Author: Venkatram Harish Belvadi (page 1 of 30)

What is Mozilla up to?

Yesterday I received a request from Mozilla to complete a survey on encryption, which got me thinking as to where the company is really headed. Firefox never seemed promising to me to start with — although I was briefly a Mozilla ambassador and did try my best to believe in its capabilities.

That is not to say I dislike the browser. I used it for a few years but gave it up in preference of what I believed were better options. As of the time of publishing this article, Firefox has a paltry 12% usage share, down 20%, coming in fourth after Chrome (32%, with 23% growth), Internet Explorer (22%, with a 55% fall), and Safari (12%, with 20% growth). While Internet Explorer and Safari, however bad or good they may be, can have their marketshare filed away as due to their being default Operating System applications, it is hard to explain how Chrome, another open-source-backed1 browser, managed to make it to the top. And now Mozilla takes a survey on encryption — will massive changes follow?

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  1. Yes, this is not strictly true: Chrome is Google’s product, but it is based on the open-source Chromium browser.

Are stock iOS apps more than sufficient? — Part II

Exactly one year ago I wrote an article on using stock apps on iOS. Specifically, the case I was making was that for most people, stock apps will do just fine and our seemingly natural gravitation towards third-party apps exists, not always as a consequence of their being better, but as a result of us not giving stock apps enough time to show us their worth. Once again this is mostly because we are used to encountering shoddy bundled apps elsewhere and the trend that stock apps are all bad just sticks.

Now, having spent an entire year with my iPhone, I decided to return to address the same issue (naturally with the same title), and with considerably more experience backing me. One particularly useful trend I noticed through the year as I switched to third-party alternatives was that I found myself returning to stock apps. At the end of the day, this stands as an opinion piece, but one that is worthwhile to everyone contemplating this issue — and especially to those who discard stock Apple apps just by habit.

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Hard tasks and three months with iPhone 6S

There are several, longer articles I have written that I will publish over the coming weeks, but for now, thanks to certain events, I want to take a moment to write about the marvel that is my new iPhone 6S.

They say technology comes and goes, and it is true for the most part, but what impressions these technologies leave on us is something worth pondering over: take my new iPhone 6S, for example. Since I last wrote about it a couple of months ago, I have put it to the test. I used it to assist on the set of a short film, made several photographs using it as my primary camera on a recent trip, used it to plan and photograph for a brochure, all while (over)using it as my daily driver. How did the iPhone fare?

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Watch online: the trailer for Thieves

The trailer for my upcoming short film, Thieves, was released yesterday. It is a story of a bike theft and moments when we are faced with cut-and-dried questions about how far we are willing to go to survive.

During a bike theft, the victim finds himself faced with a single question: will he steal to survive?

The film is expected to complete the festival circuit and release publicly later this year. For now you can watch the trailer on Vimeo or right here below in full HD.

Connect with me via e–mail or on Twitter and let me know what you think, discuss it and have fun.

Drafts: On discipline, self–image and perspectives

Brian McKnight is (they say) a multi–talented musician from New York; I have never listened to his music, but I have come across something he once said, which I have found to be extremely true: “I just want people to take a step back, take a deep breath and actually look at something with a different perspective. But most people will never do that.”

As I pen this article, I see it not as a wise teacher sharing his enlightenment, but rather as a humble learner making notes of things he has found to be true: take everything with a grain of salt, or go ahead and try incorporating all this in your life and see if they help. The point it simply to understand that I am not teaching but sharing my views, which you are free to oppose, discuss, concur with, or hurl aside. You will come across quotes frequently in this article; I use them to highlight what I say. And what I hope to talk about are three: discipline, self–image and perspectives, beginning in that order, with discipline.

Drafts are articles originally written and filed away without being published or edited. I have now begun publishing them either for the sake of interest or curiosity — I am yet to decide which. You may or may not find drafts interesting.

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Short film, Thieves, in production

I have not written here for over a week now owing to the fact that I have been extremely busy with my upcoming short film, Thieves. And while I work on a film, I prefer to focus my emotion and thoughts to it wholly, because I have found that external stimuli can substantially affect my directing and my thought processes.

Following Origami, this new film works towards making a trilogy (of which Thieves is the second) built around the idea that landmark events — oftentimes life–changing in some manner, large or small — can occur to people anywhere, even out in wide open spaces. I call it the Outdoors trilogy.

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Random conversations with farmers

“Labourers in Coorg”, he tells me with a glower, “don’t come cheap ever since men and women started demanding the same price.” I am in conversation with a farmer who owns acres of rice fields and has just harvested his corn cobs.

As I drove out to the countryside this week and spent time talking to farmers, there was a lot to learn, a little to ponder and a host of general chit chat. Some stood to show urban ignorance, most stood to show rural backwardness — in thought as much as in amenities. But the drive itself was worth my while and I hope to do it again, probably heading in a different direction.

