Saturday, January 30, 2010 bite or not to

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at the fifth D: All ...Image via WikipediaThis is a post which comes from the bottom of my heart. I havent planned it, and I'm kind of typing it out as the thoughts start coming in. But this is something which I feel should be discussed and people should take a stance either for or against it.

What I'm talking about is Apple. Not the delicious fruit which keeps the doctor away, but the equally 'delicious' multinational corporation leading the pack in creating some of the most stunning (and yes, I mean that word) products the world has ever seen. The iPod, Mac, iPhone and now the talk of the town the iPad, all created by this magic company headed by the charismatic Steve Jobs. These folks have handed us some of the coolest of products imaginable, almost as if fulfilling our childhood fantasies of playing around with some of the coolest gadgets. That is possible primarily because of the fact that they dont have to depend on other corporations/companies for their stuff. They are in control of every stage of the process of creating that stunning device, starting with the hardware, the design to the software and its nitty-gritties. These guys have the power over it all, and they do an awesome job, totally utilising this 'control' to their advantage. They also have this super tight lipped culture where nothing about anything really, gets leaked to the outside world, which of course, adds to the hype. As a result what we as consumers get are totally out of the box products never even imagined by other companies, and so revolutionary that it changes the landscape of technology overnight! As a direct consequence of that, Apple today is one of the biggest mobile companies in the world, with revenue rivalling that of giants like Nokia. And I'm quite sure that in no time, the Mac will compete with Windows for the more popular OS tag (the more stylish OS award has already been won by the Mac). Awesome corporation Apple, isnt it? Of course it is.

The thing is, however, inspite of all this glamour and glitz and hype about everything Apple, there is something the company is creating. Its making the technological world more 'closed'. There's a certain way Apple OSes/softwares are designed and the consumers are meant to use it as Apple deems fit. In other words, Apple controls the way we experience its products. I'll just give you an example. Say there's a minor glitch/absence of a particular feature in an Apple software, now what do you do then? At the most, you send a feedback to Apple and expect them to take care of it (erm...leaving the problem totally at their disposal which most of the time ends up in the company releasing a new improved version of the product leaving you with no other option but to spend your moolah all over again in getting that improved product), since no one else can because Apple doesnt wish to release the source code (in lay man's terms that means instructions about how a program performs/functions). But what if there's a really good software developer willing to do that rectification/debugging of that software and add some more features to it for free! If you could, would you hand it over to that guy? I dont know about your answer but I would. But Apple wouldnt want us to hand it over to that guy simply because it means that the company loses control over the product.

This is exactly how closed source and open source softwares (and corporations as well) function. The situation described above is not something which might bother you now, but trust me, this will become a bigger issue every time pro-closed source corporations (eg. Microsoft, Apple, etc.) keep coming up with these awesome products. These products are seriously cool devices in the guise of something else...something different, something meant to steer the technological world in a particular direction favourable for the particular company.

Dont get me wrong, I'm not anti-Apple. I honestly believe the world would be a duller place to live in without the blessings of Apple and its products (and I am a fan of the iPhone and Mac). But I certainly dont like the way Apple resists from releasing a single letter of the source code of its OSes. I wont talk about Microsoft Windows, because already there is a significant number of people who are 'tired of' that OS and want to/have already shifted to Mac and Linux. And that number certainly isnt decreasing. However Apple already has an awesome user-friendly OS which is both secure, stable and easy to use (the former two cannot be applied to Windows). In other words, Mac is a better all round OS than Windows (and is destined for greater success, perhaps of titanic proportions if they let developers across the world help them in their endeavour). Who knows, had Apple gone open-source, the Mac would have been the OS on 97% of computers across the planet today and not the other way round.


Friday, January 29, 2010

iPad...would I actually buy one?

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBaseThe frenzy over the release of the iPad has now settled down a bit, giving rise to more logical analysis of the product. Steve Jobs has coaxed us into believing that the iPad is an almost perfect product which bridges the netbook-smartphone gap. Now I've been asking myself a question, would I actually spend my money to get an iPad?

