A - Z of G+

A – Another Social Networking site – Another social networking site, or should I say, another social networking site from Google. *phew* After Google Wave failed to create any waves and everyone asked Google Buzz to Buzz off, this is Google’s third attempt at taking Facebook head on (not considering Orkut as it was developed before Facebook became famous).

B – Businesses (separate acc. Strategy) –Google doesn’t want any company, business or product to have an account on Google+. Not right now, at least. They’re completely clear with their strategy and currently, all the accounts are only for Homo sapiens. Google+ has a separate strategy for businesses and they’re right now busy refining the last bits. In Product Manager, Christian Olsten’s words, “We have been watching Google+ take shape over the last week and we’ve seen some really great companies get involved. But frankly we know our product as it stands is not optimally suited to their needs. In fact, it was kind of an awkward moment for us when we asked Ford for his (or was it her?) gender!”

C – Circles – Google+ lets you add all your friends in different circles hence you can safely post that NSFW video and share it with your College Circle without worrying that your aunt from Amritsar will see it. You can also tell all your friends that you’re chilling in Goa while keeping your boss who’s in the Do-not-share-anything-with-Boss Circle, under the impression that you’re down with viral. Here are some other circles you can possibly use to categorise your friends. Facebook friends circle, Twitter friends circle, Real life friends circle, Colleagues-to-be-included-in-conversation-while-ranting-about-office circle, Family-members-you-can’t-tell-you-like-DK-Bose-song circle.

D – Direct Messages – One of the most unique feature of G+ is how to Direct Message or Inbox someone. Technically speaking, there is no ‘Inbox’ feature. You never go in that shell where you feel safe, secure and private to make personal conversations like Facebook, Twitter & Orkut. Everything stays on the Timeline. Only difference is, you share the post only with that particular person(s) instead of sharing it with ‘Public’ or a circle. It can be classified as Direct Message in a way, but it will take some time and plenty of near-misses getting used to it, as that security of conversing in private folder cocoon is out of the window.

E – Equinox – Here, equinox can be referred to as that site which has found a balance between Facebook & Twitter and have engineered their way in combining best (functionalities) of both world, which in a parallel universe caters to the entire spectrum of users.

F – Following/followers – “People in your circles / People who’ve you in their circle” sounds more like “People you’re following / People who’re following you”. Google+’s friend list resemble Twitter more than Facebook.

G – Gtalk – Users have faced awkward situations where they’re being pinged on the Gtalk by people they’ve never added in the first place. Turns out, when you mutually add each other on G+, they get automatically added to your Gtalk. Given the fact that Google already has Gtalk, you don’t really expect them to program a new chat server, do you?

H – Hahaha gifs. They logged on, they uploaded and they left. Since the first day, G+ has been littered with gifs and jpgs of how G+ has kicked FB’s butt. It’s either a cheap marketing ploy by Google where they’ve asked their employees to circulate these images or they’ve been created by anti-facebookers who’ve been waiting for someone to do come up with something that can rival FB.

I – Invitation – This yawn-worthy marketing tactic have now official earned a ‘cliché’ status. Like every new website/product wants you to think that they’re going to let only a select few mere mortals have the honour of testing their new thingy and to earn that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you will be required to cry out loud on Twitter and Facebook a million times to gain a so-called ‘invitation’ which will catapult you to Megatron levels of stardom and will change your life forever, even Google+ created the same noise where people were ready to give up their one limb to earn that coveted invitation to be one of the first people to have an account on Google+. Google+ created hype by giving out only a few thousand invitations in first few days which have now swelled to millions. In fact, Google did the same with Buzz and Wave. Grow up Google, instead of using such tactics, just make a great product, user base will take care of itself.

J – Joke’s on MySpace – MySpace which was acquired by News Corp for $580 million & valued at $12 billion at one point of time, was recently sold for a mere $35 million. We all know that Google silently prays to Santa that Facebook also spirals down like MySpace. Whether Facebook goes down MySpace’s path or Google+ meets its cousins Buzz & Wave in hell, remains to be seen. But, as it stands today, MySpace is a Social Networking joke.

K – Kleptomania – Maybe. Although, G+ has tried to stay away from the Facebook structure as much as possible and despite using terminologies as different from Facebook as possible, similarity to FB is pretty obvious. It's evident that G+ is nothing but a lovechild of Facebook and Twitter from features point of view.

L – Links – As of now, for an average user there is rarely anything to do on G+ apart from checking out tons of links that everyone is forwarding on G+. There are hardly any photos or any unique updates about friends which you haven’t read before on FB and/or twitter. It will take some time till the site gets populated and one can actually think of spending (read wasting) substantial amount of time on Google+.

M – Mute – All those people who’ve regretted congratulating a friend on his new relationship status after being bombarded with half a million notifications, will love this feature. In short, all of us. Mute allows us to mute notification about comments that people post on the same updates which we’ve commented on, hence, you will no longer feel shy to comment “RIP” on your friend’s “Getting married next week” update.

