RIP Google Reader

Google is one organization which I will always respect. The amount of products and web apps that it has released over the years is awesome … it’s not that other companies are not releasing as many products (if not more!). What gets to me is that the sheer number of products that Google releases which I FIND USEFUL.

I agree that as an early adopter I am one of the first to sign-up for betas and also lucky enough to get sneak peeks at a few private betas. However, in any given day the amount of time I spend using Google products is as high as 5 hours (and I am not even including Gmail! Else it could be twice as much).

One such product which I use was Google Reader. Now if you have been around the Google EcoSystem, you would know that Google has decided to pull the plug on Google Reader. Having used Google Reader for the past 8 years, this has come as a shock for me … I have read, shared and liked literally thousands of articles on this great feed aggregator. I realize that over the months, the usage was dipping down .. especially after the integration of Google Plus!

Here’s my small note to a dear friend –

Dear Google Reader,

We had some good times didn’t we? All the starring … and the liking … and the sharing … and even sending a few emails. I always considered you a social network of well informed readers and intellectuals. A social network which was not about looking at photos, but about reading good content.

The great thing was that I could find out which content my friends are recommending and filter all the crappy content out and read the good stuff. You made that happen … and for that I thank you.

All good things have come to an end I guess … and tis with a heavy heart that I am abiding you farewell. I am considering Feedly as your alternative … but Feedly will not replace you. It will simply function as a feed reader which I sorely need.

I will miss you. Rest in Peace.

Off to Coorg

Map of Coorg

Every year we make it a point to go on a week long vacation. This year is like no other, most of the times I try and leave behind most of the ties at work. This time around, the deluge of work was in such a high volume, that I decided to take some work with me (not proud of this, but I thought I could get some time to reflect and some more additional time to hack WordPress).

We decided to make avail of our Club Mahindra membership and make a booking at Coorg. Typically this needs to be done well in advance, which gives me enough time to book the tickets and work out most of the jinks in the travel.

Getting there

This is the most challenging part if you are with kids and also a Club Mahindra member!! Most of their properties are so well into the interiors that it takes half a day just to get there! With the exception of perhaps Lonavala and Goa, I doubt whether the rest of the properties are within city limits!

Getting to the Kodagu (which is the actual name of Coorg) is quite a bitch. Either you take a flight to Mangalore/Bangalore and drive it up from there. Or you take a train to Mysore and drive it from there to Coorg.  We chose to take a flight from Mumbai to Mangalore and then hire a van (there were 6 of us, plus 3 kids).


The Mangalore city is quickly developing and you can see the development happening as soon as you land in new airport which is on the outskirts of the city. It’s a good place to setup a business!! You have real estate which is on the verge of sky rocketing, you have people coming to the city in search of jobs, you have a decent airport with high flight volumes. A good idea would be to setup a nice hotel/restaurant nearby the airport … to grab a quick lunch, you currently have to head towards the city which is a good 10 km away from the airport.

I always loved Mangalorean cuisine, and the city’s restaurants did not disappoint. We grabbed an easy lunch and headed towards Coorg.

Bad Roads

The roads are a classic testament to the Indian infrastructure. Neglected and getting wasted. It seems as if the government has suddenly woken up to the fact that Coorg has started becoming a hot tourist destination … and its efforts are to increase the width of the roads … at least in certain places. However the entire road to Coorg is like a bad Bollywood thriller, full of twists and turns which don’t thrill you, but simply keep you hoping for the twists to end.

Getting 3 children below the age of 5 is not advised … they were travelling non-stop for 10 hours and I adore all of them for tolerating this travel! Taking a van there on these roads is also not advisable, since the van has a higher center of gravity and tends to throw the contents around when going around the bends. That includes people too!!

A gruelling 200 minutes letter, all the kids had puked, all the adults were frayed, and we were nearing Coorg. The only thing I remember seeing Coorg is not how beautiful it is, but a great relief that this god awful journey had come to an end.

Kodagu Valley

The resort is pretty awesome, and it has quite a few things to keep the family busy … which gives me enough time to spend on the laptop!!

Window to Coorg

I have firmly planted myself in the outside balcony of our studio apartment and am looking forward to the week. This is the place to go to if you want to be close to nature, go on treks, reflect on your thoughts … which is what is on my agenda. Travelling is just incidental ;-)

Why it is not a Happy Republic Day

Yesterday as the entire nation celebrated it’s 64th Republic day, as different brands and people were happily swinging the tri-colour in the air, I deliberately chose NOT to post a tri-coloured image on my blog wishing everyone a Happy Republic Day. It has been 64 years for the country and frankly speaking I am not celebrating. There is no reason left to celebrate.

Problems, problems

As a libertarian, it does not matter for me where I stay, as long as the establishment does not interfere with my personal life. I will continue paying taxes, and life will go on for me … but sometimes when I think about my children, I get scared. Not because of the hyper-competition in the Education sector or the difficulty a parent has to face to secure admission for his children, but because of the sheer rut in which this country is in and how it threatens to endanger their very lives.

Women in this country are mistreated and the media causes a furore … the case is discussed across the different media … and soon things go silent. A politician is caught red handed filling his pocket with the country’s money, a committee is set … media wags their tongues and soon afterwards, things go to normal. I also add to this problem, since I do not really do anything. What can I do? Vote?

