Here’s to the crazy one from Karachi who thought different

There are two kinds of people you have around you, the ones who you know and the ones who you think you know.

The former might be your close family members or ‘real friends’ and you know much about their interests and passions based on either experience or interactions. But in this post-Facebook world, its actually the latter that would surprise you the most. These are people you have met only once or twice, or those that you used to frequent with but not anymore or ones that you follow or who follow you, such as former third-degree colleagues, an influencer working for a cause, the cousin of a cousin, old college friends who would spam your timeline with selfies and photos of their newly born babies. Thanks to the digital revolution and social media, you have the fortunate (or unfortunate) privilege of calling these people your ‘friends’.

Sabeen Mahmud was one such friend whose interaction with me, though limited, was always full of enlightenment.

Our first interaction, if I recall correctly, was at the Karachi TweetUp back in 2009 when I visited Karachi for the very first time and I was introduced to her as someone told me about T2F – a physical space for people where they could learn, teach and practice their love for technology, entertainment, design and open-dialogue (“wow!” I said as I couldn’t imagine such a place to even exist in Pakistan). Later that day I visited T2F and fell in love with the concept and it was then and there that Sabeen told me about Kuch Khaas and introduced me to Shayaan Poppy Afzal Khan (the founder of Kuch Khaas) who later on became a patron and helped me launch the first ever TEDx event in Islamabad.

Later on, my interaction with Sabeen resorted to just an exchange of notifications on Facebook and Instagram on the subject of Apple and its products as I discovered that we both shared great love for Apple and Design. Until 2015.

A lady enters the huddle room at Nest I/O where a design-thinking workshop is in progress and pulls out an iPhone from her back pocket and puts in the on the table (“who puts a phone in the back-pocket, weird!” I thought). It was Sabeen. The very amazing thing about her that she always had a vibe that would make her known, you could feel her presence in the room, and whether that vibe was weird or funny – it worked. That day we developed a very special bond as I was paired up with Sabeen for the workshop and made a gift for her as part of the design-thinking process. I learned that there was a very simple, kind and loving persona behind the one that she actually projected in the public.

“Do you like the high-tech flower I made for you”, I asked. “It’s bluetooth enabled and adapts to your mood. Its super high tech!”. “I don’t know”, she said. “I like simple things. Perhaps the best gift for me would be a simple bouquet of real flowers from across the street and a CD of music”.

I was baffled but gratified and I knew for sure that the next time I would visit T2F, it would be with a bouquet of flowers. Little did I know that there would be no next time.

Only today, two nights after she’s gone, I realize how there was so much more to Sabeen that I didn’t know. How she was a woman of steel, a beacon of light and hope for the people of Karachi, yet a simple human being with simple aspirations who just wanted to see her people change through the power of knowledge, wisdom and open-dialogue.

It’s only when you look back and connect the dots that you realize how many amazing human beings you know and how many you think you know. Until recently, Sabeen was the latter to me and I always have a regret of not getting to know the real her and not taking those flowers for her from across the street. I will also regret never getting the opportunity to sit down with her and talk about our common love and passion for Apple and the future it builds.

“What do you think about the Apple Watch”, she asked me during one of the conversations and I replied that I would tell her my thoughts once I try on the device. Today I placed an order for an Apple Watch but I will always regret of not being able to talk to her about it.

10845812_10153828377487222_1442927315259917762_o Me and Sabeen at Nest I/O.

I think when you lose people like Sabeen, its always hard to have a closure. Finding the right words, siphoning the right memories, reminiscing the right moments but when I think of her, I think of her as the crazy one, the misfit, the troublemaker…the one from Karachi who thought different!

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Is Paypal officially coming to Pakistan? Be surprised!

In a very surprising move today, Paypal has started rolling out its merchant services in Pakistan and now if you try to setup a merchant account through any country other than the US, (e.g. UAE or UK), you will see that you can select Pakistan from the drop down list when adding your business information.

https://www.paypal.com/ae/merchantsignup/create

Now you’d think – why the sudden mysterious change of heart by Paypal for Pakistan?

