Excursions by Amit Gawande

Wear Space is a wearable device designed to aid concentration by limiting your senses of sight and hearing.” WTF! Just look at those product images. Silly.

When did we go so wrong? And this is the future life”? Aren’t we already too cut off from the reality?

Wed, Oct 17, 2018 thoughts

As we move closer to the end of October, I dread there would be no October event from Apple - so no updates to iPads, and more importantly Macs. Boy, would I be pissed off - I’ve been waiting to upgrade my Macbook Pro since pre-WWDC period and time’s running out for Apple.

Wed, Oct 17, 2018 thoughts

Facebook is just being Facebook - after saying last week no data collected through Portal would be used to target users with ads, Facebook now says the data can be used to target ads”. Why think otherwise? To pull a Facebook” would soon be synonymous for crapping on users.

Wed, Oct 17, 2018 thoughts

Last few weeks have been days of many firsts; it was only apt that I captured all these thoughts. It was time to update the \now page. I enjoy drafting these updates — it gives me chance to go through the posts since the last update and reflect.

Tue, Oct 16, 2018 thoughts

If you end your review with a question mark, I do not think you are doing your job well. Review is supposed to be objective, fact based. You like some things, you may not like few others. Sure, there is a scope for personal/subjective judgement. But it can’t be open ended.

Tue, Oct 16, 2018 thoughts

I am missing out on too many wonderful posts on m.b written while I was asleep. RSS won’t help, neither will Micro.threads if conversation dies down before am awake. It’s time to hit the board again, need a relook at how this can be addressed.

Tue, Oct 16, 2018 thoughts

On Podcasts, News and Well-being

I have lately felt hindered by the time I am listening to the same repetitive thoughts from other people on podcasts. Experts talking about, dissecting, the tech news. Or blabbering about something I would not be interested in typically.

I realised it had become a problem when these podcasts kept playing as static noise in the background — irrespective of whether I was working or driving or eating breakfast. In that sense, I agree with CGP Grey’s thoughts on podcasts as he dialled down his consumption on the internet.

But podcasts have taken too much ground in my mind: any moment of idleness can be instantly filled with the thoughts of others.

I firmly believe that boredom is good for brain health, and I’m banishing podcasts for the month from my phone to bring boredom back into my life.

I had cut back on my podcast subscriptions just a week before CGP Grey first talked about his experiment on Hello Internet. And the way, he worded his reasons for why giving up on podcasts was a key part of his experiment to reduction just persuaded me to go ahead with my plan.

So I have 10 subscriptions (down from 35) now, with just 3 technology related podcasts. One releases on Monday, another on Wednesday and the last one on Friday. That’s it, the week’s quota of the technology news is covered. One podcasts is a microcast, arrives on Monday. There four are the only ones that are set to auto-downloads. All the remaining 6 are released without any fixed schedule. I decide whether to listen to them only after I read what they are about and if that interests me.

I have been on this diet plan” of podcasts consumption for at least a month now and I am already observing significant differences. I am listening to music, a lot more, again. My mind has become curious again - there is space for some thought experiments. There are times when I just don’t carry my headphones with me even when I am going to places alone. Anyway, with nothing to listen to, there is no incentive to carry them along. So I either read on my phone or just talk to people around. Surprisingly, I find it a lot better, more effective use of the time.

However, this also means I have some time to fill during my drive to office or the morning/evening runs. To address that, I have renewed my Audible subscription — listening to Audiobooks would at least be better than podcasts. Or so I think, for now.

No-news Experiment

I was also on an experiment 3 months back where I had decided that the only way I would consume news would be via my morning newspaper. And my hypothesis was I would feel a lot less burdened to know what’s going on and so be a bit more focused on the work at the hand.

As an extension, I had also uninstalled all the related apps. No Twitter. No news apps. No notifications from social apps (Messages, WhatsApp). The idea was it is just better to stay away from the temptation to check what’s going on.

