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

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.

The Love of my Life

Word count: 405 | Estimated time to read entry: 6 min

The title would inspire most people to think of a person; few and far are those who would think of an object or animal. And I don’t know what to say for myself as I fall in neither of these categories. 😛  And without taking you on a wild chicken chase like i did here (I love chicken more than goose, you see 😉  ) I candidly declare that the love of my life is – The Afternoon Nap!

The beginning of this habit is lost in slumberous obscurity and I myself can’t recollect when I compulsively fell in love with this habit of catching forty thousand winks in the afternoons. I am known to have slept through most afternoons even during my Class X Board exam prep holidays, much to my parents’ chagrin. At Boarding School, neither class XII Chemistry nor Hindi made any difference in my sleep patterns but yes, Chemistry was a far better soporific than Hindi 😛

It was in fact my afternoon nap that helped me choose my career path. Physics, Chemistry and Math papers of the Karnataka State CET were all scheduled for the morning on different days and only Biology was in the afternoon session. Had it been Math in the afternoon, I would have ended up being a doctor today! And I am proud of my choice because sleeping in Operation Theaters and Dissection Halls of Medical Colleges is far more complicated than sleeping in Air conditioned C++ Lab and Digital Electronics Lab of Engineering Colleges.

The first thing I did after getting into the engineering college hostel was to paste black paper on all the window panes. The room was pitch dark and when I woke up in the night, I sometimes thought I had gone blind because there was no difference between keeping the eyes open or shut. I would skip anything if it clashed with my afternoon nap except perhaps exams. ‘Afternoon Nap’ would even figure on my timetables which I prepared during critical times and irrespective of whether other items in the timetable were on track or not, this one thing would strictly be followed so that at night when I went to bed for more sleep, I had the satisfaction of having followed at least some part of the timetable religiously.

As I said, I permitted nothing to come in between me and my afternoon nap. 2 pm on the clock and i would drop everything … hey it is 2 pm! 😉


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You can’t blame me for hit rate manipulations ;)

 

Word count: 771 | Estimated time to read entry: 6 min

 blog

It’s been a while since I last updated my blog. Frankly speaking, I am busy and typing out a long chunk of text doesn’t appeal to me anymore especially when I have foreign movies, Sci-fi novels and PSP games as alternatives. And when bloggers run out of ideas and time, the easiest thing to do is a compilation – like “Top 10 things for….” or “Best 5 tips for…” et alia.

 

Fortunately, I stumbled upon Google Zeitgeist, a site that lists the most popular search strings on a yearly basis across various categories. Here are some of the most interesting ones from India:

 

1. Katrina Kaif: Thanks to Akshay Kumar’s histrionics and a lot of jobless guys glued to the computer, in office and at home, Kat has made it to most of the categories on GZ, India. As of today, she is ranked #3 in ‘Fastest Rising’ where the only other human being, let alone a Bollywood celeb, is Genelia D’Souza at #7; she is ranked #10 in ‘Most Popular’ in which there is no other human being; #6 on ‘Mobile Search’ in which there is one another human being who I am reserving for a more elaborate discussion in 2 below 😉 and #1 on Bollywood celebs beating Aishwarya Rai. She is surprisingly not present in the ‘Holiday destination’ and ‘How to’ categories. Or perhaps GZ doesn’t want to list queries like ‘Katrina Kaif’s home address’ as a holiday destination and ‘How to get Katrina Kaif’s phone number’ as a ‘How to…’ query ?? 😉

 

2. Namitha: Now, this won’t come as a surprise to any of my regular blog readers because of my previous entries and my observations. Namitha figures #9 on ‘Mobile Search’. No wonder Google enabled the ‘widescreen’ option in the G1 Android phone! Now, don’t ask me why they enabled a touch screen too 😛

 

3. Kareena Kapoor: Now, I had to list her being a great fan of hers! She is #5 in ‘Bollywood Celebs’ and she’s got 1-up on Shahid Kapur even here (he is on #6). If wearing a skimpy bikini in Tashan could get a rank #5, c’mon Bebo, you know what it takes to get to the top! Of course, I meant choosing better movies than the likes of Tashan, what did you guys think? 😉 And if that is what you thought, then what advice can you give Mallika Sherawat who is on #9, despite everything, in the very same list!??? 😛 See, logical extrapolation doesn’t work always.

