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.

Mozilla_Firefox_1.0_about-box
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.

Google vs Bing : Clash of the search Titans

I love fair competition, after Yahoo decided to use Bing to power their search engine, we are left with just two worthy giants. Bing and Google. Bing Sucks, that’s what the general opinion people has been, it shows ridiculous results at times according to most reports. So I thought let’s just compare the results of 5 random searches on both engines and see for ourselves if Bing being a douchebag just a myth or it actually holds some truth. Here we start

BingHome

Bing’s home page: This thing is beautiful, a refreshing wallpaper with nice metro design. Google has the the ‘Simple is powerful’ approach as far as homepage goes.

Test 1 – Bing1LargestSocial“The Largest Social Network”

 

 

Bing decides it wants to throw us a list of all the social networks instead of telling us which one is the largest, and also one result talking about Russia’s largest social network

Google1LargestSocial

Google has some better tricks in their hats, first 4 or five results will surely get me my answer.

Test 2- “Stephen Hawking’s disease”

Google2Hawking

That’s why they tell us “Google it” for every question, because Google has the answer. Properly marked and presented. 

Bing2Hawking

Bing shows the Wikipedia article, but can’t show the name of the condition, and also presents some not so helpful stuff.

Test 3 – “ADSL vs DSL”

here, I am looking for the difference between two kinds of Internet Connections, DSL (Direct Subscriber Line) and ADSL (Asymmetrical DSL)

Google3ADSL

Google links to a definition but not the difference, then, links to some user generated forums. 

 

Bing3ADSL

Bing shows some real worth here, 3 articles directly from some nice sites and it scores a win

Test 4 – “The first ever photograph from a mobile camera”

Google4MobileGoogle just gets this one right at the target, the first picture it shows is the right one, I know that thanks to designing a quiz with this same question.

 

Bing4Mobile

Bing seems lost, it’s not even showing pictures of mobile cameras on top. 

 

Test 5 – “People who turned down nobel”

Google5Nobel

 

Google does it like a routine, showing relevant stuff dug out of all the results. Beauty

 

bing5nobel

 

No doubt it shows ideal results, but not as well presented as Google’s. “Related Searches” makes you wonder what’s so wrong with Bing.

 

Conclusion- This is my personal opinion deduced from these tests.

Bing lags behind, for sure. It has a good home page, better results at times, sometimes the image search seems better than google, but it is not replacing my default search engine Google with that.

Google’s results look astonishingly hand-picked, it even highlights what you are looking for and presents it at top. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but when I need something I will still Google it, instead of searching on Bing, because Bing has a long way to go and improve at changing the way it interprets the search terms and shows results.

It was a 4-1 but Bing’s not as bad as people feel, scary is the fact that it is the only big competitor left to Google, if Microsoft decides to scrape off Bing today, we will be left with just Google, a monopolistic search market, and this really doesn’t sound good to me.

Happy Searching everyone!

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.

Facebook Home for All phones, YES!!!

Facebook recently launched a new product for android devices, in an effort to take over your mobile home screens too.

The problem is that it has been just released for some select smartphones like GS3, One etc. No worries 🙂

Want to try out the latest buzz in social networking??? Don’t have Galaxy S3, HTC One, One X???

A member from XDA forum theos0o has ported the application for all phones.

All you have to do is to download the .rar file from the link below.

http://d-h.st/qOz

and extract the .rar file with 2 APKs, 1. facebook app 2. Facebook Home

Please make sure that all previous installations of facebook app and messenger are deleted before you install these.

First install Facebook app, enter your login details, install the home app, fire it up…. there you go 😀

No need to Root 🙂

Thanks to Theos0o.

My Galaxy S duos running facebook home. Don’t confuse it with S3 😛
Will run on most phones I guess, provided it has been completed by a seasoned programmer.

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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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20121103-130148.jpg

Android versus iOS

Another in the series if my technical blogs, where my technical knowledge comes out and splashes over my blog posts.
In this post I’m going to discuss about the feature of two of the major smartphone rival operating systems, namely google’s android and Apple’s iOS

20120820-114639.jpg

1. Sales
If you look at the official figures android just edges out iOS in number of products sold.
And that too has happened very recently, until now apple had been leading, it’s surprising provided the number of handsets having android and there low pricing compared to apple’s devices.
2. Quality of hardware
The quality of hardware used in android varies a lot. On one hand we have phones like Samsung galaxy S III, which clearly outperform the latest iPhone 4s, on the other we have phones that run on cheap hardware and call themselves budget android phones.
As far as apple is concerned it’s the very close hardware and software integration that its product is all about. Apple usually doesn’t reveal its hardware’s too many details. The company buys the best of hardware from companies around the world, even from Samsung!!! and integrates it to provide best user experience.
The introduction of iPhone brought a revolution in the industry and changed the way we look and mean the word “smartphone”, it was purely because of the great combination of hardware capabilities and the operating system to take advantage of such hardware that this revolution kick started.

3. Customisability
Here is a very clear distinction between the two OSs as clear as a big yes or no
Android has it, you say it they have it, launchers, themes, keyboards, icons, wallpapers etc
They have it all. Whatever you want your phone or tab to look like you can have it
iOS’s answer is nearly no, you can just change your wallpapers, standby screens and …. nothing.
Yes, you cannot change much… Thats a common users nightmare, you spent 500 dollars or 50000 rupees on your new ipad, but you cannot make it the way you want… kind of, but still it’s a cult and a dream device for everyone. Why? Because it doesn’t let you mess things up, an iPad will always be the same iPad you bought( unless you jailbreak it) The same behaviour, the same home screen, the same apps arrangement etc. It’s a gadget for tech hungry to anti-tech people. Because it’s simple to use, but at the same place it’s advanced.

4. Originality
I was reading an article on cnet about the apple versus samsung war, it was a picture gallery of 26 shots that described how samsung compared its galaxy s with iphone, and comparing products with competitors is not a new thing, but what i observed that they were trying to copy iphone fully.
The pictures show how samsung engineers say that the iphone’s UI flips when the orientation is changed which gives a feeling of euphoria, and then they instruct developers to make that feature come alive in Galaxy S, and there are numerous features, like 3d looking icons, minimalistic design, view-ability, scrolling etc. every iphone feature has been copied.
And everyone knows that galaxy s the ancestor of all phones we say are iphone like or iphone beaters, so my originality award will go without a doubt to iOS.

Verdict
Though my article may seem a bit biased to android fanboys, but there are some things I really love about android, like great customisability, pirated apps( not legally or morally good though), cheap phones for everyone, scalability , it’s open source etc.
But iOS will remain my favourite, as it is original, safe, easy to use, has quality apps, great hardware integration, and to top it all, late Steve Jobs’s backing.
Hope you had a great time reading my article, please comment if you have an opinion or argument, will love to hear from you.

imo.im chat client for iPad

Recently used a new chat client called imo.im on my iPad 2.
It’s is a great free app to have. Firstly, it helps you out in a great way by bypassing the main Facebook page if you just want to chat with your near and dear ones, but you are on a slow EDGE, GPRS or wi-fi connection. It integrates all your friends or buddies as the company calls it, in one place. No need to juggle between websites or different clients.
Before this I was a nimbuzz fan, I used to chat on a java feature phone, Samsung s3310 with it.
But when I searched for it on iPad it was just there for iPhone, everyone hates using 2x mode on iPad for iPhone apps.
So I found this great app, which met all my needs.
Try it out at the apps store. It’s worth the appreciation it is getting.
imo.im website