Categories
Mobile Phones Technology

5 Reasons Why Splurging On Gadgets May Be Not Worth It

Let’s face it: gadgets have become a part and parcel of our lives. We’ve become so ‘connected’ to them (pun intended), that we cannot imagine a moment without them. Many among us (myself included) spend a sizable proportion of our income on buying the brand new editions of the latest gadgets on the block. But,  is spending the equivalent of your entire month’s salary on a device which you may not necessarily need, worth it? Read on to find out why it may not be – at least for many among us.

smartphones1

1) Many people buy expensive gadgets just because they are… well, expensive!

It’s true. At the end of the day, any gadget, irrespective of its ‘smartness’, is is just an accessory. Now, isn’t owning an expensive accessory the best way to make your friends envious? When the ‘accessory’ in concern is a smartphone or a tablet, its oomph value actually skyrockets. This phenomenon was more prevalent in the early 2010’s when smartphones were not as common as they are now.  I know many people who maxed out their credit cards to buy iPhones, just because they felt owning the device probably made them feel like Steve Jobs himself! Even today, when almost every other kid in the block owns a smartphone, people buy shiny and expensive smartphones (with features no different from phones that cost less than half), just because they think owning such devices makes them special. If you’re one among such people, I’m really really sorry to break your bubble. You are no different from that friendly-neighborhood millionaire who sports gold-plated teeth cause he thinks it makes him look cool. 🙂

nobody cares

2) An overpriced device is a dead investment. 

You don’t find the average user making more than what he spent by selling his used phone (there are exceptions). Coming to think of it, any electronic device is a dead investment. In all probability, you may not make extra money by opting for an expensive gadget. You would only lose out on the margin, thanks to its depreciation in value over time. If that’s the case, what’s the point spending a lot of money on such gadgets? With both expensive and entry level phones using the same operating system and the same applications, spending more on an expensive device definitely makes no economic sense for most people.

[quote]

3) “But, but my phone has that supercool feature that no other device has!” 

Oh really? So you emptied your bank account to buy a ‘better’ phone that can, well, check your pulse as well? LOL.  Just think. Are you REALLY gonna use your phone to check your pulse every now and then? How many features of your smartphone do you actually use? Apart from social networking, messaging, playing Flappy Bird and taking selfies, that is? The biggest joke is, all smartphones were initially touted for their myriad productivity enhancing applications! One look at iOS/Android store, and you’ll realize how popular these productivity-enhancing applications are. 🙂

4) Your phone may be new… but not for long. 

Technology changes fast, phones get old. Within a year, your device’s price gets halved (think Galaxy S3/S4). Not your ego. But, you absolutely have to own the best gadget in the world, don’t you?  Fueled by peer pressure, you get yourself a new (and better) gadget. And voila! You’re the proud owner of the shiny new phone that’s been getting rave reviews from all over the world. The icing in the cake is, you were one of the first people in your country to own it too (thanks to ‘offers’ from ecommerce portals) Now, don’t forget to put up a status about it too! Of course your gadget will lose its sheen in barely a year, but who cares? You can always buy a new one, can’t you? So, is splurging on something that you’ll be changing for sure in a year or two, really worth the extra expense?

5) Yawn… 

Economics aficionados would definitely have come across the term ‘diminishing marginal utility’. To cut the jargon crap, it means that the more you use an item, the satisfaction you gain from using it decreases with successive use. The smartphone is the quintessential example of this theory. With the average user not bothering to explore its many applications, anybody would get bored with his/her device in a matter of months. My question is, what’s the point spending a fortune on a device that you’d eventually get bored of?

The Last Ink Drop

When I say that splurging on gadgets may not make sense, I definitely do not advocate everybody to get a budget device/smartphone! 🙂 After all, it’s each man unto himself. Of course, some of the more expensive devices are power packed and provide a great user experience to the discerning user. 🙂 That said, I cannot say the same for the average gadget user in a developing country like mine where the average ‘high end’ smartphone costs way more than the monthly pay package of an average citizen. If you view gadgets as power-packed advanced devices, and you can think of multiple ways in which they can (realistically) help you, and of course if you’re rich enough to afford it,  it makes sense to buy a high-end gadget. Else, give it a miss. A feature-rich laptop/smartphone/tablet is just the thing you need . 🙂

Categories
Internet Technology

Google India Comes Up With Music Service With Search

Finally, Google has also jumped into the music-bandwagon! Google India today launched Google Music India – a fully-blown music streaming service.

The Google Music home page with album listings.

The service, which was launched earlier today under ‘Google India Labs’, is available at http://www.google.co.in/music and is accessible by users all across the world.

