Productivity Tips

February 10, 2010

Interview on SEO Outsourcing by Kelvin Newman @ SiteVisibility

I was recently interviewed by Kelvin Newman @ SiteVisibility.

Here is the link:
http://www.sitevisibility.co.uk/blog/2010/02/09/a-crash-course-in-seo-outsourcing-offshoring-with-abhishek-rungta/

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February 21, 2009

How to have an economical stay in the UK (mainly London)?

United Kingdom (UK) is an expensive economy with high cost of living. For business visitors, it is important to have an economical and comfortable stay. Based on my experience, I am putting together some tips for fellow business travelers.

Hotel / Stay:

Accommodation in UK can vary between GBP 10 per night (for bunker beds) to GBP 300 (for five star hotels).

I have stayed in four star hotels (Thistle / Holiday Inn) as well as B&B in various locations like Kings Cross, Earls Court, Edgware Road and Kensington Gardens. I found the services in hotels to be very cold and indifferent.  I found Bed & Breakfast to be much more friendly, accommodating and economical. They charge between GBP 35 to GBP 60 per night and tops it up with a good homely English breakfast in the morning.

A good place to search for Bed & Breakfast in the UK is http://www.travelstay.com/

Internet:

Try to check if your Bed & Breakfast offers you free wireless Internet connectivity or not. Most of them do now a days. As a back up plan and to stay connected when you are traveling or in meetings, you can opt for 3G wireless broadband. I opted for 3-mobile and it works quite well. The dongle cost me GBP 60 initially and then I just need to top it up whenever I am visiting UK. Effectively I and up paying GBP 10 per month for connectivity.

Mobile:

You can get cheap Pay-As-You-Go sim cards at the airport. I have used Talkmobile which comes with long distance facility at very reasonable cost (the only funny part was that calling India was cheaper than calling a local number). They also have GPRS, so that you can access Internet through your mobile phone and check your emails on the move. I use it all the time and it works quite well. They have also started doing online-recharge after I ranted about it after my last trip on my blog 😉

Food:

Since, I prefer Indian vegeterian food, I find Masala Zone to be the best one. They provide a complete meal (the closest I have found to home cooked food in London) for under GBP 10. There are numerous eateries and restaurants. I do not think you can spend more than GBP 15-20 on your food unless you are in a mood to reward yourself for something!

Getting around:

The best way to get around London is its public transport system. Grab an Oyster card (even if you will stay inb London for a short duration), top it up with some money and use it everywhere. I find it most convenient and economical. If you plan to travel extensively on a given day, consider buying a day pass for less than GBP 6 and you will have unlimited travel on tube and bus (within couple of zones) for the day.

So, If you are smart, you can have a comfortable and enjoyable working stay in London quite economically. Try these tips next time you are around.

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September 4, 2008

Quillpad – Type in Indian regional languages

Today I came across an online tool called Quillpad.

This online software let you type in most Indian regional languages (including Hindi, of course). The quality of application and usability has blown me away! I think such applications will make vernacular content a reality on Internet.

This is how they describe their service:

Quillpad is a free online Hindi typing tool. Now it is very easy to type in Hindi. For example, type 'aap kaise hain' in the text field below. Quillpad will convert it directly into Devanagari script. If you write a word like 'vishesh', first sh should become 'श' and the second sh should become 'ष'. Quillpad will intelligently do that for you. No need to use shift keys or to memorize any key mappings. So 'राष्ट्रपति' can be written by typing 'rashtrapati' or 'raashtrapathi'. Quillpad can also predict if multiple words are possible for your input. You can click on the word to select from those options. In addition Quillpad allows you to type English words freely in between Hindi words. It intelligently transliterates them into Hindi.
(taken from their website)

It took me a minute (yes – just one minute) to get used to this tool and I was off to a flying start. In minutes, I managed to write this line in Hindi, which is near perfect.

मैने आज क्विलपॅड मे हिन्दी में टाइप किया. यह बहुत ही आसान है. इस तरह की आसान टाइपिंग सुविधा होने से कई लोग कंप्यूटर्स पे हिन्दी का उपयोग कर पाएँगे. क्विलपॅड के डेवेलपर्स तो मेरीशुभकामनाएँ.

