New WhatsApp Status is going to be big
Internet, Media, Technology

New WhatsApp Status: This is going to be *BIG!*

New features in popular services often rake up rancour. I have also grumbled a lot against certain changes. But then with time and familiarity that resentment reduces and we start to dig the very feature that we detested at launch.

The same is true for the just-released updated WhatsApp Status, WhatsApp’s return gift to us on its 8th birthday.

For a change, I am not complaining and instead see an immense potential in this.

WhatsApp Status is going to be bigMy second-ever visual WhatsApp Status is a GIF boldly announcing my feeling towards it, “This WhatsApp Status thing is going to be BIG. I mean REALLY BIG. A lot of one-to-many communication will shift there.” I also tweeted this and posted on Facebook. Two services that are likely to be impacted to a certain extent by this new addition.

“Oh! Not another Snapchat clone!” is a common complaint I have been hearing. Also, “Snapchat is so kewl. And this WhatsApp Status so wannabe.”

There is no denying about where WhatsApp Status has been inspired from. Instagram did it, so WhatsApp following suit is no big surprise.

But on WhatsApp this is going to change the way users distribute content and therefore also how they consume it. The ephemerality (though I am an archivist) is encouragement to share more. On the first day itself, tens of my contacts have updated their multimedia Statuses. As previously mentioned, I myself have done that twice.

WhatsApp has been primarily built as a one-to-one communication tool, then it also became many-to-many (groups). The one-to-many ability, though it exists in the form of broadcast messages, doesn’t appear to be used as frequently.

With the new Status, WhatsApp treads into the territory of its new parent – Facebook and to some extent Twitter. By removing the old text-only status feature, WhatsApp did Facebook and Twitter a service. I hope WhatsApp brings back the ability to post text statuses.

And Snapchat. Most of WhatsApp users are perhaps not even aware of the app’s existence, let alone having used it. I don’t have Snapchat on my phone or for that matter Instagram (some say it is because of my age).

WhatsApp has a captive audience of a billion-plus users for its Status feature. Also unlike Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram, your Statuses will be visible to those who have your number in their contacts. So this is not limited by followers or friends, the lack of which any new user on a social site has to deal with.

Snapchat users might scoff at WhatsApp Status, but the 900 million (or more) who are not on Snapchat, wouldn’t even care.

While the range of the frills that WhatsApp is offering on launch is limited, it is likely to be expanded as it evolves, like so many other WhatsApp features. And if you ask me, those lenses and other gimmicks on the likes of Snapchat, are precisely that, gimmicks.

The WhatsApp community is strong and ever growing. Status will only increase WhatsApp’s status. Also that it is there as a separate tab, it doesn’t fight for the user’s attention. Those who wish to ignore that, easily can. But they won’t for long.

Some on social media are already celebrating that this will reduce the number of inane forwards that arrive as messages, as they would now find a new place as Status. I doubt. Groups will continue to thrive on forwards and that irritating cousin isn’t going to stop irritating you any time soon, just because WhatsApp has added a new feature.

This also expands the possibility of WhatsApp’s use by businesses and brands. While WhatsApp had promised business features quite some time ago, we are yet to see any of that.

I have used WhatsApp for both content sourcing and dissemination at my workplace and know that even though the returns are appealing, the effort needed is way too much. Status appears to be much easier to handle, for businesses as well as the news media.

Over the next few weeks, WhatsApp Status will be a much used (and of course, misused) tool to let the world (limited by the number of people who have you in their contacts) know “what’s up.”

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Facebook animatted GIF
Internet, Technology, Tips & Tricks

How to use Twitter to post animated GIFs to Facebook

This is a corollary to a previous post, where I discussed all that you need to keep in mind while creating animated GIFs to post to Twitter.

This new Twitter feature also means that in addition to using Twitter as a free GIF to video conversion service, we can also use it to post animated GIFs to Facebook.

While Google+ and now Twitter support animated GIFs, Facebook is yet to support GIF awesomeness natively.

The steps to follow are simple but with a limitation. The animation posted on Facebook will not loop automatically, as it would on Twitter (and elsewhere). This means that you should look at using GIFs that have a longer play time or if you are creating them yourself, repeat frame sequences to extend play time (as in our example).

Upload the GIF as an image on Twitter and from the tweet posted right click on the animation and click on the ‘Save video as’ option from the contextual menu to download the video.

Next go to Facebook and upload the video. It will take a while to process. And behold! Your GIF is now animating on Facebook (see the Facebook embed on this post or go here).

