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Lost in gadgets! The paradox of choice…..


Gadgets: The Paradox of Choice

It is a much awaited Sunday morning. Some respite from a really strenuous week at work. I will do ‘nothing’. Absolutely nothing. That is the idea. I want my mind to relax. I want it to recuperate so that it can work effectively in the coming week(s). At least that is the idea. But hold on! Is that possible? Hmmm…. possible but seems daunting!

But why?

  • I had bought a home theater system more than a year ago, and I am guilty of not using it enough. I think I have just tuned it 15-20 times to listen to a song to its full potential.
  • I have to catch-up on news as well. The Tata-Sky is beaming with 20 news channels. Although, all of them are showing the same news. So what? I still have to catch-up. ‘Isko laga dala, to life……ka baj gaya baja, I guess’.
  • I just opened my laptop. And I only have 4,268 unread articles in my RSS feeds. And this is when I had marked all my feeds as ‘read’ about 8 days ago. Has the world turned upside down in a week?
  • The software on my iPod touch has become old. I have to update it. And then, I haven’t browsed through Apple’s app-store for about a month now. That is like ages. I am already feeling iOld !
  • I had bought a Bluetooth 2.1 stereo headset a few months ago. And again, I am guilty of not using it. Bluetooth 3.0 is already out there. My stereo headset has become old without even going through its childhood!
  • Opps! I had to compare some iPad reading applications and see if they offer a good reading experience. Good that the iPad is discharged.  It got discharged because I was catching up on documentaries from Top Documentary Films last night.  The problem is all the documentaries seem to be a must watch! Anyways, at least I can’t think of using it for a couple of hours.
  • I just connected my Kindle to Wi-Fi, and I got my Instapaper weekly archive. There are only 41 articles of about 15 pages each, which I have marked as important to catch-up on. And then there are 3 books which I am currently reading. About 100 of them are waiting to be transferred from my PC to the Kindle.
  • My wife is not here. Otherwise I would have to update some applications on her android phone. It has been a month I guess, since I have installed a new app. on her device. Although, she may not use them that often. So what, I still have to catch-up on the android apps.
  • My wireless mouse has just run out of battery as I am typing this. I need to get an AAA battery so that it can work again. Or AA? Hmmm… let me check. Ok it is AA. Confirmed.
  • The digital photo frame has to be updated with the recent photographs. I have to configure it with wifi so that photos can be updated frequently. I hate wires.
  • The 18X mega zoom digital camera is just lying around. I haven’t really done decent photography for a while now. That’s bad.

My Nokia E series phone has given up because I have squeezed it to the last of the electrons! It can no more sustain the load of a new application. It is a different thing altogether that Nokia itself has run out of steam. Good for me. I am so relieved that I do not have an iPhone or an Android phone. I will not buy one for a while. Smart phones seem to be making people dumb. Long live Nokia!

Good that I have been able to resist the lure for a gaming console. Otherwise, it would have been a headache to catch up on various games. But sooner or later I will have to because they have become completely wireless. And that is what I was waiting for.

I hope you get my problem by now. I am sure you must be on the same boat, give or take a few gadgets. Too much of choice has actually made it difficult to cope with. Wherever I go, these gadgets follow. Or rather they await! They are literally ruling us.

Following are some interesting observations I have made over the last couple of years:

  • I’ve spent more time discovering and browsing for new apps. from these app-stores than actually using them!
  • I’ve spent more time browsing for books for my Kindle than reading them!
  • I’ve spent more time looking for *interesting* websites and feeds than actually reading them!

Don’t take the above too literally, but I guess you get the idea. There’s just too much of everything.

I am waiting for the time when there would be just 3 important gadgets:

  1. The Smart phone.
  2. The Smart phone.
  3. The Smart phone.

Yes! That’s it! The phones will be equipped with everything. A beaming projector so that you can quickly create a home theater experience (I know some phones already have, but these are still primitive). It will double up as a gaming console. It is already a super camera. Basically, it will solve over 90% of the requirements.

Now let’s get back to the Sunday morning. I won’t really get lost in all this today. I am determined. I’ve put everything down. I am just going to continue reading “The Physics of the Impossible”. I have to start the chapter on “Parallel Universes”. It is going to be fun. I have always been fascinated with the Universe since my childhood. This will make me feel a little relaxed for sure 😉

And yes, in the swarm of gadgets, the Kindle has a special place. Because I can only read on it! No non-sense. I want it to remain like that only.

Which gadget makes you relax?


‘The’ Jabra Halo review

Jabra Halo

Jabra Halo

It has been a while since I have been using ‘the’ Jabra Halo bluetooth stereo headset. I thought to quickly share my experience with it so far:

The technology

While the bluetooth communication technology has come a long way, it has to cover some ground yet. It may be perfect for a wireless mouse, keyboard or file transfer (slow though), it warrants an improvement as far as stereo audio streaming is concerned.

Having said this, unless you are an audiophile, the technology will not fail to impress you!

The goods

  • Seamless pairing with the phone. I have never had issues.
  • Can pair simultaneously with two devices. I am frequently connected to my phone as well as the PC simultaneously without any issues. Whenever there’s an incoming call, it takes priority.
  • Crisp and clear stereo sound quality. Decent bass.
  • The touch sensitive audio control works like a charm. I really like this feature.
  • Very comfortable to wear. Stays on unless you are running around.
  • Decent backup. I’ve tested it for 6 hours at a stretch and it has not failed. Practically it will deliver good music at medium volume for about 6 hours on a single charge. For me this is sufficient, even if I am travelling.
  • Fast charging time (2-2.5 hours)
  • The ability to listed to music through the wire makes it double up as a standard stereo headphone. And boy!, you need to listen with the wired option to realize how good these headphones could perform!
  • Works well with Skype as well as other voice calls through the PC.
  • The noise cancellation microfones works well.

