A guide to online data plotting

 

When you’re dealing with complex data, visualization tools can help you simplify it and, more importantly, spot key trends and gain new insights

Shweta Taneja

 

Sales figures, consumer behaviour and market research – the work we do often involves understanding and communicating a lot of complex information. To make good decisions, you need to be able to understand the data, and quickly. Visualization tools can simplify data, and make it easier to understand and spot key trends.

According to Deloitte’s “Tech Trends 2011: The Natural Convergence of Business and IT” report released in March, data-visualization tools were the fastest developing area in software last year.

Data in, graphic out: Visual representations of data are easier to understand.

Data in, graphic out: Visual representations of data are easier to understand.

“Data visualization compresses information quickly,” says S. Anand, 37, chief data scientist, Gramener, a Hyderabad-based data-visualization company. “For example, in a chart, a bar can give you a data set with its height, colour and thickness, so you have already compressed a table with three columns into one graph,” he explains. “A 40-page report can easily be converted into a single page of graphics.” By doing this, a large amount of data becomes easily accessible, and trends and highlights are easy to pick out, compared to a table of numbers.

“Data-visualization tools are typically designed to highlight relevant insights, rather than just present raw data as in a dashboard,” explains Stewart Langille, co-founder, Visual.ly, a new online visualization tool. Another useful aspect of viewing data as visuals is that you can highlight the information that’s really important and even get newer, completely unexpected insights into the data sets.

Like the idea? We list some of the most innovative online data-visualization tools:

Tableau Public

Website:www.tableausoftware.com/public

After you install the software, you enter the data either as a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access) or text file with tab spaces. The software reads the file to identify variables. Once you choose the relevant variables, it creates a visual chart of your data. The software automatically tries to give the right kind of chart, but you can also manually choose from options such as bar charts, histograms, scatter plots, bubble charts, pie charts, bullet graphs, maps and heat matrix, etc. Tableau charts can also be interactive, so viewers can rearrange the data to analyse it from different perspectives. The chart is saved on www.tableausoftware.com

The downside is that visualizations and data are public—anyone can download your work. To keep it private, and for added features such as more filters and representations, you could buy the Personal Edition for $999 (around Rs. 50,300), or the Professional Edition for $1,999.

Cost: Free to use, with paid editions starting at $999.

Many Eyes

Website:www-958.ibm.com

Many Eyes, launched in January 2007, is one of the first data-visualization tools, and was created by IBM Research.

 

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Plug in, and tune out everything else

 

Looking for headphones? Don’t make do with the free pair you get with your gadgets. Get a pair that suits your needs

Earphones are being used with every gadget today: a tablet, a smartphone, an MP3 player or even a wireless set with the TV if it is in a bedroom. “Most of us don’t hesitate to invest in a good gadget, but forget about the earphones,” says Bangalore-based Sridhar Reddy, 38, an audiophile and independent consultant on custom-made audio systems.

“The earphones that come as a package deal with most gadgets are basic. They don’t fit our ears well and if they do, they don’t do a good job of blocking out external noise,” says Reddy.

These generic earphones also fail to adapt to your lifestyle needs—answering calls on the go or running while listening to music. “A good pair of headphones is necessary to enjoy your gadget to its full capacity. Serious audiophiles, for example, will never go for in-the-ear earphones. They like them big and round so that music can breathe,” explains Reddy. In the same way, if you answer a lot of calls while on the move, the last thing you want is static in your Bluetooth headset. We list headphones to match your every need.

• Music on the move

Want headphones that stay with you and give you good quality music while you run, sweat and work out in the gym? The Sennheiser Sports series has three different designs, PMX 680i, OMX 680i and MX 680i, for medium-to-heavy workouts. They are highly flexible, so you can run faster or work out harder without worrying about dislodging the headphones. All of them come with a powerful stereo sound, an integrated remote, built-in volume control and a microphone to track and take calls in the middle of a workout. The kit includes many accessories and sleeves, to make sure you find the perfect fit for your ears and the earplugs stay firmly in place. The earphones are sweat- and water-resistant.

