JK Speaks

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Understand and study, incl. your religion

Lord Ganesh’s idols are to be immersed in rivers, lakes, ponds or other water bodies (and not in sea) in order to preserve the fresh water. And it has to be the Eco-friendly clay idols and not those hazardous ones made of plaster of paris or chemicals (paints).

But the typical theists believes it’s an act that symbolizes the concept of moksha (liberation) i.e., the eternal cycle of the formlessness to form to formlessness. Here equate the clay to human body.

On the other side, it’s well known the atheists don’t believe in such beliefs, rituals and customs.

Unfortunately, (on religious grounds) this shows the world is divided into these two main groups i.e., the rational atheists vs the irrational theists. 

It’s high time more and more rational theists (those who believe on the first para) surfaces and spreads the logical reasons so that the world becomes a better and sustainable place to live (in harmony and peace).

Moral: It’s better to understand and study rather mug up and vomit.

OK, you may ask now why this kola-preaching? Just back from city… You know how hard it’s to drive on the day of immersion with the so-called pious group behaving as if it’s their Bus day – the day when the road belongs to them!

Life of Pi – A philosophical review!

Movie reviews were simple a couple of decades back. It’s either – good, ok or bad. Now, in this digital age and internet era, with people exposed to world cinema, knowing the nuances of each department of film making, I think reviewing a movie is as hard as making it.

Since I’ve never been a movie buff, I think it’s better that I don’t take this job. So I would suggest, as always it will be, you can glean for the best information about a movie from the so-called critics and students of cinema. Or, it can be simply from the friend-whom-you-trust who had just started reviewing movies in the name of blogging!

Like everyone, me too expected Life of Pi will be just a visual treat, as it is. And at the most a survival story can offer a message is – Life is Precious. But I didn’t expect it will be a long sojourn of philosophical teachings with a backdrop of Hindu religion on a Christmas day!

So after watching it, what reminisced me are as follows:

We are all curious, only when we were kids
Whatever stupid things we do, the only person who will support us, is our mother
Consciously or subconsciously our father is our philosopher and guide, if not a friend

You and your brother are always north and south poles
We all have a mamaji, who inspires and instills all kinds of valor-isms in us
Your first crush is always a passing cloud, until you watch a movie like this

Naming our pet is the most secular thing we do..
..that’s why we hear Jimmys and Tommys even from a house of an orthodox Hindu family

When necessity strikes, you become a genius engineer
But the irony is, it doesn’t strike for most of us
Living in Chennai and living with a tiger is same..
..you are always challenged and kept busy, just for survival

Humans are carnivorous by nature
And once you taste the flesh, the panneers and gobis will take a backseat
Sex is a physiological need, but not as primary as air, water and food

You ought to hear superstar’s sloka (2:40) as often in this journey
But never to worry about the survival, because the movie is a flashback story narrated by the protagonist himself
Also, the lines of little superstar when Pi loses his loved one..
..I mean not the one from his same species, but the big cat from Bengal

There are people who don’t believe in you
And there are people who believe in you..
..provided you keep offering them, something that tastes good
And thanks to a magnificent Irrfan Khan who shows how men cries

For those who’ve read the book (certainly I don’t belong to this creature)..
..watching Life of Pi would’ve been an icing on the cake
All for Ang Lee’s brilliance with the lens

And for everyone, however banal it is, there was one lesson for the entire stretchhh..
..always have a hope and do remember that all good things comes to an end

So for now, just by listening to its soothing title track..
..I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2013


Best customer support, but just on paper!

Just sharing my experience with Tata Sky that I’ve posted in saveondish.

Six months back, my TataSky set top box (STB) started making a dub dub dub dub sound when I switch on its main power. After ~30 secs the sound will stop and only after that, the STB will get switched on to its standby mode. This will occur only if the TV has been switched on after a period of 4 to 5 hours of its idle time.

When the problem recurred, though not so often, I raised a compliant. After sometime (I don’t remember the exact no. of days), I got a call from a technician asking that whether he can visit on the time he called. I requested him whether he can visit the next day because I’ve already switched on the TV. If it’s the next day, I can make sure the TV is not switched on so as to reproduce the issue to him. He said ‘yes’, but it was only theoretical!

Since then, I wasn’t very serious because of the infrequent nature of the problem. But one and half months back, when the problem started occurring repeatedly, I raised a compliant again. The WO (Work Order) no. shared with me for my reference was 1-14702256654. After a few days, I got a call from a technician whether he can visit the next day, for which I agreed. Interestingly and quite immediately, I got a message from TD-MYTSKY that the corresponding WO is completed (#flaw). But as usual, the technician didn’t turn up.

