Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Riddance, 2016

 

And so it comes to an end. Probably the worst year of our times. Or worst year so far. Although it started off well, this year was marked with long standing political turmoil. There were those terrorist attacks, shootings,and natural calamities. And a higher number of celebrity deaths. But what really marked the year was Brexit,and the unpredicted Trump victory in the USA. Sign of things to come. Back home, the central government attacked the common man by issuing a cruel note demonitization.

Its good to see this year finally end. Good riddance. Lets not talk about 2016 ever again.

Heres hoping for a better one. Got big hopes pinned on 2017.

Happy New Year !

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Digitally Weary Users Switch To ‘Dumb’ Phones

 

This is the reason why I don’t use a smartphone.

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Unplugged: Eddie Redmayne was tired of being ‘glued’ to his iPhone

In January, British actor Eddie Redmayne made headlines around the world as he became the latest in a growing band of smartphone refuseniks.

“It was a reaction against being glued permanently to my iPhone during waking hours,” he explained, turning instead to an old-fashioned “dumb phone” handset that could only make and take calls.

He is not alone. There is a small but busy market for phones that are simple and cheap at a time when smartphones are becoming ever more complex and expensive.

Feature phones — handsets with some basic functions such as playing music and accessing the internet — are gradually being replaced by low cost smartphones, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, the research group. But there is still a significant demand for older-style phones.

Strategy Analytics, a research group, estimates that 44m basic phones were sold in 2015, accounting for 2 per cent of the global market.

Some phonemakers, such as Sony and LG, have already turned their back on the market. But others like Microsoft and Samsung are still producing devices every year aimed at the feature market.

Many smartphone users bemoan having to buy devices that are easily broken, require daily recharging and which will be superseded by a new, better version within a year. Even basic smartphones offer computing power that not many people need.

Some users buy phones with limited or no internet connections in a conscious attempt to decouple from the modern digital world. Light Phone founder Joe Hollier falls into this camp. The 25-year-old former skater has developed a credit card-sized phone without a data connection and no extra functions other than to make calls. He describes a feeling of huge relief when the ability to check emails or status updates is removed.

Analysts say that there is a growing number of “second phoneys” who use an expensive smartphone or “phablet” during the day, but turn to cheaper, pocket-sized devices when they go out in the evening.

The Light Phone functions as a companion device to a smartphone but Mr Hollier hopes it will also encourage people to unplug from the modern internet world.

There are also practical reasons why some are turning their backs on smartphones. The short battery life of devices is a source of constant complaint and many travellers are still attracted to the reliability and long battery life of older phones.

This market is still being served by Microsoft, which now owns the Nokia brand. The US group last year launched the Nokia 215, for example, a simple, robust device that has a standby battery life of 29 days. The Nokia 515 has a massive 38 days standby time.

The phone has a simple layer of apps and basic data connectivity, but the main attraction is the $30 price tag. As Microsoft boasts: “Exceptional battery life and impressive durability are standard features. When you own a Nokia, you own a phone that’s built to last.”

Dumb phones have more specific uses, however, for example being given to children for calling home. They are simple, robust and cheap if lost.

Likewise, there are simple phones for the elderly, such as those made by Doro, which prioritise large buttons and the amplification of volume rather than how quickly they can access the internet.

Mr Jeronimo says that such products are becoming a niche opportunity for companies. Doro has grown to become the third-largest feature phonemaker in western Europe after Microsoft and Samsung, he adds.

Feature phones are also more popular in developing markets because of the combination of low prices and long battery life.

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The NoPhone

“Using a smartphone in some countries in Africa, for instance, is not an option for many users, as it would require to charge it on a daily basis,” says Mr Jeronimo.

“On the other hand using a smartphone means little for users who cannot connect to a 3G network, either because they are not available or because the connectivity is extremely expensive.”

