Quitting social media and learning Spanish

26 days ago, I deleted social media apps from my phone. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I kept Instagram and WhatsApp but I left all the groups on WhatsApp. Not that I was in many groups to begin with. But I still left whatever groups that I was in except parents’ group for my daughter’s school. That group is limited strictly to school and homework related stuff.

I also started learning Spanish on DuoLingo 26 days ago. The same day I deleted the social media accounts, I downloaded the DuoLingo app.

I came across a book called Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now ironically on Twitter. I had witnessed social media was becoming toxic. I was an avid social media user. I would post multiple times a day on Facebook. I was outspoken in my political beliefs. I would unfollow people whose ideas I did not agree with. I found myself surrounded by like minded people. I was trapped in a bubble. I was hostile towards anyone having a differing point of view. It even affected some of my real-world relationships.

I was contemplating quitting social media. I had reduced my social media sharing a lot and I had become more of a consumer than creator of opinions on social media. Then I watched a TED talk called Quit social media by Dr. Cal Newport.

And I deleted all the social media apps. I did not delete the accounts outright. I would check them on desktop browser occasionally. It was tough initially for a couple of days. The urge to pick up your phone and see what’s new every few minutes is really strong. But it only lasted for a couple of days. The urge to visit Facebook even on browser reduced. And now I visit it may be once or twice a week. That too will reduce soon until the day I finally delete my account.

It’s been good so far.

Adios. Hasta luego.

Kids prefer logical explanations

When my 4 year old daughter demands something which I think she does not need, she acts like a typical child. Being stubborn. If i refuse her without giving a reason when will continue her demand, but if I give her a logical explanation she will stop.

One day at a mall she asked for one of those air filled plastic balloons which come in various shapes and sizes. The balloons are sold on the road side for 20-30 rupees, in the mall it’s 150. She asked and I said no. She kept at it, so I explained it to her – look this uncle here will take a lot more money from us for this balloon. The same balloon can be bought outside of this mall for far less money. We can actually buy 5 of these from there. She understood. She has never asked for the balloon at the mall since then. Whenever we pass the balloon shop in the mall, she reminds us that we have to buy it from the vendor outside.

She clearly understood that the balloon sold in the mall wasn’t worth it. If I had just said no without explaining why I am saying no she wouldn’t. I hope it would have also instilled a little sense of value of money in her tiny brain.

Last week me and Yaashi went to watch The Jungle Book. My wife had gone to attend a seminar.

Yaashi (while we were leaving): “Let’s pickup mom as well”
Me: “We can’t. She’s at the office.”
Yaashi: “Why is mom at office today? It’s Saturday!”
Me: “Well, she had some work”

Her office is on the way to the cinema hall, as son as we passed it Yaashi said, “Stop, let’s pick up mom”
Me: “Mom is not here, she is at another office”
Yaashi: “So let’s go there”
Me: “We can’t go there.”
Yaashi: “Why?”
Me: “Mom has gone to attend a seminar on international taxation, if we go there we will not understand anything”
Yaashi: “OK”

That was it. We went for the movie and enjoyed it. I am sure Yaashi had no clue where and why did her mom go, but she surely got some idea that whatever it was, it was clearly not for me and her.

So I think kids demand logical explanation. Why can’t I wear this dress today? Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why should I share my food/toys? Why I should not hit other kids? Why should I not waste food. If you try to be dictatorial with them – they won’t listen! They’ll rebel. If you tell them the reason – it doesn’t matter if they are too young to grasp it fully – they will understand.

What has been your experience with your kids?

Where is “she”?

Yaashi has started playschool from this Monday. On Saturday we had a parents induction meeting at the school. They gave a nice presentation covering wide range of things but one thing stood out. In the presentation and conversation whenever a child was referred, it was referred as “he”. He will learn this, you should not say this to him, he will observe… and both me and Bijal were wondering where is “she”?