After a few escalations, so as to get a technician visit my home and also specifying the above mentioned flaw, another WO was generated in the no. 1-14728602716 (#flaw – because the earlier one wasn’t reopened). I think after a day or two, I got a call from a technician that whether he can visit the next day. I said fine and this time, not so surprisingly, I received a similar WO completion message. I immediately called the same technician and inquired about the message for which he replied.. “this is done so as to make sure any compliant is closed within 24 hours” (#flaw – a compliant can be closed even without the problem is solved).

Next day when the technician called me up to know the route to my house and also when he asked whether the problem is with my TV or STB, I asked to bring a spare STB so that it will be easy to identify where the problem is. As suggested, he came with a spare one, switched on the TV and came to know about the problem. He disconnected the existing one and connected the new one. There was no sound. I asked him what next. He said that’s it – your STB has been swapped with the new one. And no doubt I was puzzled!

I told him how come this is possible because he didn’t inform me about the swapping procedure (#flaw – no prior explanation of details). Moreover the swapped one, though functioning, it was looking very old with full of scratches. I was not in a position to accept the box. He immediately called up his supervisor with whom I asked and argued to repair my STB and give it back, for which I will pay and expect a minimum guarantee period – a normal procedure while going for repairs of any appliances. He said it’s not possible. So I came to conclusion that it’s no point continuing the conversation and asked the technician to disconnect the spare one and connect the old one. Though it was making a strange sound until it get’s into standby mode, there was no problem while watching TV. He replied that it’s not possible. Once if the box is paired, it can’t be paired with another (#flaw – how come he did pair the spare one and also it’s not a new one). But I didn’t let it go and decided to escalate further to customer support. Also made a spot decision that I will manage without watching the TV until I get a solution and asked the person to take the spare one and leave the one I had. He obliged accordingly.

When explained the same to a customer support executive (one Mr. Amarjeet), I wasn’t getting a proper solution other than his response that swapping a faulty STB with another is as per their policy. But, here my request was to connect the existing one and said that I will manage with it until it kick its bucket. On further escalation to his supervisor (one Ms. Deepika), she assured that a technician will be arranged to do so (#flaw – so it’s possible to pair the old one again). I agreed and ensured that I won’t be calling their customer care or any of their technician because I’ve already spent hours of time in order to get my problem solved.

After around a week, I got an email from TataSky that a sum of Rs.350 has been deducted from my card (Rs.225/- for “Hdlg Chrgs of STD Swap box” and Rs.125/- for “Hdlg Chrgs of Adaptor”) (#flaw – the box wasn’t swapped yet).

Since then I didn’t contact them. And on July 1, I did sent a mail to nodalofficertn@tatasky.com stating about the amount deducted for a problem that isn’t solved. No reply yet! (#flaw – mail to nodalofficer doesn’t guarantee a reply)


P.S. Since the swapped STB isn’t new, you aren’t sure that it will work without any problem for at least N no. of days and there is no guarantee for it. So if there is any in (near) future, forget another Rs.350/- that you’ve prepaid!

P.P.S. Count the flaws (IMO) mentioned above and decide whether you want your life to be जिंगालाला!

(My) Three Commandments for a better India

“Why to salute our flag?” was an immediate counter by my nephew when I asked him this morning “Mone, Did you salute our flag today?”. My intention was not to bore him like a tuition master asking… “Did you go to school today?”, “Did you get your share of toffee?”, et al. But I simply thought this quintessential way of showing one’s own patriotism will surely enthuse a citizen who’s at least in his first standard. But with various forms of playgrounds (read gadgets) around him, he’s as busy as everyone to spend a precious holiday tapping and swiping over the turf.

Though I diverted the topic and even after I was done with the phone call, his question was lingering within me and I was doubtful whether there can be anything more to what I knew. Of course, this made my senses to reach the person who has our extended memory – Mr. G. And eventually upon rummaging through several links, I chanced upon the following excerpt from here, which indeed can take anyone back to their good old school days:

(iii) When each Form or Class is ready, the Class leader will step forward and salute the
selected school pupil leader. As soon as all the Forms are ready, the school pupil
leader will step up to the Headmaster and salute him. The Headmaster will return
the salute. Then, the Flag will be unfurled. The School pupil leader may assist.

(iv) The School pupil leader in charge of the parade (or assembly) will call the parade
to attention, just before the unfurling, and he will call them to the salute when the
Flag flies out. The parade will keep at the salute for a brief interval, and then on the
command “order”, the parade will come to the attention position.