Google Music is pretty-impressive – especially the search part. Existing streaming services like Raaga and MusicIndiaOnline have appalling search – and that’s where Google‘s service scores. The search feature is quite comprehensive. You can search with the movie name, the lead actor’s name (e.g. a search for ‘Shah Rukh Khan’ lists songs from his movies), songs according to time period, and what not. You can even use complex queries to find out Guru Dutt track from your childhood that you’ve so badly wanted to catch up with, using some smart search queries.

Fresh from watching the movie, I badly wanted to listen to the songs. Lo and behold, Google comes to my rescue.

The service does not use a native ‘Google‘ player, neither does it host tracks in its server. The songs are sourced from ‘Saavn.com’, ‘Saregama’ and ‘in.com’, says the Google India Blog. Users can choose the player of their choice, for some songs.. The audio quality is decent. ‘Saregama’ and ‘in.com’ players do a good job, while the ‘Saavn’ player quite buggy. The streaming works well in a 2 Mbps+ connection, but the songs stutter in 256Kbps. Another drawback is that the service does not offer playlists.

Currently, Google Music has a comprehensive collection of Bollywood. Tamil, Malayalam, and other regional tracks are yet to make it.

The service is fully legal – since it offers just streaming and not downloading. It is a successor to Google‘s music search service in the US – which offered search and previews of tracks.

Google has also launched its new music service in China.

The extent of Google Music’s success is doubtful since India has a strong ‘downloading culture’. Users prefer downloading songs rather than listening to audio streams online – they would still opt for pirated tracks available for download.  Another major con would be the slow internet connections in the country – the service needs at least 256Kbps (or above) for smooth playback. Besides, a bulk of India’s internet users use internet plans with data-transfer caps – such users would give this service a miss, in all probability. Then again, Google will have to tackle many established players like Raaga.com and MusicIndiaOnline.

However, the service is a boon for all music addicts. Foraging for that long-lost-track, can now be done in just a click. Enjoy! 🙂

Categories
Technology Viewpoint

The Curious Case of Collective Attention Deficit Disorder

It’s a bright, sunny morning. Airily filling up your lungs with a (city variant of) the fresh morning air, you rev up your car and drive to work. As you’re half-way through, you notice a very obvious vibration from your jeans pocket – it’s the usual suspect, the mobile phone. You pick up the call – it’s your soulmate. She rants on and on about the brand-new outfit her dad purchased for her…But you’ve no clue as to what she’s talking about, do you?

Ah, yes. You’re driving – but did you just notice a city bus shave off the side-view mirror and the side-beeding of your car? Oh, okay, you were on the phone.

Yeah, right.

Later that evening, you watch one of those art-house flicks at the friendly-neighborhood multiplex – with your girlfriend as arm-candy. Suddenly, the screen goes dark – it’s apparently a part of the movie which is standard art-house flick material. You jerk your arm into the pant pocket and jerk out your office BlackBerry – can’t miss those mails from your US-based Boss, can you?  It took you a long ten seconds to realize that your arm-candy wanted to make, err, ‘better use’ of the ‘dark break’. You take five more seconds with the BB, before you give in to the girl.

Any of these situations ring a bell?

The second one might be a tad too far-fetched (it’s true though – scene from PVR Mumbai, circa December 2009. ‘Avatar’ was the ‘arthouse flick’, however). But the issue is indeed  a grave problem we all have faced at some point in time

Welcome to the new millennium of Collective Attention Deficit Disorder.

Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brookhavenlab/

Patients with ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder’ would find it difficult to focus on a particular task over a period of time. They get bored with the task fast, and quickly move on to other tasks. They have high tendencies of procrastination and exhibit escalated physical movement.

Today, this disorder is spreading rapidly, directly proportional to the growth of technology in our lives.

It’s necessary evil. We’ve accustomed ourselves to a ‘fast food culture’. We just cannot wait – we want instant results. Be it in any field – we rue traffic blocks, for they don’t allow us to reach our destinations on time. We curse slow computers, ’cause they don’t help us complete our task on time. Our bosses want tasks to be done in unrealistic deadlines. And in this survival of the fittest era, you can’t afford to budge.

Reading is a direct casualty of ADD – first it was hesitation to read long books. Thus, abridged versions were born. Then, people didn’t have time to read even abridged versions; short stories and blogs became the order of the day, for a while. Then came twitter, smashing all existing ‘literature’ with its 140 tiny characters. No, twitter and microblogging is yet to win over traditional publishing – but at this rate of exponential growth, that too could happen.

Even ‘Google’ has moved with the times, pun intended, with Google Instant, for lazybones like us reluctant enough to press the enter key on our keyboard. Remember ‘Google Wave’? It had the ‘revolutionary’ technology that directly posted what we typed (making the ‘enter’ button redundant again) – thus ‘increasing productivity’. In fact, Google’s obsession for fast results was evident by their hiring of the guy who made YouTube instant.