Erm...first up, its looks awesome! Its sleek, its stylish and from the looks of it, its very user-friendly. Browsing the web seems to be quite easy, and the touch screen is well...awesome to say the least (since Apple is using the same precision touch screen as the iTouch and the iPhone). The iTunes integration, the iBook Store, iWorks all seem to be really cool stuff. And it comes with that 'Apple' tag!

On the other hand, the cons cannot be overlooked. It suffers from the same problem as the iPhone, the absence of multitasking. Now if you're into third party apps (most of us are), then the absence of multitasking can be a bit of a problem.
The screen is not exactly widescreen, neither is it 4:3. So, I really dont know how widescreen videos would look on the iPad.
The absence of Flash support is something which will bother all of us, surely. I mean, can you imagine browsing the web without Flash?
It features no HDMI port. This should not be a dealbreaker but frankly speaking, quite a few netbooks these days feature an HDMI port and that could come in pretty handy sometimes.
This is my biggest problem, the maximum flash memory the iPad supports is 64GB. Tell me something, if you plan to watch movies from your hard drive should 64GB suffice? After all, a few MP3s can occupy a few GBs.
The real deal, some say, is the AT&T data plan which comes with the iPad. But since that plan is only applicable in the US, I wouldnt give much importance to it.

In conclusion, its a mixed bag really. Stunning looks, great interface, mediocre functionality and connectivity.

Will I get one? I think I'll wait for a second version of the iPad.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27:  (EDITORS NOTE: Re...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeAfter months, no wait, years of rumours about the elusive tablet, Apple today came out with the new iPad. (The name sucks. Doesnt it sound like a feminine hygiene device? iTampon trended on Twitter today for some unknown reason, in case you didnt know.)

It has a super awesome touch screen, uses the same precision techniques as the iphone or itouch. Has a brilliant interface which is totally customisable, has perfect integration with itunes among starters. It has a sleek, sexy, stylish 9.7 inch IPS screen, 0.5 inches thin, weighing at just 1.5 pounds, with 10 hours of battery life, has bluetooth (thank god!), WiFi, 1Ghz Apple A4 Chip, 16-64GB of flash storage, iWorks, iBook Store (which looks pretty awesome!) unprecedented reading and gaming experience...the list goes on!

And the price? Well its amazing how they have managed to price it at just $499 for the 16GB! The 3G version though costs $629. 32GB is priced at $599 and $729 for the WiFi and WiFi+3G versions respectively and the 64GB is priced at $699 and $829 for the WiFi and WiFi+3G versions respectively.

They will start shipping in 90 days time. For the time being AT&T has made a pretty pathbreaking deal with Apple but international deals will be ready by June.

That was the Apple iPad.

Erm, just before I end I think I should mention some of my concerns here. For starters, it still doesnt feature multitasking. Now that might not be a dealbreaker but its a dampener for sure. Next, I really dont think 64GB is enough of a storage really. I mean even a few mp3 files and videos these days take up quite a large amount of space. So, I'm really not sure if the iPad is really a replacement for a netbook. But if you can overlook these shortcomings, I think the sleek, stylish, uber cool iPad is one hell of a device you must own!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Back from vacation

I had been to Digha to take time off for a few days and had a great time (well mostly).

I took the Tamralipta Express from Howrah at around 6:40 in the morning. It was a pleasant ride thanks to the comfy chairs and the AC.

However you cannot help but notice the view through the glass windows...a view which may seem pleasant to some but can be a bit disturbing to many.

Some might say the above pic is of the great Indian rural area. Well yes it is, and just how extensive these rural areas are, I got a sense of that day. Within an hour of leaving Howrah, the train was making its way through villages, fields and barren lands so extensive that a million Kolkatas would fit comfortably in those unending realms of emptiness. I could see kids, even adults sometimes, watching with innocent awe and waving at our train as it literally flew past them, almost as if ignoring the amusement of these 'lesser than the lesser mortals'. The villages and the villagers seemed oblivious to modernity and the industrial wave that has swept the capital city only a few hundred miles away. There are no schools, no hospitals, no roads, in most cases no electricity and no proper facilities around, yet these people continue to survive in these conditions. We dont find them in the news because well, they dont make interesting stories! After all, we 'urban' Indians living in cities want to shake off the 'third world' tag this country has been painfully carrying for so many years. Hence, the 'news' about the latest night clubs in the city or the latest McDonald's branch is far more interesting and perhaps more important to us.

