Sunday, April 19, 2015

How to Read a Book 101

Posted by at 6:58 PM
How to read a book? Pretty simple. All you require is some free time, ability to stay awake for longer periods and of course, hehe, a book.

So here's a short but effective tutorial of reading a book. I call it: RB-101.

Visit a nice little bookstore. Pick a book. Any book you want. If you're one of those who are affected by the thickness of a book, then pick a thinner one. Of course you're one of those who are scared the shit out by a thick book so surely pick a thin one ( 100 -200 pages maybe) .


Now once you're done picking a book, check it out. Look at it properly. Check how the cover looks like, how it feels, how the binding is ( you wouldn't want to spend your hard-earned money on a book whose pages are coming off! ) . You may lick a little of the  binder gum , just to be sure ( yeah you dendrite-abusers lookityou getting all worked up ) .

After this , make sure you check the summary. So you turn the book around and at its back you will be able to read the blurb. Mind you , the phrases of praises should be avoided, unless you secretly believe that like a finalist crossing over to the takeshi's castle at the last round of takeshi's castle, one day you'll be able to come across that rare occurence of a negative remark made for the book by someone prominent.

If the summary impresses you, you begin the next step. You start judging the author. You can do it in many ways. Usually people judge the author by checking the price of the book, whether the book cover is nicely designed, how the cover feels , whether it's nice to rub one's cheeks on it or not. If the book is priced high, it surely is a big deal. You wouldn't be needing a big deal for this tutorial , so just pick a love story by a debutante Indian author.

Now some Indian love story authors come cheap. I mean their books come cheap , but their stories are cheaper. That's a separate topic of discussion altogether but what I mean is , you must make sure that you find the book readable. You should check the typeset of the book, if the fonts are too small, it's unreadable ( like as if I am reading a novel or a dictionery heh! ). If the pages are bad and the text is overlapping from other pages to the current one, it's a certainly avoidable book. Lastly, you must make sure the book weighs light. If it weighs much, it's, again, a cheap buy.

Good then, up until now you have picked up a book, judged the crap out of everything about the book ( instead of asking your friends or looking the title up on Goodreads as to whether it's a good book or not )  , and you're ready to pay about the book like a sleazy bastard who just wants to flaunt his membership card in front of everyone and portray himself as a serious reader while actually he is buying an Indian chic-flick. *cough* Anyway, you buy the book and then have a broad smile pasted on your face because a hot chick in a hotter pair of pants just came by to pay for her picks. Fuck the book , right? Yeah I figured.

Finally , comes the most important part. Reading.the.book. As you visualize the drums roll in your head, when you are opening the book up, I suggest you to smell the book. You make an update on Facebook that you're 'reading xyz' so that everyone knows that you are an easy target for spoilers ( some of your friends will make comments like 'yeah the girl dies at the end' but don't believe them unless you want to... he he he) . You insert the bookmark just so that you are set with all the finishing touches.

You are determined. You know you will finish the book. You know you will update your yearly read-count to 1 this time for sure. To ensure a double-insulation , you pick your phone up in order to put the phone on flight mode. You are about to do that when you see some interesting Whatsapp notifications where people are talking about a crazy good tv series/movie that you have in your hard disk for long but never got a chance to watch....

......until this very moment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

#NetNeutrality - Short and Simply Put

Posted by at 10:50 PM
A lot of buzz being generated about #NetNeutrality wherever I go, online or offline. So much so that I have copied the term 'NetNeutrality' and have kept it pasted on my Sticky Notes. But it's good that people are getting involved, aware and doing their bit to save the internet in this country.

For those who don't know, and I am pretty sure there are many who would want to know about it in a very short read, with as little stats as possible and as layman in terms as possible, I am putting down what it is and my thoughts on 'NetNeutrality' below. I am sure that after reading this you'll at least be able to take part in those 'intellectual' discussions that are happening around you these days. So here it goes.

Net Neutrality- Google says that it is
  1. the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.

So let me break that definition down. 

'It's a principle' - of course you didn't find it difficult to understand that it's a principle.

'Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source' ISPs , or in our case , prevailingly , TSPs ( Telecom Service Providers)  should let a user access all contents and applications regardless of what the source is- freedom of choice , in bold. 

'and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites'  that means if Whatsapp is allowed as a legal application, then Viber too will be allowed, and it won't be blocked from usage. 

So how does it affect us, the end user? Quite simply put, in such a devastatingly close way that we don't even realize until and unless they destroy this principle which is currently in place , called as - 'Net Neutrality' . 

As a user, today you pay for the browsing and downloading anything you want. If #NetNeutrality goes away ( because our evil TSPs are trying to convince TRAI to bring some new regulations that will destroy this freedom of choice so that they can make more money)  , then your TSPs will choose for you- for FB/Twitter , you have to pay separately, for Whatsapp , you have to pay separately, for Google/Bing  , you have to pay separately and so on - so basically you as a user end up paying  a hell lot more than the usual. 

Now you might say - so what? Today I am paying 1000 bucks for everything, tomorrow I will have to pay 1500 , big deal!  For that I say, that's not entirely how straight it is.  

Firstly, spending 50% more than currently what you pay is a outrageously huge amount 

Secondly, not everyone can afford that kind of a jump of costs for the internet

Thirdly, if you have let's say 1GB of data left today you can use it for all kinds of surfing , but 
tomorrow if the TSPs succeed in what they want, then no matter how much you have if you don't have data for say using Whatsapp, you won't be able to use Whatsapp, simply put.

And mind you, this is also applicable for people who are having broadband connections at home and not just the ones who pay for the data packs ( yes some had queries on this too) . 

