Adobe & HTML

Honestly, I’m not really impressed with many things Adobe’s been doing lately. Actually, I believe that Adobe is going through some sort of an Identity Crisis. Nonetheless, you cannot really ignore some of the innovative and good things they’re spearheading, specially with open standards like HTML.

Recently, few of us were hurriedly called to the Adobe Bangalore office and we met with Paul Burnett (@pburnett), Adobe APAC Evangelist. I was unable to agree with few things that he showed us but was genuinely impressed with many other initiatives from Adobe.

What I don’t like.

Adobe fought back in many ways when the world was abandoning Flash, they even went ahead to say they love the company that fired the first lethal bullet to the Flash’s Kingdom. When Adobe realized that it was not winning the battle, they went ahead and try to re-create the reign they had with Flash in forms that does not necessarily pronounced “Flash” but doing very similar things that Flash did.

Flash is a good solution for the right purpose and still is. Actually, HTML5 is way behind when it comes to lots of capabilities what Flash can do. But that’s it, let Flash shine where it can and leave alone where it’s not its job anymore.

Edge Animate – really? This brings back unpleasant memories of the Skip Intro days. Do the web need to recreate what Flash did but with CSS? Adobe’s Edge Animate can help you create Flash-esque Animation and spit out CSS and Javascript. The very idea of spitting our machine written CSS and Javascript sounds scary to me – a web full of ‘blings, bells and whistles’ but done in ‘html5’?

I’m of the opinion that you don’t really need that bad to animate elements on a website. In case of websites that needs so many moving parts, they’d rather be doing it with specialized tools or Javascript Experts doing the job, not by a tool that spits out JS codes for you!

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Interesting, strange, weird way to ‘save our forests’

Greenpeace India has released an interesting Facebook App where you can add a picture to a video, portraying you as a ‘hero’ saving the forests in Central India from coal mining.

The whole idea looks interesting and you should try it out. Unfortunately, for me, I’m a little confused as none of the menus seem to work. They seem to be just message links. I wasn’t really able to take up the “Challenging Goal” neither could I “Make a Difference”. Let’s hope there is more to it than meets the eye.

Of course, the site reeks of ‘innovative technology’ such as keyframe manipulation and color correction in the Flash Player to embed a static object (picture/image) alongside the video and they have even thrown in a parallax scrolling web design.

Coal mining in Central Indian forests is destroying the habitat of the endangered tiger, other wildlife and displacing lakhs of forests dwellers. Greenpeace urges individuals from all across the country to join the movement to save our last remaining forests, tigers and livelihoods of forest dependent communities.

Personally, I’d like to do something but I’m not really sure all that jazz on the website is the solution! What do you think?

Nonetheless, play with the app, enjoy the video, watch the parallax scrolling – it should entertain you.

Adobe Acrobat XI

Adobe Acrobat XI

Adobe Acrobat XI, besides being the leading PDF converter, is packed with smart tools that give you even more power to communicate – easily, seamlessly, brilliantly.

Until recently, I had the notion that Adobe Acrobat is just a glorified PDF Converter, of course, with a very powerful document management system. However, after attending a special screening of the new Adobe Acrobat XI, here in Bangalore, India, I am impressed with what it can do.

With Acrobat, it becomes so easy to edit text, graphics and the ability to combine multiple PDFs into a single PDF is outstanding. The export capability and online web-creation are pretty nice additions. Of course, the ability to sign documents is brilliant.

The only rant I’ve against it is that it’s rather overwhelming and can scare most first timers. This is a big, well-grown and developed tool.

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In50hrs – The Idea-to-Prototype Event

In50hrs is an interesting concept, where ideas meet doer to build something in a short time – a weekend.

In50hrs is The Idea-To-Prototype Event. Entrepreneurs (or Idea Smiths), Developers and Product Designers come together to work on audacious ideas and build working prototypes (MVP) over a Weekend.

