online-life

Experiment :: 30 days of my “Social absence”

It may sound crazy or silly, but yes it happened to me.

I was “connected” too much and it started suffocating me with overwhelming flow of incoming messages.

In the age of facebook, whatsapp, hipchat, snapchat, slack, linkedin and google+, its easy to grow your online circles , start liking groups of your interest, subscribe to the endless RSS feeds of choice and bury yourself with tons of data.  I never thought social networking can be so suffocating.  And you know what? I am not a “power user” of these networks. Just a normal guy with usual circles and casual interactions.. And if I experienced such a flood of data, I can image what happens to people with thousands of friends and hundreds of groups.. My phone was vibrating almost all the time 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So I thought I should take a break.

I deleted all my social network accounts and went into online-oblivion.. for 30 days.

Untitled
And not surprisingly, not many noticed my absence.  As I said, I am not a power user. Few might have frowned at seeing me go, but you know people dropping out accidentally is so common so they just ignored.  One friend has gone to an extent to drag me into one group so badly that he added another ‘balu’ in his contacts ( I don’t blame him, no one remembers phone numbers any more).

Thats all. Nothing much. That PROVED one thing very clearly.

My absence doesn’t really matter much.

All that constant flow of incoming messages that gave me an immense sense of belonging, all the phone vibrations that demanded my attention and gave me a false feeling of importance, all that hype around an illusory possessiveness that cared so much to notify me of so many happenings… all that everything washed off… in 30 days.

Now, I came back and activated all my accounts silently. I now know the core circles where I actually belong. I will see how many people will actually read this and care to add me back to the groups because my number is now active.  Lets just wait and see :):p

And hey, what happened in these 30 days? what did I do productively in the absence of a constant stream of connectivity? Thats suspense for now .. and thats the concept of my next post 🙂

Thanks for reading. I encourage you to do the same experiment and realize your true connections and also use that time to realize and prove your true potential, because you won’t have as many distractions.

Happy experimenting.

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Categories: experiments, fun, life, me, online-life, philosophy, secret, society, suggestions, urban, world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

sorry Google! 3 features that make Yahoo! Mail the best

I take extreme care to evaluate neutrally and am surprised that I didn’t write this till today.  Here are the reasons that make yahoo mail the best in the industry, sorry Google, sorry Microsoft.

i) disposable mail ids:

Do you know Yahoo! gives you 500 disposable mail ids, with all incoming mail in one Inbox? What does that mean to you? Aha! It means no spam. Let me explain.

Its NOT ABOUT spam filters any more. However good your mail system is, if your email id is compromised, which is unavoidable, YOU GET SPAM.. so you must be getting a lot of unwanted mails by now.

Do you know, once your friend’s email account is compromised, your own email id is compromised too? No spam filter mechanism can stop the wrath then.  That starts pumping in a lot of spam. I know of people who just abandoned their ids only because they couldn’t help themselves out of the spam onslaught.

How good it is to shield your original email id from the rest of this world?  And here is how Yahoo!® solves my problem, of course along with the best in the industry Spam filtering. 

To use the disposable mail ids, I have to choose a root word, say ‘Bob’.  I then create multiple mail ids using this root word..

  1. For important web site registrations, I use ‘bob-register@‘; and if are you are really paranoic, you can even do a bob-tumblr@, bob-gmail@, bob-dmv@ etc..
  2. For non-critical web site registrations, for example, all my wine club associations, I use ‘bob-wine@‘.. Just every other Internet need is a new mail id now.. ‘bob-chess@’, ‘bob-car@’, ‘bob-parenting@’…or even a ‘bob-matrimony@’  or ‘bob-dating@’ 😉 😛
  3. All the mail coming in to all these ids would land in your original Inbox, at a single place., so you don’t even see any difference. The better part, no one else in this world knows your original email Id. 
  4. Now imagine, my wine club’s account is compromised and the ‘bob-wine@’ id is leaked into the open wilderness… I start getting 10’s of spam mails every day..
  5. As soon, as I see tall legs or viag** tablets in my emails ;), I simply delete the ‘bob-wine@’ and create a ‘bob-wine-2@’ for my wine club..
  6. swoosh!! my Inbox is clean now.
  7. The number in the end actually tells me how many times that account is compromised..If I see the ‘bob-wine-2@‘ is also compromised, then I know I have to delete that account for ever and preferably get rid of that club too.

This may sound like a lot of techie stuff or tedious to do or maintain, but its just a breeze doing, takes less than a minute.. and what you get in return is simply invaluable.. a spam free inbox.

