Online Living

A friend of mine recently lamented on how she nearly quit blogging because she thought she “ran out of stuff to say to the world” and I disagree.

I, for one, feel lost without access to the online stuff I love and cherish; which for the most part include Email, chat, blogging, socializing on orkut (and Facebook too, now that I’ve discovered it!), participating on discussion forums, scribbling nonsense on twitter and writing comments on YouTube videos – all of which are stuff you want to say to the people who care to listen.

And in doing so, I guess we sometimes tend to forget how much of our lives is really out there in the unknown, at the whim of anyone who chooses to use it.

Friendly comments and tags aside, I’ve had my share of abuse too. I’ve had spammers trash my blog, received rude comments on everything from blog comments to news articles and video reviews; I even had unknown people question my faith.
And in having all this; we sometimes tend to get emotional over the content we sometimes need to deal with. I once blew my top over a nut who argued over the existence of God and it took me a couple of cups of tea to calm down.

YouTube’s “report abuse” section has some helpful advice though. They say you need to realize there’s life beyond the internet, and move on. And if that doesn’t help, to try staying away from the computer for a while.

In short, realize that your life online is pretty much the same as in real life – from the friends to foes, there’s plenty of people; thoughts and opinions. And yours doesn’t always go with everyone. But that doesn’t mean you have to be mum about it.
Because there really is so much to say.

Trust me.


This morning a colleague of mine took a wrong short cut thru the woods on his way to work and ended up hopelessly lost on the Autobahn; finally requiring a couple of police officers to pick him up and drop him off at the office with a friendly warning.

While we were joking about it a few hours later, it reminded me of the first time I got lost: in second grade on the busy streets of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
And now that I think about it, kinda strikes me weird because there really were a million things that could have gone wrong that night and it was nothing short of a miracle that I made it home.

I was just your regular second grade, smart alec, know-it-all kid who one day decided to walk home from school because my dad was held up at a meeting and couldn’t make it on time to pick me up from school like he did everyday.
Needless to say, within no time I was lost, and I knew it.
Now this was way before mobile phones (we didn’t even have a phone at home!) and all I knew was to keep walking.
I guess it was purely in the Plan of The Creator that I accidentally stumbled upon a garage where at that exact time, the guy who ran the restaurant across the street from my house, chose to come to fix his car.

He recognized me as ‘that kid from our street’ and borrowed another car to drive me two blocks to my home; and offered me dinner while we waited for mom and dad (who were of course, freaking out from searching all over town and finally came back home hopeless, to call the police!)
Needless to say, that night I didn’t feel a thing; and so, went to sleep and went back to school the next day.

17 years later, the memories of that night, haunt me to this day.
There is a lot in life we take for granted.

5 reasons why I don’t do Linux

…or FreeBSD or MacX Leopard or Solaris, and stick to plain old windows.

1. Too much effort
True, Windows is not the most straightforward operating system in the world, but at least it’s the most familiar one in the world. Click a file to select. Double click to open. Right-click to modify. How much simpler can it get?
Compare this with everything else. You need to mount drives before you can use them (and dismount them afterwards), manually install applications, change settings for pretty much everything and in short, have an idea of how the whole thing actually works before you can do something on it.

2. Too much geek talk
Normally, you don’t hear too many people talking about modifying binary keys on the Windows Registry…and that’s about as geeky as it gets.
For Linux users, the day routinely involves tweaking the Kernel, swapping drives, compiling programs, or simply doing itsy-bitsy things to make your machine a tad bit leaner and faster.

3. Too many versions
For 7yrs, Windows xp was just one thing. And now you have Vista. And even though they do come in lots of flavors, the basic package is pretty much the same thing; give or take a few additional features. Nothing more, nothing less.

Linux, on the other hand, comes in so many distributions, its easy to get lost in there. You have popular commercial versions such as SUSE and Red Hat, you have ‘community’ versions like Ubuntu and Fedora; and then you have those little versions someone decided to make for themselves…like Arch Linux. To top things, with a little know-how, you can make your own distro…sometimes small enough to fit on a USB stick. Why would anyone wanna do that is beyond me. I prefer to take my entire notebook along, not just the operating system.

