In this blog, I intend to write my thoughts on things happening around me, the news I see in the TV, something I read or anything that captures my attention. I will try to avoid the effect of everyday ups and downs of my personal life on the contents of the blog.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just 30+, still my days are counted

I must be proud that members of my family pretty much rule the world. We are now an unavoidable part of everything that runs the planet, from taking financial decisions to conducting life saving medical surgeries and from guiding mass murderous missiles to enabling terrorists in executing their vicious plans, we are involved. However, I am not so happy of the fact that it's just about 30 years since my generation started in my family and I already see that we are fast being neglected.

I am the Laptop and I belong to the family of computers.

Though the exact year of my birth is still not traceable and along with it the person who created me. It is widely accepted that it was Adam Osborne who created the first of my kind in 1981 that reached a commercially viable scale. It was called Osborne-1 a cute fat looking model. Xerox PARC made an handsome NoteTaker a few years before Osborne but was too expensive to be produced at a larger scale.
Since then, my generation popularly know as the Laptops was the craze. Our presence made our older generation Desktops to feel lesser. Not priced for the common man, we were the pride of the white collared humans. In the 90s and first decade of the millennium, the CEOs and CFOs of organizations flaunted our company. All my cousins occupied the plush board rooms and got to visit the greatest hotels acroos the globe while it was actually our older relatives called the servers sitting in a highly guarded prison like atmosphere called data centers who slogged through the night to provide the actual information needed for those meetings.

Little did I know that our limelight years are coming to an end when we were mass produced and started to replace some of our immediate previous generation, desktops. I was able to see the development of my next generation sitting in the same plush rooms where plans were hatched to replace my generation with my juniors in a very short time. Though they still are not reachable for a common man, my juniors known around as tabs are taking over our territory quickly. Sorry to see that unlike my generation which though went around the town still upheld our tradition and identity of having exclusive keyboards and not marrying anyone outside the family the new generations are unpredictable. I cannot easily now differentiate a member from the  family of telephones from one of my own kind. They marry and blend so much that a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) considered one of our kind is capable of calling anyone in the contact list thus behave like a phone. I even see them shedding the primary organ we had, keyboard. It is all built-in and blended as part of  the touch screen display. They are testing limits of interactions even using handwriting and voice recognition.

Hard to believe that the top offices already see us as embarrassment to hang around with. They prefer the younger, sleek and slimmer tabs to be their companions while we are left at a point where we are not capable of crunching heavy numbers like the servers who are still housed in the much respected data centers nor comfortable co-workers to stay at someone's desk for 8 hours job like the desktops. We now serve as a back-up of our desktop relatives at work places and as their substitutes when people choose to work from home a few hours in a day.

With a heavy heart I must accept the truth behind Moore's Law, a rule of thumb in the history of computing hardware whereby the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Such speed of growth in technology leads to such a speedy replacement of generations, we like it or not.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Human islands

About 20 years ago, there used to be a lady living somewhere in our neighbourhood who used to walk alone at a specific time every evening talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated and no one next to her...our neighbours said she had some mental disorder.

Fast forward 15 years from then, as I enter an elevator in a mall I see a good looking, well dressed man, alone, talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated gesturing with both his hands facing the wall...he's called tech savvy, he was using his bluetooth hands free, mobile headset.

Sometimes I have literally felt like an alien when I see 19 out the 20 people around me in a bus busy with their gadgets and me being the only one switching my gaze from one to the other bemused. Going further with my observations, understandably, I see the level of comfort in staying in this state improve down the generations just as the natural progression we see with handling gizmos. The generation of the 90s late Gen-Y and early Gen-Zs who are the youngest to enter the workforce have almost transformed into a species of Homo Zappiens. They zap between identies online donning a new avatar for every profile online. In fact, even if you live in the same house with them, or in the same aisle at work the best possibility of grabbing their attention will be by leaving a 'post' or 'invite' online than attempting to strike a live conversation with them. Its so amazing to see the dexterity with which this generation could type a 'long' Short Message Service (SMS) text in their phones just by jabbing their thumbs into the little keypad involuntarily with their eyes busy on something else. My dad finds it so hard to avoid pressing 4 keys at a time with full concentration on the keypad and screen, his generation had a technological shock when telephones swiched from rotor dialling to push buttons. I lie in between, slow but comfortable with the keypad and all the menu options and not a frequent user of SMS or even the mobile phone.

