Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carplay needs to get more serious! Introducing the Clever Car.

It's great that Apple is finally waking up to integrating the iPhone with the car. Ironic that the codename for the project was Stark, definitely there's a lot to learn from Ironman.

Here are my thoughts on what they really need to do, for the car to turn into a Clever Car are:
  1. Focus on combining internet and GPS towards creating a traffic flow detector, which will enable the driver of the car to take routes which have the least congestion on a real-time basis.
  2. In cars which have multiple traction and suspension settings, use GPS combined with roughness settings, to automatically select the mode, whether Race, Performance, Normal or Off-Road.
  3. Convert the phone, into a keyless remote, so that the doors automatically open, when the driver comes near the car, through detection of the phone.
  4. Create a seamless music experience, by automagically playing the last song from the music player on the phone.
  5. Detect friends in cars passing by and create an easy information exchange setting, so that contact information can easily be shared, and then the friend can be contacted directly over phone, chat or email, as per preference.
  6.  Like Ironman, what we need is a front camera integrated with the phone, which can easily recognise objects and read/record license plates for easy reference in case of any accident or incident.
 What would you like your clever car to do?

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Language is the biggest bane of usability and advertising

I find it surprising, that after years of talking and building user interfaces for computers and digital devices today, we still haven't figured out ways to make our user intercaces totally language free.

I mean, Apple started trying, with icon based menus for the personal computer with the Mac operating system, and then taking this forward with the Operating systems used on the iPhones, but today, where the option to open a new page in Safari had an icon with the "+" sign, today it says "New Tab".

This is the same problem with advertising today, especially on TV channels. The biggest irony, is that while TV channels in India are available in different languages(like English and Tamil for Discovery) as the touch of a button, the advertisement itself stays in the same language.

That may not look like a big problem in a country like England or America, where English is the language of choice, even for the programmer, but here in India, we need at least five languages to suitably communicate in our respective environments.

The problem is that programming as a concept, started in the developed, English speaking countries, whether it be C++, BASIC or Unix.

Today, this trend has moved to countries like Russia and India(where the programming language may be English, office language is British English, but the spoken language is either Hindi or the local language, like Tamil or Kannada).

So yes, you might agree that programming itself needs to change, but before that, we need to really work on the user interface and the marketing materials currently used.

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Golden rules of Social Media from my Grandfather

For me, social media is a conversation you can have with anyone.
The two basic rules of social media for me,from something my grandfather said, are:
  1. Never discuss religion.
  2. Never discuss politics.
Atleast in the beginning directly discussing about race is a no no too.

That's why this whole deal about people getting arrested for making the wrong kind of comments about political parties on Facebook, seems all wrong.

Politics on social media, is not even a conversation. It's just various people with a agenda, trying to push it through.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

The best alternative to Shaving Cream - Shower Gel / Body Wash

Now you might ask "Who actually still uses shaving cream?"
We're a dying breed, I'll give you that.

The reason is the brush. The shaving brush is like the butcher's knife which tenderises the skin.

There are various reasons why men, love the shaving brush:
  1. It actually helps in getting a closer shave, especially done after a hot bath.
  2. Leaves your skin feeling softer.
  3. If done right, might even eliminate the need for an aftershave.
This is where the shower gel is a great alternative:
  1. It eliminates the need for a shaving cream and an aftershave.
  2. Leaves your skin soft and clean shaven.
  3. Doesn't require a hot bath before shaving. 
  4. Smells way better.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Logging off Twitter Mobile (How Twitter really fucked up!)

It really sucks that Twitter would forget about the Log-off button for their Twitter mobile.

Sadly, there's only one way to log off Twitter from the website on your phone.

That is by deleting Cookies which Twitter stores regarding your log-in information.

For iPhone/ iPod/ iPad
  1. Go to the Settings Application on your Apple device by touching it.
  2. Go to the Safari tab by touching it.
  3. Click on "Clear Cookies and Data".
And Voila, you have now logged off Twitter on your Apple device.

For Android
  1. Start up the Android web browser. 
  2. Push the “Menu” on the phone to bring up the options for the web browser.
  3. Select the “More” options in the lower right hand corner.
  4. The “More” option has a lot of features. The one you want is the “Settings” function. Select that option.
  5.  In the next screen you will see all of the settings for the browser. Scroll down until you find the one that says “Clear all cookie data”. Select that option.
  6. You phone will now ask if you really want to clear all of the cookie data. Just select “OK” and all of the internet cookies will be deleted. 
And voila, you've logged off Twitter mobile on your Android Phone.

For Windows Lumia phone

  1. From the Start Screen Swipe the screen from right to left, Scroll down to “Settings” and tap it.
  2. Swipe the screen from right to left, to “Applications” then scroll down to “Internet Explorer” and tap it.
  3. At the bottom of the screen tap “delete history”.
And voila, you've logged off Twitter mobile on your Windows Lumia Phone.

