Why Firefox must survive

I remember when pen drives were a technological luxury and burning CD-ROMs was the only way to transfer large files from one computer to other. It’s amusing when I think how I had a case of 100 blank CDs I used to fill with content from neighbors and friends. Along with Pen drives, internet too wasn’t considered a basic right like we do today. Dial-ups that made you wait forever once you decided to load Yahoo! dot com were the norm. That was the time I discovered Firefox. I had Fifa 2002, Road Rash and Motocross Madness 2’s demo on that disc I copied from a friend’s computer.

It will sound crazy but the fact that I could access internet without clicking on that blue Internet Explorer icon felt revolutionary. That fox-engulfing-the-globe logo was a geek’s cool factor at that time. Coming from IE 5, tabbed browsing felt unreal. In my mind I was mumbling “Why didn’t they think of it before?”. Enough with my nostalgia. Like, Winamp Player, Space Cadet Pinball, Groveshark & Napster, Firefox will probably be part of Internet folklore in future.

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Is it abnormal to have have feelings for software? I need to see a shrink I guess

Imagine there was no Firefox. Just Internet Explorer stagnantly holding the world browser market share. The web, running like Microsoft would want it to run. We have been blessed to have various browsers and browsing engines competing to render the best of web for us today. As economics teaches us, competition is good. In a quest to one-up each other in the browser-sphere, browser makers are constantly trying to add features, streamlining performance and adding support for upcoming standards.

Emergence of Chrome and Safari with the Webkit engine on the scene has been one of the most important events in web-browser history. Thanks to Apple forcing Chromium on every browser on iOS and Google’s gigantic influence on the web, within a decade everything we know as a web browser is adopting Webkit. The web is heading for a monopoly. And once again economics teaches us that monopolies are bad, real bad. It totally looks like a build-up to a stagnant web to a skeptical like me.

Few years back, Opera, my favorite browser at that time, adopted Blink, a fork of Webkit. This meant the poweruser’s favourite browser was dead, along with the Presto Engine. Opera’s decision can be justified in terms of markets and business. With a market share of less than 2% it wasn’t an insane decision in any sense. Surely, that workforce can be deployed to some other worthy venture for Opera. But in the end, for the company that invented tabbed browsing, speed dials, private tabs, mail and IRC integration, gestures etc and was at the helm of web innovation for more than 20 years, it felt like a death to me. Consider this paragraph as a eulogy.

Opera 12
Opera 12. The last version when Opera was the browser we loved.

What concerns me is the fact that Firefox’s gecko is the last major open source rendering engine left apart from Webkit. Imagine a world without firefox, or maybe with 2% usage share. Would the developers care to make their sites compatible for all the engines?  or will they simply make sure the site runs of Webkit based browsers, because that’s what everyone will be using.

Webkit being everywhere will surely bring consistency, lesser headaches for developers and uniform implementation of web standards. But will a lone horse care to run faster if it knew it’s the only one in the race? Innovation is the best by-product of competition and here, typing this on Firefox I met 12 years back I can only hope our kids don’t wake up to a stagnant web.

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Customer Care Evaluation of Indian Telecom companies…

The importance of  ‘customer care’ in the Indian Industries has been on the rise ( or I should say decline) lately.

I have been calling up customer care offices of various companies (not just telecom) of India since 2004 (as far as I can remember), being the ‘chhotu’ and the most tech savvy guy in the family, this responsibility was always loaded on my shoulders.

I have dealt with the IVRs slow and non-bypassable instuctions, I have waited for 10-15 minutes at times for getting a ‘chance’ to connect with the ever-so-busy ‘customer service executive’, I have seen it all I guess, or I should say I presume…

Companies

Airtel – 3/5 airtel-new-logo

The Biggest telecom operator in, the telecom giant, famous for its coverage and slightly higher pricing.

I have had an ok-ok experience with them, whole of my family uses Airtel (3 memebrs to be precise) except me, I have stuck on to aircel, as I can’t imagine living with a limited mobile data plan (like most companies provide).