Alright, what’s wrong with shifting attention spans?

Simple – you’d end up wrecking your mind. Accept the fact, we’re not made of Dual Core processors – at least the males amongst us. Women have been multitasking for a while, but they too have a limit. Quoting a friend of mine, “Multitasking IS screwing many things at once.” You may not realize it – but you will, over time. Every time you indulge in more tasks than you can, simultaneously – your mental capacity takes a toll. Your mind’s like any machine – it needs rest. Give it some cool-off time, will you?

With short attention spans, you’d simply reach nowhere.

Here’s a DIY test:

Lay your hands on one of those short stories. Any simple story would do – it shouldn’t be too long. Get a stopwatch, set it on zero. Now, open the first page of your book and start reading – remember to switch on your stopwatch when you start. Once the story is over, note the time spent to read the story. Now that the story is over, choose a second short story of roughly the same length and complexity as the original one. Repeat the process – with one difference. Switch on the music – it should be your favourite track, and read the short story. Record the time taken.

Needless to say, you would have taken at least 50% more time, when you read the story with music on. And trust me, you wouldn’t even remember a lot about the second story – you’d just have a broad idea of what happened. You wouldn’t have enjoyed the music either.

Enough proof, innit?

So how do you tackle this attention deficit disorder?

The sad reality is, there’s no definite solution. You just cannot dump your blackberries and iPhones into the dead sea – they’ve irrevocably become a part of your life. But you can always try to give your full attention to one task at a time. While you are at a critical task, avoid interferences – you’d have the mental push to reply to that text – and if you intend to do that, you may certainly go to hell. 🙂 Spend some time with yourself each day – take a walk, enjoy the beauty of the stars and the night sky (don’t forget to leave that confounded mobile handset in your couch as you go about it. :P). Try meditation and yoga – with time, you’d be more focussed and productive.

Attention definite disorder is necessary evil – but you can’t afford it to ruin your life. Push it to the wall and leave it there. Go about your life, focussed and ready.

And yeah, give that new BlackBerry/iPhone a miss. it ain’t worth it.

P.S.
You CERTAINLY suffer from CHRONIC attention deficit disorder if you did not complete reading this post. 😛

P.P.S.
Watch this video.

Categories
Linux Technology

Ban on sales of MS Word – Another nail in Microsoft’s coffin

Finally, I get my retribution. Microsoft is banned from selling MS Word and/or any applications that can open DOCX/DOCM/XML files in the USA!! Whee!! 🙂 The ruling that made Bill Gates Steve Balmer pee in his pants came from a judge in Texas – a landmark for GNU/Linux, I might add.

i4i Inc – a company operating from Toronto, is the root cause behind M$’s latest fitfall. The firm succeeded in winning an injunction against M$, concerning gross violations of its XML patents. To quote from the ruling, the judgement  “prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML”. The incident is reminiscent of the old IE frazzle has kicked Microsoft out cold! The breather for this monopolistic giant is the mere 60 day time window to implement the injunction.

So, does this mean M$ is goanna be the next dead duck?

Not really.

M$ has the money and muscle power, not to mention access to all the movers and shakers. The doyens of the company are taking the news in the stride and have decided to fight back against the small-time company i4i with all might. It’s going to be tough time for i4i, which  might, in all probability, go the Netscape way – to dysfunction, considering the might of the corporate conglomerate pitted against it. However, it must be said that i4i has some brave dudes out there who’ve achieved great success against M$ – a victory none else has been able to secure. If things go the way they are actually supposed to be (provided i4i gets a super-awesome lawyer and/or protection from M$’s corporate espionage  – if any), we might see the first days of M$ doom. I’m goanna celebrate that with crackers! 😛

Image Courtesy: XKCD

All this brings out the main reason why I all of us GNU/Linux enthusiasts hate M$ Windows – Their highly monopolistic, derogatory and user-hampering principles!! It’s a fact that M$ pays the highest paychecks to its employees and harbours the world’s most brilliant Computer Scientists/Engineers. Yet, just see the countless bugs in Windows Vista!! 😐 If a group of ‘hackers’ could collaborate and create a very user friendly operating system that has all the goodies of Vista and consumes a tenth as much memory (Kubuntu 9.04), why can’t M$ do the same? The glaring answer is there in the question itself! The bugs are deliberate. Had M$ been as stable an O/S as GNU/Linux, a major chunk of the antivirus/’protection’ software companies would go bankrupt! Unless M$ finds a solution to the countless bugs in its software and do some serious rethinking about its policies, it’s a downward lane for the company. The indicators have already started pointing to that fact. 😀

As far as I’m concerned, I’m content with my OpenOffice 3.0 and Kubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope! 😛