Greetings! I appreciate the thing you have going with Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. It is almost every techie’s dream to own an organisation (not organization, since my Safari autocorrect is set to British English apparently) like yourself. Most of the places where I love to hang out online, and which keep me connected to my friends, family, and brands, are basically owned by you (and then there is Twitter). I see how responsibly, and coolly you have been conducting them, or so I would like to believe. (So what if some of my friends have gotten harsh beatings from their girlfriends on “Last Seen at ~”. Sorry, can’t help but try to be funny wherever I can; artist’s liberty, you see.)
Let me jump to the point of the matter. I wrote this letter after this post by you. This is a slightly long letter (because it is not a tweet), but if you read through it, you will find a breakthrough business move, I promise. And that will earn you unbiased goodwill and approval, this also I promise.
With great money comes a huge obligation to not look like a greedy person, and altruistic as you are, I understand that your intentions with internet.org are not being taken positively at many a places, especially at India. Why, you ask?
Here is what internet.org roughly promises.
Free access to basic amenities of the Internet. Like WhatsApp, Facebook, Flipkart (Flipkart have backed out, but were a part of the original “testament”) etc.
These are some of the services that internet.org would give free access to. Yes, these are some of the basic things which we do online. But, do you begin to see a pattern here?
Facebook apparently would subsidise the cost of the Internet, because, of course it would translate to more users getting online to use Facebook (as it would be free for the users), which would translate to real dollars for Facebook. Now, agreed that it might not be an entirely profitable / breakeven situation for Facebook in the short run. But the major flaw with this premise for the overly idealist Indian masses is as thus:
If tomorrow, I plan to launch a social network, which wants to take the world by storm, will I be able to get as many number of users as Facebook, which is free to use, because it basically owns the Internet in my country?
So what should internet.org do now? By Merlin, I have a totally game-changing move. The move would be to :
Subsidise the Internet instead of freeing selective services.
Yes, so if I pay $30 for my current Internet plan, let me be charged some $25 for it maybe? (and by the way, India already has one of the most affordable data plans in the world! For around $5, I get a 3G data pack, sufficient to supplement my browsing and messaging needs. Beat that!) It will make the Internet more affordable for me. And you have a slight chance that I and many like me might hop onto Facebook as well in the process. If you take a sample space of entire population of India, this might earn you more goodwill, this might be the better thing to do for the greater good, and this might make me love Facebook as an organisation even more!
I guarantee you much much better acceptance of this plan, and a smoother deployment as well.
Unless, of course, if the only thing you and Airtel / Reliance are after is world dominance!
In this narcissistic blog of myself, I almost always speak about myself, my opinions, my observations, my suggestions, my research etc. Therefore, as a natural extension of my uncanny ability to go on about myself, I wish to acknowledge a stunt of sorts which I pulled off in real life to prove to be some value to a friend and to an idea he stood for. He has since moved on, so it would not be too harsh to have a little giggle about the inconvenient situation. So, I have been quite the music buff for quite some time.
All my worldly possessions, all the moh-maya-carrying baggage compressed into three mere bags.
And consequently, after lazing around for about a year in Mumbai, I finally bought a guitar. I would use all sorts of fancy words to describe the kind of guitar I bought, but since the majority of people are not into it, I will just say it was a “black non-electric guitar” which I happened to get at a really cheap price. I composed many Billboard-topping tunes on it, which would have topped the billboard, had I not dropped them within half an hour of conceiving (so hope, much optimism).
But before I knew, I had to move on to Bangalore, since I took up a brand new, challenging role in Tech at Sportskeeda. And being the minimalistic person that I am, when I packed up, I only had 3 bags to carry with me (including my laptop). That’s right. All my worldly possessions, all the moh-maya-carrying baggage compressed into three mere bags. But, then I set my eyes on my guitar, which I had excluded from packing. I did a quick mental guesstimate on the amount of inconvenience it would cause me to carry my guitar when I was trying to push my luggage down by as much as possible. And that inconvenience was pretty damn much.
