Posts tagged with “Technology”

Oct 14, 2017

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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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 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

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.

Apr 22, 2017

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Apr 7, 2017

H and G enter a clearing in the woods. They see the daal-chaaval house at the far edge. The children are hungry and the house a promise of a full belly. They approach the door, chained and padlocked. The doorkeeper wouldn't let them in until they tell him their most sacred secrets, most treasured stories. Tthey are baffled by the request. Hungry and out of their depth, they bare their hearts and think nothing of it. The doorkeeper collects their stories in two glass jars, ties a piece of cloth around H's, corks G's.

H and G enter the first room and see other children leave breadcrumbs everywhere as they walk around. The doorkeeper and his friends tread on them, now and then. The children's stories ooze out from the crumbs and fill the room with their scent and wetness. The children look starved, holding on to the perfect golden loaves of bread in their hands. An invisible hand gives H and G two whole loaves soaked in the tales they parted with at the door. As they tear into the perfect golden crust, the invisible hand guides the pieces away from their mouths and onto the ground. Being children, they think nothing of this. Their hunger is now unbearable.

H and G enter the second room. It is wider and the walls are painted a blinding white. The ceiling, set too high to be inside the house they thought they had gotten into, is set high, at-least a hundred leaps into the metric system. They are asked to prove their H-ness and G-ness. Their loaves of bread are now almost all gone, crumbs outlining the paths they walked, leaving only the faintest aroma of the secrets they once held. The children have already forgotten half their stories. An hour or so of fiddling with the leftover pieces later, they are nodded at and declared worthy of staying in the second room. Along the high walls, they now see windows; some open, some not. Squinting, G manages to catch a glimpse of a pair of eyes behind one of the open, veiled windows. A falling loaf of bread distracts her. She may have imagined the eyes. (Nobody would build a daal-chaval house only to spy on the children, would they?)

The children think nothing of it all. Their hunger is now complete.

Mar 13, 2016

This little piece of the internet is now tracker-free. If you are a uBlock or Ghostery user, the browser buttons will throw friendly zeroes back at you. 

Jan 17, 2015

Been a month since I ditched the cellphone. Not as a statement (maybe a little) but as an escaperiment of sorts. Parents were alarmed at first, doubting my sanity, financial imbalance, falling out with someone, and an astonishing gradient of bizarre and quite logical probabilities I missed. It has since been nice. And silent. Clients are happy there are no Chinese whispers and chilly Gopiettans. I am happy and pretend to focus on the work occasionally, throughout the day. I still carry a (dumb, INR 1200) phone that can make get lost, etc. Has it improved my life? Have I got a life? I don’t know. Yet. I want to see how long I can keep this up, or down.