Keep the web free!

As a staunch an ardent netizen, I have been reading for sometime now, gruesome tales of censoring the web and my 4-letter vocab has two recent inclusions – SOPA and PIPA.

I was wondering if I was the only one to be overly concerned about the implications as I saw people on my social networks discussing ‘urgent and pressing’ matters like an asteroid that might collide with Earth a million years from now, global warming that might submerge all continents after we have reincarnated thrice and how contributing a cent towards the cause of world hunger will eventually solve the issue, if we are not already drowned by global warming or blown to smithereens by the asteroid.  :-o

All this changed over the last few days when I noticed Piratebay hosting an anti-SOPA video in place of its logo on the homepage, Wikipedia blacking itself out for 24 hours and even almighty Google joining in the fray by blacking its logo out.

To profess my support, I Googled for a ‘wallpaper on free web, anti-SOPA’ but didn’t get anything at all except news sources covering the issue and story!! So I thought I will do my bit and came up with these wallpapers for most popular desktop, tablet and smartphone resolutions.  I agree they ain’t the best but it is a start. Maybe this effort (or the lack herein!) will inspire several of you to come up with better designs and messages – until we black out SOPA and its proponents permanently, desktop to desktop, mac to mac, smartphone to smartphone and tablet to tablet.

Here are some popular resolutions for your fave devices – if you want a specific resolution, kindly request in the comments and I will try and get you one soon. :)

Desktop::   800×600 | 1024×576  | 1366×768 | 1920×1080 | 2560×1600

Mac:: Macbook Pro | iMac

Smartphones:: iPhone 4 | Samsung Galaxy S | Motorola Droid | Google Nexus One | Samsung Galaxy Note

Tablets:: iPad | Samsung Galaxy

Facebook:: Profile Timeline banner

 

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – an iPhone 4 review from an Apple non fanboy.

Word count: 1005 | Estimated time to read entry: 14 min

It’s been a little over a month since I purchased my iPhone 4 and I have been giving many of its features a try. I didn’t want this review to be a comprehensive feature-by-feature rundown so I have kept this strictly to those features that jump to my mind when I ask myself, “What are the things that are great, not so great and pathetic about the iPhone 4?”. I also thought of including some philosophies of the iPhone because that is what makes this phone greater than the sum total of all its features (or less so), in my opinion. And this is what comes to my mind…

The Good:

  1. The form factor, touch sensitivity and screen resolution: Much has been said about this already by so many others and I completely agree with all the eulogies heaped onto the iPhone for this. These features are simply unparalleled.
  1. Utility: Of all the Apple devices, I find only the iPhone 4 worth its money for the sheer utility it has packed in. It is a one device equivalent to any device you need – a HD cam, a media player, a phone, a navigation device, a netbook, a portable gaming system and more.
  1. Attention to detail: Even seemingly small things have been given great attention on the iPhone. What impresses me most is the clicking sound that I hear when I lock and unlock the screen and also the fact that I just have to drag down apps like Twitter and Facebook to get fresh updates.

The Bad:

  1. iTunes UI: I just cant believe this software is from Apple, a company which stresses so much on UI. The prev page/next page buttons are 2 small icons on the top bar which is not very easy to operate. The software is sluggish and auto-suggest feature in the search bar works like it has a temper tantrum. And what’s more, the horizontal scroll of the 90’s is still seen on iTunes if you want to check the screenshots of an app you are about to install.  Unpardonable. Even the Windows 7 app store UI is far better compared to this.
  1. Music output quality: Somehow the quality of music on the iPhone’s iPod is drastically different, and for the worse, compared to the standalone iPod. I have tried changing the Equalizer settings but I don’t see much difference in the quality. The only reason I can think of why there is so much difference between these two products from the same maker is that Apple is deliberately underselling the iPod feature on the iPhone to keep up the sales of the standalone iPod and that aint fair.  That, together with the fact that FM is not enabled on the iPhone yet (but is already enabled on some iPods) makes the iPhone 4 a suboptimal choice for listening to music.
  1. Absence of Task/App manager: Of course multitasking came to the iPhone as a delayed boon but with that came the inevitable burden of managing the apps. Every time I shift to a different app, the previous one continues to run in the background for eternity consuming hardware resources and over a period of time slowing the phone down. The only way to kill apps is by a cumbersome method of double clicking the Home button and closing apps individually. Wouldn’t it be much easier to have an App manager like the Notifications menu, where I can turn off an app by a toggle button against each of the open apps??

