Bureaucrat vs Politicians

In today’s TOI edit page, there is a opinion column written by a Mr. K J Alphons (Steel frame turns flexible) where he says “The fundamental problem with this country is not the evil politician, but precisely the ‘obedient government servant’ ”

He goes on, stating, “Government servants were expected to be the conscience keepers of the nation. They were expected to speak, write, advise & execute without fear or favor”

How is the bureaucrat supposed to to do his duty ‘without fear’ when the politicians have the capability to induce fear? Discharging your duty when you are constantly facing ‘requests’ from the minister heading your department is tough. After all, how many wish to be in the bad books of their boss? Not many want to make their life a living hell & end up bowing to the pressure.

The minister is there for 5 years, the bureaucrat for his entire life. After the ruling govt. is out of power, the minister is gone, while the officer is left holding the bag. “Why did he sign off on it if he had doubts” they ask. Well what option did he have? Who had his back? You?

An uncle (a district magistrate) was asked to rig a local election in favor of the party ruling the state. He refused. He was threatened. He still refused. His reward? Suspended for over a year & investigated for taking bribes. The irony! The people who asked him to do the rigging? Nothing. They were big fish after all.

This is not to justify the wrong doings that happen, but please don’t preach about doing duties without fear when the conditions are clearly not so.

The ground realities are not as simple as you make it out to be.

How Expensive are Apple products?

Constantly being asked about the prices of Apple products & whether it would be cheaper to buy them from the US resulted in this table. I have not considered the entire lineup [eg: Mac Pro], only the most sought after.

US ($) column are the prices as mentioned on the US Apple Online Store. Rupee equivalent is taken with the desi factor of 50, that is: US Dollar x 50 = Rupee equivalent (approx). India (Rs) column gives the prices as mentioned in the Indian Apple Store Online Catalogue. Percent column is the extra amount of the rupee equivalent[ e.g.:55% implies we must pay 55% more of the american price ]

Device

Cost

Difference(Rs) % extra of US price
US($)

Rupee  equivalent (USDx50)

India (Rs)
iPod touch

8Gb

200 10,000 15,500 5500 55%

32Gb

300 15,000 20,000 5000 33%
iPod Nano

8Gb

129 6500 11,000 4500 70%

16Gb

149 7500 13,000 5500 73%
iPod shuffle 2Gb 50 2500 3000 500 20%
iPod Classic 160Gb 249 12500 15000 2500 20%
iPad(wifi)

16Gb

500 25,000 30,000 5000 20%

32 Gb

600 30,000 35,000 5000 16.67%
iPad (3G)

16Gb

630 32,000 37,000 5000 15.5%

32Gb

730 37,000 42,000 5000 13.5%
iPhone
3GS (8Gb, unlocked) 375 19,000 20,000 1000 5.2%
4 (8Gb, unlocked) 550 27,500 N/A
4(16, unlocked) N/A N/A 32,500
MacBook Air
11″(64 Gb) 1000 50,000 57,000 7000 14%
11″ (128 Gb) 1200 60,000 68,000 8000 13.33%
13″ (128 Gb) 1300 65,000 74,000 9000 14%
13″ (256 Gb) 1600 80,000 90,000 10,000 12.5%
MacBook Pro
13″ (2.3ghz) 1200 60,000 70,000 10,000 16.67%
13″ (2.7ghz) 1500 75,000 85,000 10,000 13.33%
15″ (2.0ghz) 1800 90,000 1,05,000 15,000 16.67%
15″ (2.2ghz) 2200 1,10,000 1,25,000 15,000 12%
17″ (2.2ghz) 2500 1,25,000 1,43,000 18,000 14.4%
iMac
21.5″ (2.5ghz) 1200 60,000 65,000 5000 8.33%
21.5″ (2.7ghz) 1500 75,000 80,000 5000 6.67%
27″ (2.7ghz) 1700 85,000 92,000 7000 8.2%
27″ (3.1ghz) 2000 1,00,000 1,08,000 8000 8%
Mac Mini
2.3 ghz 600 30,000 34,000 4000 13.33%
2.5 ghz 800 40,000 45,000 5000 12.5%

Conclusion, there is a consistent markup of 12-15%

Apple products are a tad on the expensive side as it is, paying 12-15% EXTRA is just too much & that too in a price conscious country such as India. Is it any wonder that the market penetration of Apple here is pathetic?