The customer service has been rude, sleepy and arrogant, maybe I am exaggerating, but when you are ought to be polite, a minor incident of rudeness seems huge. The thing is, their network is good, and the quality of service is also fine which might compensate for their customer service, these observations are a generalized result of calling them up some years back, NOW, they seem to have corrected their behavior somewhat, but, I would admit, they sound arrogant. Maybe, the companies dominance has gone into their head too.

Aircel3.5 2.5/5

Remains my preferred network, thAircel1ough, not out of choice but under my need to have a good (unlimited) data pack.

The coverage is pathetic, If you travel a lot, this can mean nightmare, network blows away in the middle of a metropolitan city mysteriously.

The only selling point they had for me was their unlimited Pocket Internet Pack, NOW, even they have limited it to 2 GB of data at good speed and later on, unbrowsable speeds.

The customer service isn’t rude straight away, they will entertain you (only after you wait for 10-15 minutes for the call to connect and sustain their theme songs on loop), and then they will try to divert you, saying this is not our fault, this is not the right department, this service is not available or anything after which you wouldn’t even be asked if they can put down you call, that will be done in a very autocratic manner. Maybe a result of poor training. But still, when you call and you have to wait for so many minutes you are bound to be frustrated.

Tata Docomo: 5/5

This comTata-Docomo-Logopany, backed by one of the most respected business houses and a pioneering japanese telecom giant is of the ‘hat-ke’ thinking, they have tried to stand apart in this competitive Indian market and I must say, they actually did.

Be it their ‘doo-tu-du’ (ambiguous spelling) theme song or creative marketing, they have done things differently, and that also has been applied to customer service.

I have been using Tata Indicom’s (now docomo) walky wireless phone and now my sister too had a docomo connection, and seriously they are a step ahead in customer care.

I’ll list their good points:

1. First and foremost, this company, unlike others, doesn’t avoid customers to call, they were the first and I assume the only company to allow a direct call to an executive from the first option screen of IVR.

To explain, whenever you call and listen to IVRs instructions you can just press 9 (not sure) and connect to an executive, instead of finding ways to talk to customer care via different menus and sub menus.

2. They don’t have that mechanised or overtly official sound on their IVR system, I was surprised when I was greeted by Miss India Pooja Chopra on the IVR (obviously that was recorded 😛 ) that really makes a difference.

3. The customer service executives are good, polite and helpful.

Seriously, they stand out in customer service and care.

Reliance: 4/5-

To be honest, I have never used a reliance mobile connection (provided their reputation).

Reliance-GSM-LogoBut I have been using a Reliance Broadband connection for some time, and I would assume they have the same level of service.

I have been calling them rather frequently, due to some technical problems that never seem to go.

There agents have been polite, well versed and patient, as if they have all the time in the world. They are not reluctant to take complaints, and in solving them too. They time it takes to connect is very less too.

Overall, an experience that one expects. (an mysteriously they are the only executives who can pronounce my name correctly after listening to it just once)

BSNL/MTNL 1.5/5-

The ‘national’ telecom company, what more I can say??

And they take this ‘sarkari’ stature rather seriously. Marred by ‘red-tapism’ and governmental slowness, they never seem to improve.

Good things are their tariffs, coverage (all over India, and not the quality of service) and Broadband.

Badbsnl things?? it’s full of them.

1. Super-sarkari procedures-

Once (I will never again), I bought a BSNL sim, submitted my documents, the retailer gave them to distributer, the distributer to the company… and then a wait of 2 week and still, no activation. There are companies who activate your SIM right away, but BSNL you are too formal I guess. Yes, I can wait for a day or two, but 2 weeks??? I called their customer service (comparable to Aircel’s wait) and there a rude government employ (most probably) told me that now they couldn’t do anything and I will need to come to their regional office to get it verified. It was far, but not too far, but I was frustrated and I had made up my mind to never touch a BSNL product again.