For Blackberry
  1. From the home screen, press the Menu key.
  2. Select the Browser application.
  3. Press the Menu key.
  4. Select Options.
  5. Select Cache Operations.
  6. Select the Clear button in the section marked Content Cache.
  7. Select the Clear button in the section marked Cookie Cache.
  8. From here on some devices you will be able to clear the browser History as well.

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Monday, February 03, 2014

Big Data from Connected Cars

I am thinking about all the data which you take for granted in developed countries, which we need to collect through crowdsourcing here in developing countries like India.

One example of data which is really badly needed, is traffic information and information about infrastructure defects, such as potholes and unpaved roads.

While this information might be available for urban areas, there is almost no chance of such data being made available for rural areas, hence the need for crowdsourcing.

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Why we need a "Connected Car"

For me, the mobile device, is just a small little jigsaw puzzle in the game of connected life, where it provides different functions, depending on location.

Hence, when the mobile device is in the house, it acts as the TV remote, as the video conferencing tool over WiFi, as the controller for your lights, music and garage door.

When the device is in the office,it acts as your office number and email device, connecting you locally with your colleagues for easy exchange and creation of documents.

Finally, when the device is in your car, you would like it to become your GPS navigator, your information finder about nearby points of interest. When friends pass your car, especially long lost ones, the device alerts you to the same and gives you opportunity to exchange local contact information so that you may continue to be in touch with them.

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Why Google built the Google Car

Google has built the Google Car, to provide one more avenue for advertising, by changing the advertising technique from content based advertising, to location based advertising.

We know that Google has many applications around location, such as Google Maps, Google Navigation, Latitude etc.

But the only one to date, which has the capability to actually map my movement, is Latitude, which thankfully, people only use when they have to meet someone in real time.

Having worked on vehicle tracking devices, my worry lies on data regarding actual vehicle movement being made available to Google, thereby reducing the level of real life ambiguity to the level of nakedness, for example, data showing that a man is going to visit his mistress, when he has told his wife that he was going for a business meeting.

This is the kind of data which I am really worried about Google owning.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The True State of Goa

I had an epiphany when I went with my godson to the Sinquerim Dolphin Ride at St. Lauren's.

Good Konkani music playing, a well defined booth with a barricade to ensure people entered through a queue, lots of local people selling coconut water and other local delectables. But the Pièce de résistance,
had to be the question by the ticket issuer "Did you park your vehicle properly?"! This really showed the true Goan spirit of Music, Food and care for the fellow man. Even the tour guide, was kind enough to tell you the stories of places around him.
Sadly, the shack owners just a kilometre down the road, would rather shoo away tourists, rather than welcome them, believing more in conducting tours, rather than offering a drink.

Contrast this, with the scene just a day later, yesterday, where in the evening near the casino on Baga beach, what we see, or hear rather, is the dB war between two neighbouring shacks, on who can play their music louder. Who was the sufferer? We, the people, or in this case, my poor godson who was covering his ears most of the time.

And sad to say, this isn't just the beach warlord scene. We have the local MLA and Panch, engaging in various media battles, while construction around the Baga Bridge, the Arpora Bridge, continue un-abated, building larger concrete structure in the middle of fields, for newer and bigger music festivals, while festivals held in other parts of the world, like the Reading Festival, were more about
adapting to the local environment, rather than changing it.

Watch the AAP and understand why just making noise is not enough. The "Pehle Aap" (After You) Campaign, on the other hand, is what will take India forward, where we stop being animals and learn courtesy, both on the road and off it.

Subway is making a headway in India, with initial targets of 1000 outlets across India, while our Goan bakers are struggling to make the local bread, with dwindling support from the government and the market in general.

While the local Panchayat distributes baskets for dry and wet waste, there are tonnes of bottles and broken glass pieces strewn in and around Calangute and Baga Beach. What's the use of trying to educate the local Goan, who is already trying his best to keep his place clean, rather than try to educate the visitor who think of Goa as a "Wonder Waste Land". The local Garbage collectors are just content with blowing their horn in the wee hours of the morning(which is when this article is being written), rather than actually help in cleaning the area.

Reis Magos Fort, Aaah! What a breath of Fresh Air! Drinking water greets you as you enter and light and sound at different points. Oh, the Toilet, Reis Magos has a toilet to rival Five Star hotels, in terms of design and cleanliness.

Baga Beach, Oh No! Just one public toilet across the entire stretch from Baga to Calangute. No drinking water facilities anywhere. Absolutely no transport for tourists after 6.15 p.m. which is just around when the beautiful Baga Sun sets.

And that beautiful beach below the Retreat House? Vandalised by the local shack owner/warlord who decides to start a marketing campaign for his shack by painting directions on the big Rock in the sea.

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