Saturday, January 26, 2008

I wonder how many of these are true and how many are just urban legends. But they do make for very interesting reading.

Do you think coincidences have a deeper significance or are just one of the many possible manifestations of an eventuality following a probabilistic distribution?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

eye on what?, they call it.
The website caught my attention as the founder is Sabeer Bhatia's partner in his latest It claims to help parents protect their children online. Here's how:

"EyeOnIM... will automatically start monitoring and archiving the IM conversation as well as capture the files that are transferred... since EyeOnIM also archives all the chat sessions, you can always view the chat conversation at a later time.... Of course, EyeOnIM is not a spying tool..." Does EyeOnIM Work.htm.

I find it the whole concept extremely disgusting: telling parents that it is alright to spy on their kids. There are healthier ways to keep your children safe while maintaining decency and complete trust. After all, a child will not learn to trust if he/she is not trusted; and trust and respect go farther than anything else in carrying through your message.

I'm quite sure the people who would use EyeOnIM are the sorts who would also not hesitate in rummaging through their children's cupboards, or school bags, or tap their phones or even shadow them. And if they are doing any of this, their relationship with their child is so screwed that they are probably responsible for any wayward behaviour.

I'm half inclined to set up a website or at least a forum that lets children figure out if their parents are electronically spying on them. I wonder how the parents would like that!

Monday, January 14, 2008

through the early morning fog i see...

...visions of the things to be.

This is how it looked from my apartment today morning at 7:30 am:


And in stark contrast is a sunset taken from about the same place only the day before:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

broad band

Yeah right! Since when did bandwidth of two hundred and fifty six kilobits per second become broad? Despite all the excitement about IT in India, broadband costs, QoS and penetration are appalling.

I recently switched my ISP. BSNL had had a few consecutive days of interruptions and their false promises just got to me. And I had been eyeing the upgrade to a 512 kbps line for some time. Airtel had been advertising their Rs. 1999 a month, 512 kbps connection which, at double the cost of the 256 kbps one, is a little high. Don't these guys realise that doubling the bandwidth does NOT mean double the cost? Anyhow, I chanced upon a similar broadband plan on their website, with only higher telephone call rates for Rs. 1499 a month and called their salesman to sign me up for that. To my astonishment, he at first refused to believe there was such a plan and kept trying to sell me the other more expensive one. The long and short of it is that I got what I wanted for an affordable rate.

During the signing up process I got talking with the salesman about how bandwidth was so expensive. My brother in Hyderabad says the standard rates there are about a nine hundred bucks for a 384 kbps line - which is 50% cheaper than here. So this salesman dude tells me that in Bangalore no one cares about the broadband expense. Most of his customers work at IT MNCs and get reimbursed for their broadband expenses by their companies. Hence they don't even bat an eyelid at shelling out a 1000 bucks for a measly 256kbps (which also is a best effort claim) or whatever the "standard" rates are.

Shocking. There is no economic incentive for either the service providers or the consumers to increase quality of service and/or reduce charges.

I can't think of any solution to this. It is a larger problem than just broadband reimbursements. These all-expenses-paid perks and habits really trounce the notional value of money or goods or services, as the case may be.

remembering the milk and platform goodness

Ever since being inspired by Gustave Faubert's "Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work." and Mr. WishfulThinking.Co.Uk, I've been trying to actually be regular and orderly in my life (although I still haven't finished that e-book I mentioned in my earlier post).

One of the firsts things I did was something about task tracking. Lifehacker, that faithful toolsmith, pointed me to RememberTheMilk. It is really really good. After giving up on all to-do lists more complicated than a notepad file, I am actually using RTM and loving it. Their GMail integration is lovely. I have GMail open almost all the time, so task management doesn't mean open up a new website or a file. It's just there. And since it's online, no syncing problems - I don't have to worry about which computer I'm using or where I am. And their integration makes the task list widget look and feel exactly like GMail:

See that little vertical bar of goodness on the right? That's it. Minimal clicks to work it and a simple interface make it very, very usable. It also has task collaboration and more sophisticated organizational features, but I haven't needed to use those. The simplicity is beautiful. Check out the screencast.

GMail 2.0 (and their new API) is a real platform. RTM is just one of the first applications on it and more are bound to come. Yahoo! making their email into a platform seems almost retarded in comparison to GMail 2.0.

I wonder if RememberTheMilk has enough users to be a Google acquisition target. The product is excellent. Perhaps Google has its own to-do list in the offing; there have been enough and more user requests for it for sure.