Category Archives: Et al.

Too Many Trumpets

*All opinions below are strictly personal.

Trumpet
*Picture from yourstory.com

No, seriously, tell me. Why is everything in the world so commercial? We are hell-bent on obsessing with monetizing everything and then lament about the world losing beauty. Teens (I am being generous here) compete for Facebook likes. Brands fight over putting up their promotional material in the once-friendly street corner. PR agencies compete for media stories about the gung-ho things their clients do (which aren’t always that gung-ho after all). It tires me out.

Lately, all the world’s innovations, awards and rungs-to-the-corporate-ladder seem to centre on marketing. An MBA is better paid than a technical person because he apparently has the strategic foresight to design a breathtaking campaign. Notwithstanding the foresight the technical person needs to create the program that feeds a medical diagnostic device, or lay the foundation for the bridge that will stand across the sea. Well, parents root for the MBA. It is the direct route to the paradise on the 23rd floor of a high-rise.

There was a time when companies used to advertise through the newspaper. They now sell us things through the television, the billboard, the radio, the internet, the flyer tucked in from under the door, the soap case, the roti, and the last I heard, the wrapper of your bhelpuri. It’s so intrusive it’s scary! In a blink, they will be advertising on your bed-sheet and your morning-coffee cup.

Imagine for a moment the world didn’t incur marketing spends. Wouldn’t people discover products and brands on their own? Oh yes, we have far too many brands today for anyone to capture attention without being promoted. It reminds me the various kinds of water they rattle off in high-end places. You know, sparkling water, bubbly water, blah. Do we really need 350 brands of soaps and 567 brands of deodorants? (I know there are probably more.) 

Soaps
*Picture from http://www.thesoaplady.com

Didn’t economics theorize about everyone investing their energy in what they do best – producing wheat or coffee? Who would have thought there would be dozens and more of people willing to produce fine-wheat, organic wheat, chocolate wheat, and golden-brown, blue and sublime coffee? (Yes, please add to the list.)

Well, I completely appreciate how marketing is essential for a company’s profitability, especially in the big, crowded marketplace we now live in. My contention is around how the marketing circle is constantly turning more vicious. One marketing innovation begets another; one successful product begets a hundred clones. One campaign you have successfully done must be broadcast-ed for the world to understand how you can do several more. You market, and you market, and I still don’t know if I care about my deodorant having too much gas or the dish-washing gel I have always used being suddenly proven by “research” to be ineffective.

Day after day, as I see the world competing on the skill to blow the trumpet, I grow more detached. I feel satisfied enough with a soap that clears dirt, even if it leaves about 0.1 percent of germs untouched. I am happy with water that quenches thirst even if it has only the natural composition of oxygen. What’s more, with all due respect to the marketing fraternity, I feel much more perked up about innovations that cure diseases, help kids learn better or assist us with space travel. Why not focus on marketing these some more?

Of course, it’s all very good to develop marketing skills in general; bloggers like me pitch in to felicitate our favourite brands get “their message across”. Yes, I know. It’s just that I am tired of seeing brands splashed over all the media I use, ALL the time. Companies engage in tussles over product lines that are dissimilar only in their advertising campaigns. Millions of rupees are used to keep innovations going only to ensure the product gets sold.

What’s to stop anyone from using this money and effort to work on a product with a utility no one else has managed to provide? I mean Authentic Utility. Which Benefits the Customer. I don’t mean a vegetarian toothpaste, or a killer of 99.95% germs, or a Eureka-feature chatting application.

Now if someone is willing to offer me a month’s solace, sea and calming sunshine, please market all you like. Let’s get going.

Four Months on the Dose

Yes, I have been on tablets. In the singular, actually. The nifty device has come in handy for several maladies of my existence.

In the first month, when Dell very thoughtfully initiated the Blogger Review program, I found the tablet does a terrific job of Tuning out Noise. Loaded with music, movies and other A/V delights, I found the noise of the Delhi Metro fading into the background.

When Delhi burned under the furious June sun, the tablet helped me make the most of my evenings. I would sit out in my balcony, dream of distant thunder and write. My New Blogging Assistant had wireless internet connectivity, hassle-free portability and decent battery back-up. I could focus more on words, less on logistics.

With July, that month of sultry afternoons where clouds contain anything but rain, the tablet revealed new aspects I didn’t know existed. A massive app-store remained to be explored. At its convenient price point, this was a perfect gifting idea for the hordes of anniversaries and birthdays I always feel upon me. I sat down in June, Dwelling on Dell.

