When simplicity is losing its edge

Vacations come, especially after the freshman year and you seem to be the only person who doesn’t have work that is classified as work to do in the house! Thus the list of chores you have to do every day morning arrives with the tagline “you are vetti anyway!!” On one such occasion I visited my sister’s school to give her lunch. A stand to put the lunch box and maybe a couple of signatures here and there are what I expected but angry people in black uniforms(so much taller than me or that’s what it seemed like) shouting out that you are not allowed to drop by and just give lunch to someone was what greeted me. In the beginning I thought the watchman was trying to irritate me and I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t in a mood for it. The yelling suddenly stopped, the angry frown turned into an I-have-no-other-choice look and he says you have to meet the principal. An angered and shabbily dressed me just barged into the Principals office and came out with all the anger turned into frustration. I had completely forgotten about the possibility that I could be carrying a bomb inside the box and leave it in school!

Simplicity losing its Edge

Well, it doesn’t stop t that. Visiting school and feeling nostalgic about it is one thing everyone would like to do once in a couple of years. It’s been three for me so I got my lazy bum off the couch and went to school. Please leave, you are not allowed to visit teachers during school hours was the invitation I got from the guard who I couldn’t recognize. I crossed him with complete confidence that a familiar face would let me in and guess what the receptionist told me “ping them on Facebook!”  Atleast that wasn’t what I expected!!

Bomb detectors everywhere, security checks that somehow end up missing the right person, cable TV being replaced by a ‘dish’ that never seems to display the channel I want and the most surprising of all panipuri being served on a plate with 15 different flavors to chose from.  Too many formalities, too much of choice, too much being done for the sake of doing it. When crazy imagination and technology keep a faster pace than the human mind can fathom subtlety ceases to be bold and simplicity simply seems to lose its edge! Look around and I bet you’ll find more smart phones than smart people.

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A new status symbol

In June 2006, “Google” ,as a verb, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. If the past few years are any indication, the word  “Facebook” cannot be far behind. I’m sure we’ll see it in dictionaries soon enough. After all, it has grown to become something that defines our generation. In fact, Facebook has a higher population than any country, barring India and China (Facebook is banned in China and there is no way it can beat China without the billion people FROM China. Well played China). One of the curious aspects of this astronomical growth is the emergence of the Facebook ‘like’ as a prominent status symbol.

Facebook Like

Social status symbols have evolved with us, right from body paint to hats, watches,pinapples (?) ,cars and so many more. Now, with the whole world going online, the number of  ‘likes’  one’s status or pictures get on Facebook has become indicative of their social status and  popularity. People take this very seriously, and put a lot of effort into extracting the maximum number of ‘likes’. Befriending photographers( i.e. guy with DSLR), taking photos with celebrities, and advertising (begging)  for likes on chats are among the numerous ways in which people try to get ‘likes’.

However, this desperation for ‘likes’ does not stop with individuals. Companies, not wanting to miss an opportunity for good marketing, have set up Facebook pages, where they advertise their products, services etc. and hunt for likes. This has also caught on with private colleges and schools. These organizations have taken it to another level. There are allegations that companies ‘buy’ likes from Facebook. Apparently, they pay some amount of money per like to Facebook, and Facebook promptly ‘makes’ random people like the page. The fact that Facebook has so much control over our accounts is indeed scary. Whether true or not, the fact that such allegations exist shows that the Facebook ‘like’ has become a marketing tool.

People believe what they want , but  the truth is, you’re bound to flash a smile when you see that you’re picture/status has got a number of likes (People even have targets now).

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Say Cheeeeeezeee !!!

Staring into the morning sky, with the delicious sun making its entrance into the phase of earth, even though a lazy Sunday dawn, there I was standing with my martial arts stick, clad in my shorts and waiting for my teacher to make his entrance to the grounds. His far residence delayed him .Mesmerised by the sheer beauty of the silver lined clouds and the golden hue of the sky , a hand as if guided by a mentor automatically slips into my pocket picking up my mobile and takes a few amateur snaps of the eye grabbing scenery .  And after my master had arrived I pained my muscles out into practice of stick fighting . I do not know what intrigued me but I put up those picture , around a couple of snaps on facebook and behold! I received a lot of good comments !  I simple chuckled as my MotoRokr E8 phone my parents gifted me in my 10th grade was merely a 2 Mgpxl phone and it struck a wonder to my “fans”.

