Again I find that yet another person tries to persuade me to download Safari, to buy a Mac, trying to convince me that iPhones are the best smartphones in the market (if you ask me, they are just oversized, overpriced erasers – easy to bend if you do it right, and really good at wiping your data, one does it only when you tell it to, the other does it only when you don’t, guess which one). And yet again another far-left person who considers him a revolutionary in Indian politics, trying to tell me I should vote for AAP in the next Lower House elections.

I simply can’t get the thought, of the AAP being awfully similar to Apple.

If they can’t do something, sour grapes!
Apple: We don’t support flash because flash is dead.
AAP: We don’t have economic policies because capitalism is dead (good thing they didn’t say our economy is dead).

If your once-saviour becomes a threat to you, you insult them with all your vocabulary.
Apple: who were once saved by Microsoft Bill is basically unimaginative and has invented nothing new, which is why he puts his efforts on philanthropy instead of technology.
AAP: who had previously praised Times Now for fair journalism Times Now is just a bunch of paid BJP media, we will boycott their interviews.

Vastly overrated by their fans.
Apple fans: Safari’s the fastest browser on Earth! Windows? Poof. Linux, what’s that? Mac is the only meaningful OS. Office for Mac is actually made by Apple, and it’s better than Office for Windows! Look my iOS has swype-typing – does your Android have that? i-i-i-i-i-i!
AAP fans: I will vote for AAP because AAP is the only honest party out there. Look, misguided fools, one man is fighting for all of us!

Copy and claim to be “different”.
Apple: Think different. Copy the Tablet PC. Think different. We will never hesitate from copying a good idea. Think different. The difference is the area and thickness of your phone – we have great ironing machines, sometimes they bend phones, though. Think different. Difference can be negative too, like 2 years behind swype typing…
AAP: BJP is corrupt and will block Lokpal. Copy Lokpal from BJP. Report about Gujarat: Modi wastes taxpayers’ money by travelling in a private plane! Return to Delhi in a private plane.

At first, people are enthusiastic about their radicality. But for about 2 years,… and then they are proven to be failures.

Why I finally made the switch to Firefox… from Chrome

Some say that Firefox is playing catch-up with Chrome. I agree. But what they miss, is that you can still play catch-up when you’re leading.

You hear from all across the web about “Why I switched to Chrome from Firefox” but let me invert this and tell you my story, from about 5 months ago about why I switched from Chrome to Firefox. My transition wasn’t a one-step decision to switch to firefox, I first switched to Chromium (no, I’m not an “I hate closed-source” person, I use Windows and a number of other closed-source programs), and then to Firefox.

Before the switch, I was a “Chrome is the best browser ever, Firefox is way below it, and IE? It isn’t even a browser” person. But then I became victim of some of my growing frustrations with Chrome.

  • It would randomly make tons of copies of my bookmarks.
  • Chrome would run in the background and crunch on my memory so that it could boast a nearly-instant startup time.
  • The bookmark sorting was way too poor.
  • No ability to enable smooth scrolling! Made me confused where I had stopped each time I scroll.
  • I couldn’t customise the browser’s chrome (no pun intended) – the chrome app menu is a pathetic mess.
  • The “restore last closed tab” was buggy and terrible.
  • It would randomly say uninformative “He’s dead, Jim!” or “Aw, snap!” messages when I was typing long texts, and make me lose them completely.
  • I kept having to be envious of the nice and cool extensions Firefox had.
  • I kept having to open Firefox because I couldn’t use some really useful extensions that I needed to use.
  • Retarded chrome updates (and Chrome wouldn’t even ask me if it could update it) would make sites that I visit regularly look pathetic and unprofessional. I mean navbars popping out everywhere and stuff. I mean really popular sites. And they looked perfect on Firefox.
  • It didn’t let me install extensions from “third-party sites”, and I had to go through a tedious procedure to enable it, and it didn’t always work.
  • One day, Chrome closed this backdoor too.
  • It kept bugging me to disable my “developer-mode extensions” as they called it, before chrome started closing all doors (and keeping me locked in their hellish universe).
  • The developer tools were inferior. Really inferior. Chrome users, just open firefox for once, right click or press the menu key, press “Q” or click the inspect element button, and click the gear icon on on the top right of the dev tools panel. Be amazed by the multitude of tools that Firefox offers.
  • Chrome loved to feast on my RAM. My laptop has a RAM of 6GB and that was often not enough for Chrome.
  • Chrome kept running in the background, what an attention seeker.
  • Chrome wouldn’t have a feature to let me sort my tabs so my tab bar kept getting cramped.
  • To make things worse, the tabs just got smaller and smaller, and scrollbars never appeared.
  • The history tools were meek and pathetic. I was hearing that this was because chrome was a “bare-bones browser”, but I didn’t want a bare-bones browser. I wanted a browser with bones, tendons, muscles, ligaents, fat, skin, and clothes (UI) not bones wearing a fancy jacket (design).
  • The way chrome handled themes, language packs, etc. was just stupid. I’d need to dig into my profile folder to find out the name of the theme I was using. Firefox does this way better. Plugins, language packs, themes, extensions, they’re all add-ons.
  • Finally, and this was the very last straw, it decided to go ahead and disable all my “developer-mode extensions” and didn’t even let me re-enable them. I’m no developer but neither do I have a vision problem, besides mild myopia, so I can read the source code of scripts I use if I want to. It was none of Chrome’s business to tell me what’s safe for me and what’s not.By the way, I absolutely hate this new trend in which other people decide for you how to sort your files (just look at all the new launchers on Google Play), what may be dangerous for you and what’s not, etc. The trend was started, I think, when Microsoft started the “Default Libraries” idea with Windows 7. But Microsoft was smart, they didn’t force everyone to use these libraries. If you can’t copy Microsoft, don’t copy them.