Online marketers, digital business owners and bloggers have dreamed of this day when PayPal would officially add Pakistan to its list of supported countries so they can take their business to the next level but as previously discussed on numerous occasions and forums, its not easy for Paypal to come to Pakistan for multiple reasons such as volume of business, abundance of terrorism and the vague rules imposed by the State Bank.

So why is Pakistan listed in Country List of PayPal while Signing up?

Honestly there is much speculation around this move and most people on social media believe that it could be possible because of several reasons:

  1. It is a technical fault (or bug) and will be fixed soon.
  2. They are working on their systems to add Pakistan in allowed Country List and slowly updating their system.

So rejoice while you can. It is best not to get excited until unless you read an official blog post by PayPal about adding Pakistan to the list of supported countries.

paypalcomingpakistan

Update: Looks like we have an official answer now. Better luck next time Pakistan

Only the Best Free Webinar Tools and Services for Online Experts

For over a decade now, online trainers and digital marketing experts have relied on various techniques for lead generations and it turns out that again and again it comes down to webinars being the best way to do this since educating customers increases the chances of them listening to you and buying your story – it’s a world proven fact.

But what are webinars really and how are they different from online video conferencing?

If the name rings a bill, the ‘webinar’ is just like a ‘seminar’ but over the web. It could be a small presentation, lecture, workshop or a general online event where the purpose is to educate or inform a mass of people simultaneously.

And yes, if there’s one thing you should know about webinars, it’s that they are resource intensive because you are trying to bring a huge crowd of people online together (anywhere from 25, 50 to 100 or even more) so you can imagine that whatever tool or service you are going to use to host a webinar should have huge amount of bandwidth and cpu resources which makes it all the more hard to find a service that would let you do this for free.

Below, we will take a look at some of the best webinar tools that the web has to offer along with their pricing and features.

GoToWebinar & BlueJeans

blue-jeans-conference

GoToWebinar is a product created by Citrix and comes under the GoToMeeting product umbrella that has been around for more than a decade and is undoubtedly the best webinar hosting service available on the web but is only suitable if you have large volumes of webinars and is not recommended for individuals or small businesses since they don’t offer a free version.

Same is the case with BlueJeans which is a rather new but amazing webinar service that has garnered quite a loyal following but the issue with both of these services is that they don’t offer a free version so if you want to webinars just once in a while and don’t want to pay for it, GoToMeeting and BlueJeans are not recommended.

Free Online Webinar Tools & Services

As such there is no webinar tool or service that is completely ‘free’ but there are some webinar tools and services that offer free features but with constraints and in the post below we are going to discuss which of these services exist and which ones are the best in terms of ‘free’ value.

Google Hangouts (Free)

meetinggdochangout

Hangouts, which are originally part of Google+, is one of the best free services available online that you can use to host a webinar.

The Good:

  • Works in the browser
  • Screensharing and Presentation sharing
  • Remote desktop sharing
  • 3rd party apps integration for record and presentation (Slideshare, YouTube etc)
  • Works on desktop, iPhone and Android

The Bad:

  • Requires you to install a plugin once.
  • Only 15 participants can join simultaneously.
  • Organizer and all participants must have Gmail email / Google+ profile

One of the unique features about Google Hangouts is Hangouts on Air which lets you broadcast your hangout to an unlimited number of users but the disadvantage there is that your users won’t be able to interact with your via chat, audio or video.

Skype (Free)

group-screen-sharing

Skype, now owned by Microsoft, is one of the those services which actually started the trend of video calls when it was launched back in 2003 (almost 11 years ago). Today, Skype is so much more and now it lets you do all sorts of stuff – messaging, calling, video conferencing, screen sharing, online presentations etc

The Good:

  • Microsoft backed service.
  • Integration with Facebook.
  • Works on desktop and mobile.
  • 3rd party recording apps available.

The Bad:

  • Requires you to install Skype
  • Only 10 people allowed with screen sharing with video
  • Maximum 25 people while screen sharing with no video
  • All participants must have a Skype ID.

Join.Me (Basic)

joinmewebinar

Join.Me is a product of the famous Boston-based remote access and remote desktop sharing company LogMeIn

The Good:

  • Powered by LogMeIn
  • Only 10 participants allowed
  • Apps for iPhone and Android

The Bad:

  • Recording not available
  • iPad Presentation feature not available
  • Desktop app only available for Windows
  • Join.me account needed
  • Viewers will be shown ads on their screen

MeetingBurner (Free)

meeting-burner-webinar

MeetingBurner is a fast and simple online meeting platform that can be used for screen sharing, online presentations and webinars.

