My virtual world: e-Me

This gallery contains 7 photos.

I don’t even know whether it makes sense to write about it, but this is the only thing I can do now. My pet cat, “Shaalu” back at my hometown in Kerala, died today while saving her children from an attack by a bunch of stray dogs. She was the most intelligent, beautiful and affectionate cat we ever […]

The tech giant Google always mesmerize us with their ever evolving and growing productivity and “ease of life” apps. The list including Gmail, Google Now, Google Maps, Google Keep, Google Drive so on keeps getting bigger and better, and the latest edition to the list is Google “Inbox”. On 22nd October 2014, Google released its new Email interface named as “Inbox” (not an Update to Gmail, but a totally standalone Email app), which integrates features from Gmail and  Google now.

(Note: All further reference to the word “Inbox” means the App Inbox and not the Inbox tab inside Gmail)

intro-logo

Inbox is an Invite only service for now (like Gmail in 2004), but I was fortunate to get an Invite from my “friend’s friend” and after trying it out for few hours and understanding its “working”, my first feedback is “Wow”! Here is my review on why Inbox will soon replace your Gmail app on your phone and eventually be part of your digital life!

Quoting Senior Vice President at Google, Inbox is “designed to focus on what really matters”.  If you are someone who receives a handful of emails everyday, then you would have experienced the difficulty in retrieving important emails from the sea of Emails in your Inbox. The introduction of tabs in Gmail, by organizing your emails as Primary, Social , Promotions and Forums as well as using the “Starred” button in Gmail do solve the problem to some extend, but still Gmail remains cluttered and chaotic with the amount of data in it. Inbox claims to (and rightly so) tackle this issue and gives  “just what you want when you need it”.

Inbox organizes your emails into “bundles” (like Travel, Purchases, Finance so on) automatically based on the content of your email and helps you retrieve it easily. For instance, all your flight and train tickets automatically goes to Travel folder, your online purchases and invoices goes to Purchases, your bills and statement from Banks goes to Finance and so on. (This feature is particularly helpful with our primary emails. The promotions and social Emails still goes to their respective tabs as in Gmail). You can create your own Bundles and hopefully Google algorithms will learn to send the correct emails to these Bundles (yet to try it out).

bundle

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Inbox comes with a concept of “Pinning” an Email. Its almost similar to the “starring” an Email, but the ease of access and the user interface makes it much more convenient to retrieve it. Important emails which you may use as reference for many of your  tasks can be “pinned” and later accessed with one touch on the screen. The emails are also shown as “expanding messages” , so once you scroll down to the end of the email you are reading, it automatically collapses back to the email lists!

One of the most innovative feature of “Inbox” is the ability to Snooze an Email! Explaining with an example, let us say your Internet provider sends you a mail reminding you that your subscription will expire in 10 days. But it’s still 10 days away! You can “snooze” this email to a later date (Lets say 1 day before expiry date) so that the email will disappear from your mailbox and will “come back” as a reminder on the 9th day again. You can also draft messages and then chose to be reminded at a later date and time. (You can draft a very convincing sick email and add reminder to the date you are planning a day off from Office or school!) Inbox also has the standalone reminder option integrated, so you need not use another app to keep reminders.

The search algorithm in “Inbox” is way correct and superior than Gmail. A search for “flight” in Inbox, directly showed the boarding pass for my next flight, but the same search in Gmail listed out around 20 emails with promotional offers from HDFC bank related to flight bookings as the main result! (See images below)

flight 2 flight 1

Hopefully a lot more features will be integrated into Inbox in the coming updates. As of now, deleting an email from Inbox is a 2 step process which needs to come down to one! Swiping a mail to the right marks the email as done, but doesn’t get deleted.  I wish clicking on a mail should mark it as done, and swiping to right as delete and swiping to left as Snooze! Especially with regard to promotional mails and social updates, I really need them gone from my email with just a swipe if I decide not to open  expand it and read.

