Google Goggles–Google offers visual search

Wow! Google goes beyond web search and now allows users to search for information on objects in the real world. They launched a new product called Google Goggles which is a visual search app for Android phones. Instead of using words, take a picture of an object with your camera phone and the app will attempt to recognize the object, and return relevant search results. Check out the video for more.

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Google beefs up search, enhances mobile, introduces real-time results | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

Google has again beaten Yahoo and Bing to the punch with the impending launch of real time search of Twitter feeds, status updates and blog posts.

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Work. Online

Great video from Zoho: Work. Online. Music, Cast and most of the crew members are Zoho employees. Pre-production and Post-production was done by the employees of Zoho.

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A Billion for a Billion

If you’re reading this, you can make a difference. It starts with one person: https://www.wfp.org/donate/…

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Red Hat News | From Code to Community to Enterprise-Ready

Red Hat’s software development model relies on its active sponsorship of leading open source projects, including the Fedora Project, which produces the Fedora distribution. Fedora combines and showcases the latest in open source technologies anyone can download, use, and remix, and also serves as the technology foundation of Red Hat’s commercial products. By providing cutting-edge technology, Fedora helps advance the development of open source worldwide, and the technologies found in Fedora may be incorporated later into other Linux distributions as well.Ever wonder how great features make it from the community into enterprise-ready technology like Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Take a look at the video to learn more.

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Seth Godin and Tom Peters on Blogging

Why business gurus Tom Peters and Seth Godin blog. Really interesting and insightful.

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Interesting Service: Business Summaries

I’ve been using this new interesting service called Business Summaries, and basically what it does is it gives users access to business book summaries in PDF, Powerpoint, PDA, and HTML, and now even in Mindmap, Video and Audio formats. Its specially well suited for folks who need quick doses of ideas and insights from some of the leading business book authors today.

I find the service particulary useful as I am an avowed business book junkie. Just check out my collection here.  I often don’t have the time (nor the resources) to buy all the books I want, and the summaries *in some cases but not always) offer a good substitute.  If there is a book I really want, I use it to get a feel of the content to see if its really worth it. For those books I already own, I use it to very quickly remember the key points of the books specially if I want to share the ideas to my colleagues (here the Powerpoint and Mindmaps are useful).

Their selection of titles is impressive, just some of the summaries available when you sign up include such best sellers such as:

Inside, books can be searched by Title, Author and Category. When you access a summary, you are presented with links to the PDF, HTML, Powerpoint, PDA, Mindmap, Audio and Video formats as well. The site also offers a daily summary sent via email.

I wish though they would have made the sign up process a little easier (I had to hunt around the website to find out more information about their different packages). Perhaps more thought and work into making the site more usable would be helpful here–as the pages seem to me were designed for maximum search engine friendliness and not human friendliness. While the website is not as slick and feature-rich as the sites from other similar services such as getAbstract and SoundView, it offers a nice balance of features and content for the price. Overall its a good value.

Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino

Microsoft Exchange is a messaging and collaboration platform that has quickly gained adoption among many corporate organizations, specially those who have standardized on Microsoft Windows Server for their infrastructure. It brings in one package many enterprise features including messaging (using its own proprietary MAPI/RPC protocol or open standard protocols such as POP3/IMAP and SMTP), shared calendaring, resource management, directory services (LDAP/AD) and many others. In later releases, it has added web access, mobile sync (supports Windows mobile, Blackberry, Android devices) clustering, and high availability features making it suitable for large organizations and mission-critical deployments. If deployed and integrated with other products from Microsoft‘s suite of server solutions such as Sharepoint (for collaboration, document management and workflow) and OCS (unified communications and collaboration), Exchange can be a formidable platform for any vendor to match.

Lotus Domino on the other hand has been around earlier, and is still used in many organizations who have decided to deploy corporate groupware solutions early on with Lotus Notes. Like Exchange, it is a messaging and collaboration platform but in addition is also an application development platform commonly used for forms-based or workflow applications. In recent releases, IBM has made Domino an extensible platform with document management services, portal services, unified communications and collaboration (with Lotus Sametime), and others.