Say Cheeze!

An unconscious interest built up in me since then, I named my album as “on cloud nine” and begun an effortless capture and posted many more fluffy and puffy cloud picture I captured often and in places I travelled. I had people  rejoicing the angle, the subject of the pictures and also praised a few technical details I hit by luck and something that naturally came to me. It was amusing but at the same time motivating too.  What I hardly realised was photography was slowly becoming a hobby for me.
As a year progressed, my father bought a better camera, Sony cyber shot 16.1 digi camera and I could work wonders with it. I Used the panorama view to get a wider range and digital zooming and motion capture features to obtain a better quality image. After I purchased by DELL Inspiron laptop I begun using Picasa and Photoscape softwares , where basic photo adjustments were possible and not any illegal editing that completely shattered the pride of a photographer.  I begun realising how sapia , black and white and other modes sometimes made the photos more appealing. The simple tools like, brightness enhancement, sharpening, saturation levels, gradients, text insertion and auto fix had all come to my aid and taught me how technology can play a major role in helping you to correct your mistakes and provide a better platform to improve my photography. Well folks, even though I use software for my snaps that receive an acclaim, I still stick with my moto  “ photography isn’t  about the camera, Its about your skill, the capture, thats where true talent lies. “  With many of my college friends in the photography club with a DSLR , here I am, the only on inducted with my sony cyber shot for having impressed them with my skills and using my primitive software tools. From 2 to 16.1Mgpxl, facebook to college club, no software to editing tools, well thats how technology brought a photographer in me!

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Cracks under the surface?

A seemingly innocuous protest against the demolition of Gezi Park in Istanbul has led to large-scale protests against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The use of excessive force by the police has merely fanned the flames of discontent. With the ardent gaze of the EU and the international media fixed on transcontinental nation, this represents the sternest test of the Turkish premier’s decade long tenure.

The Republic of Turkey has had a chequered political history in the last century. After a transition towards a multi-party democracy in 1945, the country was subjected to a spate of military coups d’état. It can perhaps be said the political barometer of the country during each time-period could be quantified as a two-dimensional plot with secularism-Islamism and democracy-military plutocracy as contrasting pairs of extremities. The ascension of Erdoğan in 2002 ushered a period of relative stability and mild economic growth. However, his subsequent re-election was not without controversy. Erdoğan and his center-right party, The Justice and Development Party have slowly introduced Islamist laws like restricting alcohol consumption and abortion. More importantly, it has kept the country’s media on a tight leash and silenced dissenters. The recent protests can be said to be a cumulative reaction to Erdoğan’s policies.

Unlike the abundant media coverage of the much-vaulted Arab Spring. The protests have been conveniently ignored by major Turkish media agencies. This informational vacancy has been filled by numerous social media entities majorly Twitter and Facebook. Presently, the police response has been tempered. However, the Turkish premier has defiantly declared that the redevelopment of the Gezi Park will continue as planned. His defiance might just have mushroomed protests across the country.

The Turkish government response to these tumultuous events will be pivotal to Turkey’s hopes of joining the European Union. Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy in his speech had implored Turkey to embrace democracy and reign in the police brutality. His speech frequently referenced European values and Turkish attempts of European accession. Erdoğan’s response was a fiery tirade against the perceived hypocrisy of the EU with reference to the protests in the United States and the United Kingdom. His belligerence did not end there. On his return from the European Commission, he had vowed to end the protests as he found them bordering on illegality. However, he did concede that there were initially valid environmental concerns on the redevelopment plans.

These demonstrations are likely to drag on till the end of the year. While the protesters are said to be apolitical, the shortage of information does suggest an apparent lack of neutrality in most media outlets, this article included. Erdoğan’s rise to power via the democratic process might partially vindicate his actions and make it very unlikely to dislodge him. A violent upheaval would render the much of Turkey’s European accession efforts void and would irreparably damage the country status as a regional stronghold. The recent events will not change the existing status quo immediately. However, it seems like the stage is set for next year’s general elections.

