Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Web Sight - a walk through the websites I visit…

In many ways, 1995 marked the beginning of the Internet age but it did not really dawn in India till December 1997. I was in my college days at that time. I had only heard of the Internet in the new papers at the time. Also the buzz words email, hotmail, chat, ICQ used to hit me here and there from my brother and whenever I used to visit my cousin’s place in Pune. It was in one of those visits I got my first hotmail id. For namesake I had got an Internet connection at home, which was damn slow and couldn’t be used to browse websites. I used to only use it to send and receive emails in my outlook express. So I had an idea what is an email and how convenient is to be in touch with my brother who was working in Kuwait at that time.

Even though I got my first hotmail id I couldn’t use it for a long time till I went to Chennai in 1999, for my further studies on multimedia. I had to use hotmail to take the phone number of my brother’s friend who was in Chennai. For the first time I understood what is the advantage of using web based email over POP email. I found out that email is the fastest and cheapest way to keep in touch with my people, so I started exploring more. Hotmail was very slow at that time. And using a slow website in an already slow connection with my limited pocket money budget, made me look for other options and it was all starting…

After my studies I got employed as a web designer, so the World Wide Web became my playground and surfing the web had to be a part of my work and of course work. After 5 years of Internet age in my life I’m kind of walking through the different websites I use in a daily basis. The websites I visit were either a part of my personal usage or a part of my work. The very first website I have visited is the personal website of Malayalam superstar Mammootty. But now I have come far away from that and now I’m more of a serious surfer. Now, I can’t even imagine a life without Internet and the World Wide Web.

Email

Hotmail
As I said above, my first email was on hotmail. Even though I strayed away from hotmail for some time, I came back to hotmail after a year and I use it even now in synch with msn messenger. Hotmail is very smart and very useful in many ways. The less mailbox space and the huge amount of spam received in hotmail was really a drawback, Microsoft has managed to fix these problem to a big extend. The colourful and fancy user interface, My favourite contacts, and the facility to go directly to the mail from the msn mail alert are the main features in like hotmail.

Yahoo Mail
I got introduced to yahoo mail when I was desperately in search of a better and fast email program. After dabbling with some Indian email providers I decided to try out yahoo mail and I have been using yahoo mail since then. Yahoo mail is very reliable, fast, usable, and has never given me a problem. Yahoo mail has given 1gb of free mailbox space and it work in synchronization with yahoo messenger, yahoo briefcase and yahoo calendar. The inability of reaching the mail directly from the yahoo messenger mail alert is a big disadvantage in yahoo. It first takes me to the yahoo mail-landing page, and then to the inbox and then to the mail. The simple, decent and fast UX, email address auto complete, the big space, the very effective spam filter, and reliability are the plus point of yahoo mail.

Update: Yahoo mail is offering a second email with the ‘dot’ in the ID to which if an email is sent will be delivered in our current login and inbox. We can set which id should be the primary one… Cool

Gmail
Gmail (Google mail) is one of the good things that have happened to the World Wide Web recently. Gmail is a revolutionary change from the other email programs. They were the first to give 2gb space (and counting) free in email. Plus loads of new features like display mails as conversation, email labeling instead of moving to folders, an efficient search facility, email id auto complete, an exportable/importable address book, free POP access with web mail sync feature, mail forwarding, auto save of mail drafts and a simple and super fast user interface using AJAX technique. Gmail is the best in its class. Gmail can be also used in harmony with ‘Google Talk’, the instant messenger from the Google stable.

I have also tried emails provided by satyamonline, sify, Indiatimes.com, rediff, and 123india.com, but I abandoned all of them for various reasons and now I use only hotmail (for old time sake), yahoo mail and Gmail.

