The iPhone and I

Or perhaps this should be titled “One day with my iPhone”

So I finally gave in and got an iPhone.

And I started hating it pretty much from the moment I got it.

Why? *Deep breath*
no multitasking, crap battery, no speed dialling, msgs in little bubbles like it is a chat, all restricted apps, everything done through itunes, no customization of ringtones, or message tones, or alarm tones, no way to set different profiles like “silent” “for work where only messages can blare but the phone ring is a gentle beep” or “i’m partying so hard that I’d need drumrolls to get through to me profile,” and you cannot send any of those photos taken at the party via bluetooth to your friends or to your computer.

And did I mention the crap battery? And how about now all my friends have the same ring tones. But that doesn’t matter anyway because when it is silent or blaring, and at work i’m usually on silent, it so doesn’t matter what on earth you have as the ring tone.

So I managed to convince myself that I still love it and there are over “1 lakh apps” for this. Unfortunately, the most useful apps are for jailbroken phones (which I can’t do because I’ll lose my warranty otherwise). Does Apple really design this phone minus the most important features so people have to download these apps, some of which you have to pay for? Isn’t it enough that I am shelling out 35 grand for a phone to start with?

What’s more… if you want a warranty, your phone is locked in with one particular service provider, even though you pay the entire price unlike in the US, where you at least get a subsidy over a two year contract. After that they don’t care who you use the phone with.

So my friend asked me – why did you want to buy the iPhone?

And all I could think of was “it was so pretty.” If I could’ve pushed myself off the tallest building at that point, I swear I would have.

Of course, even now the interfaces are quite seductive. I mean… I am looking at the Xperia, which I must admit is far superior… a better camera, better battery, multitasking and no need to load itunes to do every little thing… and then i think “iPhone” and go all gooey again. Yuck! Even now, when I managed to return the phone, I want it back… despite knowing the million issues.

I know I will want to update my phone soon. Oh there are so many gadgets… which to pick? which to pick?

Is it really worth buying an iPhone to say “its so cool”

Photo of the day: ON STRIKE. I’M JUST SUPER ANNOYED. I CUD’VE GOTTEN A SEXY LENS INSTEAD!!!

Edit: A friend of mine points out that all the things I mentioned here are very “banal” and not really important. Perhaps it isn’t important to have customizable ringtones and message tones, perhaps it isn’t important to have different profiles.

But the battery and bluetooth? Those are important! Extremely important. And if the only way I can conserve battery is to turn off wi-fi, 3G and everything else this phone is known for, what is the point? Okay, this is an issue with most smart phones. I am tempted to buy the iphone… there are ways to fix most of the problems I mentioned I know… I am lured by the thoughts of Shazam and Hippstomatic (or whatever that photo app is) and google voice and online chat and all of that. But I guess I’ll hold out another year or so and wait for Steve Jobs to completely realise what other little things “banal” people like me want.

Some Ranting

The iPhone

Yes we had several discussions about why the iPhone 4 is no better than the EVO or whatever else. But that doesn’t make me want to any less. However, when people in the US are paying about 10 grand for the phone on a 2-year contract, in India – the supposedly poorer country – we pay 35 grand or more for the phone.

The reason – there is no “contract” here for the phone. Now I don’t know why exactly but I read somewhere that this is mainly because the providers – Airtel and Vodafone – believe that the contract system is not really honored in India and that there are shops that can “break” the phone in every alley in India. Well, that is true. We are notoriously unscrupulous at times and look for loopholes just for the sake of it.

But it does annoy the hell out of me that I have to pay the full price simply because… I live here?

And that I have to go without an iPhone because I cannot afford to pay 40 grand. Does anyone know if there are special corporate schemes or something?

A part of me laughs at it saying we bought this upon ourselves. A while ago, when I still lived abroad, there was a rush of Indians who came back to India after buying Nokia N79s on contract. They would upgrade their phone to the latest scheme or whatever and then just come back, without even bothering to cancel the connection. The service provider, after several futile attempts to collect the bill had to just give up. They did the same with credit cards too… get about 6… swipe them like crazy before you return home and then… hey!

Of course, this caused a problem for us because by the time we got there, the government was just catching on and Indians historically had been assigned a horrible credit rating. So even to open an account for electricity – and yes, you needed an account – it was sheer drama.

Immigration

A friend of mine forwarded a mail about potential changes in the Australian Immigration Policy. It is based on what Australia has been saying for a while – they would choose to give residency for people who have the skills that they need. There has been a rant against this issue for a while, mostly from students who were studying there and hoping to get PR based on that.

According to this article, however, the minister can veto any possible application and the applicant has no powers to appeal. Okay, I admit that is harsh. And perhaps a little short sighted as well…

But the article went on an Australia-bashing session, talking about how the government took money from international students during the recession and now is tossing out all their hopes of PR into the ocean.

