Tagged: iphone

Is website design becoming irrelevant?

Where & how do you consume content on the web these days? I find that increasingly, I get to the content without ever going to the website of origin.

For instance, on my iPhone I read pretty ┬ámuch everything via Flipboard. On Android, I’m still struggling to find a good Flipboard replacement and shuttle between Pulse, Google Currents and recently, Feedly. In either case, I rarely ever go to the actual website.

I still get some of my content fix from Google Reader (xkcd, Abstruse Goose etc).

Most of the “news” — that is, when I’m in “skim mode” — comes from social media, mostly G+ and a tiny bit from Twitter.

I remember the days (several years ago) when Techcrunch changing it’s site layout used to be a news in itself. Now I can’t remember the last time I visited Techcrunch (well, that could be partially attributed to the content quality…)

My point is, in all of the above cases, the app or service presents the content in an origin-agnostic manner. When you read something on Flipboard, it’s presented to be consumable via the Flipboard interface (in most cases), and not meant to preserve the look and feel of the origin website.

And such apps and services are just becoming more and more prevalent: Evernote Clearly; Readability; content-provider specific apps such as those from Time, CNN, NYT etc.

So, is website design becoming irrelevant? Especially for content-heavy sites?

(The Oatmeal is an exception — Matthew forces you to visit the website, and it’s always worth it)

Review of iPhone apps for Indian news

I like and use the iPhone apps for CNN, NYT and NPR news, but none of them are any good for staying up-to-date with happenings in India. So one day, out of curiosity, I started looking around for apps specifically for Indian news. Here’s what I found.

Summary: the NDTV app is probably one of the best free apps. I didn’t consider paid apps.

First, the usual suspects:

Times of India: The ToI app’s UI is functional, but otherwise not remarkable at a first glance. In true ToI tradition, the “Entertainment” section is feature prominently on the home page, just under top news. Of course, readers of ToI know that “Entertainment” and “Photos” are just euphemisms for soft porn — ToI happily parlays all kinds of NSFW material under the guise of “news”. I’m really curious to know how much of their app traffic (indeed, their website traffic) goes to the entertainment section.

The ToI App

Thankfully, buried under the “Settings”, the app allows reordering the various sections. You can also optionally specify a home city. I haven’t really used the Video section of the app, so can’t comment on it.

Overall, the app is not bad, but it can’t compensate for ToI’s reporting.

NDTV: The NDTV app feels only slightly more polished than the ToI app; structurally they’re quite similar and most differences are cosmetic. Unlike ToI though, NDTV’s Photos section is closer to what I’d expect on a news app (there’s still a heavy entertainment bias, of course).

But perhaps the most killer aspect of the NDTV app is that you can watch various channels of the NDTV group live!!

The NDTV App

The only downside of the NDTV app is that it shows a lot more ads than the other apps I looked at.

Hindustan Times: the HT app is probably not being actively developed — it still has a CWG section!! Other differentiators are a dedicated “Blogs” section. Compared to ToI and NDTV, this app offers basically no customization, no videos. The content is not as rich or fresh as the other apps.

The HT App

There were a lot of other news apps but none of them felt credible. The IBN Live app looked interesting but it seems to focus mostly on live TV and not news articles. For now, I’m sticking with the NDTV app.

What apps do you use to get your does of Indian news?


My experiences with Apple: A poem

Apple Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a Linux guy; Windows was never my thing honey
Apple seemed interesting, but required too much money

I have ideological problems with Apple too,
What with all the DRM and hardware lock-in they do.

But people are crazy about Apple, and I used to wonder why,
I had a dream: to own Apple products that I didn’t have to buy.

A few months back my wife gifted me an iPhone, bro!
And then at work I got the new Macbook Pro!!

Thus suddenly I was an Apple user,
Sure, some people called me a sore loser.

Allow me to share my early experiences,
Some accolades and some grievances.

I’ll try to keep a neutral tone,
Shall focus on the Mac and not the iPhone.

Integration, integration, integration!
The attention to detail gives a wonderful sensation.

User experience is the key,
Excellent design is for all to see.

They’ve taken care of the enterprises,
Exchange support, Google integration — no surprises.

It’s by far the best laptop I’ve ever used,
The hardware is slick, the software is smooth.

Image representing iTunes as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

But boy do I hate iTunes,
It’s so broken it should be called Looney Tunes.

Try connecting multiple iPhones to the same device,
Or plug your iPhone in another laptop (poor advice).

Sync is threatening, sounds like a bully.
“I shall sync or destroy”, that just sounds silly.

The Terminal app should aspire higher,
No 256-color support leaves much to desire.

Keyboard shortcuts are hard to find,
Change them? you must be out of your mind!

“Features” like “Spaces” are overrated,
More like awaited, belated and deflated.

I prefer iTerm over Terminal and Adium for chat,
Chrome over Safari, and this over that.

I’m certainly not blown away,
But a Mac is convenient, I have to say.

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Where is CS curriculum at top schools headed?

The blogosphere was abuzz today with news of a course on developing iPhone applications in Stanford being available for free. I didn’t understand what the big fuss was about. In fact, if anything, this news has me worried.

Image courtesy: flickr.com

Stanford is undoubtedly one of the top most engineering schools in the world. In my mind, a computer science curriculum at such top schools should do just that — teach computer science. Courses that cover computer architecture, software design, operating systems, networking, graphics, theory, databases, algorithms etc all make sense to me. But a course to teach students how to use the API on a commercial SDK? I think other organizations (vocational institutes, community colleges etc) are better suited for such courses. What is so great about such courses being taught at Stanford or MIT or Berkeley? I personally think those resources could be used better elsewhere.

It seems this is part of a larger trend. More and more schools are designing courses that are aligned with the hot buzz-words in the industry, perhaps in order to attract applications. For instance, you can learn how to provide Software as a Service (SaaS) using Ruby on Rails (RoR) at Berkeley. Stanford has another class on building Facebook applications.

I would much rather see a class on say “building scalable web services” and have Facebook, Twitter as case studies in the class.