And, for those that find even basic phones are too much, there is a solution: the $5 NoPhone Zero. It claims to be the least advanced phone ever created, has no buttons or components and is just a plastic rectangle. It is a joke, but one that says much about our modern anxiety about technology.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snapdeal’s express delivery is a joke

 

I sometimes wonder why Snapdeal is still the third , struggling e-commerce starup in India. But then they answer the question themselves. This is the third time they have delayed my delivery, even when they promise express delivery.

The company promises the fastest delivery in Tier-1 cities. But the truth is that its a big joke. They can never do a next day delivery in the city.

Third time in a row. That is amazing consistency. Remind me never to shop there again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Don't click on every Gmail alert you receive

The months-long espionage campaign against US political targets allegedly orchestrated by hackers working for the Russian government hinged on a simple, yet effective, hacker trick: booby-trapped emails.

In some cases, such as with the hack on John Podesta or Colin Powell, the phishing emails were designed to look like Gmail alerts containing a Bitly link that led to a fake webpage to harvest the victim’s password. Podesta and Powell were fooled, but don’t think only baby boomers aren’t good at spotting malicious emails.

In fact, one in two people click on phishing links, according to some estimates. And, of course, some look more credible than others.

For example, you probably wouldn’t click on this email I got a few weeks ago, even if it contained the name of your mother, as it’s the case here.

Last week, the journalists who work for the independent investigative project Bellingcat received a series of messages that looked like legit Google security alert emails. They didn’t click on them, but would you have been able to spot that they were malicious?

This one used Google’s own style and look for a security alert. To a distracted or untrained eye, there would be no difference between this and the real thing. Imagine you get this in the middle of the day, while you’re stressed at work. Would you have clicked on it? Would have spotted that the hackers misspelled “Montain View” and “Amphithaetre”?

The hackers actually used three different types of phishing attempts, in an attempt to fool the targets. All of them prompted the would-be victims to change their passwords, and enter them in a website under the control of the hackers.

Ask yourself: would you have clicked on these emails?

Luckily, if you’re worried about phishing emails like that, and you don’t trust yourself, there’s an easy way to make these attacks much harder to pull off. Turn on two-factor authentication on Gmail or your webmail provider of choice (and do it for your social media accounts too).

With two-factor or two-step authentication, even if you click on a booby-trapped link and then give up your password to the hackers, they still can’t get in, unless they have hacked your phone too or have control of the phone network—something not all hackers can do.

 

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Who is a Project Manager ? Webinar

 

An good, but a little long, video about the roles of a project manager. Indian Project Managers should surely watch this, maybe they will learn something for once.

 

Friday, December 2, 2016

They destroyed Inferno




Been very busy nowadays, at a new job in a new role. So it was after a long time I got the time to watch a movie. Inferno. Yep, based on the novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks returns as Langdon. And Ron Howard as director. Which is why I was confused as to why they made this movie. This is the same team which made Apollo 13.

To be honest, the source material wasn't that strong to justify this movie. I was unimpressed with the book when I came out, and remember feeling Brown has lost his touch. In Inferno, the subject matter is not mainstream, the legends and history is not something which would attract public attention. The Lost Symbol, which had some American history conspiracy in it, would have been a better choice. Not many know about the importance of Florence, or have heard of Dante.

I think they should now stop making these movies. Brown's plots just gets clumsier , and clumsier. And now its totally predictable. Every novel has Langdon waking up in a hotel/hospital/room , being chased by police/secret service/FBI/CIA and bad guys/mafia/crazy cult. He is helped by a young , attractive and super-smart female, and the whole story gets over in like..24 hours. And I still don't buy the fact that Langdon is able to keep all those details of symbology in his head, he practically knows every work of literature created by the great artists.

In addition, they changed the story. Which was the biggest disappointment for me. In the book, Zobrist does not create a plague, but a virus which renders half of the human population infertile, so that there is some population control in the coming generation. But the movie version paints him as a foolish genius, who wants to kill people.

So right when I thought they could not go wrong with making Inferno, they have managed to mess it up completely.