Now that the classes have started, out of 14 kids in the class 10 are girls. In the nursery out of 27 kids 14 are girls. If we stop killing our girls we’ll have a feminine population as we see in most of the developed countries. And yet we continue to assume the person in question will be a male.

I have seen similar thing happening when writing software requirements or documentation. The user is assumed to be a male. And when he clicks the button a new window will open where he can select blah blah…

We need a gender neutral pronoun to address people in the English language. I have seen Facebook using they and them when a gender is not known. They liked it instead of he liked it sounds better.

Any ideas?

I still use Winamp and will continue to do so


Winamp is shutting down. It was a great music player once. It still is. But people have moved on, now the music is consumed on smart phones and instead of downloading MP3 files people prefer to stream it thorugh Pandora and Spotify. But I still use Winamp on my laptop – the lite version. Winamp is the best program for the way I like to listen to my music. I don’t get many MP3 these days. I mostly listen to Bollywood stuff and occasionally some International chart buster. I get the MP3 only if I really like an album or songs and would prefer to listen to it even when I do not have Internet access. I mostly organise my MP3 files in folders. I do not listen to songs based on genre or artist. I listen to an entire album and I like to listen in my preferred order and the order keeps changing. I might be listening to all Rockstar songs and I want to start with Sadda Haq followed by other sad songs or on some other day I want to listen all the peppy songs first from Rockstar.

Winamp in its lite version is a very simple music player, I can just double click on a file in Windows Explorer and it will start playing then I can add more songs by right clicking and adding them to the play queue. No time wasting in creating a playlist or anything. I never save playlists because my order of listening music is never same. I also like the ability to reorder songs with dragging and dropping.

I do not like the way how some players only let you sort songs by track number or alphabetically. That’s why I do not like any of the mobile music players. All of them try to be smart and classify songs by genre or artist or album. Boss I know what I want to listen and where the songs is, just let me select a few songs quickly and let me listen to them in the order I want. I really liked the original music player on Android before Google tried to make it smart! It used to let me play songs from a particular folder and order songs by dragging up/down. After Google screwed it up, I had to find another player and found MortPlayer for Android. And I never listen to music on my iPad because the music player just sucks (for my taste)!

As far as I am concerned Winamp continues to whip the Llama’s ass!

Diwali 2013 Gadgets

Got some new gadgets this Diwali – a Panasonic TV, Google Chromecast and a stationary exercise bike.

Panasonic TH-L39B6D

It’s a 39 inch flat panel LED that we got for the living room. After watching demo of 3D TVs and being impressed with 3D content I considered getting a 3D TV but the 3D looked good only with 3D content and the 2D to 3D conversion wasn’t that impressive. Also I found 42″ to be insufficient for 3D content, so dropped the 3D idea and went with a good old TV. Connecting TV to the Internet was a requirement so also considered some smart TV models, but then decided to give Chromecast a try to see if that worked. I got the TV from Vijay Sales for 35K (INR) after exchanging my old 21″ CTV.

Google Chromecast

Chromecast is a tiny little HDMI dongle that can connect your TV to Internet over Wifi and you can stream content to your TV from your Android or iOS device. Officially Chromecast is not available in India yet but it can be purchased from ebay and other sites. I got it from ebay for 3500 and the initial experience was bad. The first piece I received didn’t work, I was worried my money would go waste but luckily the seller replaced it and the new one worked. Although Google says setting it up is snap, it wasn’t so in my case. I had to change the HDMI port, had to reset Chromecast a few times and somehow managed to set it up. Even after it was set up the performance was erratic. On the very first attempt to play a video it hung!

Finally it started working perfectly and I was able to stream videos from YouTube from my mobile and iPad. And now I must say I am happy with the way it has been working so far. There are not many apps that can stream to Chromecast but I am sure, more apps will add Chromecast support in near future. I haven’t yet tried streaming a tab from Chrome desktop to TV yet. Should try it today. However the most important content that one wants to see on TV is videos and movies. YouTube is where the videos are and that works really fine. I stream cartoons and jingles and rhymes for Yaashi and that helps us feed her without much effort :) Now I am waiting for some video player app to add cast support so videos on the device can be streamed to the TV. Google Play movies can only play movies downloaded (purchased) from Play store.