So, I did the unthinkable (in my head). I decided to sell the guitar. Now, for those of you who have not had the opportunity to be close to me, I’m a very very nice guy. So much, that the only nicer guy that I can think of is Ned Flanders. So, I decided to turn selling of guitar into something altruistic. One of my good friends had been sweating hard on a product, a marketplace where friends would sell their stuff to other friends. I liked the neat idea, and decided to list my guitar there.
Now, I’m no sales guru or a marketer. But my pitch was pretty neat. Here it is for my goodfellas.
Jimm Jet Black hollow acoustic guitar in excellent quality and sound. Used for under a year. selling because I’m moving out of the city and I don’t want to carry a lot of stuff. Will also be giving a set of plectrums / pick and an old carry-bag. Price is slightly negotiable based on how good you negotiate. :)
See? Neat, right? But the catch is, I also, very publicly, decided not to list it anywhere else either. This is about as big a stunt as I’m capable of doing without risking my life. :D Now, long story short, the guitar has found no buyers. So where does that leave us? Well, two months fast-forward, the guitar is lying back at Mumbai, and none of my old roommates have picked it up, or as much as dusted it, because the only time they pick guitars, is for Instagram poses (not that I expected them to learn it :D )
To whom it may concern, this is my final pitch. The guitar is good. It turns you into a good person. It will:
– resolve all your girlfriend issues (or help you get one, or help you break up with one, whichever applies. Basically, whatever you wish for),
– convince your parents that you care about your health and that you also go to the gym regularly,
– guarantee you a promotion in job,
– bless you with more followers on Twitter,
– look cool in your living room (a dirty room with a guitar immediately makes you look like a badass hippie that all the cool girls want to hang out with, who might have a refrigerator full of beer and closet full of controlled chemicals of substance abuse),
– give you a licence to claim to know the intricacies of music when high-minded discussions about Floyd vs Soundgarden might break out in your Friday evening discussions.
Okay, one final stunt. You can have the guitar for free if I’m convinced you will not let that baby rot in dust. Seriously.
Shopping malls can be as boring places as happening they were intended to be. “Seasonal Sales” in clothing section is what makes them boring for me. I know, right? Do you have raised eyebrows and twitching forehead at the blasphemy I just blurted?
Now before you decide to close this tab cursing me under my breath, let me explain. I shop for things when I need them. Neither before, nor after. While this keeps my spending in check (and I could care less about that), it also gives me the sense of using something that we like to call “common sense”.
For instance, a month ago, I needed a pair of denims, so I went to this shopping mall, walked over to 34 inches section, picked up three pieces, tried them on, selected one trivially, and went on my way. The most time consuming process was the payment counter. Don’t get that wrong, there is nothing wrong in buying stuff that you don’t need, but the minimal person that I am, it becomes a major offence for me. What makes matters worse for me is the fact that my roommate Vikky is a big shopping buff.
How big, you ask? Here’s something for you feelers. If Vikky is confused between 3 trousers, chances are, he will buy all three to resolve the tiff (no exaggeration here). But that would be fine with me if he had not spent about an hour debating about the pros and cons of each with me, and with people over phone.
So, we have a shopping mall five minutes walk away from our apartment. There is this whole section of clothing in the mall, which I like to call the “Black Hole” because once we go in there, we are there for like forever.
I have nothing against shopping malls. But I always go to the malls with company. I would like to spend more time at the food court actually eating, rather than browsing clothes that my eating habits would not allow me to fit in. I would like to spend more time browsing gadgets and contemplating how many dinners I might have to skip before I can afford that 100-inch “LXD” TV (although I cannot skip any). I would like to spend more time OUTSIDE the mall where I can get some non-recycled air.
I recently bought a smartphone (and launched a mobile app as well, but more on that later) and it has tremendously helped me survive ordeal I spend at these places. But, Indian malls don’t have a lot of sitting space other than at food courts. Apparently, they don’t want people to stay there for long. They want people to quickly browse through stuff, pick up what they like and get the hell out. Why else would they not have lots of chairs for people like me who hate having to stand purposelessly? So, although I have the luxury of doing what I like anywhere, I cannot do it while relaxing as comfortably as I would like to.
The crux of this post is probably the most irrelevant of any post I have written till date, but it really expresses what more I would want out of shopping malls. I would summarize them in following brief points.
