My gripes with Windows 8: Why it is likely going to suck!

Trying Windows 8 for a few minutes made me realize a few things:

  1. Since when did creating an account on a computer become like signing up for a sleazy online forum!? Why am I being asked to verify that I am a human!? Are robots interested in buying a computer and installing Windows on it? If a robot does buy a computer and wanna install Windows on it, does this offend it and will it be construed as discrimination????o_O
  2. At first I was skeptical about the whole Metro thingy. But now I must admit, it is not so bad. Using the Metro apps is a fresh take on how apps and the UI should look on Windows and in fact any OS.

There is just 1 problem… which leads to #3:

  1.  Windows 8 is a jarring juxtaposition of Windows 7’s usual layout and the new Metro look. It is outrageous! So I am doing some stuff on Metro and suddenly I am taken to the usual desktop. Which begs the question: Why the Metro stuff in the first place? What, may I ask, was sooo wrong with the Start Menu that they had to do this!? I know it is meant for the Tablets, but I believe Windows should be clever enough to realize that the hardware I am running it on is not a tablet and hence should resort to the more mouse friendly Start Menu.

It is not the lack of Start Menu that is upsetting, rather it is the jarring nature of intermingling the two distinct and totally opposite UI’s together. I mean there is nothing common between the two!

  1. Right clicking in the classic desktop gives a context menu. Right clicking on the Metro UI pops up a smart phone-esque menu bar of sorts.
  2. There is no apparent way to close a Metro UI app. I looked all over and found no button to close it. On a tablet it may be okay, since you will probably have a hardware back button as in Android. But on the Desktop? Sheesh!
  3. Given that this is a brand new UI, I expected MS to litter the OS with tips, popping up whenever the OS feels that you are stuck. Say you are randomly moving the mouse or clicking on the keyboard or tapping at the touchscreen? Windows should prompt a helpful reminder saying, are you stuck? Then proceed to teach you basic tasks like opening and closing apps, creating a new file, browsing the web, etc.
  4.  I am trying to imagine my parents using this UI. I think they will freak out.

This is one of those rare occasions when using Linux is probably going to be a lot easier for our parents than using Windows 8!!!o_O :O

Given that Windows relies on its existent customer base to upgrade to Windows 8, Microsoft really should have taken a baby step in this direction than a Marathon leap!!! Granted doing so may have delayed their attempt to jumping into the tablet arena, but they could have made the feature set of the “Tablet version” of Windows 8 different from the “Desktop version”. They could have easily waited till Windows 9 for streamlining the two OSes.

In the meantime, MS should have capitalized on the tablets to teach and acclimatize its users to the Metro UI. They could have added a touch of Metro UI on Windows 8 Desktop Edition and slowly weaned its users to it. Granted we mostly complain that MS never really took a bold step and always made its OSes mediocre, without having anything special. Well, for the first time MS did something radical to its OS and I must say, there is no other OS on the market quite as radical as Windows 8 currently. But, may be we were wrong! Familiarity helps and the alien nature of the Metro UI may scare more people away than MS had hoped.

Whatever it is, I am a 100% sure that Windows 8 is a half-baked product. It is out too early, ahead of its time. The UI is no where close to seamless. No one can use Windows 8 and say with a straight face that the UI is great!

Don’t get me wrong. Both Metro UI and the “legacy UI” as MS is putting it, are great on their own accord. It is the jarring juxtaposition of this two totally opposite GUIs that makes Windows 8 almost bipolar! I am not gonna lie here, I am sure we are going to here more than a few “multiple personality” references for Windows 8!

MS should have streamlined the UI. They should have made it a bit more seamless. But right now, it simply feels like they stuck the Desktop OS onto a Mobile OS. And that is NOT a great recipe.

May be Windows 9 will be great! Which makes me think.

Win 3.1——- Okay-Good
Win 95——- Crap
Win 98——- Good
Win 2000—- Sucked (hard)
Win XP——- Good
Win Vista—- Crap
Win 7——— Good…
Win 8——— …Crap?

Seeing a pattern? Read more regarding this pattern here:

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Walmart: The evil Giant and the high cost of low prices!

Oh my god (psst: get ready for another rant!)

I cannot believe the thick-headedness of god damn Wal-Mart. (Oh, I’ve seen a new documentary again… sigh). I guess it is an open secret that they pay their employees, miniscule salaries, mistreat and abuse them. What amazes me is how they don’t care about anything at all.

They have a highly unaffordable health benefit plan and encourage employees to take welfare, food stamps and Medicaid!

