Friday, July 30, 2010

ipad vs kindle

Of lately I've heard lots of people expressing opinions about which is better - ipad or kindle. To me I don't see them in the same category or catering to the same use-cases.

The latest kindle at $139 is great for people who read a lot of paperback novels etc. It has great battery life, light, rugged and has space for practically all of your books (of that form factor). Kindle and it's kind of e-ink devices is also appealing to people who say reading on LED screen is a pain. To me, the fact that it doesn't have color and it's built-in pdf etc readers aren't very flexible w.r.t page layout rendering is a pain point. Also, search and flipping of pages fast is a key requirement for me. Organizing, browsing, bookmarking of books also matter. These functionalities are not very well done (compared to ipad).

iPad, apart from being a good book reading device, it has lots of other features that makes it worth the money for someone who doesn't already own a small laptop. iPad is a tad more convenient than a 13" macbook for a few usecases. But it's more of a luxury than a necessity to own both the devices.
Also, those who complain about reading on back-lit screens won't like to read for long hours on iPad.
But the fact that it can do much more than just read books - like do e-mails, do pdf and other documents better, browse Internet, play games and movies makes it a much more compelling device for many.

For someone like me who doesn't mind reading on a back-lit device and really wants all the rich functionalities and is pretty much always connected (hence doesn't really care about month long battery life etc) iPad is a clear winner.

Right now iPad is a first-generation device with lots of kinks to be worked out. I'm waiting for the next iteration in which apart from working out all the kinks discovered in this iteration, I expect it to get front and back facing camera (like iPhone 4) and better resolution screen. Wishing for it come out soon.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Borg collective

At the end of the episode named "Unity" (S3E17) in Star Trek Voyager S3E17, Chakote and Janeway have this conversation:
"They saved us from that cube, and they let you go."
"But they didn't hesitate to impose their collective will on me when it served their interests, did they?"
"No, they didn't."
"I wonder how long their ideals will last in the face of that kind of power..."

That made me think about how the political system really works around us. With the influence over masses, political leaders kind of form collective which is supposed to be based on some ideology shared by all members of that collective. But once such collective is formed it gives them immense power. And in the face of such power it's hard for the ideology to still hold. When the leaders who wield such power deviate from the ideologies even if some raise voice against them it is far too easy to coerce or induce them to fall in line with such collective powers.

Anyway, I'm not well-read on socio-political dynamics and what I wrote above is something that just occurred to me and thought to pen it down. But from a computer science perspective, a few well-selected keyword search on Internet found plethora of information on collective decision making, decision markets and such interesting related topics. I'm sure spend some reading time on these topics in the coming days.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plain Language Legal agreements

Alan Siegel is a well-known name in branding world.
In this short brilliant talk at TED he explains why simplified plain language legal documents are necessary and even gives a concrete example of a credit card agreement to show how it can be done.

Read his piece on clarity in government here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HDFC encourages illegal parking?!?

Just saw an HDFC ATM ad on TV. There were so many things wrong with that ad that had to make this blog entry.

In the first scene a car is shown parked at the side of a narrow road, presumably illegal parking. Then a tow-truck guy comes out of hiding to tow away that car. He looks like a villian from a old Hindi movie. While they show him struggling to hook the car to the tow truck, the owner of the car is seen already in the driver seat ready to drive away and the tow-truck guy is disappointed and evidently blames the fast ATM. Then the camera pans to the HDFC ATM and the message is clear that withdrawing money from that ATM takes very little time.

It is true that most ATMs don't have dedicated parking area and most customers are forced to park somewhere nearby and walk to the ATM. But in this ad it seems like HDFC is encouraging it's customers to do illegal parking right in front of the ATM. It also shows the incompetency of traffic police to enforce the parking law. Double Wammy!