(v) The Flag Salutation will be followed by the National Anthem. The parade will be
kept at the attention during this part of the function.

Patriotism, like everybody, is constant for me too when I watch sports – either at local, regional or international levels. Also, when in primary or secondary schooling, the waiting was for a national holiday, and on that day after the prayer assembly, it was for the pre-planned games in waiting. During the adolescent period, as part of being in NSS, sometimes we would be called for volunteering any kind of social work. Here, after a hectic day of crowd patrolling, it will be for the chit-chat times to be spent at the petty shops with the priceless pocket money by which you can’t even quench your thirst now.

Today, I am such a (dis)loyal Indian, that till last sunday I was thinking that coming sunday is our Independence Day. Luckily, one person reminded me.

But in spite of the above, I also believe that I can be a good citizen, if not patriotic, by practicing just 3 morals that the architects of our society have disseminated to us either through religious or constitutional means:

First, DO NOT LITTER. This was injected to me by two of my friends. First one is by a friend who lives in Bangalore when he visited Chennai many years back. On that day evening, after having a couple of beers we went to Elliot’s beach to have a stroll. My bladder was so full that I went behind the Gateway of Chennai (a spot where the smell of pee is round the clock – aka Schmidt Memorial). He asked me whether in Chennai one can piss in public. I replied ‘why not’ and continued to keep my tap open. This made him to react with all signs of patriotism and stressed that Bangaloreans have more civic sense.

Another is a friend who was my roommate once upon a time. His speciality is being very clean, neat and organized in whatever things he does or practices. In case of littering any kind of waste, even simple things like the used bus tickets will safely land inside the nearby “Use Me” box. Even if he can’t find one in public, it travels all the way in his pocket and safely lands into the one in our room. Ever since, I changed my mind to follow them.

Second, FOLLOW TRAFFIC RULES. Twice I’ve been fined for jumping the signal. First time, I went engrossed in a conversation with my friend that I eventually missed to notice the yellow turning into red. I got caught and paid some amount as fine for which there is no process of issuing a receipt! Second time it was when I went with my family to visit a park. Since it was on a Sunday, there was literally no traffic, which at times in a moderate level is good in guiding us through the unknown one ways or wrong routes (in India)!

I was supposed to take an ‘U’ turn in a signal, which in fact showed green. I thought it’s clear, steered my vehicle and took the turn. But just within a few meters away, there was a cop standing as though he was expecting to catch a fish with the bait as the signal. Actually, the sign was to go straight and not for the turn. I got down, went to him and apologized. He told me (though cliched)… “Can educated people like you, that too traveling with family, make such a dangerous act?“. And also continued to give his share of pep talk for a while and said this repeatedly… “The inspector has gone for a tea!“. I didn’t understand the latter part, but as the tube light in me struck, I quickly offered him what he expected. Before I left, he shook hands with me and emphasized never to repeat. When I was back in my car, my father asked me… “Why did he shake hands with you (when you did a crime)!”

That aside, since then I always strive to be conscious enough to obey the traffic rules and regulations. Also, the general myth about our cops that they are still in colonial mindset and won’t be courteous to general public got eroded a bit in me.

Third, DO NOT EVADE TAX. I started working since 2000. But only from my second job, which I got in 2003, my pay was good enough that I was entitled to pay income tax. As usual, the medical reimbursement component came into existence as part of my non-taxable allowance. So in my first year of tax declaration, as I didn’t have enough bills to tally the full eligible amount, I crossed the lakshman rekha by submitting forged bills. The moment I told this to my father, he simply replied… “There are many ways to save money, … (pause)“. I could fill in the blanks that he left. Since then each year when I declare, I ensure that it isn’t a lie and it isn’t as trivial as checking an “I agree” box in an e-registration form.

That said, we humans have the liberty to cheat. But if it isn’t kept far below the karma level, the guilt factor in us can cause sleepless nights – is the motto I believe.

By the way, it’s well known that India even in its 66th year of Independence has a long way to go, so that many among us can be independent from the various forms of social clutches that still holds them. But if each one of us can follow a simple rule such as the third one above, India will surely be independent from other nations at least on monetary accounts and can lower its current account deficit levels.

And to the kids of next generation like my nephew, wish they raise their hands more often and question a lot. This will stimulate more independent thinking and can eventually lead India to reveal more of its hidden truth.

Satyamev Jayate. Jai Hind.


Of clocks, watches and (my) time!