The highlights are the the iPod Nano [70% extra!!! ] & the MacBook Pros [Rs 10,000-18,000 more!!]

Clearly it is better to buy them from the US & get it brought over.

Update:

As my elder brother, Ranjan pointed out, there is a tax that is not added in the price shown on Apple US. I checked & it is around 7%. That closes the gap a bit, but on the higher end products it still ends up hurting!

Thanks for the input bhai 🙂

Siri

Doing it first does not matter, doing it right does. That is what Apple has been doing for sometime now with the iPod, iPhone & iPad. It takes the present accepted way of doing it & strips away the complications to make it instinctive, natural.

And it has done it again with Siri. Voice control has gone from being syntax operated conundrum to a conversation with another human. MG Siegler says it best:

In the bigger picture, this is something that Apple seems to understand time and time again that their rivals do not. Technology is an ever-important part of everyones’ lives, but the only way to make it truly accessible to the vast majority of users is to humanize it. That’s Siri. Google, Microsoft, etc — they all fail miserably at doing this.

It is a first that Apple has released something in Beta.Unlike Google, Apple isn’t fond of shipping beta tagged products & it is not going to keep it for long [remember Gmail, was in ‘beta’ for 5 years]. But Siri needs user interaction to make it better. And it will only get better.

It is interesting to see that Apple predicted exactly this, 25 years ago in this video

And today we have it.

That perfect Twitter app…

                  

Having become addicted to twitter, the next obvious step was to look for the best twitter app. After trying over 10-15 of them [Echofon/twitterrific/Icebird/Osfoora/Tweetings/tweetdeck/hootsuite etc etc….Yes that many], I am back to twitter for iPhone, official app.

It is almost perfect, but they have this habit of randomly removing some features & that makes you want to smack them. For example, you could not see the location in any geotagged tweets. Now that they have brought this back, they removed the ability to search the timeline. Yep, it’s dick moves like this [oh and that reminds me, the Dick bar!] which makes me want to buy Tapbot/Tweetlogix. But Tapbot doesn’t to swipe to reveal, costs $3/Tweetlogix doesn’t do push notifications.

And so, the search for the perfect twitter app continues. Here is what my dream twitter app would have:

  • Clean compose screen with twitter handle autocomplete & hashtags. Option to insert #nowplaying with the data from the music app
  • Push Notifications
  • Ability to search your timeline
  • “Swipe to reveal” [run your finger across a tweet to bring up options like reply/retweet/fav etc]. Most apps use tap & hold to show. Swiping is quicker, and it feels cooler. The worst thing you can do is “One tap does W, two taps does X, three taps does Y, tap and hold does Z” etc. How am I supposed to remember all this?
  • Conversation view. And load entire conversation, not just upto the tweet from where I entered the conversation view [Good job here, twitter for iPhone]
  • Ability to mute users or hashtags. For when someone you follow is being a nuisance/ ridiculous hashtag games take over your timeline.
  • Pull to refresh. Also automatic timed refreshes [time user customizable]
  • Read a link later [via Read It Later or Instapaper]
  • Access to lists should be quick & easy
  • A dark theme & a light theme. Dark theme is easy on the eyes when you are on twitter after turning out the lights.
  • If I have entered only one twitter account, don’t open the “select account to send tweet from” pane from the compose screen.
  • Inline picture preview when you open tweet. And location. Tapping on the picture/geotag opens it full screen.
  • Ability to adjust font size.
  • Auto rotate options:Always, In compose screen only, Never.
  • A fast in app browser. Dont want to be kicked out of the app every-time I click on a link.
  • Option to toggle badge count of new tweets since last refresh or just a discreet way of knowing that new tweets have arrived  vs[those red badges drive me insane sometimes]
If any developers read this & develop an app, you have a buyer here!

iCloud is Live.

iCloud is up & running.

Like everything Apple, the interface is clean & uncluttered. You have the login page where you enter your Apple ID, or create one.

Once you are in, everything is just ready to go.

I enabled my iCloud through the iPhone [you can set it up from the iPhone or your computer] & a few moments later all my contacts & calendars were synced automatically to iCloud webpage, no exporting or importing was required. [Note: Only the calendars I had created on my Mac were synced, Google Calendars were not]

Contacts is similar to the Address Book app on OS X Lion & so is the Calendar. Find my iPhone works as before:Locate, Ping, Display Message, Play sound, Remote Lock & Remote Wipe. There is a slider switch for “email when found”. On the iPhone, find my iPhone is now in Settings->iCloud.