As a user, I think the destruction of the #NetNeutrality is the single most uncool and worst thing to happen to humankind. 

Now let's see how someone who makes business using the internet will suffer from this. 

Today if I launch a website which goes on to become the next big thing on the internet, what all would I need? A prototype that would have a front end web page, a back end database and a small IT infrastructure to keep the website up and running 24x7 with good performance. That's all. I don't have to worry about the internet. I just have to worry about seeing my website up and running 24x7 that's it.  
Tomorrow if the TSPs have their way , then I would have to pay a lot to the TSPs to make sure that the users who will visit my site are able to visit my website , to browse it, to surf through . But will I be able to pay such large sum of money to the TSPs to ensure this? That too at such an early stage of my product to sustain? I guess over 90% of startups will die because of this. 

To sum up, #NetNeutrality is important. It is important because we cannot really imagine a life without internet, or say, a life with biased, slow internet. Remember how it feels when you have to use a dongle at a remote location? How you want to throw your laptop away and bang your fists on the keyboard just because the video online was buffering a lot? Keep that frustration. Channelise it in this direction- against the greedy TSPs , in favor of the internet as it is today. Do your bit- the smallest of it will count.  Educate people around you about this lingering epidemic. Send that mail using www.savetheinternet.in . Downvote the FK and Airtel apps on playstore. Tweet, retweet , do everything you can to make sure #NetNeutrality stays. 

And do remember to get everything you want to do before 24th April . That's the date till when TRAI and our Govt. will listen to us. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mr Smith

Posted by at 6:09 PM
The flight landed amidst a foggy runway. Everybody peered out, waiting to leave the plane. Mr Smith checked his watch. 10 minutes early. 'Great, I can catch some lunch on the way.' he thought.

In the next few minutes, the passengers started getting off. Mr Smith decided to wait. He hated commotion of any kind. He was a man for the skies. He traveled almost 9 months in a year , and his fly miles became something worth bragging about. Slowly he moved as the last passenger left the flight , and he found himself waiting for a cab in few minutes.

A driver was standing with the name 'Mr Smith'  near the exit gate. It was a particularly busy day as large arrays of people waiting with placards could be seen. Mr Smith sighed and smiled , redirected himself towards the driver, and in no time they were outbound for their destination in this plush Mercedes of choice.

He reminded the driver to stop by the famous Maharaja Chat stall before they proceeded towards his hotel. The driver looked at him, slightly surprised,but nodded. He must be wondering, what would this man in his seemingly expensive outfit would do in a commoner's place like the chat stall. Mr Smith sensed this, and he smiled an amusing smile.

They reached the chat stall. Mr Smith got down, his eyes gleaming like that of a college goer. "Memories". he said to himself. He spent about 5-10 minutes, didn't eat anything but just scaled the area, before he came back inside the car, asking the driver to drive.

Once on the road, Mr Smith saw a seemingly ordinary flowershop to right, a little bit rusted but full of rose display outside. "Driver! Please stop near that flowershop." he yelled almost excitedly, for once forgetting that he was to maintain a level of composure like a top corporate executive. The driver stopped the Merc , and Mr Smith got down , ran towards the flowershop , and once again, he just roamed about without buying anything. He came back and soon they were on their way on the road.

The same way they made multiple stops, every time at a trivial place like a bookstore, a parlor , a laundry shop et al. Mr Smith was beaming , but he also sensed the driver was getting irritated with every passing minute. Finally they came by a field. Before the driver could revolt on a possibility of another detour, Mr Smith said "Let me drive."

The driver looked surprised. Here he was driving for a CEO of one of the top IT firms of the world, and that same man was offering to drive for him. Before he could react, Mr Smith came by the driver's seat, and nudged him to move. He obeyed. And they drove off.

Soon they were running through, making tracks on the huge barren land, seemingly used to play football and cricket by local boys. The sun was going behind the clouds, slowly , and soon it seemed like it would rain. Mr Smith was driving as if he got behind the wheel after a really long time, as if he seemed to crave this joy.  He made a great final drag and got the car to a halt.

The driver was looking at him with mixed emotions. Mr Smith said, 'You know, I have been craving to drive like this for months now. I have never felt so great!' he chuckled like a kid. 'I was traveling this morning when I saw a co-passenger in my flight struggle with writing using his pen. Though when he was typing on his computer, his hand did not shake a bit.' he said. The driver seemed interested. Mr Smith realized this and continued. 'I asked him if he needed any help, but the man refused, smiling helplessly. I couldn't understand at first, but then I looked closely- he was struggling to hold the pen, as if, as if he never used it before in his life. It was the same look he had that a child has when he tries to tie a tie, or iron his shirt properly.' he paused.
'You see, that's when I had an epiphany. I can always grow upwards, learn new , sophisticated style of living, but I can never forgive myself if I forget what I had learnt in my life before. It was not just about how to use a pen, my friend was struggling to remember , I am sure, when was the last time he carried himself like another regular person. You can call me thinking too much into this, but then, a slightest of observation is required to realize what you are missing in life, sometimes.' he concluded.

The driver smiled. He had never seen a man of Mr Smith's stature to speak with him so jovially. He blurted out 'are you hungry , Sir?'
Mr Smith was quick to respond ' Oh I am famished!'
The driver 'Well then let me take you to this great dhaba that I know of! They serve amazing Hyderabadi Biriyani!'
Mr Smith 'Wow I would love to!'
'But I have one condition'
'Well what's that?'
'You will have to drive!'
And that's when Mr Smith realized how it felt to be the regular guy again. He had found a friend in his driver. 
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