. With such a clear trend, expecting users to take long courses online might just be asking for too much. This does not mean that there aren't users who would not sit through an online self-paced course. The truth is there are many who simply don't have the patience. In the Internet Age we live in, its all about information and news being mere mouse clicks away. Inshort, there is universal impatience and an obsession with instant gratification.

We were quick to recognize this at Vitalect and we have tuned our platform to address this issue of "learner impatience". Very often learners would run into situations where they know that they did come across some content in a particular course but do not recall the details of the course. On other occasions learners might just want to know about a specific issue or topic. The content in these cases could be a part of a specific course. At the same time the user might not have the patience to go through the entire course. To address this challenge, we have incorporated a "search across courses" functionality. This means users can login and search for any content and retrieve the specific content as well as its larger context ("the course").

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Free Ad Supported Courses!

Would you like to create course content and automatically have ads appear in your content. The Techniq Platform has been turned to support this. Take a look at a handful of our free courses!

Synonym Search

We have now added the synonym search capability to the Techniq platform. You could always specify keywords while adding content to the Techniq platform. Now we have added the ability to specify synonyms when categorizing the content. Thus, while searching the contents you can search for synonyms of words as well.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New! Indexing feature added to Techniq Author

Automatic Index Generation! We have added this exciting new capability to the Techniq Author. Create your course and simply select "Insert Index". The system automatically creates an Index page just as you would found in a regular hard copy book. The index page is automatically cross-referenced, so you can easily click on the links and go t the relevant page.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Web 2.0: Show me the money!

There is so much buzz about Web 2.0 but I am yet to come across a Web 2.0 product with a believable business model. Yet there is plenty of Venture Capital pouring into it Web 2.0 companies. Is Silicon Valley leading another bubble?

I must admit though that many of the new technologies in the so-called Web 2.0 space are really, really cool.

Friday, February 17, 2006

MS Office Live beta -- More "On Demand"

Microsoft announced its beta launch for MS Office Live the other day. This is clearly one more big step towards "On Demand" software applications going mainstream. I am curious to see/hear about MS beta launch. Despite being a late entrant one can be certain that MS will be going at this market in a big way. I signed up to check out the beta version but haven't heard back from MS.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"On Demand" Software

The On Demand software market just gained additional legitimacy with SAP entering the fray. It is great to see more interest in this. It makes no sense to battle installation, maintenance, support and implementation when so much can be accomplished online.

Interestingly enough it comes at a time when the leader in this space has been battling some bad press for unanticipated downtime. After all these years, this is the first time this has ever happened at Salesforce. To be fair to Salesforce, its not as though software maintained and supported by in-house IT depts don't suffer outages! In fact, resolution for in-house outages might be more troublesome (because the vendor might have to pulled into resolve the issue) and expensive. Its definitely less painful to simply call and yell at a vendor for an outage.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Salesforce AppExchange: Cool Idea

I have been a Salesforce user for many years and love it. Excellent stuff! The AppExchange idea is cool too, but I have my doubts about it taking off. Its hard enough developing bug free software, here you are talking about integrating software from third-parties and ensuring they all work well together. I installed the Skype feature in Salesforce (I have been using Skype standalone for quite a while) but struggled with how to use it from within Salesforce. I tried a few other apps as well but didn't find it easy to use.

Conceptually, AppExchange makes a lot of sense, but in remains to be seen how well it works in practice. Hats off to Salesforce for this innovative approach.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ebooks are back, yet again!

Check out Sony's foray into the eBook space. The process is modeled on the iPod and music. You buy the device and go to Sony's online store and buy books which get downloaded to the device. The interesting thing is that Sony has some deals with leading publishers - HarperCollins, Random House, and Penguin.

Apple with Intel Inside Ahead of Schedule!

The recent announcement about Apple iMacs with Intel processors was actually achieved ahead of the schedule. This very impressive. I can't recall the last time a company delivered a product early! The WSJ had a positive writeup about the performance of software programs on the new Mac with Intel inside.

Nasdaq, Dow drop!

The Nasdaq dropped 54 points today, while the Dow dropped 213 points. It was just the other day that I was wondering what had caused the Dow to cross 11,000 after almost 4 years. Some joked that the dotcomm days are returning! The drop today indicates the impact that Google is having overall. A significant drop in its share prices is bound to rag the market down overall. A great achievement for a company which has been public for such a short time. Moreover, one must admire their courage to stand up to the Justice Department.