 

The Ugly:

  1. The camera: This is a joke especially in the night. Small dark spots appear all over the snap when shooting in not-so-good light conditions. HDR on/off or for that matter Flash on/off makes no difference. The “HD” camera is a serious let down in iPhone 4.
  1. Geo discriminatory marketing strategy: iPhone 4 isn’t officially released yet in India, one of the largest market for mobile phones IN THE WORLD! Enthusiasts like me are forced to buy one from the grey markets and in the process pay upwards of $1000 for a device that is delivered without a receipt and without any warranty! Moreover, iTunes account geo isolates one on signup and if you aren’t in the US or Canada, apps like Yelp etc are not even seen listed in the iTunes app store! Maybe I will find very less utility for an app like Yelp here in India but I’d rather Apple let ME discover that instead of taking a call on that all by itself.
  1. Inadequate championing of the product: In India, Apple has never convinced  carriers to subsidize the iPhone so all versions till 3GS (as 4 is not yet available) were priced upwards of $800. And they were carrier locked all the same – that’s a double whammy!! Apple has till date not taken up the issue of mass adoption of 3G standards in India but has nevertheless sold 3G and 3GS phones. That is like selling a Ferrari to a village bumpkin knowing full well that the roads all over his village are bumpy and pothole ridden. Maybe the bumpkin got full value for his money for the Ferrari but imagine his delight when he hears that his car dealer is now taking up the cause of bad roads all over his village and trying to get that changed so that he has a great experience vrooming around in his new Ferrari! That’s what I call ‘championing’ and I have seen other great companies do it – not Apple. Not yet.

Apple is presently the best smartphone in the market, in my opinion. But considering the landscape, it can all change mighty fast. And I quote:

“There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting”. -Tuco, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The *BEST* game series I have ever played – Prince of Persia

Word count: 330 | Estimated time to read entry: 7 min

Prince of Persia: A comparison


It was 4 years ago that I got serious about gaming. And the first game I ever picked up was “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time“. I spent hours everyday completing the various levels and I would look forward to returning to my room from office and progressing with the game. It was a world in itself in which I was totally immersed in – a feeling that I was longing for till then.

Looking back in retrospect, now that I have completed all the games in the series (not to mention, the movie as well), I think some of the most pleasant moments of my life have been while playing these games. I thank Jordan Mechner, creator of the game , Ubisoft the publisher and all other design artists, musicians and others involved in this effort for creating a truly absorbing and unforgettable virtual experience.

Above is a quick review of the games released so far, click on the image for a full readable view.  If you are a POP fan like myself, I would appreciate your comments and feedback.

If I were to give away the Oscars this year….

Word Count: 470 | Estimated time to read entry: 5 min


 

Well now, that’s truly wishful thinking especially for a guy who can barely tell the difference between Cinematography and tomato ketchup and whose closest brush with movie stars was gaping at Madhuri Dixit in the first class section of the plane from his economy seats almost a decade ago.

But having seen 8 of the top 10 nominated feature films, 3 of the 3 animated films, nearly 170 of the top 250 IMDb films, widely acclaimed world movie great masters like Bergman, Kurosawa, Dutt, Panahi, Miyazaki, Majidi, Kitano, Yimou, Ki-Duk, Ray  etc and of late Indian National Award winning movies across Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam etc *AND* considering this is my own blog, I can safely claim some, if not enormous, authority to post the following :)

Since I am not steeped in the finer techniques of movie making, I have gone by just 2 things – novelty or unconventionality of the movie/actor/role/performance and the impact (tears, laughs, introspection etc) it had on me.

And since this is just a blog entry, I didn’t invest much on rolling out a red carpet or cared to invite backless beauties before declaring the awards – pardon my inhospitality. :)

So here they are:

1. Best Film: Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton. Doubtlessly the best film of 2010. The book is profusely insane and the movie managed to keep most of it in tact. I think that was commendable.

2. Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio for Inception. It was masterly. The theme of the movie was barely imaginable and in enacting it and bringing it alive (to whatever extent the audience finally got) DiCaprio did a fantastic job.

3. Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech. He was comic, ironic, satirical and touching in various stages of his role. I found it really good.

4. Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. Good performance considering she was a first timer. Had it been any other guy than Jeff Bridges in that movie, she would be running for Best Actress and not Supporting. And had she had 2 more movies before this one, she would win too – I see no other reason why she didn’t win, especially considering the other nominees.

5. Best Animated Film: L’illusionniste by Sylvain Chomet. Again, very offbeat. It is a film on loneliness, on failure, on broken relationships, on the inability to impress – basically all those emotions of human life that no one wants to have or talk about. And therein lies its beauty, which again, no one wants to appreciate.

6. Best Director: Tim Burton for Alice in Wonderland. I have already explained why.

 

As for the rest of the categories I have either not seen enough movies (like for Best Actress for example) or don’t know what those terms are.