Racism and other discriminations are rampant. A black guy may be called a n#gg@r (there is an interview with one who has been called that) and even if he complains no action is taken, in fact the opposite happened. They bugged the hell outta him until he couldn’t bear it anymore and he quit his job! :O

They are given huge sums of money as subsidies by the government to set up shop in a community. Obviously, local businesses aren’t given that privilege. To add insult to injury, most of the local businesses go bust in a year after Wal-Mart enters.

As a token of appreciation (yeah, this is sarcasm) they plunder the community that graciously subsidized them and give hardly anything back. In one case, 3 schools were closed soon after Wal-Mart entered because of lack of funding. Oh, Wal-Mart took the money. In another town, the local government struck a deal with Wal-Mart to get 100% sales tax revenues from Wal-Mart after a period of time. Those cheeky bastards left the town, when the time expired, but not by much! The Wal-Mart store moved 2.2 miles, just so that they get out of the city limits and hence they no longer need to honor the deal they made earlier! Jackasses.

In one case, they were storing pesticides in the parking lot, close to a rain water drain, which leads to a nearby river that feeds the local water supply. If it rains, the harmful, potentially lethal pesticides get into the system and, well, you know the rest. What was disturbing is, no matter how hard local “waterkeepers” tried, Wal-Mart didn’t give a f#ck, even when they tried legal recourse. With much effort, they were able to deal with the situation.

And what pisses me off is that Wal-Mart has official commercials claiming all sorts of things about Wal-Mart and its practices, like:

> Wal-Mart keeps environment as one of its top priorities (they don’t even have a department that looks into those issues)

> Wal-Mart cares for its employees and that they have great financial, educational etc. opportunities (if you show this commercial to Wal-Mart employees they will laugh their asses off and club you with a Medieval spiked club!)

> They give $5 every second to the community (pure bullshit, and a commercial actually claimed that!)

It sickens me to no end! F#cking disgusting! Ugh! What a bunch of mofos!

I will never, ever buy from Wal-Mart, ever again!

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The Calm before a Storm

The Washington Monument, closed due to earthquakes

It has been a little over two weeks since I came to Maryland and what a fortnight it has been! New people to meet and new stuff to do. New responsibilities, new hopes and new aspirations to fulfill. Wonderful places to see and a wonderful climate to experience. And to top it off, earthquakes and hurricanes greeted me to my new life at Maryland.

It has been an eventful experience so far. And it is has only just begun.

I had a wonderful outing in Washington D.C. The weather was not the most benevolent, but may be that was part of the reason why I found the trip so fun! In particular, I had a fun time visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

T-rex at the National History Museum

A dead T-rex almost tried to eat some of my friends. It was brilliant. There were other amazing dinos over ther, and all of them were in skeletal form. I believe that is scarier then their flesh and blood form they used several millenia ago.

Hope diamond - Can I Haz it?

Another beautiful object at this Museum is the blue Hope diamond from India. It is a gorgeous necklace with a 45.52 carat blue colored diamond. Man oh man did we try to grab it.

The Blue Hope Diamond - Doesn't look too blue, isn't it?

I went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I asked if I could sit in Apollo 11, but I wasn’t allowed

It was inside a glass chamber and I couldn’t break the glass either! I went to the Lincoln memorial, the National World War II memorial and yada, yada, yada.

And then there was swing dancing, which I sort of learnt in at a Welcome event organized by the university.







So far, it had been a very hectic week, with loads of events and formalities that I needed to complete. Not to mention, there was a 5.8 Richter scale earthquake close to my location. And as if all this hungama wasn’t already surreal, now there is a storm coming. A hurricane to be precise. It feels as if I am in a movie. I have never experienced these many events in such a short time span.

The conditions outside my apartment a few hours ago was windy and rainy with a capital W.

Parking Lot at my apartment

I’m in the process of uploading a video. Usually, it shouldn’t take this long to upload, but today isn’t a usual day. I think internet service has been affected as well thanks to the storm. I seriously hope net speeds up by tomorrow. In the mean time, enjoy this photo of a guy taking a group photo:




Update: Here is the Youtube video showcasing the effect of Hurricane Irene at my place

And here is a slideshow of the images in this post and some more!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.





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The Financial Times – What a Crysis!

New York Stock Exchange - Image From WikimediaFirstly, geeks will notice that “Crysis” is an intentional misspelling of Crisis – it is a game, nay, an awesome game. And so is the Financial situation. It is epic. The world was plunged into a financial crisis in 2008 thanks to some Clowns at Wall Street. But the things that drove the crisis started way back in 2001-2003. And the things that motivated the changes in the 2001-2003 period was in turn motivated by things happening during the 1990’s.