3 Feature Requests in all Indian Shopping Malls
– 1. Brain Activity Scanner and Segregator (BASS) at the Entrance –
This device is handed to the person who hovers metal detector over your body at the entrance. (S)he hovers a coil over your head which suggests if you are a shopper or not. If you’re not a shopper or not particularly in shopping mood, you’re immediately seized and made to enter an X-Ray-Machine-resembling entrance of a portal. Your shopper mates go the normal way. Non-shoppers are led into this place where they have lots and lots of chairs and couches, books, and mobile-tablet charging points. Potential Benefits: Number of people avoiding shopping malls will come down. If non-shoppers like a book or two, they might buy them. The shoppers can actually spend more time shopping.
More sales, check ✔
More people, check ✔
Happier faces. check ✔
– 2. Comfortable Seats Everywhere –
Technical glitches happen all the time. I will believe that our systems are flawless the day I have spent a year in my office without a single JVM crash (or the day my girlfriend stops complaining about how slow her smartphone is, whichever comes first). So, our immaculate ‘BASS’ system is also subject to flaws. In the unfortunate incident that a BASS terminal basses out on me, I would like to have comfortable seats where I can even take a quick nap when Vikky decides to max out all the credit cards that he and I collectively own. Potential Benefits: Same as previous point.
Reliability, check ✔
– 3. Asynchronous Random Response Generating Hoop (ARRGH…!)-
This one is the best! There might be times, when you want to be there for your friend when he decides outfit for his first date, or when your spouses buy dresses for their family weddings, etc. The ARRGH system lets you do that without having to!
This revolutionary system does just what its name suggests. It’s a hoop you put around your shoulders, and it generates random affirmative and exclamatory responses for you without you being bothered by your shopaholic friend. There would be ARRGH booths at all floors; you can simply pick one up, and put your head into one of those sweet transparent rings, and forget about anything else. Here is how a sample communication would go.
Vikky (to me): You think this tee-shirt is worth a buy?
Me: *activates the ARRGH and it takes over the conversation*
ARRGH: (taking over the communication, nods) Yeah, it looks cool, man!
Vikki: How about the pink one with yellow stripes we saw earlier?
ARRGH: Go with it!
Vikki: But there you said it was cool! I’m asking about that one.
ARRGH: Yeah, man, totally!
Vikki: Do you think it makes me look gay? I’m straight, and I don’t wanna look gay, buddy!
ARRGH: Of course, go for it!
Vikki: Wait, are you wearing one of those ARRGHs?
ARRGH: (detects the usage of the word ‘ARRGH’ ) What? Are you kidding me? (brilliant AI, quick response)
Vikki: Thanks, man! I’ll buy that, and the skinny shorts you recommended an hour ago!
ARRGH: It totally suits your taste!
Potential Benefits: Friends offer you good advice, and ARRGHs offer you even better! Shopaholics will end up buying things that look funny, thus giving rise to a new trend in the fashion industry. I can already envision the best Bollywood designers buying ARRGHs to make their color scheme decisions for them.
New trends, check ✔
No hassle, check ✔
Friends remain friends, check ✔
Increased sales and faster decision-making, check ✔
So, there you go! Better shopping malls in Three Easy Steps
Serious side-note (although it appears at the bottom instead of appearing on the side)
Technology, I believe, has the potential to solve the most complicated of problems. Being an engineer and a problem solver at heart, I like to take up random problems I face every day, think of hypothetical solutions to them, and see how it goes. If I do come up with good solutions, I turn them into inventions. If not, I muse about them here.
In our lives, we have to make many trivial uninformed decisions, each alternative of which can be highly consequential. 50% of the times, the decisions might go wrong, since they were trivial to begin with in the first place. I have seen people blame themselves for trivial bad decisions. Let us understand that there are no bad decisions, they become wrong only in the hindsight.
It would be great to have an ARRGH system to put blame on for those!
Disclaimer in Bold and Italics: This post contains no Alok Nath memes.
If you think I’m going to troll about Alok Nath here and bore you, no reader, no! I’m here to scrutinize what has been a dismal display of mockery and to pin down the reason for the same. I have 3 theories on why this happened. (and one of those is NOT a conspiracy theory). I like the third one the most. I have evidences for that one.