Money Matters: Rs. 3,990 for PMX 680i and OMX 680i and Rs. 3,290 for MX 680i, available at select stores. Check for discounted prices on www.gadgets.in

TV watching

Don’t want to disturb your partner with your idiot-box viewing? Help is at hand with Sennheiser RS120 Wireless Headphones, which come with a charge station. Though they are older than the more recently launched Sennheiser RS180, they are still our favourites for the amount of listen-time they give in one charge (20 hours, rather than 6 hours in the newer model), so you can use them for longer without having to get up and charge them. These wireless headphones have a range of up to 100m, come with volume control, and give a detailed sound reproduction with strong stereo bass. The reception works through walls and ceilings. They are lightweight and very comfortable to wear.

Money Matters: Rs. 6,190, available on www.letsbuy.com

• Cut off sound

Your work requires you to make transcripts from audio recordings or your office is just too noisy and you need music to help you concentrate. Or perhaps you want to listen to music while on your way to work, but the noise from the road makes it impossible to enjoy yourself. Noise-cancelling headsets help here and the Bose QuietComfort 15 is the best option. Each headphone earcup comes with an inbuilt microphone both inside and outside. The microphone senses and cancels the sounds that are filtering in from outside, keeping your ears noise-free. You can use its microphone for a hands-free phone conversation too, though that works only with an iPhone. An average AAA battery makes the headphones last about 35 hours. The QuietComfort 15 is comfortable, with ear cushions, lightweight and collapsible, and can be packed compactly in case you want to use them while you travel.

Money Matters: Rs. 17,550, available on www.boseindia.com

Also try:Sony MDR-NC200D Digital Noise-Cancelling Headphones, $179.99 (around Rs. 9,750), plus shipping, available on www.ebay.com. Its noise-cancelling technology drains battery faster but the headset is quite good at blocking external noise. It is also lightweight, cushioned, and can be folded compactly.

• Pure audio

If all you want to do is listen to music as if it was being performed right in front of you, opt for Audeze LCD-2, manufactured by the Las Vegas-based niche company Audeze. The headset prioritizes quality over portability or affordability. The technology used is rather different from most headphones—each pair comes with tiny dynamic drivers that are mini versions of the drivers used in box speakers. The Audeze uses thin-film planar magnetic drivers and larger diaphragms that project sounds around your ear rather than straight into it, creating more depth in the notes. The thick lambskin earpads sit softly on your ears and are comfortable to wear for long hours.

Money Matters: On special order for $995, with $115.58 in shipping, available on www.audeze.com

Also try: The Audio Technica ATH-M50 for Rs. 13,913, available onwww.ebay.in, offers performance on a budget. Meant for professional studio monitoring and mixing, its over-the-ear cups create a seal for maximum isolation

 

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Stream home the cinema

 

Better Internet connections and increased video content are making it easier than ever to order or watch Indian and Hollywood movies online, legally

It was a weekend and instead of going to a mall to watch an expensive movie, Uttara Narayanan, 29, a social activist, decided to rent the latest Bollywood flick and watch it at home. She was surprised to see that she couldn’t find any movie rental shops in her Bangalore neighbourhood. “I didn’t want to buy a pirated cheap DVD or download a pirated version of the movie, so I went online to search for a video rental around my home,” she says. Her search led her to YouTube. “I couldn’t believe that YouTube is streaming some of the latest Bollywood movies which I wanted to see online for free!”

In October, actor Shah Rukh Khan partnered with Google India to promote his film Ra.One on YouTube. The site celebrated a month-long festival of his movies, which included superhits like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Chak De! India, Kal Ho Na Ho, Om Shanti Om and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, through October.

Free and easy: In several cases, there are no charges for movies online.

Free and easy: In several cases, there are no charges for movies online.

The model of streaming movies online seems to be working quite well with the Indian audience. Since the launch of YouTube Box Office in June, the website has already garnered over 18 million views and has about 1,500 movie titles.

Yahoo India launched Movieplex, its online free movie streaming platform, in August, but has uploaded only 30 movies. The company is in talks with both film and television studios for large distribution deals though, and is expected to increase that number greatly.