I highly recommend this wonderful software.
Go use it and start typing in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati or Tamil. Feel free to post your experience with this software.

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April 3, 2008

Use EasyBM today to boost your productivity

I came across this rocking website called EasyBM (www.easybm.com), a FREE online service, which can help you in boosting your online productivity to new levels. I generally do not get excited about something so quickly. My exposure to new ideas and business plans make me immune to general ideas. But I got excited by the simplicity of the idea and how it can make life simpler for everyone.

Enough of social bookmarks, lets get personal!

This is a personal bookmarking website which gives you a 1-click access to your favorite websites, thus acting as your portal to Internet in the true sense. (If you don't believe me, check out the definition of portal). When you note a site URL on your private bookmarks page, only you can to access that shortcut. Your favorite sites appear on a password protected page and a result, only you (or someone you allow access to) can see which sites you have bookmarked. So these bookmarks become your personal bookmarks!

Social bookmarking is a great way to find and recommend interesting sites. But let us face the fact – You don't want to share all the information with everyone out there on the web. Let us consider some scenarios:

  • Access your Internet banking account
  • Research about a top-secret project which you cannot share with anyone
  • A valuable list of resources which you only want to share with *yourself* which helps you to be more effective in your job that your competitor

I am sure you will not like to share these website links with everyone out there! But, you do access them everyday – every time. So what do you do? The answer is simple – Personal Bookmarking.

Don't we have personal bookmarking in our browsers?

Now, you might think – Every web browser has personal bookmarking feature built in – then why do I need a service like EasyBM. Let me tell you – you still do need them for these simple reasons:

  • Your personal bookmarks are not available to you when you are not accessing Internet from your regular PC
  • You may lose those bookmarks when your PC catches virus
  • You cannot open "first bunch of sites" with 1-click. With EasyBM, you can!
  • You cannot make an organization-wide internal bookmarking system to collect knowledge at a central place using your browser bookmarks

And above all, you still need to click on "Favorites" and scroll down to the right site and click on that when you use a browser bookmark. So it is good for things that you do not need every-now-and-then! But EasyBM (once set as your homepage) opens with those selected bookmarks every time you open a new browser and is simply a click away!

I wish easyBM all the best and I am sure this nice little idea can make positive change to the way people use Internet.

P.S.: BTW, this is not a paid review. I don't do them. I only write about something when I really like it.

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March 28, 2008

The REAL Programmer automates his job

Just a random thought:

Programmers are supposed to use their programming skills to automate business process for their clients. Therefore, a good programmer should be one, who takes an initiative of automating his own work and never repeats the line of code he has written once 🙂 Charity begins at home!

Unfortunately I have hardly seen many such souls.

What do you think?

 

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March 24, 2008

How to generate exhaustive keyword combinations?

When creating an exhaustive keyword list for your AdWords / PPC campaigns, you might face a tedious job of creating all possible combinations by joining two words / phrases to cover the keyword that your prospect might key in. This can be a very frustrating experience.

Recently, I sumbled upon this website: http://www.imscripts.com/keywords

It can generate these keyword combinations in less than a second.

So if the keywords are:

  • web design
  • web design company

And the cities are:

  • kolkata
  • chennai
  • delhi

This tool will create these keywords:
 
web design kolkata
kolkata web design
web design company kolkata
kolkata web design company
web design chennai
chennai web design
web design company chennai
chennai web design company
web design chennai
chennai web design
web design company chennai
chennai web design company
 
So you could get valid and useful combinations!

Now think how much time this tool can save when you have to make a combination of 100s of keywords with 10-20 different "add on words" or "cities". So use this tool whenever you need to create the combinations!
 
This tool can also help by adding the {} and " " operators of Google Adwords if you want.

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November 27, 2007

Take a positive attitude to work

I often hear from people:

  • I hate my job.
  • I don't feel like going to work.
  • I have no excitement in my career. It is the same old grind.

This happens more so often because most people are doing things that they never wanted to do in their professional life. I have written about this problem in my post – Are you what you always wanted to be?