Theory 1: The PR Conspiracy
Alok Nath (the character, not the person) has been the forgotten hero. In his movies, he braves the world and has to bear the curses and melodrama of the society. He almost certainly has an irrant wife and a beautiful girl, who, for obvious reasons might have been the apple of “Mohalle Wala Gullu’s” eye, death threats and dowry warnings. All this hyperness all over his face has balded him half like a good suburban Daddy, and despite all this, the ‘sanskari’ ‘ghar-jamhai’ steals the show instead of Alok Nath himself! Second place is bagged by Alok’s daughter, who is imcomprehensibly beautiful, and still settles down for even the most ordinary guy her Dad would choose. Big sacrifice, that! Third place goes either to Alok’s wife, or to a villianous character in the movie (Sometimes, these both are the same). The point is, Alok is nowhere in the picture. Not even in top 5. While in real life such a character should have been the lead role, in movies, he is brightening his sly smile in the backdrop of married couple, but is taken out of focus by the cameraman. What a disgrace! So, this first theory states that this was a stunt pulled off by Alok Nath’s PR agency, so that the next time a cameraman gets a job for an Alok Nath movie, he focusses on Alok even if the villian is getting murdered in the side-frame. And if he wouldn’t, you as viewers would. Even if it is just for LOLs.
Formal Postulate: The PR firm wants to draw the attention of movie-goers towards Alok Nath, to define him as the lead actor in his upcoming movies.
Theory 2: He wants to pull off ‘The Miley’
No, I’m not referring to the obscenity. Miley Cyrus used to be this girl-next-door untill she turned into this super-spoiled brat who is obscenely clad and is flirting (to put it mildly) with a man her Dad’s age. Result? Moolah! Publicity! Talk show topics! Now imagine if in the next movie, Alok Nath comes in the frame drooling over a pool of cigar-scotch cocktail, side-slinging an M4 Assault rifle, sporting an shabbily overgrown beard, being caressed by five bikini babes (yes, five is the precise number, but more on that later)! Wouldn’t it be… Super badass!? Just like a Gabbar Singh of modern times. So, that’s with this theory.
Formal Postulate: Keep calm, and forget the memes. And wwwwait for his upcoming movies.
Theory 3: The NSA Angle: The Strongest Evidence
We all know how NSA tracks down everything. Right from this blog post to the tab that you recently closed and don’t want anyone to know about, they make it a point to know all of these little things. This is gazillions of pettabytes of information and they run out of storage frequently. They needed a more streamlined approach. Now what follows is a bit of an inside information. I’m a bit scared as I type this Class One classified piece of documentation, but hey, I’m brave! Here it is:
The NSA found out about this incorrigibly good character of Hindi movies, and sat down a team of Harvard-Stanford psychology experts on how they could leverage this ‘phenomenon’ to aggregate the moods of the masses. And those experts came up with this solution “Start a trend on Alok Nath’s peculiarity. A meme would be ideal, and circulate it amongst the masses. The jokes that people make, and the responses other people make to those jokes will help us find out the exact sentiment of the people of different areas”.
How do I know this? While I was outrunning the brutal hounds of Area 51, I managed to get my hands on this piece of super classified documentation. It is torn, and still soaked in my blood. Here it is:
Formal Postulate: Alok Nath is a data aggregation and sentiment analysis tool for the NSA. Keep calm, and feed noise to NSA.
All said and done, I deserve a pat on my back for the near-fatal espionage of journalism, uncovering the truth, what India TV has failed to do at all. I have more evidences and documents in my custody. If you’re interested, please let me know. I’m willing to share them all.
If you’re NSA or Alok Nath, please contact me through your fake Twitter handle (fondly called ‘fandle’) to get a hand on these.
There indeed is such a thing as your ‘Internet Age’. It is the sum total of the number of years you’ve been exposed to the Internet, mostly to the doldrums of social media. What does that mean and what are the implications?
Well, for starters, your grandpa, who only recently joined Facebook on insistence from your younger cousins might make a faux pas on the Internet, which you are too matured to make at the virtual social gathering. This, and few little bit more crucial aspects elaborated below.