People who would rather not see pirated movies, and don’t want to shell out huge amounts at cinema halls, now have a number of options. Some of the best ones are:

YouTube’s Box Office

YouTube has created a microsite with ad-supported free movies. There are around 1,500 titles on the site as of now, and most of the collection is made up of older movies from the black and white era onwards. There are many regional language films on the site, along with Hindi movies. If you want to watch Hollywood or world cinema, check the complete listing of the movies on www.youtube.com/movies. Depending on the rights YouTube has, some of them might not play in India.

Upside: There are no delivery delays either.

Downside: Buffering happens fairly often. The films are also being streamed at a lower resolution, and don’t look great on full screen.

Cost: Free

Where: Youtube.com/boxoffice for the latest Indian movies. For the complete list of movies on YouTube, go to Youtube.com/movies

Yahoo Movieplex

Launched at the same time as YouTube’s Box Office, Yahoo’s Movieplex is also a free streaming site for legal movies.

 

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The battle of the smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – which smartphone is smarter?

The two most hyped phones of 2011 are about to enter the Indian market. There’s the iPhone 4S with its magical personal assistant Siri, who listens to you and finds what you are looking for as soon as you ask for it. Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). While the iPhone 4S is scheduled to be launched on 25 November, the Nexus will be launched early next month. As the Indian smartphone market readies for the launch of these phones, we send them out into the battlefield to find the smartest choice.

The contenders

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

An update to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S comes loaded with a powerful A5 processor, iOS 5, Siri and a whopping 8-megapixel camera. When it launched in the US last month, sales within a month broke all records at four million handsets and saw long lines of customers waiting to get their hands on one. The phone is already out for pre-order with a tie-up with Aircel and will launch in India later this month.

Price: 16 GB at Rs. 44,500 and the 32 GB variant at Rs. 50,900. No information available on the 64 GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

The latest Android flagship, the Galaxy Nexus combines Samsung’s ever-improving hardware in a massive high-resolution, 4.65-inch screen with the latest Android 4.0. It hasn’t reached any customer yet, but is raking up a storm of anticipation. The phone is up for pre-order in countries like the US and UK and will be coming to India soon.

Price: The company has not released any information on price, though industry sources claim that it will be in the Rs. 35,000-40,000 price band.

Let the battle begin

Round 1: Display

The Galaxy Nexus comes with a whopping 4.65-inch of Samsung Super AMOLED HD curved display. With such a huge size for a screen, it walks a thin line between a tablet and smartphone and does it well (if you have rather large hands, that is). To pack a punch, it has a tempting 1280×720 resolution, which is the highest ever in a smartphone. It gives a new meaning to clarity and makes Web browsing, movie watching and gaming experience a breeze. It also eats up battery life.

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In the right direction

 

These GPS navigators are custom-made for Indian streets, so you won’t need to stop and ask about the route any more

Shweta Taneja

 

A map in hand is worth two on line when you are driving, says Amit Prasad, founder and CEO, SatNav Technologies, a Hyderabad-based GPS map-making company.

“You don’t need a phone GPRS connection, and re-routing is much faster in on-board systems,” he says. After all, cars honking behind you in traffic will not wait for the map to buffer on your smartphone. “A good GPS system talks to you and says ‘turn right’ at exactly the point where you need to take a turn,” explains Prasad. And since the maps are updated every six months, the very latest constructions are included in your map.

According to a report published last year by IE Market Research Corp., a Canada-based market intelligence and business strategy research and consulting firm, the navigation industry in India will be worth $158.4 million (around Rs. 793.58 crore) by 2014. New Delhi-based navigation company MapmyIndia’s director Rohan Verma claims his company has grown 600% in the last three years. “This is a testament to the significantly growing demand for GPS navigators,” he says, adding that guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are the main advantages GPS navigators have over smartphone maps.