I suggest a three step solution for people who are stuck in such a situation!

1. Take a positive attitude to work.

Even if you want to change the big picture, you got to do what you are expected to do on the given day when you reach your workplace. You may hate the work, but you have to do it. Now, if you can take a positive attitude towards your current job and enjoy the same, you will have a good day at your workplace and you will feel satisfied and happy at the end of the day. If you keep cursing the world for putting in that position, you will end up feeling more frustrated and probably mess up the work that you are doing.

So, cheer up and take a positive attitude to work. Think of the ways your work makes a difference to others. It does. Else you would not have been doing it and your boss / client would not have been paying you to do the same. 

2. Visualize the value chain

Once you know, how your work helps the company / social setup in the bigger context, try to visualize the value chain. So you might like to find out what happens before and/or after you do your job. What is the value that the end consumer gets? Try to visualize the entire value chain and see where you fit in based on what you will like to do and the profile which can have maximum impact on the company / social setup where you want to contribute.

3. Make your moves

Once you have learnt to live your daily workday in a positive way and have visualized the area where you will like to see yourself in you can start making moves towards achieving the same. Please note that this should be closer to what you always wanted to be or should be able to derive similar level of satisfaction, else you may not feel the drive to achieve this new position.

You can start training yourself appropriately. Gather knowledge through books, Internet, friends, professional gatherings, etc.

With the appropriate knowledge, show your organization that you are capable of doing something better or more valuable than what you are currently doing. Everyone wants a proof-of-concept! Once you have proved your credibility and capability, you can surely find you way to reach your goal.

Take action.

 

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August 20, 2007

Learning in the age of information overload

Blogs have fueled the growth of peer-to-peer information flow in form of news, knowledge packets, ideas and individual point-of-views. However it has also resulted in "Information overload" which drives a normal person nut as he is at risk to wasting too much time reading the flesh before he reaches the crust.

Learning becomes more difficult as we face a situation where we have less time and most if it is wasted while absorbing the excess information and then an equal amount of effort (if not more) is required to skim the real message out of it.

A hot debate is going on at – http://guydz.com/moneypowerwisdom/?p=19

I personally think:

A summary can solve all the problem. There are people who understand the concept in few words. They hate to read through long articles to get that “dosage” of knowledge.

However, there are lots of people who might have difficulty in understanding the concept. There may be several people who might not accept a point of view unless backed with examples from real life.

Therefore both formats are required in my opinion.

Now the question is – On a media like blog, do we have enough time to summarize the ideas that we put together?

 What do you think?

 

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August 8, 2007

Paper napkin business plan

I have often seen people struggling with their business plan. I have a bit unconventional take on the subject. May be, because it has worked well for me till now. So here is what I sugget:

A business plan does help. However a business plan should be proportionate with the size of investment you are making or seeking.
 
So, if you are starting small and testing the waters, I will suggest you to have a “paper napkin business plan”. A plan which reminds you of –
 
1)    Your target audience,
2)    Your product range and
3)    Highlight the reasons why someone will buy the product / service from you. And, how will you achieve this?
 
I feel that this can be a mini-strategy document which will help you and these three things must be “thought upon” before venturing into anything.
 
You shall also put down in that paper –
 
1)    Your cash-flow statement (Expected revenues & expenses – both pessimistically an optimistically). You can use this to verify if you are on the right path or not?
2)    Your sales pitch! This is very important. If you are not convinced from your own sales pitch, no-one will be! Try to verify your sales pitch with friends you trust and take their feedback.
3)    Risks to your business and how you will mitigate them.
4)    Possible sources of acquiring business and how you want to prioritize and execute them.
5)    Possible sources of funds, if you really need them at one point of time.
6)    Some goals!
 
That’s it!
 
I think one can kick start a business from this “paper napkin business plan”. You can comfortably make it while you chew upon your favorite sandwich in the coffee shop.
Best of luck with your venture!

