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November 9, 2007

Why blinkx is my new favorite video search engine


It does something none of the others — YouTube, Google, Yahoo, all of 'em — do, to wit: After compiling the results and listing them (so far, nothing out of the ordinary), it transforms into a kind of autonomous, personally tailored TV channel and begins playing all the videos in order, from the first on down.

If you don't call a halt it just keeps on churning, putting up one after another.

Very, very interesting approach and to my way of thinking it trumps all the others.

Joia Shillingford's Q&A with blinkx founder/CEO Suranga Chandratillake in this past Tuesday's Financial Times Digital Business supplement follows.

    Technophile: ‘I want a hovercar one day’

    Suranga Chandratillake, chief executive and founder of video search engine blinkx, talks about his likes and dislikes.

    What’s in your pocket?

    My wallet and some loose change. I tend to keep my mobile in my hand. It is an old Nokia, a 6682, and works well internationally. It also has the one feature I cannot do without – a camera. Photos help me catalogue my time from fun stuff to mundane things.

    First crush?

    The BBC Micro [computer] that my dad bought me when I was eight. I was so looking forward to playing computer games on it. But he wouldn’t buy me any until I’d learned how to write programs. It started me off on the technology track and I’ve basically never stopped.

    True Love?

    My wife. I got married in July and, emotionally, it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me.

    Latest squeeze?

    I travel a lot and am not much of a music listener. But I do love to read. So I’ve just bought a Sony book reader – a kind of iPod for books. It’s the size of one paperback and can carry about 90. I haven’t tried it yet, so I hope it works!

    What makes you mad?

    My previous laptop was infuriating. Whenever its battery was about to run out, it made a very loud noise. That must be one of the most power-draining things a computer can do. I also get fed up having to pack three or four power adaptors every time I travel because I need different ones for different countries: the US, the UK, the continent and so on. Life should be simpler.

    What’s your biggest technical disaster?

    When launching blinkx.com, I agreed to let someone blog about it beforehand. Mostly because I thought he would not have many readers. But when I got back to the office, all our servers had crashed due to the level of traffic on the site. I had to send all the non-technical staff out to buy any PC they could find. And the technical staff stayed till 2am connecting them. We ended up with a strange-looking collection of machines – from laptops to bright-green children’s PCs.

    What would you most love to see?

    A world where there’s no restriction on the movement of people. I was born in Sri Lanka, spent a lot of time travelling with my family, then moved to England and became British. Now I live and work in the US. In a life like that, you see lots of people who can’t do what they want and be with the people they love. And today there are people in other places that I would like to hire and can’t.

    If money was no object?

    I’d like to save the polar bears. A first step might be to collect and ship them down to Antarctica while we figure out how to preserve the diminishing Arctic. It’s just astounding to me that these incredible animals are facing possible extinction in the next few decades.

    Favoured communication method?

    E-mail and instant messaging. I probably receive 500-600 e-mails a day and send about 200. I couldn’t do that any other way. Phone calls have that “hello” and “goodbye” part, which takes time.

    Worst mobile working experience?

    Arriving at a conference in France with a 15-minute presentation to give and only five minutes of power left on my laptop. I had a mains lead, but no socket-adaptor to enable a US plug to fit into a French socket. Nor did the venue have one. Being France, not making a US-to-French adaptor available was practically a political statement. In the end, I ad-libbed for about eight minutes, then went through the slides very fast.

    Website favourites?

    I tend to read all my US and UK news online, including the Financial Times, The Guardian and The Times. I also log on to our Nowthen.com site. Because my friends use it, I can catch up with where they are, and it’s more emotional and visual than e-mail. So far I’ve resisted Facebook. I’ve seen others become junkies and how it’s taken over their lives. I’m hoping everyone will have moved on in a year’s time.

    How wrong have you been?

    I thought e-mail on mobile phones would never take off. I tried one of the first with e-mail and it was really difficult to use. When the BlackBerry came along, I gave it a miss. I realised how wrong I was when I got one two years ago.

    Company to watch (not yours)?

    Zopa.com, an online community bank. It’s a kind of eBay for money that connects borrowers and lenders directly. If you want to borrow money for a project, you apply. Or if you have money to lend, you can pledge it. I grew up in Manchester where people often got together to help each other. I’ve lent a bit of money through it. So far, so good. No one’s defaulted.

    Left field technology?

    We have hovercraft that skim over the sea, but I want a “hovercar”. I look forward to the day I can hover over the traffic. I think we’ll see them in the next 50 years. Then we’ll get the very interesting problem of three-dimensional traffic jams.

November 9, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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