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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.

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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.

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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
Fiction Narration Story

Happy Birthday!

The sun’s rays pierced through the plate-glass window of my flat, penetrating right into my eyes, rudely awakening me from my sleep. Mom used to constantly scold me for not sleeping facing the sun, years back when I was a child. Even though I used to disobey her back then, I started following every word of her advice, including this one, once I had moved away from home. My tummy rumbled as I slowly made my way out of bed. It had reason to be upset, for, it has been surviving on liquids for the past couple of days. I took a cursory glance at my watch to check the time, only to realize that it didn’t have a watch any more. It, along with my iPhone 4S now rested at a local shop, and had helped me survive the past couple of weeks. I fished my old Nokia  from underneath my pillow. It quietly announced that the time was 9.30 AM. Quite early, by my current standards. Nearly two months back, at the same time, I would be taking time off to enjoy the breathtaking view of Singapore, from my cabin in my company’s 24th floor office…

Those days were long gone. Life turned upside down overnight, thanks to a monster called recession. One night, I was partying with my friends at the Acid Bar, and the very next morning, I get the pink slip… Life does work in mysterious ways. Everyone was ‘shocked’ (at least, apparently so) by my exit from the company. I was billed as the rising star, the next in line to be the CEO. All those dreams were shattered, in a face-saving act by my boss, who decided to save his skin by putting all his blames on me. The damage was done; the black mark on my career was permanent. No other company would offer me a job, my boss had pulled his strings to ensure just that. The fighter that I was, I decided to fight back with a vengeance. In the past two months, I had knocked the doors of every consulting company that had its offices in the island-country. Their replies weren’t that disheartening though. All of them said, they would they ‘consider’ me, and that they would present my case in the forthcoming board meeting (which never happened). And whenever I called them back, they said they were still ‘considering’. Despite the failure of every ‘consideration’ – I never lost heart. I always believed in my values and in Krishna.

It seems that Lord Almighty too had left me out in the cold.

I noticed a blinking message icon on the top left of my Nokia. My inbox was full, thanks to SMS remainders from the bank, asking me to pay up the latest installment of my home loan. I never even bothered to open any of those messages – they are going to kick me out anyway. I should survive till then, somehow. While clearing the pending messages, the phone beeped. There were a couple of incoming messages. I shrugged and opened the latest text. Thank God, it wasn’t another ‘gentle reminder’. It was a text from her.

HBD. 🙂

It took me a second to decode the acronym.

And yet another, to remind me it was this day, 28 years back, that I was born.

She was the only person, apart from my mom, who religiously remembered my birthday. I never thought she would wish me on my birthday, even after we broke up last month. I was genuinely touched, and I badly wanted to reply, with a hundred :-* smileys’ to say that I still loved her with all my heart! Mom too must have tried to call me, only in vain. My mobile connection was quietly deactivated by Singtel last week. Thankfully, they still allowed incoming messages.

I could literally hear my tummy’s rumble this time. Must grab something. I did a quick search for my purse and found it exactly where I had left it: atop my shelf. I approached it with alacrity. I did remember seeing a $10 note last night. It was all what was left from the $600 I’d got from selling my iPhone and watch. It should get me something. SOMETHING. I opened the purse with expectation.

It was empty.

I checked again – I was damn sure that I did see the note inside. Hell, I literally survived on water and orange juice for the past couple of days, so that I could eat something solid today! That hope too was gone. I felt dizzy, probably from staying hungry. I quietly slumped down on the floor. The purse slid away from my hand and fell down. I could feel my head throbbing. I stared at my purse, which was flooded with $1000 notes at one time. It was months now since it saw even a $500. Suddenly, I noticed part of a red coloured paper jutting out from an inner-chamber, near my credit cards. I quickly took the purse and emptied my five hugely-overdrawn credit cards. I had the surprise of my life!

There, underneath the cards, lay a crumpled $100 note!

Snippets of memory started trickling in. I had kept that $100 note underneath my cards about six months back. My purse was so stacked with notes that there wasn’t any space to keep the $100 note I got as change from buying groceries. Left with no other option, I removed my Platinum Visa card and stuffed the note into that pouch, and had forgotten about it!

I thanked every God I knew for giving me the ultimate birthday gift!

I quickly ran, and changed into a shirt and a pair of jeans – prized possessions of mine, and rushed out of my flat. Despite having had nothing for the past couple of days, I managed to run as fast as I could to the nearest hotel – a Chinese restaurant next to my flat. My tummy craved for their delicious noodles, and I was about to eat like a king! Passers-by were staring at me, I was pushing my way through the crowd, fighting my hunger, desperate to enjoy my own birthday treat!

