Thursday, March 21, 2013

Confessions of a jilted lover

I was in a pretty serious and committed relationship with Google Reader (GR) for the last 4 years. The news of its sudden demise affected me more than I expected it to be. Suffering from a broken heart after GR decided to dump me this way, I did the obvious thing that every jilted lover worth his grain of salt does – I got into a rebound relationship.

Now for the last 5 days, I am having a rather torrid relationship with Bloglines. Since the beginning of time (I mean since the time I discovered RSS) I consumed the internet off Bloglines. Then somewhere around 2008, Bloglines was plain neglected by its owner then, and like others, I jumped ship to GR. And now after 4 years, I complete a circle and transition back to Bloglines again. However, now its not the same old product anymore. Its hosted on Netvibes.

But, jokes apart, the death of GR has had other long lasting scars that are pretty hard to heal. Here is what I would summarize about the way I feel since this betrayal:

  1. You can sign petitions, complain and whine. But if a company decides to get rid of a product, there is nothing much you can do about it. Long ago when Microsoft killed Money, I went through the same set of emotions, till GnuCash came to my rescue and I learnt Accounting.
  2. On one hand the big companies want us to move completely into the cloud. So much so that we are almost back into the era of dumb terminals and hosting everything off the cloud (Chrome OS?). At the same time, these companies can recklessly close down services that don’t make money for them. How practical is it to move all my digital life into the cloud? Do I “live” at the mercy of these companies?
  3. I was slowly consolidating all my online presence onto the Google Platform. Like I mentioned before, my everyday and my everything was being run off Google servers. Now with the sudden demise of GR, I am worried (worried is an understatement). I don’t think Google makes much money off me and sooner or later they will close other properties (read – Calendar, Contacts, Android, Drive, Blogger, Picasa, Feedburner). Whenever that happens, if I don’t have an alternate option, I will plain go through a digital assassination of me. The best option for people like me is to move my eggs from one basket (Google) and distribute it across the internet so that I don't rely on a single service provider (Who needs tight integration anyways?).
  4. Platform independent open source software continues to remain a safe bet to trust your data with. Why Open Source? Because even if the current set of product developers decide not to continue its development, the community can take over and make the product survive. And Platform independent because – you don't wish to be dependent on an operating system either.

So, now its 2013 and think hard before you cloudify your existence mere mortals.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cookie conundrum

One of the value-added activities that I do in my organization is – I occasionally buy cookies (biscuits) to be kept and shared in the common pantry area of my small office. We have a set of 4 cookie options that are already “approved” by our Admin and so we (the cookie buying volunteers) generally end up buying 3 varieties of them each time that we need to top up the 1 common cookie jar. Why one jar you ask? Well cause we are a small organization and the pantry is seriously short of real estate (for a lack of better words) to keep multiple jars. So 1 big jar it is – and each time that we buy, we put all the cookies into that jar. This also explains why we buy 3 of the 4 approved varieties.

On an average a top-up of the jar lasts the entire office’s cookie appetite for 2-3 weeks. Having volunteered to buy the last few times, I have made an interesting observation which I thought is imperative to share with my favourite audience (thyself).

So the approved varied of cookies can be classified into following 4 types

  1. Extremely unhealthy (Finger-licking good)
  2. Moderately unhealthy (Tasty)
  3. Unhealthy (Occasionally eatable)
  4. Healthy (Eaten only when no other option available)

Now the jar being tall with an opening on the top (duh – that’s why its a jar!) the order in which I put the cookies inside decides the order in which they can be consumed. For the accountants and computer nerds amongst you – it’s LIFO. The first few occasions, I put the unhealthy ones in the bottom and the nutritious ones on the top. This method, made our cookies last well over a month. People (I guess) waited for the other people to finish the healthier ones on the top so that they themselves could consume the tastier ones below later. Effectively, I ended up controlling people’s diets.

The second time when I did the same however, some smart-pants creatively reached the bottom of the jar and ate the tastier ones before. This time, the cookie jar lasted us a few days less.

And finally, during my last refill, I put the unhealthiest ones on the top. Viola, our entire cookie jar was over in 2 weeks.

So my dear friend what can we conclude? We all crave for unhealthy food. But once we eat unhealthy, then we try to console ourselves by eating healthy food too. All-in-all, I felt like God. I could control people’s eating habits. And, I have decided, from now on, I shall be the full-time volunteer. The next wicked thing I am gonna do is – (you guessed it right) – just buy the healthy biscuits for the entire jar and then observe how long the jar lasts for us.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

R.I.P Google Reader

Sad day in the history of the internet for me today. Google announced that it is shelving its much neglected Google Reader. Reader has been my gateway to the internet, my main source of consuming information on the internet and now it is going down. Internet for me will never be the same again without it.

Almost 2 years ago, when I setup my Facebook page, I sorta knew that RSS would die its natural death. But I never guessed it would come so soon. I still actively follow 170 blogs, news and portals that will suddenly be difficult for me to access. I am sure many blogs online (including mine) will now be desolate. Gone are the good old days of Web 2.0.

Social it is, and social we shall be.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writing helps?

After having taken a more than 1 month break from blogging, my conscience started questioning me on why do I even bother to blog. Yeah, I know I have gone through this phase before. If you look at it, everything you do in your life can be simply broken down into three things:

  1. It earns you money
  2. It helps you impress someone
  3. It makes you happy

And blogging hasn’t helped me in either. Sorry for the over simplification. I know there are other things like self-actualization and blah blah, but I don’t think I have reached that high in Maslow’s hierarchy yet.

So here are two instances in which writing here so much and for so long helped. Well … kinda .. but it did!

So I have been put onto this crazy ass super stressful project. Without getting into the details, I had to come up with this 30 something page design document overnight for people to work on.  Under normal circumstances, I would have easily taken a week. But years of blabbering about pointless things here gave me the confidence and determination to pull it off and I did!

And in another instance, I kinda managed to write a funny little story about one of my “life experiences” that managed to win me a small little prize. Nothing fancy, but well, yeah had I not been writing here, probably I wouldn’t have pulled that off.

So, all in all, you shalt continue to read me.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Feb that was!

Whoosh. Just realized that the entire month of February 2013 vanished right before my eyes.  I have had busy months in my life before, but never has a month passed since I started blabbering here that I didn’t get time to rant something. So with a lot of pain and melancholy I wave good bye to February 2013. Never will have anything to say about you, my dear month.

So what exactly was I doing last month? I thought hard and I thought deep. Technically, I didn’t do anything much. Stuck to my routine, travelled a bit and moved houses yet again. I mean, yeah, I again went through the routine of packing-trashing-moving-unpacking and rearranging my tents all over again. When I look at all my friends living the high-life on Facebook, posing in front of the Great Wall for breakfast then the Golden gate bridge for lunch and finally partying their night away in Rio, I wonder whether I should be even mentioning what I do.

Anyway, the highlight of last month was – I got to sit inside a aircraft parked on the tarmac of an airport for 2 hours in the blazing sun. After a while, once all passengers were sautéed they decided to open the aircraft exits (just in case all the steam released from cooking the passengers builds up pressure inside the cabin). With blatant regards for anyone’s safety the exit doors were left open with nothing whatsoever for safety. One of us sautéed veggies could have easily leaped off the door. Anyway, to add garnishing they also redirected my flight and a journey that would have not taken me more than 5 hours, ended up being a 12 hour nightmare. And did I mention that they also ran out of food? So much from an airline that I praise so much all the while.

The Tarmac  Open Aircraft Doors  Base jump