And as I said, that was the very last straw. I was repeatedly hearing from people, “switch to firefox, it’s better! If you can’t adjust to the new UI, there’s a theme called FXchrome!”, but ignored them due to my being a chromehead (still). So finally, I decided to switch, but not to Firefox, but to Chromium. After all, since Chromium was for developers, surely Google won’t poke their nose in there and prevent them from installing “developer-mode extensions”.

Yes, right. But what I didn’t know, that Chromium sometimes thought that it was a mobile browser (and so that it didn’t have to display hover texts) and that it had a habit of sometimes eating up images when you hover on them, and also when you don’t. To be fair, Chromium is supposed to be unstable, and nobody told me to use that as my primary browser. But I did, anyway, and coped with it until I heard the trumpetting of a new Firefox version.

Huh, I thought, it’s just a new version. Those things happen daily. Firefox 28 to 29, what’s the big difference? But there was – I heard about the new projects of Mozilla – Australis, Electrolysis, The Web as a Platform, and I was awed. I was completely awed by the great customisability it offered. Native MathML rendering FTW! Finally, I learnt that chrome fell asleep, and off its throne as speed king. It didn’t fall one step, but two, to come third after Firefox and Opera (well, on the “Next” update channel, anyway, but still). OK, Firefox, did lose the throne quickly to IE soon, but does that matter? It’s IE, and I don’t want IE, it’s too buggy.

And then I learnt that I could sort my bookmarks by tags. And that the FXchrome theme was actually great. And I heard about tab groups. And so I did a switch I would never have dreamt of, switching my browser (chrome to chromium is not counted because you can copy the settings and profile folder; neither is IE to chrome because I didn’t have any data to transfer from IE to chrome back then). But Firefox had made it quite easy to switch, actually. This was I think, the second biggest switch I’ve done so far, after a switch from gmail to outlook.com (no, not a google hater, I just want good products, I do use Android and Google Drive by the way…), although Microsoft made that one REALLY easy, that came a few months later.

Of course, there were some things I found strange as a new user. Some of them are already solved by now, in the newest stable, FX 33.0, and many more in the latest nightly, FX 36.0. But these are easily solved by installing a few extensions. Some extensions to help a long-time Chrome user new to Firefox.

  • Download Status Bar – I disabled this after a while because I decided that Firefox handled things better.
  • FXchrome – By the way, how many of you knew, that it was Chrome which got its design from Firefox and not the other way around? Just look at the first build of Chrome, released for Linux operating systems, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Omni-Sidebar – It doesn’t make all the stuff (add-ons, bookmarks, history, downloads, etc.) appear like in chrome, but better, in a little neat sidebar.
  • ChromEdit – If you know your way through CSS, you can customise the design of your Firefox a bit more than what FXchrome offers.

Another trick that may be useful is to bookmark about:downloads so you can track your downloads in a new tab instead of a new “simple window” (window without a url bar).

The reform the Indian K-12 Education System needs

So we hear again and again, that the Indian curricula, like CBSE and ICSE, are not advanced enough, that they encourage rote-learning, that they are exam-oriented, that India does not have the educational infrastructure it needs, and all the same things. It’s almost as if the people who say this themselves rote-learned this essay.

