Importing ERSI Shape file (SHP) into MapPoint 2006

I used to have this download readily available on my old MSDN blog (but unfortunately that blog’s content has been taken down after I left Microsoft). So here is the link again to the free download that you can use to import any shapefile into MapPoint:

I also found this cool C library that can read and write ESRI shape files:


See you at Inman SF Connect 2007

I will be on a panel at Inman SF Connect 2007  where we will be discussing the aspects of Social Networking in in real-estate.

Here are some details about the session:


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Social Networking: New ways to participate and prospect

Moderator: Marc Davison, Partner, 1000Watt Consulting

David Gibbons, Director, Community Relations, Zillow
Chandu Thota, Co-Founder & CTO, Fatdoor
David Bethoney, Co-Founder & CEO, PropertyQube
Ben T. Smith IV, Co-Founder & Chairman, MerchantCircle

I would love to see you there if you are attending!

Neighbors, Interests, Aggregation of data

James Fee says

“It isn’t that I don’t mind knowing who my neighbors are, its just that I’d rather meet them on the sidewalk and not in some virtual chat room”

I agree with James –  at fatdoor, our mission is to connect people at a neighborhood level – not so much in the chat rooms but – at a neighborhood level. Let me explain what this is about. I have had conversations with a number of people regarding “knowing neighbors”. Usually the conversation goes like this:

Me: Do you know your neighbors?

Someone: No, actually I don’t…

Me: Don’t want to know them, come on, they live around you…

Someone: Sure, but I don’t have time… I’m too busy

Me: What if there is a service that introduces your neighbors online and you get to know them before you get a chance to meet then in person?

Someone: Oh, that’s interesting, would love check it out, so I know who lives around me

We all know our neighbors, but in the sense of “knowledge” comes in different variations: we say “hello” to them everyday, we wave at them as we drive by – but we don’t know their names are or we don’t know their interests so on and so forth. That’s the social gap that we aim to bridge. To that end, we aggregate interests in any neighborhood and present them as an “interest cloud” (ala tag cloud see below).

So how would one use it? Simply use it to enable offline activity. First you get to know neighbors who share similar interests as you do – and then we let you connect and communicate with them to collaborate better in the neighborhood – by creating a community (eg. a mothers club or a book club etc) around what you really care about.

So the key is: teardown the information-flow-barriers online to create activity offline. That’s what we do – and hey if you are interested in helping us, we are hiring 🙂

Identity, Responsibility and Social Networks

John Udell has a post about Simon’s blog and local blogging rules (Simon is the editor of my book). In that post John talks about two rules that Simon has about “local blogging”; one of them, in particular, caught my attention and resonated with me very well in the context of my current work at fatdoor:

Responsibility is inversely proportional to community size

When you’re doing local stuff, you can’t stay anonymous for long. I think that has a major impact on the tone of things. The content has to be a lot more accurate because people will call you on it. Somehow the level of responsibility increases as the size of community decreases. It really changes the dynamics thoroughly.

There are two important things to note in this rule: identity and responsibility. Just think about it. When you reveal your real identity online and when you deal with real people online (that you actually know or see in real life), that does change the dynamics dramatically. That’s the same reason why the dynamics of different social networks are so different on MySpace, Facebook and Fatdoor.

When real people participate, they form a mature social networks that behave responsibly; now that makes me feel like the good old new yorker cartoon (that famously said: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”) sooo Web 1.0 🙂

What do you think?

On identity aggregation

I came across this article about identity aggregation today written by a friend of mine: Mike Gunderloy; Mike and I worked together a couple of years ago on Web Services magazine stuff. Anyway, Mike says the social network aggregation hasn’t reached a sweet spot since there is no huge uptake yet. I agree – and the reason for massive adoption is that most social networks duplicate our relationships (and hence the Social Networking Fatigue) – but in reality though, we do maintain number of different identities in life and we also do maintain a number of different networks of people (with some overlap). For example, I have friends at my work (LinkedIn), at my school (Facebook) and in my neighborhood (fatdoor); these networks are very different in nature and involve different people and are complementary to each other.

So in order to create value in identity aggregation, one has to approach the problem in aggregating different dimensions of a profile that does not overlap. And of course, that also depends on number of things such as open-ness of the networks and so on to ensure the interoperability of the networks. At fatdoor, we are working on several fronts to make our neighborhood network open – also please send me if you have any cool ideas on this front.

So, my question to you is – what is more valuable? Aggregating different dimensions of an identity or aggregating social networks irrespective of their dimensions?

Explore your neighborhood…

We rolled out new bits to production last night with a bunch of usability tweaks and bug fixes, but the thing that I would like to touch upon is that “explore” mode is now open (you don’t have to sign-up to browse your neighborhood). You can now browse your neighborhood without signing into fatdoor.

Thanks for all the feedback (and feature requests!) – its great to see so much enthusiasm from the fatdoor community. Please keep it coming – we are listening!
PS: We have updated our jobs page if you are interested being part of our fantastic and fun team. If you are interested, send us your resume at
Chandu Thota

fatdoor and supported browsers

A couple of users have sent me emails asking if fatdoor works on Safari and Firefox etc. So, I thought I would follow-up with a post on this. Here is what we currently support:

Firefox – On Windows and Mac
– IE (6 & 7) – On Windows

Also please note that we are working on a number of known issues for Safari support and will post an update on that later.

In the mean time if you see any issues, please send them using “contact” form (We are reading each and every single mail that comes through) or you can directly send them to me at

Chandu Thota
Co-Founder & CTO