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Internet, Technology, Tips & Tricks

Two important things to remember while creating animated GIFs for Twitter

GIF lovers of the world rejoice! As many of you are already aware, Twitter now allows animated GIFs to play within the timeline. But before you head to upload from your wonderful GIF collection, read this.

Because Twitter reprocesses your GIFs as MP4 videos, many of the characteristics of the GIF that you had painfully created might be lost and the desired effect might not be visible when seen on Twitter.

This technically means we can also use Twitter as a free GIF to MP4 video conversion service and that Twitter is hoodwinking us users in believing that those are GIFs, while they are in fact videos (Twitter does this obviously to reduce the weight of the files as rendering GIF animations as videos can save a lot of bandwidth).

While this should be self-explanatory, these are the steps you need to follow to use Twitter to convert animated GIFs to MP4 videos. Upload the GIF as an image using Twitter and from the tweet posted right click on the animation and click on the ‘Save video as’ option from the contextual menu.

A few things that I noted while posting a test test GIFs to Twitter:

1. The first frame and the last frames in the GIF animation do not always consistently replay within the animation. This means that if the first frame or the last frame in your GIF animation is of crucial importance in the entire experience, you may need to repeat that twice for twitter users to get the full show.

2. Twitter will also overrule any time lags that you might have set between two frames and will loop all of them at an equal interval. This would also lead to additional work as you would need to replicate frames multiple times to get the desired time delay effect.

The example below illustrates the Twitter GIF caveats better.

This is the original GIF. There are 5 frames (named 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) and the time interval between them increases from 1 second between frames 1 and 2 to 5 seconds between frames 5 and 1.

twitter-animated-gif-test-140622
And this is what Twitter does to the GIF by converting it to MP4. Note the inconsistency in the appearance of the first and the last frames because of browser video playback issues and also that the time intervals between the frames are now uniform.

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Soumyadip Twitter
Internet, Lists, Technology, Videos

My #2013 on Twitter

My bio on Twitter begins with “Internetaholic,” but the rehab treatment in the form of a two-year-old son has been very effective. These days much of my non-work (I work for a website) Internet use happens only when junior is asleep (like now) and this also includes Twitter.

A look at my timeline will almost instantaneously tell you that @soumyadip isn’t much of a twitterer (both in quantity and quality) and it also reflects in my follower count.

But these guys at Vizify make my year on Twitter appear to be much, much, more exciting then I thought it was. Watch this video (that they created, and which I edited a bit) and see if you too share similar thoughts.

And here, dear friends, is a list of my top tweets of 2013 (Dr Batra wouldn’t be too pleased).


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Why what's trending on Twitter in India is largely inconsequential
Internet, Media

Why what’s trending on Twitter in India is largely inconsequential

Now that the mainstream Indian media has discovered the wonders of the Internet, anything that is remotely out of the ordinary online tends to make headlines and triggers studio discussions.

One of the most misused words in the mainstream media is of course – hacking. And the other most followed and reported on is Twitter trends. While there is nothing wrong about reporting what is happening somewhere, but the importance given to many of the events are more often than not grossly out of proportion.

One such event is today’s top trend on Twitter – #PappuDiwas (because it happens to be Rahul Gandhi’s birthday).

Why what's trending on Twitter in India is largely inconsequential

To someone reading such a news item or watching it on the idiot box, it might give the impression that millions are logging in to express their vociferous opinion in 140 characters around the hashtag in question. But when you look at the actual numbers, they are too miniscule to be actually given that degree of importance.

For example, according to to Topsy (the service that returned me the highest figures for my search) there have been only 4796 tweets at the time of posting this and individual Twitter accounts would have tweeted multiple times with the same hashtag. This makes the number of actual people tweeting with the hashtag much smaller. Sometimes the top trends account for far fewer tweets.

Now how much would you weigh the opinion of, at most, a couple of thousand people (most of whom would also be from a similar socio-economic class) in an electorate of over 700 million?

I know that many would construe this as a pro-Congress post. But those who know, will know that this isn’t. The example used is only illustrative to drive the point that the universe of social media opinion in India is still in its formative stages to have any noticeable impact on actual politics, irrespective of what some studies say. More so for Twitter.

Also we should also not forget that Twitter, like so many other places, is full of opinionated idiots and they make the most merry out of the inane. #PappuDiwas, or for that matter #feku is no different.