It's become a common scene in urban life today and to a good degree in rural set-ups too that when people are alone for even a short while flip out a gadget and get connected to someone elsewhere either engaging through a telephone call, SMS texting or through social networking web-sites, thanks to the never ending technological innovations. Though they enable us to multi-task and complete a lot of things while on the go I also notice that it is leading to people miss out the pleasure of having a conversation with a stranger, miss opportunities of being forced out of the comfort zone leading to what I call 'lateral learning' by mere sharing of experiences which could be one of the little things that's helped our species evolve to where we are.

Something seems to be not right when people sharing a physical space fail to communicate with each other and individually go to their 'Contact list' for a conversation. Though the quality of living is improving over the years the quality of human communication seems to be detiriorating. If we decide to interact only with people who are part of our '(online) community' or share the same 'interests' and who are introduced to us only by a common friend then we are missing something...and that something is definitely not available online.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Oh no! you don't have to 'google' for this word 'cos that is what I did for you. Recently, I read something that inspired me to write this post around this term. Provenance = History of origin and ownership of a valued object. Generally used in the context of a treasured art work and more on wine. The history and origin of wine is very important for the valuation of it. A key information for wine buyers. In archeology, a variant of this term is used as 'provenience' = exact location where an artifact was found. Alright! that's about the word and its meaning. Anyone who wanted close this web page just knowing what it means may now click the 'X' button in the top right corner of this window.

Let us now look at provenance, perception around provenance of a few more things and concepts around us and how it is affecting current affairs. Let us take a very popular product which is tied to a place, 'SWISS-Watches'. From middle of 16th century when the jewelers of Geneva were forced out of their business of watch making their innovation and entrepreneurship kept them going even to this date. The jewelers turned the engineering of clock making to a craft, which they mastered NOT by mass producing, cost-effective, production lines but as cottage industry, like customized art work. They built their brand over centuries which still stands rock solid. The 'provenance' of their watches fetch them a premium in any part of the world.

Ooo! that's something hard to duplicate. In modern days superior laser technologies and advancement of science has replaced expensive mechanical movements that are prone to error factors over time with cheap but more accurate quartz oscillators. With a huge market, more competition and pricing pressures the game is different. When the job of a watch is to show time accurately, sound logic would say that it is a low cost and more accurate watch which will have better market. Contrary to it, Swiss watches are still regarded the best. It is the image that was built over centuries what is technically called the 'brand'.

Provenance not always works to the favor of the place of origin. In examples like good quality automobiles, electronics or software products from emerging countries like India or Korea. They are perceived to be of lesser quality as these countries for a very long time were seen as mass producing, low cost locations than for their innovation and quality in product design. It took some of the now top companies like SONY, LG, SAMSUNG, TOYOTA and hard to believe HONDA a few decades to shatter the stereotyped mis-perceptions and establish their new brand. Each followed a strategy that fitted them well. Some hid the popular names under a new brand like Honda-Acura, Toyota-Lexus. Some piggy backed on a host name downplaying the real origin, some get aggressive and turn their roots as the USP like Colombian coffee. Some just stick to their existing reputation and make a market out of it, still Chinese silk and Indian spices sells well due to the centuries old reputation.

Hope the next time we see the 'Made in xxxx' tag of any product, we will think twice before deciding based on what we've heard about...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Hour

Let's talk black and white, after all it is about keeping the light on, in this case turning the lights off. The emerging economies (BRIC) are so much power starved that it is unfair to compare the developed vs developing nations on the same scale.

But why am I raising this with a topic 'Earth Hour' ...?

Good to see that the 'Earth Hour' campaign has caught up good steam in about 3 years. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2007 when the city's household and businesses decided to turn off their lights for an hour campaigned by WWF. Many other countries joined the next year onwards. Earth hour is observed on the last Saturday of March.

The statistics on energy saved due to this is highly debated and my verdict is that it will definitely be insignificant if we take into account the additional energy consumed by the propaganda, campaign materials and celebrity ramp walks involved, but is it really about the energy saved in that one hour? NO, to me it is more about spreading the message. The message about how much energy could be conserved by thinking a second time on the non-essential power usage we do, about bringing an awareness to people who have never seen a power cut or energy shortage in their lifetime.

