Category: Me (page 1 of 6)


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.

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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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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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The Joy of Missing Out

I had never really made the connection before this, but Sherlock Holmes practices a form of the so–called Joy of Missing Out. I’ll come to that in a moment; first we need to understand what JoMO is and, parenthetically, what FoMO is.

The Fear of Missing Out, or FoMO, was added to the Oxford English dictionary in August of 2013. It is defined as anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. I think we can do away with that last clause: FoMO is not restricted to social media alone and is as rampant offline as it is on the web.

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Ad-blockers are a good thing

The concept of the web being free comes with strings attached. Although most websites are free to read, their owners need to pay for storage space and servers (besides various licenses), and storages and servers and networks run on electricity. In order to keep website content free to read, these expenditures are met indirectly.

Broadly, there are mainly two things that pay for the web: advertisements and paywalls. Bots track your usage via your browser and tell advertisors what you like so they can show you ads you are most likely to click on. Websites act as platforms to show these ads, possibly coax you into clicking on them and exploring advertised products or content, and make money in turn.

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Photographic sharpness: an obsession

I somehow came across an article by Connor McClure where he talked about how far too many people blindly use VSCO filters to process their photographs and call it a day. What he said about VSCO is true (and is something I strongly believe in myself) — they are a convenience, and not much more than trends; and trends pass on. McClure says it best: “They are trendsetters, and I don’t believe in latching too tightly on to trends.”

In addition to filters in general (not to target VSCO, whose filters I use rarely, but do use nonetheless) there is another misdirection I feel we ought to address in today’s photography scene: mindless obsession over sharpness.

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Mountain roads: photo book in print, available on Amazon

Earlier this month I wrote about my new photo book, a simple 7″x7″ paperback featuring a collection of 25 carefully handpicked black and white photographs, revolving around the theme of mountains.

I do not quite remember where I read this, but someone advocated printing out your photographs — at least select ones — even in the digital era, because printed photographs have their own charm and heightened value (even if the latter is only in our minds).

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Time to be super-productive

Having begun my month-long iPad-centric lifestyle experiment and having found myself somewhat free this morning, I proceeded to install Denys Yevenko’s Pomodoro Time Pro app (free version also available) and try my hand at the famous efficiency technique.

What I realised was probably not eye-opening, but it did make me completely rethink my time-management approach.

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iPad is more than just a consumption device

Ever since the first iPad came out in 2010, people have hailed it as a stellar consumption device: something you use to watch videos, browse the web, occasionally read etc. To some of us, the folly in this argument is immediately apparent.

The iPad has the potential to be so much more than a device you just stare at all day; you can do things with it. And Apple’s tablet apps store is second to none, so why do more of us not use the iPad to do things as opposed to just consume information?
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An e-mail reply from Tim Cook

Steve Jobs was known to reply to every e-mail he got, often tersely, but reply nonetheless; or at least he would direct it to concerned employees to handle issues immediately.

The practice has stuck with Tim Cook taking over the company as CEO. I, for one, have come to look at Tim in the same light as Jobs, as a capable leader, a dedicated worker and an analytical mind seeing whose decisions and lifestyle we can all take home something. And a couple of days back, he replied to an e-mail I sent.

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Let’s talk about pet peeves

We all have those tiny things that bother us. Little habits, acts and everyday nuisances of society. Things you can curse, but cannot complain about. Things you end up tolerating and then blogging about.

These are some of my pet peeves; you may find some things you find just as irritating, some you never thought of but they will start irritating you after you read about them here. In either case, this is one dangerous list.

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Britain is not a smartphone society

Earlier this week The Telegraph’s technology briefing newsletter (as well as their website) carried an article asking if Ofcom’s recent survey suggests Britain is a smartphone society.

Although the figures do point to great smartphone usage, I would argue that it takes more than just usage numbers to make a true smartphone society.

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Polonius and Kipling

Everyone has beacons they seek when they are lost at sea. It may be humans, it may be pets, it may be thoughts, it may be quotes, it may be proverbs, poems, books or music. There are things that can drive us, things that can simply lift our spirits, things that point us in a direction, or things that simple say, “hang in there”.

I have many such, like almost everyone else, I suppose; and it goes from humans to pets to thoughts all the way to music. And two of those I particularly like and go over almost on a daily basis, stem from writings, which I elaborate on here.

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