2. Customer Service.

Slow. Rude. Poor Knowledge.

You cannot talk to an executive and you’ll have to wait a lot listening to pre recorded messages while waiting with a rough background music, then you’ll be greeted by a rude executive, who’ll speak in tone that will make you think about the governmental permanency of his/her job at least once. You’ll be ignored, or redirected somewhere else.

3. Quality of service isn’t great, even after a great and unsurpassed coverage.

These results are based on my experiences and dealings with customer services in Mahrashtra telecom region, your area might or might not be different. I haven’t talked about some other companies as either I haven’t used them or I haven’t used them enough to be in a position to comment.

Google Earth Funny 3d imagery

People can’t stop making fun of iOS maps, I have seen numerous memes, comics, jokes on it.
(even I can’t :-P). THE Apple maps have been a failure.

The most funny thing is the 3D fly through feature. Sounds cool, isn’t it?
It isn’t.
Though buildings and roads looked good in 3D and brought realism but the funny thing was the inaccuracy in the way they were projected. For example Airport roads were looking more like a motocross road, bridges were broken and made their way into water bodies under them.

Now what were the people missing? Google maps.
yes, google maps. And this 3D thing is available for selected cities in USA and Rome in Google earth.
Now while trying this 3D experience in google earth for iOS, I found that, even that isn’t flawless.
I’m posting two pics where you can see how a tennis court is having a curvy surface and how one side of is nearly like a trench.

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“Few Things Left Unsaid” By Sudeep Nagarkar

Another book from the house of Srishty Publications that broke into best-selling charts. Now If I’ll ever write a book, I’ll head straight to their office, seems like they guarantee success to new-comers.:-)
Now coming to the book. Author Sudeep Nagarkar, is an engineer by profession who just like many other famous authors never had the ambition to become an author but his love-story made him write a book. I would say a very fairly good attempt.

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The book is based on his own love story. The author is a first-timer and it shows in the book. When you get a national best-seller in your hands you expect it to be well edited, but it isn’t, at many places there are spelling mistakes, inappropriate words have been used, and at one place I found a factual error related to gender. Otherwise it’s a good read.

*Spoilers ahead*
The plot revolves around Aditya, a guy forced to do engineering by his parents. He finds the love of his life in college, proposes her, gets her, she loves him too, both move on very fast, romance, kisses and making-out, they even unofficially marry. The girl’s nature changes throughout the story. They even tell Aaditya’s mom about it. His mom’ character is very friendly and open. I thought his dad was really kept out of focus. Moving on to the story, Aaditya slowly starts getting suspiscious about her. He starts concentrating on studies and decides to break-up without any reason, but they later reconcile. But the trust had been broken. Riya, his girlfriend leaves him. And what is really painful is that she goes with Amit, Aadi and Riya’s mutual friend. Amit is a guy with cheap intentions. But she doesn’t come back. Aadi’s (main character) heart is broken and he takes to cigratte and beer. During this period Aadi’s academic performance is on the decline. He gets a drop. During this period something mysterious happens (for which you have to read the book) and his life changes…. He gets his Riya back….

Happy ending… Isn’t it??

NO!!!! After this you have the epilogue, usually you expect the epilogue to be concluding and satisfyling, but this epilogue makes fun of my reading of 200 plus pages…. ridiculous…
It tells that after some months they are apart again. It just gives you a hazy picture of something that happened through some conversations… This book leaves the readers in the middle, helpless. That moment I felt I should throw away the book, that seemed to me as a cheap publicity stunt of his next work. It was as if the book was saying, ” Wanna know the story??? Go buy the next book”

The good part is, the book describes engineering very well, not in too much detail, not in a blurry way. It’s balanced. The ragging part looked over the top. But it’s fiction.. Isn’t it??
The college, professors, KTs, parent teacher meetings, canteens, friends etc. have been portrayed very well.
The proposal part is also good and descriptive. Initially the book gives that amateurish feel but later the author gets into some good writing. The book hasn’t got any ‘scenes’. The author just keeps the story clean by saying ‘we made love’ instead of a pages long description. The part before climax is emotional and makes you go through the author’s pain and the ‘devdas’ image he creates for himself. One question that comes to my mind, is how does the author find so many secluded public places to cuddle and kiss, that too on Mumbai??? I am trying to contact him, till then you read the book and enjoy.