It should be a month back.. when I was sipping something warm in my office pantry along with my friend, something else caught my attention. A nice new clock in place, matching near perfect to its surrounding. Though not so special, there was one thing in it that really made me to press the button to a new discussion channel in waiting. The grabber here was the Seconds hand – red in color and continuously running – that intrigued me a lot. In fact we shared a few thoughts, until it was time for us to walk along our respective aisles. For me, it didn’t end up there but indeed twirled my imagination to my early teens.

Then was the time, we were a family of four having four types of watches split across four brands. My father as the senior most had the most outdated type and a brand that was indigenous, publicly owned and dying – yes, a manual winding model from HMT. But as a strict disciplinarian, he never missed even a single day to reach his fingers to its crown. My mother was gifted – thanks to his brother who works in Gulf – she had an automatic watch from Seiko. Silver-ish, bit glittery and a small chain-like part attached to its strap that dangles, it was more a wristlet than a mere watch. Though a nice fit for a woman, its form of usage validates that it wasn’t a right choice made by my uncle for a homemaker who couldn’t wear it all the time as supposed to be, thus used to end up in frequent halts.

Me and my brother – grown up and not in our years to wear those bright colored toy ones with a chromatic dial that always shows a static time upon twisting our arms, and also after our due pesters such as we can’t go watch-less for our exams – got our first real ones in the form of analog that has this word printed even on its dial – Quartz. I went along with my father’s brand and my brother was smart by not only opting for Titan but also picking a better looking one. Hence proving the color of grass on the other side! After sometime, during our Magi’s next visit from Jeddah, we had our first taste of a gadget. A Casio digital watch that not only shows time but had a wakeup machine, a stopwatch and an illuminator to play, and a manometer that tells your systolic/diastolic levels. A timepiece we could really boast of during those days, but eventually used ninety-nine percent of the time just to watch time.

Though wristwatches – mechanically powered and those that overthrown the pocket models – and clocks with electronic movement were prevalent earlier, it was Seiko from Japan who pioneered the technology of combining both into one piece. A portable quartz watch that offers the highest form of convenience. This became a revolution and in turn made Swiss watch makers to get consolidated under one big conglomerate – Swatch group of companies. Eventually they became the OEM supplier for several brands in and around so as to stay in competition against the low cost threat that arose from the land of rising sun. In fact, they survived and bettered.

Fast forwarding to now, Swatch recently announced that they are going to stop selling their parts in order to gain more profit margins. Of course, the move made the small players to seek help from the court. But for big players like LVMH from France (think of Tag Heur), who once relied on Swatch, it isn’t a problem because their models are fully homegrown now. Like Titan decimating HMT in India, can LVMH turn everyone’s head towards ‘Made in France’ label rather the prestigious ‘Swiss made’? Let’s wait and watch, amidst the current testing times in the eurozone.

Watches had always fascinated me. Indeed I had a pretty decent frequency in jumping to new ones. Ranging from desi brands to videsi imitations, formals to casuals – one in the shape of scuba diving googles, I always cherished wearing them and many a times window shopping them at highly priced boutiques. But apart from the huge variety it offers in aesthetics, what I learned a lot is its other forms of design.

“Analog or digital watch, which one is more usable to know time?” is one of my common interview question. For which an immediate answer would be – Digital. Not bad. Digital watches tells you the accurate time, precisely to a second. Also most of the models offers lot many features such as alarms, timer, etc. all in one unit. You can even set the 24 hour format that aligns to our train and flight timings, where it’s considered unambiguous. Does all these that includes the value for money factor serves the most intended purpose in the best possible way i.e., to know the approximate time at the shortest glance possible?

Humans process information in an analogous manner. We interpret pictures more easily than numbers and text. A reason why icons are used in software interfaces for most recognizable items instead of either using labels or the least prefixed to them. It would be during the days when we as kids learnt to read a clock, subconsciously all the images that depicts a particular time should’ve got stored in our brain incrementally. As a result, the moment we look at them, the image gets mapped to the corresponding time and gets recognized immediately. Indeed an ability we could achieve in watches that don’t even have any kind of visual cue to denote the hours. On contrary, in a digital watch we need to read through it every time. Something similar to compilation and interpretation in programming languages!

By the way, as analog means continuous, it also helps us to compare and distinguish one time with another. Examples from our daily usage are.. ‘How many minutes left for me to get ready?’, ‘How many hours you were late to a party?’, ‘He will be at our house within half-an-hour’, etc. Also, a clock face that resembles a human face, is a classic example of anthropomorphism principle in design.