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December 20, 2006

Knowledge capsules – Fast start kits

In this age of information overload, it is nice to see some "read it – implement it" kind of quick start guides at http://www.faststartkits.com/

These guides are easy-to-read and are only 2-3 pages long. Most of them do not need you to have any background knowledge of the subject it covers as they are targeted towards newbie.

I personally used the Press Release Fast Start Kit and was able to come up with a professional press release within few hours on our "dedicated hiring model".

And yes, they are all free to download without any registration.

Keep it up – Arun!

 

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December 2, 2006

When Gmail makes life difficult

I am a big fan of Gmail because of its speed and simplicity. However Gmail makes life hell lot of difficult in some cases –

1. The Threading Bug
While threading, Gmail creates threads based on the "Subject" of the email. It should be "Subject" & "Sender/Reciepient". It is very cumbersome to sort out and read mails in reference when you are dealing with two or more people with the same subject.

It all gets jumbled up.

2.  Keyboard shortcuts
Some of the keyboard shortcuts are so "short" that they get pressed accidentally. This results in a terrible anxiety.

3. Stupid web clips
It is very common to see stupid web clips like "Spam potato salad". They do not make any sense and causes unwanted distraction.

I look forward to see these corrected very soon 🙂

Abhishek

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Google Answers is no longer accepting questions

I recently came across Google Answers (http://answers.google.com/answers/) and found that they are no longer accepting questions.

So Google closes down its Google Answers service. Though I did not sense this coming, but once I saw it, I felt this is a logical step Google has taken. I anticipate the following reasons:

1. Google does not want to concentrate its energy in "people intensive" business models as they are not very scalable. They are "technology focused" and backed with solid processing infrastructure.  They will like machines to do the work!

2. Google Answers is a pay-and-use model. This makes it "less popular" compared to free services available. Again the money Google makes out of it is so small that it does not make good business sense to continue with this.

Yahoo on the other hand has a free service which has gained much more popularity than Google Answers, putting up a tough competition.

3. I saw few answers which were very well researched and were done for only $10-$20. I doubt that they were done with an intention to make money. The fees was kind of a reward or a way to say "thank you". It was not purely business driven.

4. Google in itself is a "Answering machine" and therefore it does not need Google Answers! (as suggested by my colleague, Mukul)

Overall, I feel that Google Answers was not fitting into the long term strategy of Google and a stiff competition in the same market by Yahoo (which is a very successful in leading people backed systems dating back from its famous directory) made them retract from this business.

Links to few discussions:

http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum35/3728.htm
http://www.webmasterworld.com/goog/3171877.htm

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July 19, 2006

How to use Gmail to send and receive mails under your own domain name

Hi Folks,

Gmail is fast.
Gmail is easy to use.
Gmail is virus and spam free.
Gmail is web based and universally accessible.

But, for most internet users, the biggest turn off is the fact that you cannot use your own domain name with Gmail. In fact no free webmail service is known to me which provides this facility as on today.

However there is a workaround! You can use the "cool and fast" interface of Gmail and send/receive mails using your "professional" email ID using your own domain name.

  • Grab a domain name. Register it from any leading registrar
  • Host the domain on a reliable server
  • Create an Email account. Say you created yourname@yourdomainname.com
  • Open a Gmail account say yourname@gmail.com
  • Now you can set a forwarder in your server to forward all mails coming to yourname@yourdomainname.com to yourname@gmail.com. Thus you are keeping a copy of all incoming emails on your server and sending a copy to your Gmail account so that you can access it from there.
  • Now log into your Gmail account. Go to Settings => Accounts. Click on Add another email address. Enter yourname@yourdomainname.com email address there and confirm.
  • Now Google will send you a verification email. Since it will be sent to yourname@yourdomainname.com, it will be forwarded to yourname@gmail.com. So you can instantly check that and enter the validation code.
  • Once validated, you can again go to Settings => Account and mark this account as your default account.
  • Now, whenever you will send an email, it will go from yourname@yourdomainname.com even when you are sending it from your Gmail account. And of course all replies will come to your gmail interface as yourname@yourdomainname.com emails are forwarded there.

Enjoy the productivity enhancement Gmail offers to you without losing on your brand image.

Regards

Abhishek

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