Olacabs, a bad User Experience

Olacabs
Olacabs (source : Olacabs)

India is on a 48 hour stand-still with the ‘India Bandh’ called by the All Trade Union. They are protesting against privatization, outsourcing, violation of labour laws, price rise and several other burning issues of the country, trade unions of banking, insurance, public sector undertakings, transporters and unorganized sectors.

Nope, I’m going to write about the India Bandh (general strike) but more of a personal experience with Olacabs – an Indian Startup with over $8M in Series A fund.

Olacabs Lied

With our new office setup in Indiranagar, Bangalore, everyday is an excitement being in the office – working, playing and being with the team. Yesterday, with the Bandh announced, I was looking for alternatives to my usual travel medium, the Auto rickshaw aka the Tuk-Tuk.

As luck would have it, Twitter was abuzz with tweets that Olacabs will take special measure to have their cabs available to help the general public, with an added advantage of slashing their fares to that of the auto-rickshaw. All the problem solved! Moreover, I’ve been looking forward to trying their iOS app, use it and write a nice review about them (what an irony). I was hoping that Olacabs will be the Uber of India.

Today Morning, with all hopes and enthusiasm, I got up and was ready for office. I even confirmed a candidate for an Interview for one of our job openings. I fired up the Ola App, and ‘booked’ a cab. Olacabs confirmed by Booking and was assigned a ‘CRN’ Number – 1765782 and the cab will pick me at 10am.

Got dressed, bags shouldered but by 10:10am, with no sign of Olacabs, I called up their Customer Support. The voice on the other end wailed “Ola” multiple times and I even got to know that Ola means ‘Hello’ in Spanish. A ‘Subhalakshmi’ picked up the phone after about 3 minutes and she was pretty blunt, wasn’t really listening to me or she could not understand what I was asking. I had to ask her if she really speaks English. I asked for something and she blurted out something else. Of course, I got the fact that my cab was cancelled and they were ‘no longer servicing in my area.’

Well, looks like Olacabs did something without proper planning and their PR Stunt is just that – a PR Stunt. Yes, I’ll try them again, give them another chance but today was such a bad User Experience that I won’t expect much from them. They are just another service company with a Spanish name and like every other taxi company, will not try to provide a good user experience and differentiate from the lot.

UPDATE

  • Aug 30, 2013: Uber launches in India. Sign-up and get Rs. 600 off your first ride.

Create that ‘OneBucketList’ for your life and act on it

OneBucketList

Not a To-Do list. Not an agenda for your life’s routine.

Something, which you usually have in your mind, the list of things you would love to do in your life. Be it – learning to sky-dive, go on that dream vacation, visit that exotic island, spend few undisturbed weeks in a less-trodden place – would it not be nice to be able do them before you kick the bucket.

Go ahead, start your OneBucketList and list what you want to do in your life. OneBucketList will help you maintain that list and get out of the way for you to act on them.

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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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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Krassimir Fotev scoffs at SEO with his brainchild, Peer Belt

If you’re like me then you are sick of SEO. These cookie-cutter predictive patterns that create a myopic filter for the content we see online make as much sense as casting a rapper in a film noir, or taking a three-year old to a fine china shop.

This must be what Krassimir Fotev thought when he looked at how we gather, process and retrieve information and thought — pssst… I can do better. So he did. (Don’t you just love people like that?). He created Peer Belt — a personalized search engine that organizes the content you encounter online.

After first getting a masters degree in Physics, then giving up a cushy job at Credit Suisse Krassimir created Peer Belt, and hasn’t looked back since.

We had tons of questions for Krassimir — like what the heck Peer Belt actually does, so we fired off a series of rapid-fire questions to him about his entrepreneurial experience and the technology behind the brand. He then banged his head against his desk until something brilliant came out. And brilliant it was…

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Adobe Creative Suite 6 – the new face of creativity

Adobe recently released their latest version of Creative Suite – Adobe Creative Suite 6, introducing a slew of features and enhancement to their software line-ups.