Hands in an analog display are sized in proportion. This is to assist the sequence of steps when we look at a timepiece. The Hour hand is fat and short because it has to be spotted first. The Minutes hand are relatively thinner and made longer because it has to point the exact minute indication within an hour. The thinnest are the Seconds hand, whose information we are least bothered but essential for its existence. Yes, they tell whether the clock is working or not.

So, as seen in the clock that I saw in my office, does it requires to be in red? Ideally ‘No’. Or should it be continuously sweeping rather move around in a tick-tick fashion? Not necessary, because the former are a distraction when compared to the latter. At least it caught my attention. Also it’s quite uncommon to see one such in an electronic movement model as it used to be in the yesteryear mechanical ones.

On the other hand, seconds in a digital display is the blinking colon. This in fact throws us an option to hide the seconds part itself. Also when it comes to failure indication, digital outscores its rival. Here the display simply disappears, whereas in an analog, the incorrect time shown can mislead your plans.

Design in a clock face also plays its part in non-functioning display models seen in stores and also in its pictures used for advertising and other related purposes. The static time kept is 10:10. Though there are many myths that surrounds this setting, the reason for this position is very objective. The hands doesn’t overlap, they are symmetrically positioned and the brand logo gets nicely cusped with a smiling gesture.

That said, a hybrid model that has both an analog and a digital display can sort out all the differences and serve the purpose well. But watches are not worn just to see time. For some, it’s an accessory to match their attire, and for a few, it’s a jewellery. Here the buying factor that dominates the most is the look. A watch for below a thousand bucks will do the job and can be reliable for a decent period of time. But we end up spending a few more, because, if there is one possession that has the widest gap between the cost it takes to buy for its intended purpose and the prestige it offers, it should be a watch.

So, why this kovaleri by me? should be the question that would have struck you now. And if you’ve reached till here, I am sure you would’ve peeked at your watch at least once – but this time not for the time!

It’s been around two years I’ve stopped wearing a watch. I am planning to buy one. But everyday when I turn the pages in The Hindu, the ads seen are along the lines of Longines, Omega, Rolex and Rado, for which my time hasn’t reached :). But as time tells.. time teaches.. time heals.. time also gives us a lot of hope.

Have a great time ahead in 2012.


Design of a Poor Man’s Rocket

Recently I came across an interesting debate about a usability problem in using elevators. Most of the elevators that we use today have two arrow buttons: Up and Down that are used to indicate the direction of our travel. But few or perhaps many among us would have pressed the opposite one at least once somewhere sometime. For instance, assume that you were in second floor, your destination was tenth floor and the current position of the lift is fifth floor. Therefore, in order to go up you would’ve pressed the Down button to indicate the lift to come down and pick you up. The moment it comes and when the door opens, you would’ve realized – Ah, I made an ID-10T error!

The case was challenging and there were some interesting answers as comments. This made me to analyze further and I had my own share of learnings about the design factors considered for an elevator as follows:

New age elevators, a universal utility and highly sophisticated in several facets to carry passengers in the most efficient way, are quite a challenging task for both the programmers and designers. For the former in terms of the complex logic involved, and for the latter designing the best intuitive and accessible interface with appropriate feedback mechanism.

In this case, the design principle that failed for some is called mapping. Defined as the relationship between the controls and their movements or effects, it can result in an issue when it behaves differently to what the user has thought. Here the passenger assumes one, but it behaves the other way. There are several examples that can be cited in our daily life because of poor design, one such is when we try to pull a cap of a pen to open it, but actually it should be twisted. Another one I face quite frequently with the mac is the audio controls in its keyboard. All three buttons: mute, increase and decrease volume are evenly spaced. Most of the time, my finger reaches the decrease button to increase the volume and only after seeing the volume indicator on the screen, I realize I was wrong. If you just hide the actual increase button and look at the other two, it gives a perception that the one on the left is to decrease and the other to increase. Reason, either the mute one’s visual cue isn’t crossed or at least the other two buttons aren’t grouped together. Though in Lion, the visual indicator on the screen depicts a cross but this was even absent in Snow Leopard, thus the confusion remains on display. Yet another case is, the power windows buttons in a car that are laid on the armrest of the door rather the wall of the door that causes such ambiguity. The design choice is right when considering the comfort of use, but in fact it took me sometime to get used to it without making a mistake.

Coming back to the solution for our lift, yesteryear paternosters can solve it without any hassles of choosing the direction or entering the floor number i.e., nothing to input. But will you step on and down from it? No doubt.. known for its unsafe nature, they are almost banned now. So it concludes safety/security always tops usability. Also it can’t fit into the express speed and energy efficiency demands of our era.