Portals

Yahoo
The very first portal on the World Wide Web, I can say it’s the best in its class. Yahoo has a very wide range of services as a web portal. For me yahoo is a kind of problem solver as I can find everything I’m looking for in yahoo. Some of the services I use in yahoo are; My Yahoo, Search, Mail, News, Briefcase, Calendar, Photos, 360 Degrees, Maps, Finance, Groups, Chat and Geocities

Search Engines

Google
It is the number one search engine now. I even noticed that now a days people use the words "google" and "search" synonymously. Google is that successful. It is the search engine which made a major change on the web with their revolutionary ideas, a search algorithm based on page ranking, Google search tool bar, Google ad sense, Google Ad words, Desktop search, Groups, Set, Picasa, Gmail, Froogle, Earth (which is making waves all around the world), News, Image search et al. its said that in the future, to start a e business, people will have to contact google and take their help in setting up one. In short, in the future all websites made would have to be uploaded to Google to make it work. Even though I’m a fan of Google for their new ideas and path breaking products and services, I personally like Yahoo more than Google in the search category. Google has made up its own norms of how and when a website should be featured in their search list, which most of the time irritates me. Many times a simple, obvious and straightforward search has failed to generate the expected results in Google.

Yahoo
Yahoo is my favourite on the search engine bandwagon. Yahoo is of course come up as a bitter competitor for Google. But it will take some time and effort for them to beat Google of course. But when searching for something on the web, Yahoo is more straightforward and simple. It shows sensible results and it’s more efficient. As of now I cant fully ignore Google and stick to Yahoo, so I use Google and Yahoo both for searching, which gives me more options.

MSN
MSN search has just born. I’m one of the beta users of the search facility, and I’m quiet impressed with the results. I heard that Microsoft is intending to kill Google and take on the first place in web search… way to go Mr. gates.

Ask Jeeves
Ask Jeeves comes to my search lists whenever I’m not able to find a result in all the other engines and it has helped me many times.

Dogpile
Dogpile is a very interesting search engine, which I have started using recently. The idea behind Dogpile is to get Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask Jeeves search results in one page. I always liked new ideas on the web. The reason I like Google as a service provider. The makers of Dogpile are very intelligent, not to build just another search engine which goes through the enormous websites on the web. Instead it searches for the results in other already established search engines. Cool right?

News

NDTV
I’m not a die-hard "news" person on the web. My news reading ends with the morning newspaper reading sessions. But whenever I’m looking for a news story on India, I visit NDTV which is also the website of my favourite news channel.

CNN
CNN is my choice when it comes to international news. The home page layout of CNN is very good which has given me cues to learn.

Cinema

Indiafm
Indiafm is the best when it comes to Bollywood news. Bollywood behind the scenes news, movie and music reviews, you name it, they have it.

Sify movies
I visit Sify movies for Malayalam and Tamil movie news. I can say they are the best in it category, but the information I need are available. I basically want to keep myself updated with the Tamil and Malayalam movies releases.

Music

Raaga.com
Raaga.com can be considered as the best in the online music websites. Fast downloads and good quality and a regularly and religiously updated website it is. Raaga.com provides Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam songs in real player format that can be played online.

Music India Online
Another quality site is Music India Online where almost the Indian languages film and other category music can be listened to online.

Vismayam.net
Vismayam.net is another good site for listening to Malayalam songs. Nicely maintained.

Mp3.sajith.com
This site provides good quality Malayalam songs download in mp3 format. A bit slow in updations and bandwidth constraints are the downsides.

ApnayMp3
This site provides Hindi songs in both real media and mp3 formats for download. Pretty decent in updations, one has to constantly check for new arrivals, once old the links become broken…

Mohankumars
Mohankumars started with a vast archive of Tamil music. Now even Hindi music is available for download in mp3 format.

Tamilbeat
Tamilbeat is a good mp3 download site for Tamil music. A bit slow though…

Photos

Flickr
Flickr is a cool online photo organizer community, which is in lines with the web 2.0 fundamentals. One can upload photos, make sets, add notes and comments, view other friends’ pictures. It also provides RSS feeds for our friend’s picture postings and our recent activities and comments posted. Nice place to meet creative people. Flickr is a Yahoo company.

Banking

Icicibank.com
The day-to-day banking jobs are done on Icicibank.com, it’s a boon for people like us, and we really don’t have to go to the branch for the regular queries and requirements. I have been using the online banking for more than five years now.

Travel

Irctc
Irctc is the biggest ecommerce site in India. The online system for booking tickets on Indian railways was an instant hit with the net savvy travelers. I have been using the site right from its launch and continue even now. Very efficient and useful.

