Google Talk: My Take

What’s my take on Google Talk?

I downloaded it on the first day itself, installed it, clicked around, had a conversation or two, closed it, and haven’t started it again.

The tool I use for IM is Gaim for all the four majors (The 4): YIM, MSN, ICQ, and AIM. Combined I have 300 contacts (I checked twice when I reached a round figure) out of which I guess half are inactive and need pruning. But that still leaves 150 active contacts.

Compare that to Google Talk’s total: 3.

Google Talk has nothing to offer me that I already don’t have through one of The 4. I don’t need it. If one of my clients comes along and wants me to use Google Talk just to talk, I will politely request them to use YIM (my favourite of The 4). It’s happened before with Skype. Sooner or later it will happen with Google Talk. People understand that nobody wants a fifth IM application open just for them. They already have an identity with one of The 4 anyway. So they oblige.

It’s funny watching people falling over themselves over using Google Talk. Crowd psychology: mostly devoid of sanity. What is there to be so excited about? What’s new? What’s special? What is this new IM application giving anybody that isn’t already there? And it’s limited to Windows only to boot! Just because it’s been released by Google?

But it’s Google! They change everything they touch. Wait for the next version! It will really be something you know!

That’s one of my acquaintances. I refuse to recognise him as my friend till he regains some sense. But that seems to be the sentiment of many people I’ve talked to. However, it’s not as if Google hasn’t gone wrong before (Web Accelerator).

So yes, I guess we’ll see as time goes. They have the resources. They have the desire and drive. And they think. Next few months should be interesting for the IM world.

Internet Is A Tool

I have a friend with whom I was discussing about what’s safe and unsafe on the Internet in a very broad sense. In the middle of the conversation, I wrote the following; something I wanted to share:

Internet is a tool. No tool is safe. It is how one uses it. If you follow safe practices, it can be the best tool in your toolbox. If you mess with it, and are careless with it, it can hurt you. It is as simple as that. Don’t be scared of it. Be aware. Be safe. And let it work for you. Let it enrich your life.

Why I Like The Register

There have been times when I’ve wondered why I read The Register. Then comes along a report like “Student constructs hamster-powered mobe charger” with gems like

We’ve often wondered for what purpose exactly hamsters were put upon this earth, and now we know: to charge mobile phones.


Perhaps if he’d knocked together a desktop cold fusion reactor powered by supercharged, neutron-emitting guinea pigs suspended in deuterium gas he might have earned himslef an “A”.

which seem to answer the question perfectly.

East India Company Nearly Dismantled Taj Mahal

When it comes to Taj Mahal, seems like not a year passes without a controversy of some sort. There was the Taj Corridor Project that most likely did some permanent damage to the monument. And now there is the Waqf Board trying to claim it as theirs. Of course, there are the descendants of Shahjahan (the Mughal Emperor generally accepted to be responsible for the construction of the Taj Mahal) himself who claim to have superior right over the monument than either the Waqf Board or the ASI. Thankfully, the court threw out the latter petitions while ASI is challenging Waqf Board’s order.

The latest that I’ve heard (based on a report in The Times of India) is that back in 1835, the East India Company nearly sold it off for its marble!

… the company had decided to dismantle the monument and auction its marble in 1835, under the rule of Lord William Bentinck.

(Aside: A little history primer for those of you who’re not aware. British came to India as traders of the East India Company and slowly took over the country. The first 100 years of British rule on India was actually the rule of this company. It was only after the 1857 War of Independence that lasted about a year that the British Crown took over the country’s governance).

NASSCOM Cries ‘Entrapment’

As the focus shifts to India further, expect more sting operations in India that try to spread the FUD on how insecure BPO outsourcing is, especially in India. NASSCOM calls it entrapment, I call it humbug.

DIY-GTD Blogs Hit A Spot

Greg Storey finally lets off some steam on the excessive DIY-GTD blogginess craziness over at his site and proceeds to put up a rather humourous “How To Stop Breathing Through Your Mouth”.

When your mouth has been successfully closed, try to draw air into the lungs through your nose. If everything works like it should your lungs will fill with air.

New Computer

I have a new HP computer (dx6120 MT) at office. I got it on Friday night and spent the next 3 holidays I had (Saturday-Monday) doing the data transfers and setting it up. The RAM was still the default 256MB till a few hours ago. With the new video card (I installed a XFX NVIDIA 6200 TC) and the RAM upgrade and some other hardware transfers from the previous mean machine, the specs now look thus:

Intel P4 3Ghz (HT), 1GB Samsung DDR2, 200GB HDD (80GB SATA, 120GB IDE), XFX NVIDIA 6200 TC (128MB onboard, supporting 256MB), SoundMAX onboard audio, Sony DVDR/CDRW Combo Drive, Creative Vista Webcam, Widcomm Bluetooth Adapter, 17″ CRT monitor, TVC Gold 104-key keyboard, HP optical mouse, Labtec Axis-301 headset, Sennheiser HD 212Pro.

Not bad for an office machine, huh? 😉

The only change to the above configuration is that I’ll put putting in another monitor (I think I’ll only get a 15″ monitor though) to the setup for a dual-display workdesk (the first in the office I might add).

The TVC Gold keyboard is the best in the world and there is no keyboard built (at least none that I know of) that I would exchange it for. Incidently, this and the combo drive are the only ‘white’ hardware left in my corner (everything else is black/silver).

