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. Continue reading

Android KitKat, roadside fires and other random thoughts

I cannot complain about today, or yesterday, for that matter, even if I saw a couple of exhibitions of carelessness. On my usual cycling circuit I noticed (apart from other struggling cyclists) this fancy little fire:

The Earth isn't yours to wreck

The Earth isn’t yours to wreck

What you see here was actually part of a larger fire lit next to an open coconut farm with dried hay and a pub some 200 metres away. Adds up?

And since I had stopped to shoot this, and since I had already breathed in some smoke, I decided to keep doing that while I made this fun shot of a bus passing by (and that photo you see at the beginning of this article too).

Two things struck me: firstly, I was able to accurately capture my artistic intent; and, secondly, phone cameras making terrible night pictures has now risen to plain bad ones. Although that random cheap phone probably still shoots terribly in low light, which is something manufacturers should think about: make better low-priced phones at least this year. A lot of talented photographers out there cannot probably afford iPhones and Note 3s and One Xs.

Materialistically speaking, just a few hours earlier, I had been quite overjoyed when I received a 360MB OTA update on my Note 3. I had no reason to suspect it was anything other than KitKat (Android 4.4.2) arriving:

It took a while, but it soon turned out that I was right.

Screenshot_2014-01-31-22-46-16 Screenshot_2014-01-31-22-46-35

I think the newest edition just makes me repeat myself: everything is faster, and this time around, I actually mean fast enough for anybody to notice. Continue reading

A day with Google Glass and the driverless car

(This is a work of satire. Sometimes, satire makes you laugh. Please read it in one sitting for instant therapeutic effects.)

Part 1

A car is born

Even as congress passed bills to introduce one-way sliding glass halfway through taxicabs in New York to get rid of driver-passenger contact in an effort to decline increasing sexual assault cases on women passengers in taxis, Google decided to splurge its tax money on an alternate solution: getting rid of the driver.

It was most likely how the company’s second most ambitious project came into being. (The first was a backrub.) An alternate story goes thus: a Google employee named Coegi Princeps, in his designated fourteen-hours-a-day leisure time at Mountainview, came up with an idea that he presented to CEO Erikus Schmitdtd. As the story goes, he said the company should improve its car line up with a six-seater sedan. Schmitdtd rightly pointed out to him that Google makes money; GM next door is the one who makes cars.

Princeps then suggested Google should make one as well, just for the fun of it. “A six-seater?” sighed Schmitdtd, as close sources put it. “You’re planning to go with a single, long seat up front to seat two men next to the driver instead of one?”

“No,” said Princeps, who believed he had a much simpler idea, “we get rid of the driver.”

Google hates drivers; both the ones inside computer memories (hence its laptop lookalike, the Chromebook, also a symbol of the company’s obsession with all things chrome) and outside. Continue reading

Google: 5 more awesome things you never knew you could do!

A WHILE AGO I had written an article on five fun things you could do using Google’s products and the company’s sense of humor. Now, I have five more for you!

The last time we saw, Google was busy playing totally witty pranks at Matthew Inman, but these little surprises — called easter eggs — that Google has hidden for the rest of us are from a while before that. Nonetheless, they are still great places to visit when you are on the internet and have nothing to do, but do not want to leave your computer alone. Get my point?

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 1.  The Easter Eggs Game

Oh, yes, Google has an official game in this regard too. Think the eggs-in-the-basket game we used to play ages ago, only, this time it is reversed. You do not throw eggs into a basket, you catch eggs in one. The aim of the game is to catch eggs that spell g-o-o-g-l-e.

And then what? That’s pretty much it. You do not get any points, let alone rewards. But, yes, you can go here to check it out — and thank’s for playing.

 

Google Easter Eggs Game

Google’s Easter Eggs Game

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 2.  Meet Nessie

Remember the non-existent, yet fascinating lake monster the Scots speak of? Google has made a pet out of it. And not just that, you can find UFOs hovering around cities and an aurora light up the night sky.

Just change your iGoogle theme and make sure you wake yourself up at 3:14AM (yes, that’s just after midnight) and you can witness one of these different, weird things happening on each theme. Continue reading

Why SOPA may be America’s worst mistake

America seems to have come out with a new (although hardly an innovative) way to censor links it feels violates copyrights–although the fact that they do not have to justify themselves makes one wonder if they will not also ban legitimate links that work against them, as many have begun to see. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is more than meets the eye; following in China’s footsteps–but going one step too far–the US government hopes to pass a bill that, will give them absolute rights to decide what one sees and what one does not, on the Internet.

The Web has often been celebrated analogous to freedom in more ways than one: speech, art and in general expression of almost any form. But, leveraging on a few acts of piracy, and apparently using it as a veil, the government hopes to gain the rights to ban stuff on the internet, and–as giants such as Google, Yahoo!, eBay and Netscape see it–effectively the Internet itself. Either way, SOPA is slowly being seen as a technique to undermine the framework of free expression.

Dissecting SOPA

While more and more people around the world are slowly finding out about SOPA–and a number of non-US sites–are writing (read: fighting) against it, there happen to be a much lesser number who know the full implications of this act.

In a nutshell, SOPA is a bill targeted at sites hosted outside the US making them susceptible to be banned, should the US government feel so (which is the catch here, as I see it.) Delving a little deeper into it we find SOPA to list the following clauses ((Paraphrased, read this extract for more details on Section 102)):

  1. Order internet service providers to alter their DNS servers to prevent resolving the domain names of websites in foreign countries that host illegal copies of videos, songs, and photos.
Continue reading

The New Google and Google+

On June the 28th some lucky ones—including me—may have noticed a small tweak in Google’s homepage and most of its services save Gmail. And on Wednesday, this trial feature was formally launched for a larger groups, but still a limited one, of users around the world. Perhaps the most noticeable of these—at least the one that caught my eye—was the black bar at the very top of the page.

“We’re working on a project to bring you a new and improved Google experience, and over the next few months, you’ll continue to see more updates to our look and feel,” said Google’s digital creative director, Chris Wiggins.

Before I explain what Google hopes to achieve from this new look, let’s take a look at Google back in ‘97:

Charmed?

The main difference is that the colourful Google logo has been reduced in size, the search box has been made more prominent and two sets of links have been moved to the top and bottom of the page giving your browser what Wiggins described as a cleaner look.

While this goes quite the extent in making an already minimalist, clean page unnecessarily cleaner, the changes in other parts of Google do have an underlying utilitarian face to them. Wiggins describes these broadly as focus, elasticity and effortlessness.

Focus is perhaps what ought to be—and rightly is—on top of Google’s priority. No matter what they are doing on any of their services, the user’s concentration must effortlessly be able to put its entire self to what it is doing at present. Continue reading