Both platforms are mature and have enjoyed wide use in many corporate deployments. Lotus Domino has the advantage of being in the market earlier, while Exchange enjoys the advantage of having an excellent and ubiquitous client in Microsoft Outlook and great integration with Microsoft’s market-leading products.

However, customers looking for an alternative from the open source community or commercial open source vendors are in luck as there is now a host of choices. On top of standard messaging and collaboration features, many of them bundle a ton of other features and functionality, such as built-in antispam and antivirus, file or document management, cross-platform support (ie can often run on both Windows and Linux) and many others. In this post, I’ll try to list down the well known enterprise-ready alternatives and rate them based on their features, extensibility and adoption. Let’s get started:

  • Citadel. I got to know of Citadel from mailing lists and recommendations of some uses from message boards, forums and social networking sites. I haven’t tried Citadel but from what I was able to gather from their website, it seems Citadel has been around for a long time, making it a mature product in terms of features. It supports messaging (support for POP3/IMAP/SMTP), group calendars and address books, but in addition offers instant messaging, mailing list management, and bulletin board-style forums. It also bundles open source antispam and antivirus solutions SpamAssassin and ClamAV respectively. Notable is its support for the GroupDAV protocol (a subset of WebDAV), which makes it a great choice if you will be using open source clients as well such as Thunderbird, KDE Kontact, Evolution and others. A notable disadvantage is lack of support for syncing calendar and task information in Outlook. Lack of built-in clustering and high availability features may be a  problem for some organizations, although a knowledgeable Linux admin can compensate for this. With its support for GroupDAV and light hardware requirements, Citadel makes a great choice for organizations comfortable with open source or companies who want to extend the life of old server hardware. I would be hard pressed to recommend this for large enterprise deployments however where support, ease of use, and ease of maintenance and management are more important considerations than features.
  • Horde Groupware Webmail Edition. Horde is really a web application framework with Horde Groupware as a project showcase of what is possible with the framework. It is actually a mail client, with the mail and identity management pieces being handled by Postfix, Dovecot, Sendmail and OpenLDAP. Horde Groupware is widely used by many web hosting providers as a hosted groupware solution for customers and is bundled by some Linux distribution vendors (such as ClarkConnect) as their collaboration solution. Because of its roots as an application development framework, Horde can easily be extended and is really a collection of different integrated modules. Besides messaging, different modules handle calendaring, task management, mailing list management, antivirus and antispam (via SpamAssassin and ClamAV), along with file management, photo gallery, forums, memos, wikis and many others. Syncing data with Outlook is possible via 3rd party plugins, and it readily supports other open source clients as well such as Thunderbird, Evolution and others. My criticism against Horde is its dated User Interface versus the other choices here with their slick and snappy AJAX-powered front-ends. Another is the complicated and time consuming set up the various components (ie Postfix and others) Horde modules–admins might be better served getting a pre-packaged solution in place. Overall Horde, like Citadel, is a great choice for organizations with experienced Linux admins, who want to extend the life of old server hardware and want a feature-rich and mature solution. I would be hard pressed to recommend this for large enterprise deployments however where support, ease of use, and ease of maintenance and management are more important considerations than features.
  • OpenGroupware/InstantOGO. OpenGroupware also has a rich and long past. It was originally a commercial project which was later spun off to open source project was later spun off and called OpenGroupware. Like many here it supports messaging, group calendars and address books, scheduling and task management, support for GroupDAV, CalDAV, and LDAP out of the box, file and document management and many others. Its a pre-packaged solution and is relatively easy to set up and configure. The commercial version offers support for Outlook sync, as well as commercial support. Definitely a mature, feature-rich solution that is in many ways a good choice for midsized to large organizations.
