A new year

Tonight 2016 ends. I don’t know if it was a good year or a bad year. I do believe it was a year with a lot of change.

Change brought about for good (or for bad) as some may believe. I lost my last grandparent, I lost a dog, I spent 10 days in New York, and I read a few good books. I found a place for myself in my own eyes and in the work I do.

I don’t believe change is about resolutions. A new year is an arbitrary deadline. How will I decide something without understanding how it will affect the rest of my year.

But the one new year resolution, which is worth making and worth keeping, is to lose my own personal inertia. In the balance, this was a good year at least for me. I think I managed to lose some of my resistance to change.

For a few years now, I share a story with people as part of my new year greetings. A lot of old friends have read this story, many new friends and readers may read it for the first time.

I leave you now with the original story… Have a peaceful and happy 2017.

I flagged the bus, got in, tapped my card on the reader and looked around for an empty seat. There it was, right at the back. I grabbed a pole immediately to steady myself and started making my way towards the empty seat. Very very slowly. Suddenly I had the strange realisation that there actually was no need to grab the pole. Or even to walk that slowly. The bus wasn’t budging. At all. Maybe someone else had flagged it? I turned around, but there was no one. The front door had been closed.

And that’s when I noticed it. The driver was looking at me in his rear view mirror. The bus was still stationary. What had I done? Was he going to holler, “Excuse me, you didn’t tap your card!”? No, I was positive I had tapped my card. What was it then? Had I dropped something? No. Was there another vehicle in front of the bus? No.

Oh wait, had the bus broken down? I got on the bus and it broke down? I looked around guiltily at the people around me. Strangely, they did not seem to be annoyed or even curious about the stalled bus.

I turned around again and the driver still seemed to be following my movements in the mirror. “All right, what is it???? Move already!!!” I wanted to yell. But by then, I had already reached my seat.

The moment I sat down, the driver started the bus.

And that’s when it hit me. He was waiting for me to get to my seat before he started the bus. He didn’t want me to be jolted off my feet and fall flat on the bus floor.

Inertia.

And that’s why no one on the bus was wondering why the bus wasn’t moving. They had all been treated with the same care.

Among all the reasons for the stalling of the bus that had crossed my mind, this one just… wasn’t there. The guy was just being nice.

To me, that was the real jolt.

I raised my hand to thank the driver and he smiled in the mirror and nodded an acknowledgement.

Inertia. Resistance to a change in state. Maybe all of us need a little dose of such incidents. To open up our minds a little more and get rid of the inertia that has made us thus.

I came across the anecdote above on the internet, a few years back, and have not yet been able to find the original author. If someone knows who wrote this please ping me. I would love to be able to credit this story.

Stranger in a strange land

An unusual set of circumstances had me making some additions to my technology surroundings the last couple of days. My OS X computing serenity was disturbed by the need of running a Windows version of an app (looking at you Powerpoint Mac and your inability to embed fonts) caused me to run Windows 10 in Bootcamp. To compound that horror, today I went out and bought an Android phone.

Continue reading Stranger in a strange land

The dawn of the very vertical app

A friend of mine on Facebook invited me to a FB page yesterday and introduced me to a new app GottaGo. An Android app that lets you find the nearest restroom in Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune. This got me thinking about how some product ideas are becoming more niche and focusing on doing one thing and only one thing, while trying to do it well. Continue reading The dawn of the very vertical app

A different story

I had an idea for a different kind of storytelling the other day. Maybe I was inspired by the buzzword of co-creation I keep throwing out in my day job. I wanted to try my hand at telling a story through pictures and words. And for new words I reached out to friends on Facebook.

I think I have had a decent first attempt. What do you think?

Continue reading A different story

There’s intent for that

Last week was an interesting week in the world of technology and gadgets. Google’s Android 5.1 started rolling out, bringing fixes and some new features to the popular mobile os. Google calendar is finally available as a native app on the iPhone. And Apple gave us a spring forward event to begin the season… While the event was ostensibly to give more details about the Watch, but they pulled out a surprising one more thing in the form of the new Macbook.

The two products are a technical marvel and are a testament to the engineering and design prowess that have made Apple’s devices some of the best in the world. A laptop that is so thin and — if the display is anything like the display in my retina MacBook Pro – has one of the finest displays out there for a consumer grade device. Or a smart watch which may not have been the first in its category, but with its concepts will likely reinvent the category.

Take a step back from all thats shiny in these new devices however; look under the sapphire glass screens and the aluminium unibodies, there are changes, subtle and not so subtle. Changes in how you use devices and how they work. And that… that is what is really exciting.

Continue reading There’s intent for that

What’s your resolution for 2015?

As another year comes to a close, and the time for resolutions comes around, I thought of something which stayed with me from a movie I watched a while ago.

Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator – is both an amusing and a thought provoking movie. The caricature of Hitler in the form of the Romanian dictator and the Jewish barber who is so similar to him, that the Dictator’s own soldiers mix up the two of them. The comedy in the movie highlights the absurdity of Hitler or in this case Henkel’s rise to power culminating in one very powerful speech where the barber impersonates the dictator, to denounce him in front of his people.

With that thought I leave you with some words from Charlie Chaplin’s speech in the Great Dictator. Continue reading What’s your resolution for 2015?

Accessibility and the digital arts

Accessibility is the science of developing technologies and interfaces in such a way that users with limited abilities (visual, auditory or control impairments) can use tools and channels to achieve parity with those whose abilities are not. Web pages separate text from the interface and the design, so that screen readers can read out text to those who cannot read.  Assistive input devices like sip & puff devices and wands allow input without keyboards.

You would ask me, why go to such extremes of building assistive technology and capabilities into what is ultimately a short lived campaign? Our budgets and timelines would never allow for it.

Continue reading Accessibility and the digital arts