Internet age can be classified into four main categories. Here they are along with symptoms to identify where you fit in there.
~ I. The Toddler ~
You have just learnt that Facebook thingy lets your friends say “Hi” to you, and lets you say “Hi” to them, and lets everyone say “Hi” to everyone else, and so on. Also, your distant friend posted a B’day cake on you Wall (huh, weird! Why call it that? It clearly is my computer screen, and not a wall!), and you called him up to learn to send the cake thingys to other people, and now you send them to everyone, even outside their birthdays. You post online once or twice a month, and those posts are so embarrassing that your well wishers don’t want to acknowledge that they came from you. Now you know why they didn’t like them even when you electronic-mailed them to do so! Also, your niece told you about this weird restrictive writing platform called ‘Tuitter’. These signs clearly signify that your Virtual Umbilical Cord has just been cut because you plugged in the power cord of your computer and finally took up to ‘Internetting’. Congrats, you’re born on the internet!
But mind you, some Internet Toddlers can be very conscious, very mindful! We all had that ‘cool guy’ down the lane who never pooped his diapers. Of course, that wasn’t me.
~ II. The Kid cum Teenager ~
You chat and chat and chat. You comment on every shitbuggery you can find. You are proud of your little ‘wall timeline’ out there, and of all the ‘Friends’ and ‘Followers’ lined up in there, who would give you a moderate number of likes on everything ‘incredibly smart and funny’ that you post. Some of you are early bloomers, and come out with flying colors here. The rest of you are just ignorant here. You post silly pictures of yourself on the Internet, because you want to prove that you’re really ‘fun’. You’re happy; you see the rainbows of the Internet, you follow the butterflies on the World Wide Web, you run into wild animals making love behind the playground. You nag yourself to walk back to where you started. But, will you? Of course, this isn’t going to destroy your childhood, but your curious clicks might cause your accounts to spam other people’s timelines with weird advertisements about masculinity and manhood. This is where gender biases become evident to you in life. If you’re a girl, everyone will think of you as “poor kid” who might have “accidentally clicked on some shiny button”. If you’re a guy, you’re just considered downright pervert. Troubled Teens! If you’re a guy, you recite the hymn “Girls will always get more followers.” If you’re a girl, you’ll say something to the tune of “A million followers ought not to be enough for me. A Billion sounds like Okay.”
Oh, and this is where you might find ‘true love’ of your life as well, not to last this next stage of life. Naughty adolescence!
~ III. The Adult ~
Of the thirty things you used to love about the Internet, that you swore you couldn’t live without, you hardly love three now. But those three, you love by heart. One of them is definitely Google, your faithful friend. Ironically, you’ve silently deleted or are completely inactive on your Orkut profile. You scroll down and down on your Facebook page to remove any conceivable signs of the dumbness of your internet-childhood. You’re a goddamn adult now, and you live like one. You don’t pick up fights in the Facebook comments section. You don’t have conversations about your weekend on your Twitter account. You follow good artists, musicians, businesspersons, corporations, etc. Basically you’re bored of and are boring to the Social Media. You need to move one. You yawn at your screen 80% of the time. You’re basically a nice person. A busy person, with more important shit to do than Share and View random things. You’re sometimes found on Youtube watching Cat videos, music videos, documentaries, but that’s about it. And yes, your typing speed had set new records!
~ IV. The Old ~
Whenever you see people around you, you go like “Been there, done that.” Things do not interest you much anymore. Most of the ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ that you drop around are those of goodwill. You often say “for the sake of old times” while doing it. You’re done. You’re still secretly proud of your little ‘wall timeline’ out there, and of all the ‘Friends’ and ‘Followers’ lined up in there. You no longer count the number of likes you get for anything, because it is plenty. You seek Nirvana. Salvation. Good Riddance.
Internet is no longer your ‘playground’. It’s just a place where you are, like the green, grassy park outside your window, which was heaven when you had homework to do and class-teachers to scold instead. After retirement, you just find solace by sitting on that one wooden bench to the corner.
Where am I? Considering the fact that I’m updating my blog (and that I havea blog), you might find me in one of the words in the Adulthood paragraph. Maybe. Where do you see yourself?
