Category Archives: technology

ZipDial plugs hole in its verification service

One of the emails from themorpheus email list that caught my attention last week was how @bevenky found a hole in the ZipDial’s phone number verification process. ZipDial for those who don’t know was in news recently for signing up some big ticket Indian e-commerce players and TutorVista to end their vows(in sending verification SMS’s) anticipated to occur because of TRAI’s revised guidelines applicable from 1st April.

I’ve been following the conversations on Venky’s Blog Post and was glad to note that ZipDial team’s response to the pointed flaw changed from ‘It doesn’t really matter’ to ‘Thanks for sharing the flaw, we’ve made the suggested changes to fix it’

It’s a good idea for companies(especially startups) to acknowledge the flaws in their offerings and try to fix ’em rather than proclaiming “All’s Well” when it is not.

Samsung Jet Bloggers Meet

As mentioned before Brands in India have started to open direct communication channels with bloggers for sharing a sneak preview of their new products and getting some community insights among other things. Samsung  also took a formal plunge into direct conversations with bloggers in the form of ‘Samsung Jet Bloggers Meet’ (#sjbm). Samsung called upon select bloggers and mobile enthusiasts from the town to share more about their latest phone ‘Samsung Jet’. Jet is a smart and powerful phone with loads of interesting features. You can checkout their microsite for more details on the phone (and in case the site takes too much time to load, you can checkout the specs here.

After the introduction by a professional (and good looking 😉 ) emcee, Sarfaraz Borah, Product Manager, Samsung  kickstarted the session by showing a demo video for ‘Samsung Jet’ and then explaining its features in details while answering audience questions in between. While Sarfaraz was explaining the new model in all seriousness, a caricature artist (which was hired by organizers) was busy making interesting caricatures of the guests, btw here’s mine (How’s it ?)


The talk by Sarfaraz was followed by a quick summary of the whole thing by Ankur (Digital Marketing Manager – Samsung) and the summary was followed by a quick Tweet Q & A competition regarding the Jet presentation. @praval was the lucky winner and managed to closely beat @twilightfairy to get Jet as a prize. With another phone left to give away there was a lucky draw in which @twilightfairy, true to her name, pulled off a great trick and picked her self as the winner.

It was really nice meeting the blogger folks and friends over beer and snacks at the meet @ TGIF.  Thanks Samsung, Starcom and Blogworks for the nice event

PS: In case you missed the meet, I shall try to make pre-event posts for future events.

Google Analytics Conference in Gurgaon: 8th August

Hey Guys,

Wanted to share the news that there’s going to be a Google Analytics Conference under Google’s “Conversion University” in Gurgaon next month.


The speakers for the conference include

conference_speakersYou can checkout the complete list here.

The event is completely FREE of charge. You can Register on the website and your attendance will be confirmed by email a week before the event. The invite is non-transferable and there will be no spot registration.

Here’s the agenda for the conference


Date: 8th August

Place: Gurgaon

Venue:  Google India Pvt Ltd, 8th and 9th Floors, Tower C Building No.8, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, India.


Checkout for more details

Television Banking: ICICIActive on DishTV

Got this email from ICICI bank yesterday about launch of what they call “Tevelision Banking”.  All that the email contained was this image.


To be honest this is the first time I heard the term “Television Banking” and I found the proposition intriguing.

Just when you can’t seem to figure out why are most banks/branches closed on a sunday ? or why a cheque deposited on a Thursday afternoon won’t be credited till Monday morning ?, this innovative new concept from a bank seems cool and definitely useful.

Here’s a visual walkthrough of what happened after clicking the link for online demo.

Screen 1


Did you notice the URL for this page?

Screen 2


Screen 3


Screen 4

This gives you fair idea of what “Television Banking” is all about. Also, the ability to pay your dishtv subscription from your ICICI bank using your TV is definitely useful.

While not everyone might need this, but the sheer thought of banking(though limited) on your TV while lying in your bed at any time of the day, wants you to give it a try.

What do you think ?

Marketing Case Study: Tata Nano

Tata Nano

Tata’s Nano is not a car, it’s a PHENOMENON. Tata Nano is undoubtedly being looked upon as the next big(actually small) thing. With a lot at stake on Nano, it’s success is extremely crucial. Let’s delve into what all has been to market(online+offline) the car of the year.

Online Marketing:

1) Website:
A website dedicated to Tata Nano was up and running since January last year. The website saw huge spurts in traffic when it was the website was released and when the car was launched.

Traffic for tatanano.comThe folks at Tata have a done a good job at building a beautiful website which experience wise is also good.