Trust me, the CBSE curriculum is more advanced than the popular curricula of the US and the EU, and even on par with the educational curricula of the Asian tigers. A curriculum cannot encourage rote-learning. The teachers can. The students can. The parents can. Similarly, a curriculum can’t be exam-oriented. The students can. The parents can. The teachers can.

India has all the educational and scientific infrastructure you can think of. Peek into a university physics department and you’ll get what I mean. Supercomputers? Sure, Tata makes them. Space research facilities? All over the Deccan Plateau. Advanced chemical laboratories? In every Tier-I institute. Neutrino observatories? We have them too. Find me one other LEDC (besides China) that has these. Not even China has the kind of advanced technology that we do. Out of the BRICS countries, we are the most similar to a developed country in this regard (yet the most dissimilar on economic grounds).

And how much of that do you need in K-12 schools, anyway? What’s the last time you saw an 8-year old playing with supercomputers? What about the little amount of infrastructure schools do need? Well, again, don’t blame it on the curriculum. It’s the parents who fear them, the students who don’t want them, the teachers who can’t understand them, and the schools which don’t buy them.

So, why isn’t it working? Why is Indian K-12 education still so bad, especially compared to our Undergraduate and Graduate education?

  • Pay Teachers better – This automatically increases teachers’ dedication and brings in better candidates to the profession (as many talented people opt to not teach because the salaries aren’t high enough when they can go for jobs that interest them equally but pay them better).
  • Make essential facilities mandatory in government schools – Laboratories for the experimental sciences, good and functioning computers in every classroom, good computer labs and libraries, and other such facilities. It hurts me that so many schools choose to spend on unnecessary air conditioning instead of good labs and computers.
  • Remove the English Medium/Vernacular Medium Price Divide – So many people choose Vernacular medium schools because English medium schools are unaffordable for them or simply because Vernacular is cheaper. This hurts the children and consequently the nation in the long run as most of the world’s knowledge is available in English. Find out what are the extra costs for an English medium school and see what can be done about them, or if the extra cost is just for status.
  • Specialisation – Here’s where the curriculum needs to change: it’s absolutely abominable that a 12th grader has to study something like 15+ subjects. Quality of the subjects, not quantity. With these many subjects, the student ends up having to memorise or otherwise just lower his standards in each individual subject. Instead implement slow and steady specialisation in high-school. The student has got some surface experience of all the different streams in his primary years, and also has a good command of language, so why bother with stuff he knows he won’t be doing. Our Undergraduate programs will automatically adapt to new system.This allows the curriculum to push up its level and depth without stressing the student till his brain pops out. It also allows for smoother and more meaningful transition to the student’s Undergraduate Studies.
    • In years 7 and 8, the student can choose to study “Sciences”, “Arts”, or “Sports”, for example.
    • If he chooses, say Sciences, then in years 9 and 10, the student can choose to study subject trios (with compulsoury Mathematics) like “Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry”, or “Mathematics, Chemistry Biology”, or “Mathematics, Physics, Computer Studies”, etc.
    • If he chooses, say “Mathematics, Physics, Computer Studies, then in years 11 and 12, he is to choose a single subject, like Mathematics, Physics (with mathematical pre-requisites), or Computer Studies.
  • E-learning – Implement, on an experimental basis in certain schools across the country, complete electronic learning. Assignments and class notes will be uploaded on an electronic classroom service like Edmodo or Google Classroom. Tests and Examinations will be given in school, but on a computer. Multiple choice can be marked electronically, and the rest manually. The lectures will additionally be uploaded on an eClassrrom service. The students will be allowed to bring laptops to school for the purpose of taking notes. Students can interact and answer each others’ questions (the correct answer can be marked by the teacher) through a software like Question2Answer. This also encourages students to ask and answer questions, as the Q2A system is gamified with “reputation points”. Maybe once a student gets enough reputation, he can mark answers as correct too, along with the teacher. Implement Smart Boards, which behave like a physical blackboard (for familiarity) in terms of sounds, colours, and graphic quality but have great features, e.g. the stuff written on the blackboard will be recorded as a video and saved, and the chalk (a nicely designed stylus) will never run out. No dust, but the familiarity is there, with new useful features.
  • Teacher Training Workshops – I’ve always been stunned by one thing about Indian Education – everywhere around the world, the teaching depends on the curriculum and the school, but in India, the teaching depends on the teacher. In India, you can have a terribe teacher (videos of “Teachers in Bihar Schools” who know nothing and teach rubbish are all over youtube) or a great teacher who completely transforms the students’ lives (but go unnoticed, unlike the terrible teachers who get famous by teaching terribly). So what am I suggesting? Uniformising teaching? Nah, I’m no communist : ) – Let’s just make the bad teachers good (as in, above today’s expectations) and the great teachers superb. Organise national workshops for teachers from across the country with lectures for teachers on every single aspect of teaching you can imagine. For concrete things like “marking”, “useful tech tools for teaching” and “making professional and engaging presentations” to “engaging students”, “encouraging creativity in students”, and “conveying intuition and insights”. Let’s make model teachers give demo lessons too.