Please check this cool feature out in your ‘Settings->Security-> Disposable addresses‘.


Update: The ‘+’ mails feature by google is very similar and unlimited too. But the biggest downside is that your original gmail id is still leaked.


 

ii) All other mail in Yahoo! Mail

Forget the technical name of it, but what this means is that all my Gmail®, all my Outlook® mail, all my AOL® mail, .. gaah! all at one place.. The Yahoo! Mail® Inbox.. How cool is that? You won’t realize the convenience until you start using it. Go ahead! Try it!

You can import many other mail boxes from ‘Settings->Accounts->Add Mailbox

iii) the eco-system that is called Yahoo!

This may sound like another geek rant or a promo, but this is the most important of all. Yahoo!® is not just a mail provider.. Its an eco-system…And its a market leader in many other fields like News, Finance, Sports, Flickr (best-in-industry photo management), Movies, Mobile..yahoo-mail-logo

  • you can use the all new Yahoo! Messenger® straight from your Inbox ( I will write about this stunning tool later at length).. who doesn’t have memories there?
  • you get a myriad of other tools like an online Notepad, Calendar, Contacts management etc..
  • you can integrate your Twitter®, Facebook®, LinkedIn® accounts for a better social experience custom tailored to you by Yahoo!®
  • you get an honestly better ‘News Feed’ all in a separate tab in the Yahoo! Mail®

I can go on and on about the Yahoo!® experience, but I want to leave it all here and let you explore it.  You better be the judge here.

thanks for reading.
/balu

Categories: analysis, design, online-life, suggestions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

OneNote vs EverNote — How Microsoft wins it hands down inspite of gray areas

I am a big fan of Evernote and used it extensively till today. I have more than 100 ‘notes’ in Evernote that keep me going.. Another 10 notes for quick scribbling in SimpleNote. But Microsoft’s OneNote has changed the game completely. I am super impressed with all the features and flexibility in OneNote and I am switching to it this weekend. SimpleNote is good too but its nowhere in the game as they work with only text and they have insurmountable issues with multi-device sync.

Hope my comparison in detail below helps you make the switch too 🙂 and wish the Microsoft works it out in the gray areas 🙂 o yes they are not perfect.
Please feel free to add/comment/counter if you have something to say.

OneNote Evernote
❤ You can type anywhere.. Wow.. Its an unending canvas. Really. 🙄
❤ Whatever you type is a ‘block’ that can be moved anywhere.. Wowow. 🙄
❤ Share the notes with anyone so you can collaborate together. .Free. 🙄 This is a pro feature so you have to shed $$
❤ Sections and Pages give you two dimensional flexibility and two layers of categorization. 🙄 Only ‘notes’ that are of course endless but you can’t further classify/seggregate them.
❤ Adding tags/margins to text is superb with lotta options. ‘To Do’ items are never organized so efficiently with dynamic checkboxes etc. 🙄 Only Tagging available but not superly organized.
❤ IFTTT and many other apps integrated. So when I wake up everyday, I can instantly see my sleep patterns in my notes. Its into GDOC till today, but notes are where I live all the time. 😐 Not many but I see IFTTT too now.
😐 ‘Versioning’ not available‘Versions’ available in web app but not yet in native MAC app ( only SimpleNote does it ) 🙄 ‘Versions’ not available ( only SimpleNote does it )
You can now ’email’ a note  and it appears in the default section. please confirm (Yes! available in Evernote too)
Sync with other devices (Android,Mac,Amazon). O yes. We can. But only Mac.I see it now on Android and Windows too.
🙄 ❤ ‘shortcuts’ to recently visited notes
🙄 No ‘custom tags’, No import feature ❤ Available.
👿 Telugu fonts are completely screwed up. Still figuring out. ❤ Evernote is much better.

thanks for coming here,

/balu

Categories: analysis, design, my, office, online-life, tech | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Resolutions of a facebook addict! (helps you too)

fb-pixelled(in the order of priority lower to higher)
I will not open facebook more than once a day;
I will spend only 10 mins on facebook everyday/anyday but not a jiffy more;
I will go out into open world and then post my own effing status to facebook than just liking / stalking others’ statuses. 
I will open nationalgeographic.com or nasa.gov when I wake up every morning but never the facebook.com.
I will empathetically try to understand the psychological problems of people who invite me every day for playing ‘candy crush’ or ‘farm ville’ but never any outdoor game. 
and finally the most important:

I will watch more videos from TED than the stupid  ‘unbelievable’ or  “everyone-must-watch-this” videos on facebook. 

hope this helps you too but sorry facebook, am a bit scornful,
/balu

Categories: entertainment, fun, online-life, psychology | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 most important reasons for starting your own blog and start writing!