Yippdee-Yippdee- That’s all folks! What do you think?

 

 

Who wants to be a multi-millionaire when one can be The Dude??

Word Count: 650  | Estimated time to read entry: 6 min

The Dude

I recently came across this Joel and Ethan Coen movie called ‘The Big Lebowski’. For those who haven’t had the good fortune to see it yet, the movie is about an unemployed guy called Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) who insists he be called ‘The Dude’. His only priced possession, a carpet, gets urinated upon by money recovery agents, due to a case of mistaken identity after which The Dude sets out to find the real person whom the harm was intended, seeking compensation. The actual person, also a Lebowski (and hence the confusion), is a super-achiever with multiple decorations, riches, a sizzling hot wife and all that any ambitious fellow in the world craves for. The movie then goes on about how The Dude is asked to undertake some assignments by various family members of the other Lebowski, how he gets duped by all and how his two close friends superbly “assist” him in all his endeavors.

 

On first watch, I dismissed this movie as mindless, stupid and idiotic. But now that I take a relook at all of The Dude’s pursuits, I find it almost Messianic. Here is why:

 

  1. The Dude is unemployed. He lives on dole and moves about without a cent in his (torn) pockets. The metaphorical meaning of which is that he is not greedy and doesn’t seek more than what is necessary. True to the teachings of the Buddha, he follows the middle path of neither too much nor too less, but just enough. And since he doesn’t carry any money on him, he doesn’t tempt others into sin.
  2. The Dude never bears any ill-will against anyone. The only philosophy in his life is ‘The Dude Abides’, meaning he accepts things as they come, isn’t bothered by people who duped him or wronged him and moves on without any feelings of remorse or revenge. He is a living embodiment of Christ’s saying, “Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Blessed are ye, if men revile you, persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake for great is thy reward in heaven”.

 

Well, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate The Dude because he illustrates a life of no responsibilities, no accomplishments, no ambitions and therefore, no worries, no consequences, no disappointments. Without any of the things that is “supposed” to make one happy – a job, a house, a great car, a wife, children, social security, medical insurance, a social circle (no, not even Facebook!), riches and fame, The Dude drives home the fact that you actually don’t need any of this to be “happy” – if that is what you care for.

 

So if your goal is to be Happy and not Rich or Famous or Someone important, you must perhaps watch this film. The philosophy of The Dude is one of no philosophy; his aim is that of no aim; his ambition is to have no ambition and his goal is to have no goals whatsoever. In short, The Dude tells one that you don’t have to be ‘Successful’ to be ‘Happy’ because Successful is what everyone else tells you; Happy is what only you can tell yourself.

 

And The Dude is perhaps a litmus test who separates the Happiness seekers from the Success seekers – if you find the movie and this blog entry stupid, idiotic and mindless (like I first did, until I ‘woke up’) and The Dude a wastrel, a useless no-gooder then you are clearly a Success seeker. All the best mate, see you on top of Forbes!

 

But if Happiness is what you seek, I suggest you take a relook at your priorities, the things you are chasing and the things that are chasing you. If you really look at it, you don’t need much to be happy. Not much at all. All you need to do is say, “The Dude abides”! :D

 

**********************************

 

Blogger’s after-thought: If you are fascinated/obsessed by The Dude, you might want to know more about the philosophy called Dudeism on Wiki, after which you might want to get yourself officially ordained into Dudeism by the Church of the Latter-day Dude, buy some gear online at the Dudeism Store and check out other great Dudes of History. And for the Dude’s Anthem, check out ‘Looking out my back door‘ by Creedence Clearwater Revival at Grooveshark and the lyrics of this song on lyricsfreak.com.

I can always run movie-marathons or sleep 40 hours on weekends but…

Word Count: 429 | Estimated time to read entry: 5 min

Image Source: istockphoto.com


The months approaching placements in any B-school are full of apprehension, doubt and uncertainty. But for the few who are getting back into family business or entrepreneurship, the rest are trying to master every trick in the book to land their dream job. TAPMIans are of course no exceptions – all that BrandScan, Theme papers, Group work, Markstrat, MIP and other ‘learning’ better culminate into something fruitful, eh??!

Now, I am reminded time and again, from junies of various batches, that my blog is eminently popular among most of them. “Out of sheer modesty” :P I will skip all the eulogies.  I also get friend requests on Facebook from junies who ‘follow and appreciate’ my blog and I am surprised most of the times because I don’t see comments from (m)any of them and hence, I have no way of knowing my readers.