I am glad that I have following the set rules for 3 months now and I thought it would be right moment to update on that experiment.

It indeed is a not less burdensome to be away from the news. I do not think I have missed anything major or urgent in these last few months. Newspaper provides me with the detailed reporting and not just blurbs. Opinion pieces provide better context on the important ones. The useless news, whose whole purpose is to satisfy the need for the news website or TV channels to keep reporting” something, anything new, get filtered out by the editors. After all, there is a limited pace to fill in the pages on the printed paper.

So I am no longer bludgeoned with a constant stream of everything that’s negative. With that, I think there is a lot less crap in the world than I was made to believe.

Is it bad out there? Sure. But at least I ain’t bogged down by the insignificant drivel that the world is full of.

Mon, Oct 15, 2018 opinion podcasts life

I don’t understand Google’s call screening feature. How does it solve the spam calls problem? Don’t I have to be equally attentive when the call arrives? I don’t think the problem is I have to receive the call, problem is I get the call in the first place. Some more thoughts.

Fri, Oct 12, 2018 thoughts

I finally watched Justice League and I am left with a strange feeling. Sure, the movie is a drag, but it’s a lot better than recent attempts from DC. A lot less gloomy, peppered with few light moments. Never thought I would rate a DC movie same as a Marvel (latest Avenger) one.

Fri, Oct 12, 2018 thoughts

Watching the hands-on videos of Pixel Slate has been a very strange experience. Every frame suggests how laggy the ChromeOS platform is — but I have hardly seen anyone mention that. Is it not apparent while using it in actual? All impressions have been overtly positive.

Fri, Oct 12, 2018 thoughts

I am loving this new addition to the Discover tab - now I can browse all the emojitags right here. How did I miss this update? Kudos @manton for making the m.b webapp better every day.

Discover Emogitags

Fri, Oct 12, 2018 thoughts microblog

Thoughts on Google’s Call Screening feature

I don’t understand Google’s call screening feature. How does it solve the spam calls problem? Don’t I have to be equally attentive when the call arrives? I don’t think the problem is I have to receive the call, problem is I get the call in the first place.

Rather I am more distracted reading transcripts and making decisions. It looks to be targeted at the automated machine-driven calls. Human spammers/scammers will still have to be handled.

In most cases, the spam calls I get start with a person, a human, asking if it indeed is me. Then goes on to specify the call is about some information related to my account or a service I am using. And then comes the offer for you” part. I tend to disconnect right at first step when someone wants to know if me is indeed me.

What’s to say the call screening will transcribe something like This is xyz from abc bank and this is a service information call.”?

Anyway, no doubt Google has a great technology at its hands and the showcase via this use case sounds a lot coherent than the general duplex demo we saw during I/O. I am just perplexed how everyone seems to be already sold that this solves the problem which it isn’t even targeting.

Update: The post isn’t intended to be judgemental of the feature, rather it was, to be frank, in response to the constant perspective of this is so useful, I need it now” from all around. But I could hardly understand why. John Gruber’s this comment finally triggered this.

man oh man, do I want that feature (Call Screening) on iOS.

Even Sarah Perez described the problem with scam calls succinctly in her opinion piece at TechCrunch.

Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will be from scammers. And their tactics have gotten much worse in recent months.

They now often trick people by claiming to be the IRS, a bank, government representatives, and more. They pretend you’re in some sort of legal trouble. They say someone has stolen your bank card. They claim you owe taxes. Plus, they often use phone number spoofing tricks to make their calls appear local in order to get recipients to pick up.

I get it, it’s a problem. But Call Screening solves it how? I could not find the answer to that question in the whole post.

Fri, Oct 12, 2018 thoughts

I have realised that I am being a lot more social” on web these days. And I think m.b and efforts I put to enable the IndieWeb principles on my blog played a big role, to just open my mind to express more. I put down some of my thoughts.

Wed, Oct 10, 2018 thoughts