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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 impact of the Ayodhya verdict..

I’ll keep this simple. This is how the Ayodhya verdict has impacted me so far:

  • I had to cancel an important meeting last Friday in Bangalore because of this. And to add to the frustration, the verdict didn’t come then.
  • I had to go for my marriage registration tomorrow and the advocate says that with the verdict coming, no work will happen tomorrow. Now this gets pushed by a couple of weeks at least.
  • I have to go to Lucknow tomorrow which seems to be turned into a military ground today. And there is a good chance of the trip being cancelled.

Not sure what more is in store.

This is very frustrating. I am sure every Indian will be impacted by this in some or the other way. The case is on for a century and a half and this is going to continue for decades to come (at least). Once and for all the government should proclaim that piece of land and make it a no man’s land. Full stop.


The ‘Missed Call’ game…

We all must have played the missed call game at some point. Ok let me clarify. What I refer to a ‘missed calls’ in this post are not genuinely missed calls, but calls which are made to someone deliberately and with a confidence that the other party wouldn’t receive them. A missed call is usually one or two rings at max. Why would one do that? Hmmm.. I can think of the following by observing people around me:

  • To play! Yes, I know people play this missed call game for fun.
  • To convey something without spending a penny. Some people actually use this very effectively. One missed call means ‘I am fine’, two could mean ‘call me’, three could mean……
  • It is a very popular means to pass on your number to someone. Well saves money and saves effort so why not use it?
  • To tease someone or to disturb someone (please don’t do this).
  • To show someone how many times you remember him/her in a day!!
  • Of course when you run out of balance and just have enough to be able to call. You give missed calls in anticipation that the receiver would call you back.
  • Oh I just remembered one more. When you dial a number, hit the call button and then immediately realize that you have dialled the wrong number, or you have dialled the wrong person.

Alright. I think these are enough examples some of which perfectly justify those missed calls. You can, of course, find many others. My aim is not to list down all possible reasons for missed calls on this earth.

I have recently come across a breed of people who use this as a cost cutting measure in their organization!! 95% of missed calls on my mobile are from those people. And I only share a professional relation with them. They would just give a call and ensure it doesn’t ring more than twice most of the times. It takes at least 3 rings to even take the mobile out of your pocket. So anything under 3 rings is a missed call. They know that I would call them back as I usually have a habit of wrapping a few things up in time (note that I said a ‘few’ things. I am sluggish at a lot of ‘other’ things).

Fortunately we are living in times where phone calls have become dirt cheap. Unless you run a call center, telephone calls are going to be  insignificant to other operating expenses. Why create a bad impression trying to save a few hundred bucks? While you do save a few bucks, you lose your reputation. I would prefer losing a few bucks rather than losing a billion dollar reputation.

There are tons of other ways to save communication costs. For instance use of instant messengers like gtalk or yahoo. Or use Skype, gtalk etc. for crystal clear voice calls. And all this comes free. You just need to bear a nominal fixed internet cost. So just be informed and innovative rather than resorting to the ‘missed call’ game in your profession!


Web personality

Just to clarify before we proceed, the title of the post can explain:

  • Personality ‘on’ the web
  • Personality ‘of’ web

I am going to talk about the second one, i.e. personality ‘of’ the web.

We all use some or the other social networking sites. In fact we now use multiple social networking sites to connect to each other. Let’s take examples:

  • LinkedIn: <Professional>: As we all know, LinkedIn was always meant to be a professional networking portal. If you are caught browsing LinkedIn at your workplace? Ah, everyone will look with due respect. It is so professional.
  • Facebook: <Decent and Sober>: Well, I am not sure if Facebook had a pre-determined character, but to me it has always given an impression of a decently designed portal. It looks neat and to some extent, professional. If you are caught browsing Facebook at your workplace? Well you may not get the same respect as LinkedIn, but no regrets. It’ll still be acceptable.
  • Orkut:<Kiddish and Sidey>: While Orkut is more popular in India, I’ve always found it sidey and kiddish. So what if you are caught browsing Orkut at your workplace? Ah, I can bet, it is embarrassing. You tend either close it or switch to a different window/application. Don’t you?

So 3 different applications built on the same concept have radically different personalities. While some were deliberately made with such personalities, some got their personalities from usage over the years.

We can similarly look at portals targetting other stuff. For example, I find Cleartrip a very clean travel portal, whereas, MakeMyTrip looks so cluttered and clumsy.

What about Twitter? What personality would you associate with it? Hmmmm… Whatever it is, it is impressive. It has already made a big impact.


It has been a while when I went to IIT-KGP for a summer project out of my interest in GIS and Remote sensing. Don’t ask me what made me interested in those subjects. For those who are not aware, I am a mining engineer by education and ended up working for the software industry. Well, that is the case with a majority of people in India these days. The software industry is bottomless. It can accommodate without an end (or it could accommodate until the recent crisis!).  I started my education around the same time the .COM bubble burst happened and hit the software industry badly. Not a good time to begin! So I had to come up with ‘Plan B’ in case I don’t end up getting placed. And my plan B was to go for an MS from a reputed university in the US.

I’ve given all the background to ensure that people don’t think of me as one of those ‘studious’ kinds who was so serious about studies. It was a ‘forced’ decision. Anyways, when I visited the concerned professor, I came to know that he was an expert on ‘Mine Closure’ and had spent almost his entire career researching and teaching the topic. Wow! Can you imagine? I could never dream that ‘Mine Closure’ could be such an important aspect of mining. However, after spending a couple of days with him, I could understand its significance. The mine closure had to be planned even before the mining starts! And if you don’t submit satisfactory closure plans, the Government would not allow you to mine. He employed the latest technological advancements like GIS and Remote sensing to plan out and execute the ‘Mine Closure’.

So what makes me write about this today? It has been almost 6-7 years now. Someone has rightly said, ‘Whatever you learn in life, does not go waste’. After spending some time getting to know the software industry, I now realize the importance of ‘closure’.  It does not matter how many projects you ‘start’ well. What matters is how many of them get ‘closed’ successfully and in time. It takes at least 5 times the focus and effort to ‘close’ a project successfully than to start it! It takes a lot of ambition and dedication to do this. ‘Closing’ out projects not only brings in credibility, but it also liberates you of the mental blockade which could hamper other ongoing projects (if you work across multiple projects). It would heavily aid efficient resource planning.

But is everything in our control? Well almost never completely. There are multiple stake holders and it could involve the client, their end clients and so on. Human nature is such that we would like to see new features and improvements until the last moment. And that often spells disaster. Another common practice is to start off new things exactly when something is about to end. Since newer things always inspire us more than what is ongoing, almost certainly they will take precedence over the ongoing activities.

I guess the argument is valid across industries. It would have taken a little for Ratan Tata to start his dream project ‘Nano’, but we all know what it took to successfully get Nano on the roads. In fact we don’t even know what happened behind the scenes to get this through. Hats off to Ratan Tata for pulling this off!

Better said than done. But remember, we won’t be known for how many things we started well, but we would only be known for what all was ‘closed’ well.

Alright, that’s enough of fundas, now let’s get back to work 🙂

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