India the four wheeled vehicle

A good friend described the country’s problem quite aptly, he said that India is like a four wheeled vehicle, the four wheels being media, bureaucracy, politicians and the corporates. The politician wheel does not want to go anywhere, it is happy with the quid pro quo status. It simply does the act of spinning, however its stuck firmly and refuses to budge. The media wheel is connected to the the politician wheel in some nightmarish mechanical method. The exact dynamics are not well documented, however the media wheel is dependant on the politician wheel, and is controlled by the politician wheel.

The bureaucracy wheel shows the largest potential … since its the largest. The problem is that it takes a lot to make it turn, and it is more or less stationary. When calamities shudder the country (the vehicle in our analogy), then this wheel comes into action. But until then, its fairly stationary and has a large inertia.

The corporate wheel (this is the wheel with which I identify the most) is a dynamo on its own. It’s running wild, its spinning faster and faster … in fact its currently the only reason why the vehicle is going anywhere. However, with constant lack of co-ordination from the other wheels, this wheel is beginning to wear down. The rubber has burned away and slowly the support it has given is depleting (the Tatas, Birlas are no longer Indian citizens … and many more in this list).

All in all, the entire nation is being taken for a ride and the automobile simply is not going fast enough.

How did we get here?

Arrogance, Ignorance and Incompetence. Not quite sure in which order, but definitely in epic proportions. However, there is no need to cry over spilt milk … what that done has been done.

The more pertinent question is how to get going? For the more patient there always is the Reform Thyself adage … which might come to fruition in a century of self control and discipline. The activists will always suggest change and overthrow and morchas, however that ain’t happening … we already know what happened with Mr. Hazare and his fast. The passivist will write a long blog (or article) on this issue and get on with their lives. That’s pretty much what I will be doing!

The only action that I might do which will drastically improve the nation in which me and my family live in is … to immigrate!


Happy New Year 2013!

People ask me what will I be doing this new years? In the past, I would be partying during my bachelor days … there were some other nights when on New Years, I was installing Ubuntu alongside with a glass of scotch! (yes, this has happened on two separate New Year occasions in fact!). This year end, I plan to spend quality time with my family and away from the machines.

As time goes by, one’s personal opinions on certain issues also change. 2013 for me is going to herald such changes. Resolutions for me have always been a no-no. I used to think that resolutions are just another way of breaking a rule that you set for yourself. As we enter the year 2013, I am making these resolutions … not for breaking them but as a sense of maintaining some personal discipline!!

Here are my resolutions for 2013

  • Be more regular on my blog, with at least 1-2 posts a week.
  • Not just write about games or random topics, but try to write around a niche of topics that are ACTUALLY interesting and USEFUL to people.
  • Wake up at 7am every day (yes, even as lowly as this one … I can’t help it … sometimes I just manage to oversleep till 10!!)

I’d like to stop here since I never tend to follow-up with things when I overdo them. The thing with resolutions is that they need to be measurable … and then we need to follow through with reviews and rinse-repeat!!

  • That means I need to post roughly 81 posts in 2013 (right now I am at 504, exactly a year after I write this post, I need to be at 585+ posts). Perhaps a small widget displaying the post count this year would do this task! Saw this post a day after I published this post – it’s the commitment which pays and why there is no such thing as writer’s block.
  • I have decided to write more about WordPress, Google Analytic and, Google Adwords. How do you track useful to people, hmmm … one metric could be traffic! another could be the number of returning visitors! A third an perhaps more relevant metric could be the share of Most Read Categories to switch from games (which is now at 39%) to Technology.
  • This is a completely offline event, so you need to rely on my reliable reporting! Which means that I report faithfully what time I woke up and keep a track of this for a year! Ughh … I am hating this resolution already! A percentage metric would then be a simple matter of find how many days I woke up at 7am.

I will leave you with this lovely quote I stumbled across on the interwebs

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

Wishing you all a very happy new year!

As the World Ends

Today is the D-Day, the day when the Mayan calendar runs out … and thus, leading us to think that the world has ended. What were they really thinking?

In almost all civilizations, this day has been predicted. We Maharashtrians have an end of the world known as pralay. This literally translates into the great flood (Noah! Where art thou?). Interestingly enough the reason for this is pretty much the same across civilizations, that mankind has become decadent and corrupt in its glory and technical superiority and the gods have decided to end all mankind. Think about the mythical continent of Atlantis and how it ended. Yes, it’s a myth … but stories are told to enforce beliefs.

Another source of media supporting this idiotic notion is Hollywood movies. With movies such as Deep Impact, I am Legend, The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Day After Tomorrow making big bucks, it simply makes sense to talk about the end of the world to get attention in the media (like this post for example!).

I still have not seen the retail brands out there taking advantage of such an event. If I were the owner/marketing manager of a retail brand … I would declare a sale and call it the End-of-the-world Sale!! Yes, its an original thought!

So, what are you going to do to handle the end of the world? I just celebrated 4 years of happy marriage with my wife yesterday. I intend to continue doing so for the next 40 years to come! End of the World … phhh … not for me. I use Google Calendar.