July 31, 2012

Top Secret Patented iPhone Tips for Apple

Since I am a die-hard Apple user -- use iPods, iPhones, iPads, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros -- I thought to share a few innovation tips to the guys at Apple tearing their hair over what new features to add to their upcoming iPhones that will keep the competition at bay.

Here are my top suggestions -- have an expandable external keyboard and screen. Let me explain and expand that.

The iPhone screen of 3.5 inches can stay that -- but you can have a folded screen that will expand in a fun way when the user needs a larger screen, say to work on that document/spreadsheet/presentation while waiting for the flight or inside the flight.

Oh and the user will of course need a full-sized physical keyboard as well. So include a full keyboard which nicely folds into the back of the phone. The material needs to be thin yet sturdy. Carbon fiber or carbon nanotubes might do the trick.

You all of course know about the ever expanding storage. So I need not advise you to include 128 GB solid state storage going up to 500 GB and even Terabyte class storage in the near future. The users will find a way to make use of all that storage.

They will download and store and watch movies on those expandable screens.

July 29, 2012

Work Life Balance ... Premature Baby Care

In the usual weird way in which my brain works it occurred to me that many of the women astronauts are without children.

I can think of Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, and Sally Ride.

I am inclined to look at the facts as they are rather than putting them through any loaded prisms such as women's rights, etc.

Fact of the matter is technology is not yet so advanced that men can give birth to babies. Giving birth still remains the exclusive preserve (and may be a 'privilege' too -- but that's an assessment for ladies themselves to make about themselves) of women. Post natal care also involves (or needs) significant contributions from the mother. The late pregnancy period also is a time of many physical changes to the expectant mother.

The father is at an advantage in all these respects. He can afford to be essentially a pure bystander in all of these. The maximum is whatever level of emotional investment he chooses to make in the dangers involved in the childbirth and related processes.

So may be the female astronauts were so involved with their careers and had so many passions and interests and things to learn that they made conscious decisions not to have babies as they simply did not have the time to devote to that.

Then there are the corporate ladies who do have kids. Few of the high profile women executives that immediately come to mind include HP's Carly Fiorina, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, new Yahoo CEO and former key Googler Marisa Mayer.

July 22, 2012

A Snapshot in Time

This is for myself when I will be looking back five years from now.

Here are a few of the to-read links open now on my browser.

This was the week in which Rajesh Khanna died.
Our lives are measured more in deaths than in births.
Endings are more poignant than beginnings. Why is that?

A Paris Review Art of Fiction Interview with Aldous Huxley.

A review of Pankaj Mishra's From The Ruins of Empire in The Guardian.

July 19, 2012

The Talented Government of India

You think you know what all your tax money accomplishes? Well you might find a few surprises.

Apart from a bunch of Kendriya Vidyalayas and IIMs and IITs and the training colleges for everyone and the Indian Council of Medical Research and the PGIs and the astrophysics research and the particle physics research and the jute and textile research, here are a few more esoteric activities the Government sees fit to associate with:

The Government of India does fusion research. And it is planning a mission to Mars.

But does the government of India do research into pomegranate? Sure it does.

What else does it do?

Smart Advice for Rahul Gandhi

Proactivity tips for Rahul Gandhi in no particular order of importance:

1)  Become his own chauffeur ... like the J&K CM. This should be 'cool' for the youngsters of the nation. One has heard tales of his keenness for going go-karting in some 'top secret' locations on the Delhi-Gurgaon stretch. And also in the process lose Satish Sharma as the driver. He looks permanently inebriated ... or worse -- drugged.

2)   Do some daredevilry of the sky diving kind -- again will be found very inspirational and exciting by the youth. If the older Bush can do it at 85 or so, no reason why the 'young' Gandhi can't.

3)  Take tips from these three female heroes (or is that heroines?) of mine: Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, Marissa Mayer. Think of what they have accomplished by the age of 40 or even before and inspire yourself.

Finding, Retaining, and Letting Go

Honestly, I got thinking about this after reading this article in the New York Times.

So we make friends when we are younger. Well may be we are less choosy and have more time. Let's face it, we are not very smart when we are just KIDS!

We do not choose our school or classmates. Our parents decide those based on their economic circumstance or their religion or whatever. We do not choose our relations, our cousins. If even after we grow up, we continue to confine our lives to a small circle of family relations, we prove that we are pretty antiquated in our mindsets.

As we grow older, we have less time. We do less exploring.

I think that's our loss. And how do you RETAIN those old friendships if and/or when you discover that the paths you have chosen in life diverge rather than converge.

Just because you happen to have studied in school together, you cannot overcome differences if such occur.

What I have observed in my own limited life experience is that some people stop growing as they are focused on their careers and family.

I find NO ONE -- not a single one -- from the set of school classmates on twitter for example. Some are on Facebook sharing stupid photos or talking in their (and mine) mother tongue on Facebook with their cousins or whoever.

