Monday, January 18, 2010

iPhone 3G-S (Beware)

Slowly and steadily I am getting used to the iPhone which replaced my (much loved) normal phone. Though everything’s new, one thing is for sure, I will have to get used to this, paradigm shift in user interface, or should I say, mobile telephones. But, being an avid user of a (normal) mobile phone, I expect some of the (useful) features that were available in my normal phone in this apple’s version. Trivial things that made me comfortable with my old phone are no more available in iPhone, I will be listing them after some (brief) complaints on the contract related stuff …

The iPhone contract (in Japan, Softbank) in itself is a bit less user-friendly,
 The Japanese carrier Softbank sells the iPhone at a price much (much) higher than the US. Never know why? Its really ridiculous ~~~
 Previously, I used to pay a small insurance on my telephone that covered my phone against repairs, or accidental break-downs, like falling into water, etc. And, iPhone too comes with an expensive Apple care, which does not cover accidental break-downs etc. (The safety pack (Anshin pack) is no more available). So if you accidentally drop your phone, you will end up paying JPY ~20K, or JPY ~60K depending on the damages (your luck). And when I think about this (accidental fall), and the 20-60K thing, somehow I am uncomfortable handling the phone. Phooo …. iPhono-dropo-phobia is it?
 If you wish to re-pay for the iPhone in installments, then you will have to repay in exactly 24 months, and you enter into a contract for 24 months, and you need to cancel “some the contract” exactly after 24 months, not the 25th or 23rd, barring which, Softbank will extend your contract for another 24 months. And, you need to pay another JPY 9800 to break the contract. And … the beautiful (hmmm … the bad) thing is, as of now, Softbank would never know (say), when your 24 months will expire. Is it a trick Softbank?
 Once you sign your contract, there is no way out. Absolutely, no way. Funny thing is, when you sign up with them, they get your signatures in at-least 5 different places. So, you will be signing more times than, when you are buying a brand new car. Somehow this made me uncomfortable.
 One important thing, I still use Softbank, NOT because I like them, but just because many of my Indian friends (still) use Softbank, and they would kick me, if I changed my carrier. Sigh. I hate the signal quality. Once I happened to visit someone near Himeji, and there was absolutely no tower for a long-long distance in and around the area. In fact, I HATE Softbank’s signal quality. iPhone 3G only adds to the woes.

Enough of the contract, the following features that are normally available in your standard mobile phone are not available in your phone,

 Disaster warning, like earthquake warning, which was part of my earlier mobile phones, is not available in the iPhone. So users of iPhone cannot be informed of disasters.
 In my earlier phones, there used to be small (multi-colored LED), that would flash, when there is a missed call, or an un-read email message. This really helped me know about the missed call without un-locking the mobile phone’s screen. In the iPhone, there is no such LED, or any Indication, you need to check your home screen to find out.
 I like clean desktops, and in my earlier phones, I go to the Menu-bar to see the applications and perform other operations. So, when there is a missed call or something, the notification was very clear. But in the iPhone, it seems to be lost in the crowd of icons in the home screen. I think, the home screen is (very) crowded.
 Getting a App store account, without a credit card, was a night-mare. And it is mandatory for downloading applications (which you will need for transferring your phone book from your previous telephone).
 Transferring “my phone book” from the previous mobile phone to the iPhone was a pain in the Ass, really. (Especially with the procedures that I had to go through)…

Though I would never come to terms with the contract related issues, even after I signed one, I think the functional issues in iPhone are due to the paradigm shift, which apple experienced.

The standard mobile phone started as an extension to the basic cordless telephone. Features that were needed while we are on the move were then added to it, bit by bit, like, a pager, the music player, an email client, a mini web browser, the document viewer, a movie player, television, … and a host of applications.

Now, iPhone started as a (simple) Music player, in iPod touch and grew into a mobile phone. The only new thing they have given us is the touch panel. Now, if that is the only thing that made it unique, there are a host of other telephones like the Nokia N95, Sharp 941, …. Which are far better than the iPhone, in every single aspect.

But then, why did I buy an iPhone. Do you want to hear why? Frankly … I wanted the Nokia N95, I searched, researched, and found out that no-carrier in Japan has one. And … then I though, I would settle for the Sharp 941, the worst part is 941 is almost 2 times expensive than an iPhone.