Note:It is possible to have different ID’s for App Store & iCloud. This is probably done because most users will have multiple Apple ID’s/MobileMe Logins etc. This is an extensive guide on how to manage multiple accounts you may have with Apple & how to set up iCloud with them.

     

For pictures you have Photostream. On OS X, iCloud will sync your iPhone pictures with iPhoto and Aperture [enabled after OS X 10.7.2 update & updating iPhoto/Aperture]. On Windows it will sync to your “Pictures” folder under “User” [you will need to download an iCloud update for windows]. You do not have a photo stream on the iCloud webpage.

Apple is providing 5GB of free data storage: Mail, Contacts, Documents & your iPhone backup to iCloud [if you enable it] will count towards this 5GB.

Music, Apps, Photos in photostream, iTunes purchases [books, music, TV Shows, apps, movies] will NOT add to this 5GB. So for most users 5GB should be more than enough. Of course, if you need more space you can buy it right from your iOS device [10GB will cost $20 per year; 20GB will cost $40 per year; and 50GB will cost $100 per year.]

Asus photocopies Apple

You’d be thinking this is the MacBook Air:

Actually, this is.

But don’t be too hard on yourself, it is easy to mix up the two: The same wedge shape, the same material, the same ports, located similarly.

I wonder how much it cost Asus to get the  logo removed from the lid…

iPhone 4S Preliminary Benchmarks

Amazing results on benchmarking the iPhone 4S. Just goes to show its not just the hardware that makes a killer device, you need a great software backing it up. The iOS 5 coupled with the A5 processor is killing the competition. iPhone 4S underclocked at 800 Mhz, but still manages to beat 1Ghz dual core processors installed in the Android tablets! iPhone 4 has seen significant improvements on iOS 5 too.

The under clocking makes helps in the power management as well as keeping the device cool. The heavy legwork is done by the software and it doesn’t disappoint. No wonder Apple was actually able to improve the battery life, albeit only by 1 hour, even though the performance is off the charts.

 

The iPad also uses the same A5 chip as the iPhone 4S, but not underclocked. Makes sense, given it larger battery & form factor.

 

For more details, visit AnandTech

Why Steve Jobs is a Big Deal for me.

A lot has been written on Steve Jobs passing, there has been adulation & criticism. And then there are people who do not understand why his death is being made into such a big deal.

You are absolutely right in saying he was a businessman running a company & making a profit out of it. Yes, we helped him become a billionaire by buying what he was selling. Yes, he sells products not a lifestyle. And he was only doing what a CEO must do for his company.

Nothing you say is factually wrong.

But I do not adore the man just because I have an iPhone [and an iPod and a MacBook]. I feel what I feel because of what he achieved in his short life [and these ‘products’ are his achievements too]. He is a role model. I hope for your sake you too have a role model. I was lucky to have one who I could see in action, not just hear about & wonder what he was like. It was a story of man who through his grit & determination built Apple, twice, along with another behemoth, Pixar.  And I, like so many others want to know, to understand & if possible try to follow in his principles. Granted I became interested in him with the purchase of my first Apple product, but did you know of Abdul Kalam [another role model by the way] before he was the President of India? Yes it could have been just another gadget, just like Mr.Kalam was just another president. But something inside me was hooked, I wanted to know more. So I began looking him up, read books about him, the history, opinion columns from the early years, watched his interviews, & I felt a little closer, understood a bit more. And this is true for both Steve Jobs & Abdul Kalam.

Steve’s products are a tool. But if a tool can help you do any work more efficiently & be a pleasure to use, you use it all the more. That is what his products did for me and that is why I am saddened by the loss. It may not have been the same for you, & you do not feel anything which is perfectly fine. But do not belittle him or his memory.

So while you go on wondering what the big deal is & keep using the machine he created [along with Steve Woz], I will go ahead and mourn the loss of a great man.