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Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face……well, with the craze of the confessions going on now, this statement is proving itself. A new idea started by an IIT and duplicated by the rest of the student world, it has spread like wild fire. Thanks to the one “free” platform of opportunity we all share to make ourselves “virtually” the best – Facebook. All those long forgotten incidents, tiny little embarrassments of people, all those memories of friends  you dint even know existed behind the layers of your own memories come out rushing when you see the “#143” and the confession that follows.


There is an unknown bit of yourself that comes out and overrules your conscience which is talking about ethics, courage and suggesting proper conversation instead of posting a confession. your love to a friend, hatred for her boyfriend, anger towards a professor, nostalgia for old times, vengeance for  a classmate, a desire to rub your success in someone’s face, all of it comes out.

A sense of relief or satisfaction follows the post when you imagine the other person’s reaction. They would either read it and leave it at that (which according to me is less fun but the only thing to do) or they would post something else that sets off the chain again.

All the subsided, forgotten emotions and of course the ones with the this-is-like-Christmas-early-attitude,the pranksters have found their place.

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More Concerned Than Usual

Over the past two decades there has been a rather irking surge in the amount of paranoia that often pervades around parents. This sociological paradigm has given birth to a plethora of phenomena, the most apparent of which being helicopter parenting. Of late, however, the paranoia has been seething it’s way into human relationships. In particular, we have an unwelcome and quite toxic concoction of intimacy and schizophrenia.

As Woody Allen says in Annie Hall,

“Love fades”

More Concerned than Usual

A profusion of research and every day observations have accentuated this quote to something of an axiom for almost all fledgling relationships. This, of course, is coupled with today’s involvement of technology. If we were to rewind the clock by about 30 years, most human interactions would involve an introduction, either by themselves or a friend, and the consequent procedure of acquainting themselves and getting to know each other better. Everything else, would go on from there. On a very simple analysis of today’s social intricacies, there’s a middle phase of nonsensical text messaging that plays a massive role in making plans and the like.
As rapid and astonishing is the growth of modern technology, so is the briskness in which certain unofficial, yet glaringly important rules, for texting are created. “Would replying to Susan immediately after receiving her text make me seem too needy?” Or “Is it rude if I just wait a little and finish my work, then reply to Robert?”. A more heart-wrenching instance would be when the same Robert failed to receive a reply from Susan, yet she was reblogging posts on tumblr. Should he text her again? Is it right that he gets slightly perturbed?

The intense over-analysis of things on such a microscopic scale has left people being in a perpetual state of concern than what it is usual.

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Facebook Home: the new ‘it’ ?

Google’s Android has become the mobile operating system every one unanimously loves. It is the next generation of portable personal computer, or maybe not. The one disadvantage in Android bugging every smart-phone-maniac is its inability to run multiple apps at once. On your old-school desktop PC you can Skype chat, run a couple software updates while waiting for your browser to load. But in your smartphone you would have to sit with your Facebook app while it downloads the zillion notifications in to your news feed. Well, not any more.

Facebook Home

That’s were Facebook Home comes in, Facebook Inc.’s newest release of your favorite app. Facebook Home is a family of apps, that puts ‘your friends at the heart of your phone.’
OK, translating from geek to English, Home updates all your FB notifications, messages and chats on to your screen even when you are using other apps. To top it all, it also allows you to chat with multiple friends through Facebook simultaneously.
Doesn’t sound like much? Wait for it.
Cover Feed displays a stream of posts on to your screen as soon as you turn on your phone. In Facebook’s words, “it puts the spotlight on whatever friends are sharing now—photos, status updates, links and more.”
Notifications on calls, events and updates stick around on your screen till you deal with them.
Annoying much? But here’s the good part: you can swipe away the one’s you are not interested in and keep the ones you want.
Chatting with your best friend while you catch up on last night’s game is good,but chatting with all of your friends simultaneously is better. Facebook Home lets you switch between chat windows with just a click on your friend’s profile picture on the screen.
But the best part of Facebook Home is the app launcher. It keeps all your favorite apps in one place, personalizing your system even more, truly making you feel at ‘home’.

Everything sounds great, waiting to download the new cool app? Sorry to disappoint, but here’s the bad news. While it is open for free download from Google Play, it can only be used in HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II. This substantially shrinks the potential market for the app.

With the changing licensing rights on mobile apps, it should be possible for all smartphone users to have a taste of Facebook Home soon enough. Dearest Apple fans, hang on in there..

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