Recession lurking around, I became a proud owner of the (all new) iPhone 3G-S …And started counting to 24 ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sayonara ...

You made me hear the world, when I was away from home, and at home. The gray shade in you had been turning white, age shows. You brought me messages and pictures from friends. I always walked with you. Even Shanthi used to be annoyed if you don’t accompany me. Living in Japan, I made you silent for most of your life, but you had to listen to my conversations, and occasional blushing and blabbering. If only you knew Japanese, you would have been laughing everyday, at me, when I talk. You were not one of the best of my friend, but helped me make best friends, a lot of them, thank you. You woke me up. Sometimes I have played with you, but I should be honest, I didn’t enjoy it.

Antony liked you too. You would make him smile when he cried. You lit up even after he threw you to the wall, the floor, and every-place he can throw you to. You started again and when he walked over you, a few times. Probably, he believed that you can talk. Sometimes he saw himself in you.

I had to part with you. Mortality had got you too, or was it my greed, selfishness, ego, or what-ever. Of late, I had been thinking of abandoning you, and yesterday decided on it, and got the all new, iPhone 3G-S.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Missing Anto …

Discounting anger, it’s long since I was emotional to this extent… Least did I expect this to happen. After 3 weeks of vacationing with our parents, I had to leave, my family, for work, back to Japan. After a long … long time, my eyes welled up, I was reluctant to leave.

Things only got bad when we reached the Madurai airport, being a domestic one, security used to be a bit relaxed, not anymore. Normally the procedure to board a flight in Madurai is

“ You Check-in→ Clear the Security screening → boarding”

You enter the airport to Check-in, after which you would be allowed to come out of the airport to talk to your folks who usually wait outside till such time your flight takes off. So, usually I come out after checking-in, talk to them, and bid good-bye before proceeding with the security. So, this time, I left some hand-baggage with them, hoping to collect them after my check-in.

But, after check-in, this (merciless) military policeman, guarding the airport entry, for in-explicable reasons, did not allow me to go out of the airport, to meet my parents. I was upset, as I could not bid good-bye to my family members. Shanthi’s parents had come down from Trichy just to see me off. Some how, while all these things were happening, for a moment, I thought that I would be missing Anto, very much. Shanthi was standing on the other side of the gate with Anto, and me inside the Airport. Cursing those terrorists who are the reason for this “high security”, I was still hoping to find my way out.

Madurai is a small town, hmmm…, not so small though, but small. But, somehow, I knew many people who work in the Airport. Talking to a few of them, I completed some procedures to get out of the airport, talk to my family members, and bid them good-bye.

But, after the incident with the security personnel, and the subsequent emotional flash, of missing Anto, I felt like I am going to miss, Anto very much. This thought did not strike me when we were arrived at the strategy of a month each in Madurai and Tiruchy. Shanthi and I had decided that Anto together with Shanthi will stay back for a month each with my parents and in-laws, hoping that he would get used to my parents, in-laws, traffic, noise, dust, mosquito, food, etc …

The emotional feeling would only grow stronger and stronger when Anto was enjoying innocently, watching the cars passing by, and making inviting gestures at the other kids. For a moment, I thought, he was ignoring me. Silly me! The gravity of the situation took to me.

Actually, many of our close family friends did warn me about this “missing phase”, which I could not visualize when Anto was always with me. A transit time of 18 hours in Kualalumpur helped me with the introspection. From the time he joined me in mid 2008, I had less time for him, as I was always busy, with my career, Japanese language, sports, photography, etc. I did not spend much time with him, to the point that, when I spent 3 hours with him in the absence of Shanthi, I wrote a blog. I loved him; somehow, I did not find time for him, with him. But, the past 3 weeks, without my own knowledge, I spent 3 weeks with him, all time, all day long. And, probably, he got closer to me than ever before. I had always loved him, so much… but never imagined that I will miss him, if he is away from me, for his much needed education. I don’t know, if he is missing me.

During the course of writing this post, I was wondering, if I could cut short their stay in India, may be, 15 days each or something. Looking loo…ong down, one thing is for sure, I need to get used to living away from him. He may go to a college is another town, find work in a far away country, marry and go away … But …now, its … hard, for me.

I am just wondering, how much my parents would have missed me, when I left them for work, to Chennai, to Bangalore, then to Japan, when I got married, … , I wish they did not miss me ;-) but … for now,