November 25, 2013

Office humor

Back in 2000 or so, office email was "normal". People just asked their colleagues their questions and gave technical feedback etc with an occasional thanks if the other person did something really helpful. Around 2003 or so, i started noticing a strange trend. Few people started adding Thanks at the end of many emails. This trend got picked up and soon, everyone started adding Thanks to their emails. I started doing that too because I didn't want anyone to think that I am disrespectful. But some folks started taking this too far. They added a permanent "Thanks" to their signature. Even if THEY were helping ME out, they would end up thanking me because of this. It was like, "hey thanks for giving me a chance to help you, you are so good". Some emails would be like:

Subject: Thank you!
Thank you for sending me the document.
Thanks again!


At some point, I got fed up thanking profusely for every silly thing. Now I only thank people who are really doing a favor to me. I just use one of the variety of Regards like Warm Regards, Best Regards or Kind Regards (whatever that means).

We all know that some people are really good technically but they can't use correct grammer in emails. one such incident. One of my previous managers sent an email to all the team members with subject "Take leave today". I seriously thought "wow such a good manager, he is asking all of us to take leave. maybe we worked so hard, wow great man!". So, I immediately took off. Only on the way home, I saw the full content of the email. It seems HE was taking the day off because he was sick. His email subject should have been "Taking leave today". many times, i had to read the email twice to even understand the english part.

Another mishap that usually happens is forgetting to attach documents. People send really long description of their document like, "this document covers this aspect, that aspect" etc and forget to send the document itself.

Even with all these, I prefer emails more than meetings because of the comedy that happens in the so-called brainstorming meetings. They would call for a meeting with numerous folks from multiple teams who have no idea what each other are doing. Just setting up this meeting with a time when everyone's calendar is free itself would be a nightmare. After struggling hard, they would book a conf room for some half hour as if the hardest problems in the world were solved in half an hour!

There will be 10 people in the attendees list and 5 of them will come late (standard 15 mins). Somebody would start drawing something on the board slowly and by the time he finishes drawing using his less-than-stellar drawing skills, there will be only 5 mins left. Nothing will be decided in that 5 mins and they will resort to emails later. This is the peaceful version. There is another World War III version where everyone will fight tooth-and-nails to get their point of view across which no-one will accept anyway. Instead of all this drama, a simple email thread is far better, right?

November 22, 2013

Facebooker Taxonomy

I joined Facebook much earlier than many others I know. Initially I allowed some random people in my friends list who I had never even met (some random gmail contacts). The moment I decided to use Facebook regularly, I removed all those folks. Also, I don't accept any work colleagues as my friends (they belong to another place - LinkedIn). I have a short and sweet list with only close relatives and friends who I can trust. In case you are wondering why I am saying all this, you will find out towards the end of this post.

In my observation, I have seen four types of Facebook users.

Silent Monks: This category belongs to those who decided to join Facebook at some point as a favor to someone who pestered them to check out Facebook. They are still cursing themselves why they did it. They only post mugshots of themselves at random times with no explanation and they never comment on or like anybody else's updates. They post cryptic one line messages mostly during travel to inform the arrival/departure to the wife and never bother to answer the comments from other friends driving them crazy. Somebody should tell them that Facebook is not supposed to be used like that and you can use simpler things like SMS or voicemail to leave messages to your wife!

Family Fanatics: This category of folks will leave Facebook if it stops supporting photos. Because all they do is posting family pictures and checking which of their friends liked the album. If you like each individual picture in the album, you can become their close friend. If you forget to register any like, they will take revenge on you by not liking your next batch of photos. How dare you? hah...

Cautious Conversers: These folks have to check the political correctness of their status updates before they can post it. What if it offends the "Onnu Vitta Maama" (distant relative) who recently joined Facebook and demanded to become his friend over phone (which he accepted with a lot of hesitation). This syndrome arises because they would have allowed anyone to become Facebook friend. When you have 500 "friends" as audience, who knows what will be offensive to whom. They will mostly post articles from the web because you know, if somebody finds fault with it, they can put the blame on the original author and escape. Off late, they are worried about NSA reading their posts and stopped posting anything related to politics.

Facebloggers: These are ex-bloggers who got bored with blogging and decided to use Facebook as a blog. They will post re-eeally long text or use Facebook like a loudspeaker to announce their opinions about various topics which they can't resist anyway. Sometimes they will comment on their own posts before others comment on it! (I belong to this category)

So, choose your friends wisely and it's not all that wrong to remove random folks from your friends list for the sake of freedom. Happy facebooking!

September 12, 2013

Apple - History repeats!

Hello there! I am reviving this blog with a new look and new name! I am planning to write my thoughts about the mobile technologies and other technology related topics. I have also enabled comments again. If you are reading this from my RSS feed, you are welcome to visit my blog and comment on the post.

History is going to repeat itself at Apple in few years from now, I think. Just as it lost the PC battle to Microsoft even though Apple pioneered the concept of PC, the smartphone pioneer may lose the battle to Google/Samsung in more ways than one. With the announcement of iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple has clearly communicated it’s intention to remain as a premium provider while lacking the speed and agility of Samsung in terms of features. I can see a few things happening as a result of this.
Market Share
Apple’s US market share may start eroding at a slow pace given that it has still not caught up on things like bigger screen, NFC etc (fingerprint scanning is not going to make a big difference because it’s not available to developers and it may actually make it harder to unlock your phone by rejecting your own fingerprint often :). When they skipped these features last year, most people (including me) assumed that they are just slow to catch up. But now, it is clear that they have something against adding these features. Like always, they are trying to force their opinions on customers. Apple fanboys won’t have a problem with that, but I am not sure about the millions of non-fanboys who started loving Apple because it gave them a great phone/tablet that they can boast about. These converts may start wondering why they are sticking with Apple. 
Global market share is never going to get better with the way iPhone 5C has been priced outside US in countries like India and China where there is no contract subsidy. People may actually start disliking the Apple brand in India because it never produces something that makes sense for the average Indian smartphone user. Apple had a great chance of doing well in India where there are numerous iPhone developers churning out iPhone apps day in and day out. The other irony is in China - the iPhone is assembled in China but Apple makes sure the Chinese can’t afford it!
Profit Margins
So far, the argument in support of Apple has been “hey, who cares how many Android phones sell but Apple has the big margins”. This could be challenged with the introduction of two phones that are more or less the same except Aluminium vs plastic and the not-so-must-have fingerprint scanning. Just think about this. iPhone 5S with a green or orange color 3rd party case will look and function pretty much like iPhone 5C :) So, why bother spending another $100 to buy 5S? How many folks are going to buy it just for the aluminium back? The profit margins may erode as well if most people start ignoring iPhone 5S. 
You know which platform the first VisiCalc and Lotus Notes were developed for? Apple II. Fast forward and now most developers are targeting Windows first. It doesn’t matter that iPhone is the first choice smartphone platform today. As high end users start moving to Android, developers will follow them with no choice. Once the tide turns against iPhone, there’s no stopping. Does Larry Page know how to monkey dance like “Developers, Developers…” because he may have to do it soon.
Let’s see what happens in the next few years. For now, I am doing two things - dumping Apple stock and decided to buy a cutting edge Android phone next time.