I was fortunate to be present at the Media Launch of Adobe CS6 in New Delhi, India. Presided over by Umang Bedi, Managing Director, South Asia at Adobe Systems, there were demos galore and quite a bit of stunning new stuffs with the likes of Photoshop, Premiere, SpeedGrade, Dreamweaver, Illustrator etc.

It was not surprising to know that many creative geniuses from India relied totally on Adobe Products to get their work done. Film-maker Aseem Bajaj talks about his experience from analog to digital film-making and how he uses Adobe Products day-in and day-out. Kushal Ruia, Creative Head at Amar Chitra Katha Media demoed some interesting and creative motion video works done in Flash. CB ArunKumar, Academic Director at FX School talked about the creative outcomes as a result of Adobe Products used by his students. It was a day well spent and I came back home thinking, ‘Adobe still have their mojo intact when it comes to creativity tools.’

Adobe CS6 software delivers a whole new experience for digital media creation, enabling you to work lightning fast and reach audiences wherever they may be. Now, for the first time, CS applications are also available through Adobe Creative Cloud, giving you the flexibility to download and install them at any time.

I’ve been trying out the products from the Creative Suite 6 collection and they’re awesome. They are pretty fast and a huge improvement over their predecessors.

Download and Installation

Here is my unfortunate experience. I got a ‘demo’ DVD of CS6 at the event and decided to try it out. However, Adobe Bangalore called me and told me they’re sending me a ‘final’ copy instead. Well, that turned out to be the “Pre-release” version, which means I was able to use my Master Collection Serial Number but cannot login to Adobe from the software, leaving me with just 5 days before it shuts me out.

After that ordeal, I decided to download the trial from Adobe’s website. For reasons known best to Adobe, I had to download a downloader to download the new download. I downloaded the downloader and installed it and finally downloaded the trial. I just wish Adobe can improve the user experience when it comes to downloading their softwares – simplify and make it easier for users.

They perhaps want to know who downloaded what! But then why not figure out that I’ve got the serial and I don’t need to be spammed every week that my trial is ending and I should buy the software. That was a sad experience. And yes, the unsubscribed link on that ‘reminder’ email led me to an error page on Adobe.

Adobe Creative Suite 6

Adobe Creative Suite 6, we can see a product-wide overhaul of the interface, albeit a dark-gray-theme, which seem to be more suited for creative people. CS6 sports better speed, improved performance, and native 64-bit support for both Mac and Windows across the suite of products.

Adobe Photoshop saw huge improvement and quite a lot of them are now the darling features of many artists, photographers and creative users alike. 3D got a huge changes in Photoshop CS6 Extended, with it’s primary focus on usability and performance. Adobe have completely overhauled the User Interface and 3D workflows, which are now, much more intuitive and easier to use. The new interface sports a single tool instead of the earlier 14. In CS6, you can use the standard Photoshop Move Tool and click on the element (light, camera, mesh) in your 3D layer (scene) and that will reposition it!

Illustrator features a new “gradients on stroke” feature, which can adds gradients to lines, pattern-creation tool has a new tracing engine, as well as the ability to create and edit tiled vector patterns, without any visible seams, from the images you trace. InDesign have added new features like Alternate Layouts, Liquid Layout, and Content Collector. This will be a blessing to those page designers who create for a variety of platforms. InDesign CS6 also offers vast upgrades with a new Linked content tool, as well as support for building interactive PDFs.

Dreamweaver, the entry point for most web designers, saw some decent improvement and is geared towards the new ‘responsive design’ paradigm of the web. I was under the impression that Dreamweaver will move to oblivion and die a silent death but CS6 seem to have taken a huge turn. Dreamweaver helps you design once and adapt your websites when viewed in a phone or tablet or on a browser. Dreamweaver CS6 is built for the multi-platform era, with full support for HTML5 and CSS3.

I’m not much of a video guy but from the demo I saw on that day, Adobe Premiere Pro seems to be kicking some real ass. It’s integration with After Effects and Photoshop is something very interesting and should serve as a convenient tool for video professionals. SpeedGrade was something the film-makers swear by, smiling to the fact that now they can see their movies being graded quickly in real-time right in front of them. Real-time subtitle support was another awe-thing from the video line-up by Adobe.