Nano Website
The major sections of the site are
a) Galary (both pictures and videos)
b) Game(rather Link to a nice virtual driving game by Zapak)
c) Community
d) Why Nano?
e) Booking Details

The website is quite informative and easy to navigate while the chat feature is either programmed or buggy. The site also has a forum which is slightly active and has no signs of involvement by officials from Tata.

2) Social Media:
There are definitely some efforts to use social media to market the car. Not sure if there’s an elaborate strategy behind it all but here’s what’s being done.

a) Blog:
Though it’s certainly a step in right direction but clearly it’s a semi baked and half hearted effort with just two posts on the blog(managing 71 and 20 comments respectively) and no official replies to the conversation.

b) Orkut:
Orkut is one of the most popular social networking platforms in India and thus an obvious choice to pitch. There’s a user profile for Nano which has a few pics and videos and has around 350 friends. Also, there’s a group dedicated to the care which has around 11,000 members. The group was started back in May, 08.

c) Facebook:
Facebook is also a top networking site amongst Indians and there are some attempts to market Nano here too. There’s a fan page for the car with about 6000 fans, a few videos and picture albums. Here again the interaction levels from company reps are quite low(if at all).

d) YouTube:
There’s also a YouTube channel for Tata Nano which has some 78 subscribers and has managed to generated more than 10,000 views on videos of the car.

3) Online Booking:
There was also a lot of buzz surrounding online bookings for the car, I am not sure if this idea was implemented on Tata Nano’s site but it did definitely generate a lot of excitement on the web in general.

4) Nano Game:
Tata Nano Game
As mentioned previously, the game by Zapak was a great move to spread word about the car and it seems to have really worked well in doing it’s job. There are a lot of claims that the game has been played millions of times since its launch. It’s a simple and easily accessible game, which anyone with a browser and internet connection can play.

5) Online Advertisements:
nano_ad_iciciThe blogosphere and indian media sites were inundated with ads for Tata Nano. The ads came in all shapes and sizes and were definitely noticed. Though not directly a part of marketing, it’s an important aspect of Nano’s promotional campaign.

Offline Marketing

1) Collaborations:
As a part of their strategy to avoid premium for booking Nano, Tata partnered with a few banks for releasing application forms. Though the reason behind the move was different, it did help a lot in marketing Nano as the banks used their resources to market their collaboration with Tata to attract more and more applicants. ICICI bank for example initiated a whole campaign to get noticed and spread the word. had a banner ad on their home page for booking Nano, and also ran links inside the site for the same. Not only this, the banks hired extra part time staff to book the Car. Roping banks like ICICI and SBI helped in also offering loans for total payment of car and infact to surprise of sum Tata announced a bank interest on the applications for Nano which will be rejected in lucky draw.

2) Mall Promotions:
As is the case with most automobile companies, Tata too ran a series of promotional activites on Malls to get Nano in front of perspective buyers.

3) Leveraging Existing Infrastructure:
Tata, a giant brand that it is has also leveraged it’s umbrella groups to market Nano. Now you can find Nano <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>

merchandise, application forms and demo cars in Tata Indicom,Titan, Croma and Westside stores. Tata Indicom is also offering a money-back offer with every application form.

4) TV
Though Tata didn’t invest heavily into TV commercials, they did get a few channels to use the word ‘nano’ instead of small wherever possible. For instance, instead of anchors saying ‘we’ll be back after a short break’ on TV channels, they’re saying, ‘We’ll be back after a nano break.’

These are some of the marketing campaigns/tactics that I could find about Tata Nano, if you think I’ve missed something, just drop a comment and I’ll update the post.

You can also download this post as a PDF  for future reference, Download

Barcamp Delhi 4

After a painfully long wait and being postponed atleast a couple of times
Barcamp is finally back in town for Delhities respite. Delhi is not particularly
known for its Barcamp culture but seems things are in for a change starting this
time around.

For the uninitiated Barcamp is an unconference where all sorts of people come
in for all sorts of reasons (freebies, free wifi included) . Those who are willing
to present/speak on a topic simply add their names in the wiki and they are
allocated a time slot to present. Though most attendees are related to
software/internet the event is just not restricted to it, barcamp bangalore 6(BCB6)
being the perfect example which had participation from all sorts of people from
Internet Junkies to Social Activists.

If you are either a geek, blogger, internet junkie, entrepreneur BCD4 is the place
to be.

BarcampDelhi 4 takes place on 17th of may at

Amity Innovation Incubator
Auditorium, Block C, Amity University Campus
Sector 125, Noida

Hoping to see you all there..