Some GPS services available in India are:

Via by TomTom

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

The Dutch navigation-system makers entered the Indian market in September with their Via series. The maps come loaded with TomTom’s unique Landmark Navigation functionality, wherein you can search for a specific place by a landmark around it, be it a famous monument, temple or park. The console also includes a “Help Me!” emergency menu that provides information about hospitals and other emergency services on the road. Of the three models available for India, Via LIVE 120 and Via 125 have voice controls, so you don’t have to stop or take your hands off the wheel. These two models also come with a mobile car-kit feature that can convert this device into a hands-free Bluetooth speaker. The mount which comes with the device attaches to the windscreen and can be turned up to 180 degrees. It comes with an 11cm or 13cm touch screen, depending on the model.

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Pinch and swipe

Looking for a tablet? Here is how you can go the touch-screen way with devices that cost less than Rs. 15,000

Touch screens have transformed the way we browse the Internet and entertain ourselves. In fact, now we don’t click and type, but pinch, zoom and swipe. It has been almost a year since the first tablet was launched in India in November 2010. And by the look of it the craze for tablets is just on the rise.

However, not all of us can afford the swanky top-of-the-line versions. If you can’t imagine buying the iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or HTC Flyer right now, but still want to experience how a tablet works, you need not wait any more. To help you make the right choice, we waded through the Android-based affordable tablets out there to bring you six we think you can try out.

iBall Slide

The Slide is a 1 GHz, Android 2.3 tablet with a bright 7-inch capacitive display.

It comes with 8 GB storage that can be extended up to 32 GB with an SD memory card. To cut costs, iBall has gone with only one front-facing camera, and no rear camera. As a result, it has a good 2 MP camera for videoconference calls, and it also comes with an HDMI out, mini USB and SD card slots. The device supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but lacks built-in 3G.

Upside: The iBall Slide has a USB port with which you can connect it to your PC or attach extra memory, keyboard, data dongle, etc., making it easy to connect and work on. The HDMI allows you to connect it to your TV to watch videos easily. It also comes with 8 GB internal memory built in, so the majority of users will not need to buy more storage.

Downside: There’s no rear camera and no SIM card support for data connectivity. Connecting to 3G requires a USB data dongle, an added expense of around Rs. 2,500. Audio quality on the iBall is terrible.

Money matters: Rs. 13,995 *

*Prices are subject to variations.

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Caught in the net

Try these smart ways to keep a check on your Internet addiction. By Shweta Taneja

 

It’s a connected world out there. So much so that most of us cannot think of life without a phone or access to the Internet—even when on holiday.

Take control: Learn how to disconnect from the online world and organize your daily Internet use.

Take control: Learn how to disconnect from the online world and organize your daily Internet use.

“When I am hiking and I force myself to disconnect from the online world, I feel alone. I feel like there’s so much of the trip that I would like to share with my online friends,” says Hrish Thotaa, a 31-year-old social media professional and self-proclaimed Twitter addict who spends 8-9 hours on social networking sites and chats, and 3-4 hours on email. “I spend my entire waking time online,” explains Thotaa.

A study called A Day without Media was conducted in 2010 by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, University of Maryland, US. The study had asked 200 students at the university to abstain from using all media for 24 hours. They then had to blog (http://withoutmedia.wordpress.com) about their experiences. “Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer,” wrote one student on the blog after the 24-hour fast (the website did not give out names). “By 2pm, I began to feel the urgent need to check my email, and even thought of a million ideas of why I had to. I felt like a person on a deserted island… I noticed physically that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe I am.”

“Most youngsters cannot imagine their lives without cellphones and the online world today,” says Jitendra Nagpal, consultant, psychiatry, Moolchand hospital, New Delhi. “They feel anxious or stressed when they lose connectivity, be it because (the) battery has run out, they are in an area with no connectivity, or they have no balance left,” he explains. Psychologists have a word for those who make it an obsession: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).

Addiction to the World Wide Web is a very real issue. You can see the signs everywhere around you nowadays: a fidgety colleague who needs to constantly tweet, a friend who clicks the refresh button on Facebook hoping to see something new while on a dinner date, or you realizing at the end of a day that you have been browsing the Internet for so long that the afternoon has passed and you still have a pile of work to get through.

