Oct 15, 2017

From LSC, a no-frills explanation of alienation.

Oct 14, 2017

Chris Ware’s Last Saturday over at the Guardian. Three years new.

Sometime last year, my Diwali-gifted smartphone kissed an elevator-floor. The glass shattered, sending proper menus and hamburger menus and notification icons and tiny unsubscribe buttons to corners they weren’t supposed to see. Two generous pieces of cellotape and some craftiness with the surgical blade held it together for a few days. 

I am not comfortable in my new interaction-designer shoes. I admire the printed page from the years spent in the screen-printing lab and under the A4 sheet studded wall in the Gurgaon studio and in quiet bookshops and in front of surprisingly good ‘PGs for Boys’ posters[^1] pinned to trees. Something from those years have put this ‘us-versus-them’ notion in place where I think about ‘experience designers’ the way I think about the sixth Hitchiker’s book. I don’t think it (the thinking) is entirely healthy or appropriate.

I have lost the urge to stay up-to-date. How a swipe up is different from a half-hearted swipe up-then-sideways seems trivial, overthought. I didn’t know it was possible to feel any more out of touch when in company of people talking technology. Despite a license, I stay behind on the older version of design software just so I can round corners individually. (No, that is an exaggeration. The X230 sans a battery won’t run like makhkhan anymore with countless updates and a hunger for a decent internet connection.) This is, I tell myself, not a Luddite romancing of older technology; I just find the illusion of control comforting. (There is a physical switch on the laptop that turns on the Vimanam mode. There is a battery I can pull out to make sure the phone is absolutely, positively, switched off, or parts I can put back together after a skirmish with the elevator-floor.) The rejection isn’t based on profound ethical questions or plant product induced lucidity; sometimes I just want to fiddle in the pant-pockets to change an inappropriate track. (This, while holding onto chromed pillars in an overcrowded bus home. The resemblance this exercise has to pole-dancing violates copyright laws. The bus twists and turns and wallops and sings a Metallica song as it comes to a halt, throwing you into a confused dance of limbs and polythene covers and the occasional umbrella. This is what I imagine mosh pits to be.)

Our devices have shrunk-in size and in number-to one portable, all-knowing object we sleep with and wake up to. Mine have, since the elevator incident, grown in number and demand room of their own. Shortly after switching to the Nokia 105, I found a 4th Generation iPod Classic on OLX, a used Fujifilm X-20 in Velacherry and fell back in love with the Kindle. I switch these[^2] the way people switch applications. Mine just involves more hand-chrome-pole-coordination. 


[^1]: There was one in front of the sandwich shop along the road next to Ramaiah Institute in Bangalore, where I would stop on my way to (and later, from) the IISc and polish off a black-tea and sandwitch, watching the traffic pause and change colours. The poster was basic, made in MS Word (or so it seemed). That is one thing I respect in those posters-you can’t tell which program they’ve been through. All our 3D rendered, bezier-nudged, pixel-pushed pieces carry that unmistakeable stamp of the program through to the end. To my biased eyes, they are somehow not ‘fully there,’ not honest enough, certainly not ‘loved’ the way someone who uses a tool along and outside its strict margins and bleed-marks loves her work. 

[^2]: The Price I Paid: A counter-argument to the many-devices proposition is the amount of money it takes to acquire and maintain these. Here is a cost breakdown for anyone interested. Nokia: Rs. 950 from a shop in Mavoor Road (cheaper than buying it online); iPod 4th Gen: Rs. 2300 off OLX (did not bargain); battery from iFixit: Rs. 860; Fujifilm X-20: Rs. 20,000, from OLX.

Oct 12, 2017

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Oct 6, 2017

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Sep 5, 2017

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Aug 31, 2017

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Resurrected the right one and revived Nebuchadnezzar, thanks (to M) to a new battery all the way from Texas. Reading things on the commute means a side-dish of dedicated background research, (thanks to not being able to find a seat) from listening to long-winded (fun) interviews with the author to giggling all the way from K to N, to the amusement of people who found a seat or two in the crowded bus, despite themselves. 

It is bemusing to call the other one Neb-II. Mjolnir is making it too easy.

Aug 24, 2017

Here is a live feed of the Supreme Court judgement declaring privacy a fundamental right. (Use adblocker of choice.) Here is a relevant(?) thread on r/india. Hoping reasonable restrictions mean the biometric thing is optional.

Aug 18, 2017

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Aug 12, 2017

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Aug 9, 2017

Living out in the village has its advantages; it’s already taken me more than a week to get to the final chapter of Rushdie’s delicious take on storytelling in Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty‑Eight Nights, with all the weeding-during-monsoons, rushed coconut-felling, felled-coconut-gathering, sorting, husking, marriage-attending, milk-buying, curry-leaf picking and slow wireless internet. Often, the story is too self-aware, balancing overt references to present-day dystopias and the author’s life, with crafty language gymnastics. Some sentences might even work well as triggers to long and interesting and weird tales. I was reminded of Neil Gaiman more than once (and then briefly leafed through Neverwhere again). Ashamed I never read Rushdie before. Worried this is going to be another spiral down Murakami lane. 

Rushdie calls one of the characters Dunia, the world. One may think that is a slow descent to corniness but, so beautifully, it isn’t. (The rest of you can have your refunds at the Peristan gates.)

In other news, this guy has two book reviews up in The Hindu. He has the best nice words and too many ‘entire’-s that jumped the editors’ desks.

Aug 6, 2017

Installed Linux Mint (Cinnamon) on the other hard-drive (that came with the X230). Trying to go the free and open-source software route. Does anyone have any experience similar to these people? I am told (even G says) it is hard to switch to an all-free-software workflow if you have a graphic/interaction design practice. Has anyone tried ElementaryOS? I have dealt with Scribus before and it wasn't pretty. Will see what can be. To share your INR 0.63, my email is abhijith@keyaar.in

Aug 5, 2017

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Jul 29, 2017

With great powerlessness of resisting the cozy surveillance benefits of the Aadhaar card, comes great financial freedom. I can finally take that INR 201 paid every two-three months to the cellphone tower people and go buy an island off the Lakshadweeps. (They have already got my mug in various poses, my teeth count, my hair samples, dreams of my unborn children and blank pages in my soon-to-stop-being passport, which apparently don’t prove the whole snowflake nature of things. They say pigeons are making a comeback in certain circles. Can’t. Wait.

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