Now, let me get back to my 'comparison' which I started with. At a rate of 0.7 kW per person consumption in India vs a 11.4 kW per person consumption in the US it is not a same plane comparison. 25% of world's energy is consumed by USA with 5% of world population. With 20% of the world's population, China consumes at a rate of 1.6 kW per person. I use USA as my benchmark not to point fingers rather to point out that any country that has reached a level of development of USA will be consuming at that rate. If by magic, we make all the other countries as developed as the US we all will be guzzling 11.4 kW per person which is scary, it is worse because our source of energy is mostly finite dependent on hydel or fossil fuels. I do not want to comment on who deserves more power, the developed nations whose development and better technology is also helping developing ones to be efficient or the developing nations who deserve a chance to catch up with the developed nations. It will be a never ending debate. The need of hour is AWARENESS.

If saving power is the motive, my thumbs down to earth hour campaign, it makes no senses to people like me living in place where we have such 'earth' hours almost every day and with such high power tariffs we cannot miss to switch off unwanted lights. We save much more power with regular power cuts than a once a year DAY for it. Brazil, having 90% of its power generated from water was caught a deep power crisis when rains failed for a few years. The government had to impose extreme steps like power-rationing mandating industry and middle class household to cut consumption by 70% or face a 300% fine on bills else risk lines being cut off.

As a global awareness campaign I see Earth hour is popular and hope it has the desired effect too on people who can make a difference with just a second thought

Bangalore, India during earth hour

Bangalore, India after earth hour

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Avatar - setting the bar so high

I watched the 3D movie AVATAR. The term 'Avatar' is not new to the cyber generation and it is not new even to the older generations in India (In Sanskrit it means incarnation). If I need to choose one word to describe the movie, it is 'Brilliance'.Imaginations in the human mind has no limits, the medium these imaginations could be manifested is the limitation. We are awestruck when these barriers are broken, every time. Jaws dropped when someone made a moving picture then when people could talk in the movie and when they could see it in colors then seeing their favorite cartoon character live and moving, when they could hear to stereo sound and then multiple channel surround sound...Records are set, only to be broken and our species is always in the pursuit to keep bettering things, which is what sets us apart. It is the pursuit to excel and control that makes us adventurous.

Not intending to write a long commentary about the plot, this fictional movie talks of the adventurous attitude added with greed driving humans to not respect the way of life of other alien beings in their land. As always, good wins over evil, in this case, evil being the human kinds.

The hero here is the story telling, I am amazed to see how much technology has enabled us to depict our dreams. There's been 3-D movies earlier but here's one I see which has not used this technique to thrill people by scaring us rather make us experience the environment. There are certain scenes where it is hard to resist putting out your hand to feel a beautiful glowing seed that descends down the holy tree. I also see that Hollywood is evolving to think beyond a limited set of sounds made by aliens or huge creatures which have been a predictable standard so far from the Dinos to Godzillas to any other kind of monsters. Here are some barking, tweeting and cawing species.

I think this 'Avatar' has set a record of sorts, hard to be beaten immediately but would love to see something that could better it soon, it is all about getting entertained. This movie does not have a special product to sell but like Starbucks and Virgin Atlantic has made it nearly impossible to duplicate the experience it sells on the product/service.

Quoting something totally out of context but I think IS relevant [Remember, this is MY blog and I reserve the right to quote unquote anything :) ].In Bhagvad Geetha, the guiding holy scripture of Hinduism, a religion practiced around numerous stories of good-over-evil, it is said that whenever the quality of humans fall below tolerable limits God manifests on earth as an 'Avatar'. Bhagvad Geetha is a book of philosophical advice given by God who rides the charriott for a prince into a battle. The prince, Arjuna, a master of archery refuses to shoot any arrows seeing that it is his own cousin brothers and uncles who are pitted against him in the battle. God advises Arjuna all about the cycle of life and explains that it is good to do anything to destroy evil. Coming back to the verse I wanted to quote:

"yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham"

Meaning :-
"when ever and where ever there is decline and decay of righteousness,
O Bharatha (Arjuna), then I manifest myself.
In all such dark periods of history, some great master comes to present himself as the leader of men to revive the standard of life and moral values"!!!

The movie AVATAR is here setting the bar higher for 3D graphics and animation industry and is asking us stretch our imaginations far beyond huge noisy creatures and uncontrollable natural disasters or scientific experiments.