Google Chromebook – better or worse than a laptop ?

I was reading this article today at the NY Times, which offered an amusing introduction to Google Chromebook – the new laptop by Google. The article itself and a lot of comments that followed didn’t seem too impressed. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t, but you will definitely agree that it is different. How so?

1. It does not run Windows BUT is still targeted towards people who think Ubuntu is …ummm, what exactly is it again?

2. The only thing you can do with it is surf the web BUT it still costs as much as a fully functional laptop.

Sam Grobart ends his NY Times post with this cheeky little note, which might very well reflect your state of mind.

The Common Man : So I would want a Chromebook because …?

Sam Grobart : Good question.

Though the comment above was meant as sarcasm, I believe it is a good question. When I bought my first laptop, I wanted every possible port a device could offer. What if I wanted to connect it to [any magical peripheral device here] ? By the end of its life I had used two, the Ethernet port (for internet) and the USB port (for everything else). The same holds true for the SLR I purchased with great enthusiasm. On most occasions I used two buttons, one that turned the power on and the other that took the picture.

So if you believe Chromebook is useless because regular laptops can do everything it does and much more, think again. When Google first launched its search engine I am sure they looked stupid with one button and one text-box, but look where they are today. And though most people think they want more features, what they really want is more simplicity. Apple and Google are organizations that get this and it is reflected in their products beautifully. Microsoft unfortunately is not one of them and anyone who has worked with Visual Studio can vouch for that ;-)

I use the computer to do three things precisely – write code, blog and surf the web (mail, news, networking). Only the first one, writing code, is something I cannot do on the Chromebook and to be honest something I prefer not doing on my laptop either. The rest of my time I spend reading and writing on the web and I think Chromebook is suited perfectly for those tasks.

So although I am not going to throw away my desktop, I can surely see myself buying a Chromebook instead of a laptop the next time. Not having to learn another Control Panel layout1 and not having to view update messages from every software installed on my machine is reason enough !

1 – Why does Microsoft do that? Am I stupid or does Administrative Services like playing hide and seek?

When ‘homemade’ no longer means ‘your’ home

He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness reads a Chinese proverb. So it comes as no surprise that everything today is ‘Made in China’ ! Unfortunately, no one really loves mass produced factory-made goods and advertisers were the first to realize this. Advertisers are always the first to realize everything. Labels like ‘Homemade’, or ‘Hand Painted’ or even ‘It’s a family company’ allow products to move into a ‘premium’ category. But when was the last time your home, your hands or your family made something (other than money)?

The process of creating by and large is always more satisfying than that of consuming. It does not need to be valuable or even praise worthy. It can simply be mediocre. Vincent Van Gogh once wrote in a letter to his brother Theo;

I do not at all despise mediocre in its simple sense. And one certainly does not rise above the mark by despising what is mediocre. In my opinion one must at least begin by having some respect for the mediocre, and know that it already means something, and is only reached with great difficulty.

These are my attempts. First being the cardamom mava cakes, which I must admit were delicious. Here is the recipe. The perfect accompaniment to a mava cake is some tea and a book. I picked up “Marrying Anita: A Quest for Love in the New India”. Now this ones far from being a classic, very far indeed, but a chick lit once in a while never hurt a soul. I even wrote a little review for the book on amazon.

This was a fun book, and I enjoyed reading it. However, you might be disappointed if you were hoping to find a deeper connection with the author and her life. I believe a lot of the negative reviews reflect that, since after a certain point it is difficult to relate to Anita’s experiences, especially the fact that her failed relationships seem to teach her nothing. Everyone has the right to act silly at any age, but one hopes the wiser ones realize their folly and correct themselves once the moment of insanity has passed. And one definitely hopes to be wise by thirty !

But I like her honestly and clarity and she is not afraid to say it like it is. She does have her preferences; she likes the poor boy from the village who works hard and becomes an artist, she does not like the poor boy from the village who works hard and becomes an IT engineer in New Jersey. But at no point is she pretentious which I find quite refreshing. She has preferences, we all do.

Surprisingly, Delhi seems to be light years ahead in terms of dating if compared to Mumbai. I can imagine smoking and drinking to your hearts content in Mumbai, every day, for FUN. But to do that when you’re here to find a husband? Hmm, never heard of that one! I have yet to meet an Indian woman who partied her way to marriage. What a boring world I live in!

So if you want to enjoy the book, don’t take everything it says too personally. It is about her, Anita, and not about the Indian woman you are, you love or hope to meet !

And finally a painting. It’s a concept called paint by numbers, where the supplier will send you a canvas with a drawing sketched out. There are even little numbers indicating the colors one must use for each section. Takes you back to primary school doesn’t it? Good old days, where the only worry you had was sticking inside the boundaries. Who says painting has to be hard work?

So there you have it. Nothing fancy, but truly homemade :)

Customer Service and Vodafone – The sticky ‘ex’ story

For a country that swallowed customer service jobs across the globe, slapped multi storied towers on acres of land building call centers, and made people work through the night, you’d have thought they got one thing right – Customer Service!

“I will give you my personal number” said the lady at the Vodafone store on Mangaldas road, a quite lane in Koregaon Park. “I assure you, you will have no problems with the account again. Ever.” she continued. “Thank you” I said, “but I would like to close my account and terminate my number”. As she reluctantly filled the account closing form, I was happy knowing that I would never ever have to visit this store again or speak to another Vodafone customer care executive, whose only solution to my problems was – “Sorry madam, but you will have to visit the store personally”.

Have you ever been in a relationship where one person wants out and the other is willing to do everything to keep it going? Plead? Beg? And if you still magically got out, the begging turned to harassment and pestering? So much in love was Vodafone with me, that they just couldn’t accept that our relationship was over. Long after I had payed off the last bill and settled all dues they sent me another one! Yes, a bill for a period during which the number did not exist. I had left the relationship. Vodafone had not. They kept their end going, sending me bills and harassing my poor mom whose number I had provided as an ‘alternate’ (extremely bad decision).

I called the Vodafone customer care executive who told me “Sorry madam, but you will have to visit the store personally”. At least they were consistent.

I wrote to Vodafone customer care explaining my situation. They wrote back saying they tried calling me on this closed, non existent number but could not reach me. Poor things, in a corner of their heart they still believed that this number was alive.

One day, my dad received another pestering phone call from Vodafone. The person spoke with a voice of finality – “Are you going to pay the bill or not?’ My dad thought for a moment and decided he might as well give the 350 bucks and shut the matter. So, he told her he would do so, but she must give a clear statement saying that the matter was now closed. She thought for a while and then said: “Okay. Then will you pay 700?!”

We all know that the customer care around cellular services is a joke in India, but Vodafone seems to have taken this analogy quite literally!