Saturday, July 19, 2008

From India... a trio of canny Web tools

From India... a trio of canny Web tools

Anand Parthasarathy

Photo: Anand Parthasarathy

HARNESSING THE WEB: New Indian online resources reach out to a global
Net community.

Bangalore: Indian innovation is increasingly centred around what is
known as Web 2.0, the Internet's Second Coming, where the user is in
more effective control of content, and the way it is deployed.

The week gone by, saw at least three innovative new extensions to the
Web experience, which The Hindu has put to the test before sharing
details with readers of this page.

Based in Gurgaon, iXiGO is a travel search engine created just one
year ago by a small group of IIT and management graduates. On Friday,
they unveiled what they claim, is India's biggest hotel search
service, encompassing over 6,000 establishments, across 400 Indian
towns; trawling 40 of the best hotel and hostel price comparison
sites. Among the bigger Web resources covered are the Travelguru hotel
network; Inasra, a Chennai-based aggregator and HostelWorld, a
specialist who concentrates on budget accommodation favoured by
international 'back packers' and students.

We tried out IXiGO's hotel search facility. It usefully turns up some
facilities not covered by most hotel search engines in India — like
home stay addresses and service apartments. For reservation, it links
to Travelguru. Another useful feature is the ability to check if any
customers have given feedback at review sites like HolidayIQ and
OKTataByeBye. What we missed is a filter in the opening search menu
that would allow us to specify the type of accommodation we are
looking for and a price band. (

* * *

Those who prepare PowerPoint-type presentations, either as lecture
material or to support a job application, know the hassles of sending
them by e-mail: such files can be very bulky … and most email clients
rarely permit attachments larger than 10 MB.

A Chandigarh-based computer science and mass communications graduate,
Umesh Sharma, has helped create a web resource called AuthorStream ( which is essentially a platform for sharing
presentations on the Internet. Once registered, a user can use the
free resource to upload as many presentations (currently in PowerPoint
format), as often as one likes — and this is the nice part — each of
them can be up to one GB in size!

The site will also help you format it as a slide show, YouTube video
or an iPod file using the iTunes format. Once uploaded, the owner gets
to decide with whom to share it — everyone or selectively among
friends who can be authorised. It is also a great way to post one's
resume as a presentation or a video — and in effect tell a prospective
employer: "I'm Web 2.0-ready. Are You?"

* * *

The final Web tool this week is possibly the most elaborate — a
full-fledged virtual classroom where both teachers and students can
benefit from a range of tools: paint brushes to create art work; an
electronic 'white board', audio and video sharing; PowerPoint

All sessions are recorded for future reuse; live chat allows teachers
and students to interact. The basic structure is entirely free — but
there is nominal annual charge for premium services where teachers
have fuller control. It is called WiziQ ( ) and works
with all standard PC systems, Windows, Mac and Linux. Founded by
Harman Singh, this truly innovative educational resource, like
AuthorStream, is Chandigarh-based and has seen investment from the
Educomp group. All three Web services are crafted in India — but it is
obvious even from a superficial look, that in this borderless, virtual
world, users are everywhere — and these are indeed tools for the
world, only incidentally , 'made in India'.

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