Finally the user interface of  Inbox is awesome giving us a hint on how the material design concept would look like in Android L. The use of different colors, the way attachments gets displayed (even without expanding an email, the attachments can be opened!) so on make Inbox very much visually outstanding!

Inbox also clubs data from the Internet to the contents of your emails and provides you an enhanced output of information. As an example, in the screenshot below, the results of flight route is displayed with more “information”.  i.e, since the words Kolkata and Bagdogra was mentioned in the original email, Google algorithm has chosen to give me more information by including pictures of the cities!

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It’s just one day since I have started using it, but  Inbox has already replaced Gmail as my emailing app! Wish there was an automatic way by which notification in Gmail is disabled if the user is also using Inbox! For every email, now 2 notification comes, one from Gmail and one from Inbox.

Have you tried Inbox? What are your thoughts on it? Will you be migrating to Inbox from Gmail?

Please do share your views in the Comments section below!

(Originally written for and published in “LeTra”, my Office Magazine)

A much debated topic in the economic policy think tanks is about the pros and cons of subsidies given to Diesel prices. One of the strongest opposition in increasing Diesel prices (de subsidizing) is that many commercial vehicles like auto rickshaws , taxis, buses and lorries use diesel as the fuel and increasing the diesel price will lead to inflation as all these vehicles run in service sector catering the needs of common man. The “problem” is that there are equal numbers of cars (or even more!) which run on diesel and owned by people who can afford any price tag for diesel. Our govt. is losing a substantial amount of money by giving subsidized diesel to car owners, which if recovered can be used for various transportation related developmental projects(like modernization of roads, development of footpaths/FOB across major cities so on).
An acceptable but still debated “solution to this problem” is implementing dual pricing for diesel. The vehicles which run in service sectors should get the diesel at the subsidized price but the car owners need to pay the full price. However the “problem with this solution” is that there aren’t any feasible ways by which we can carry out dual pricing. The petroleum companies say it’s not practical to have 2 pricing systems for diesel at the petrol bunks.

How about a “diesel tax” calculated by total distance traveled (and thus total diesel used) by the car??? The govt. was planning to carry out a special one-time diesel tax for cars (up to 2.5 lakhs!) a few years back, but the idea never took off. I also feel imposing such a huge amount on the customer will have a negative psychological effect on the customers towards the govt. Wouldn’t it be better to extract the same amount (in fact even more) at a controlled rate from diesel car owners thus recovering the subsidies? You pay for what you use; one of the best (and practical) ways to find the diesel usage by a car is to calculate the total distance traveled by the car, divide it by the “car company guaranteed mileage”. Now, every 3 or 6 months’ remit a diesel tax towards the govt. By multiplying the diesel used by a car with the subsidy amount, we can calculate the diesel tax.

For the mathematically minded,

Say you buy a new BMW-X3 with an avg. mileage of 12km/litre.

In 6 months say you drive 12000 km and thus the diesel you used will be around 1000 liters. You were paying 60Rs/liter for the diesel and the unsubsidized price is 80, which means you were enjoying a subsidy amount of 20 rupees per litre. Hence you will have to pay 20,000 rupees as diesel tax for the 6 months period. (Note that numbers used are just examples, not the correct price/mileage)

Just like the MVD checks Driver’s license, Vehicle registration, Pollution certificate and all, they should also start checking for diesel tax receipts. In this age of technology, where synchronization of data is a cake walk, it will be very easy to electronically categorize vehicles which have paid or not paid and take necessary actions. For instance by cross checking number plate we can figure out whether a vehicle has paid the tax or not, and this can be even achieved automatically using speed sensor cameras on the roads.

There will always be problems associated with any method and the same goes here. People can tamper with the odometer and reset the distance traveled. But I wonder how many “elite class” people will go to that extent to save money (BTW I am not implying anyone with a diesel car is an elite class or the other way!). Preventive measures can be taken to stop such actions (like recording the odometer readings at the test center so on). There will always be opposition for such “diesel taxes” but if the money goes back to the public as developmental projects then I firmly believe sooner or later our community will come to terms with such weird taxes (I always wonder why there is no “pollution tax” on Crackers [and for bikes without silencers!])

