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(Click here to read the press release about the two 1999 and 2001 Knight Ridder Excellence Awards for Technology I received.)
In 1997, Rajiv developed PhillyFinder – a unique portal software for the web. This was the first and still the only product that integrates a search engine with a directory. To understand why this integration is a unique feature, consider Yahoo (a directory) and Altavista (a search engine). Assume you are in Yahoo’s "Colleges and Universites" sub category. If you search for a keyword there, it brings back results from the category, but only from the titles of the sites. If you ask it to search all pages on those sites, Yahoo forwards you to a search engine (before Altavista, now Inktomi), but your results are no longer limited to "Colleges and Universities". Using PhillyFinder, if I am looking at the "Colleges and Universities" category in Philadelphia and I search for a word, it brings results only from sites listed under that category. You can even select which individual sites to search for a keyword. I haven’t seen this functionality on any other portal site yet. Then in 1999, working with Rajiv, Karl Martino developed PhillyFinder version 2.0. (Click here to read more about PhillyFinder.)
In 1999, working with Rajiv, Sam Cohen & Karl Martino developed a content management and publishing system named cofax (Content Object Factory). Similar in concept to Vignette's StoryServer, FutureTense's Internet Publishing System, ACI OpenPages, and such products, cofax is a fully cross-platform solution developed using Java Servlets and other reusable Java components. (Click here to read more about cofax.)
In 1998, Rajiv developed an ad management system for PhillyTech magazine, PNI’s publication for people in the technology industry. This system has a web based interface and makes it easy for the PhillyTech staff to fetch ads for placement in the print magazine.
In 1995, he developed and implemented the world’s first automated system for publishing a newspaper to the web. It enabled us to compete with major sites like the NY Times and Washington Post that had large staffs dedicated to the task. On a visit to the NY Times Online operation in 1996, I found that it took about 12 people to do what our automated program did here. It freed up our small staff of less than 10 people to build an online service beyond the newspaper articles. Several other newspapers requested to purchase this system.
In 1998, he added a component to the web publishing software to automatically serve a "Handheld" edition of the newspapers online for devices such as Palm Pilots.
In early 1996 before Newshound was announced, Rajiv developed and launched our own Newshound-like service, a personalized newspaper which could be read on the web or delivered automatically by e-mail. It allowed users to manager their profiles and get a personalized newspaper using a web based interface or by e-mail.
In 1995, Rajiv developed and implemented our AdMaster software. This was the first available ad placement and management system for web sites and many organizations showed interest in licensing it. This software was developed long before similar solutions from NetGravity and RealMedia costing several thousand dollars hit the market. With this, we were among the first major sites to have it's own in-house ad management system. This allowed our Business Manager to manage ads all over the site from a web page without having to know HTML or to modify thousands of pages. This helped us become a major site for advertising. We even won the award for EPPY award for "Best use of Advertising on a Newspaper Web Site". Having this software when other sites manually managed ads gave us a major head start. Even in 1995, this software had all the advanced features like automatically rotating ads in 1995 when other products that had similar features came out in late 1996 and early 1997.
In 1995, Rajiv advocated that Philly Online should host other organizations’ web sites like ISPs do. Then he went ahead and implemented the technology to make it happen. We were the first newspaper site to do this. This also allowed us to sell ads on our web sites to companies that didn’t have a web site – we created one for them. It opened the door for many partnerships in the future. This has been a major source of revenue for Philly Online.
In 1997, Rajiv developed Philly Online’s "YellowPages" software. This software is used to create web sites for local businesses in the Philadelphia area. The sites are easily created by filling out forms on a web pages without requiring any web building or HTML skills. Even so, the sites can have their own features and look and feel. The interface is designed so that any local business that wants a web site can get one by filling out forms on a web site – a process that takes very little time and effort. Philly Online now hosts hundreds of web sites and this has contributed to revenue.
This was based on the earlier publishing software he had developed that allowed affiliates such as SEPTA (local transportation authority) and Larry Kane (TV Personality) to publish and maintain their own pages on Philly Online by just pasting text into a web form.
In 1995, he developed one of the very first "shopping cart" based classified search systems on the web. This was used to serve PNI’s classifieds on the web interactively when most sites just let you search and browse the ads. This system allowed users to search for keywords, make a personal list of ads to print, and even save their current position and continue later if they had to leave the computer. It had features in 1995 that commercial products like the Microsoft Personalization system and other companies' ad systems costing several thousands of dollars appeared in the market over a year later in 1996. Along with it he also set up a web page so that users could submit classified ads over the web, all this in 1995.
