September 25, 2013
So Apple released the final build of iOS 7 a week ago. Since then, a handful of people have asked me what I think about it, and whether or not they should update. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me, because iOS 7 has been somewhat controversial ever since Apple gave the world a sneak peek several months ago.
The most polarizing aspect of the new OS is, of course, its new look. I have to admit — when I first saw screenshots on Apple’s site after it was initially announced, I had mixed feelings. And I still do. While I think that the new home screen icons could have been a bit more polished and consistent (hey, Mobile Safari, I’m looking at you!), I’ve begun to warm up to the rest of the overall look-and-feel. It feels much cleaner, especially once you move beyond the home screen into apps like Mail, Safari, Calendar, Weather, etc. Third-party apps that haven’t been updated yet are already starting to feel old, crufty, and out-of-place after a couple of weeks.
Even moving past the visual changes, there’s a lot to like in iOS 7. Quick access to commonly used functions like Airplane Mode, WiFi, brightness, etc. through the Control Center has already become an indispensable feature for me, and I’ve relegated the Settings icon to my last home screen since I almost never need it anymore. The new multi-tasking app switcher is a significant improvement over the little row of icons that iOS 6 had. Peer-to-peer file sharing through AirDrop is super-easy to use, and the only thing that baffles me about it is that Apple hasn’t made it compatible with the AirDrop feature in Mac OS X (…a Mavericks feature, maybe?). The ability to natively block spam text messages and unwanted calls from telemarketers is another welcome addition. The new Mobile Safari app is so good that I haven’t felt the need to re-download Chrome from the App Store. The list of improvements and little tweaks goes on and on, and it’s actually fun to discover them as you poke around all the corners of the new OS after you’ve upgraded.
On the flip side, there are also annoyances (besides the aforementioned home screen icon blues). For me, the biggest one relates to poor use of animation effects — I honestly believe that Apple went overboard with the fade-in effect when turning on the phone, and the icons-flying-in effect when the device is unlocked. It looked kinda cool the first few times, but now I just want the effects to get out of the way so that I can actually start using my phone faster. I really hope that Apple tones this down in the next update; it happened with the “genie effect” on OS X, so I’m hoping they’ll learn from this mistake too.
So, should you update then? I’d say yes, absolutely, but realize that things may not be perfect. Give the visual changes a couple of weeks to sink in and let them grow on you. Once you’re past that, the rest of it is pretty great. :)
September 9, 2013
2012 was a year of no new blog posts. But it was also one of the most eventful years I’ve had in a long time.
The new year had started out much like the year before it. I had settled into a comfortable routine of sorts, but one that had started making me uncomfortable. I had been at Morgan Stanley for more than four years, and I had learned a lot during my time there, but a sense of disillusionment and a desire to do something else had been gnawing away at me, and that feeling was becoming impossible to ignore.
Fast forward to May, and I was sitting in a conference room overlooking Millennium Park on the 25th floor of a building in downtown Chicago for my first week of orientation as a ThoughtWorker. I would be based out of the New York office, but I’d be traveling during the week to various client locations across the country to work on software projects. Flying twice a week, every week. Working on completely new projects in different industries every six months or so. Things were looking good.
In the midst of all this, I had also met Divya. We had started hanging out on weekends and talking to each other quite a bit. We both really liked each other and things just clicked, so during the Labor Day weekend in September (almost exactly a year ago now), we got engaged and decided to get married in February. Things were looking even better.
It’s been just over a year since all of this happened, and looking back, I find it amazing how quickly and unexpectedly my life changed over the course of those few months. It was like hitting the reboot switch and waking up to something completely different.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been making tiny tweaks to the design of this blog, with the intention of making it a home for my thoughts on all things — technology, life, and miscellany, again.
It’s time to get started.
December 6, 2011
As I was skimming through my feeds in Google Reader today, I paused to read this piece in the New York Times about the Indian government’s plan to force internet companies like Google, Facebook, and others to pre-screen and censor content posted by users on their websites. It’s ironic (and sad) that such a story would appear in a section of the Times called “Notes on the World’s Largest Democracy.”
What’s more unfortunate is that this appears to be a growing trend across the world — China is well-known for its “Golden Shield Project” (more appropriately known as the Great Firewall of China); Pakistan was in the news recently for its attempt to censor the contents of text messages; the SOPA bill introduced into the U.S. Congress made waves all over the web last month. The list goes on.
The internet and social media have made it possible for information to spread freely and rapidly, and corrupt politicians all over the world are terrified of the power that this puts in the hands of the people. Kapil Sibal, the acting telecommunications minister in India, openly claims that a Facebook page criticizing the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, is “unacceptable,” and that Facebook should be responsible for actively monitoring and blocking such content. Besides the obvious technical challenges involved in achieving something like this without expensive manual human intervention, the whole idea of preventing people from posting their thoughts on public forums is just plain wrong.
Kudos to Google, Facebook, et al for sticking to their guns, protecting their users, and doing the right thing.
October 5, 2011
August 29, 2011
When I was younger, I used to hear the word “idiot box” being used to refer to the television quite often. I haven’t heard the term recently, but I think it’s more applicable today than it’s ever been.
As the years have gone by, there’s been an explosion of television shows and channels, and we’re now at a point where it literally takes several minutes to scroll from one end of the “channel guide” to the other. But in this insatiable quest for quantity, I feel like television networks have forgotten the meaning of quality content. Go ahead; turn on your television right now, and think about how many of those 1000+ shows are actually worth your time. Yeah, I thought so.
On one hand, we’ve been hit by the “reality television” plague, with shows that would make any reasonably intelligent human being want to cry. And then, we’ve got the so-called “news” networks, most of which are fear and propaganda machines that get fixated on and drum up the same inane topics for days, weeks, months…
I had enough.
So last week, I cut the cord. When our “triple play” package discount ended, and I realized that we hadn’t turned on the television for nearly a month, I knew it was time. People I spoke to who had already done so affirmed that they didn’t regret it one bit.
Now don’t get me wrong — in the vast ocean of mediocrity, I still think there’s a handful of really good stuff; the needles in the haystack, so to speak. But there’s no reason to fork over obscene amounts of money to your cable company every month in order to get that content. The seeds of change are already being sown — it’s now possible to (legally) watch a lot of this content online, on-demand, via services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes, and even some of the networks’ own websites. And devices like the Xbox, PS3, Apple TV, Roku, etc. make it dead simple to watch this content on your big screen TV from the comfort of your couch. The only missing piece right now is reliable/legal access to live sports content.
A combination of on-demand, a-la-carte access to shows that viewers care about, along with, perhaps, subscription packages for sports events would be an ideal future for television programming, in my opinion. The sooner the networks get on board the better it’s going to be for everyone.