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Delhi, Grumbles, Internet

To whomsoever it concerns, knows

There are those who lech at women in public and also express anger over rape and molestation incidents online. I know a few and so would you. A little message for them from Cutting the Chai.

To whomsoever it concerns, knows

A little message for those who lech at women in public and also express anger over rape and molestation incidents online. I know a few and so would you. A little message for them from Cutting the Chai.
While I really appretiate your posts, likes, shares, tweets and retweets expressing your concern and anger over the recent horrific gang-rape in Delhi, it will bring about a far greater change for the better if you could also alter the way you think about, look at and act with the women around you – in your workplace, neighbourhood, home and elsewhere.
To whomsover it concerns, knows.
Thank you.
PS: Share if you want to pass this message to someone you know it is intended for.

If you wish to share this post, you can retweet this or share this Facebook post.

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Twitter bird fight
Internet, Media, People

When @MasalaBai got @PoojaB1972’s goat

Twitter bird fight

Work for me is fun, more so with colleagues like @MasalaBai (Rituparna Chatterjee) around. So today following the news of the blast in an Israeli embassy car in Delhi when actress-turned-producer-turned-director Pooja Bhatt went on a rant against the media on Twitter, @MasalaBai couldn’t restrain the journalist within her. What followed was a tweet skirmish – @MasalaBai versus @PoojaB1972.

Good going girls.

Seems @MasalaBai had the last tweet.

Oh wait! It’s not over yet. Bhatt has some more ammunition left in her armoury and so does Chatterjee.

All that LOLing by @PoojaB1972 reminds me of Dimple Chaddha (Parineeti Chopra) from Ladies vs Ricky Bahl.

PS: I don’t follow @PoojaB1972

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Internet, Media, Technology, Websites

#NewTwitter Wish List: 10 things missing in the New Twitter

Got the new Twitter interface and took it for a drive immediately. Some have touted the new-look Twitter as a Twitter desktop client killer, I say, not yet. While, overall, it was a much better experience, but felt it still needs a little more to be able to make me go gaga. There’s much missing in there.

Here’s my top 10 wish-list for the next Twitter upgrade (will they call it the New New Twitter or #NewNewTwitter?):

1. Classic retweet: While Twitter’s inbuilt retweet feature makes retweeting fast and simple, it often kills the purpose. We usually like to add a little comment to the tweet while retweeting but Twitter doesn’t allow that natively. It still involves a copy/paste and manually inserting an RT. Too much work.

Retweet on new Twitter

2. Expanded short URLs: Twitter led to the flood of URL shortening services but even the #NewTwitter doesn’t prevent us from getting a nasty surprise on clicking a shortened URL. If not for the numerous other URL shortening service, they could have at least done it for their very own t.co URLs. The expanded URL being shown on mouseover shouldn’t be too much of  a work. Or is it? (Anyway Twitter will be a bit wary of mouseovers nowadays).

Continue reading

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Announcements, Internet, Specials

cut.tc: Cutting the Chai’s Own Twitter Client and URL Shortener

cut.tc logoSize does matter, more so on Twitter. The 140-character limit to answer to the question, “What’s happening?” has given us popular URL shortening services such as bit.ly, tr.im, goo.gl and also Twitter’s own t.co (tinyurl.com was around a much before the world went atwitter). Now add to that list Cutting the Chai’s cut.tc.

A six-character long domain that also has some connect with its parent is hard to find, but I did find the one that I wanted (though I’d have liked a c.tc but that’s beyond my limited means). The “cut” in cut.tc stands for “cutting” and the “tc” following the dot represents “the chai” (technically the .tc domain extension is for the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the West Indies). Continue reading

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Announcements

So long Blogger. Here comes WordPress-powered CuttingtheChai.com

After five years of blogging on Blogger, it’s now time to move on to WordPress (as announced earlier). While the flavour of Cutting the Chai will not change as a result of the metamorphosis from soumyadipc.blogspot.com to CuttingtheChai.com, I intend to add more spice in the new domain.

Of late tweeting has eaten into my blogging. After the immediate release of a thought/experience via a tweet, I usually don’t have the inclination left to follow that with a longer blog post. While Twitter is a wonderful platform but it cannot (no matter what people say) replace the blog. While I shall continue to tweet (@soumyadip), I promise to blog too.

And this move is just a step towards fulfilling that promise. Having my own hosting gives me greater control my content and the WordPress platform, as everyone will agree, adds more fun to the blog.

Those of you who subscribe to this blog via RSS/Atom feeds, don’t need to update the URL in your feed reader. They’ve all been redirected.