That’s not to say our higher education system is perfect. Eradicate reservation first (and make it a punishable offence for any state government to implement reservations in their states), and then let’s talk about going even close to perfection! It’s just ridiculous, that the there are only 60 seats, thanks to 49.5% reservation, in a prestigious institute like the Indian Institue of Science. The second-most attractive state for education after Karnataka, that is Maharashtra, has 74% reservation. Need I even speak about this? It won’t be far before we have 100% reservation in some states and if you’re by birth a male Brahmin middle-class urban Hindu who is not from Kashmir, you will have no chance to study or work in a government institution.

OneDrive: The weak link in Microsoft Windows

Update from the future (CTC): I tried OneDrive again, looks like they’ve done a major overhaul, and it isn’t buggy! It’s as fast, or maybe even faster, than Google Drive.

After a period of being fascinated by OneDrive’s storage capabilities, trying it out, doing everything I can to increase my storage space further, blaming any problem I encounter on myself, and finally getting frustrated with this cloud storage service, I’m finally quitting OneDrive, and moving my files to Google Drive and Dropbox (I can’t use a single service because I have too many files, OneDrive had 30GB, which was enough on the other hand).

OneDrive seems to be the next stupid mistake of Microsoft after Internet Explorer 9, an update that made IE worse than it ever was. I absolutely detest how they tout these half-baked products as revolutionary and the one place for everything. Come on, even the most novice of developers bother to debug their products. Like how they released a buggy and pathetic IE 9, they seem to have laden their new donkey, OneDrive, with way too much shit for it to move or even stand without crashing to the ground.

My biggest complaint about OneDrive for Windows 7 is that “Sync stops unexpectedly”. Out of my 24GB, only about 2GB gets synced before the syncing thing crashes for some random reason. No, Microsoft isn’t lying, I’ve checked to see if they can actually handle more storage than 2GB by manually uploading files from my system (which I can’t do for all my files since onelike what MS expects, I actually need to put my files into folders.

Another stupid thing OneDrive does, is re-uploading all my files if I change the folder nesting structure on my PC. On Google Drive and Dropbox, it simply tracks the changes I’ve done to the folder structure, and does the same on its own servers. The upload was in itself always terribly slow, compared to Dropbox and especially Google Drive (and to completely mindboggle me, I heard from people that “it’s actually much better now!”. how bad was it before, then?).

So I’m finally switching – I’ll be using Google Drive for my important files (because a lot more useful features I’ll need are free on G-Drive on DB) and Dropbox for my less important files, basically my archives and photos. It’s a pity that I will no longer be able to use the “share from onedrive” feature when sending an email from Outlook.com or quickly save my office online files (I know the free Office Online isn’t as good as the real thing, but I use it when I need to do some quick editing) to my cloud storage (which is why I call it the weak link in Office, in particular).

Microsoft, I love your other products, but don’t you dare try to replace my hard drive.

An Analogy between the states of the Indian Union and those of the European Union

I’ve always wondered about these little analogies. So now after some pondering, I present my analogy between the states of EU and those of India (sometimes called the Indian Union as the consitution states that India “shall be union of states”):

