My E61i died in the middle of a firmware upgrade. A friend in Nokia confirmed fixing it will only take fifteen minutes given the appropriate adapter (apparently they don’t do it over USB like end users do), but the service centre wanted fifteen days! So I walked into the nearest mobile shop and bought the cheapest phone they had to serve in the interim. A Nokia 1200.

In half a day using it, I’ve confirmed something long suspected: I’m actually faster on T9 than on a QWERTY keypad. The only time T9 slows me down is when typing a word that’s not in the dictionary or a word interlaced with punctuation or numbers.

Maybe for my next phone I’ll look for something with a better camera, connectivity and responsiveness than a messagepad form factor.

Vladstudio desktop wallpapers

Yesterday at Barcamp Bangalore 5, I noticed a cool wallpaper on someone’s desktop and asked for their collection. They happily obliged; said it was a new Mac and this collection was the result of having gone looking for something suitable.

This morning I followed the name tag on a particularly nice wallpaper and arrived at Vladstudio, home of Russia-based Vlad Gerasimov.

Vlad’s gorgeous collection of wallpapers had me sold. I signed up for a lifetime subscription.

Here’s my current wallpaper and the one I will use next:

Where smiles are born Aquarium

(no subject)

When I was a print journalist, our lives revolved around the next month's issue. All the dates we dealt with had to do with some or the other deadline for the next month. It used to be so intense that we always got the current month wrong. Today was in November, not October, unless reminded that it was actually still October.

I can imagine it must be the same for print journalists with daily newspapers: they’re forever living in the tomorrow.

Writing on paper

After all these years, I still write on paper. A lot. I just wrote four A4-sized pages of outline for a presentation next week. It took over an hour.

I find that the low speed and physical difficulty of writing helps me focus my thought process. There are no toolbars of formatting buttons demanding they be used too. If I recall something and go off on a tangent, drawing an arrow to the breakoff point for later reconsideration is natural and effortless. Paper also works better than just thinking and memorising because with that I tend to think in circles, constantly re-analysing what I'm already comfortable with. Paper forces closing a line of thought and moving on.

This blog post, oddly enough, was written and posted from a mobile phone, as has been pretty much every post I've made in the past year or so.
gloomy, thinking

One hit wonders

They have the talent and the enthusiasm. It’s tedious work and takes considerable time away from existing preoccupations, but it’s so much fun!

And then comes the time for the second iteration, and with it the memories of the sacrifices made. Long working hours. Weekends consumed. Hobbies neglected. If only there were more hours to a day. Besides, did anyone really care that last time? What difference did it make to the world anyway? The hill looms.

A one hit wonder isn’t always for the lack of ability.

Repeat reading

There is such a thing as reading a book too early. I have much to re-read.

That applies too to the book I'm currently reading, Albert O Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States. It is easily the most insightful book I've read this year, perhaps a bit too much given my current sketchy understanding of economics, and certainly too much for my current state of distractedness.

Hirschman makes my world so much saner. I will have to give him the respect of a second read to catch all that I will miss this first pass.

Getting a good night's rest

Some days I wake up in the mornings feeling fairly exhausted, like it were the end of a long day. Apart from that I need more physical exercise, I suspect the mattress. It's left me with a dull back ache on previous occasions.

What's a good mattress? What makes it good?

(no subject)

Does LiveJournal throw a HTTP login box at you when visiting some journals? Twice per page? I’ve been hit by it the last month or so. Cancelling login doesn’t seem to affect the page at all. I’ve seen it on others’ screens too.

What changed?

Password etiquette

I'm standing in queue at my bank to encash a self cheque, because, for once, the transaction has to be done faster than online transfer between banks affords.

My signature barely matches what the bank insists it is. In about five years of holding this account, I'm yet to finish my first cheque book. I do all my transacting online. My password is my signature.

I use a different password everywhere. I remember all my passwords, or at least all the more frequently used ones, trusting the rest to a password manager.

I never change passwords. My method of remembering tens of unique passwords doesn't work when they have to change.

And so when a site demands a password change every fifteen days as security precaution, my system breaks down entirely. I cycle through the same three passwords across all such sites. My account's security is actually weakened as a result.

Some may say that this will all change with biometrics. I don't buy that. Biometrics will face far more resistance than passwords because it conflates identity with authorisation. It requires changing the fundamental trust patterns of society, which is not an easy sale.

We're going to be a password-based society for some time. How long will it be before a class on password management becomes as elementary as one on letter writing in school?


My BSNL broadband connection finally got installed today. For the first time in a year since moving out, I have something better than GPRS with which to get online.

I have Wi-Fi at home again. Yay!

I also have a new phone that does Wi-Fi, from which I download podcasts, do bedside late night e-mail, blogging, feed reading, random browsing, IRC chatting, and Skype and Gizmo calling, without needing to lug around that hunk of a laptop. Life is now good.

Double yay!

Now if only someone would fix the way the phone's WebKit-based browser handled HTML TextAreas so I could edit wiki pages. Just one small wish.