A layperson’s explanation of rel=nofollow: Twitter’s stuck, but Google’s being coy

While Google has the full right to build a product that serves its business interests, it’s intellectually dishonest to imply, via technical jargon, that it’s somehow Twitter’s fault that their links don’t show up in Google’s ‘social’ search.

I haven’t (yet) seen a good layperson explanation of what all this ‘rel=nofollow’ business is, so I’ll start with some background. Feel free to skip to the end if you’re an SEO expert 😉

So, what’s this rel=nofollow thing? (aka, what’s Google talking about?)

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Samsung to announce Swipeit, an Apple Airplay competitor, at CES 2012

On January 9, 2012, Samsung will announce their Apple Airplay competitor – the Samsung SwipeItat CES. SwipeIt works exactly like the Apple’s AirPlay. Watching a video on your smartphone and want to see it on the big screen? Just click a button and the video starts playing on your TV.

Samsung started pushing this application out to their internet-connected TVs on Jan 1, and increased the intensity this weekend, presumably to reach full coverage by the time CES hits monday.

Samsung's SwipeIt application is being pushed to all 2011 Samsung Smart TVs

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The ‘Coffee Break’ design philosophy: UI for Small Businesses

At Lexity, we’ve spent years talking with small businesses, understanding how they run their businesses. These lessons have been valuable to us in building our Advertising on Autopilot solution, and are instructive for all startups building tools and services for this market. In this occasional blog series, I’ll talk about a few of these lessons.

TL;DR: SMB products should be built such that your users can interact with it on their mobile devices, in 15-minute chunks of time.

The Time Fragmentation Problem

Inbox Overload a problem for ya? Try being in a small businessperson’s shoes for a day.

SMB managers are typically slammed with a hundred things vying for their attention. Most of these, unfortunately, are time-critical; so tackling them one at a time isn’t an option. Managers spend all day working on many things in parallel. With multitasking a given, most tasks get less than 15 minutes of their attention at a time – if they’re lucky!

This means any product built for SMBs needs to account for this time fragmentation problem.

No more than a Coffee Break

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Designing for varying attention spans (lessons from the Lexity launch)

When we relaunched Lexity recently, we got tremendous kudos for the new site design. ‘Sexy’, we heard. ‘Beautiful’ was a common refrain. ‘Effective’ too!

Well, we’re definitely very happy with the feedback so far – and I wanted to talk a bit about the thinking behind the rework.

When I first started fundraising for Lexity, I got sage advice to write the elevator pitch out in three different lengths –

  • 3 words (or 1 line) – for a quick soundbite
  • 1 paragraph – for a quick introduction at an event/party
  • 3 paragraphs – to use in an email introduction
This turns out to be excellent advice for more than just fundraising. Attention spans vary from person-to-person, even from time-to-time for the same person, so it’s always a good idea to thoughtfully design the delivery of your message, to suit your audience and their attention spans.

Applications to site design 

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Steve Jobs and me – a shared birthday and then some.

This isn’t a unique distinction – roughly 0.25% of the world’s population shares a birthday with Steve Jobs – but one of them is me.


Where I grew up in India, no Apple products were to be found – at all. And yet, I was an avid reader of MacWorld. The heroes of the industry were IBM and Microsoft – and yet, I was an Apple fanatic. Or a NeXT fanatic – frankly, whatever Steve was backing at any given time.

It’s hard to believe that the first time I touched a real Apple computer was in 1998, when I came to USC to study for my Masters. It was the feeling you get when you discover the love you knew existed, you just hadn’t met them yet. So it was for me with Apple, and with Abha, both relationships I developed while at USC.

I still remember going to the Palo Alto Apple Store in 2001 to check out the Titanium PowerBook G4 that had been released then. I asked how I could upgrade the memory – and the Geniuses just lifted the tabs on the keyboard to expose the SDRAM slots. I opened up a Terminal and tried out a few Unix commands – and it was like I was hacking on the Linux box at home. What a fantastic marriage of technology and design! I left that day with my first Apple product under my arms.

2001 was still early days for the new breed of the Mac faithful. I had one of the only two Apple laptops at Inktomi, in a sea of thousands of Windows machines. It’s hard to believe that today – when it seems in Silicon Valley, only people from other parts of the world carry Windows laptops.

In fact, when I was returning from India recently, with stopovers at multiple airports, I could estimate how far I was from the Silicon Valley by measuring the density of Apple laptops at the airports.

The nearest I came to Steve was in 2005, when I was at the Apple campus, on the floor where all the executives sat. I was being interviewed by Bertrand Serlet for a position managing the Mac OS X productivity apps, but I chose to join Yahoo! instead. I have often wondered if I made the right decision – today more than ever.

Like many others, Steve Jobs has inspired my professional journey. It’s only now settling in that I will never, ever be in the same room as my childhood hero.

On the personal front, my mother passed away a few weeks back – she was 57. My brother wrote a touching eulogy for her – better than I could ever have. Now Steve – my professional inspiration, has also moved on at the age of 56. These events put one’s life in perspective – I could have fewer years left on the planet then I’ve lived so far – it’s time to make them count.


(image credit)

Facebook vs Google+: How incumbent companies are fighting a battle of vision

Anything that’s a something of something isn’t anything of anything. – Lisa Simpson

Teaching a young puppy new tricks.

It’s remarkable that Facebook recognizes that it’s responsible for defining the Vision for social networking – and understands in a very deep way that the product it ships is merely a manifestation of this vision. This remarkable self-realization will be the core issue Google+ will have to grapple with.

Products are merely manifestations of Company Visions

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The User Experience of the upcoming Apple iCloudBook

Technology and trends are falling in place for Apple’s upcoming iCloudBook – a revolutionary laptop where the primary data storage is all on the iCloud – i.e. in the iCloudDrive, with the local Hard Drive just being a ‘working copy’.

In a previous post, I described new technologies that Apple has introduced in Mac OS X Lion, that portend the Apple Cloud Laptop – or what Om dubbed the iCloud Laptop.

In this post, I’d like to describe what the user experience for what I now call the iCloudBook might look like.

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