How many people went there with the sole purpose of getting a visa? So if they paid more for their education, was it equivalent to buying their residency?

For once, the logic of both sides fails me. Why would anyone go and do a hairdressers course in a new country? Or cookery? Why were these professions even on the “skilled list”. The government should’ve pruned the list a long time ago. And doing so now in an abrupt manner and tossing all those people who have made their lives in Australia and are contributing to the society is just plain… mean. Or a “I really don’t know what to do” mechanism.

Further applicants can be stopped. People who have just applied or come into the country can be asked not to apply unless they really qualify.

But I wonder – was this a reaction to the racial allegations that arose earlier this year? All the furore from India about the alleged racial attacks and deaths? Is that when Australia woke up and realised they had enough people to sustain a good economy? Or that their smooth mechanism was breaking down?

Photo of the day: Today’s photo is my own. I took this about… 4 years ago on an expedition. I’ll tell the story some other time, but I’ve long lost contact with the woman in the photo. If someone knows her, please do let me know.

 


iPhone or noPhone

I walked into an Apple store to buy an iPod. And then I thought – wait… I could buy an entire phone and so save myself the trouble of carrying a phone and a music device, so maybe i should buy an iphone. But then… all those reasons why I didn’t grab one the first time around came to mind and I’m quite confused. Help me decide.

Image source: Baltimoresun.com

Glass Half Full:

1. It looks seriously cool – Frown all you want and roll your eyes and say “shallooow” but it does look seriously cool and if it weren’t for that important factor, there are a million other phones I could consider

2. It is loaded with apps, particularly Skype – Yes there are a million other phones I could use with Skype but the fact is, coupled with (1) it does make a good point. Though not as useful in India yet, it is a good idea.

3. It does have all those features like GPS etc etc which I would never use but would be good to have nevertheless.

4. There are a lot of high-tech phones for much cheaper but I somehow believe having the iPhone is like having a super cool laptop with you, from which you can even hack things (Yes I’ve been watching way too many bad spy movies. I did finish that Millennium series recently) I don’t care if I can actually do it but it is kind of cool to have that.

5. It has a decent camera.

Glass Half Empty

1. No Flash (I know that there are replacements to it but to me, that is like saying no Google. What on earth are you supposed to do but settle for the second-best. Which leads me to my next point…)

2. I don’t really like Apple’s “we restrict the world” policy. For all you know, tomorrow they might actually decide to do away with google on their phones. Or… something worse.

3. As a friend said, “it is way too expensive for what it really is – a piece of fashion technology.”
Now I know that my  Half-Full 4 goes against this but it is really a piece of fashion technology. There are phones on the market that can do the same thing and they are much cheaper, and some of them not half as unattractive.

4. Touchscreen keyboards – yes I hate them. The same thing that makes it look supercool, I hate it.

5. Not sure how the camera really is.

6. No inbuilt radio – apparently I have to download an app for it which I think it a little stupid.

7. I can’t use GPRS. I have to pay for a special “net pack” to use every fricking feature on that phone, which means my phone bills soar anyway.

This is what it boils down to -There are equal or better phones on the market for cheaper and many of them are even touchscreen too. But I do like the iPhone and if not for half-empty 1 and 2, I’d have probably bought it. And then the price… I can get a really good touchscreen phone, which is also a little lighter for something a lot lesser, loaded with the same apps and all that.

So every time I convince myself, I look at the price and realise there are other options and I sit back down to think.

Sigh.

On the good side, one of my photos finally got published in something called Schmap, which is an iphone app for maps. (karma?) Check it out.

Song of the day: Hit Me Baby One More Time – Britney Spears (I loved her in this one. Cringe all you want)

A Weekend

A saturday that did not start past noon. A saturday that was not spent sleeping away.

How rare is that! And how much fun is that!

As much as I love late nights and say that I am productive in the wee hours of the night, I have to accept that I get a lot of the more practical stuff done during day time. I had an early meeting (past noon but hey!) which meant I woke up early. The sun was already burning up all those people on the street… I prayed for rain and wished there was something I could wear on my face to keep that sticky dirt off it. Or maybe attach a little fan to my head that will keep blowing cool breeze onto my face. In the end I was just glad that there were no mirrors around me to see how tanned and yucky my face got. And this was just the beginning of the day.

I had to visit an old friend who works for a local magazine. I had been there during college days – more than 5 years ago – and honestly, not much has changed. I guess that is what “long-standing” means sometimes. The walls were still faded and finding the new wing was still as confusing. But once you get past the confusing door, the office had been upgraded into the 21st century. It isn’t as chic as my office is… nor was there as much a bustle. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of the news paper offices I’ve visited recently are quiet. Is it because all the reporters have been laid off or is it because they are all just out, I don’t know. But those days when I did my internships (here and in Australia) where the office was cramped and you’d be huddled away typing out your story, is history.

