Category: Me (page 2 of 6)


Have we crossed the Great Filter?

One of the biggest arguments regarding the existence of aliens are the famous Drake equation and the equally famous Fermi paradox. I wrote about them four years ago and debated that aliens may still exist in spite of these arguments against them, and I still stand by that belief.

I was reminded of this again recently when I read about a so-called Great Filter theory that attempts to explain the standard sceptic’s question: if aliens exist, where are they? why haven’t we seen or met them yet?

Stemming from astrobiology, the idea behind the great filter is that a civilisation or species reaches a developmental wall it cannot cross. But some — including myself — like to believe that we have already crossed this wall, or filter. And that leads to some interesting ideas.

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Are stock iOS apps more than sufficient? — part 1

These past few weeks I have been increasingly wondering why people complain about stock apps on iPhone. Granted, for some, the apps fall short in some areas; this is particularly true for those who use their iPhones in corporate environments where the tech department has its own apps or possibly where app usage restrictions exist or special use cases are only met by certain third-party apps.

But the practice of hating stock apps just for the sake of hating them has undeniably increased among the self-declared hip crowd. My own anger against bloatware (if you call appeals of bloatware removal “anger” that is) was well-founded because bloatware, by definition, is that which a user would not voluntarily have installed even if he had heard about it.

In this light, let us take a look at my own use of stock apps and examine cases where I use alternatives (and why I do so) as well as where I use the stock apps (and why I do not seek an alternative). The apps I will talk of that I use are Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, Photos, Reminders and Podcasts; and I mention apps like Notes, iTunes and Calculator that I rarely (if ever) use. This is spread out over two articles for length.

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The (not so) minimal iPhone setup, or simply “what’s on my iPhone 6 Plus?”

A lot of people have been going on about a minimal iPhone lately. Most of that has something to do with stripping down the apps you use, having just one home screen and then sitting around and justifying it because you paid a small fortune for the phone and now you talk of using it as minimally as possible.

None of that makes sense. The iPhone has probably already replaced a lot of other things you use and thereby made your lifestyle a lot more minimal, if that is what you were going for. It likely replaced everything from desk calendars to USBs in cars to cinema and plane tickets and — for some people — laptops.

I am not one among them, so my iPhone setup is not what I would call minimal. I do however follow a certain practice where I try to reduce the apps I use in some ways I have not seen a lot of others adopt. That is one reason I wrote this article — the other was because people wanted to know what was on my iPhone.

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Initial thoughts on Ello

I have been spending some time on Ello recently and I have generally liked it. Being invite-only and beta at the moment, Ello still needs some sculpting, but so far the developers and designers, Paul Budnitz, Berger & Föhr, and Mode Set, who are, as they describe themselves, seven well-known artists and programmers, have done a great job.

Right from the start, Ello has a somewhat informal yet encouraging feel to it — despite the predominantly, nigh fully, black and white design. In brief, Ello is gunning to be what social networks should have been all this while: an ad-free, content-rich social platform which does not thrive on selling user data.

I joined Ello right at the start of 2015 and have no plans of leaving. Ello is something I had been looking for all this while, both in terms of design ideas/usage and community. But that does not mean Ello is perfect; there are quite a few things that could do with improvement.

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Tissot Le Locle — timeless elegance and versatility

I have had an affection for Tissot since my childhood, so I often collect Tissot watches. My latest acquisition is one of a famous automatic collection whose name brings smiles and nods of respect from any watch connoisseur: the classic Tissot Le Locle.

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Times New Roman is not as bad as you think it is

I have, of late, grown a fondness towards Times New Roman. Perhaps it is the bibliophile in me — although a lot of imprints these days too are letting go of the Times family for preppier alternatives like Garamond and Palatino.

Contrary to popular belief, Times New Roman is not a classical typeface like, say, the very Swiss, very classic Helvetica — another personal favorite of mine — or even the slightly more modern Helvetica Neue or its grandfather, Akzidenz Grotesk.

But to truly appreciate Times New Roman (TNR henceforth for simplicity) we will have to understand a little bit about its history, and that story begins in the 1930s.

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Gearing up for 2015: Royal Enfield, a Sheaffer and a Pierre Cardin journal

Today marks almost ten days since my motorbike was involved in a tumble with a car. Yesterday, my bike returned home, all set and fit as a fiddle, waiting to start riding again. And my own wounds, having considerably recovered, I decided to go shopping for gear replacement.

The helmet which had sustained impact had to be replaced, quite naturally. And I decided to add gloves as well, as a much needed safety measure. Royal Enfield introduced some great riding gear recently, so deciding on a brand and style was not hard. Fit, finish and comfort are something I have been more than happy with when it came to RE.

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Apple, Google or Microsoft — whoever wins, you lose

It is entertaining — perhaps even pleasing — to watch such tech giants as Apple, Google and Microsoft battle it out year after year. And it is fun to take sides (we always do that). But it is becoming increasingly clear that no matter who wins in the end, and at whatever rate, us consumers will be little more than sore losers.

I must admit, this was neither clear nor obvious to me a couple of years back — and why should it be? I was immersed in the Android ecosystem; and I can say this much for certain: anybody who has not seen outside Android cannot possibly understand the gravity of this situation.