What we fail to realise is that we cannot be part of the hallowed 'first world' when more than half of our country is in shambles! These 'interiors' need to be integrated into the new India, a more prosperous India. The India where everyone has access to at least all the basic amenities. I dont know why, but I feel a strange pang when I find foreigners taking pics of the less privileged. Are they for 'show' or are they 'pieces of display'? Well I dont blame them either, because it looks like our government wants to take advantage of this 'third world India' image and earn some moolah even though it causes irreparable damage to the nation's image, after all who can forget the 'Slum Tour' of Mumbai, now very famous thanks to a 'great movie' Slumdog Millionaire!

Bottom line, we are living in denial, we all are. Like it or not. We simply cannot ignore the fact that about half of our country (if not more) doesnt have access to proper sanitation, education, health and transportation. They are the ones who toil day and night to meet our voracious demands for food consumption. These are our countrymen, they are our fellow citizens, and they are being deprived. And I say this to the people who matter, our 'leaders', let us no longer turn a deaf ear to their plight, to their miseries and their cries.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

R.I.P. Jyoti Basu

Bengal CPM leader Jyoti Basu, who led a protes...Image via WikipediaOne of the most prolific leaders of the Left era passed away today. Jyoti Basu to many is someone who had brought communism to the masses. His tenure as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for 23 years is the longest in any state in this country, and it speaks volumes about his immense popularity.

Many talk about the turmoil Bengal was in when Jyoti Basu took over the reigns which ended the Congress 'misrule' (allegedly, because I was born when Mr. Basu was already the CM, so I cant and shouldn't comment on the Congress regime in Bengal). Without a doubt he was an able administrator, an orator par excellence and a politician the likes of whom this country might never see. As is apparent from the tears being shed by politicians across party lines, he was a friend and a guide to many now established leaders.

His death is without any doubt a significant loss not just for the Left parties and the state but also for the nation.

R.I.P. Jyoti Basu...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Isnt Calcutta already Kolkata?

I guess most people in Kolkata are aware of this but the leading English daily in the city, The Telegraph has kept on mentioning the name of the city as Calcutta rather than the current name, Kolkata.

Now, I'm not among the ones who resent the name Calcutta. But the thing is, it just seems a bit odd that when the world has started recognising the new name of the city, one of our own, and lets say, loved newspapers simply refuses to accept that fact. I mean, there's no city in the world which is called Calcutta now!

I wonder if there's actually a reason behind this...

Image - the Telegraph, Calcutta. 9th January, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Strange accents

I was watching this movie Defiance the other day. It was an okayish kinda movie. However one thing which kept bothering me was the fact that all the actors were speaking English and that too in a strange accent.

Defiance is a movie on the plight of the Jews during World War II and takes place in the then politically disturbed Poland. Now the official language of Poland is Polish (obviously!), maybe some spoke German as well. Anyway point is, none of them spoke anything remotely close to a language called English. Of course in the movie the language couldnt be Polish or German simply coz its from Hollywood and mainly aimed at the American viewers. So, English had to be used so that its more...lets say, 'accessible' to people. Fair enough. But why on earth do actors have to speak in stereotyped German/Polish accented English? If they want to use English (and they are using English), why not use a proper American or British accent for the benefit of viewers? Not that I hate/disregard other accents, but the fact is, the American and British accents are the most widely recognised. I just hope some sense sets in here. This 'out-of-place' accent makes the actors and the director look stupid!

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Imageshack now has an uploader

For many of us, flickr and picasa are just way too 'light' for our blogging needs. Imageshack with its unlimited storage and registration-less service is an easy winner for bulk image uploads especially for people who like to link to images and hate those stupid alert messages about depleting storage etc.