  • Open-Xchange. Open-Xchange is a messaging and collaboration server that is OEMed by many service providers because of its rich features, slick webmail client and ease of setup and use. It supports many open standards protocols and supports Outlook sync via a commercial extension. Originally a commercial product that was bundled with Novell’s Linux Messaging product (SuSE Linux Open-Xchange or SLOX), it features messaging, group calendars/addressbook and scheduling, identity management (support for LDAP and AD), document management, portals,  and more. Recent releases highlight its social networking capabilities with the ability to share information with Social Networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. It will also soon feature support for mobile clients via Exchange’s Active Sync technology. The software is available as a community-supported product, a commercially-supported product, a turnkey appliance or as a hosted instance. Definitely a mature, feature-rich solution that is in many ways a good choice for midsized to large organizations.
  • Scalix. Scalix is also a relatively new player that from the get-go targetted the entreprise market early on. It was originally developed on top of HP OpenMail, and was licensed from HP. On top of standard messaging and groupware features it supports a lot of enterprise-grade functionality such as LDAP and AD support, high availability, multi-tenant management, support for Outlook sync and mobile devices, and many others. It features a nice, slick webmail client, but supports Outlook and mobile devices, on top of other open source clients such as Evolution, Thunderbird and many others. It was recently bought by Xandros and is now offered as a hosted instance, commercial turn-key product or a community-supported downloadable product. Because of its rich features, it should be considered as a contender in any enterprise deployment.
  • Zarafa. Zarafa is a relatively new player that is being marketed as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange. That means you can replace your existing Exchange installation with Zarafa and your existing Outlook clients and mobile devices wouldn’t know the difference. It supports Outlook’s MAPI protocol as well as the ActiveSync protocol for mobile devices. It has a slick webmail which mimics the look and feel of Outlook Web Access, and makes available a nice set of APIs so third party developers can integrate and sync data with the platform. Some popular open source applications that can sync data with Zarafa include SugarCRM (CRM) and Alfresco (document management). It is available in community as well as commercial versions, with some of the more advanced features only available in the commercial editions. The nice thing though is that the Outlook sync, unlike many here, is available as well in the community supported (ie FREE) version. Its rich feature set, compatibility with Outlook, ease of use and management ensures that this solution should be on the short list looking for a lower cost alternative to Microsoft Exchange.
  • Zimbra Collaboration Suite. Zimbra’s entry is the most interesting in that they really rethought the architecture and design of a groupware product. Zimbra is positioned as messaging and collaboration 2.0 with its mashup platform (via Zimlets which allow the product to share and sync data with third-party data sources and service providers) and its slick AJAX-powered webmail and offline client. On top of this, they still offer standard messaging and collaboration features, along with many high-end, enterprise-grade features (only available in their commercial product) such as LDAP and AD support, high availability, archiving, support for Outlook sync and mobile devices, and many others. Like Scalix, the company was recently bought by Yahoo and is now offered as a hosted instance, commercial turn-key product or a community-supported downloadable product. Like Zarafa, integration with other open source products exist like SugarCRM, Alfresco, Asterisk (IP-based PBX) and XMPP (instant messaging). Like Open-Xchange and Scalix, definitely should be on the short list for any midsized to large company looking at deploying a collaboration platform. Its extensibility and rich UI make it a good choice for companies looking for a platform to integrate with form-based and workflow applications making it my choice for companies wishing to look for an alternative to Lotus Domino.

Anything I missed? Let me know by posting a comment. Comments and suggestions are welcome!

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Freemium: The first business model of the 21st century : News & Interviews videos : ZDNet Asia

At the Revenue Bootcamp Conference in Mountain View, Calif., Chris Anderson, author of “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”, discusses how different companies use the free-to-premium, or freemium model to not only make money, but often keep customers at a higher rate than fully paid services. There are many economies–ones of status, time, information and more–and the trick is to get people to trade their money for one of them. (from ZDNet)

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Professional Social Networking

Interesting ad from IBM on Social Networking for Business.

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