Fuel Upright 3.0 bike

So I and my wife decided to start working out to lose some extra kilos. I had tried running some time back, but I am not much of an outdoor person. Treadmill would take too much of space in the living room, so decided to get an exercise bike. Good to burn calories, helps with cardio and weight loss. It’s been 3 days since we got it and have started with using it twice a day with 15 minutes each. A 15 minute session burns 100 calories. Goal is to increase the time gradually so we build stamina and burn more calories. This is the first time in life that I have started to exercise. It’s a good start, will write after 3 months how it went.

Yaashi’s room

Diwali was a home renovation time and walls got a new coat of paint. In particular Yaashi’s room became much more colourful and playful.


On one wall we painted a grassy plain with Sun and butterflies. We found the design on the net and tried to replicate it. We still want to draw some grass over the green.


Another wall got animal stickers I bought from ebay. Kids coming to our home are particularly liking the stickers.

TataSky+ HD DTH

Choosing a DTH provider in India is tougher than choosing a spouse. I have had a Full HD 32″ LCD TV for a year but I was still running on the old cable connection. Finally I thought it’s time to move on. Main lure was the presence of HD channels. Lots of channels are now available in High Definition and I also wanted a DVR to be able to record shows and pause live TV. So I began hunting for a DTH service.

I had following options to choose from

Dish TV
Airtel Digital TV
Reliance Big TV
Videocon D2H
Sun Direct DTH

First I asked my cable guy if they have a Set top box. They do have but it’s not HD and no DVR so it was out of contention. Hathway Cable has started HD services but they are not available in my locality. (Cable guys have divided areas amongst themselves to avoid competition.)

Dish and TataSky are oldest in India. Airtel, Reliance, Videocon and Sun are new and boast of MPEG-4 compression which seemingly has better quality over MPEG-2 of the older players. So At first I decided to only look at the four new players.

Sun is strong in south but their HD offerings were least exciting. Their web site is also enough to put someone off instantly. So that was out immediately.

Reliance is boasting of providing 250 HD channels but all of them are upscaled. The real HD channels are only 6 whereas Airtel and Videocon have 10 and 11 respectively. So the choice was quickly narrowed down to Airtel and Videocon.

I was more interested in English movies and infotainment channels like Discovery and Nat Geo. Videocon had more HD channels that mattered to me. Airtel didn’t have ESPN, Star Cricket and Travel XP in HD instead they had UTV stars and History TV. Videocon didn’t have History TV in HD but had the other three. The main lure was Travel XP, because I had seen that one at a hotel and instantly liked it. Only Videocon and Dish TV carry Travel XP at the moment. Videocon had the best price. Their highest package (Platinum+HD) included all their channels and HD for Rs. 441 per month and even less if I prepaid for entire year. The same thing was costing Rs.486 at Airtel where HD had to be bought separately and all HD channels were not part of that bouquet. Videocon only had a 160 GB hard disk in the DVR against 320 GB of Airtel but I thought I could live with that.

Meanwhile I also checked out TataSky and Dish TV. Dish didn’t really have too much to offer in HD department and they didn’t have a HD DVR either (at least I couldn’t find one on their site) besides Dish’s highest plan was at 550 something so I put a cross mark against it. Then I looked at TataSky. They had 8 HD channels. The 3 missing ones were Colors, Movies Now and Travel XP. Missing Movies Now HD was a huge minus for me. TataSky was the first to introduce DVR in India and they have the largest capacity disk on DVR – 500 GB which can record 700 hours of SD programming. That was huge and they had a super annual package that included all of the channels including HD for one year and a fixed price for the entire year. Any new channels added in the next year will be part of this package as well. That was a huge advantage, but videocon was still cheaper and had two HD channels that I cared about – MoviesNow and TravelXP.