Ding in the Universe, Hole in our hearts 

Like everyday, I woke up & opened the Twitter app on my iPhone. The first tweet that loaded was like a punch to the gut: “R.I.P Steve Jobs”

Scrolling hastily down the timeline, I hoped for a hoax but it wasn’t to be. Suddenly I needed to throw up. Suddenly I needed air. Suddenly there were tears. It was to be just another day, and then it wasn’t.

Twitter was my support system: Little by little people began recounting their own Steve Jobs stories. Some wrote beautiful prose, some wrote of small experiences that carried on his legacy & some created art. Soon Apple Stores all over the world became centers for people to pay their tributes. I asked a friend who was heading over to the Apple HQ in Cupertino to put a flower for me…

You may wonder how I can have such emotion for a person I have never met, but that is the kind of man Steve Jobs was. His persona, his enthusiasm was imbibed through his words, through his keynotes. A storyteller, masterful presenter [the 2007 iPhone launch keynote is nothing short of a concert] and visionary. He gave life to the beige boxes of the 80’s….Steve made technology beautiful, hold the iPhone 4, or the MacBook Air in your hand & tell me you don’t find it so.  A fanatic for detail, everything had to be perfect, anything less just wouldn’t do. It was the little things that endeared him to me. And love at first sight.

I remember my first experience with the iPhone. My brother was coming home from the US so I asked him to get an iPhone for me. I promised myself to be objective in its evaluation and in my reaction to it. All that went straight to hell when my brother handed me the box. Simple, beautiful. I took out the phone and plugged it in. The screen lit up softly with an image of the earth and a gently luminous box at the bottom saying “Slide to unlock”. It was just so simple and beautiful. Nothing about it was ostentatious. It had the quiet assurance of a friend helping you out with a tough exam. Nothing on the box or the phone screamed a sense of over-achievement. Just a classy, polished, been there-done that-trust me look.

daddysan

His last public appearance was in June 2011 WWDC Keynote. He looked frail, but the eyes still had the spark, the zeal. He was still the master of his craft, but it could be seen he was getting ready to transfer the reigns: Tim Cook, Phil Schiller & Scott Forstall did most of the heavy lifting. He was taking the training wheels off and sure enough, a few months later he resigned:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

On 4th October 2011 Apple announced the new iPhone. After the event people commented how subdued Tim Cook was & compared him to Steve. Little did anybody know how hard it must have been for him to get through the presentation knowing that his friend & mentor was nearing the end…

That picture pretty much says it all. During the “Let’s Talk iPhone” event on Tuesday, I kept noticing that seat. “Reserved.” It was weird that the camera kept panning to that shot of the front row in Town Hall.

The room was packed tight with journalists, but there was that one seat left empty in the front row next to all of the other Apple executives. Steve’s seat.

cultofmac

You may not think much of him, but know this: The Personal Computer you are reading this on, was his invention. The phone you wish to buy soon, even though it may not be an iPhone, has taken inspiration from his vision. The tablet industry exists because of him. No single man can take credit for influencing & changing the tech landscape for an entire decade except Steve. Is it any wonder that Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mark ZuckerbergSergey Brin, Larry Page have come to pay tributes?

Steven Paul Jobs. A Titan.

 Forever

How the love affair between Apple & Me started

Most people think I became a fan of Apple after getting the MacBook & the release of the iPhone. Well it began way before that, when I saw the first Apple product: the iPod nano. And it was love at first sight. The rest as they say is history.

Here is the blog post from June 2006. [I had no concept of unboxing of gadgets then, but it was all so beautiful that I HAD to document it.]

Warning: This was one of the first posts ever on the internet. I had just discovered blogging. The tone & language is that of a n00b 🙂

Hey, guys Mamu has brought an iPod Nano [black] for dad.

Earlier I thought that I wouldn’t need it as I already have a music player in my Nokia 7710. But when I saw it I was bowled over.

Its black, razor thin, has a colour display, & I’m in love with it’s swivel wheel. It has only 2 GB memory, but it’s good enough. [specs.-3.5X1.5X.27 inches, any smaller it would be too awkward to use]

Man now I dearly wished that I had not told Mamu that I did not want it. It’s colour, & slimness is extremely appealing [I didn’t know that nano was that slim, thought that iPods were quite thick & a bit bulky].

The sound quality is fantabulous with an ace equalizer, sorting in form of playlists, albums, artists, genres, composers. Yaar, I hope dad gives it to me [he already has an MP3 player 512 MB].