A 200-year old love letter that I once asked my friend-and-love-guru to proof read and to analyze the hand-writing.. Try reading his comments.

A 200-year old love letter that I once asked my friend-and-love-guru to proof read and to analyze the hand-writing.. Try reading his comments.

Writing is a cursed bliss, I say.

My writings are like my memories. To relive a memory, world has so many things to help you, like photos, videos, people, places etc.. But there is no such help for writing. You can’t remember a writing unless you write it.  To actually ‘write’ something, I have to do it immediately when I feel like writing it.. I can’t write the same piece in the same manner if I miss the moment. Its just like missing that key moment of taking a photo.  I don’t have anything to help me continue writing in the same nerve/vigor once i stop it.. That’s why I say its cursed, but yes its bliss… Try writing something and see it in a shape.. you will understand what I am saying.

But Ok! why should you write?

  1. For all the billions of people in this world, there are only few who can ‘write’, whatever crap they write, of course.  But everything written is important. No? Who knows?
  2. Just like your camera gives you pleasure taking the pictures you want, ‘writing’ too gives so much pleasure along with a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment and a possible word of appreciation and perhaps a rare pat-on-the-back… Just like that one pic out of the hundreds you took, which can never be replaced/compared with anything else in this world.
  3. If you look back at an old post, its as much pleasure like looking at an old picture, or may be more. Because there will be words that explain so many emotions you were going through, at that particular point of  time.
  4. It makes you predictable. Trust me, this world likes what is predictable.
  5. It tells the world who you are. It explains what you think of something or anything. It announces your likes, dislikes, passions, pains and what not. It makes you an open book for the world to come in and know you better.  Don’t expect the whole world to read your blog though, but the ‘few’ friends you make when they read it, they bond so tightly and are invaluable in your life.

That’s all the 5 most important reasons I believe should get you started with a blog today.

Don’t you agree with me?  Please feel free to let me know and the ‘comments’ section is all yours 🙂

Thanks for reading,

/balu

Categories: me, online-life, reading, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

flickr vs picasa :: a hard comparison

I waited too long to publish these points just for the sake of cross checking ’em all.. but now I realized it is not possible without actually using the Picasa.  And I won’t be doing that anytime in the near future.. so I just decided to publish the raw table as is and take the help of my friends and other readers to do the corrections wherever necessary.

                                     flickr                    picasa
storage 1TB (yes, 1 terabyte) which means if you take a photo every hour of every day you¹d have enough space for 61.4 years 🙂 1GB total. Anything addl to be rented
Viewing for free accounts, only the latest 200 pics are shown to viewers. You can still upload new ones every month based on monthly limit. Old pics linked in blogs etc continue to appear there you can’t upload anymore once the 1GB limit is reached.
private sharing guest pass – you can view stats on each pass auth code – share by email.. no further stats
image sizes stored/viewed in various sizes automatically one original size optimized for web viewing if needed
license various types of creative commons copyrighted to invidivual
groups lotsa pro circles to share/discuss not any that i know of
social twitter,facebook buttons and various blogs same here
publishers who knows, some magazine can call you for a pic anytime not any that i know of
upload mobile, desktop, email and also some one touch apps same here
downloads visitors can download any of the sizes available only one size
videos only 90 sec duration (2 per month for free accounts). 1gb per video (thats ur free quota though)
people categories different controls for friends,family, public, private only public and private
picture categories a basic photo stream, then ‘sets’ and then ‘collections’ albums
geo features geofence – a privacy control based on geo locations not available
editor 3rd party editors same here
seamless integration not available picasa tool is available
upload type JPEG, PNG, non-animated GIFs. anything else will be converted to JPEG only JPEG (remember this is a lossy format)
HD videos you can upload 1 as a free account, but only pro accounts can play back in HD format no HD
feeds RSS feeds on uploads, comments etc. not any that i know of
community leaps and bounds ahead of the 2nd place with millions of users. i don have numbers but its not the first
automatic face recognition not available available (someone pl confirm)
Search superior. you can search based on content, tags, comments etc available. (pl give your feedback)
Cost pro account costs some ~25$ p.a with unlimited space, upload limits etc ~5$ p.a starting “20GB” (if you cover one ‘marriage’ occassion, thats approximately 5GB on a normal digicam)
Inactivity free accounts are deleted after 90 days of inactivity tied up with G account which is kind of eternal