Air Deccan
Air Deccan is the first no frills low cost airline in India, which started the trend of online booking and ticketing. I started using this site when I was in Kerala and I didn’t have a proper ticket to back to Pune. I just thought of trying my luck on Air Deccan and bang I got a ticket, which was very economical, and from then I have been a die-hard fan of this service.

Spice Jet and Go air are the other airline website I use in the same lines.

Amadeus
Amadeus is an online airline booking system used by the airline travel-booking agents in the world. Amadeus online travel schedule is a very useful tool to plan our flights any where in the world, and with any number of connections. You just provide them with the starting point and the destination and they will show you all the possible ways of getting there.

Shopping

Fabmall
My first Internet shopping experience was with Fabmall; the then Fabmart. It was an OK experience for a first timer. Later the website went through many changes at the managerial and logistics levels. Later on the Fabmall experience started getting deteriorating, as I had to always make two to three phone calls for the order to get delivered.

Rediff
When I wanted a change from the Fabmall experience I tried Rediff whose service was then very much raved about. I ordered for a VCD and it took almost two weeks to get delivered and also costed me a phone call to Mumbai.

Indiatimes.com
The most ‘NO HASSLE’ Internet shopping I have ever experienced is from Indiatimes.com. Its simple and extremely convenient to shop in Indiatimes.com and their delivery is super fast - within two days. They used to also provide me with gift coupons for my loyalty. The one I would vote for…

Amazon
I have not used Amazon for myself. My friend has used it and was raving about their costumer service. I used to regularly visit Amazon to learn the User flow and shopping catalogue layout.

Auction

Ebay.in
Formerly Baazee.com was the first and most successful auction site in India. I used to go through baazee for some best deals in mobile phones and other electronics. I used to also get basic prices of second hand stuff from the site. Ebay took over baazee recently and I think soon I’m going to bid for an ipod in Ebay.

Jobs

Naukri.com
My favourite in job sites, Naukri has the best job search mechanism and the most number of results.

Monster.com
I like Monster for its features and a better layout than Naukri.com. Fewer Results I got for my search.

Times jobs
Times jobs has the best web design and layout in its class. It’s less cluttered and very good looking. But I get no results for the job search. May be its coz Times jobs is a new player.

Blogs

Blogger
I think Blogger started the trend of web logging. Balaji introduced me to Blogger and that's when Google had taken over it; I started exploring coz curiousness of the Google element in it. I started blogging as a way of stress management and I surprisingly found out that I’m not a bad writer. I could very well express my views and make it interesting. I just hope Blogger will be made in AJAX soon, which will make it user-friendlier.

Whitespace's content management is powered by Blogger

Official Google Blog
This is google’s official blog, which talks about the new features of the search engine and also google products. Google Blog is also fun as it also features some of the interesting happenings in Google, posted by the employees.

Blogs I visit which are again on the same lines of the official google blog are Yahoo Blog, Blogger Buzz and Flickr Blog.

Balaji Raghavan
Balaji is my friend who is smitten by the blog bug now. He is the one introduced me to blogging. We had started blogging at the same time dating back to 2004. But those were more of personal which we didn’t want to be public. In his mainstream blog he talks about diverse subjects viz, his work, himself, about cinema etc. Its fun there…

Work related articles

A List Apart
A List Apart is an online magazine, which publishes articles for the people who build websites. The magazine has helped me a lot in learning lots of things about the new generation web design, table-less layouts, CSS, XHTML et al. It is a very good source of information for any one who works on building web user interfaces. Jeffrey Zeldman of Happy Cog studios edits A List Apart.

Creative Latitude
Creative Latitude is a community of designers, be it web or print, the articles published there are again a great source of information which helps the designer community to know about the new trends, business, tutorials, education and different aspects of the world wide web. The articles are by world-renowned designers and other who run design related business.

Encyclopedia

Wikipedia
Wikipedia is an open source repository of free information about literally everything under and above the sun. You can search for anything you want to know and Wikipedia has an answer and if you know more than what they offer you can contribute to it and also you can edit what others have contributed. Thus the information is an effort by all the people on the web, and the encyclopedia is built on their knowledge and experiences, which is priceless.

Wikipedia is Web 2.0
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