Message Queues : Apologies

We've had some grief at the SMSC end - with a bunch of messages caught up in some "congestion" and some, I guess, dropped. Just realized it this morning.

Of course they did a software upgrade.

Apologies if some queries got a delayed response, or worse, Zook never got back to you.

We've followed up to try and ensure zero repeats of this, and will monitor things more closely. We're also adding a ton of very useful data directly and through some exciting partnerships which we should be announcing over the weekend.


Toy train? Station? A Whole miniature city in Pune!

A query came in for: Railway Museum Pune and while surfing our logs, this caught my fancy.


Joshis Museum of Miniature Railways
17/1 B/2 GA Kulkarni Rd,
Next to Sangam Press,
Kothrud, Pune 38
+912025435378 +912025454474

From the site:

  • There are 65 signals, 26 points, fences, lampposts, flyovers, etc. which have been manufactured by hand using chemical etching techniques.
  • The entire layout can be operated manually or can be computer controlled.
  • Fully functional station yard with 6 platforms, announcement systems, 3 main lines, goods loading facilities, hump shunting, a turntable, crane, etc.
Wow - if I were in Pune, I'd be calling Mr. Ravi and fixing up and appointment for the kids, heck no, for myself to visit this fascinating world this weekend!

I'm discovering so much on Zook, myself :)

"Game events conducted in Tamil Nadu sub-inspector exam"

A user wanted to know more about the process for a Sub-Inspectors post in TN. This was one of the many queries s/he fired towards that end. Amazing how users seek info, even on the move. Its facts, after all, from our point of view, asked through pretty specific questions. Here goes....

Endurance Test - Run 1500m in 7 Min
Physical efficiency:
(min qualifying 6/15)
100m: 15s - 2marks, in 13.5s - 5 marks
400m: 80s - 2marks, 70s - 5 marks
2.Long Jump:3.8m-2marks, 4.5m-5marks
High Jump: 1.2m-2marks, 1.4m-5marks
3.Rope Climbing: 5m-2marks,6m-5marks


Usability? Check. Now try another hat...

Bill Gates' mail about his frustration with unfriendly MS usability.

Often we assume many things about our own software - and while the above piece is more of a "Even Gates cannot stand MS software" one, it does highlight how easily software often ends up as a frustrating, non-intuitive piece of technology for the end user. The small things really really count, and developers need to keep putting themselves is users' shoes time and again to test with as little bias as possible. Or better still, ask someone who's not really been associated with the product to try it out.

The "separation", from my limited experience with startup life, is extremely tough to achieve. People play multiple roles, and the lines keep getting blurred, and what suffers is how the code develops, is tested, and very importantly, deployed. The little things one did as part of the larger behemoths - build-environment, shiphome, QA setups, release notes, operational guides - all start to have more meaning to them than they did when you merely found them bothersome stuff you had to put up with :)

Look what Sundar did!!!!!!!!!

We'd heard about it in office - and now its beginning to catch on in the Indian blogosphere too. Good stuff, Sundar.

I'm really hoping this has some positive impact on the rapidly falling Yahoo stock.

How heavy are Whales, really?

A user was for this yesterday, and the query caught my eye. My son often takes me down these trips where - for want of internet access or laziness to "switch on" - I end up giving him either hand wavy answers, or just ignore him if I'm really stumped.

One major use-case for mobile search ?


Blue Whales can weigh upto 181 metric tonnes!
Right/50 (est.)
Smaller whales weigh in at a mere 4-6 tonnes. Heavy, huh ?
--Zook on sms:57575665--

Zoho Business is very useful

Simple collaboration - docs, spreadsheets, tasks, contacts, calendar, shareable across the team, and you can actually run multiple orgs on it too. Quite impressed, from a small org's point of view.

Check it out.

The LBS Dream

Thanks Siva, for the link.

LBS, imo, has always been a bit-feature that will be useful for a small subset of use cases - say your car breaks down and you need to know who the closest emergency service is, or in case you want the closest service provider for stuff the service quality is kinda standardized for. For hospitals and schools and even bike mechanics (if you bike seriously), you'd hardly be too worried about proximity. And as the article above we discusses it, for a whole lot of situations, we already have our paths known, or the means to them clear. There are a few "I'm stuck" cases where LBS will help, but thats about it.

Location specific ads, though, sound like a better idea. Especially for deals, offers, specials and new-store-in-you-area announcements.

The mobile is still a very unkmown, not-close-to-be-mature space for life-tools.

Fast again

Phew! We migrated servers since we figured out certain mySql issues (thanks Nikhil!) on the old one - and there wasn't really a "native" 5.0 for that.