To bring further cheer to hot and humid July, a six-year old and his tiger came along one fine day, philosophizing on the hidden adventures in life. With the 5 Lessons by Calvin and Hobbes on Tablets Et Al, I found I could use my Dell Venue to never be late for an appointment, figure out my way in Delhi’s winding and scheming lanes, and work on the move to save precious moments of my day.

There came one fine day, when I came across my diary from yester-years. It was loaded with plans, moments and memories. Of times I could never turn back. My tablet helped me formulate new Bottle-Green Plans by evolving into my Corporate Fallback, Tour Guide, Social Consultant and De-Stresser.

Having found tremendous utility from my tablet, I turned charitable in August and decided to share 5 Symptoms to diagnose if you need a Tablet. People with crumbling laptops, who come into meetings dazed, and have a miniature world atop their desk at home, fitted the bill exactly.

While adopting technology was all very good, the abundance of over-smart relatives with their wise-as-an-owl kids tempted me to talk of Hi-Tech Children. While kids can learn volumes from the interactive applications, videos and learning games – all of which are supported by Dell Venue – parents, I feel, need to strive for a balance between the story book and Facebook, the muddy playground and the virtual game.

I have completed four months on the dose and it has been a fantastic journey. The Dell Venue comes across as a non-flashy, high-utility product, perfect for organizing, entertaining and working on the go. Dell – thank you for this brush with the Venue. With multiple (a)venues for the product, I’d say it’s highly recommended.

Oh, if words could kill. :)

Dell Venue
*Picture from http://media2.intoday.in/

*Written as the closing post for the Dell Blogger Review Program

Hi-Tech Children

“My little one has over 600 Facebook friends. Fifteen of them are even foreigners, isn’t that so darling?” chattered away an aunt I am only – and thankfully – distantly related to. We were having coffee in one of those plush Delhi cafés that have in-house Wi-Fi and live tweeting areas. The coffee excursion had been the aunt’s idea and I am too wise to give up on the opportunity to partake of some hot, creamy and hold your breath, branded coffee.

I was intrigued by how our foreigner-philia is still very much alive. I was also intrigued by the sheer size of her little one’s friend circle, considering the number was about 60 times his age.

“Oh, he hasn’t personally met at least half of them.” My aunt sounded offended. “It’s all thanks to his proclivity for technology. The champ is a natural with cellphones, laptops, tablets, you name it.”

The champ indeed. “What else do you do with these gadgets, champ?” I broke into the feverish tempo of a guns-and-bullet game he was playing on his Android tablet.

“Oh, my friends and I talk on Skype. After school, you know.”

Many moons ago, when I was in school, the land-line phone was the only source of contact with school friends who lived far away. The phone would usually be administered by Mom – not that I have ever been much of a phone talker anyway. If we heard of tablets back then, we would have thought they cured headaches.

Fortunately, I know of parents who have optimized technology for best results. I have a fairly well-turned out Uncle who grew up independently, away from anyone’s eagle eye. He continues the tradition with his school-going kid, albeit within limits.

“My son and I discover new applications on the tablet every now and then. We even celebrated a karaoke night last Saturday.” My Uncle happily commented on my Dell Venue tablet. “Junior knows of better pastimes than checking out others’ lives on social media.” he added, giving me a contemptuous look. I quickly put the flap-cover back on.

Opinions differ on what is the right amount of exposure that kids need with technology. They can’t do without, that much is for sure. Not if they want to keep pace with the bright Alec in the classroom, or the smart candidate in the job market. However, giving up on the muddy playground, the playful dog, the modelling clay and the story books will most certainly form a void nothing can fill.

Dell-Venue-8-Pro-2
*Picture from http://wellconnectedmom.com/

The Dell Venue, for instance, comes with a sturdy cover, good resolution, A/V playback, and compatibility for tonnes of interactive applications that children can enjoy and learn from. There are games in the PlayStore more insightful and enjoyable than shooting people with guns – and please don’t tell me these improve concentration.

Over my cup of creamy, branded coffee, I fervently wished that as far as parenting goes, the world gets more people like my Uncle and less like my aunt. If mutually exclusive, give me a well-bred over a hi-tech child any day.