In50hrs

In50hrs have few chapters happening across major Indian cities –

  • Bangalore: Nov 23-25, 2012
  • Pune: Dec 14-16, 2012
  • Chennai: Jan 11-13, 2013

I registered for the Bangalore Chapter. I have few ideas and I’ll also be doing the design part – HTML, CSS, Graphics. I can also write codes and be part of the development and help design the product in direct co-ordination with a developer.

If you’re a developer or a student who have good programming skill and have registered for In50hrs, Bangalore, I’d welcome you to contact me to see how we can work together. Do check out my personal page to see if I’m cool enough to be your partner.

Do visit the In50hrs Facebook Group.

Adobe introduces Acrobat XI

In a small, focussed and quite gathering, Adobe unveiled their new Acrobat XI. Acrobat is Adobe’s product suite for creating, editing, and viewing PDFs. It is literally used by all big corps, government institutions and many non-profit organization.

The event was India focussed and Adobe showed some pretty interesting statistic and details on how Indian companies, Institutes and other governing bodies like Passport Offices, Vehicle Registration and Licensing were using Adobe Acrobat to automate document management tasks.

The State of Indian Knowledge Workers

Click on the above Image to see some interesting finding in a survey done by Adobe, amongst 950 odd knowledge workers, representing 775 organizations across India.

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’twas an evening of laughter at the Black Dog Comedy Evenings “Uncensored And Unleashed”

Recently, I was invited to attend an event – a Standup Comedy. Well, it was a surprising invitation. I had been invited to lots of events, but there were either technical, blog-related, startups, entrepreneurship and alike, but a Standup Comedy Event! I’m sure the other ‘bloggers’ were equally surprised.

I realized they want to highlight the event and the sponsoring brands to bloggers, but they were not really after us to write about them nor were they specific about what type of articles were written.

Despite all of that, the evening turned out to be a super awesome one for me. I laughed and laughed so much that my stomach hurts for the next two days. However, I’ve to be honest and confess that I’m still new to Bangalore and could not grasp all of the South-Indian specific jokes and punch-lines. Ista Hotel hosted the Black Dog Comedy Evenings “Uncensored And Unleashed”.

Of course, let me warn you that if you follow the likes of Aziz Ansari, Russell Peters, you’ll find them trying hard to be like Russell, Aziz. Nonetheless, I enjoyed them thoroughly. Just leave the expectations at the bar or the door and have an easy evening.

Introduction to Gamification for UI/UX Designs

At the WebApp 2012, organized by SiliconIndia, I spoke on “Gamification in UI/UX Designs”.

It was not bad but I won’t called that a very good one either. My gauge of the audience was off the track. I was talking to a crowd who have never heard of “Gamification” and almost all of the audience haven’t heard of CodeAcademy, no clue of the recently popular and viral site Ben the Bodyguard and they were amusingly clueless about – Easter Egg. Next time, I’ll do more research on the audience I’ll be speaking to.

Flipping through the above slides won’t do much justice without reading the notes included with the slide or interacting with me during my session. I tend to have just about 10-13 major slides and I love interacting with the crowd. I’ve lots to learn and I’m learning a lot from the few interactions that I had recently, including this one at WebApp 2012.

This article is more of a re-phrase of my session but with links, examples, and more information, hoping that this will introduce you to the world of Gamification in User Interface and Experience Designs.

First, Gamification is not a new thing, and more importantly it’s not new at all to User Interface and Experience Designs or Web Designs. The term, Gamification, came to prominence around 2010 when it was popularized by marketers and managers to engage their customers.

Gabe Zichermann

Talking about Gamification will be incomplete without mentioning Gabe Zichermann who is regarded as one of the most prominent figure when it comes to propagating Gamification in Products Designs and Development. I was fortunate to see him speak at one of the Founder Institute session and I must say, he is an amazing entertainer. He’s is on twitter and he can be found writing and speaking on behalf of Gamification.co.

What is Gamification?

Wikipedia defines Gamification as the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. It is the process of using game thinking & mechanics to engage audience & solve problems.

Let me tackle some examples as a way to introduce the art of Gamification, which you can start applying to your Websites and Web Apps, right away.