All in all a good read, but please don’t read the epilogue if you don’t want to buy the second book.

PS: I will categorize this book as ‘typical indian college romance’. The genre that most of young aspiring college pass outs choose to start their writing career with..

Rating::::::: 3/5 stars

Life Is What You Make It By Preeti Shenoy

When you look at the cover of this book, you may get a feeling it’s a self improvement book. It’s actually a tale of love ( multiple ), youth, friendship, romance…. everything that can remind you of your youth, and then there is pain, longing, gloom, and death…. but finally there is recovery, rediscovering oneself and ‘making life what you want it to be like.

The story is about a girl during the 80s, and her adventurous ways of finding love. The story reminds the young generation how different was the world of 1980s, without messages, mobiles and internet. How guys and gals used to wait for their sweetheart’s letter and their costly phone-calls.

Once I asked my english teacher that why in this age of telecommunication and internet are we made to write letters in exams?? She answered, though I don’t remember what she said, but I remember one of my favourite lessons, She said ‘ The feeling that the handwritten letter and the crafted words give and the emotions that they convey cannot be felt by digital messages’.
‘So true’ I thought, remembering the time when I had learned writing post card for the first time when I was some 10-11 years old and I wrote a post card to my grandfather in my not so good handwriting, though it was the last post card I wrote except in examinations.

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////Warning:spoiler///

PLOT:::::::

The plot is about a girl who is very bright in studies, and has a schoolmate as boyfriend, who becomes an IITian after she has to move to Kerala because of her father’s transfer. There she gets into an all girls college but is wooed by a guy from a rival college. she starts forgetting about his old boyfriend. Later on she secures admission in a very good college in Mumbai, but his boyfriend wants her to stay in Kerala, she disagrees, blinded by the ambition and charm of Mumbai. Her boyfriend is found drowned and drunk a day later. She tries to get over the incident and moves to Mumbai to pursue her MBA, she discovers a new world, new friends. She becomes a workaholic, she starts loving studies, she starts making notes and studying late nights and sometimes not sleeping for many days, she starts loving jogging, because of this she becomes thin and lifeless. she starts behaving in weird manner. During all this this time she finds a new boyfriend, after some days she feels some kind of fear, a fear she couldn’t identify, but it’s there. She gets into depression, she becomes afraid of going out, meeting people, she stops going to college, meantime her parents catch hold of her love letters, burn them and scold her. She feels like a living corpse, she loses the ability to even read. She is taken to numerous hospitals but is diagnosed in a wrong manner. Later she attempts suicide, but is saved by her dad. Finally she is shifted to some national mental institute in bangalore where she is to be left alone by her parents. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, gradually she is treated with medicines and shock therapy, and then she is made to rehabilitate by doing creative things like drawing and reading. Slowly she gets her ability to read back and is later discharged from hospital and this changes the way she thought about her life, she realises that an MBA from a good college and a job was not the only thing that can make your life, ‘LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT’

The plot may give you the idea of a hindi feature film, but the depth and feel of the story is appreciable. While reading the part where depression grips the protagonist made me emotional. The pain that has been conveyed through words is magical. The climax gives you a feeling of satisfaction and inspiration and doesn’t leave the reader to ‘guess what happened’ situations.

A very good read. No cheesy stuff, just some romance and a believable story which doesn’t exploit the word ‘fiction’. A national best-seller and true to its name book, recommended for one and all.

Rating:::::::4/5 stars