If Amazon owned YouTube…

We got a BT Sport subscription last month to watch Champions League and Europa League matches. The stream (we watch on the TV using Chromecast) often paused and skipped, often over entire plays, and at least once over a long sequence including the goal. It was terrible.

Before the finals, we remembered that BT Sport streams the two finals free on YouTube. So, halfway through the Europa cup final, I switched to streaming from YouTube. It was flawless. There was no pause-and-skip. At all! For the Champions League final, I didn’t even bother switching on the BT Sport app, and went direct to watching on YouTube.

BT Sport isn’t the only company with a terrible live streaming product. Eurosport player’s pause-and-skip is terrible, making all sports unwatchable. ITV is so aware of its terrible product that it doesn’t even offer live streaming on Chromecast, only recorded programs are available. These are just the ones I’ve tried1.

This got me thinking. YouTube has some of the best2 streaming infrastructure and knowhow. For instance, they understand that continuity is more important than quality in live streaming, so their algorithm dynamically reduces video quality instead of pausing live streams. They have content delivery deals with most network providers globally, helping reduce lag and data transfer. They basically already have all the infrastructure for a successful streaming platform.

What would Amazon have done if it owned YouTube in its current state? They would have productised the YouTube streaming platform, a la AWS and Amazon logistics, and opened it up for any company to use.

Continue reading If Amazon owned YouTube…

Not chat apps

Chat apps were once for digital p2p1 communication—chatting.

Now chat apps have become the media for news, faux news, entertainment, memes, commerce, and more. They are a combination of, for old school web-ers, a portal, a usenet or yahoo group or bulletin board, and mass email (with everyone in cc).

With chat apps no longer primarily the medium for p2p digital communication, what is the new chat app?

In corporate environment, this p2p role is partly fulfilled by Slack DMs and email. Which app will fulfil this role in personal use case?

Continue reading Not chat apps

Two GTD tweaks for Todo.txt for Android

I follow a slight variant of GTD, and use my Todo.txt for Android app for task list management. Here are two tweaks I use in the app for parts of the GTD process—quick capture, and easy identification of next actions.

1: Use a special project for quick ‘capture

I use ‘+quicktask‘ as default project for all new tasks to quickly capture them. This allows me to just note the task in plain English and continue with the task at hand. I don’t need to think about their priority, due date and all other things at the time of capture.

Writing the task down closes the loop and frees the mind. Applying the +quicktask project allows me to easily find the task later during the clarification stage.

When I’m in the clarify or organise stage, I filter the task list for +quicktask and process them.

2: Use a special tag to mark the ‘next action

Pending next actions
Pending next actions

I use ‘#next‘ tag to indicate the next task to focus on in a project. During the organise stage, I mark one task in each active project as #next. This ensures that I don’t have to look through the task list for what to focus on next.

My task list widget is now filtered by #next and sorted by due date. What’s on top, is what I need to focus on now.

Post Microsoft

10 years ago Microsoft software was dominant in my usage – Windows, Office, Messenger, IE, and probably more.

Today, the only Microsoft product that I use is Visual Studio Code (I switched from Sublime Text last year).

I haven’t used Windows, IE or messenger in a decade. I do occasionally use Excel and Skype, when someone insists, but have neither installed on my devices.

Continue reading Post Microsoft

Chrome Extensions I use (start 2018 edition)

This is the updated, early 2018 snapshot of the list of Chrome extensions and apps I use.

Favourites/recommendations are in bold.
My own extensions/apps are marked with an asterisk (*).
Extensions by Google are marked with a (G)

The previous list, from late 2015, is here.

Continue reading Chrome Extensions I use (start 2018 edition)

Android Keyboards in India

Why don’t Android phones sold in India come with Google’s Indic keyboard set up as default?

Specially for phones that don’t ship with proprietary/3rd-party keyboards, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to pre-install Indic keyboard over the default English keyboard?

It’s such a small step, yet can be quite a big enabler for the users (and, even, possibly a differentiator) – using the power of defaults to deliver a better user experience!

A case for splitting up the WordPress mobile app

Venn diagram of readers and writers on WordPress, specially on mobile.
Readers vs writers on WordPress

By integrating ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ in the same app, you’re forcing the bigger user group1 to also confront tools designed for the smaller user group.

On mobile – skewed by design more towards consumption, than creation – I assume the disparity in these two user groups is even bigger.

Having a standalone reader app, allows it to reach a much larger use case – ‘Help people follow, read, discover’.
Compare this to current use case – install it if you…

  1. post to WordPress frequently from mobile, or
  2. love reading in WordPress reader, despite having little use for other three tabs – write, manage, and notifications?!

A really good standalone reader helps plug in a singular user need2 – reading. That need, in terms of following blogs and websites, only rarely overlaps with the other need that the app currently fulfils – writing.

Though it will place it in competition with feed readers like Feedly, it also has 2 unique benefits as well:

  1. Close integration with a writing platform (related posts, comment & like directly from reader),
  2. The abandoned Google Reader audience that just wants to follow and read feeds, without being overwhelmed with magazine interfaces and more.

A good, successful reader mobile app with large user-base will, eventually, help close the RoI loop: suggest (through ‘discover’) other WordPress/Jetpack blogs, creating an incentive (or delivering reward) for creators using WordPress.


  1. One definition of readers and writers:
    – Writers: 7-day active writers – users who posted at-least once a week.
    – Readers: Unique visitors per week – including logged-in users, not-logged-in readers, and from feed readers.
    Another definition (more relevant to determining use case ratios):
    – Writing: Posts /week.
    – Reading: Page views /week – again, including not-logged-in readers, and from feed readers. 
  2. Should some day also write a similar, smaller, post on WordPress Calypso’s interface – how it needs to be split from current two, into three sections. Currently, the ‘write’ and the ‘manage’ use cases are mixed into the same tab, while ‘read’ is in its own.
    Ideally, ‘write’ and ‘read’ – each a singular, frequent use case – should have their own tabs. ‘Manage’ can be in a far-removed tab, or behind a ‘manage’ button. 

Thin layer BaaS

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May it rest-in-peace!

I worked with one backend-as-a-service (BaaS) provider, Quickblox, where I saw closely users vetting the provider for stability and scalability (successfully). And I followed the rise, sale & fall of another, Parse, where we’re all seeing the impact of it’s folding on a wider community of users.

Combining experiences from both, there’s a business idea ringing in my head:

A thin-layer BaaS

Continue reading Thin layer BaaS

Chrome Extensions I use

Just thought I’d share the full list of Chrome apps and extensions I use. Favourites/recommendations are in bold.

Extensions

General / Productivity:

How I read and respond to user feedback

After writing the previous post, I thought I’d share another script I use, this time to respond to user feedback for my Chrome apps.

All the feedback links in the apps, and the link on page that opens when they are uninstalled, direct to this form.

Chrome apps' feedback form
Chrome apps’ feedback form

The problem

On submission, the form adds a row to a spreadsheet with each of those input fields in a separate column. Google provides a notification option for whenever the form is submitted. However, the default email sent by Google is quite useless:

Default notification emails
Default notification emails

The default notification email requires a click-through to see the changes. This is sad enough on the desktop. On mobile, it’s completely useless – requiring me to open a big spreadsheet to see just one new row of data!

Continue reading How I read and respond to user feedback