Virtual Badges, Achievements and Accolades

Who would have thought that we will be happy with virtual achievements, digital badges and accolades that have no material or meaningful values in our physical world! However, it’s one of the most sought after and people are very happy, satisfied when they do achieved such badges, titles, achievements and accolades. We love to show off our increasing number, varied, different badges that we earn in our digital lives.

Foursquare does an amazing job when it comes to virtual achievements. We love to become “mayors” of a location, earn badges, etc. Another such example is that of CodeAcademy where you can unlock badges when you complete the courses offered there. The whole experience on CodeAcademy engages you to move forward and when you finally complete and unlock a hurdle, it’s a fun and satisfied experience.

Progress as a tool for Gamification

Progress status, progress bars and progress indicators have been used by Web Designers for ages. It is one such gamification technique that’s been proven very successful. LinkedIn does a good job of enticing you to fill in more information by showing you how filled-up is your profile and how you can achieve that 100% complete profile. Twitter also does a nice job by asking you to follow interesting people, as soon as you sign-up. That helps you get rolling and fill your timeline with interesting tweets.

Parallax Scrolling

Parallax Scrolling is a pretty interesting gamification technique in Web designs. It makes it interesting to use the websites and users tend to stick around longer. Look at some of the interesting websites that uses parallax scrolling to make it a fun experience for users.

Virtual Easter Eggs

A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, web page, video game, movie, book or crossword. One such very well known virtual easter egg is that of the Konami Code – a cheat-sheet embedded, particularly, in computer games. For other examples, try viewing the source of The Oat Meal, try searching for “Do a barrel roll” on Google or just “tilt” it, and you can scroll to the bottom of Kickstarter and click the scissor till it cuts it all through.

The dark side of Gamification

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Like any technique, Gamification has its own share of dark side and you should not be tempted to wield that power. Do not try to force users to do something via Gamification, just for your gains at the cost of the user.

A typical example is that of some Domain Registrars, which forces you to buy their other offerings instead of allowing you to go ahead and complete your Domain Booking Process. The “checkout” button is smaller (sometimes, it’s just a small link) and option to buy their other products are shown enlarged, right in the middle, trying to force you to buy them.

Get started with Gamification

Well, Gamification is an interesting technique to engage your customers, to make your websites a fun experience for users. It can increase the ROI for your bosses and clients, increase trust and loyalty of your visitors.

Gamification is a means to your end goal. It can only accelerate and move forward your contents and services. You cannot fool the users with bad websites, bad services and bad content. Use wisely. Enjoy Gamification.

mySchoolNotebook is digitizing the Classroom

mySchoolNotebook

mySchoolNotebook is an app for taking and sharing school notes in an easy and effective way. Nowadays, there is an increasing trend of students bringing their electronic devices to school and taking notes with them as well as school supporting integration of technology into education.

mySchoolNotebook allows students to take notes into well-arranged notebooks divided into topics and automatically numbered and dated lessons. Students can format their notes, upload files, search within the application, or convert notes to PDF and print them out if they get tired of looking at screen. When they miss a class, they simply ask friends to share the notes with them instantly.

Students can sign in with their Facebook account, which helps to automatically generate a friend list for sharing notes, or they can register with an e-mail. Another benefit is that mySchoolNotebook works offline. Therefore, students do not have to worry about an Internet connection. The application is offered in web, mobile, iOS, and Android version. The iOS and Android version can take pictures and record audios.

mySchoolNotebook is based in the Czech Republic. It was developed by a young high school student, CEO Jakub Roz, who tried to solve his own problem of taking notes effectively. He made the first version of mySchoolNotebook for himself. However, his classmates liked the service and wanted to use it as well.

Well, Jakub and the CTO of mySchoolNotebook, Jan Kuca develop a Czech version of mySchoolNotebook. It became a popular tool serving tens of thousand of students. mySchoolNotebook team then decided to release an English version at the end of 2011 to serve students at a global level. In addition, there is a version for German speaking users.

Download the App – iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android.