SEraja Launches EventWeb

Ramesh Jain writes about the launch of SEraja’s website. I am an investor in SEraja, which is based in Bangalore.

For the first time, there is a place for people to go beyond the calendar of events and make events real experiences. And this is evolving into a web of events in which people will be able to immerse themselves and not only experience but also gain experiential insights.

Mobile and PC Input-Output

David Beisel writes: “Boiled to its essence from a users point of view, the differences between these platforms are simple input and display, which drive the form factor. And so while it looks like the Apple patents diagrams are initially applied to UMPC devices, with a longer time horizon, these alternative methodologies for inputting could be applied to the mobile as well. I mean, how long have rumors about an Apple mobile phone been circulating? So while the Ipsos report makes the distinction between wireless devices and wireless notebook PCs, I dont care (in the long run). To me, the real story broader story here is that mobile internet access regardless of device is trending upwards. And as innovative displays and input methods progress, well see technology facilitating that adoption.”

Reservations in India

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani writes about a debate that has been revived in India:

India is now in a turmoil because the government wants to extend the proportion of reserved seats in educational institutions. While the rationale for reserving seats for “backward classes” in order to help them develop themselves makes sense, I feel this is the wrong approach.

The reservation is on the basis of social origin – not on economic grounds ! This means that even very rich students who happen to have been born in a “backward class” take advantage of this reservation – though they are not disadvantaged at all. This means the system is rampantly misused.

The system also breeds segregation and resentment. Rather than helping the backward classes to achieve mainstream integration, it has just created unhappiness and frustration amongst the general public, who now feel “underprivileged” because their children no longer have access to educational opportunities, because most of the seats have been reserved !

Personal Bee

SiliconBeat writes:

The Personal Bee is a Berkeley start-up that lets users organize news in their area of interest, so that others can read it.

It is chock-full of the latest Web 2.0 features, and it worth taking a look at.

Rather than forcing you to rely on what the wider community of readers decide is important news, which is what Digg and Memeorandum do, Personal Bee lets “beekeepers” do the deciding, and gives you the beekeeper the infrastructure to organize and filter news however frequently you want. Anyone can become a beekeeper (though it is still in testing mode, so you have to request). Meanwhile, other readers can sit back and enjoy the beekeeper’s filter.

Software-as-a-Service

The Economist writes:

SaaS is fast becoming sophisticated and flexible enough to meet the needs of large companies, says Sheryl Kingstone of the Yankee Group, a consultancy, but for the next five to ten years we will continue to have a mixture. In a survey, she found that 81% of respondents leaned towards a hybrid model, combining traditional software with SaaS. Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are all belatedly moving into SaaS, but they understandably prefer to characterise it as a new model that will exist alongside the traditional way of doing things, and will appeal to some, but not all, customers.

So it is too soon to write the obituary for traditional software, even if its eclipse by SaaS seems to be only a matter of time. The SaaS market is growing by about 50% a year, compared with single-digit growth for traditional software, notes Mr Maynard. It doesn’t mean the big guys are going to die overnight, he says, but this is where the market is heading.

TECH TALK: Revolution on the Roads: Travel Options

I have been a train person for much of my life. Given a choice between traveling by road or rail, I usually prefer the latter. Of course, for longer distances, a flight remains the only option. Recently when I needed to travel to Surat at short notice, I took the road. There is no airport in Surat, which is about 300 kms from Mumbai. My previous journeys had been by train. I checked with my uncle who had recently travelled along the same route he said the road condition was very good and we should be able to do the journey in about four-and-a-half hours, provided we left early in the morning to avoid Mumbai traffic.

Road travel in India has not been a pleasant experience in the past. The condition of the roads made driving difficult. While we may term some of the roads as highways, they in no way conjure up the images of the freeways one sees in the US or Europe. Most highways are one lane in each direction, making overtaking slow-moving traffic a somewhat risky proposition. There is a lot of truck traffic on the roads, so one has to be very careful while driving. Stopping en route at restaurants or petrol pumps means suffering smelly and unclean toilets. And then add to that the time unpredictability because of traffic conditions. The flexibility of using the car is all but taken away by the other elements en route.

Compared to all of this, trains are predictable and comfortable. The only problem is getting confirmed tickets at short notice, but even that is starting to change with online and mobile booking options. In the past few years, train travel has also improved forced in part by the proliferation of low-cost airlines offering tickets at throwaway prices.

My long-distance road journeys have been limited to travelling to Pune, a distance of about 180 kms. That journey has become a very pleasant experience because of the six-land pride of India expressway that has been constructed. A journey of four or more hours earlier can now be done in less than three hours. The problem remains the city traffic.

So, when I decided to take the road to go to Surat, there was some trepidation. There was no expressway yet to Surat. My driver has limited experience driving outside the city limits. But we had little choice there wasnt enough time to get confirmed train tickets. We (my wife, Bhavana, along with our year-old-son, Abhishek) decided to take the car. I am always game for some interesting adventures every once in a while!

As it turns out, I travelled to Surat twice in the past month by car. The second time I had a choice and I preferred to take the car. It is what I saw in my first trip reinforced the second time around that this Tech Talk is about. Indian roads are changing, and with them, they are starting to change the way we travel.

Tomorrow: Cars and Choice