The Good:

  • Host Unlimited Webinars
  • Only 10 participants allowed
  • No Ads for viewers
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • Streaming video of host
  • Customisable registration page
  • Facebook Promotion Tool

The Bad:

  • Old app for iPhone / Android
  • No Recording allowed
  • No Meeting Analytics

Zoom.us (Basic)

zoom webinar

And now for our favourite.

Zoom.us is a web and video conferencing service that offers unique solutions such as conference room to iPad connections and the world’s first ever iPhone/iPad screen sharing solution. It gathered a lot of press recently as it managed to win $30 million in Series C funding.

The Good:

  • Up to 25 participants allowed
  • Dual stream for dual screen
  • Join by telephone call-in
  • HD video and HD audio
  • Dynamic voice detection
  • Share iPhone/iPad screen
  • Windows, Mac, Android and iOS
  • Whiteboarding & Recording available
  • Attendees don’t need to have an account

The Bad:

  • Browser plug-in needed
  • 40 minutes per meeting

It seems like it was a tough battle between MeetingBurner and Zoom.us but when it comes to number and uniqueness of features along with reliability and value – Zoom.us wins hands down. Not only does Zoom.us offers a higher number of attendees as compared to other free webinar tools and services, it also offers a range and variety of features that other services don’t have and the $30 million venture backing tells us that its here to stay in the market for long.

If you have any other free webinar tools or services that you would like us to review, please share in the comments below.

Can’t Wait? Here’s how to download leaked episodes of Game of Thrones

Tonight’s the night when the most watched show in the history of TV – Game of Thrones – premiers with its new season, although unlike other times, HBO isn’t happy with this launch.

It seems that a hacker got hold of a screener copy which was sent to reviewers ahead of the show’s launch and leaked it to torrent sites and now it’s making rounds over the Internet in 480p (HBO offers the show in full HD 720p / 1080p)

Out of the 10 episodes in total, 4 have been already leaked online and the hacker has teased that more might be coming on the way. While this is good news for most of the fans out there, those who want to watch the show in its full HD glory might want to stay away from the leaked episodes. One thing’s for sure – HBO isn’t happy with all of what’s going on and it would be interesting to see how they manage to get past this disaster.

And now for the big question – how to download the new Game of Thrones episodes in high speed?

Well that should be easy. Just head over to your favorite torrent website and write the magic words.

Great Free Online Tools and Apps for Startups and Entrepreneurs

When you are doing a startup, the first thing you look for is for efficient ways to keep the costs at minimum while increasing the productivity of your team and building a solid product that appeals to your customer base. This can be tricky as one needs to find the right tools that can help them achieve this!

Below we have shortlisted and handpicked some of the essential best free online tools that startups and entrepreneurs can use.

Google Docs

Online document collaboration doesn’t get easier than this. Introduced in early 2005 as Writely, the Google backed free web-based office suite is tightly integrated with Google Drive and has come a long way over the decade with new features being released every month. The tool allows you to create Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Form, Drawings and Fusion Tables and lets your import/export files from Microsoft Office and the other great feature of this online tool is that it lets you connect 3rd party apps and services to your account.

google-drive

Trello or BaseCamp

For those who manage remote teams, Trello is the perfect little tool that can help you keep a track of your to-dos in a visual manner with help of “boards”. Trello is a simple app that will help everyone on your team collaborate better and it is flexible enough in a way that it lets you create multiple boards so you can manage your team effectively and communicate with them in a better way without having to email each other and follow up on tasks. BaseCamp is quite similar such that it also lets you manage projects and teams effectively and comes with a close integration of Google Docs.

trello-600x375

MailChimp

This one’s really useful if you are in the business of getting customers through email marketing. MailChimp is online email marketing solution to manage contacts, send emails and track results and you will find yourself using it a lot of if you have products to offer or if you want to keep your customers in loop with news, updates or discounts. Free for first 2,000 subscribers.