The OKs

  • The grip on the head is good, but could be a little better.
  • The inner lining material could be improved.

The not-so-goods

  • Sometimes, I’ve experienced loss of audio streaming for a few seconds during stereo playback. This happens when I am streaming music from my phone. Haven’t faced this on my PC. So possibly this could be an issue with my phone.
  • Windows bluetooth connectivity sucks. I frequently face bluetooth service crashes. Again, the Jabra Halo is not to be blamed.
  • While the hinged design  makes it very portable, it feels flimsy.  Haven’t faced any issues yet, but it does need care.
  • If you use Skype, be careful! I used to face frequent bluetooth stack crashes on my PC. It took me long to figure out that Skype also tries to use the bluetooth interface directly along with windows and there’s a conflict which causes it to crash. I am yet to find a workable solution for this, though I haven’t spent enough time.

I guess this  would be helpful to some people. I am looking forward to the bluetooth 3.0 version to possibly bring the stereo bluetooth experience comparable to the wired options.


Amazon may have tamed the cloud but…….

Recently I got an opportunity to attend the Amazon Web Services cloud computing event held in New Delhi. I am not going to blog about the cloud computing stuff and all. However, it is worth mentioning that the lead Amazon has got in the cloud computing race is definitely going to be worth observing. I really like the simplicity they’ve brought-in onto the complicated infrastructure and deployment related issues which enables one to scale their application without bothering much about the underlying details. This is definitely going to stay!

So why was I there?

I was hoping to win the Kindle ;-). I didn’t!

However, there were a lot of interesting observations during the event. The event was attended by almost twice the number of people the venue could accommodate. Amazon decided to distribute complimentary T-Shirts to all the attendees. Boy! did they imagine what this would mean? Definitely not. The moment the T-shirt distribution was announced, all the composure of the audience fizzed off! People started invading the counters from all nook and corner. And we are talking about senior people from reputed organizations. Honestly speaking even I was interested in getting the freebie, however I was quite willing to remain in the queue and wait for my turn. Poor organizing staff at the counters really had a horrible time.

And then there was more to it. Over-sized people getting small T-Shirts and skinny people getting XXL. That was definitely not worth their effort. So people flocked the counter to exchange the T-Shirts. AND then, imagine the T-Shirt stock getting over and those people who didn’t get one. All sort of sweet words were heard all over (yes pun intended!).

Did I talk about the dinner? Two plate counters and hundreds of people trying to eat at the same time? I’ll leave you to imagine this one.

I was wondering Amazon might have tamed the *cloud* but can they tame the *crowd* ?  Hmmmmmm……

Going wireless…

It has been quite a while that I am fed-up with all the wires I need to manage for all my electrical and electronic equipments. While we can’t get rid of all wires, some of them can quickly be eliminated. Here’s my wireless story so far:

It started with going wi-fi a few years ago with the Linksys WRT54G (alright, I know I should move to wifi-N):

Linksys Wifi Router (WRT54G)

Linksys Wifi Router (WRT54G)

Then came the bluetooth headset from Nokia:

Nokia bluetooth BH-104
Nokia bluetooth BH-104

Then came this wireless mouse from Microsoft (yes I have the RED one and I like it!):

Wireless mouse from Microsoft
Wireless mouse from Microsoft

and the latest one in the line is to be able to listen to music wirelessly. So here comes the Jabra Halo (expect a review soon):

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth Stereo Headset
The Jabra Halo Bluetooth Stereo Headset

But this is not enough. All those chargers for various equipments still suck! Hopefully we’ll soon have a technology to charge electronic gadgets (at least) wirelessly. That would truly mean freedom from wires.

The BIG demo!

I usually do not post my work related stuff. However, this one deserves a post!

Over the last couple of weeks, I got an opportunity to be a part of a demo, whose scale dwarfs all the projects I’ve been so far associated with (barring one during the early stage of my career). And the client was none other than the Indian Air Force!

My role in the entire solution was quite limited, so I got an opportunity to observe and understand what goes behind the scenes in such high net worth, high risk bids. The proposed solution spanned across various aspects of operations where a software solution could fit in. It involved security, document management, learning and knowledge management, ERP, content management and what not. Of course it involved more than one vendor coming together and propose the solution. While it was a very tensed and hectic two weeks, it was a great learning experience for me. Before I share those, I’ve come up with an analogy to explain the sitution.

What I observed was the fact that people had built great rooms with all amenities one could think of, but the rooms were never put together to build the house.

What I mean is that all modules were impressive and functional standalone, but when integrated, resulted in an enterprise disaster. At times, no one had a clue what was going along.

Moving ahead, I noticed that the most impressive demonstrations were not where we were trying to showcase the product, but those where we demonstrated how would the software solve the problem. The reviewers were not interested in what the software could do, they were more interested in how it would reduce their burden and improve efficiency. Even a very basic product with minimal features could win over a complicated one if it addresses the problem effectively.

I’ve realized this earlier as well. Some big products in the market have become so established that they *drive* the clients adopt to their implementation. While most organizations wouldn’t mind doing so, there are some who would not spare!

Lastly, I would like to mention that after this demo, I’ve developed a great respect for the Indian Air Force. These guys know *exactly* what they require. You just couldn’t convince them to succumb to the product’s hi-fi features which was worthless to them. They had a very clear picture of the final outcome.

I met some very talented people during the course of presentations and learnt a lot of things in the power packed two weeks.

Looking forward for more such opportunities!