 

4. Google: There were some bozos who actually googled the word ‘Google’ so much that it made it to #4 on ‘Most popular’ and #10 on ‘Mobile Search’ category. It is like asking the station master which station one is in, 1 second after colliding head-on with the yellow board that spells out the location details in 3 languages at every railway station. I guess Google should put a ‘You are here’ board on their homepage. But I am still wondering, what kind of a guy would google Google? Perhaps those with full cabins in offices, is my best guess 😛

 

5. How to…: I think this whole category is quite hilarious so I will mention many things that caught my interest.

 

How to reduce/gain weight @ #1 and #6 respectively: Boy, am I relieved I am with the majority for once!  

 

How to get pregnant @ #4: Well, all I can tell you gals is to try not to experiment with iPill. Hey, the iPill is not an Apple product so please don’t swallow your iPod to see if your search query is miraculously answered. And ladies, for heaven’s sake, the ‘good old-fashioned method’ still works best! 😛

 

How to earn money/impress a gal @ #3 and #9 respectively: My guess is that those who first searched on impressing a gal then trebled their search attempts by typing how to earn money. The wise guys realized that to impress a gal, you need to earn good money! Let me simplify your task guys – try googling ‘How to earn enough money to impress a gal’. But then Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google and two of the richest guys in the world are still trying their luck at getting that answer right so I wonder if you will have any luck 😉

 

PS: Any reader who comments on why I chose to post an entry on this topic will get a brand new iPod….. Hey, wait a minute! Where did it go now?!!! Yikes!!!!!Looks like my neighbor’s daughter just swallowed it! 


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Cupid makes a few Mrs!

Word count: 990 | Estimated time to read entry: 10 min

Having studied in an all-boys religious boarding school “when it really mattered” 😉 and having remained blissfully single till date actually doesn’t qualify me to write this entry especially when compared to some of my very competent brethren who would put even Napoleon to shame with their ‘conquests’. But then, having enjoyed the view from balcony seats, one can’t help but make observations and have a few opinions. Now come on, don’t deprive me of this pleasure at least! 😉

It was in my first year of engineering that I finally woke up to this phenomenon of people falling in love. Not that I wasn’t aware of it but when your laziest of pals decides to go to the gym and then go to the library ‘to study’, you can’t help but notice Cupid’s pink arrows all over your friend’s yet-to-be-toned body, can you?

I soon learnt that the library was indeed a storehouse of information; only, the information that most people wanted was not indexed in the database and you could learn it only by hiding behind a voluminous text book and carefully ‘studying your subject of interest’ on a regular basis in the library. It took me little time to find that most of the topics of my interest were already chosen by some quick batch mates and some seniors who had haplessly toiled for one year behind this book or that. This only meant that the race had become fiercer for the next year… and you might want to re-read the first paragraph to know how I fared in that year. 😦

Now life as a single, especially when all around you are committed, is not very easy. For one, you have hardly any company to chat with in class because your friend is busy satisfying one of the over seven million ‘duties’ that inevitably come with having a new girlfriend – picking her up from hostel, completing her assignment by learning her subject if she isn’t in the same branch of engineering, buying and couriering a gift to her uncle’s cousin’s maternal grandfather for his birthday, playing the pizza delivery boy etc. Many times, you are requested to do some of this for the sake of your friend and considering you have nothing better to do anyways, you yield. I have lost count of the number of greeting cards I have selected, love letters and poems I have written and apologies I have penned and delivered in person to make situations better for my love-struck friends. For some reason, I am the universal choice for all this, perhaps because of my skill with the language and the usage of words. Considering my own luck in such affairs, it certainly is ironic but now you know what I meant by ‘balcony seats’, huh? 😉