I’ve been an insomniac for a long long time. When I finally discovered a groundbreaking way to put myself to sleep, I thought the secret must be shared.
But a little pre-talk first. Whatever I have to say is something that I have experienced, I have come across no book which validates or advocates this. But you have nothing to loose, so you might as well give this a try.
After months of observations, what I concluded is that our mind lets us fall asleep when it itself is in a state of confusion.
Let me be clearer. The mind needs something or the other to put itself to while you’re asleep. It needs something to keep itself busy, so that you can just go to sleep instead of giving it conscious thoughts to think about (If you say your head is completely blank when you’re asleep, you, my friend, are either lying or are misinformed).
Well, that’s tricky, is it not! To give our brain (rather, mind) something to work upon without giving it problems consciously! Here’s where a little knowledge will come in handy. We do not consciously process paintings and music. We just look at them and our brain fires up its processors and starts crunching it over and over again, looking for patterns, anticipating and identifying known patterns, correlating new patterns to older ones, and so on. So the key to get it to work would be to look at a painting that starts off simply enough, and then keeps getting complicated, and gradually puts enough questions in our mind to suffice a good, sound sleep. It’s like feeding the brain. This is probably why counting sheep has been the age-old thing to fall asleep. It follows the pattern:
Simple –> Complicated –> Simple –> Stop.
But since you’re consciously imagining the sheep, it ceases to be as effective as we would think. So, we definitely would require a painting to do the trick.
But how would you sleep with open eyes? You cannot (normally). I used to put my little sister to sleep by chatting with her. We would talk about the usual stuff at first, and then gradually I would start talking about things like Pythagoras’ Theorem, about how our life would be so much more difficult had Tesla not lived ever, and about the merits and demerits of having to live our entire life in a spaceship. While some of these talks were interesting, they were compulsively a bit complex, as they had to be understood, but when she didn’t have to reply back, she would be listening passively, and would thus fall asleep (Thanks, brain!). But who would do for you what I did for my dear sister? Won’t be surprising to realize that the answer is “Probably no one.”
Music, which I mentioned above, is our very need of the hour. Classical music is supposed to be good for sleep. Reason? It picks up simple notes, builds a foundation and architects elaborate and intricate structures over it, reaches a peak of complexity, and then eases down in a simplistic and beautiful conclusion. It’s like caramel-dipped vanilla-chocolate ball or <your favourite dessert here> for the brain. Which means, our brain not only loves it, it craves it like anything!
But not just any music, mind you. Certain music might just wake you up to appalling uncertainty of ever falling asleep that night. But some selective music will flow like a breeze and puff you into the sweetest sleep you’ve ever had.
Here is the soundtrack from the superbly awesome game Braid, which I use to put myself to sleep on a not-so-easy night. Just let yourself go, flow with it.
I think some people have had this question, but I couldn’t find anyone who had this query. Let me cut to the chase.
Suppose you don’t want people to know that you’re active on Facebook. Say, your boss is ‘Friends’ with you on Facebook and you don’t want him to know that you’re active online. At the same time, you don’t want to compromise with your ‘Virtual Social Life’ either. So, you’re browsing through the contents on your News Feed. An old school friend of yours has shared a very awesome picture of some place he went for vacation and you want to ‘like’ it or ‘comment’ on it. So you go to see the privacy. It is “Friends Only”. Okay, so if you hit the button here, you’re still out of your boss’s reach, because you know that these two people are not ‘friends’. You post your comment. “I wish my boss grants me leaves so I can go some place too! Boy, he’s a terrible human being, my boss! Blah Blah…”
Now a day or two later, your friend thinks “Hey, this is an awesome picture. It’s not from my intimate family pictures either. I must share it with the world!” And he sets the privacy to “Public”
Whoosh! That’s the sound of your promotion being dumped down the window once your boss sees your comment.
However, there is the option to screen your activity from certain ‘Friends’, so you may enable those. Facebook is refining this aspect of the social network vigorously. They will come up with some brilliant solution in time. Nevertheless, if the stakes are too high,take this piece of advice-
No matter what, be careful about what you say online.