If you keep track of Cutting the Chai posts via email (powered by FeedBlitz), that has also been updated. Emails related to new posts on CuttingtheChai.com should land in your inbox.

The new Cutting the Chai is still a work in progress. You’ll find many elements from the old blog missing in the new. I’ll gradually add them (and more).

The soumyadipc.blogspot.com will remain for the near future, but all the fresh updates (have already imported all the old posts and comments) will happen on the CuttingtheChai.com. Might add a 303 redirection in the future for more seamlessness.

Like the Dilliwallas, who experienced discomfort while the Delhi Metro lines were being built and blessed the mass transit system when it zipped them through the crowded city, I too hope that the momentary inconvenience that the Chaiwallah might make you undergo will finally result in a world-class experience.

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Family & Friends, Photos, Specials

The Chaiwallah’s got a Chaiwali

It has been the longest pause on Cutting the Chai since I first began blogging almost five years back. In fact if you look at the archives, February 2010 will be the only month that has gone postless since May 2005. And there were some pretty important reasons behind my absence here (though I had been tweeting a little). I got married.

Yes, the Chaiwallah has finally got a Chaiwali (though she prefers that, at home, I make the tea).

Its been a crazy last few months, juggling between work and arrangements for the wedding, now we are somewhat settling in into the new scheme of things. After a small ceremony here in Delhi (actually Noida) we went to Shillong (my home town) and then back to Delhi and then to Indore (her home town) and didn’t even have enough leaves left to plan a honeymoon (I’ll have to pay for that).

Soumyadip Varsha WeddingThe wedding went off fine and with family and friends around, it was the best time of our lives (yet). Only I goofed up missing out on inviting some friends (my mother ensured that all relatives were). Apologies buddies.

To make things simpler we opted for a marriage according to Arya Samaj rituals but that didn’t spare me the ignominy (that Bengali bridegrooms have to suffer) of wearing the tupur, courtesy my sis-in-law (No, I’m not going to post those pictures, atleast not here).

I was also live tweeting from my marriage ceremony. Here’s what my Twitter feed read that night:

About to tie the knot in some time from now.

Wedding photographers can be real pests, but then that’s their job.

Olive Garden in Noida Sector 52 is a nice place indeed.

@thecomicproject Oh yes!

@akgoyal She will, if she realises what I’m doing.

Damn feeling sleepy already.

The dulha always ends up hungry… for food.

And kids have the most fun at weddings.

Distant relatives getting the day’s update over the phone.

Cousins think that we are SMSing each other, while I’m just twittering.

Now my neice’s daiper needs to be changed.

Everyone in splits over a funny ringtone.

Round of jokes to keep everyone awake.

From suit changed to dhoti kurta and bhabi insisting that I wear the tupur (the joker-like cap)

Waiting for the bride… girls just can’t be on time even for their own wedding.

The problem of being the groom is that you can’t slip inside the quilt.

@Thecomicproject I waited for 8 years for this day… so impatience does creep in. Minutes become longer.

Even the bored panditji is giving Bhagwat Gita sermons to the photographer and the videographer.

And kids will cry and one will copy the other leading to a wail fest.

Coffee!

Finally the bride is here. Shouldn’t be tweeting during the ceremony.


Just married!

The combination of Vedic shlokas and snores was pure spiritual sloth.

Now for the bidai and the accompanying tears.

Intense discussion on about my brother’s ability to sleep with his eyes and mouth open.
via mobile web Now I can even think of venturing into the wedding planning business.

Also got to update my Facebook profile…okay that can wait for a few hours more.

The Chaiwallah’s now got a Chaiwalli.

The day after. Everyone’s still blissfully asleep.

And here’s me tweeting away:

Tweeting at Wedding

Me with the generation next:

Generation Next

The Chaiwallah with the Chaiwali at Shillong View Point, close to Shillong Peak – the highest point in Meghalaya.

At Shillong View Point

Chaiwallahs can be warriors to. In a traditional Khasi attire (they gave me a wodden sword, so that I don’t cause too much damage in my excitement).

In traditional Khasi dress

But being married shouldn’t change my blogging habits (atleast I would like to think so).

On a personal end life’s changed and now expecting that to happen in the professional sphere too. Will keep posted.

The title of the post is inspired from a congratulations tweet from Dhiraj Ramakrishnan (@stupendousman78)

“congratulations on the chaiwaali may be you need to start planning for the chotus”

The Chotus (or the Chotis) will have to wait, a little.

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