Twitter on Dravid

Some quirky & humorous tweets on Rahul Dravid’s ODI retirement

@Crownish : Someone give Dravid a honorary Civil Engg degree.

@sidvee : Afridi just texted Dravid: “First retirement is always great fun, bhai. But the seventeeth retirement is always the best.”

@jokes_fun: Now that Dravid is retiring, maybe they’ll name a road after him in Bangalore & then we’ll have our own “Wall Street” 😛

@TheTweetThumb : Rahul Dravid : Rahul d Divar #Wall #Anagram

#ForDravid

I am not one of those people who can rattle off cricket stats at the drop of a hat. I don’t watch every match, own an Indian jersey or sit motionless fearing a dismissal if I move a single inch. I myself would not call me a ‘fan’. Infact I would much rather watch one of the movies/ TV shows that I have recently downloaded instead of a match. You then maybe wondering what I am doing writing this post.

The fact that I am writing this after saying “I am not a cricket fan” should tell you about the aura of this man.

I admire him because through his single-mindedness he has achieved greatness. And he has not shirked away from the labour that was required. He is the only cricketer whose biography I have read & it tells the story of a simple person whose strength was demand for perfection. He is the gentlemen in the gentlemen’s game

“Some people are born great, some people have greatness thrust upon them” Rahul Dravid has demanded his greatness.

Living under the shadows of a man the nation considers God, he made his mark with the flick of his wrists. The true team man, changing, adapting as the situation demanded. He bore the brunt of the opposition, shielding the struggling “stars” on a nasty pitch & he bore the brunt of the spectators when there was a dot ball with the same stoic face. He gets dropped for youngsters when the team is riding the winning wave because he is too old, too slow. The same team wants him back when the youngsters fail, the hard hitters injured. Does he complain? Never.

When he does fail, because he is after all a man, he doesn’t make excuses. He does the only thing he knows: gets back to the grind. A sword, now blunt after so many battles is heated, hammered, quenched & sharpened back into shape.

He has done it all:Batting, fielding, captaincy, wicketkeeping. And has done them brilliantly.

There are lots of Rahuls but only one Dravid.

He has batted up & down the order, sometimes opening, many times consolidating & also finishing. What was to be a stopgap solution of a temporary wicketkeeper became permanent, because it allowed flexibility in the lineup. Still he played masterful knocks after those long squatting sessions behind the wickets. He was the captain during one of the toughest times. Even with all the mudslinging he came out with his head held high.

Others awe the crowd with their aerial shots, smashing aggressive boundaries. Flashy shots are not his forté, silken touch is. And the statistics tell you that. You could breathe easy knowing he was still there….as long as he held on there was hope. And boy can he hold on! So many indian wins have been sculpted with him as the bedrock.

A typical day in the life of Rahul Dravid:A big target, openers back in the pavilion, morale low, outlook bleak. he walks in, takes his stance & gets going. Swingers, bouncers, yorkers, spinners nothing fazes him. Dripping sweat, fighting cramps [oh those cramps!], losing partners he gets us home. Stuff of legend.

Today he will wear the Indian Blue for the last time. For us it will be emotional watching him play his last ODI, but like always he will be in his zen. Calm eyes looking dead ahead, bat tapping away, unmindful of the sweat dripping off his nose & the chaos around him. The Gladiator.

[images from espncricinfo]


Steve’s Genesis

Lovely:

 

 

On the first day He created Apple. And it was good.

On the second day He created Mac. And it was good.

On the third day He created Mac OS X. And it was good.

On the forth day He created iPod. And it was good.

On the fifth day He created iPhone. And it was good.

On the sixth day He created iPad. And it was good.

On the seventh day He rested…

 

[Via:Richard Bukovansky ]

Because (via Infrequent Scribbles.)

Somethings don’t need to be said.

“I love you.” She said what she always did, before she hung up. Today, he paused, and cast his mind back to the last time he asked her the question that was now poised on the tip of his tongue. “Why?” He thought about it. How, there was nothing to suggest he was anything but ordinary. There never had been. He had been the shy, reticent, socially awkward person for as long as he could remember. He was never hugely popular. He had an average educat … Read More

via Infrequent Scribbles.

Truly “Magical”

A humorous take on the upcoming release of iOS. Very well acted out. Cannot imagine the amount of practice & patience this must have taken to put together!

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