“Procrastination is the greatest demon of being connected,” says Sasank T., a 25-year-old marketing manager based in Bangalore. Sasank scored 58 on an Internet Addiction Quiz (www.netaddiction.com), a score which suggests that he might be facing some problems at work because of the long hours he spends online.

“I have had to work nights as I skipped deadlines since I was online for the whole day in office,” Sasank says. “There are times when many days go by doing nothing but browsing my favourite sites.” The only time Sasank disconnects is when his laptop heats up and gets switched off; and then the phone comes in. If, like Sasank, you can’t let go of the online urge, here are some tools that can help you:

Detect your time wasters

Wisdom has it that a 2-minute break on Facebook can last for hours. A second on a site can never last a second. Each one of us has sites that we love wasting our time on.

Try this tool: SelfControl (http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol) is a free software that allows you to restrict the time you spend on social networking sites, gaming forums or shopping sites. Simply install the software and add any domain name to its blacklist, like Facebook.com. Then put on a timer and tell the software how long you want to use that domain in a day (from 1 minute to 12 hours). Once you have spent that much time on that particular site in a day, it will be blocked from your browser for the rest of the day. All the other sites will work just fine. SelfControl takes addictions seriously. The app was planned as an extreme measure, so use it only if you are not going to change your mind—deleting the application or rebooting your computer will not help unblock the particular site.

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Tweaks for tweets

 

Are endless tweets giving you a pain in the neck? We list some cool apps and websites that guide, curate and arrange the massive sea of information into bite-sized pieces for you

Time was when life was simpler. When all you had to do was reach office in the morning, check your emails, read some blogs, have a steaming cuppa and get on with your work. In the good old days, a message like “You’ve got mail!” brought a smile to your face. Heck, it even brought back the memory of a romantic movie.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

In Twitterverse, the voices in your feeds never stop. According to the official Twitter blog (blog.twitter.com), as of June end the micro-blogging social network was generating a whopping 200 million tweets per day. That is equivalent to a 10-million-page book of tweets or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 epic novel War and Peace. Reading this much text would take more than 31 years, the blog tells us. Here are some efficient ways to manage the information overload on the five-year-old micro-blogging site.

Find the right people to follow

There are oodles and oodles of tweeters online, but there are only a few hundred influencers. If you don’t hear them on time, you might just miss the next big thing your fellow tweeters are talking about. Find the right influencers of your industry on Twellow (www.twellow.com) by category. The website scrounges through Twitter.com every day to come up with a list of influencers tabulated on the basis of number of followers, industry or categories such as entertainment, news, society and sports. Here you will find the people who are heard by thousands of people and whose tweets are retweeted the most, etc. TweetLevel.com, on the other hand, lets you search the right people to follow by entering a word in its search box.

Tell a tweet story

Feeling creative and want to play with your and other people’s tweets? Check Storify (http://storify.com). Still in its beta stage, the website is an innovative way of telling a story using social networks and the endless information online. You can use tweets, Flickr photos, YouTube videos and articles from the online space to tell a story about a topic, idea or concept. The interface is simple, with a search button where you can search for tweets using hashtags or words and then drag and drop them in your story. The story is publicly available and can be embedded into a website or a blog.

Archive a hashtag

Hashtags were lying forgotten on the number “3” key of your keyboard before Twitter introduced them to create tweet groupings. Now, a hashtag before any word in a tweet makes it about a group, event, occurrence, meet-up or idea. But what happens a day, a week or a month after the hashtag has been used? If you want to save the tweets of a hashtag from being lost forever in the ocean of information that is Twitter, try the Twapper Keeper (http://twapperkeeper.com) free service. It lets you archive up to two trends by hashtags, keywords or fellow tweeters. Another such free service is The Archivist (http://archivist.visitmix.com), which focuses only on hashtags. Once you link the site to your Twitter account, it can track a hashtag for you on a daily basis, and analyse it by users, volume, sources and retweets, etc., in a fancy graph.