Imageshack has recently upgraded its interface. And they now have a plethora of uploading options for its users, much like flickr. It has introduced the ImageShack Uploader (remember flickr uploadr?) for its users. And Linux lovers need not fret coz there's now a Linux version of their uploader! Although I wasnt able to download the .deb file, I'm pretty sure its a temporary issue and will be resolved soon.

In the meantime do check out the awesome uploading options imageshack has managed to come up with. (Imageshack uploading options)

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Lemme start by saying that I hate anything astrology. Mainly because its plain crap (9 out of 10 times) and also because it sort of changes our mindset. Okay there's another reason, there was this astrologer (there still is actually) and he had said to me that I wouldnt be able to clear any medical entrance exams in West Bengal and that I was more suited for engineering studies than for medicine. Well, I did exactly the opposite (of course I cleared the state medical entrance exam and now I'm a med student in one of the most reputed colleges in the state!) So maybe thats another reason why I hate these folks.

Anyway, the reason why I'm writing all this? Well its the new year season and all newspapers are concentrating on what the 'oracles' are saying. For example, today in The Telegraph's Graphiti section, there was this huge cover story of 'The Oracles Speak' (click on it to read the article), and apparently the most 'respected' astrologer Bejan Daruwalla predicts that Mr. Rahul Gandhi will become PM in 2011. His exact words (which can be found in that link) are as follows:

Ganesha also says that Rahul Gandhi will become prime minister in 2011. But he will pay a huge price for it emotionally.

Now, what do you think? In all probability I think this time Mr. Daruwalla might have got it wrong. Coz the next in line doe the PM's post after Mr. Manmohan Singh's tenure is over is Mr. Pranab Mukherjee who narrowly missed the PM's slot this time around. (And thats of course considering the fact that BJP will be in the same mess in 2011 that they are in right now)

Mr. Daruwalla goes on to say:

Our only real rival on the global stage is China but China has been unfair to Tibet. And by the law of nature, sooner or later, what we do to others boomerangs on us.

I mean WTF! Who on earth set the law of nature? Now dont blame this on Darwin, he merely talked about natural selection and stuff.

This is the Age of Aquarius. This means that in about four years, there will be a compromise between the terrorists and the rest of the world. But over the next one year, terrorists will be very active.

Mr. Daruwalla, I'm no astrologer and I dont need my oracles and shit to tell me that the terrorists will be active over the next year. Lemme predict and say this, unless the root of all terrorist activity is demolished, there wont be any significant reduction in terrorism throughout the world. And by the look of things, terrorism will still be a problem our country has to deal with for at least another decade. And as far as compromise is concerned, well we are always compromising with the terrorists. What our politicians call "bouncing back" etc. (eg. Mumbai bounces back/fights back) is merely a show of the sheer helplessness of us citizens. Anyway, point is one need not be an astrologer to predict what Mr. Daruwalla said.

I'm a Scorpio and this is what Mr. Daruwalla says about us: (prediction for 2010 that is)

Scorpio: Scorpios love to love. But women are expensive creatures, so husbands beware and lovers, take care.

Seriously, is that a prediction? I wont get abusive so, no comments here.

Says Nilaanjana Chakraborty, another astrologer,

Marriage is on the cards for Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in 2010

Hehe, people just need to keep in touch will celeb gossips to predict that!

Says Marjorie Orr, yea she's again one of those hallowed people:

I think Iran looks right in the firing line to pick up the worst of this aspect. At the very least, it will face an internal revolution of a major variety. Israel too looks to be in for a panicky, failure- ridden two years.

I can imagine Christiane Amanpour saying that, not an astrologer!

Anyway, the more instances I mention the longer this post will get and the more irritated I'll become. Go read the article for yourself and let me know what you think of it.

And here's wishing you all a very Happy and prosperous New Year. (And dont blame me if you dont have a prosperous year, I just wished you, that was no prediction!)