Thursday, September 20, 2007

I love Google Docs.

I have been using Google Docs for quite a while now but have just begun to realize its true potential. And I think it is the best thing that has happened to me in a while, in terms of technology. I use 3 different laptops, 1 is my work laptop, the other is the big, clunky Dell Inspiron and my new Sony Vaio with Windows Vista on it. Why don't I get rid of my Dell Brick, well Vista doesn't support any of my webcam or image editing software. I am digressing here.
To make a long story short, I use any 1 of the 3 machines to do my school work. And before Google Docs came along I would have to use a flash drive to copy stuff around and then merge the copy, which was a big pain. But now I just log into my google account, create a word document, spreadsheet or even a presentation now, which I haven't tried extensively since it just came out a week ago. And any time I work on a different laptop I just need to be online to access my copy.
It has got some really cool features where you can export them into different formats or look at the version history. Although it doesn't provide all the options that Microsoft Office provides, I guess people don't even use about 90 % of the options that MS Office provides for their day-to-day work.
Although Google Docs is trying to replace Microsoft Office in the long run, I am not sure how successful that strategy is going to be. How many people do you know would like to store their documents online especially confidential office documents? And even if Google provides an offline storage there will still be skeptics around who would wonder how come such a thing is free.


Friday, September 07, 2007

iPhone Price Cut - Apple Faux Pas??

Apple cut the price of the iPhone by 200 $ just after 10 weeks of its much hyped launch. I don't own a iPhone but it would have given me a bad feeling if I had bought it at its original price. Ever wondered how the latest model comes out or the price goes down immediately after you have bought a product. That's life but the price cut by Apple would have been too much to take even for hard-core Apple loyalists. After a huge backlash against the price cut and the feeling of being punished for being an early adopter, Apple decided to give a $100 credit to the people who bought the iPhone at the original price. Talk about a clever plan, you give the money and make them spend on Apple products again. Nice !!
Now back to the price cut announced by Steve Jobs, was it a shrewd move or a hasty one. Considering how Steve Jobs helped Apple bounce back from its heady days of being an innovative but low profitable company to the current profitable chic consumer electronic company, this price cut seems to be part of a long winded strategy to get more people to buy iPhone's as possible. The quickly approaching holiday season could be another factor behind it. I had read an article sometimes back on how cheap it is to manufacture an iPod or a iPhone. It approximately costs around 1/3 the price of the actual product and the costs goes even lower considering the economies of scale. So Apple still makes boatloads of money after the price cut it announces for its products every season.
Only time will tell, if this price cut had a short-term damage to its reputation due to the negative publicity or increases Apple's profitability and market share in the next few years. I bet on the later.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Decisions, Decisions.

I am part of a club called 'ToastMasters'. The name of our club is McKToast and we meet every Wednesday in a conference room in my office to practice our speaking skills and listen to some great speeches. We have contests from time to time in different categories such as 'Inspirational', 'Humor', 'Tall-tale' etc. This week we had a humorous speech contest and I signed up for it. Although I had a week to prepare, I was really busy and decided to drop out but the organizers forced me to give a speech and I had to write up something in a day and hardly any time to rehearse my speech. The idea behind me choosing the topic was that my colleague and friends here are really curious on how the marriage process works in India. So I decided to do some reading and based on that and my own experience, decided to give a speech on how marriages are arranged in India. I have exaggerated the speech in some places to get some laughs out of the audience.

Here is the transcript of my speech.

Decisions, Decisions

There are a lot of decisions in your life that you dread about making. Paper or plastic, regular Coke or diet Coke, salad or a burger, Playstation or XBox. For me choosing between KungPao-chicken and Sesame Chicken at Village wok was the last important decision that I had to make. And always wanting to take the safer option I asked my friend to order the Sesame chicken while I ordered the Kung-Pao chicken.

I would be lying if I said getting married is not on my mind, no matter how much I try to forget it, people make a point to keep reminding me at every opportunity that they get. I talk to my parents and there are absolutely no pleasantries such as hello or how are you doing, they cut to the chase and start talking about the girls that they are planning to line up for me. I will be lucky if they don’t show up at the airport with the girls and force me to pick one at that moment.

I mention about my trip to India and people start asking oh you are going to get married, I wish I had a dollar every time somebody asked me that. Also I wish I knew myself if I was going to get married, I would wear a T-shirt that mentioned it.

I am extremely lucky in the sense that my parents are liberal in the way they approach the marriage process but not liberal enough for me to get married to a blonde girl, there goes my teen fantasy. I won’t even go into details on how marriages are fixed in different communities unless you have an entire week to listen to me. But in general they consist of the following steps with some differences here and there:

1. Broadcasting Availability:-

This usually happens by spreading the news among family and friends that the boy or girl has reached the marriageable age. With the advancement of technology, online matrimony sites play an important role now. This are not dating sites, I repeat not a dating site, people who are ready to commit to marriages are the only people who sign up at this sites and it is not uncommon for the first contact to be made by the parents of the bride/groom instead of the person who is going to get married.

And everybody wants the perfect man/woman. For guys, the girl should be a stunner, smart but humble, down to earth, and definitely a good cook while for girls the guys needs to be financially secure(translate that to working abroad), have a good sense of humor, no smoking/drinking and extremely understandable.

I have never seen a profile which says I am short-tempered or I don’t get along with people which makes it all the more important for the people to talk to each other and also the next process is supposed to predict the future problems that the couple might have.

Now onto the second step:-

2. Horoscope Matching:-

This is the most important step in the marriage process. It doesn’t matter if the persons who are going to get married have absolutely nothing in common, but if the horoscope matches, everything is supposed to be good and they have the go-ahead to move onto the next step which I will explain shortly. But all hell breaks loose if the horoscope doesn’t match, it’s a straight rejection after that without taking into considerations any other factors. Astrologers play an important role in identifying what matches and doesn’t match and their word is the last word. But if the persons involved decide to get married with the horoscope mismatch, anything bad that happens after that to anybody on the face of the earth, you are responsible, America attacked Iraq, your fault, Pluto is not a planet anymore, your fault, you get the idea and this is all since you didn’t listen to your elders and got married to the person with the bad horoscope.

To be fair, the way that it’s justified is that more marriages end in divorce in the western world since the horoscopes are never matched compared to India where horoscopes match are a must.

3. Getting to know part :-

This starts with exchanging the pictures and setting up a date where the boy’s family visits the girl’s family. This is preceded by background inquiries which I can tell you is more detailed than the background checks that the Dept. of Homeland Security carries out. It involves finding out about the person’s educational qualifications, job positions, character, the test whether the guy smokes/drinks or not is a favorite. I still remember the day when I was entrusted the important responsibility of checking the educational qualification of a guy for my cousin’s proposal. I was briefed before meeting the guy and I was supposed to speak only in English with him and my uncle was to observe how the poor guy responded. Talk about an interrogation.

4. Engagement:-

Once all the getting to know part is done, the couple gets engaged and hopefully gets a chance to meet without the full family in attendance. The all important astrologer comes into picture again to choose the auspicious date for the marriage.

I think no matter what happens everyone can probably relate to this quote which the great ‘Anonymous’ wrote. He has more quotes attributed to him than anyone else.

“Getting married is very much like going to a restaurant with friends.
You order what you want then when you see what the other person has, you wish you had ordered that.”

Here is an audio recording of my speech which one of the club members was kind enough to record.

I did improvise a little and the lack of rehearsal shows in some places. I am not sure how humorous it was but I did get a second place prize for it.