Techcrunch’s Maps Review

by: bubba murarka

A few people were talking about the recently posted techcrunch comparison of Ask Maps, Google Maps, MapQuest, Windows Live Local and Yahoo Maps today.  The comments on their post have a good bit of back and forth and I really liked how Frank engaged in the comment discussion (scoble and steve lombardi both provided some WLL feature data points). 

I was bummed that there wasn't any mention of the wacky/cool new preview feature that the WLL team released a while ago.  It enables you to drive (or walk!) down the street and get a street side view of Seattle or San Francisco.  It also lets you move via the keyboard. 

On a minor note, Frank noted that WLL doesn't put a route line on the map for driving directions.  When I mapped my daily commute I got one, so I'm not sure if I'm missing what he meant or if this was missed. 

One thing the techcrunch review prompted me to do was go back to Mapquest.  I hadn't been there in a very long time, and was surprised to see how different its interface was from the other big mapping services.  Since they are the lions share of map traffic I wasn't sure how to interpret that.  In the end, traffic will tell, but I couldn't help and wonder if there is more then one formula for mapping UIs.

Being candid – I had never thought much about maps until the last 6 months, but now I'm blown away by what is out there and eager to see what is to come.  I'm really glad there are so many passionate cartographer out there!  FWIW, my favorite map related thing is going by birds eye tourism to see shamu and the like

Being Notable

by: bubba murarka

When Scoble was hanging out on Monday he mentioned an idea that would incorporate Wikipedia entries for people. I thought that was cool, wondered what social norms ruled edits for biopages, and then promptly forgot about it as we jumped to the next new topic. 

On memeorandum, I ended up reading Danah Boyd's post on her experiences of having a Wikipedia page.  Needless to say, it was fascinating to read about something I'm not sure I would have ever taken the time to learn about on my own. 

My thoughts after reading it? 

Wow, it sure is easy to spend a lot of time lost on the web.  How do people avoid information overload?  I realized I had by ignorning lots of it. 

What’s in a Name?

by: bubba murarka 

Thanks Scoble for the chance to guest blog!  

I thought I’d start off by telling the story behind my nickname Bubba. 

My real name is Neel Ishwar Murarka, but for the last 15 years my friends have called me Bubba.  I got the name in high school right before my freshmen year.  I played football and was a constant smart mouth to one of the coaches.  Not a great idea since he made me run lots of extra laps during every practice.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t pronounce my last name.  I think it was the second “r” that got him.  Anyhow, since I was the biggest guy on the freshmen team he started to call me Bubba.  I was new to the area and didn’t know anyone, so when the first day of school came around (football practice started 2 weeks before school) I rolled in with the name Bubba.   I guess I could have made a point and asked to be called Neel, but I thought Bubba was fun and wouldn’t last that long.  Ironically, I only played football my freshmen year, but I still have the nickname Bubba! 

In college I kind of took the name and ran with it…literally

My first stint at Microsoft was as an intern on the Macintosh Office team.  Like most companies, Microsoft issues a login id that is a variant of your first and last name.  Traditionally, it was the first name plus the first letter of the last name (e.g. blake irving got blakei – btw, Blake gave a great grad speech at my alma mater).  As the company grew collisions started to happen and so people started getting first name and first two letters of their last names.  Eventually the collisions happened so much that people got first letter of their first name and seven letters of their last name…just like good old unix login names. 

Neel is the Indian spelling of the name Niall which my parents told me means Sky Blue, but wikipedia thinks differently (well, sort of).  13 zeros isn't all that bad…

How are the last two paragraphs related to the name Bubba? 

When I got to Redmond on a sunny day in June of 2000 I was granted the glorious login id of “t-neelmu”.  The “t-“ signified I was an intern.  The “neelmu” was there because Neel Malik (now a PM on the Spaces team) already had gotten first dibs on “neelm”. 

By the end of my summer internship I realized people tended to refer to others by their alias.  A ton!  I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be called “neelmu” day in and day out if I came back to MSFT full time.  So when I decided to join the threedegrees team in 2001 I asked if I could get something other then neelmu as my alias.  My recruiter and new team all knew me as Bubba, and so I got bubbam as my Microsoft alias.  It is still pretty funny to see the quick double take people do when I introduce myself in professional settings

I love my nickname, but my Mom still calls me Neel whenever we talk. Whew…that was a lot to write about a nickname.  Hopefully I didn’t scare anyone away! 

updated: added a by-line to identify myself as the author & added slight bit of correction on the text/link to wikipedia.