Gmail – Pros and Cons

I have been using the Gmail (beta) for quite some time now and at this stage, my gut feeling is that its not quite there yet to be launched as a commercial product, especially coming from a company such as Google, where quality is just of the supreme order.

Apart from the fact that Google wants you to use its Email Service, one of the primary reasons why you get a Gmail account is that you could do some Beta testing for the service and report Bugs. On 1 such occasion, where I decided to do some good for Google, I found 2 Bugs (which I thought were really basic ones) – of course, it might have been an oversight on their part, but its kind of strange that they might have overlooked such things. It seemed as if things had been released in a hurry. Of course, the product is still in Beta – so, I guess, Google can be excused.

Time and again, I have also found the server to be slow (compared to the other online Mail providers such as Yahoo! and even Hotmail). The server just hangs up on me and gives the error message, asking me to try back in 30 seconds.

All these apart, Gmail definitely has some really cool features, which are quite innovate actually. Since you have 1 GB of space, you can virtually forget about ‘Deleting’ the emails and start thinking about ‘Archiving’ them. So you can always retrieve an old email, archived some 2 years ago, by using the Search facility, which of course is powered by the Google technology !

Secondly, there is this powerful concept of Labels, which is the equivalent of Folders. The major difference between the 2 is that you can apply multiple labels to the same email. In other words, you can keep the same email in multiple folders. Neat eh ?

Lastly, the concept of organizing an email and its set of replies as a conversation for the ease of reading, is quite credit worthy. Of course, this is directly borrowed from the multitude of BBS & Newsgroups site on the web. But then, its really amazing to see this technology being put to use on your emails in the Inbox.

A lot has been said about the fact that your emails would be scanned and corresponding ads would appear in the email. But then, what I don’t understand is why is there such a hue and cry about it. After all, this is going to be done by a machine – not by a human, who is eye-balling your email ! I do understand the privacy issues out here, but if Google goes not use this information for any other purpose, other than just serving up ads, I think, its OK. In any case, the ads serving technology is still far from being accurate – a recent survey in New York Times revealed that the Gmail ad serving technology was hardly found to be accurate. You can read more about it out here.

I am sure, Google will make quite a few changes to Gmail before its official commercial launch. Google needs to be careful in taking any steps this year – after all, its IPO this year is the most sought after event in the Stock Market … to be really sure about it, you can always search on Google and find out the answer !

Keep Googling !

Wireless Connectivity @ Home – What a Relief !

In the 90s, the Internet was considered the ultimate in technological discovery. Then came the Wireless Networks and today, they have become so much a part of our lives. Especially in my home, the laptop with the Wireless Card, is the most sort-after thing, after tooth paste ! Be it morning, be it night, be it in the living room, be it in the bathroom, we just need our wireless laptop !

So, it came as a huge disappointment when our Wireless card stopped functioning for some reason. The combined knowledge of 2 computer science engineers could not help solve the problem. We applied all possible known tactics, including rebooting (both soft and hard), powering off the Router, slamming the laptop a bit etc … but nothing seemed to work.

Today, after 2 weeks of no wireless connectivity, we decided enough is enough and called up Dell Support. After all, thats why they charge arm and a dozen for their laptops, compared to the cheaper models of other companies. Sure enough, we were talking away to the Support personnel, who gave us a very simple suggestion – reinstall the whole OS !!! Reinstall for just a simple Wireless Network Card !!! – unthinkable !

We shut the phone down and tried to debug the problem ourselves. Finally, after tinkering around with the card properties, we found that the Encryption Key was not correct and so, it was not connecting to the router. The joy on our faces had to been seen, when we could start surfing the Web again through the laptop.

I used to shudder when I used to think about a day when I could not check my email 🙂 – today, I shudder to think of a day when i cannot use my wireless connectivity. It makes our lives so comfortable and convinient. Wireless is the way to go and I believe this will indeed shape the way we lead our lives in the future.