Redesign2x02-600x418

Asana

Asana markets itself as “teamwork without email”. Hard to believe right? But that’s exactly what it does. Founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, this is the next generation project management tool that is being used around by small and medium enterprises to manage their teams, tasks, project deadlines, resource management – all without the hassle of emails.

asana

Zoom.us

Zoom will take care of all your online meeting, conferencing or group chat needs. What makes Zoom really useful for startups is that it allows conferencing with as many as 25 participants on its free account (more than Google Hangout or Skype) and this makes it an amazing tool for cross-team collaboration or doing webinars. You can not only host a video meeting but also do screen-sharing as well and there is an iPhone/iPad app available too so you can take your work anywhere and be mobile.

screen480x480-e1406223144896

OHours and Doodle

So you are in the business of meeting people a lot and find it hard to schedule your meetings? Meet OHours. Ohours is an online tool to schedule meetings with a lot of people by allowing you to make public slots available which people can subscribe to. This way you can schedule multiple meetings and never lose the track whether the meeting is on phone, on Skype or even in person. Doodle is another similar tool that lets simplifies the process of scheduling events, whether they’re board or team meetings, dinners with friends, reunions, weekend trips, or anything else.

Screen-shot-2012-05-31-at-10.40.23

Google Analytics

Everyone knows about this. Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. Interestingly the target market for this tool are digital marketers as opposed to web masters and technologists and it is now the pseudo-standard for analytics and data collection on the web.

googleanalytics-600x320

Creately

If you wan to create mind maps, mockups or complex business models as simple connected nodes then Creately is the tool for you. It will let you do everything e.g. flowcharts, organisations sitemaps, wireframes & UI mockups, mind maps, network diagrams and even info graphics.

creately-600x320

Help create better education & learning solutions for refugees of Pakistan

What if I tell you you could win $500,000 in funding for submitting an idea?

A few months a very interesting opportunity came my way when I found out that IDEO.org was looking to hire an In-Country Community Manager for the Amplify program in Pakistan. As one would do, I looked at the job description and applied right away with little knowledge of what I would be involved in and little did I know that I would be selected to lead human-centered design community in Pakistan around one of the most important challenges on:

How might we improve education & learning opportunities for refugees and people displaced by conflict in Pakistan?’

amplifychallengepakistan

About Amplify and Amplify Challenge

Amplify is a series of challenges to make international aid more collaborative and human-centered and is brought to you by IDEO.org, OpenIDEO.com and DFID. Learn more at http://www.ideo.org/amplify

For 2015, the challenge is around finding the best solutions and learning opportunities for refugees and people displaced by conflict in Pakistan and we are calling out to all NGOs, non-profits, startups, think tanks (and even individuals) with love for education and design to tackle this challenge by coming up with ideas using a more human-centered design approach.

ideochallengephases

If you would like to participate, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Create a profile on OpenIDEO.com and scout the challenge
  2. Contribute to research phase (Before: April 31, 2015)
  3. Submit your idea to the platform (Starts April 21, 2015)
  4. Refine your idea based on feedback from designers
  5. Get selected in ‘Top ideas’ and get funded $500,000

To get a visual overview of how Amplify Challenge works – please go through the slides embedded below or read the FAQs

Essentially those are the simple steps but we would like you to take your idea to the next level for which we will be providing design-thinking support by conducting workshops around human-centered design (in Islamabad and Lahore) so if you think you or your organisations can benefit from these workshops, please drop a word at saadhamid@me.com and I will keep you in the loop.

How To Get Involved with Amplify

What we are trying to do here is build a community of people who love design and would like to use it as a tool to create impact. Also, we believe, what we are trying to do with Amplify would build the building blocks of forming a community around human-centered design in Pakistan and therefore we would like all sorts of people and communities to get involved and support us in this initiative.

If you are an NGO, non-profit or startup or an individual with love for education and design, we look forward to your participation in the challenge. Amplify not only gives you the opportunity to get feedback from the worlds’ best designers about your idea but also gives you an opportunity to win $500,000 in funding if your idea makes it to the top.

For all other folks, we request you to spread the word about this challenge on social media so with your help we can reach out to the most relevant organizations and individuals in Pakistan who can contribute to this challenge.