What is your take on this? A stupid idea or a sensible one? Or do you know whether such methods were discussed and discarded? Or is this implemented in any other country? What problems do you see? (Was lazy to do much more background research on this!!!!)

Do share your opinion and criticisms in the comments section!

Krrish3-Poster-1

                                                                                     (Image from Mid-day.com)

Let me start by telling why I put an Asterisk after “disaster” ; because it’s a “conditions apply” statement. You are gonna love the movie and would even give a 4.5/5 rating, if you have NEVER EVER watched a Hollywood science fiction movie before. So, if you have never seen Hollywood movies, stop reading this blog, go to the nearest theater where Krrish 3 is screening and enjoy! No sarcasm intended… You are gonna love the movie.

Since you are still reading this, I presume along with watching Bollywood movies, you do watch Hollywood Science fiction movies too.

Have you seen X-men? , Man of Steel? , Iron Man?, Spider-Man?, the British TV series Doctor Who? If the answer is yes; even if it is for any two of the above, DO NOT watch Krrish. Let me tell it another way; if you want to see how a movie is made by combining characters and scenes in a way the viewer can easily recognize the “originals” within seconds and even predict what the next scene will be, GO WATCH Krrish 3! Believe it or not, even the climax was predictable!

Let me take a break and tell some good things about the movie! Awesome dance moves by Hrithik Roshan!. Of the 3 main songs in the movie, 2 of them has reasonable dance steps and if you are a fan of Hrithik’s body build up, the 3rd song is for you. (Oops, I can’t think of anything else)

The movie lacks sense of imagination. No; the director lacks sense of imagination and doesn’t have the slightest respect to the viewers. If he had, he would have added at least something of “his own” into the movie. Did not expect such low standards from a Director who has (had) class! Usually, for me, after I come out of a Science fiction or Action movie, I has this “feeling” inside my mind that I am the character and would even channel the energy and motivation from the movie into me! But for Krrish 3, it never happened! (Despite repeated reminder in the movie that everyone has capabilities of Krrish!)

Another disappointing “feature” of the movie is the senseless display of advertisement throughout the film. Its understandable when a film uses props of  some specific brand in the scenes. But, keeping  “cut outs ” of the brand advertisements in every open space and with the camera focusing on the brand display board even during fight scenes is simply unacceptable. May be the producer himself knew how unoriginal this film is and hence decided to make most of the money from these brands and not from the audience!

Summing up; the entire production team has done injustice to the film and to the audience who trusted them. Lack of screenplay, lack of originality, lack of imagination…the lacks can go into lakhs! I should have gone with the NDTV rating of 2.5/5 for this movie and not the 4.5/5 from Times of India. If you seriously want to catch a movie this weekend, I would suggest the Hollywood movie  “Captain Phillips” (which I watched before seeing Krrish 3). I have heard that “Gravity” is also an excellent movie to watch ( especially in 3-D), but since I have not watched it, I am not commenting on it!

But Krrish 3 ; Stay Away!

My Rating 1.5/5 (That is for the graphic effects team assuming they did the editing themselves and did not buy the scene blueprints from the creators of other Sci-fi movies mentioned above)

PS: If you have small kids at home and would want to take them for Krrish, I would say yes. I believe they will really like it.

Have you seen the Movie? Do leave your opinion about the same in the comments section below. Thank you in advance!

Two ways! And its my Swiss Knife!!

Posted as part of Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge 

What do you think of the pictures? Leave your valuable suggestions and comments below!

Nature’s Master Piece!!!! eag3

owl2

Posted as part of Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

The Golden hour!!
Shot at a beach in Kannur, Kerala, India…

Posted as part of Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge

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