Leavey School of Business – Santa Clara University

The decision is finally here. Susmita and I are joining the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, this Fall. (September). This is a part-time course (you can chose to do it full-time, if you can :)). There are 24 courses to be completed and you can probably complete 2-3 courses a quarter. That makes it 8-12 quarters, or 2-3 years. Lets hope we can finish it in sane time.

One good thing is that I get to go back to school with Susmita, who was with me in IIT, KGP. We can relive some of our college days – at least, thats what I hope to do. One huge advantage of Santa Clara University is that it won’t require too many changes in our lives. We don’t need to relocate, set up the house again, leave our jobs etc. Of course, another incentive is the fact that both our companies are sponsoring our MBAs. Intel has this really terrific program where they sponsor your higher education – no strings attached. My company has told me to take it 1 quarter at a time, depending on the Budget contraints. Either way, we would both have gone for our MBA.

I had been thinking about doing a MBA for quite sometime and as usual, I had been lazy about doing anything. I guess, I needed the push from Susmita and in the end, the long days of preparing for the GMAT and filling the applications all worked out well.

Hopefully, this decision will work out well.


Birthday Party

The last weekend, Susmita had organized a party to celebrate my Birthday. Boy! – it was so much fun. The food was yum, the people were great and it was just such a wonderful time. Check out some of the snaps

Of course, one gets old. But one should be young at heart – thats what matters. Oh well! – you must have heard this so many times now. Bottom line is – I am more year old. Am I more mature than 1 year ago ? – hmmm … hard to say.


Karan Razdan – Rajni to Girl Friend

Remember our dear old Rajni ? – the famous social worker who used to enamour India with her charm, wit and courage. I am sure most of the Indians do remember her. Anyway, the serial was written and directed by Karan Razdan, a struggling writer, who shot to overnight fame after Rajni.

Anyway, the same Karan Razdan gives you Girl Friend, which, I am sorry to say, is just not worth seeing. It deals with the taboo topic of Lesbianism in India and well, the topic has just been handled without any sensibility. Instead of playing to the gallery and providing some provocative scenes in the movie, the director could have shown his view point in a more subtle way. That would have probably helped to make a point that he was trying to make (or wasn’t he trying to make one ? ).

There is a strange analogy here – Indeevar -> Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Ankhen … Sexy Sexy Mujhe Log Bole … Got it ?


Rabindranath Tagore – Controversies

10 out of 10 Bengalis have heard about Rabindranath Tagore, 8 of those 10 have read at least something that he has written and 5 of those 8 remember what he/she has read sometime or the other. I don’t know whether there is any other writer in this whole world who has had such a tremendous influence on 1 sect of people.

So, it was quite interesting to know, that 1 of his very famous compositions, ‘Purano Sei Diner Kotha’, a soft lifting tune talking of beautiful bygone days, is actually lifted from a Spanish tune. Of course, if you tell this to any average Calcuttan, then he will be up in arms – but then it is indeed true. You can hear the both of them out here

Another controversy surrounding Rabindranath is regarding the National Anthem of India. Some say that he had written it to welcome King George V in 1911. Of course, the purists deny this vehemently.

Of course, if you are famous, then controversies shall indeed follow you. Its true for Rabindranath too.

Cloak of Invisibility

When I young, I had read a classic H.G. Wells story of a guy who can turn himself invisible. I was really enthralled by it and I had wished that it was indeed humanly possible. Then came the Harry Potter series, where Harry uses his father’s magical cloak to cover himself up to make himself invisible. It brought me memories of the H.G. Wells classic. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where The Invisible Man was one of the 7 Extraordinary Gentleman, was just what I need to spur me up.
It was just such a wonderful coincidence that 2 weeks later, I read in the BBC that a Tokyo scientist had discovered a Cloak, which had the power to make you invisible. This was not fantasy – this was for real . He had given a demonstration of this amazing discovery to a group of scientists. Of course, there is no magic involved – he just used a combination of some hi-fi reflection/refraction mechanism to achieve what he wanted. Here is the news article that I am referring to.

Phew! – I guess, with time, all our childhood fantasies will become real, eh ?