Restaurants are the last place to go if you are single. The waiter hardly attends your table because there is nothing to ogle at and your bill won’t amount to as much as a couple’s. I couldn’t grant him his first incentive till date but I certainly proved him wrong about his assessment of my bill by eating more than any couple around, thereby gaining some respect. Needless to say, I only have all the couples to blame for my present obesity 😉 Another problem is that you can’t always stare at the carrots on your plate when you have a pair of sexy, long, well-waxed, feminine legs right in front of you. At that point, you certainly feel the latter doing more good to your eyes than all the beta carotene in carrots could ever do 😛 But that invites hostile stares from the guy sitting opposite those legs the gal. So if you are in a restaurant full of couples, all you can do is stare at the waiter and hope he hasn’t seen Dostana, first day, first show. 😮 !

The couples usually become famous and sometimes even notoriously scandalous. You can’t recognize one without the other because you are so used to seeing them together everywhere. You soon learn about their candid smooches in the libraries, their trips to forlorn beaches and sometimes interesting photographs taken in hotel rooms using cell phone cameras that come to you as attachments in your batch mail!

But then comes the time of mass exodus. The course is over and suddenly, so is the relationship! A few days ago I was surprised to know that some of the strongest, most victorious couples, determined to spend a lifetime with each other are no more together. Now having Facebook and Orkut does help in doing a sanity check on such information and having a friend who is a search expert at Google makes things much better. From what I have gathered, 90% of the couples who were once considered to rival Romeo and Juliet, either parted ways willingly or were subject to painful breakups. Looks like the ‘subjects of interest’ were after all left behind in the libraries to gather dust along with the voluminous text books. I expected a little more sanity among the relationships that bloomed among my post-graduate classmates but the success rates are far smaller! Of course I am told love has nothing to do with maturity and I have reasons to believe it is true – from my ‘balcony seat’ observation it only has to do with the number of years one spends in a particular college. And I won’t tell you of the number of break-up letters I have penned for the same guys who took away a love poem from me and had mailed it in a pink, scented envelope only a few years earlier.

There are not many college couples that went on to become marital successes. Cupid, I believe, hardly misses Mrs. his targets 😉

PS: Successful Mrs. would certainly be welcome as comments below. Now, c’mon, let’s start a database, whatsay???!!! 😉



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Marriages are made in…

Word Count: 550 | Estimated time to read blog: 6 min

“….Moms’ minds”, is my unequivocal and resounding answer. Somehow, I feel that this is more apt an ending to the incomplete statement in the title than “heaven”.

Marriages were always a mystery to me. It all began when I as an inquisitive 5-year old kid, asked my dad, “Why are some people happy and some people sad?” And dad answered, “Because some people stay single and some people get married”. He obviously hadn’t noticed my mom entering the living room. And when he did, he said it was a joke he had read in one of the magazines, perhaps for the sake of his own happiness. 😉

Attending marriages was also a revolting idea for me. For one, like someoneRing - Noose in my family, I didn’t quite admire silk sarees, gold bangles, extraordinarily showy feminine hairstyles, gossip etc and neither did I seek a ‘getaway from mom’ like someone else in my family. Till date, I think I have attended some ten marriages despite tantrums, tears and timely escapes. Of these, seven or more have been in Delhi because in Delhi you don’t have to actually “attend” a marriage. If there is a marriage in your locality you are automatically part of it because the music is so loud that you are quite convinced that it is happening in your own living room. Neighbors walk in and out of your house for knives, chairs, pillows and everything else that they think you can do without. It takes extreme psychic control to remain convinced that it isn’t you yourself that is entering the wedlock on every such occasion.