  • Western Europe is Western India. An Industrial powerhouse of the region, pretty rich, and what is probably the region’s largest metropolis (Bombay/Paris) is quite a cosmopolitan. There are some strong regional fans in France/Maharashtra and Spain/Gujarat has recently started to develop quite rapidly. The Marathas/French had once nearly unified all of India/Europe.
  • Eastern Europe is Eastern India. Once a very developed region,  now has detoriated due to far-leftist agendas and sheer bad luck. Unlucky Poland would be the misfortuned West Bengal. Lots of states here that many people from the rest of the Union don’t know the names of (the people of these states are also ridiculed due to their Chinese/Russian features in India and Europe respectively).
  • Southern Europe is Northern India. Particularly, Italy would be U.P., Greece would be Bihar, Turkey would be Punjab. Once a superior cultural, economic, and educational centre, now has degraded into the most underdeveloped economies of the region. Nalanda in Bihar was like Athens in Greece. In terms of language imposition, India experiences a milder version of the Latin Era of Europe post-Roman empire.
  • Northern and Central Europe is Southern India. Northern Europe is Kerala (considered the rare examples of a “successful socialist state” although I would bet to differ). Karnataka would be Switzerland (industrial and educational powerhouse, wonderful Bangalore/Zurich, nearly every region of Karnataka is highly influenced by another state, making its languages and cultures quite diverse), Tamil Nadu as Germany (industrial and educational powerhouse, the current anti-Brahmin politics is similiar to the Nazi era of Germany, the AIDMK reminds me of DDR), Seemandhra would be Hungary, Telangana would be Austria (Austria-Hungary empire – Andhra Pradesh), Pondicherry as Luxembourg. In ancient times, they were considered to be Demons (“Rakshasas”)/Barbarians (but who knows the reality, history is written by the victors, and Southern India, Central Europe are at least stereotyped as physically weaker), but now lead the union in education, research, economy, and social development.

So turn India upside-down (flip across horizontal axis) and contort it a little, and you get Europe.

From 95 to 10: The journey of Windows

Windows 10 technical preview is here, and it looks like next XP-like revolution. If we disregard the Windows application versions that were launched from DOS, and start our clock at Windows 95, and if we consider Windows 8.1 to be Windows 9, we have it that every fifth version of Windows (XP and 10) were massive successes, the odd-numbered versions tend to be more successful (starting with W3, ending with W8, its alternating). But something interesting is that in most of its successes tend to combine the best of both worlds. Usually, the one of the worlds, the older one was a success and the newer world was a failure.

Windows XP (Windows 5) combined the best of both worlds from Windows 2000 (Windows 3) and Windows me (Windows 4), and made it really great. Windows 3 was pretty good, but not so good for the average john doe. Windows 4 was something that Microsoft should apologise every day for, but had a more intuitive UI. Microsoft combined the two with Windows 5, and made it better than ever (better functionality than W3, better design than W4).

Windows 7 combined the best of both worlds from Windows XP (Windows 5) and Windows Vista (Windows 6). Windows 5 had revolutonary functionality, but its UI had started to get really boring. Windows 6 had a whole new awesome UI, soon to be known as Aero, but was something that Microsoft should apologise every week for. Microsoft combined the best of both worlds with Windows 7, removed the bugs of 6, restored the greatness of 5, with great new features that you had never seen before, with a boost to Aero.

And now Microsoft is doing the same thing with Windows 10. Windows 9 (Windows 8.1) was just the prelude to something amazing. It has all the new features and speed of 8/9, the great “Metro” of 8/9, and the familiar and more meaningful desktop of 7. No more split personality for Windows, phew! This illogical split personality was what made me choose to stick with 7, but with 10,… I may switch if I can afford to! And I must complete, “with a hoarde of great, just great, features that every Windows user wants”. And the Internet of Things is closer than ever!

Remember the days when you had those funny Venn diagrams, with circles, “Customisable (C)”, “Powerful (P)”, and “User-friendly (U)”, with Linux in the intersection of  C,P, Mac in the intersection of P, U, and Windows in the intersection of C, U, and at the intersection of C,P, U, a “You wish”. Well, it was inaccurate anyway, Windows has always been more powerful than a Mac, but now Windows sits right there, where the “You wish” arrow goes. That should be their tagline for Win10, You Wish.

Why Sathya Nadella is absolutely right about women asking for a payraise

What am I hearing? Satya Nadella is a chavunist, a sexist, a maoist, a communist, a capitalist, an imperialist, an exorcist, an insertbadwordhereist!

Too bad, your gender is seldom a good reason to get anything (besides sanitary pads). If you don’t work enough to get a payraise, that’s your problem. If you’re too shy to ask for a payraise you deserve but haven’t been given, it’s your problem. Stop blaming your productivity and character on the rest of the world.

This applies to men and women alike. Sathya said it in a polite way – to prevent any loss to his company that would be incurred from fools who buy based on the organisation’s shareholders’ personal beliefs instead of product quality.

Unfortunately, the feminists get food to protest against, and the media gets food to feed the public who will feed them their TRP. An organisation has its own priorities and profits to consider. Think you’ll get a payraise for being a woman? Fat hopes. And unlike these retarded pseudo-secular feminists, Bill’s (a major shareholder in Microsoft) the one actually working for the empowerment of the poor and the oppressed.

Too bad though, Microsoft bashing, Mozilla bashing, Flipkart bashing are “cool” thse days. Doubt there would have been a similar reaction if Tim Cook said that.