The Best of the Web (courtesy Time)

Around this time every year, I eagerly wait for the annual specials from Time Magazine, be it the person of the year or the numerous other specials like the top 10 technologies of the year, top 10 films, etc. Dubbed as the ‘best and the worst lists’ they give a unique perspective on how the year has passed and what has been the high or the low points. But besides these, I really look forward to the world’s top websites listings. The reason is not all that hard to guess, because in it you will finds one of the best gems of human ingenuity, web ideas that were always there in the making except that no one did. This year’s list (,29569,1918031,00.html) is no different, there are scores and scores of ideas that not only seem worthwhile (to use) but also great (to emulate). So here are a few chosen gems from the Time 50 list of best websites for 2009. If you desire more, log on to the Time site and check the complete list.

Now, I know Tripit as an application in LinkedIn, have often seen my network friends listing their travel with it, what I did not know was that it is much more than a LinkedIn app, it is a web-portal, where you can put in all the travel related documents, for instance flight insurance number, hotel reservation desk, etc. and then access it over your phone or Web in case of need. How often when we land in a new place on not find a car from the hotel, hunt desperately for the hotel’s number here and there. All this could be saved on Tripit and easy accessed on the cell. And then, there is the social networking or rather the LinkedIn aspect as well, bumping into an old friend, who might be travelling to the same place via Tripit.

If you need something specific in your place or region, whom do you ask  — your friend or Google? Well, Vark takes it to search to that level. The idea is simple, why query a bunch of machines that can only understand meta tags and evaluate keywords, when you can pose the same to your friends. SO, next time you want to know where to find the best Mango Kulfi, don’t Google, Vark it by synching your FB contacts, so the question will be sent to your network only and no more. Now, what should we dub it as; social search?

Eight Things You Used to Pay For But Can Now Get FREE

Cost rationalization is the flavor of the season. With every enterprise — small or large — looking at reducing costs on all fronts, IT budgets are getting affected too. While large enterprises are moving to outsourcng model and bargaining hard with the vendors, many small companies do not have that kind of option. Yet, they need to minimize costs more than anyone else to be in business.

This story started with the idea of giving some cost minimization tips to small and medium enterprises. But as we were working on it, someone asked: why less cost, why not free? And lo, the effort steered towards identifying IT areas where the enterprises used to spend on, but which they can now get for free. The result is this compendium of free IT heads, largely on using the web. We have even added one free audio conferencing service in the list.

But the challenge in trying to compile such a list is that subjectivity becomes a challenge. The inherent danger of compiling such a list is that a lot many people might not agree with the elements in it and debunk it impractical or childish, while on the other hand a similar audience might actually be happy with the same and use it to their benefit. One man’s honey is truly another’s poison.

The chief purpose of the list is to provide a small guide to the emerging companies to put in place a growth strategy and be able to deal with some of the common pain points. Another point that needs to be noted here is that much of the free software movement has been carried out by the Open Source Community, hence most of the applications that are listed here are essentially open source and free software alternatives to the proprietary ones.

  • Free Storage

Backup is the single largest issue faced by small enterprises. While the big daddies have their stacks of NAS and SAN, the smaller companies or entrepreneurs don’t really know how and where to store their documents. The issue is not only of the availability of space but also the ease of use and reuse.

To start off, there are a lot of services that are available online that provide free. There is that provides a 2 GB online space free to its user and then has graded payment options for people who want more. is yet another service that allows 1 GB of space free of cost to the user with a file limit of 25MB.

But the one that takes the cake is Windows Live SkyDrive service from Microsoft that currently offers 25 GB of free personal storage, with individual files limited to 50 MB. This is a mammoth amount of storage (for enterprise and important documents) and can be accessed through the web. Earlier Yahoo! also had provided a similar service, Yahoo! Briefcase but now has wrapped it up. According to certain reports, Google also has plans to offer similar kind of service titled as Gdrive.

The Links:

  • Hosting your Website

One of the most important requirements for a business today, is an online presence. Essentially a business without a webpage is basically a like a manager without an MBA degree, he/she can be successful to an extent but after a while requires some sort of formal education to excel. Similarly it is very important for a business or even individuals to have an online presence.

Continue reading