.
pl let me know if you find any discrepancy or wherever you want the content to be modified. I want to make this the final comparison as I don’t find one this exhaustive anywhere in the web.  Now I believe this helps you making a choice and perhaps you can let me know in the comments section 🙂

t h a n k s ,
< balu />

Categories: fun, online-life, tech | 6 Comments

why/how FireFox beats every other browser

‘I use Chrome for its speed’

‘I am surprised you don’t use Safari.. its so integrated you know’

‘I am used to it and happy with IE.. am only 55 years old and like it’

‘I don’t have a choice but use whatever I feel is suitable for my work/environment.. so using xxxxxx and yyyyy too’

These are only few of the comments we frequently overhear from the people who chose to use a particular web browser. There can be many reasons for that choice or may be none.  The Web Browser market currently has only a few big players like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and some other minor share holders. With every new release by a major vendor, there will be a certain effort to come up with some technical statistics to prove which browser is best and which is not (at that point of time).  There can be differences in the way two such independent efforts calibrate a browser and their units of measurement, where one says X is the best and the other argues against X.  This only adds to the confusion of the user and it is true that he perceives/approves what he ‘blindly’ believes.   Of course, not everyone will have time to personally check it out.

Now, enters the author (its me yar :)). I spend at least 10 or more hours every day in a browser and an equal time in chat & IRC clients.  Because its the way my job is defined.  I am one of those true netizens, half in the least of whose daily life is Internet.  So for me, the technical statistics alone won’t suffice to make a choice.  So I looked around to see what actually is happening in this market. So I observed people why/how they are choosing… and so I have observed why/how they are missing the point 🙂

As I see it, choosing a web browser must always consider the 4 following pillars of thought (in that order):

  • performance
  • user-centricity
  • monetization philosophy
  • add-ons

I don’t talk anything about performance., because there are always an innumerable tests conducted with various industry metrics.  You can easily find them, if you care to. Firefox (latest build) obviously tops the charts, more or less.

User-Centricity is something I find very interesting.  Everyone wants to lure the user and wants him to stick with.  How much more convenient i can make something for you?  How can I make it more appealing to you? et cetera  .. It all revolves around ‘YOU’.. I need not explain this 🙂 and I find the usability/accessibility features in Firefox are only getting better with every release. And I agree, its the same with other browsers too…

Monetization is something that quickly follows.  How to monetize a user’s browsing patterns? What can be done to make more money, because this user is a dumb-ass and blindly makes choices… is what drives certain browsers. Many people don’t know what happens internally when they browse.  Its not just you asking for a web page and the server returning it.  How many clicks you make on a page, where you clicked, what amount of a page you scrolled down, how you are moving in between web sites, what data are you storing thats related to a site, how many web sites you visit, what are they, and what type (adult content, sports, news.. ), how many tabs are you opening, what and where are you searching, typing it in the url bar or in the search bar, then your search patterns… oh! Everything you do in a browser is being tracked by someone somewhere.  And they want to make some money out of it 🙂 Pl check the PS section below to know why I think Chrome lost in the ‘monetization philosophy’. 🙂

And then, the Add-Ons!  what we call the saviors.. From a ‘downloadHelper’, WOT for normal users to the ‘FireBug’, ‘foxyproxy’ likes for the savvy, the super rich repository of Firefox is just unbeatable.  You only have to experience them, to understand the comfort and power that adds on.

So, how would it all make up to choose firefox?

Because as I see it, firefox deals with all these four points very graciously.  And there is absolutely no trade-off between any two of the four points above.  The single most page that I so admire is the ‘mozilla’s mission’ saying ‘We are building a better Internet’. The kind of proposals they come up with for a better future like ‘do-not-track’ or ‘browserID’ etc are only a taste of the philosophy behind an awesome community that truly respects the user.  I can go on writing unique comfort points like url-tagging etc but I don’t want to make this a technical discussion.