A single button will avoid the confusion. The elevator will stop at your floor irrespective of the direction it moves. But this will result in unnecessary stoppages when the direction it moves is opposite to the one we intend to go. Thus not very efficient.

Labels? A big NO. Not everybody can read (English). Take an office complex case where I work, the elevators are not only used by IT people but also by others such as constructor workers, house keeping staff, etc. who may or may not be capable of having reading skills. Also for non-english literates, a localization operation that makes the label adjusted by the look of it is too stupid to think of as a solution. That’s why we see symbols in restrooms and also the very purpose of signage that caters to the general public. Moreover, attaching such micro user manuals are considered as a mark of poor design. For instance, a well designed door is supposed to convey whether it’s a push/pull from either sides without labeling it.

Design is a tradeoff, when it involves more complex cases and flexibility. As in elevators, when the pattern involves more than one to ease of the expected traffic, a two-click route guiding solution is better than a one-click type. When the number panels are kept outside it helps to achieve the goal in one click, but it increases the depth of processing to choose the right panel because of too many numbers and sometime too many lights maybe glowing. KISS wins here even though it takes an extra click. Can you think of an online ticketing system for a city bus? Isn’t it better to choose your bus (direction) and after boarding get the ticket to your destination (floor no.)!

A single touch panel such as this can simplify the above. Also it guides us to stand in front of the most possible lift that’s coming by, but again it fails on accessibility accounts similar to labels i.e., more knowledge required to operate. So how about a microphone? Again scores down because of things like being accessible for deaf & dumb, need of sophisticated voice recognition system, noise, queue, etc.

Accessibility plays a crucial role in the design of button panels. When considering visually challenged people, engraved or bevelled buttons are more preferable than a flat touch panel. Also matters the most are the positioning of the panel both inside and outside so that it doesn’t throw up puzzles such as this. Apart from dwarfs or wheel chaired abled, even it can help out young kids to come out in case if they accidentally gets in. Even for normal people who could operate well, there is a need of radium colored alarm button when the lift gets stuck and the lights inside goes off.

On related notes, next comes error handling. Elevators in some places scores low in this aspect in case of a failure. A friend of mine narrated me an incident when he got stuck once in such a type. First, the lights went off. Then, passengers trapped inside were supposed to ring up to get evacuated. Since he wasn’t attended immediately, after sometime he started to suffocate because of poor ventilation. All he did and experienced in the dark. A better system could be such as this that does everything automatically – an emergency light that gets lit, a ventilator that opens up and the alarm triggers the control room, all powered by a backup UPS. Or thinking weird, why not a backup powerful enough to push it to the nearest floor position and open accordingly with a safety message conveyed. This indeed is more helpful when considering the case when everyone one in the control room have gone for a coffee!

That said, we all are fine with the existing button pattern though it has a minor glitch. But as we learn many by practice either by training, word of mouth, trial-n-error or whatever, in the due process we get so conditioned that we don’t even make a mistake subconsciously.

So finally, next time when any of your everyday things behaves exactly the opposite of what you thought – never mind, it just didn’t map to the jelly bean inside your skull.


Did you ever send a feedback to Facebook?

From showy to shy, dashing to dull, friendly to hostile.. or in general rajas to tamas, all generations of human era had their own share of these mixture of gunas. Yet in each generation we can sense a commonality among the whole, which even contrasts with that of its immediate predecessor. Perhaps a selling point when we argue with our folks!

Last June when Google launched their Plus service, all facebookers were simply awestruck, followed by the hypes and hooplas that surrounded it. A lot of credit went to its stunning features and stellar user interface, supported by the way it had been marketed on how people interact in real. Many hoped this time Google could make people socialize better. The excited birds, so as to fly early, vied for the invites and took off immediately. But a few were skeptical about the transition, and particularly for those in India, it was yet another migration on the cards.

Now, during its retrospection period, there are rants coming up such as the popular one about how it lacked to promise as a platform or as some say how it’s boring circling with friends and a few feel it’s a duplication. Can it pull it off with any thing magical? let’s see. But I myself had my own pinch of salt that I would like to share it here.

After a few days of the launch, a small circle of UI designers belonging to one corner of our office had a casual meet to discuss about its pluses and minuses. At that time, my understanding about it was more from the press rather the product. The curious customers, who were already with it by drag-dropping their friends into horizontally laid out wheels, sang paeans for the overall user experience, which indeed is.

