Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Woes and Ease of Facebook Chat

The time on the Desktop clock when I start to type this article: 11:45pm
I was chatting with a friend on Facebook, when I got to reflect on just how difficult the interface for the same is, on Zuckerberg's Social Net(doesn't always)work. The defects, faced by all, is summarized as below:
1) Enter, the Dragon: Zucker's team might have forgotten to programme respect for the ENTER key. Worse still, they would have set a counter which recognizes the ENTER key only the seventh time somebody presses it.
2) The exclamations of life aren't given their place, on FB. For, this is how "what you mean" gets typed on FB chat:
Oh! - oh1
LOL! - lol1
Haha!!!! - haha111
The most required SHIFT is never given its due, hence...
3) Phase-book: This would have been a better name for the network, for it displays what you have typed in phases. It stops mid-way, hell with your speed and ability to type fast, and moves on to the next phase only after a couple of swears form your side, and a call and a message to the person at the other end if not a face-to-face meeting, to convey how FB chat sucks.
4) Space-jam: Self-explanatory, foryouwouldneverwantwhatyoutypetobeclusteredtogetherlikethis.
5) Loading the Chat option... sometimes takes forever.
6) Back to FB chat... Was taking a break when I had pressed Enter there.

Time on desktop clock now: 11:57pm - My fastest blog to-date. :) This is when the keyboard works the way you want it to!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Reflections of a past decade (1991-2000)

Five years of blogging. Half my audience would never believe its eyes about this statistic, for I myself skipped a heart-beat or two when I realized that the Den of Drums and Dreams was half a decade old! Now, that’s a total of 27 posts, including the one I have been typing just as yet.

The blog started with an article that meant nothing to anyone, including me, whoever-read-it and Jerome K Jerome (who finds a mention in the first post). It was initially aimed at daily posts summarizing the day that flew by, but then I understood that my having a blocked nose is of no remote significance to any reader or to Jerome K Jerome, who is no more now and very much so then!

Humour has been at the core and crux of all blogs, though a couple of posts had a contemplative / opinionative shade to them. It always reigned, for more than three-quarters of the blog were about incidents involving me, or in the least had my playing the role of the prompter-behind-the-curtain. And plots where I was involved undoubtedly had “sympathetically resonant (yeah, I remember my physics. Alternatively, this was typed to make me look and sound so.) laughter” in them, not due to my ability to read, re-read and reproduce satire in writing, but because I always used to be stationed at the receiving end. The only reason then, that my blogs have less of “I” and “me” was because I generalized the anecdotes as applicable to the present world / generation per se, and wanted to consciously reduce the first-person element termed as ego. Which is why you would find more of the third person here, and the passive voice with the subject deleted, as taught by Wren and Martin!!

Five years saw me do 3 months of a B Tech, two years of work, another couple of years of an MBA, and seven months of the next job. This meant relocating through five cities in “three states” (that’s one more than Chetan Bhagat’s!)… As I retrospect, I wonder at how science and technology have first comforted and then intruded into our PESTEL (!!) fabric. Further, half-a-dozen classmates had summarized their past decade (2001-10) on Facebook, while ushering in a new set of 120 months. This is when I thought of life a decade further back (1991-00 (Y2K!)), and was surprised to see the change that has come through. Whether it is welcome or not is an endless abyss of a debate and best not ventured into, for we risk losing out on content due to high levels of subjectivity in thought and (in)action. The reflections, by the way, are based on the academic year (June to May), very much different from the “financial year” we have been forcefully made to understand.

Come April, and it was time to see the result of the FINAL exam of the previous class. I had written my first Standard exam then, and felt the triumph of having cleared the Civil Services, for I could spell G-O-O-D-S T-R-A-I-N and also knew what the vehicle did. A tense dad and a very, very, cool son marched past the school gates. Plenty of anxious parents had crowded around the one tiny notice board (of which my name was an even smaller speck), all equally anxious of the numeric equivalent out of 100 their sons had secured, which would prove whether their respective sons have mastered the “Zen of the Goods Train”.

My target (oh yeah, Sales started from birth. You made pitches to your parents, impromptu, without any PPT / infra-red remote controls. No blazers, no formals, but you were far more serious and meant more business than now with all accessories on!) was an 80%. It was a breeze, for:
  • The fact that “we should not spit on the road” took care of my Social Studies
  • 10 + 21 = 31 ensured a centum in Maths
  • The Goods Train ensured that my General Knowledge marks chugged along
  • I knew the Malayalam equivalents of a cat, rat and a mat.
  • The sun was a huge ball of fire, and my science teacher was more than happy with that.
  • The Radiant Reader had to be read out loud in English, and I screamed so loud that it sounded like the Major’s order, and the marks were jotted down halfway through the third sentence. I had practised the lesson “Nancy’s picnic” a million times at home!

Six subjects were all they had to it. Physical Training was never a subject, and “Games” was not compulsory.
The results almost always carried a bribe with them. I had promised dad an 80%, in lieu for an electric train (engine and one-and-a-half coaches) with plastic tracks, battery-operated. I had achieved an 85%, so that meant it would be a train plus an-extra-gift-for-over-achieving! That was about RESULTS and APPRAISALS.
Come the month of May, and Loyola School used to reopen a fortnight earlier than others in the city. Now, this meant:

  • Brand new bags
  • Squeaking new shoes, with lights, without them, with sounds, etc. (Action Rockers – do imagine the futility of having lights at the back of your shoe, and that too a red one.)
    o Sub-bullet point – Action Silencer – Kapil Dev’s shoes that used to have Suction, Compression and Ventilation. I noticed three years later that the air-hole in the shoe was but a farce! ROTFL!
  • Uniforms – The tailor round the corner was tenser than I was, in having the uniforms stitched.
  • Books – The stationery-shop owner’s Chotu used to run around the neighbourhood, collecting the new books for school, to get them bound. The smell of Fevicol in newly bound books had an infinite nostalgia tagged to it!
    o Book labels – Every children’s magazine used to have a centre-spread of adhesive book labels. We kids used to buy two additional magazines over and above the one we subscribed to, only for the labels. The rest of the magazine was scrap equivalent.

Pranks at school are quite another subject altogether, and will be pondered about in the subsequent post.