4. Apply the Applications
I’m sorry to say this, but when you take the list of applications in the world available for windows, and compare it with everything else; things just don’t add up. Now you can scream all you want on how popular software is always available for Mac and Linux, but its usually more difficult to find unless its in your job to do so.
The rest of us happy-go-lucky computer users prefer to walk into a store and walk out with the DVD, without having to ask too many questions on compatibility and whatever.

5. Getting the job done.
For people like me, at the end of the day it’s all about how much I get done “on” my computer and not “for” my computer.

Tweaking system settings for the hell of it is fun when that’s all you have to do. But when you’re at work and running multiple server-side production environments, an interface monitor and an Email client, the last thing you'd care about is how much processing your workstation is using and how you can tweak the whatever to speed it up. Nor do you care to compile and manually install that tiny little file-zip application.

You need something that’s easy, and doesn’t demand learning the operating core to get your job done. And that’s what windows gives me.

After all, it’s the applications that run on it that I’m interested in.

Boy, I know I made some enemies up there…to all the penguin fans reading this; sorry you guys. But I couldn’t help myself :)

New Delhi and the bombs

Shortly after 6:30pm IST, a series of 5 bombs rocked the Indian capital of New Delhi, killing around 2 dozen people and wounding around a hundred others.

On behalf of everyone here, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones…for no fault of theirs. And at the same time, curse the wrecked freaks who caused this; killing innocent people in their mindless wake.

And it makes me angry thinking about it. This is not the first time this has happened, and probably is not the last. So in between when it happened for the first time and now; what has changed and what hasn’t?

As ever, the President, Prime Minister, Other Ministers, and all the guys up in Parliament, issued their standard statement expressing their “deepest concerns” and “appeal for calm and peace”.

On the face of it, it sounds like a good idea. Keep calm. And let the authorities do their job.

But as history bears witness, this does not really happen. What does happen is a series of routine tasks:

1)       The police ‘investigates’ and makes random arrests around the city of ‘suspects’…as if terrorists just hang around waiting for the police to grab them.

2)       Security gets ‘beefed up’ (whatever the hell that means) around airports, train stations and other ‘strategic locations’…as if terrorists are stupid enough to attack the most obvious places just hours after a major attack.

3)       Barricades are put up, and a major part of the public that had nothing to do with this is agonized by not being able to visit their loved ones in hospital or move away from hot spots.

4)       News channels, magazines and news sites go into overdrive on how to deal with the menace.

5)       The government reiterates its commitment to fighting violent attacks and acts of terror.

6)       The opposition party organizes rallies on how the current administration is doing such a sloppy job.

7)       Two weeks later, everyone forgets the whole thing. And life goes on as usual.

As usual of course, except for those who lost their loved ones in the attack. And then those ‘suspects’ who were rounded up just to make the police look good, and languish in dungeons with no charges laid against them.

Conveniently forget; is sadly what our country seems to do best.

Chrome comes to Google!

Yup, it’s finally here! The long awaited browser from the most popular name on the internet – Google, with the launch of its fabled ‘Chrome’ web browser.

And like most internet junkies, I scrambled to be among the first to download and use it – and I have one thing to say about it:

It’s brilliant!
Not beautiful – there’s no eye-catching colors, fancy design or anything, but it’s just brilliant.

And although people who are used to Safari’s fluid interface may not be too thrilled with the bare-minimalist design, most of the common folks who’ve been stuck with Microsoft IE might choose to move, thanks to automatic import of bookmarks, favorites and all your settings right from your old browser into Chrome.

And that’s not all; there are several features that are leap years ahead of anything on Mozilla Firefox, Safari and (is it even worth mentioning?) IE. For instance, the tabs automatically open with your most recently visited pages, and you can just click on where you want to go. Searches are direct from the address bar, and Chrome automatically gives spelling suggestions for misspelt words – pretty much like Google itself.

There are also nifty well-thought features like the status bar that automatically disappears after loading, downloads that are tied to the page itself without launching a separate pop-up and so on.

You can also do a lot of extras – like dragging out tabs to make them into a separate window or joining multiple windows into one single window, right-click a phrase and search for it and so on.

Of course, it’s only beta, and there’s bound to be improvements; as well as bugs in the current version. Right now, I’m just trying this out and am really excited…and now that I read back what I’ve written, it almost sounds like a promotion campaign for Chrome.

But I really think this is one download that’s worth trying out. And let me know what’s your take on it.