Websites have Cultures too….

Ever wondered why different websites despite being of the same genre
appear/feel differently ? or why your own behavior differs from site to site?

Well the case in point being that all websites across the web consciously or unconsciously develop cultures and subcultures just like it happens elsewhere when a group of people interact with each other over a period of time.

Consider the following examples

Case1: Orkut

I’ve always felt that people(ones I know) spend a lot of time “filling the profile info” and often even more time “maintaining/updating profile info regularly”. It might be necessary in some cases but if you are just there to stay in touch with people you know its not necessary at all but still lots of people(old and new) tend to do it.

Case2: Facebook

I haven’t used Facebook much so in this regard the only thing that stands out is “Adding new apps” and “Requesting others to use new apps”. Every time I log in there are a dozen new requests to try new apps and that’s probably because this viral behavior has really got into the users and seems no signs of stopping.

How a Culture gets developed:

Culture development is a two way process. While in most cases it comes downwards from the top in some systems(emergent) it rises bottoms up. Generally the culture developed by the initial users of the site continues to grow with more people joining and unconsciously following the experienced users behaviors thereby strengthening the existing culture.

What can you do about it ?

Either you consciously develop a culture “Top down” in a planned/phased manner or keep an eye on the small/mini behavioral usage patterns, facilitate them and guide them upwards. This can be done by say adding new features or re-designing the existing ones to make them more available. I feel the features to “push out profile updates” to friends and in your face options to “invite friends to use apps” respectively have helped a lot in setting the above mentioned trends.

A simple example of “Top down” culture that I can think of(and I’ve used) is say you have a website and you want the users to upload their profile pictures instead of continuing with the default ones. One way it can work is say if all the initial user(100 or so) have uploaded their profile pictures then someone whose new to the site might upload a picture straightaway and it stays the same way going forward.

This behavior is quite natural and common as most new users don’t want to look new/naive/different, gain acceptability and become a part of the crowd so they’ll follow the established behavior without making much noise. However simple and obvious it may sound if it happens right it can do wonders for a site consider a social networking site(a friend told me about) where almost all users have provided their mobile numbers despite them not being mandatory. Sounds scary but then its not impossible.

Solaris Packaging Basics

This post intends to serve as a basic introduction/guide for Solaris Packages.

Package Basics:
A package is a collection of directories and files needed by a software product to run. A package contains product objects(app files that need to be installed) and control files(information files and installation scripts) that control what goes where and how.

Creating a Package:
To create a Package you need at least three objects namely “pkginfo” & “prototype” files and “package objects”.

pkginfo: contains the meta data for the package like name, desc, and destination for package objects(BASEDIR) it looks like:

NAME=Demo package for solaris

more on creating pkginfo files here

prototype: contains an entry for each package object detailing their destination path, entry(ies) for source path of those objects and an entry for each installation script.
sample prototype file:

i pkginfo=./pkginfo
i preinstall
i postinstall
!search SOURCE_DIR
d none /etc/ 0755 user other
f none /etc/demo-file.conf 0644 user other
f none /etc/demo-file2.conf 0644 user other
d none /var/log/demo-app 0644 user other

Line 1 specifies the path for information and installation files(all files are on same level here).
Line 2 and 3 signify that two scripts namely preinstall and postinstall are to be included in the package and executed before and after installation of package respectively.
Line 4 specifies the directory where the files mentioned in next two lines will be found
Note: The search is limited to the specific directories listed and does not search recursively.
Line 8 will create the directory demo-app in /var/log.
do “pkgproto ./SOURCE_DIR/ > prototype” to create a basic prototype file(replicating SOURCE_DIR’s structure)

more on prototype file here

do “pkgmk -o” to build the package (once built the packages go to “/var/spool/pkg”)

Installing Packages:
login as root and do “pkgadd” and choose the package you need to install.

GZipping Packages:
move to /var/spool/pkg and do
“tar -cf – DemoPackage | gzip -9 -c > DemoPackage.1.pkg.tar.gz”


1) It would be a better option to write a script that generates “pkginfo” & “prototype” files and builds the package.
2) I wrote such a script in python that
a) reads a config file(using ConfigParser) containing meta data for package.
b) calls a shell script that makes the “pkginfo” file using pkgproto command(and parameters sent by py script) and creates a temp prototype file replicating a directory which has all the directories and files that need to be ported.
c) append multiple “!search SOURCE_DIR” to accommodate sub directories(I couldn’t find a cleaner way).
d) make changes to the destination paths for individual files that need to go to custom locations.

1) Official Documentation