It then becomes difficult for me to relate with them.

How can educated people remain content being disengaged with the issues of the day? How long can you spend in the same orbit that you did as a kid or an adolescent?

July 17, 2012

When Harry Met Sally

What are the benefits and losses in watching a movie more than 20 years after it's made? I don't know.
I got around to watching this one recently after Nora Ephron died which brought the movie into focus.
Which is not to say that I had never heard of it -- just that I never got around to watching it.
I read some of Nora Ephron's fine magazine writing. Read some of the wonderful screenplay.
THEN I got around to watching the movie. And it was disappointing.
How often does it jump in 5-year intervals? Life happens one day at a time -- life is continuous, not discrete or quantized.

July 15, 2012

Why I Am Unmoved By Molestation

No well-known person or personality would perhaps say what I’m going to say here.

It’s merely stating the obvious to say that the world of Kabir Bedi does not exemplify the life of the average Indian.

I am all for live-in relationships.

Some talked about ‘blowing the brains off’ of the perpetrators. It’s worrying to see such over-the-top reactions.

Is it too much to expect that people react calmly and in a measured way? What gave the incident prominence was clearly the fact that it was caught on video. We do not have video footage of those incidents of rape in moving cars and elsewhere. Imagine what the reaction would be if there was.

Much killing of various sorts happened in Punjab in the 1980s and in Kashmir in the 1990s. But none of that was captured on video. Unmarked graves and skeletons are all that still give mute testimony to some of the chilling reality of Kashmir. The lack of video footage from inside the death chambers of Auschwitz and elsewhere do not make the Holocaust any less real.

We live in a society where religious assholery is not only not frowned upon or laughed at – it is tolerated, respected and even encouraged.

I remember all my interactions with child laborers – the street-side tea stall staff, the waiting or dish washing staff at a roadside dhaba, the kid beggars I met on a short train journey who were only too happy to pose for me when I took out my camera.

The WSJ India Real Time blog talked about how Indians are bystanders.

But we stand by when a lot of stuff happen. We are happy to stand by and let kids work as rag pickers and domestic servants and as cheap labor in various commercial establishments.

The NYT India Ink blog talked about online vigilantism. The WSJ blog also dutifully reported the predictable reactions of shock.

I am all for catching the culprits in this particular incident. But there are far bigger charlatans out there. Who will take them on?

July 12, 2012

Our Land - 19th Century People Living in the 21st

When I happened to be hospitalized six months back, I got to experience firsthand all the aspects of privatized healthcare.
  • I opted for one of those premium hospitals to avoid having to wrestle with the long lines and the general all-round madhouse atmosphere of a government hospital in India.
  • I experienced the enormous cost of private healthcare which would surely be un-affordable for a vast majority of Indian families.
  • I experienced the tricks of health insurance -- I had 2 or 3 policies but had to pay the entire cost out of pocket [in advance]. Very clever of profit-minded insurers. An example: I happened to be in the hospital for only one day and that was the deductible for one of the policies I was holding. Clearly I was not sick enough.
But those are specific problems of the healthcare industry. What struck me was a personal experience which I feel I can extend and generalize.

July 11, 2012

Perry Anderson on Mahatma Gandhi from the London Review of Books



All countries have fond images of themselves, and big countries, inevitably, have bigger heads than others. 

The subcontinent as we know it today never formed a single political or cultural unit in premodern times. 

The ‘idea of India’ was a European not a local invention, as the name itself makes clear. 

When the British arrived, it was the sprawling heterogeneity of the area that allowed them, after a slow start, to gain such relatively swift and easy control of it, using one local power or population against the next, in a series of alliances and annexations that ended, more than a century after the Battle of Plassey, with the construction of an empire extending further east and south, if not north-west, than any predecessor. 

The mutineers in Delhi having sought restoration of Mughal power, Muslims were suspect as recruits thereafter, becoming the exception in an army based on particularist identities – no all-Muslim units were ever allowed within it. The key groups on whom the British came to rely most were, as Wood indicated, Sikhs and Gurkhas, both relatively small and marginal communities, joined later by Pathans and Punjabis. Recruits came from among the least literate groups in the countryside, with a preference for poor peasants.

Mustering a peacetime strength of some 200,000-250,000, the Indian army was the largest employer in the Raj, and always absorbed a third to a half of its revenue. 

July 01, 2012

Modi Versus Rahul

Mr. Rahul Gandhi, let's face it, is your usual average, run-of-the-mill spoiled brat, rich kid, etc.

The kind of guy who typically tend to spend their lives splurging their father's money, like, Sidhartha Mallaya.

They usually are to be found in bars everywhere from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore to London, Madrid, New York City, and elsewhere.

When they get unlucky, they crash their Ferraris or BMWs or Lamborghinis -- and make it to the papers.

It's the tragedy of India that we should be debating whether he deserves to be the PM.

The alternative: Narendra Modi.

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