I choose firefox because it respects me and my browsing experience.  Every other browser has lost the battle in at least one out of these four points.

t h a n k s ,
< balu />

PS:    I can’t derate the technical prowess of Google or their investments (time, money, research.. ) in trying to make anything simple and efficient… Most of the products are surely cool for all registered users and thats a pretty good business G is doing with this ‘coolness’. So, what do you think are the reasons for Google coming up with a browser? Do they want to track ‘unregistered’ users too? (that would be tons of times more money than ‘registered’ users can ever generate)… Or is it because of the increasing role of a browser as a standalone answer application and they want to build a better Internet around it? aaah! one thing is ‘definitely certain’ that they want to make good money out of it. Chrome is a business for Google where as Firefox is a passion for the community. Chrome tries to grab as much information/behavior of you to ‘serve you better’… Google Search would return superior results if you search for a ‘Chrome Privacy Issues’ too.. but how many of the users would be caring for all this instead of happily generating more money for G? On the other side of the world, Mozilla and Stanford’s Do Not Track submission to the IETF etc are only few of the hints that they are trying to make it rather a truly better and ‘healthy’ Internet. In Mozilla’s own words: ‘Web is a shared public resource to be cared for, not a commodity to be sold’. Even simpler examples:

1. What is the first page that is opened when you install/open a chrome latest? ‘angry birds’? and what with Firefox? so what is the difference?
2. Try visiting http://donottrack.us/ from Chrome and then from Firefox. why? why? why can’t chrome offer this functionality, if a better web is what they wanted? :p
3. I can go on more.. but for now 🙂

I hope you understood why I said Chrome lost in the ‘monetization philosophy’.. pl let me know. 🙂

Categories: online-life, suggestions, tech | Tags: , | 3 Comments

what if a dog can tweet?

I am tired of getting scared by the number of stray dogs here and so started thinking positively for them.  And what more than the social networking theme 🙂 So, here are some of my thoughts.  Never mind if they sound sarcastic or mildly vulgar:

black dog

I liiiiiike all-black-doggies 🙂

tweet-1:

“Aah! These humans are disgusting Beagle!  They pee in basins.. “

tweet-2:

“poor humans Rotty dear! They separate immediately and miss all the fun.. “

tweet-3:

“No no. Don’t bark Tiger! She is our very owner. Just going out for a party and so did some makeup.. “

tweet-4:

“psst!! Every human has a day.. “

tweet-5:

“Not sure how human population is exploding!  They give birth to just one or two at a time 😕 “

tweet-6:

“I really don’t understand what humans would do, like when they really have to wag the tail.. “

haha!  thats all for now. I will keep updating this but please let me know if you smiled at least once.. 🙂

.

Categories: fun, online-life | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Why don’t people blog? or tweet? or fb? or pulse?

No offence! but this is just my observation. Please let me know if I sound naive in saying something.

And also, I ignore for now, all those who don’t have an iota of interest in blogging or other online-life stuff.. I call them type-1 category and will write it out in a separate thread ;;)

And here comes the lame 😉 excuses from all those who are not a type-1 :

spread out please!

How long will you keep it all inside?

I don’t find anything worth writing about, today:

ah!  the lamest of all. You know the ‘wh’ questions right? Who, What, When, How, Where and Why!!!  Like you see — Why is it so embarrassing? How beautiful it is? When did i lose my inquisitiveness? What the.. ?

If you had not come across at least one of these wh questions in a day (or in the last week or a month), you wouldn’t have probably ‘lived’ that day.. sorry!

I don’t suggest or even like if you put every such thing into a blog post or tweet it, but then there should be something that is worth sharing right? look out for yourself…

Why should I tell you what I am thinking of it?

um.. this is the most typical of all reasons and I would love to discuss this further. You need not tell ‘me’ anything about it, but you should tell yourself…at least.. right?

As an individual, you must already be having your own version of everything that is around you.. um, you try to understand something that is given to you in your own ways.. you make your own opinion of everything that you come across.. you know whether you want it or not.. you know whether you like it or not…….. tell me if you don’t do all this.

So, in this process, it turns out to be very interesting if people share their likes and dislikes, it would be fun and mutually beneficial if you can find some like-minded people, its fantastic if you can vent out what you can’t say to your manager face-to-face, or its just pretty cool if you let me know how good you are at something..  More than all, it makes you predictable. Men are not just a body and some appurtenances, but there is this mind thing that keeps signing out all your actions & reactions right? So, I think its good to know what you think of it inside your mind. And its even better if you publish it out to the entire world.. 😀

I don’t know of a good platform to do it out:

oooh!  you suck man! wordpress is out there.. come on 😀

or at least you can go to the blogger right? what? you don’t know how to post in your own language? Did you try the google transliterate, boy?  ah! now what? you didn’t see the new yahoo home page? don’t know what is pulse? eeek!!!

sorry man! I am not interested in all this:

phew! so you are the type-1.. um.. i will fvck you all this type in a separate thread.. pl hang on… :p

Categories: mind, online-life, world | Tags: , | 9 Comments

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