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A list of 100 books everyone must read

The BBC, a few years ago, came out with a massive list of one hundred books everyone must read before they die, and I decided to read all the books on that list I have not yet read. One could think of this as a project, but to me it is more of a journey. But then I saw Harry Potter in third place and realised I was better off looking for a different list that was more to my taste. (Yes, I am a big fan of LOTR.)

Personally, though, I like to think of it as nourishment and it makes sense to pick the nourishments you like, so I turned to The Guardian. Sure enough, they had two lists: one made in 2003 and another updated only three months ago. I picked the latter, and started re–organising them for my convenience and started reading today with number 20: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. So the project — shall we all agree to simply call it an expedition? — begins today. Now.

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iPhone 6S — two weeks later

A little over two weeks ago I bought an iPhone 6S. Coming from a 6 Plus (for reasons outlined below) I found the device to be wonderful, but not without a couple of complaints.

This time I bought a space grey 6S (not the Plus edition). Having used it as my main mobile device in my regular environment, with my usual above–average to heave use, there are a lot of things I find similar to the 6 with one key difference — this device will probably last longer as an old model than an iPhone 6 would, I would bet at least till iOS 12, and this longer shelf life in the future means better performance now, and that really is what it all comes down to. In any case, let us try to keep this review as brief as possible.

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Thoughts on Spectre — this should open a new world for the Bond franchise

Perhaps I am late to the party, but Spectre only released this week where I live and, naturally, I watched it on the first day. It is James Bond after all. In short, I loved the film, but I decided it was worth taking a moment to pen some extended thoughts here.

Spectre is the twenty–fourth film in the Bond franchise, this time not based on Ian Fleming’s book but stemming from a screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan and Jez Butterworth — Pruvis and Wade are regular Bond writers who returned to edit Logan’s original script. Before we go ahead, first of all, this is not strictly a review. And there are spoilers.

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Why I love footnotes

“When thumbing a book” says Hugh Harrington, in the Journal of the American revolution, “and contemplating a purchase, I thumb from the back.” He is looking for an index, preferably, and footnotes or endnotes, most definitely. In fact, he goes so far as to say he will replace the book on its shelf for the sole reason of there being no footnotes.1

Fiction or not, footnotes have a special place in literature — and a practical one too. But I happen to like them on the web for reasons of my own.

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  1. It might be apt to mention that he is talking of non–fiction (historic?) literature, not just any book.

Dear The Hindu, it’s the 21st century

It is a pity that the only newspaper I trust (and read) in India, The Hindu, is notoriously difficult to consume in any but the most ancient format. Being made available in digital media is not an empty trend and need not divert from good journalism. It also need not — and should not — be second to it. And as our style of news consumption evolves, it will (as sad as this truth may be) take more than good journalism to stay relavant.

In this age the news and the medium we consume it in go hand-in-hand, and this fine newspaper seems to be letting things slip. Take The New York Times for example, coming from another old news house — over a quarter of a century older than The Hindu — which has arguably the best digital presence today. And it’s journalistic standards have not dropped in making a move from broadsheet to phones, tablets and PCs. It is, after all, the 21st century, and The Hindu must buck up.

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Demystifying Apple iOS location services

iPhones come with a number of location options. On the one hand they make privacy easy: turning on or off a feature is a breeze, and it offers considerably granular control over how it gathers and handles location data.

Moving a step further, however, the problem becomes that almost none of these features is clearly explained, making it hard to decide exactly what we will be giving up in turning off a feature or gaining by keeping it on.

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Chris Erskine’s millennial pledge, re–written for everyone

Last week, LA Times humour columnist, Chris Erskine — whose humour nobody seems to get — wrote a piece titled, “From one millennial to others, take this pledge”. It was a typical, internet–style list post sprinkled with some humour, and laced with a lot of stereotyping and patronising. And the internet did not take kindly to it.

Aside from the fact that list posts like Mr Erskine’s have little business being published in a print newspaper, the article managed to garner attention from a lot of people, including one of my favourite publications, The Guardian. And in spite of the backlash it received, the article did carry some pledges worth considering.

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Five things reviewing an app negatively has taught me

A few weeks ago I reviewed some of the best manual finance apps on the App Store. Emile Bennett’s Pennies was one of the apps which were part of that review. Soon after publishing my thoughts, Emile Bennett got in touch with me to share his feelings regarding what he called my scathing review of Pennies.

On second look, he was right. I immediately wrote back to him (rather defensively) that my thoughts were undoubtedly valid, but I conceded that I had perhaps been a little unconstrained in putting them forth. It ended up looking like a harsher review of his app than I intended and because I personally loved the app, (the least I could do was that) I eventually took down the review.

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