Well, for Adobe Flash, it’s not what we used to know from the yonder years. Flash graduated to doing more and more of HTML5 and Javascript. It’s now being marketed as ‘the tool’ for your web and mobile needs when it comes to HTML5 and Javascript and an easy development tool for iOS, Android and other platforms.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is a digital hub where you can explore, create, share, and deliver your work using any of the Adobe Creative Suite desktop tools, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, and new applications like Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge preview. Creative Cloud also includes new Internet-based services and enables the delivery of high-impact content experiences such as interactive websites and stunning digital magazines. By offering connectivity with Adobe Touch Apps, headlined by Adobe Photoshop Touch, Creative Cloud enables a mobile workflow, from ideation to publishing, to bring the power of Adobe innovation to iPads and Android tablets. Creative Cloud gives you freedom to create, offering immediate and ongoing access to industry-­defining tools and technologies, to serve a vibrant worldwide community of creative talent.

Well, if you do not want or cannot afford the costly software from Adobe, you can now use them by paying a monthly subscription. Membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud is available at a price of $49.99 per month for individuals and $69.99 per month per seat for workgroups, both for an annual plan.

Dayson Pais: Entrepreneur²

Mumbai-based Dayson Pais is the founder of Webly, of Epicwhale, of The Womo — and now he is the founder (and janitor) of Textme. And all this has been in the past 5 years.

Dayson’s passion is incubating services and products for the web, brand identity, print, mobile & digital field — hence the creation of his digital agency and cybernated incubator, Webly. His understanding of the “Wild, Wild Web” as he calls it, has built a solid entrepreneurial base for his many endeavors. Finally, his many hats are beginning to pay off — with the success of many of his ventures, including his most recent, Textme.

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Google’s Updated Privacy Policy Angers Europe

People are not unaware of Google’s Privacy Policy being updated every now and then. The latest version of its privacy policy that was unleashed on March 1st, 2012, has made it the centre of a huge controversy amongst the European nations. Some of the rules that have been included in this policy have fallen under severe scrutiny and are being investigated by the EU data verification authorities. France has accused these rules of Google’s Privacy Policy to be a violation of the European Laws.

The primary condition of the Privacy Policy of Google that was tagged as unacceptable by CNIL, the Data Protection bureau of France was the latest attempt of Google to pool the data accumulated from each and every individual user from all the major sites such as YouTube, Google+, Gmail etc, that are governed by Google. This undoubtedly would make Google liable to use the gathered information to monitor the search results, manipulate advertising in accordance to the interests of the individual users and make similar other uses. France had written a letter to Google stating that the CNIL and EU data authorities have not taken lightly to the invasion of user’s privacy and combining the collected information from users to satisfy the benefits of Google.

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StockTouch app is Bringing Sexy Back to stock markets

The successful build-an-app plan seems to be: take a useful service, make it intuitive and put a shiny veneer on it. Steve deBrun’s StockTouch has done that, in spades. Although if you ask Steve what the entrepreneurial key to app-building success is a top-notch team, the ‘classic trio’ as he calls it: the “designer, hacker, hustler trio”.

Steve is the self-proclaimed tech/art geek who designed the sharp quadrant interface for the StockTouch app. For anyone not familiar with the app, it puts gargled stock market data into an easily readable format, while breaking it down into scannable sectors. That’s the quick pitch anyways; it does some other cool shiznit too, but I don’t want to spoil your fun so just download it. If you haven’t got the $4.99 for download then just keep reading.

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Social Folders – share your social content online

Social Folders

Ever get irritated that you can’t push/pull content between your computer and your social networks and sort it in handy desktop folders? Instead you have to manually update each as new content is added? Martin Pannier did. In response he created SocialFolders.

The SocialFolders app allows you to more easily manage content across your desktop and various social networks. It allows you to centrally manage your content, including backing up your photos, videos and docs. To put it more succinctly, MASHABLE summed it when they said — SocialFolders Is Like Dropbox for Social Media. If you’re not a MASHABLE fan, CNET also puts it simply when they say — It’s Photo Stream for everything“.

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