Being a Facebook user known for just having an account in it, I for one started this way.. Do sharing to one particular circle (or group per se) really matter for the pretentious crowd in social media?

When email made penpals to exchange digitally and chat did the unpretentious ones to find their luck by being boastful to those they asl-ed, socialization made its roots mostly in the form of dating. But, then it was Orkut that really taught we Indians to socialize on the web. It had an interesting feature that morphed into an altogether different one based on its usage. Yes, the highly active and fun filled scrapping was initially provided to scrap on one’s profile that later on became a one-to-one communication tool. In fact, there was incremental changes in the interface such as introducing the contextual Reply link and other enhancements, thus making it as a short mail service. At first I was bit hesitant and perplexed on how people could communicate so openly when others could see. But later on joined the bandwagon. Next came Twitter as a testimony.

Seeing all this.. I believe there is a narcissist touch in this particular world, right from one’s profile picture to the ones they spread – be it what they thought, did, saw or snapped. Regarding those that hinders with one’s reputation, there are several mediums to do it in an incognito way. So why to bother about it here!

Circles in real world matters a lot, say when you go for a binge, but in my opinion it didn’t matter here. Or else, before its existence you would have a sent a feedback to FB. Or if it was so demanding, a spring could’ve stirred in the very same social world asking for it!


F1, Welcome to India!

The moment I started thinking about Formula One, it threw me a lot – hi speed cars, fearless drivers, smoothest roads, trailblazing technology, teamwork at its best, accidents, high safety standards, guzzling of fuel, huge funds, lucrative business and the associated glit-n-glamor. Nevertheless, the champions starting from Senna – the ‘Pele of F1’ to Schumacher – the FedEx, Alonso – the Rafa, Vettel – the Novak and Fangio – the Laver. The last four is just my opinion.

My vocabulary in F1 is limited when compared to Golf. Being an avid sports follower, this game never fancied my interests a lot. Also I never had the patience to watch a complete race from its start to end. Moreover watching it in TV with a camera angle facing mostly at the front of the cars, I feel bored most of the time, because my visual senses couldn’t realize the main factor that this sport has to deliver – the speed.

Another aspect is, unlike IndyCar where all the cars has to follow a standard specification, it varies in F1 depending upon the car constructor. Therefore, like horse racing, victory is based on both the driver’s skill and the vehicle’s capacity. So if a highly skilled driver drives an inferior vehicle, there is literally no chance for him to lift the cup!

But in spite of these, motorsports in general is interesting to watch in bits. Be it the start when the cars steps out of their grid sideways, the wait at pit stops where you can witness the highest form of productivity in the shortest time possible, the curves wherein the drivers maneuvers sharply and tries to cut one another, the collisions due to a peck and the resulting mid-air somersaults, the sheer joy of your favorite overtaking his rival – or taken aback otherwise, the last turn of the final lap that makes you to lean forward, the thrill of a neck-n-neck finish when the chequered flagged is about to be waved.. a big sigh.. followed by the glimpse of the winner’s one hand popping out from his cockpit and clenching it to show the victory sign, and finally at the podium the top three can’t wait themselves to spray the champagne at each other and their crew below.

Ufff.. was it quick enough? Hope so! But F1 taking its stage in India was at snails pace. The idea of the project dates back to 1997 and it took fourteen years to see it in fruition. The journey had its own hurdles in several aspects. For instance, in terms of choosing a location, it had its own track starting from Chennai to Kolkata to Hyderabad to Bangalore to Noida. Amidst all controversies such as land grabbing and entertainment tax exemption, the long cherished dream of its pioneers since Sholavaram days and the wish of its enthusiastic fans will get realized today.

Similarly, hope in coming years MotoGP also finds a place in India’s map. These initiatives will not only make India proud, but I wish more aspirational youngsters will start showing their racing skills and win laurels for India in the tracks dedicated for it, rather the ones meant to commute.

Welcome F1 to India! And let it save the lives of people like Ayazuddin.


Any day with him is Deepavali

If Americans and Libyans do celebrate Deepavali, this would be the perfect year for them to rejoice. A festival jubilated with high euphoria for victory over evil, we Indians are still happy with a mythological demon being killed by his own mother. But in reality, our true narakasuras are happy living elsewhere with state protection or well fed by our own guardians at the expense of tax payers money.

So does it matter? ‘No’ should be for the majority (like me). And, all that matters are the 3Ms – mazaa, munch and money. In fact they will catch up with the fable once they skim through the forwarded mails when back at office or a visit to wikipedia so that they don’t feel alienated from the crowd. That said, again this memory is transient and will be revisited the same day, next year.