End result : Zook is way quicker than it had come to be - and we can stop apologizing for it now :)

Keep !

Coming Soon : "We've fed the answers back into the machine!"

Fire fox crash on "Browse"...

[#FL-1122] Firefox /Gecko Crashes when trying to browse local folder to upload picture - Foresight Linux JIRA - issue tracker

I faced the same and a quick search revealed others had faced it too. How about some basic regression testing, guys?

Zook downtime

Ladies and gentlemen, we've hit some rough weather. Zook's been going down a lot yesterday since we made some "upgrades" at the backend, and we're working to find the spook in the works. Please bear with us while we strive to get back to normal a.s.ap. Sorry about the irritation caused.


Did u see that ad ?

Curious to understand how Graphics work out on mobile screens.

[ BTW, it'll work only for delhi related queries ]

Search Next.0

Powerset vs. Cognition: A Semantic Search Shoot-out - GigaOM

The comparo part of the above is a good read, though given that both Powerset and Cognition must be improving stuff behind the scenes, and big G has so much "legacy" to deal with, I'm not sure there are any conclusions to be drawn.

Whats more interesting is the second part of the article where Nitin discusses what kinds of disruption search companies could shoot for. At Ziva, we're doing a couple of things already, and then some!

a) Mobile specific focus. There's a lot of folks out there who have not used "web search". And I include a fair number of techies in this - given how many questions I see in my mailbox, IM windows and even when people call up to ask for stuff thats actually possible to find on a search engine. There are those who "can search" and those who cannot, for a variety of reasons ranging from access to discomfort.

b) Answers, not links. Semantic Search/disambiguation/NLP etc are tech-friendly ideas that the end user doesn't really connect to. What they need is an answer to a need. On the mobile, its even more extreme - cause the effort a user usually needs to put into a web search engine to clarify sense etc is just not feasible on the phone. Also, not every question has an answer in a repository. To an end user, these are NOT separate use cases.

c) Instant answers, or surely-relevant one ? Like Nitin points out, we've too believed that not all questions need a resopnse in a flash. There are a huge range of response times which are acceptable for different kinds of questions. Involving the community expands the range of questions that can be answered to near-infinite, and the fact that the asnwers may come a few minutes later is more than compensated for by the relevance of the answer.

Downgrade for free!!!

Microsoft gets Desperate to sell Vista. Will offer XP for free |Technology and Business Startups in India

Is MS beginning to lose it? There's this talk of the mesh and I have reason to believe it *will* see light of day later this year. I guess the next couple of years will be make or break for the MS Kingdom.

Of course, I'd first need to downgrade from Ubuntu ;)

Coverage in the Telegraph, Kolkata

Dial M for more The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata)

Shrabonti Bagchi of the Telegraph, Kolkata did a story on what else you can do with your phone. Zook got covered in this article. It was nice to see all the people we know in this space in there too :)

Ads on Zook

We've started running a few ads on Zook! These are from partners, as well as advertisers.

Hack day highs

We did the demos around 4ish - 24 hours after we'd started. Some of the guys had actually stayed overnight, and the enthusiasm was amazing. What got done was also like a virtual wishlist of stuff we'd discussed or wanted earlier, and some cool ideas we would never have visited otherwise. The demos covered everything from better scaling for the search server, to new methods to use and find Zook, to new kinds of data we can add using some tools, and even a easy-to-use client for phones!

Details? Not sure how much can be divulged. There's some work needed before this stuff sees the light of day. What I can say is that I'm happy to be in the company of such a enthusiastic and capable set of people.

Oh, and it all ended with a short visit to LoR, which was my first pub trip in years and I liked the music they played!

Zook's graphs!

Here's a part of the the user graph we saw as part of one of the hackday tricks! We were quite surprised to see we've done quite well as a social network, though that was hardly the idea!

Its a pretty connected world, eh ? And one's users are really one's best friends, in this case.

Code a thought - Zook Hack Day

Today we're having a hack day in office. Started a little late and there's lots of ideas that have been floating around in anticipation. If all goes well, there'll be a few cool add-ons you might see soon on Zook!

Is there anything anyone would like to see on Zook? Let me know.

New look Zook [logo]

We decided to redo the redone logo, and here's the final (?) result: or sms query to 57575665

More Press

AltSearchEngines partnered with MSearchGroove and mentioned Ziva in the context of this announcement.
TheSmartTechie also profiled Ziva in detail.

ET covers Zook

Economic Times and their first cousin, Indiatimes, ran a good story on Ziva/Zook.

Friendly reminder - you can SMS your query for anything you want to know to 57575665 in India. You'll get the answer either right then, or a couple of minutes later from the community.