The desks though are still the same cluttered. Clippings, magazines, coffee cups and photos lying in a uncomprehensible jumble. It feels like home – almost. But the curious lack of chaos was a little disturbing to me. I wondered if I were working there, would I last?

Lunch was at Oye Amritsar – a dhaba-like place, with 5-star restaurant prices. And Himmesh Reshamaiya music. Yep. But I had a craving for butter chicken since last night and since I hadn’t eaten anything, I figured this would be a good place. I mean if you can’t trust a dhaba (or a mock one at that) to come up with good butter chicken, who else can you trust.

Except, once we settled down, the waitress told us that there was no a la carte menu. Only buffet. Now, I’ve nothing against buffet. But for people like me, who don’t eat much to start with, it is a sheer waste. And I get confused with the whole range of food, end up wanting everything and just take a bite of it all and get quite full. And the buffet did NOT have butter chicken!! What kind of a self-respecting dhaba does not serve butter chicken? Or at least chicken tikka masala. Or some form of recognized, popular chicken curry. They had fish fry, panner, some weird named dish and that was that.

My friend was enjoying the restaurant though. She, who I shall call Kit (cuz I feel like it) has a sheer appreciation of any place that we go to. The last time when we went to this restaurant that is styled like a 40s luxury railway dining car, she was excited like a little kid. Enough to make the host appreciate us and give us an inner ac table. So Kit served herself as little food as me and we wished there was better music and better food but we were starved enough to eat quietly.

It was Kit’s day to treat herself – she wanted to a haircut, so after being refused at several salons because we didn’t have an appointment… (Side note: seriously, an appointment for a hair cut as well?! What is this city coming to. True, you are supposed to get better service if you make an appointment. But it is a saturday. there are emergencies – sometimes. Every place I know and like said they were booked till late evening. Surreal!) we found one place that was willing to chop off her hair.

She began to fidget 10 minutes after being seated in the chair. And the stylist had just washed her hair. There was still, cutting, setting and blow drying. And while he was doing all of that, he started their pitch about “you need to use this for hair and hey! look we have a bottle of it and it will cost you only so much!”

I hate it when parlors do that… you go there to relax and let someone pamper you and they start forcing unwanted products on you.  Which is why I like Bounce. Snobbish as they may be, they never mess up your hair and they never offer products to you unless you ask for a recommendation.

And then there was that impulse shopping – I wanted an iPhone. I have finally gotten over all my objections and figured I wanted one. I don’t need a new phone. My current one is fantastic and has all those things that an iPhone has. But I wanted an iPod, since I sort of washed my last one in the washing machine. And I figured why carry two things when I can combine that into the iphone. So that graduated from an ipod nano to an ipod touch (free wlan and radio and FB and all) to iPhone.

The iPhone is gorgeous! it is heavier than mine and apparently I need a data plan to browse the net. But it is gorgeous. And it is a lot more delicate than my phone which I have already dropped several times and it still works fabulously. But it is the iphone. And it is expensive. and I don’t really need it but oh! i do want it! And I don’t really have the money for it!

So debating with all of this stuff, I figured I better look into my financing options (and wavered on that bit a little too when I saw the little “EMI” option there. I’ve never really bought anything on EMI. Always hated owing someone anything but it was quite tempting) I headed to Mocha to think.

Mocha – the hang out for college kids, who get money from god-knows-where. When we were in college, our hang out was a little 5-rupee tea shack. We could sit there for hours, smoke, talk and the guy wouldn’t say a thing. And we’d be poorer by say 10 bucks or a little more. Which wasn’t much but was all we could afford. Now the kids have money to pay 150 bucks for a single coffee. Where do they get the money from? And how are they sitting there in the afternoon when the colleges insist on 90 percent attendance?

I feel old!

But hey the music was good. The sheesha was good. The company was good. Kit’s appreciation of things puts a completely different spin on the places I’ve gotten a little jaded about. It is new for her and she loves it. And it reminds me of those times when I was all so excited about these places. The times before my friends started calling me a snob because I wanted to try out these new places and not all of them were cheap. Before they started complaining about the “kind of crowd” in the place.

It is good to discover this city… showing someone the places that made Bangalore “Bangalore”. The city has changed… the little icecream shop where we used to buy cones in school no longer exists. Road sides are littered with vendors with the backdrop of bigger malls. And boring old factory-manufactured clothes!

But with new people to see it with, it is fun to discover the little signs of old Bangalore still alive like the rose bushes in Mary’s secret garden.

Song of the day: Lamb of God (cuz they are playing in the city tonight. If anyone went to the concert, lemme know how it went) –