If the first paragraph is what you guys are feeling right now and if the second paragraph is even remotely true, I guess I can use both of it for something really useful. Here is the idea:

I have a couple of friends placed in various companies across various sectors from various batches, thanks to this blog! I can request them to address your queries on placements and all things concerned with it. We can have a nice discussion right here on the blog. And since this is an open forum, you never know what this can blow out into. In fact, every TAPMI junie is welcome to post queries and every senior to answer them. I will (of course) only moderate.

You send me your queries in the form of comments to the entry that I will be posting subsequently and seniors from relevant sectors with matching profiles who consent to help out will address your queries. I will pick some of the best comments and responses and make entries out of them so that they are not lost in the trail of comments, with due credit to the contributors. And yes, you can choose to stay anonymous but you risk getting into my comment spam folder.

I am not guaranteeing you guys a job here but if you think this is a good idea, please let me know. You can also suggest ideas on what you want featured. Based on the number and quality of comments I get, I will take a call. So the better your response, the higher the chances.

And if you come to think of it, I didn’t give this entry such a long title for nothing, did I? ;)

Why I Delete Facebook ‘Friends’.

Word count: 705 | Estimated time to read entry: 10 min



As if I haven’t been labeled a freak for being over-organized about many aspects of my life, I had to get myself into this unimaginable habit of deleting friends from my Facebook list and make matters worse.  If that wasn’t malicious enough for you, I am sure you would appreciate that I first announce the impending doom of the special few with an update on my profile. A lot of people have asked me the double-why’s – seeking a rationale behind deleting in the first place and announcing the deletion in advance. So far, I have given brief explanations, having to live with the character limit imposed by Facebook in updates but I’d rather be over-specific about this as well. So let me categorize, label and list down the top few reasons why I do so:

Reason 1: Gut feeling. The person just doesn’t look familiar enough in the list anymore. It is like seeing your neighbor’s left slipper in a snap full of close family members. It is the odd man out.  They might have been great friends once, life-mates even, but if repeated attempts at reinitiating the magic fails, I believe in moving on.

Reason 2: Sorry circus watchers, you can’t stand back and enjoy the show. I am sure you find my updates entertaining, ridiculous, funny, thoughtful, weird, biased, inflammatory whatever. But I see some guys just stand by the gallery and watch the show safely behind the protective moat of inactivity. No updates, no comments, no responses. When it comes to such spectators, my whip cracks pretty loud and hard.  I expect some interaction here but if all you seek is some gossip material, sorry mate, try Filmfare.  Am certainly no Russell Crowe from Gladiator to roar, ‘Are you not ENTERTAINED??’


Reason 3: The man in the loo. Guys hardly known to me request to be in my list. For all I know, I once took a leak standing beside him in a public loo by the bus stand and the next thing I realize, I see his invite on Facebook. Eventually it stagnates and stinks and the best thing to do then is to flush it down the drain, aint it? Well I do get invites from unknown gals as well but hey this ‘loo metaphor’ doesn’t hold good for those instances OK??!     ;)

Reason 4: Privacy! Whoa guys I said it despite being a total atheist when it comes to web privacy. There is no such thing as web privacy and the last thing to determine or govern that are improvements in policies of social n/ws that ensure additional privacy. Sorry, I determine my own privacy so I decide who stays and who goes.  I’d rather keep my door closed and locked than rely on the great new service revolvers my local police department is going gaga about, eh??

Reason 5: Inappropriateness or showiness. Some updates don’t cut well with me. Abuses and rants especially. And yea, the Einstein wannabe’s who share nothing but ‘path-breaking insight ‘by putting up links to news items, fall on the other extreme. C’mon guys if all I want is rants and abuses, I’d rather go get married, eh? :P.  And if all I want is meaning and info I’d rather eat some pages off Encyclopaedia Brit… hey wait a min, that’s obsolete, eat some pages off Wikipedia by printing it on a forest full of papers.  Repeated instances of such can tick me off.

If you look at it, these guys are all there in our everyday lives. The ones sequentially listed above are – Misfits, Gossip Mongers, Strangers, Intruders and Offenders. You normally don’t make space for such in your lives do you? Sometimes you just feel someone ain’t good enough to be with; some others only listen and spread slander without ever revealing their inner self; some don’t connect at all; some are mindlessly trying to seek your attention and some always peeve you either by their cacophonous thoughts or their extreme pseudo-intellectual showiness.  To me, Facebook is a large part of my everyday life and is probably the most important means of connecting with people and staying close to them. So when I don’t entertain such people in my ‘non-electronic’ (1) life, why should I on Facebook?

But why do I announce the deletions in advance? Well, I am just being malicious there! Go ahead and delete me! ;)

—————-

(1) I don’t appreciate the usage – ‘Real’ life. I could probably write volumes on why no one should ever call it so or alternately, why every mode of existence can be called so but I have skipped all that here as it is not relevant to this entry.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.