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Looking forward to 2015

Every year passes like a rigmarole and we look forward to the next. It is almost mechanical, but that was never how it was supposed to be. It starts with gusto and somewhere down the line everyone loses enthusiasm and it all becomes about counting the days to the next new year, yet another start.

I am not saying we should make 2015 different. Maybe we should, you should. But that is another story for another day.

As I pen this, I am reflecting on the how much of our lives we lead thinking about what others think about us. And when everyone does that, the earth just seems like a more considerate place, but it is not.

Your dog, almost certainly, is a better person than you.

This is nothing more than being fashionably selfish. To think, not of others and their needs, but other’s views about ourselves. Since it all comes right back to us, it really is a mere manifestation of selfishness.

There’s a reason why a dog is man’s best friend: there is more your dog can teach you than any person, book or religious scripture on Earth. His undying enthusiasm for you, his love, his affection, and how it never drops and only ever grows in leaps and bounds — humans can never have the same feelings. The fact is simple: your dog, almost certainly, is a better person than you.

In 2015, it is important to prioritise without shunning; to decide what is important without pushing aside the less important. To treat people with respect and go out of your way to help them. Not block, but bind. Which brings to mind something my physics teacher at school had said: “This world does not need smart people; this world needs good people.”

In 2015, try to be a good person with a direction, and practice tolerance and inclusiveness. Treat the world as your family. To be the bigger person and to understand that not everyone has seen the world — forgive me if I sound like I patronizes; the devilry of narrow-mindedness has only recently become clear to me. Everyone makes mistakes; one ought to acknowledge and forgive. Then forget. So acknowledge mankind’s worst mistake: religion.

On Physics and Hinduism

At the entrance to the Centre for European Nuclear Research (CERN) stands a 2 metre tall statue of the Hindu deity, Nataraja (see above). To the unaware, it looks like something out of place: something that does not belong in one of the world’s largest scientific research institutions. But it is only one instance of the compatibility between physics and Hinduism.

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On the origin of specials

Apparently, cheap marketing tricks do work. Our world is filled with mad men telling us we need things, and us nodding in agreement. And our sense of wanting to need is extremely sensitive: all we look for is the slightest sign of concurrence — which is what every single advertisement is built around. Ads give us a faux need.

On the one hand, we could do away with everything, as our needs are few. The Big Bang Theory sitcom’s Sheldon Cooper (awkward as it seems to quote him) puts forth this idea quite well. But this outlook is rather harsh. It is time to define a new category; a sweet-spot between needs and wants. Benefits, if you will.

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iPad in the classroom: aid, distraction or disaster?

As somebody who is fairly tech-savvy, I am surrounded by people who will take a stand against technology at a moment’s notice. This is especially true when technology seems to be successfully replacing more conventional methods — some even environmentally harmful, such as paper.

When the issue of using technology comes up, though, I would myself strongly back a minimum age requirement. I never had my phone until I was 17 or so. I think that 15-16 years is a good limit, not because of elitist adult thinking, but mostly because the Internet, to the unaware, can quickly become one of those forbidden dark alleys no ten-year-old is sent into at night. Or worse.

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iPad Air

I seem to have grown a closeness with all gadgets Air. After recently buying a MacBook Air, I gifted myself an iPad Air for my birthday recently.

silver iPad air

The silver iPad Air

The iPad Air is a beautiful device and I picked the white bezel (my first white device) based on my usage: I read more, and the walls in my house are white. Jokes apart, reading with a white bezel, in spite of the black vertical strip outlining the screen (which bothers some people), is simply a much better experience than a black screen.

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Orient Union: the finest dress watch in recent times

Sometimes, when you open a product, it makes you jump uncontrollably with joy. The Orient Union is not one of those; it is a product that will make you straighten up, sit still, and take it in, slowly, calmly, its elegance sinking into you as you realise what you see here is not just another timepiece.

It’s a mechanical — with auto wind — which by itself makes the Union a remarkable timepiece. This is the kind of watch that should survive long, for sentiment rather than build. Although the build is by no means poor.

The Orient Union is a dress watch that borders on a luxury watch. Indeed by your definition, it could be classified as a luxury watch what with its day/date complications. I was interested in a day/date watch when I went for this, so I had to risk giving up the plainness that dress watches are associated with; however, the Union’s white dial, slick numbering, and carefully textured face have all led the watch community to consider it a dress watch.

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Blookist — not just another blogging platform

Visit Blookist and the most inspiring part of their website is in an obscure place — the address bar. “You don’t need an excuse to be creative”, it reads. Still in beta, Blookist is a new kind of publishing platform. That was how its co-founder and CEO, Adrian Zuzic, described it to me when he got in touch recently, asking if I would be interested in reviewing their startup.

Blookist is the content-appreciative publishing platform we had all been waiting for.

At first, I was confessedly disinterested: was this just another Obtvse, another Svbtle, or another Ghost? At a time when blogging platforms seem to be cropping up at every nook and cranny, why did I have to pay any attention to Blookist? Was this another ambitious platform started with enthusiasm that would lose direction halfway through?

As I looked around, however, it was hard for me not to realise this was not a blogging platform; it was something more, something unique, and, most importantly, something promising. I signed up for free immediately and over the next couple of days began to explore this further. It had caught my attention. Read more →


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