Happy Deepavali!

Hey hold on.. I am not done yet for the adults here. If there is one thing that comes along with the fun during this time, it’s the word ‘Safety’. When traders bid the whole newspaper with the word ‘SALE’, wherein a simple F5 could end up in an infinite loop crashing the system, there are still space left for the regular news and articles on safety that a very few bothers to glean.

Safety here comes on two aspects – care and control. The first one is for the first M – mazaa. Last year I came across two burn accidents. One is that of my colleague, who got his leg injured while lighting a flower pot. It took some months for him to recover completely. But the sight of the injury was horrific. Flower pots are one of the most dangerous firework. Though it’s not a cracker that bursts, right from my childhood days it’s known to burst accidentally – rarely. My father insisted on not using it and he kept his word by not spending for it. So beware (crackers in general) and take care of your kids as well.

BTW as an alternative, we used to buy the country made ones called satti busvanam – made of small clay pot with combustible chemicals stuffed inside with a lid covered. It has be placed in inverted position and lit on the center of its bum. In fact, the sight of it is far better. The sparkles of the regular ones are broad, too bright and the hues never distinctive. The only delight is the sound of the sparks falling to the ground. On contrary, the sparkles of the clay ones are in white and brown color, thin, striking and goes much higher. A perfect setting to the dark canvas behind. And I haven’t heard any untoward incidents about it. So enjoy it, if you can get it.

The other precautionary safety measure is the control. Chennai being the sugar capital of the world, there is no dearth of advice to act restraint on sugar. But on today’s paper, there was an article about coloring agents and silver foils used to beautify the sweets so as to entice the customers. A few should be aware of the silver foil controversy, but to those who aren’t.. the foil is made of bulls’ intestines. For people like me, okay if it isn’t the larger ones. But vegans, take care. And next time when you’ve been offered a Khaju Roll or Khatli, before munching.. make sure it’s approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration)!

Last and the third control is about swiping the plastic currency wherever you are hopping now. No, I am not good at it. So go on for the splurge and be ready with your bags and boxes for the day you’ve been waiting for.

As usual for me it’s yet another day in Chennai. But my nephew Nandu asked me to be at home on twendy-anju! Was trying hard to find an answer and at last I got it – Any day with him is a Deepavali for me.


iOS 5 Crib Sheet

By now all Apply fanboys should be busy upgrading or already done with the latest iOS version. And, perhaps in a hurry to catch up with the latest and take pride in passing it.

As a occasional Ars Technica visitor, I’ve gone through their review (extensive, but they are know for it). I am not into a big retweet of the same. But those who want to dive directly into the caveats, because here is where the advertising mask gets face off-ed, the list goes down:

‘Click’ as you did with your film camera

Photo Stream is a special folder as part of iCloud that makes all your photos to appear in all your iGadgets. But the biggest miss is, you can’t delete individual photos in the stream. So whenever you are ready to shoot, be the saint in you and take the perfect snap – hope so!

Wire it up for a Wireless data transfer

A long pending feature, now you can sync your iPhone and iPad with your computer without a cable. But still for an automatic sync – perhaps an annoyance – devices should be plugged into a power supply. Oxymoronic!

Before texting, know your friend’s current status

iMessage is a service to message between all iOS 5 users. But your primary address varies based on the device – email id for iPad and phone number for iPhone. So before messaging, call your friend and know what (s)he is up to. Or you can simply continue talking, provided it doesn’t save much on money or your reputation!

Your favorite locations are your new pals

GeoReminder is an excellent feature wherein you can set reminders based on a location. When you reach the spot, it will alarm you. But in order to specify a location, it should be present in your Address Book. So like contacts, make sure to add all those places you visit and to help yourself falling into worse situations – set an unlock password for your phone!

When you tweet, wish your net never fails

Twitter is integrated with Apple apps, thus making it easy to tweet contextually. But as a fail-safe mechanism, it doesn’t have a Drafts feature. Trivial. But good luck when you hit the Send button!

In spite of the above, there are tons of features that proves its worth. So enjoy patching up with the new version.

Now I am turning the tables to give a short hint for mobile web developers.

The much-awaited overflow:scroll feature for making sub sections scrollable is available now (seems it’s still quirky). Also added are position:fixed, new HTML 5 Input field types (date, time, datetime, month and range), Web Workers API, changes in gesture events, etc. But still a few crib remains.

For more details, refer here and here.