As I was about to into walk into the restaurant, panting, I felt a tug on my jeans. I turned to see a small girl, maybe 7-8 years old, pulling my jeans. She was a cute little child, looking at me with tears streaming down from her eyes. I leaned down, and ruffled her hair, like I normally do with kids.

“Hello darling! Why’re you crying?” I asked.

She pointed her fingers towards the hotel. Three muscular men, similarly dressed in waiters’ attire were running down the aisle pointing at the girl. One of the ran towards me, and grabbed the girl by her wrist, and started shouting at her in Mandarin. Another guy raised her hand and was going to slap her. I was alarmed. I quickly pulled the girl back from the ruffians and asked them what was wrong. Apparently, the girl, who was a beggar, had eaten from the restaurant and tried escaping without paying the bill. They were chasing the girl, who ran to me and hid behind me.

I tried reasoning with the ruffians, but they wouldn’t listen. Using my broken mandarin, I somehow convinced them that the matter could be settled, only if they would calm down.

“The girl ate noodles worth $85. We need her to pay up, or we’re going to the police.” one of them managed to speak in broken English.

I looked at the girl, who was now weeping. I saw myself in her. I would have probably done the same thing, if I hadn’t found the $100 note. And I’d probably end up in jail too, for stealing food. I didn’t want this little girl to end up in some dingy children’s home for a mistake any human in her situation would make. My tummy started rumbling louder. I decided to ignore it once again. Another day of liquids wouldn’t kill me, after all.

I paid the sole $100 note to the ruffians, who quickly went to the counter and gave me the change. I took the girl to an ice cream vendor nearby and bought her a chocolate ice cream for $15.  As she finished eating, I patted her and turned to walk back to my flat. As I was walking back, I heard a faint voice, saying “Happy Birthday”. Shocked, I turned back.

There girl had gone.

My tummy stopped rumbling.

P.S. Inspired from Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer‘s ‘Janmadinam’.

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
Technology

Apple iPhone 3G-S releases today!

Yeah, finally, answering all the harried queries of millions of tech-lovers like myself, The Apple iPhone 3.0 (or Apple iPhone 3G S )  is releasing today (17th June 2009)  at WWDC (Worldwide Developers’ Conference)! 🙂

The famed, all-touch mobile phone from Apple’s stable has literally taken the world by storm. It’s incredible features make the product so irresistable that people just won’t be able to resist the product! 🙂 Within a few hours, Apple iPhone 3.0 will hit the markets. So, brace yourself, guys!! (Read, get your credit cards ready! :P)

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Check out the features of the cool new iPhone if you haven’t:

  • In the 3G-S, S stands for SPEED. That means, high speed gaming, and everything you’d ever want in relation to that! 😛
  • The on-board voice control rocks! The superb voice feature allows you not just to talk to your friends, but literally control your phone. The phone will even respond to all your queries  and commands, helping you even to play music and control calls with your voice.
  • Thanks to the 3-megapixel camera with autofocus, the imaging experience is near professional. White balance, autofocus, low-light sensitivity and even a macro mode for big images. There’s even a unique, tap-focussing system!
  • With the built-in compass that works in tandem with maps to give you street positioning (the maps turn automatically as you twist the phone),you’ll never lose your way again. 😀
  • With the in-built camcorder, there’s the provision to record VGA quality video in 30 FPS. It’s even possible to cut the ends of the video just by tweaking the end point and the start point. The lack of MMS in the previous iPhone is compensated this time. Plus, you could even YouTube the video! 😀
  • There’s Voice-over – which reads the screen based on your gestures, essentially an accessiblity feature.
  • Get to know the calories you lost and the kilometers you’ve run with the Nike+iPod which works with the sensors on your Nike shoe. Yes, that extra $200 no a Nike air won’t be an extra-spend, trust me! 😛
  • 9 hours in Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, 30 hours listening to audio, 12 and 5 hour talktimes on 2G and 3G networks respectively – now you can stop worrying about those low batteries! 😛

And all this comes at $199 for 16 GB and $299 for the 32 gig model, only if you’re in the US though. 😉 But no worries, check out your nearest grey market in a couple of days for (a bootlegged, unlocked version of) the latest iPhone. If you’re too poor to afford that, you can even choose the $99 model.

Yep, everybody gets his/her iPhone! 😛