In early 1997, Rajiv developed the web publishing system for The Sports Network, a PNI affiliate. The sports update pages of major publications including the New York Times Online, Boston.com, Lycos, CompuServe and several Knight-Ridder newspapers are powered by this software. This software which PNI provided to The Sports Network allowed them to build a profitable co-branded sports web site business. This was one of the early automated co-branding systems on the web. It allows a content provider to easily build hundreds of web sites for affiliates and customers.
In 1996, helped create the Cyberzone web site at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, a PNI affiliate. On this site, visitors to the museum can publish their own home page with their photo in seconds. Rajiv developed the software that hosts these several thousand home pages. This was an early example of helping people in the community publish their own home pages with us.
In 1996, Rajiv created an e-mail gateway between the legacy Atex system and the Internet. This was the first such product and many corporations including Atex were interested in it. This provided instant e-mail access to nearly a thousand Atex users immediately long before the PNI’s Internet mail server was set up. Provided newsrooms a way to send text in and out of their Atex systems without having to learn a new system. Several people still use this to receive stories, wires, and other information from all over the world for free. They also use this to transfer files to their home computer to do work. Some newsroom people still rely on this to receive regular feeds of information from outside sources.
In 1997, he planned and installed the Internet mail server PNI and handed it over to the Telecom department. Also helped the Telecom department set up Remote access and Virtual Private Networking to allow people to work from remote locations. This helped eliminate the need for accounts at external ISPs saving PNI over $4,000 per month.
From 1996 till recently he implemented and managed the firewalls for protecting PNI’s network from the Internet as well as for protecting the web site. He then worked with the Systems’ department in transitioning this role to them.
Over the years, he has developed several solutions for the publishing side. These rang from small automated programs to creating full fledged software like the system that allows authorized newsroom people to transfer files to and from Atex securely over the Internet. With this tool, users can drag a word processor document from their PC to a web page and have it appear in an Atex queue and vice versa. This is the simplest, securest mechanism for transferring word processor documents into the Atex systems. These web based remote publishing tools became very popular with the newsroom systems’ people. They saved money for long distance calls and were faster, more reliable and easier to use (just need a web browser) than the dial-up mechanism the newsrooms were using before. These tools are used by foreign correspondents and affiliates like AccuWeather to send PNI data.
In 1997, he created the web based system for doing Ad layout on pages for the print side. This was referred to as the "Netscape Interface" by the publishing folks. This was a temporary solution to a major problem publishing systems people were facing for a while. It addressed the difficulties in placing ads on pages and sending to multiple Atex networks on the Inquirer side. Eventually, Atex upgraded their system and we didn't need it anymore but until that happened this system was what kept things going.
Rajiv developed new system for capture, pre-processing, and transfer of both newspapers' articles to MediaStream. The system automates several sorting and formatting tasks that were previously done manually. It freed up the Library staff several extra hours each day that they can better utilize to do other work. The library now has only one person assigned to this task which was handled by 5 or 6 before. The others are now involved in other productive projects.
He also provided consulting and support to the Library department with setting up PNI’s Intranet site.
In 1997, he helped set up the PNI corporate web site which included an online edition of company’s internal newsletter, Between Editions.
Often, when other departments at PNI have needed technological solutions, Rajiv has been the one to go to for help.
Rajiv began writing programs on his IBM PC he was in 5th grade. Within two years, he began computer consulting and programming for companies while still struggling with 7th grade homework. (They didn't pay him any money because he was too young, but they let him play on their computers.)
When Philly Online had it’s first party to celebrate one year of the site, Rajiv wasn’t allowed to drink because he was still under 21. Shortly after joining Philly Online, he became famous for setting a sandwich on fire in a microwave. He continues to be known for doing such things, a recent example being filling gas in a diesel truck and driving it around town now knowing why it was blowing smoke like a chimney.
Before joining Philadelphia Online, he worked at Unisys corporation on a universal e-mail inbox system to integrate voicemail, fax, and e-mail. Before Unisys, he consulted and programmed for numerous corporations as well as for individuals.
Rajiv has been maintaining his personal web site since 1994 which once upon a time used to get more visits than Philly Online. One of the popular parts of his personal site is the software and tech tips page where you can download for free some of the software he has developed for the web community. Another is the India: Humor Jokes and Fun site. Rajiv’s India Information site was once linked from the Washington Post’s web site as one of the 4 or 5 major India related sites. Last year, Roger Ebert the famous movie critic wrote a good review of rajiv.com in his column in Yahoo’s print magazine.
Software written by Rajiv has been featured on Netscape’s technical support site. Impressed by the work that Rajiv and others in the Philly Online tech group had done, people at Microsoft including Bill Gates himself have praised Philly Online’s technological innovations giving specific examples from the site.