Stay tuned for the closing post tomorrow.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

5 Symptoms to Diagnose If You Need a Tablet

  1. You get called to meetings you never knew had been organised -Before you substantiate your I-am-being-framed theory further, you might like to get some help with planning your day (read here for how). In the crazy life we lead, it is entirely possible to muddle up your dinner date with your appraisal meeting.
  1. Your laptop has started crumbling at the edges from being pushed around in public transport -They didn’t make laptops to be carried around in arms or kept on the floor of Delhi Metro coaches. For that matter, editing, restructuring and commenting on intricate work documents on a phone is creepy, if you’re like me on this. And sigh, this elementary situation is what the boss chooses to be ignorant of.
  1. You haven’t been able to go to the cinema in an era and disbelieve the jazz about “visual magnificence” – You rarely have hours to spend at the cinema and long to utilize commute and in-between minutes to catch up on popular culture. Sadly, those movies they claim are visual treats look drab to you on your phone. As for the television, you need to catch up on news at the end of the day.
  1. Your desk is cluttered with electronic devices and you think integration is just a term – Your desk has a large phone forever plugged into a power supply, a laptop, a camera, a pager – yeah, you still have one of those, a calculator, a music player, a video player, a Kindle and a coffee mug. Who said it’s a small world when your desk is a world in itself?
  1. Your smart kid grumbles about the learning app his competitor in class has mastered -You are wary of letting your kid handle electronic devices but the other smart children are mastering science, mathematics, trivia, educational videos, the piano and tying a tie online. You are considering a cusp between a laptop which the junior will have when he is older, and a phone, which scares you with its infinite possibilities of invasion of privacy. Simple and subtle – that’s how you like things.

Checked three or more? A tablet, such as the Dell Venue series, might just be what the doctor ordered. In a variety of models from basic to pro, the tablet fits in perfectly with a simple yet effective ask.

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The Dell Venue series has a splendid array of inbuilt features such as organizers, location trackers, A/V support and all-access from anywhere thanks to PocketCloud 2.0. Further, a sturdy base built for portability, decent performance and effective battery backup make it quite a catch.

Invest in one, use its services to your advantage and make sure you keep it away from water for best results.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

Bottle-Green Plans

Bottle Green Diary
*Picture from http://www.amazon.com

I had a bottle-green diary in school. The first few pages had the national anthem, the school anthem, and good thoughts to see us through the day. As the school term progressed, the subsequent pages would fill up with time-tables, exam date-sheets and assignments. Mom and I would highlight key portions in fluorescent colours, and make mnemonics and symbols in the margins. The bottle-green diary is now all full. Of writing…of memories. Though good old paper and pen can never cease being endearing, let me tell you how my Dell Venue is pretty neat when it comes to planning my day. Even though it’s black.

The Corporate Fallback: I hate being an e-mail addict. But I also hate unread mails in my inbox. Especially if they come up in monotonous meetings where you’re lost in the beauty of a rain-washed Delhi…until you’re called. On my way to work, I make it a point to read/reply to work e-mails and mentally divide my time as per the day’s calendar. It saves me precious minutes at work – minutes I can then utilize to ensure I leave on time. Moreover, a second screen is a great help on server/system down days to ensure technology doesn’t interfere with my err, work-life balance.

The Tour Guide: There are days when public transport fails me. Or gets to my nerves. Especially in the light of how I am a lost soul in Gurgaon, the tablet’s location and navigation guide is a Godsend. No longer can I be fooled by cries of “Madam, take my auto!” or need to look miserable at road dead-ends.

The Social Consultant: I continue to get skeptical glances about being a Delhi-ite for 1. Some people assume all Bengalis are born in West Bengal and 2. I am bad with “social hangouts” in the capital. I needn’t worry anymore for lo and behold, applications on my Dell Venue are my new consultants. I can suggest a nearby restaurant for a surprise lunch with a friend, checkout what movies are playing in the nearest theatre, book flight tickets for an urgent trip out, and even video-chat with a friend I haven’t caught up with in ages. All without the risk of running out of space and memory on a teeny-weeny phone and giving myself the peace of mind that comes with being clutter-free.

The De-stresser: After a long day with a variety of demons, I appreciate a quiet evening, with a lilting tune and friendly weather. While the latter is never in my control, the tablet ensures I never run out of music, movies and books. Even when on the go to a boring social do I am dragged into. And no, I hardly mind glances that scream “why come to a party when your nose is deep into a screen.” It’s better than having my nose into things that interest me not, I say.

Come to think of it, the Dell Venue has rapidly assumed the role of a planner and companion in my life. I have half a mind to buy it a bottle green cover.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program