Considering the opinions that have been ingrained in my mind regarding marriages, it is quite difficult for me to cope up with the fact that it is now my turn. Mom has shown my horoscope to yet another astrologer who has stated the inevitable in a few, pithy words – “He’s getting married in 2010. His wife will dominate him!” Dad hasn’t stopped sniggering ever since this astrological dictum has descended on me. Mom kept shrugging her shoulders as if the truth in the statement is quite an obvious one. As for me, my palms are sweating as I type out this blog entry. I am mentally preparing to delete this and a few other blog entries that were typed out in a state of insane overconfidence arising from long-standing bachelorhood.

So my mom first planned it and the astrologer ascertained it, giving some spiritual credence to my notion about the likely place of connubial conceptualizations. Tired of battling my mom’s ever active mind and incapable of waging a war with my own stars, I am now awaiting for the noose to tighten.

But a piece of news that I read recently has got me thinking. Latest research has purportedly found that mice are a great replacement for men, making women all the more self-dependent and men all the more unwanted. If taken seriously and implemented, this research can actually shake the very foundations of matrimony. I can already imagine a futuristic scenario- a woman walking into a mall with a mouse on a leash, adept at swiping his credit card whenever the woman wants him to. But hey, wait a minute… is the scenario any different now among married couples?? 😉


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Barb’e’ric measures

Word count: 538 | Estimated time to read blog: 7 min

A few months ago, one of my friends spent Rs 5K to get his hair styled like Dhoni. When he got subtle signs from his peer group that he looked more like Symonds instead, he spent Rs 3K (from some other ‘cheaper’ hair-stylist) to get his hair done like Saif – short and spiky. But when no Kareena came his way, he decided that nothing gave him the satisfaction of the Rs 30 haircut and is currently looking very much like himself.

It has been my desire to grow shoulder-length hair for a long time now. I took a liking for long hair while I was still a teenager. But then, the only person permitted to have long hair at home was mom. Who said so? Well, mom said so and it would be quite a hair-raising endeavor for both me and dad to gainsay such decrees.

I then went to a boys-only boarding school run by a Hindu missionary institution. There was an in-house hair cutting salon and the barber came every Wednesday morning. The uniform included the hairstyle as well – we got exactly similar haircuts. We all looked so similar that we finally realized that there is no point in gazing into the mirror –looking at anyone in the school would do just fine.

When I joined engineering I left my hair short for precisely the opposite reason. Every one in college had long hair and I was not in a mood for a re-run of my boarding school experience. Of course, some fantastic subjects also helped me keep my hair short and trim – Maths 1, Maths 2, Fields and Waves, Electronic Circuits, Linear Digital Control Systems and how can I forget, Signals and Systems! I was on the verge of growing bald but thankfully, the course ended.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire – from engineering to MBA! I have already written a detailed entry on this experience and I dare not recall them. I am also trying to type away frantically so that I keep my hands busy and not take them anywhere close to my hair inadvertently because I am sure I will feel like plucking them out. Nooooooooo, I don’t want to think of the mess or non-existent tea!!!!

Now that I stay alone away from my mom, with no uniforms to abide by, without having to worry about brain-numbing subjects and Lakshmee, my cook, providing me with excellent meals, I am planning a change in hair-do.

self-shot1.jpg

Yes, like the one in the pic above, what say? For one, I have already told you of my singlehood despite my amazing talents. This coupled with the fact that marriage is looming large ‘on my head’ has encouraged me to grow my hair long because good, homely Konkani gals, I am told, have “very few” expectations. Long hair is certainly not one among them. (They only want a decent, good looking, hard-working, onsite based, 7-digit salary earning, non-alcoholic, expert at cooking/washing/baby-sitting software professional! How down-to-earth!) This has increased my resolve and added to my motivation to grow long hair. (This paragraph will be deleted when I am close to getting married. 😛 )

So what say readers?

 

PS: To get a hair-do like the one i am sporting in the snap, check out Taaz.

 
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