Online Wanderings

Global War(m/n)ing

Head over to the Global Warming: Early Warning Signs to read up on how terribly we are screwing up our planet. A look at the signs in India on the Asia page made me wonder if I’ll see a glacier-less himalayan range within my lifetime.

I came across a report in New Scientist about widespread melting in Siberia that’s apparently been triggered only 4-5 years ago.

India’s Top Spies

Spies: From the celluloid British 007 to the ones in Discovery documentaries, I always wondered where all the good ones from my country were. But then, the good ones are talked about after they’re gone and done doing their deed.

Learn more about the best Indian spies and their acts that made them so.

Independence Day

1857: The struggle officially began.
1947: The struggle finally ended.

Happy 59th Independence Day!

The last 58 years of independence have been a crazy story of growth, progress, restraint and vision. From a British colony to a regional super-power, riding the IT and BPO boom, we have come a long way pretty fast and the road ahead is inviting…

When Think-Tanks Lack Thinking

Caught a story on Rediff about a new report by RAND titled “Exploring Religious Conflict” (PDF).

It clubs RSS as a NRM (New Religious Movement). It goes to the extent of naming it in the same sentence mentioning al-Qaeda!

NRMs can be found in Hinduism (the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS), Israel (Gush Emunim), Christianity (the U.S.-based Identity Movement) and Islam, including Al Qaeda, a global network with a transcendent vision that draws support in the defense of Islam.

I find that sentence incredibly repulsive. That’s like saying “It was because of great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler and Mussolini that people of their respective nations came together for a greater glory of their country.” That’s exactly how different in ideology, methods and intent RSS is from the rest of the organisations mentioned in the same sentence.

New? Puhleeeeze! It was established formally in 1925 though it’s basically the renamed incarnate of Abhinev Bharat which was founded in 1904. That makes it over a century old!

Religious? Gimme a break! It makes my skin crawl when people refer to Hindutva as a ‘religion’. The word ‘Dharm’ or ‘Dharma’ (sic) translates to religion as closely as defining a skateboard as a ‘4-wheeled transport vehicle’. Yet we do it because there really isn’t any word in English that is a direct translation and this is the one that comes even anywhere near.

Online Wanderings

My Team

One thing that I have tried religiously to do is keep most of my work-related stuff out of my blog. It’s been slightly tough since I spend an average of 130 hours a week in the office (out of a total possible of 168). There are a few things that have crept in of course: fun with clients for example, when I had a slightly rough time at office, and of course, the subtle and the not so subtle mentions… However, I maintain, that keeping the office mentions out of the personal blog makes a whole lot more sense than incorporating them. But like most things out there, not always.

I like my team. They’re an extremely hard-working and patient bunch of highly talented people. And guess what they did for my birthday? They gifted me a watch and a perfume+deo. The watch is very cool and the deo smells nice. What’s kicking me is that they pooled in and gave me something to remember them by for a long long time… and they did it with no precedent of this happening in the office. It was their love/respect for me that prompted them to do thus… and I’m very happy to learn that my team feels this way about me.

Thank you Vinish, Satvir, Parveen, Amit (T-Man), Munish, Shashank (Lineman), Ravi (Pacman) & Navreet (Header Woman).

And Another Year!

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. *toot* *toot*

Okay, so I completed 27 years today. :) Wow. Twenty-Seven. I still feel 18 though. That’s gotta be good in some psychiatric interpretation. 😉 I’m in far better spirits than last year. Lately I’ve become a hard-core positive thinker and I’m rather enjoying the energy it brings along with it.

The Prom Kings – Birthday. The Best Birthday Song! Period.

Best Use of Extranet (Basecamp)

We use Basecamp to manage work and interact with our clients. We call it our Extranet. My boss has started a little competition (I guess you can call it that) where he will rate its effective use by all the Project Managers and award the one to use it best with a box of Ferrero Rocher. This month (July’s) win was tied between me and Guneet. In other words, I don’t get the chocolates. 😛

A lot has been written about Basecamp and about a thousand times as much as been written about Project Management. Though people call me an organised person, I manage my work and my team essentially by gut-instinct on how things/processes make sense. However, proper techniques do exist and surely, their use will only improve the efficiency of the work involved. The problem is getting to understand them and applying them to my specific sphere of work. The need is for some formal management training to serve as a bootcamp. The real learning is out here in the fields anyway, but at least I’ll know the lingo. 😉

If you know of any sites that list tips & tricks on project management, especially in reference to Basecamp, let me know.

Online Wanderings

Update: Forgot to specify the enclosing list tags in HTML. 😛

Fun With Clients

I had to call a client in US. This is what happened in a series of emails.

Me: Could you let me know when I can call you?
Client: How about 6 PM EST?
Me: Uh… that’s a bit late for me (3:30 am my time). Could we do it a bit sooner?
Client: Sure! How about 3 PM PST?

I looked up my handy time-chart. 3PM PST == 6PM EST == 3:30am IST. 😀

Online Wanderings

Some random links that have been lying around, waiting for the next post…

Review of OPM-2 Software

I’ve written a review of Oxygen Software’s Oxygen Phone Manager II for Symbian Phones.

Though ideally I should tease you into reading the review, I’ll do the opposite and tell you that the review is favourable. I’ve liked this software but the latest version really hauls some serious functionality and is extremely easy to use. If you have a computer and are sitting on it, why would you want to touch your phone anyway? This software will make you want to do just about everything from the computer anyway.

So if you’re wondering why you should read it, the simple answer is that if you have Symbian OS phone, this review will probably introduce you to a software that you will love and later thank me for. So go ahead and read it.