Escaping The Boring “Happy Birthday” Pattern!

With over 500 friends on Facebook, my school batch on WhatsApp & Fb group; My IIT batch on WhatsApp and other active social contacts, each day I am witness to countless”Happy Birthday” messages posted on Facebook, WhatsApp and other digital forums. Tens and sometimes hundreds of folks post “Congratulations” when someone announces an accomplishment or special day.

Surely, life would be much better for the sender and the recipient if we could post customized, personalized, graphically rich messages instead of the boring, monotonous and repetitive plain vanilla text messages. Surely one is not simply posting out of habit or peer pressure but out of love and concern and engagement with the party, no?

But how does one do this without taking a great deal of time and effort? Some folks do spend the time to scout for interesting cakes or pictures and their messages always seems to stand out and be appreciated. Wont it be great if we could enable everyone to create personalized visual message cards/ greeting cards that could be posted quickly ? Wont it be great if we could bring curious, fun, playful images together with all the images a user has stored on the internet services and let them use these images in their cards?

Here is a small attempt at moving in this direction. ThotofU was launched last year as a “Birthday” greeting app but we realized that it has a wider horizontal use-case, make custom greeting cards for any occasion.

So take out the boredom from your “Happy Birthday” and/or “Congratulations” messages and just use ThotOfU to design beautiful cards that can be shared via Facebook, WhatsApp or even email.Try it and see how other friends “like” your creative expressions.

It takes less than 5 minutes to create and post a card. Simply choose a card template; select & scale a picture, type your message, set size, font, color and placement of the message and your card is ready to be sent! We have a large gallery of pics that can be used for any occasion, whether your Thot is smart, quirky or serious. And we are expanding the gallery all the time.

Sign-up and get 50 credits sign-on bonus. Use the credits to buy pictures from our library for use. When your credits are exhausted, you can buy new credit points and use the points to purchase pictures that you like. Once you purchase a picture, it can be used unlimited times. Very soon, we will let you pick your pictures from any social network and any photo storage service as well.


Updated for the Android Play Store at this time (iOS update coming soon).

Push Notifications for a News Application

What should be the policy for push notifications for a news app? With early each app sending push notifications most users have the ubiqutous “red star” on most apps on their devices. Does sending a notification for every new story make sense? Does sending a summary notification make sense? Should we think of customized, personalized notifications.

Here’s a quote from a friend I think of highly as a good thinker of new tech.

“I have stopped following any press these days. No news channels nor economic times or any such information now. For me most news has become non-actionable. The media content has become exponential both from generated content or syndicated content standpoint. After sifting through pages of content you are still trying to find the actionable items in those. I have started following social media and have started calling some of my connections JENA (Just Enough News Agent). The job of this person is to tweet around what he has read and if you have a few good connections they provide you a pretty descent exposure to the filtered new events. ”

How do we make the notification actionable. What sort of news content is actionable?

In past articles, we have talked about building inNews as an aggregator that determines the BIG news at this time based on the volume and velocity of news articles on that story line and presents the top news with all related articles. It seems logical then to offer a customized, personalized option to the user to choose to receive notifications which will bring to focus the BIG news at that time so the user can check it out. But what will make it actionable? Can we link the notifications to the temporal value of news consumption?

As a user, I may be interested in the top news in the morning to know and also to re-affirm my knowledge of the top news stories from the previous day; by mid-day as I want to catch up on any major breaking stories during the day (especially financial or political) and end of the working day so I have a mental framework for catching up on the news in the evening as needed.

So if we link curiosity about the “news of the day” with the temporal and offer an option to the user to choose which notifications she is interested in, can we bring new value to the user? The answer of course lies in offering the solution to the user and testing the hypothesis.

Coming up in the next inNews release: personalized push notifications bringing you the top news of the morning, mid-day and evening. So that you stay abreast of news. And we get to see you daily. Stay tuned.


Week-end Musing: Why Do Indian Music Apps Show Hindi Film Songs in English Text?

Have you wondered why all the great hindi film music on computers, mobile use English (phonetic) to present song titles ? Whether it is YouTube or Gaana or Spotify or any other service, it is common to see English script being used for hindi film songs.

As Gabbar would say, “बहुत बेइंसाफी है”. At Pariksha Labs, we think it is time we fixed this. It is time India adopted Hindi more widely on its computers and mobile. It is time Indian people moved to more natural language on computers and mobiles. Its time we included the non-english speakers, a large majority into the circle. Its time we #DesignedForIndia.

Stay tuned for some big news next week from our music app ‘Filmi Filmy”. क्यों, बात पसंद आई ?

Can Automated Text Summary Technology Work For News ?


Well, judge for yourself. The summary below is of a recent new story of a Pakistan trained doctor who has been forced to sell shoes in Ahmedabad. The summary has been produced by our automated engine that we plan to integrate with our News app, “inNews: The Big News Now”. Coming soon.


Pakistan trained doctor sells shoes in Ahmedabad

He fled to Ahmedabad in 2006 fearing for the safety of his family. Without the MCI’s permission to practice, these doctors often work in pharmacies or even mobile repair shops – all for a pittance. Most of the Pakistani doctors fled to Gujarat for safety. In Ahmedabad, he works at his cousin’s mobile store right next to the airport.


Do share your feedback.

Why Mobile News Must Break Away From Source->Category->Story Format


Mobile users exhibit an entirely new way of consuming news stories, different from printed newspapers and even web-based news portals. Mobile users glance at their devices multiple times a day; they need to know the BIG, trending, breaking news and quickly see all the stories related to this news on the mobile device. They want the option to read detailed stories but only if there is significant interest. They are looking to share big, breaking news with their social and professional networks quickly to establish their own social brands.

Meeting this need requires a new way to present mobile news. The existing apps, both single brand news readers and/or news aggregator apps simply convert the printed/web style news to mobile instead of recognizing this fundamental difference for the mobile user. The result is that users must use multiple apps, visit multiple feeds and go thru multiple stories to identify the top stories and understand all points of view on the story. Even aggregator apps present news in the old catalog style: source->category->story. The user has to do all the hard work of browsing, move between many screens and takes a good amount of time to get a sense of what is truly trending.

In an age where computing is cheap, storage is cheaper and text processing is advanced, it makes no sense to follow old models for news presentation. News presentation must change and exploit the technological capabilities.

Check out our news reader, inNews (available on both App Store and Play Store) to get a fresh perspective on news reader. Why do the hard work of going thru 20 sites to figure out the BIG news when “there is an app to do that” 🙂


App Store:

Play Store: