posts in our blog
We’ve some news we’d like to share with you. It’s about a product we’ve been working on & if you don’t have the time to read this, we understand, you can just check it out here.
As you may or may not know, Textme has been a nights-and-weekend-and-vacations passion project of ours. If you’ve ever wanted to message any text, images, videos, news, jokes or articles to your own or friend’s mobile, then you’ve been wanting Textme, the simplest send-to-mobile service in the country.
We believe the time is right and we’re ready to announce that you can now use Textme to send anything you want from your web browser to any mobile in India. All you’ve to do is go to www.OnTextme.com when you’re on a computer and click the “Get Textme, it’s free” button to get started.
This journey is going to be amazing.
We will need your help. Lots of it.
So do reply back with any feedback or thoughts you may have, share it with your friends & help everyone around you use it. There’s a lot you can use it for in your everyday life (like sending IPL scores these days).
Are you in?
What’s new this time?
Textme now installs right into your web browser with just a click or two. So when you find something on the web you want to send to any phone in the country, just click on the Textme button. How cool is that right? We’re the first to do it.. and do it right! We fully support Chrome and Firefox while some of the features are available in IE, Safari, Opera, etc.
As of now, you can use Textme only if your mobile number is not registered in the DND. This is in accordance with TRAI regulations.
There’s more coming soon… Till then, spread the word and try us!
Received a newsletter this morning. The Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is expected to take up a bunch of questions regarding the ambiguity and the exemptions provided to certain companies in the TRAI regulations (which we believe are ridiculous).
Extract from newsletter by Subho Ray, President, IAMAI below:
27th September brought some relief from the recent UCC Directive of TRAI to customers who are used to sending more than 100 smses per day as well as to certain category of consumer service companies who use sms alerts to service their customers. In a three page amendment issued that day the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India allowed 100 plus smses per day per sim to certain specific entities:
a) mobile and DTH recharge
b) e-ticketing websites
c) social networking sites
d) directory listing sites.
The amendment is a welcome relief. However, the air of confusion does not seem to have been fully cleared and the amendments have raised many new questions. Two of the important one that IAMAI would be taking up with the Authority are:
a) Does the amendments apply only to sim-based smses? If it does then the problem clearly states that the exempt categories do not use sim farms for smses, they use telecom resources;
b) are only the brands mentioned in the amendment special beneficiaries of the amendment or do the brands represent category of services? Does e-ticketing cover ecommerce? Does mobile and DTH recharging cover all mobile-based recharging? Are all listing sites covered?
And so on…. the discussion goes on between the customer, consumer companies, aggregators and TSPs… We are of the view that some guidance and clarification should be issued by the Authority to clear the -air”.
The IAMAI has very prominent members from the web & sms industry. We’re hoping TRAI will hear them loud & clear.
If you’re a web developer or a web startup in India and would like to connect with other developers, designers & web entrepreneurs across the country for help, advise or no reason, join the conversation on dploy.in
A few like minded people have setup this chat room on freenode, the most popular group chat network. You can come in at any point of the day and converse with interesting people from the same work field. You’re very likely to find the entire team at Epicwhale on it too.
Read more on dploy.in. Help spread the word!
If you’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been a post since Feb 8th to now, this one is to answer that. No, we’re not dead. No, we’re not dying. No, we’re not bored of our own concepts. Honestly, we’ve just been busy (with textme!) and we want to share a lesson learned -
When you’re rolling a startup, it takes loads of time (and more importantly energy) to be able to blog alongside. The best break for someone working non-stop on a web-startup is getting off the web. Being transparent is difficult after all.
We still want to keep trying. Give us a little more time before we start shooting out all kinds of posts and updates! Also, if we’ve been keeping you waiting for too long over Textme, hang in there! We’re on the job.
A few days after launching textme, I came across this post on why Indian internet startups need to get off their asses and learn to program.
It’s the usual debate about founders who can’t code (or rather founders should know code). Honestly, most Indian web startups suck. Sorry if I said suck, but what I meant is that they ‘really really suck’. Coincidently, these Indian startups are by those that have big MBA degrees and almost null tech experience. If you visit certain startup events in India, you will understand where I’m going with this one. Of course, there are exceptions, but here is what I feel Indian startups need to get right.
1. Set a budget and a timeline. Ship as soon as you exhaust your development budget or hit the timeline. Keep in mind that “The user experience of the product should be world class.” A prototype is important but it doesn’t have to look lame. Even if you can’t afford the most usable and tested design, build something that doesn’t make your users feel its our government website.
2. Scratch your own itch. It’s important to have a solution to a real problem. But I’d say, make sure it’s your own problem too. It is better to solve a boring problem in topic X that you know quite a few things about than to solve the worlds biggest problem in topic Y which you know nothing about.
3. Start in a garage and act like a garage. Don’t buy a pen or book unless you really need one. Even if you really need it, buy it just before the first time you are going to use it. Of course, I’m referring to employees, expensive technologies & services here.
4. Premature optimization is the root of all evil. It is important to have great code and optimizations; but spend time on aspects that will really help speed up the product. Just keep your code and project manageable + bug free. Scale up when you need to scale up. Build with less momentum so you can always change direction.
Lastly, try to be transparent. If you come in with preconceived notions, you are going to block out methods that actually come from you. Don’t fear competition, embrace it. Tell other Indian developers, designers and entrepreneurs about how you build your web app, share some internal code, ideas, research details, etc.
I don’t intend to talk in the air, but this is the idea on which we’ve built and launched our first product – textmewidget.com
p.s: We’ve neither broken even nor ‘boot strapped + successful’. But just wanted to share the mindset we started off with. If it ever fails, I’ll come back here and tell you what went wrong and I’m sure it won’t be a reason I mentioned above.
If you are looking for a way to retrieve currency rates or convert prices on your website, you will find a bunch of functions out there which ‘secretly’ use the Google finance currency converter. The drawback of this approach is the reliability. What if Google decides to change the html structure of that page? Or the query string changes?
I agree that it’s one of the best choices out there (since it supports 94 currencies), but you can’t have your app breaking in the middle of the month because of a change in their layout. A more reliable way of implementing this is the ‘secret’ Google calculator API located at http://www.google.com/ig/calculator?hl=en&q=5USD=?INR
This is the API developed for iGoogle gadgets. Therefore, it will return a result which is consistent, smaller & in a format very similar to JSON. We switched over to this recently and built a real lightweight function that converts currencies using a single function below.
Example usage to convert 5 US Dollars to Indian Rupees:
<?php echo currency_convert('USD', 'INR', 5); /* Output: 224.59797 */ ?>
In my previous article, we discussed how geo-tracing using the mobile number itself could be a good way to customize and deliver relevant sms content (or ads). There have been a couple of times I've wanted to trace a mobile number to locate an unidentified missed call or to know the service provider of an unusual number and, sometimes just for the sake of it.
This is a tool you'd use just a couple of times in your life (like kukuklok). But that one time you need such a service, you'd be glad it existed. It's simple and straight forward. You enter a mobile number, it tells you the operator circle, service provider and whether it's a gsm or cdma number. Try it out.
Why did we make remake this service?
I've looked around and there are a surprisingly high number of websites that allow you to do this. Most of them (honestly, all of them!) are badly designed and covered with ads. I'm not against web based ads, but a few of these services placed them all over the page. I wonder what kind of money they make out of this? Also, I wasn't sure whether they used to log the mobile number entered. (What if someone else was trying to trace my mobile number?) It's important for such pages to display their policy on logging any data.
On the design front, I've been wanting to give Google fonts directory and text-shadow a try. Worked out well!
On the code front, we wanted to put a php library we developed to efficiently trace a mobile number in your web/sms applications to the test. This seemed like a good way to do it. In the next article, we will be releasing this library for public use.
Last week, I was looking for a way to geo target, by city or state, visitors (in India) who requested an sms from my website. This way, I could improve the content of the sms and deliver favourable ads by targeting the receiver's location. The obvious solution here would be MaxMind’s GeoIP database. Their data is updated monthly and they have a great API too. On the downside, if your visitors are from India, be prepared for the low level of accuracy they have to offer:
|Country||Correctly resolved*||Incorrectly resolved||Not covered|
* Accuracy of resolved cities is within 25 miles of true location. source: maxmind.com. A few IP addresses I tested returned the location of the ISP instead of the visitor. The results were erroneous mainly in the case of visitors using national providers like BSNL, Sify, etc.
In my case, since I knew my consumer's mobile number, it didn't seem practical to rely on GeoIP any more. I switched to identifying locations using the entered mobile number instead. In India, all such numbers are split up as OOOO-NNNNNN where OOOO is the operator code and NNNNNN is the subscriber's number (which doesn't matter to us).
The operator code can tell us three things that we can put to our use:
- Service Provider
- City or State (but not both)
- Telecom Circle: Metro, A Circle, B Circle, C Circle ( view cities / states under each circle )
We’ve got some interesting releases lined up for the coming year and we needed to talk to you about them first. So here’s our first step into the web and we’re hoping you’d be a part of it too.
You must be wondering: what is epicwhale?
We are a team with ideas that are simple, clear and can be built using web-based apps. We love the web and we believe we can make the Indian-web-space a better one. The big friendly whale you may have encountered, guides us and decides what’s best for us.
Tell me more
We’re here to learn, share and solve problems. Problems that involve and affect us personally. Why? Since we’re solving our own problem, chances are high that we know what the answer is. It makes us fall in love with what we are making and we’re sure to use it in our own lives. It’s through this simple approach that we intend to meet a huge market of people (like you) who share our problems and will help us solve it too.
If you have read this far, we’re sure you share our love for all things web!