So I decided to go with Videocon. I went online to purchase and boom! The HD DVR was no longer available! I called the customer support to enquire for the same, the guy put me hold for 10 minutes and the call dropped. That kind of put me off. Next day I got a call from them and I was told the HD DVR is now available only in Mumbai so they have taken it off website and are selling it only in cash. I didn’t like it. I weighed different options again and once again came to the conclusion that Videocon was best. So I was ready to buy it. Then I decided to check out their Facebook account. And over there I read a comment from someone about History TV not being available! I knew History was not available in HD but not at all?? What the hell!!

History channel was recently relaunched and rebranded as History TV 18 and had some kick ass shows like Ice Road Truckers and was an absolute must! Even my cable guy provided it! Now this was too much. Videocon didn’t have a great website, DVR was not available online, customer support didn’t really look that good and the DVR had only 160 GB storage. Videocon was cancelled and I went back to drawing board. Now the choice was between Airtel and TataSky. I had called TataSky and confirmed, they too had switched to MPEG-4. Airtel had better HD package but was expensive, TataSky had a larger capacity disk and on the online forums I read they had been adding new HD channels regularly over last couple of months. Two months back they didn’t even have these many HD channels. They are slow in adding channels but they do add. And with the Mega Lite pack that I was considering I would get them all at no extra cost. TataSky also has a service called Video On Demand where I can connect the box to Internet and I can download videos, even movies and shows from the past 5 days and I would have ample space to store all the content. At this point I think its a unique feature provided only by TataSky.

So TataSky it was. TataSky+ HD to be specific. I paid Rs. 10,200 for which I got HD DVR with 500 GB hard disk, full year subscription for the Mega Lite pack which included all channels carried by TataSky including HD, 12 showcase movies and 1 year subscription to BusinessWorld magazine. And under a special offer I got 500 Rs. credit in my account. Paid it yesterday, and it was installed at my home today morning.

And I am loving it already! The HD clarity is awesome! Finally my HD TV is doing what it was supposed to do! The DVR is perfect, I have already set it up to record a couple of movies that will be telecast today. They have an app for Android phones where by I can give instructions to record any program from anywhere. In fact I set up one of the movies to be recorded from my mobile. Videocon and Airtel have such programs too but TataSky’s app is most polished and slick amongst all.

I am happy with my decision. Having a couple more HD channels would have been great but I am sure they will be added soon.

Isko laga dala to life jhingalala!

My favourite exaggerations

I often use exaggerations to make a point. My favourite ones –

Another zero will be added to India’s population
I use this to signify that significant amount time will be spent or has been spent doing something very trivial.

By the time I reach office, a zero would be added to India’s population
By the time it will compile, a zero would be added to India’s population
A zero was added to India’s population by the time you wrote this code!

Using extreme years
The remoteness of the year depends on the degree of time spent since the event I am talking about

I passed out of college in the last century = Its been many years since I passed out of college
I had my lunch in 2005 = I had my lunch a few hours back
This code was written in 14th century = Its very very old code
I had sent the mail in 1966 = I had sent the email a long back
I have been asking for these documents since 1945! = I have been asking for these documents since a long time

A person would bathe with this much water
When I see someone wasting water on something, I use this

The amount of water you used to wash this glass, someone could have bathed with it!
A buffalo could have bathed with the water you used to wash your face/hair/handkerchief or whatever!

You will send me to a village
I use this on my team members. I use this to signify that what they are doing is important. So important that if they fail, I would have to close the company and go to some village and do farming. It makes more sense when said in Hindi.

बेटा अगर ये server पे फटा ना, तो हम दोनोंको गांव जाना पडेगा!
(If this goes wrong on the server, we both will have to go to a village!)

सचीन, लातुर / झुमरीतलैया / जौनपुर का दो टिकीट ला भाई, आज ये गांव भेजने वाला है!
(Sachin, bring two tickets for Latur / Jhumritalaiya / Jaunpur. This guys is going to send us to a village today!)

There are some more… will write about them when I remember.

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