Just some Tidbits

Alright peeps … you know I love you all so here is some little info from the ICT Trade Mission.

1. YouTube is NEVER getting unblocked. Nope. Got it from the horse’s mouth (funny expression, right?). Had a lively (ahem) disucssion right at the Google HQ at Mountain View. So happens that YouTube/Google has banned the blasphmous video which was why YT was blocked in dear ol’ Pakistan. NOT because YT/G suddenly becamse sensitive to Muslim feelings but because an actor in the video filed a copyright or something suit. Now PTA has no reason to keep the website blocked except that if anyone dares to give verdict in its favor some WAY BETTER Muslim than any of us will take offence and decide that person no longer has the right to live. You know what I mean? So that’s that.

2. The not-so-important ministries in Pakistan such as the IT Ministry are given away to whoever raises their hand first. ‘Nuff said.

3. Higher echelons believe we (as in Pakistanis) don’t have enough talent and hence foreign governments need to step in not only to give us monetary aid but also intellectual aid. For example, NO ONE in Pakistan knows about eGovernance so the government would like to import people who do. Ummm … I’d like to request the Pakistani government to please use google for something other than looking for stuff to ban. Thank you.

4. No one is doing business with Pakistan because we don’t have good piracy laws and the few that we do are not implemented. One point raised was about downloading movies and music. My question to them was, “I want to use iTunes and Amazon etc to buy music, ebooks, movies but we don’t have PayPal and our credit cards are not accepted online. NOT watching latest movies or listening to music is not an option. So, what choices do I have?” Was that a fair question? *Hint: Do not respond unless it’s in the affirmative.

5. Microsoft won’t come to Pakistan until we stop using pirated software. A point raised by many on the delegation: MS needs to lower its prices because when it comes to a choice between ridiculously expensive and free, guess which wins? Pakistan is a good sized market and currently we are using the software for free. If they lower the price a bit we will pay for it because who likes to see that annoying “Your copy of Windows/MS is not registered” message pop up all the time? I wouldn’t mind paying $50 for a good bundle with Outlook and Publisher.

If this gets me into trouble I promise I will write a much more detailed post ‘coz that’s how I roll ;)

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. Some ministers believe that YouTube is not relevant to a country like Pakistan and small businesses working with social media do not matter. #facepalm

Woe is I

2-day blackout in dear ol’ Paki-land. Don’t let the official reports fool you. It wasn’t 2 hours. Went out for almost 48 hours. Not a problem, you say, I had a laptop and evo. Let me give you some basic 101 on the way laptops work. They need to be CHARGED which needs ELECTRICITY which we barely had for TWO FRIGGIN’ DAYS. How did that affect me? Um, let me explain that too.

I run an “online” business with ops running almost 24/7 since I have clients in about every continent. Soooo … I had some VERY annoyed clients. Oh no, they are usally very understanding and kind. But their patience has been tested to the max I believe. You see, Govt of Pakistan is personally responsible for ensuring all its citizens go to heaven. Soon as some idiot somewhere had the wonderful idea of making a video that hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the World and a few hundred people (read, Muslims) died in protests and some churches were burnt and public property was destroyed much in line with Islamic teachings, our wonderful Govt decided to ban YouTube. That way it protects its naive citizens from committing a sin and going to hell. Of course our IT Ministry and ICTR&D departments, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority etc have never heard of something called a proxy.

So I go to my clients and say err … can’t access any tutorials you have sent, I can’t also help maintain your YouTube channel any more. They were like, oh too bad but we love you so we will overlook it. Cool! But then … yes, there is more.

Govt decides to put a ban on Skype to phone calls. FINAL.NAIL.IN.THE.COFFIN.

Now how in God’s name am I supposed to call my clients, or call on behalf of them using their Skype number or receive calls on their behalf on their Skype number?

*SCREAMS

And no, Van Gogh had no idea what a scream, a real blood-curdling scream looked like. 

I lost 2 clients. 

While some poor, unsuspecting Muslim somewhere is sitting in his room watching whatever the hell he wants to watch using Hotspot Shield or VidProxy or whatever and condemning himself to hell.  