Mute the noise

Your stream is inundated with the tweet traffic of retweets, automatically generated tweets from Foursquare or Gowalla about where your friends are or those irritating “I am sleeping now” tweets. In between all this traffic, you could miss the tweets that may actually be relevant to you. Mixero (www.mixero.com) is a Twitter client developed with the idea of “reducing the noise” or information overload. It lets you collate the people you follow by groups and see tweets according to groups, user platforms or channels….

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Powerhouse in your palm

 

The smartphone is bored. Day in and day out, we connect to the Internet, answer some emails, post a tweet or two and play Angry Birds. Sometimes we have long chats with friends or text angry messages to our boy/girl friends when they are late. However, most of us don’t realize the power we have in our hands. What most of us do with our smartphones is akin to driving a Ferrari or a Bugatti on a German autobahn at 40kmph—it’s simply sacrilegious.

So before your phone’s delicate touch screen gives in to the angst of its tedious existence, shift gears and make use of it the way it was meant to be used: innovatively.

Turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

It’s actually quite simple. Your phone has a 3G (or if you are still tied down to ancient technology, a 2G) Internet connection and a Wi-Fi adaptor. So why can’t it act like a Wi-Fi hot spot for your PC, tablet and other devices? All you need to do is install an app that makes use of your phone’s Internet connection and Wi-Fi adaptor and showers its Internet connectivity on to Wi-Fi-enabled devices around it. There are a lot of apps that help you do this, but the good ones offer encryption as well as password protection from lurkers— this is a must if you are using your phone Wi-Fi in a public space. Though some brands like the iPhone, HTC and the Nexus series come with built-in Wi-Fi tethering, the features are limited—it is best to download an app made for this purpose.

Start now: We like Connectify (www.connectify.me). It is a free app and can be used on Android-based systems. For Nokia phones, JoikuSpot (www.joiku.com) is a great app. Its free version turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot without password protection and basic Internet protocol support (which means no emails can be checked). The premium version, which costs around Rs. 580, comes with the ability to use a password to secure the network, encrypt it, and gives you full Internet protocol support. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 4.3, you can use the new Personal HotSpot, which is password- protected. For other iOS versions, try MyWi 4.0 (intelliborn.com). It can be used on jail-broken handsets and costs $19.99 (approx. Rs. 900). IPhone does not allow users to go beyond its operating system. Jail-breaking or hacking the system to install other apps is one way to bypass this.

Use it as a debit card

Bar code-based mobile payment is fast becoming a trend. In India, Airtel Money (www.airtelmoney.in) lets users load their mobile phones with money to make payments at select stores.

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The circles of social networking

The virtual giant has done it yet again, with the Google+ Project. The latest rage, it is fun, easy to use and gives you a next-generation experience

Shweta Taneja

 

It is a little more than two weeks old, in beta stage, and already has two million users across the world. It has already crashed twice because too many people were logged in at the same time. Its regular invites are being sold on EBay.com for 99 cents (Rs. 44). A week after it was launched, Google’s marketvalue shot up by $20 billion. If you haven’t heard or read about it, you might as well have been living under a rock. Welcome to the latest rage in social networking, the Google+ Project.

Till now, social networking attempts by Google at best got responses such as “ahem” or an indifferent “so what?”. Google Wave became nothing but a techie haunt, Google Buzz stopped buzzing within a few days of its launch, and Orkut failed to attract anyone but sleazy lurkers. All of them fell off the online radar, and weren’t missed much.

But Google+ has an altogether different approach to social networking. It is fun and it offers a little bit more than Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and all other social networks put together. According to Google, it aims to be a social layer on top of the search engine and all its product offerings, so that your Web experience becomes one seamless, integrated Web-social experience.

Circles and Hangouts

The social site revolves around Circles—which are specified groups of friends, family, acquaintances and the people you want to follow. You can create, edit and delete Circles with a simple drag-and-drop function. A tweet (@gstrompolos) describes the experience of putting the people you know in Circles as playing a never-ending game of solitaire with your contacts. Visually, that is what the drag-and- drop feels like.

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