What a wonderful story, isn’t it? Our world economy is in the hands of Clowns who hardly know what they are doing. That is a brilliant idea! The more clowns, the more happy we will be.

Continue reading

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Multitasking mediocrity

In this age of hi-speed internet, phones with multiple cores processing information and a rampant penetration of hi-tech gadgets into our everyday life, it has become increasingly easy for us to do a variety of tasks in a variety of circumstances. We can check our email at the dinner table while we eat, check up on our social networks and tweet, text or watch YouTube videos anywhere and almost anytime via smartphones, tablets and other such gadgets. Granted this is a bit of old news and so is multitasking. If you’ve been awake for at least a day in the past few years, then you would know about all this already.

However, what most of us don’t know and realize is the delusion of multitasking. Our attention span is dwindling as the generations go by. Due to the breakneck speed at which we are carrying out our daily duties, thanks to advances in technology, we are slowly losing our ability to concentrate on a task for a prolonged period. Instead, we get distracted and do something else. This is a very common situation. You may be refreshing your Facebook page one minute and the next minute, you are playing a game on your mobile phone or flash game on the PC. And we give this a fancy name called multitasking.

The term multitasking is coined with respect to Computers. Originally, when there was only 1 core in the CPU, a computer performed multiple tasks by focusing on one task at a time in a round-robin fashion and switching tasks very quickly. It was able to do this transparently since the CPU runs at several MHz, and nowadays at several GHz. Of course, with the advent of multiple core processors and other advances, computers can now do actual multitasking, though they still rely on switching rapidly between several tasks, in many occasions. Many people argue that there is a similarity between a human brain and a CPU and that we, too, do multitasking.

To a certain degree, there is a similarity between the brain and a CPU. However, there are significant differences. Firstly, we can only concentrate on a few (perhaps a maximum of 3) tasks at a time. This has to do with the fact that we have a limited working memory and we need to keep the goals of the various tasks in mind while we juggle them around. Secondly, we take a significantly longer time to jump from one task to another than a computer, and this process of jumping also comes with its own set of problems. We usually take some time to get into the mindset needed to do a task, which affects our productivity. Simple tasks like cleaning clothes, throwing the garbage, etc. will probably not need a significant effort to jump into. But more complicated tasks such as analytical thinking, etc. need a lot more effort to dive into. And this brings me to the first difference between a computer and a human mind.

Computers mostly perform algorithms, such as sequential tasks. These tasks are procedural and all that needs to be done is to follow the instructions “mechanically”. Also, when computers switch a task, they switch a task, immediately. They don’t continue to “think” about the previous task. They also have a quantifiable amount of memory (that is functionally similar to our working memory) and can immediately recall all the relevant information about the task. On the other hand, our tasks often involve thinking and cognition. We need to analyze and interpret information in non-trivial ways. For example, a scientist or a researcher may need to solve a problem, for which no solution or procedure is readily available. He/she has to come up with the solution. This requires our concentrated effort. And when we switch from one task to another, we are disrupting our flow of thought and, consequently, need some time to refocus on the new task. Unlike computers, we cannot (at least not efficiently) store the state of our thought process and resume it once we get back to the task. We need to spend some time getting focused. Research has shown that we take as much as 20 minutes or even more to get into the flow of a task when we switch from another, and this leads to significant loss of productivity.

Moreover, we tend to linger over the previous tasks even when we are supposed to be thinking of the new task at hand. This amounts to distraction, and the more we try to “multitask” the more fickle our mind becomes. This is visibly apparent as restlessness and one can see tell-tale signs in our body language. Typical signs are twiddling of our thumbs or a pen in our hands, or the restless motion of our legs. I have personally done this, while trying to multitask while studying.

Sometimes we multitask because we are bored or we dislike the activity we are doing. For example, you have to cram for a particularly boring exam, say History. You find reading the textbook boring and end up watching T.V. while reading to make it feel less arduous. However, you are doing yourself a disservice because you will take a longer time to read the textbook, you read it less effectively and you don’t manage to enjoy the show. On the other hand, if you simply focused on studying, you would finish reading quicker, you remember the material better and you can relax more effectively later. You get a sense of satisfaction.

All of what I said so far is mainly my opinion that I have built from both personal experiences and experiences of others. Nevertheless, some research into this issue suggests to me that the point I’m trying to make is logically sound and is in fact supported by scientific evidence.

In summary, we are not good at multitasking. We struggle to handle even a couple of tasks without losing out on productivity and if we pile on further tasks, we slump into mediocrity.

The following are some interesting posts on this subject (References):

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