I thank the Government of Pakistan, Ministry of IT, PTA and, of course, the ONE AND ONLY, MR. Ban-It-All (that sounds strangely like PANADOL, no?), Interior Minister, Right Honorable Dr. Rehman Malik for coming up with all the brilliant ideas that are so effective in keeping peace in my country and ensuring we stay on the path to prosperity by banning YouTube, Skype to phone alls, and frequent bans on cellular phone services. Owe it all to you, Sir.

Internet Freedom

Facebook Ban

Twitter and FB Ban

Gmail ban in Pakistan

Crass but depicts how banning cellphones is NOT going to accomplish much

Crass but depicts how banning cellphones is NOT going to accomplish much

Am at the end of my wits.

Also, for more info on Internet Freedom, or lack of it, read here.

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

 

Croak Croak … Croakun

This is a long over due post about the latest buzz in social media marketing and analytics.

Croakun […] provides real-time social media analytics and personalized actionable recommendations to improve your online presence, engaging better with your customers while being more competitive than the competitors.”

Huh?

OK to simplify, you can watch this video. http://youtu.be/Zbl8K9ANlgg Dear ol’ Govt of Pakistan has put a ban on YouTube so can’t embed. If you are in Pakistan you can STILL watch it using this proxy site (no, don’t worry it’s not Hotspot Shield). Just go to www.Vidproxy.com and paste the above YouTube URL into the QuickLinks box. ;)

Better than this, let me share some screenshots from the beta site. Yes, I have beta access since the founder, Kai Feng, is a friend and a client.

In. Your. Face. HA!

But ahem …

So suppose you want to keep a track of your Twitter conversations. Sure you can use Hootsuite but then how do you make any sense of all that data right in front of you? If you are a big business or an SME you will have to hire media experts (*eyeroll) to go through it and make some sense of it. So, you end up not only spending on the tool but also on your “experts”. Here is what croakun does.

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This is where your Twitter stream shows. You can see on the left you can change between Twitter, Facebok and even G+ and LI I believe.

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Geo Demographics tab takes all your data and puts it into neat charts based on languages and locations. Imagine how awesome this would be for an International Brand or a brand focusing on clients say in the US who speak both Hispanic and English. Possibilities are limitless.

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The Volume tab is the cumulative tweets or facebook status by hours to see what time is the most active hour about a certain keyword!

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Influencers – So if you are looking for influencers for certain keywords from your following list how would you know who are the most relevant tweeples and how they are ranked for that particular keyword? That’s where Croakun makes it all a piece of cake. Getting more and more excited? ;)

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Sentiments – ah, this gives you the pulse of twitterati. How are they feeling that day? Are they in a positive mood? This might be a great time to tell them about a new product launch. Bad mood? Yikes! Stay away – do not announce the new giveaway or what have you.

Can’t wait for it to go live.

In other news … I am well and as awesome as ever. Spending more time on Twitter than Facebook. Enjoying downloading torrents. Working with some great customers and service providers. Loving it!

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

SaaS for Micro VA Tasks? Ifttt is Here!

Oooohhhhh …. I am excited. And of course it has something to do with a tech breakthrough. Check out http://ifttt.com/recipes. Found out about them from Robert Scoble’s Twitter (@Scobleizer) and G+ update. You know all those silly, little things that hardly make sense but you just must do just because – like blog a YouTube video you like to WordPress, or make sure your Twitter and Facebook profile pics match, or save a backup of mobile uploads on your Facebook to your Dropbox, and a gazillion other things? Now you can do them in one easy step through ifttt.com. In Scoble’s words:

What does it do? It lets you write little macros in this syntax: “If This, Then That…”

So, if my profile picture on Facebook changes then also change it on Twitter. That kind of thing. Already has a ton of different pre-done ones, and you can add your own.

The service is free – you can read more about it here while I go drool over it a bit more.

YouTube Repeat

I love YouTube. Who doesn’t. It’s pure genius. But the one annoying thing that always made me go back to my music library is that it lacks a ‘repeat’ function. Does it ever happen to you that you get stuck on one song and want to listen to it all day long? Happens to me A LOT! But I recently found out there was a way to get around it. YouTubeRepeat is wonderful. If you like a song on YouTube and want to listen to it till your 3-yr old picks up the tune or your hubbie starts sighing out loud trying to show his annoyance (which you obviously ignore!), follow the following instructions:

Type “repeat” into a YouTube URL before the “.com” to watch it on repeat:

Which means:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

Would turn into:

 http://www.youtuberepeat.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

Awesome, no? Me loves it.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee