Mirror, mirror on the wall...

I dunno if you guys’ve been watching the stuff they show on CNN lately. No, I’m not talking about the US Presidential Elections or the War on Terror. Something fiendishly paler:Fairness creams.
Yup, you heard right. Apparently some of the stuff on the shelves that’s supposed to make you the ‘fairest of them all’ do just a little more than that…and can get you killed. The report also featured several serious-looking doctors lamenting on how Sodium-whatever-oxide can get inside your body, poison your liver and stop your kidneys.

That really got me thinking; apparently fairness creams are big business…and why is that? Simple.

Everyone wants to look a little bit better than they really are. If you think that’s lame, look closely the next time you see one of those fairness cream commercials (yes they’re on TV even in Europe, for whatever reason).
The fair girl gets the hunk or the job or the promotion.
It’s always the same story on the other side too; prince charming always falls for the fairest maiden.
I don’t know what they were thinking when they made those commercials, but I know what they want us to think: success is nothing more than looking good. Good-looking people are more successful. In other words, if you’re ugly, you ain’t going nowhere.
That is so pathetic.

But again, I’m surprised by the sheer number of people who fall for this gag. Because if they didn’t, well it wouldn’t have made the headlines. It’s about time someone put a cork on it.
And lightened things up!

Ground Zero

Call me naïve, gullible or just plain childish.
But I guess it’s a special moment, in its own crazy way, when you see the thermometer hit home base at zero degrees just outside your house. Of course people who’ve lived in cold places before, can laugh out about this, but for the rest of us hot-heads who’re used to around 40 degrees (yes we are talking Celsius) in the tropics of Southern India or the Middle East; we don’t exactly find this…er…cool.

And, I am told, this is just the beginning. Hell, we haven’t even seen snowfall yet. And I’m not exactly looking forward to it. But from the looks of it, we have a long way to go…

A "loner" strikes again!

I don’t mean to be insensitive, but all I can say is – Yup, there it is again.
For those of you wondering what’s this all about, here’s an insight. Yesterday, on the 7th of November an 18 year old ‘gunman’ walked in and opened fire in an otherwise quiet town in Finland, killing 8 people before turning the gun on himself.
And that’s not all. Further investigation revealed that at the time of his death, the guy still had over 320 bullets and lots of inflammable liquids in possession; and I bet my baloney sandwich he probably planned on using them!
Which brings to mind an important question: how does a teenager end up with around 400 bullets (by the way, each of his victims took at least two bullets) anyway?

Somehow, it feels just like just yesterday when the same thing happened at Virginia Tech University in the United States.
And once again, it’s the same story all over again; the kid was a ‘loner’, hated people, was bullied at school, and somehow figured out a way to end it all.
And just like the last time, people light candles, flags fly at half-mast, news channels go into overdrive, and in two weeks everything will be forgotten and back to normal.

And once again; NO ONE called him a terrorist!

Almost makes me wonder who the hell a terrorist is exactly. Does it really take a middle-eastern-looking guy wearing a turban and waving an AK-47 to be called a terrorist? Or would you have kill people on a plane or train rather than a school to qualify as one?

I believe terrorism has no religion. And I also believe pre-planned, calculated, cold-blooded mass murder of innocent school-children amounts to terror.

It’s about time we did away with the stereotypes, and called a terrorist a terrorist; loner or not!

Fear off, death!

Yesterday, having nothing better to do on a Saturday night (well, that’s been the case ever since I’ve landed up here in Raunheim but that’s a different story!), me and the guys decided to have some fun and check out some neat horror flicks. One thing led to another and we ended up watching a couple of Omen and Final Destination titles back to back. Now, they maybe just movies but watching them at 2 o clock in the morning does sometimes get, well, spooky.

So I lay in bed and started wondering on the common theme that unites horror: the fear of dying. Maybe alone, maybe in a graveyard, roller coaster or airplane, but then all the same; going kaput!

And that got me going. Every single day we go through our lives minding our (own?) business, doing stuff, taking care of tomorrow, except that we may not make it there. I don’t wanna sound paranoid but the basic reality of life is this: you can work all your life to have that one special something and then when everything is ready, all can go blank ~snap~ just like that.

What comes afterwards is not for me to answer; I turn to religion to give me an answer to that and if I were you; I’d do the same thing.

Call me paranoid or even plain crazy but I guess there is no denying the fact that we are all gonna go one day. Before that happens, you better be ready for a few basic questions on what happens then and if you aren’t, then you better start searching for some really good answers today.

Because it’s a one way trip, and it ain’t going to be on your calendar of upcoming events.

Makes no cents!

When I was still in Chennai last month, I used to lament no end at the seemingly worthlessness of the 25paise and 50paise coins. In fact, there was once a time when I even argued that we ban the entire paise episode and started dealing in whole rupees instead. And with good reason too; I mean after all, apart from bus tickets and the occasional kick-knack at your roadside store, there really is nothing you can do with coins less than 1 rupee; even beggars scoff at you for tossing them something so pitiful!

Now some 3 weeks later, here in Germany, things are no better; only this time, it’s in cents. I don’t know if it’s just me but almost everything I seem to buy has an annoying 2 or 3 cents attached to it. A stupid bar of soap would cost me 98cents. So I give the guy a 1 Euro coin for which he politely and dutifully returns me two 1cent coins.

Now the question is, what do I do with this anyway? My wallet is full of at least a dozen such 1, 2 and 5 cent coins and I have to admit, it does look like of ridiculous fumbling for 98cents at the cash counter.

And I for the life of it seriously can’t understand why they price everything with a 69 cents or 36 cents attached to it. I mean does it really take the fun out of selling if those guys stuck to round numbers, say 70 cents, instead?
Call it culture shock, adaptation or whatever, but the way things are, guess I would be walking around with a pocket full of change for quite a long time..

It's a free world...

Firstly, I must say, it has been quite a while now; I know I’ve been a bit silent these days and I really must say: Thank you. For all your thoughts, comments and the sheer nag that’s keeping me going.

Coming to terms with my current update, I’ve now relocated from the warm, sunny sands of Chennai to Raunheim, a quiet village near Frankfurt in Germany. After the initial ‘wow, this place looks awesome’ thing died down; reality strikes as the beautiful but intimidating place this is.

One of the first things I’ve noticed is that nothing; absolutely nothing here is free. Those of us who’ve lived in Chennai or the Middle East will swear by the huge amount of freebies you get with your goodies. Okay skip that; who needs freebies anyway, but at least you get used to getting at least a bit more than you bargain for. Who doesn’t like the little cute helicopter you get with your pasta?

But that’s a different story all together. I walk into a supermarket here to buy stuff and that’s when I realized you not only pay for your stuff, but also for each of the plastic carry-bags you take. Of course, probably that’s why a lot of the folks here carry their own bags to the stores. And oh yes, bottles are extra too.

In line with this doctrine, restaurants here don’t serve water either, leaving you to decide if you really want to drink water at all. (Of course on the up side, you do get to choose between Regular, Sparkling or Classic water, whatever the hell they all are, so there’s no lack of choice here)
And with bottled water being priced only 20cents below a regular coke, no winners for guessing what most of us drink here.

But then, I guess that’s what the choice is really about. After all, it’s a free country isn’t it?

A new product "Surface"s

After Apple blew the world away with the multi-touch interface in the much-touted iPhone, everyone was now talking about the next greatest thing in computing – the multi-touch interface.

Not wanting to be left out, Microsoft embarked on its own touchy endeavor (pun intended) to bring out the next big thing to woo the prosumer market – the Microsoft Surface.
You probably heard all about Surface; it’s been all over the news and splashed on computer magazines, even on TV. So much so that you’d run the risk of being such a dinosaur for not having even known it. Hailed as one of the biggest things to happen to computers, the Surface promises (like all good things) to make your interaction more fluid than ever by using hand gestures and touch to display, organize and view photos and other graphic media, giving you the impression of actually touching your data.
According to the demo shown, the system is so neat it automatically recognizes a camera placed on top of it, and downloads the pictures to its ‘surface’, after which you can probably view them by waving your hand at it or dragging it to the center. Impressive, huh?

Now here’s where the fun ends: okay so you’ve got your pictures and stuff, now what? Unfortunately we can’t answer that one because frankly no one seems to know. Beneath the swanky touch-sensitive screen and multitude of mini-cameras that make up the gesture processing unit, there doesn’t seem to be much save a very ordinary computer. I’m hoping someone will prove I’m wrong here because if it really is just this much, this doesn’t seem to be much more than an interface.

And let’s face it; touching or typing it, interfaces are only part of the system – they don’t make up the complete thing. But that remains to be seen. For now, at the rate Surface is gaining momentum, it probably wont be long before you shake your pc screen to wake it and ‘Touch here to continue’

Civilian Deaths

Apparently not enough civilians are getting killed in Iraq these days.

The Economic Times reported last Monday that ‘only’ 1,700 odd civilians got ‘killed violently’ in Iraq last month, which happens to be the lowest in the past 5 months with a 36% drop. Now this tells us two things;
One, for the past 3 years or so (when did the pre-emptive strikes begin?), more than 2,400 civilians have been dying every month. Now remember, we’re not talking about terrorists, militants or soldiers, we’re talking about people living in their homes, children going to school, people going to work, who don’t know if they will wake up the next morning.

I really don’t know if you can appreciate the gravity of the situation but working out the math, that means some poor innocent guy in Iraq, minding his own business, gets killed EVERY 20 MINUTES!

Secondly, there’s something else. Why isn’t anybody doing anything about this? We hear about social welfare, women’s welfare, child welfare and even animal welfare all the time, but what about welfare for innocent people who get killed for no reason at all?

Maybe we don’t know

Or we don’t care.

But closing our eyes to this isn’t making anything better; so at least when we go to sleep tonight, let us say a little prayer for those who won’t wake up tomorrow morning.

Give us Thou a new Vista!

I don’t like Windows Vista.
Wait, I’m not going to launch into a debate about why Linux or Mac or whatever is better, but here are some facts:
1. Its expensive (in countries like India, make that VERY expensive)
2. Its hungry. In fact, I estimate over 75% of PCs in existence right now don’t have enough juice to run it.
3. Inspite of all this, it doesn’t give you much.

Lets take a look.
If your PC is over a year old, don’t even imagine installing vista on it. And even on much acclaimed ‘Vista Ready’ PCs that came a while ago it feels like running Need For Speed Carbon on a 486! It's simply not fast enough.

Okay so probably all good things come at a price. And the price for Vista is having a ultra-high config PC that will eventually slow down. So what are the good things?

Well, even though Microsoft is riding high on the claim of Vista being ‘secure’ and ‘immune to attacks’ (heck, they even feature Bit-Locker™ for encrypting entire hard drives and secure online storage of passwords) we’ll have to admit that most of the apparent changes are in the looks. True, the API has been re-built from scratch, FAT is history and “Save My Search” abilities bring new methods of data retrieval. But boot it up and the first things everyone will notice are the color schemes, the new start menu and a bunch of nonsense on the desktop called a ‘side bar’.

Clearly, Vista is a newbie heaven, but it seems to insult more advanced users. The ‘live search’ all over the place seems to imply the user doesn’t even know what he’s looking for anymore. I mean, we love to search – especially with data flowing into terabytes – but do we really need to search for everything everywhere?
And what kind of an idiot would leave a tiny slideshow of pictures running in a corner of your desktop all the time?

Almost makes me wonder if the whole thing was designed to eat away your resources while simply sitting there and looking pretty. I mean good-looks aside, does anyone really need the 3D flip while Alt-Tabbing multiple windows?

Don’t get me wrong: I love advancements. And when Vista (codenamed ‘Longhorn’ back then) was still in the labs, it was a dream beyond its years. Longhorn was originally designed to ship with a brand new SQL-based file system called Win FS that promised to send FAT and NTFS back to the stone-age! Unfortunately none of that happened (it still runs on NTFS) and the only new things are the bells and whistles!

A meter Matter

I don’t know how many people realize this (or even care to bother), but come 26th and it would be exactly 5 months to the day when autorickshaw meters were made “mandatory and non-negotiable” on the streets of Chennai.
5 months and several pot holes later, things are no different.

For those of you who don’t live in Chennai (or wondering what the hell an autorickshaw meter is), here’s some update:I guess it is safe to declare auto drivers as the most despicable, hated, and rude people in all of Chennai (since how much you pay depends on various factors like what language you speak, what you wear, and how lost you look) and anyway, someone decided to bring back order by revising tariff and making meters on autorickshaws mandatory. Of course, passing a law is only one side of the story. The other side, is implementing it.
Surprisingly, that went on pretty well too. Every auto rickshaw (can we just call them ‘autos’?; I’m getting tired of typing ‘autorickshaw’ all the time) fitted with a mechanical meter was given a revised fare-sheet and a deadline to go digital. Any auto already fitted with a digital meter had to get recalibrated and re-certified.

Then, they figured, things would 'auto'matically (pun intended!) fall into place with auto drivers charging you by the meter - not a rupee more, not a rupee less. They would benefit from the transparent system and we would go home happy knowing we didn't pay 30bucks more than the other guy for the same distance. Too good to be true?

Yeah, right. For the rest of us its a different story. Ask any auto driver to charge you by the meter, and you get laughed in your face. Or maybe insulted. In fact one guy went as far as to explain why they couldn’t use digi-meters: Apparently the IC goes haywire after a few potholes and ends up running crazy. Now that’s an answer worth an electronics engineer!

Anyway jokes apart, the law is still in place, meters still run but we still pay by their own rules.

And unless something concrete is done soon, the Meter is still a mile away!

Hel (met) of a Law!

This just in:
The latest crime spree doing the streets of Chennai is not flicking wallets or cell phones; it’s something much ridiculous – helmets. Yup you heard right, the latest fashion accessory sporting everyone’s head ever since the helmet law came in two days ago was reported to be the most frequently stolen item. And that’s just in two days!

For the uninitiated, Chennai’s just taken the plunge to make roads much er…safer by re-introducing the compulsory helmet-for-everyone law since June 1. That means, every single person – rider or passenger – on a bike will have to either wear one or risk getting caught red handed (not to mention bare-headed! :-0) .

Now on the face of it, this sounds like a pretty good idea. But when you get down to it, Chennai’s not exactly known for its one-person-per-bike phenomenon. That means either the bike owner buys a couple of spare helmets for the occasional backseat rider or everyone in town buys (and carries) one since you never know when you might need a lift and if the other guy has a helmet or not.

And oh yes, we’re forgetting something else. What about whole families that sometimes travel together? Yup, the wife, kids and sometimes the mother-in-law, all on the same bike (trust me, this really happens in Chennai) with helmets on them…kind of crams up the headroom.

Don’t get me wrong: Helmets are a great invention. Yes, helmets save lives; more than people think. A cousin of mine owes his life to a helmet that saved him in a bike accident a couple of years ago.
But with any invention, forcing a law onto people is not gonna make things safer. It has to come from within.

iSmell Trouble!

Not exactly the most recent of developments, but in line with the happenings on the net; quite a while ago in 1999, a company called DigiScent Inc. invented the iSmell, a smell synthesizer that would be used to involve more of our senses on the net.

Hey and since we’re already in the frontiers of virtual reality and augmented reality, why not get our noses too involved in this battle of the senses? Or so they thought. But here’s where things start to smell fishy (pun intended!)

The main problem is, unlike light and sound, smell is not something that can be instantly or precisely controlled. For instance you can accurately control brightness and volume, and the best part is they both cease to exist once the source is switched off – in our case pull the plug and you can plunge the room into silent darkness. But with smell, being organic molecules, they tend to waft around long after the source is removed.

The other problem is direction: With sound you can precisely direct it – whether it is to a 71. Surround system or a tiny pair of headphones to the individual. What about iSmell? Turn it on and the whole house starts to smell. Of course, our human senses are partly to blame for this as well – unlike hearing, we humans can’t accurately judge the direction a smell is coming from. (By the way, bumble bees can!)

And the other thing is something called ‘olfactory fatigue’ which means that after a while, our noses get used to a certain smell and don’t recognize it anymore.

iSmell might’ve been a good idea; but with the issues at hand I guess we’ll have to agree that this is one concept that in reality, just stinks!

Playstaion 3? No way!

Yes it’s finally here; after much speculation, Sony’s much awaited and talked about Playstation 3 has just been launched in India today!

And boy did it come with a bang! Not to mention an unforgivable price tag of Rs 39,000! That’s enough to get a decent laptop! Or even a PC with greatest graphics card on the market.

But they’re not selling just a ‘gaming console’ anymore. The PS3 offers to play games, music, DVDs, pix and even store stuff on a 60GB hard drive. But that’s not what’s sky-rocketing the price tag. After all, any dumb computer can do this. The big deal is in HD graphics (and support for Sony’s exclusive Blu-Ray™ DVD) for real hi-res pictures. Again, this is what Microsoft brought with its Xbox360™ earlier this year, minus the HD-DVD support.

Now here’s the real problem; you can’t do anything with HD graphics unless you have a High Definition TV to see them on. That means, unless you already have one, you need to throw away another 80,000 bucks on an LCD HDTV.

Oh yeah and one more thing, the console isn’t enough – you need games to play. And every gaming title is sold separately for Rs 2,799.

So lets see now if I wanna play the PS3 with around 3 games, (just 3 games okay, let’s be modest) I’ll have to shell out around

39,000 + (2,799 x 3) + 80,000


I don’t know if you realize this, but THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY!

PS3 means serious business for serious gamers.

Guess the rest of us will just have to stick to Tetris for now.

Video my format!

I don’t know why its like this but there doesn’t seem to be a standard format for video files…

If you haven’t noticed, we have basically two formats for audio/music files: .mp3 and .wma – both of which play almost anywhere; well anywhere as long as you have windows that is, but being the universal OS that it is, I guess it is safe to say anywhere.

Of course, you do have the stupid .ra/.raw formats which only play on a Real Player and Apple’s ridiculous .au format which plays on God-knows-what; but the point is, if you’re looking for music, you’ll most probably end up with an mp3.

Now compare this with video:

Take any random computer and chances are you’ll find a healthy mixture of








…each of which seem prefer its own sweet player.

The trouble is not the format, it’s the creation of that format. Any digital imaging device captures still photographs only as a JPEG, but when it comes to video… a digital camera gives you a .mov (Apple’s QuickTime™ Movie) while a phone camera makes a .3gp (which so far, seems to play only on weird players you download off the net) and a Muvee™ autoproducer which makes a .wmv

So all in all, if you wanna play all your videos, you have 2 choices:

1. Get a good collection of Windows Media Player, QuickTime, Real, Nokia Multimedia Player, and other players or

2. Download a weird player off the net that claims to play everything and risk an attack on your system.

Its your call, and the videos are waiting…

The Real Terrorist

For those of you who came in late, three days ago on the 16th of April, a masked gunman stormed into a classroom at Virginia Tech University and opened fire, killing 32 of his fellow students and a professor.

Worldwide condemnations of this shoot-out occurred instantly and while every news-channel and publication worth its name ran headlines of the “horrific” incident and the “worst violence since the Columbine High School massacre” and all that jazz, in case you haven’t noticed, NO ONE called him a terrorist.

And he wasn’t. He was just a South Korean student, your everyday boy-next-door who was a “loner” and “disturbed by the rich kids” so he decided to take them out.

You know, when I heard the news, the first thing that came into my mind was, please don’t let him be Arab.
Hypothetically, assuming that he had been somebody else, say some guy named Muhammed-Al-Something or Ahmed-bin-Something-Else, the news would have been dramatically different.

Everyone would have been talking about the ‘latest terror attack against America’…

President Bush would have made statements to continue the War on Terror…

The news channels and papers would have published long and scary articles on the spread of religious terror and why it wasn’t safe for anyone anymore…

Yup, things would’ve been so different. But they aren’t. Why? Because the guy involved was a South Korean instead of an Arab, so we can go to sleep tonight thinking this is just an isolated incident about a ‘disturbed’ kid instead of a worldwide plot to spread fundamentalist terror.

Double standards for terror? I don’t know.

But guess that kind of makes the terrorist feel like a “loner” too…

Pirates of the Software Industry

Yes, I will shamelessly admit it: I use mostly pirated and counterfeit software. If not for anything else, for two very simple facts:

1. Everyone needs software

2. Not everyone can afford original software

In fact, the only reason I have a Genuine Microsoft Windows, genuine AntiVirus from Symantec and other genuine junk I never use is because they kind of came along with my laptop. I figured, now that I have some original software to begin with, let’s kick the piracy bucket and turn over a new leaf. So I went to purchase my obsession: Need for Speed: Underground2.

The man behind the counter gave me a confused look, almost like something we’d give a pitiable mad man, as he pulled out the package with the price tag of Rs1,700.

For 2 CDs, a booklet containing some cheats and a cardboard box. 1,700 bucks.

Needless to say, I simply walked out into Richie Street and got the same thing (minus the cardboard box) for around 50 bucks.

And if you thought that was bad, check out a few more:

Microsoft Window Vista Home Premium is priced at Rs.22,500

Microsoft Office 2007 Standard Edition is priced at Rs.14,500

Now, I agree that it must’ve taken those folks a lot of time and money to develop all this, but then what’s the point in putting a price tag that most people will just laugh at.

And the other thing I don’t see why software manufacturers don’t understand is, what advantage do they provide to people who buy and use original software over those who don’t? I mean, if you use a counterfeit hardware product, you get cheap quality; but with software it’s virtually the same!

And NO, I DO NOT agree with Microsoft’s scary claim that “counterfeit software can have critical bits of code missing which can compromise the security of your infrastructure”

Boy, that’s a good one! Apparently some “bits of code” get left out when you copy a CD! We believe it!

But one thing I’d appreciate Microsoft for is the Genuine Software Advantage which gives you special upgrades like Internet Explorer 7 and Media Player 11 (both of which install only on Genuine Windows), not to mention Windows Live Updates and Security Center for original software.

And unless other manufacturers do something like this too, pirated software will thrive. And I for one, will continue to swear by it!

I, Professional

We all pride ourselves on being professionals.


And, we claim, we’ve rights to. After all, we wear crisply pressed formals and polished shoes to work everyday; a suit and tie on occasions; speak flawlessly accented languages; not to mention extensive etiquettes at the dinner table and rules on handling the fork.


Then we step out on to the streets of Chennai, and it’s another world altogether. From cursing the auto-rickshaw driver who just overtook you to jumping red lights because ‘there was no one there’ and traveling on the wrong side of the road to cut a turn, we the ‘professionals’ do it all. And it doesn’t end in the streets. We jump queues (provided there is one, to begin with), rush into moving buses or trains, arrive 15-20 minutes late for just about anything And it doesn’t end with us.


We do it because everyone around us does it, and besides, you can’t expect to survive in the big city unless you join in and yell with rest of the crowd.

And crowd is right. How many of us have actually seen a polite traffic policeman?

Or how about courteous bus conductors?

Maybe a smiling face behind a counter?

And don’t even think about auto rickshaw drivers; I think it can be safe to declare auto drivers as the most despicable, loathsome and hated people in all of Chennai.


But skip all that. That’s on the street. Even on the job when was the last time a professional, any professional for that matter, acted such?

The other day I saw a hospital receptionist yak endlessly on the phone about some new sari she bought, blissfully unaware of the people waiting…

A banker behind the counter not sure of how to boot his computer or check the customer’s request…

Customer Care executives who don’t know what facilities their bank/telephone company/credit card company offers…

Software people engaged in a 3 hr call with their spouse/fiancé/boyfriend in spite of the pending work to be done…

Sales people in showrooms who don’t know about the discount coupon the customer is holding…



Sounds familiar? It should; after all, we are that face in the crowd. And from the looks of it, not a very professional face. Time we cleaned up our act and professionalize our professions.

Iron Maiden - Live in Concert!

Calling all Heavy Metal Fans! Iron Maiden is performing live in Bangalore.


Palace Grounds, - 17th March 2007. Where will you be?


iPod madness

To begin with, lemme say I’m not against the cute white devil from Apple. Nor am I a fan of Microsoft Zune or Creative Vision:M or anything else for that matter. But what I really can’t understand is why the apple iPod, though remarkable an invention it may be, is such a flare all over the world.

To fully understand this madness, we must first understand the underlying technologies and market base which led to this. The market is fairly simple to understand, people wanted something to carry around and play their music. Okay, so people wanted something to carry and play ALL their music. And then photos. And videos.
Apple seized this opportunity to make the all in one device that everyone loved.But wait, wasn’t Sony already doing this? As was Creative, Panasonic, Samsung and virtually every other electronics giant worth its salt? And after Sony failed flat on its face with its Network Walkman® (which, incidentally, was the first portable music player which held tracks in a Sony proprietary ATARC format) you’d think no one else would try.

Here’s where the technology part came in: Apple made not just proprietary formats for storage, it also made the equally famous iTunes software to go with it, and the online store to purchase legal music…and it was a huge hit. So the customers were happy, record companies were happy, anti-piracy guys were happy and the anti-peer-to-peer-sharing guys from the state department were happy. But that’s were the happiness ends.

I personally hate it not because of its shortcomings; there are lots of them starting with the fact that they don’t even provide a charger – leaving you to charge with your pc USB. And the fact that I can’t transfer my music from one pc to another or need purchase music online (come on, how many of us in India would do that?)

I hate it because of its over-hyped-up status.
Something like a class act, where many advertisements featuring a cool dude wears an iPod.

Levi jeans for launching the “iPod Jeans” to carry an iPod with all its accessories.

All those stupid car audio systems like Pioneer which boast to be “iPod Ready”.

Data comparisons which used to claim that something was so large that it would fit on a such and such stack of books, it now said to fit on so many iPods!

Even NASDAQ launched a nonsensical new index called the “iPod Index” which, like the Big-Mac® index, compares the growth rate of a currency based on the price of the player there.

Even an I-have-too-much-money builder in Dubai who’s constructing an iPod shaped apartment building called The iPad.

My point is, isn’t there any other music player in the world? Or is the Pod the only thing people see?

It’s not about a great music player. It’s about something bigger called mass marketing.
And one thing’s for sure: iPod will rule as long as it is hyped up. Remember, sheep only follow the herd.

Happy Women’s Day!

No offense to the ladies, but can someone tell me er…why exactly are we celebrating this?

Now relax, there’s no need to get all worked up about this one guy who can’t even appreciate the wonders of womanhood or whatever, but seriously, I fail to see the point.

True, women are now doctors, teachers, engineers (not to mention software architects ;-), even nuclear scientists and astronauts.

But when it comes to the glamorous world of entertainment, women today are more than ever, being projected as worth nothing more than an object. Check out the fashion industry (watch FTV with your family, for instance), check out the music industry, how about advertisement, or a steamy movie…
I really will not agree that Britney Spears or Shakira are famous because they can sing.
Not will I agree that Mallika Sharawat or Pamela Anderson is a brilliant actor

The fact is that freedom can be brainwashing, everyone thinks that liberation means to be someone else’s plaything.

If this is the real liberation of women, then I guess the feminists still have a long way to go

Tax this!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when the budget is out and as usual, we are disappointed. “We” is the middle class, the working section, those morons in the IT industry, the scapegoats of the economy, whatever you choose to call it.

I don’t know when it came about but historically, its always been like this. Poor people don’t have much to worry about; the only problem is that they are poor, and there are lots of government schemes to help out farmers, the ‘backward castes’ (I’m ashamed to even write the word), poor students, poor widows and poor everyone else. Rations give the privileged poor provisions; reservation gives the privileged poor positions. And if there’s no better income, Professional begging is also a big hit. And by the way, there’s no tax on begging.

On the other hand, very rich people don’t have much to worry about either: There’re lots of loop-holes to jump into to evade taxation if you’re really big in business (we’re talking big as in over hundreds of crores). You can always leave the country to get NRI status, or like many rich folks, ‘blacken’ your money. And if you have a few friends in high places here and push a few bank notes there, you’re still rocking no matter you how much income you have.

So who’s the real idiot? We the people, those pathetic, job-dependent, salary-based, dimwits who slog long hours of the day and night in front of a computer to make an ‘enviable’ salary and end up paying a third of it to taxes.

Scapegoat or concerned citizen? You decide.

Whoa, Cocoa!

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I'm a great fan of high coca chocolates, more commonly known as Dark or bitter chocolates. Recently a friend abroad bought me a bar of an amazing (and terribly expensive at 4 Euro a bar) chocolate, the “Lindt Excellence Cocoa” with over 80% cocoa and I relished every bit of it. Now it so happens that our regular bar of chocolate contains not more than 5-10% cocoa so you can understand how rich this was.

So once again when another friend asked me what I wanted, I was not undecided: Lindt Excellence with as much cocoa content as available. So he got me the Mother of all Dark Chocolates; the Lindt Excellence Noirissime with 99% pure virgin cocoa, and I was only too delighted.

I was a bit surprised though, because even though the elaborate packing (with pull-out tray and flavor-lock sealing) was expected, this was the first I’ve seen with a “Tasting Advice” on the peel-up foil cover. It soberly stated that in order to ‘fully appreciate all the flavors and bouquet of aromas’, we had to ‘progressively develop our palate through the tasting of other high cocoa ranges’ and taste with ‘a small piece left to melt in the mouth’. Humph, some build up for a miserable chocolate, I decided and popped in a piece in my mouth.

The next few minutes were kind of hard to describe.

The next day I threw out the rest of it out the window and vowed never to touch bitter chocolate again.