N – No thanks, not interested in Auto Upload – That’s what the users of Android App for G+ seem to be saying. It seems that Auto Upload ON is the default setting for the Android App and hence ever single photo clicked from the phone gets uploaded to G+, which at the end of the day is hurting the user in terms of data usage and money. It isn’t necessarily cool to see even your blur and just-to-kill-boredom photos being uploaded. So, if you’re an Androidian, be sure to turn the feature off.

O – Orkut - The fact that Google decided to develop a new site altogether to take on Facebook despite having Orkut in its arsenal says scores about Google’s faith in Orkut. It seems Google also agrees that Orkut is just that, ‘Orkut’ aka. A poor man’s Facebook.

P – Plus one – Plus One or +1 is equivalent to Facebook’s ‘Like’. But +1ing on Google+ won’t make it appear in your +1 section, so you needn’t worry that your family will come to know that you’ve +1ed Tara Reid’s Wardrobe Malfunction video unless you +1 it anywhere on net.

Q – Quintessentially minimalistic – Like everything Google, G+ too followed Google’s classic design philosophy and kept the site to bare minimum. Let’s enjoy the neatness and spaciousness that the site offers, till Adwords fills up the empty space.

R – Reality Check – Google+ is the fastest growing website but still it’s far from catching up with Facebook’s 750+ million users. And Facebook is just one step away from Gmail once @facebook.com mail id starts working in its full fledged avatar.

S– Sparks– There are no fan pages on G+ instead they have something known as Sparks which is essentially RSS feed of things that interests you, which may range from anything from “Aston Martin” to “Hot pics of Katrina Kaif”. Google seem to have employed some complex algorithm which probably takes into consideration page hits/rank from a little know search engine known as Google.com, to decide which news/links to throw up for your Sparks

T – 25 Million users – Google+ has already crossed the 25 million user mark is the fastest social networking website to reach this mark. Don’t get impressed by the fastest-social-networking-site-to-reach-25m-mark award, yet. Given Google’s might and the fact that it only took a Gmail account to register for Google+, it’s no surprise that they’ve achieved that feat in only a month’s time. The so-called “by invitation only” was only a marketing gimmick.

U – Unlimited photos – 1 album = 1000 photos. Unlimited albums = Unlimited Photos. Wohoo!!!

V – Video Chatting – Video Chat or Hangout as they call it, has to be G+ ‘s “deal maker”. The fact that one can video chat with up to 10 people at the same time is for sure a big plus.

W – Why should I be on G+? What’s the point? – That’s question you will be left asking yourself…So, what’s the point of G+? Well, let me ask you, what’s the point of any social networking site? Photos, Connectivity, News, Interaction, Staying in touch, Status Updates…. ? It’s the same with Google+. It’s just a case of old wine in new bottle. Facebook or Google+, or both. Whatever you suits you.

X – Chromosome X – Google+ does seem to have that air of prejudice where it already considers itself better than anything else. But, despite everything, it seems, Google has finally found that Chromosome X lying in some corner of their Mountain View Office which can possibly make G+ capable of throwing a serious challenge at the reigning Heavy Weight Champion - Facebook.

Y – Young – G+ is still in its early days, almost an infant from a social networking point of view. Although, initial signs may point at G+ to be a prodigy but it’s premature to call it a “Legend Killer”. Give it some time and let the kid breath and stop jumping to conclusions yet. Let the time speak…! 

Z – Zuckerberg Mark – Mark Zuckerberg has been added in circles by highest no. of people 461698* on G+. This figure is more than the combined strength of Google founders Larry Page (272604*) & Sergey Brin’s (184897*) followers. That’s like someone crashing in your birthday party and becoming the most popular guy in the house. It seems Mr. Zuckerberg, whose bio reads “I make things”, is keeping an eye on the competition. No harm in being a little cautious, right Mark? 

*indicates follower count at the time of writing this article

Contented Remorse

3rd April 2010, wasn't a typical Saturday afternoon. There was an air of discomfort and yet the day was a special one. Being a football lover, I was waiting for that day since many weeks, if not months. On that day, Manchester United were going to play against Chelsea. The championship had more or less been a 2 horse race from the beginning and the two sides were going neck & neck. The football pundits had predicted that, that match would decide the fate of the championship and so it happened.

Given the gravity of the situation and the fact that the match was scheduled for an early kickoff (5.30 pm IST), I almost fought with my boss while telling him a not-so-real story about an imaginary friend meeting with an unreal accident requiring me to leave early. Call it karma or the usual bad luck that I carry around, my not-so-imaginary friend Alok with whom I was going to watch the match over one too many beers, screwed up the plan at the 11th hour stating some excuse of him visiting an imaginary relative in some unrealistic hospital.

Nevertheless, I went ahead with the plan, as my house was getting renovated and there wasn't any possibility of watching television at home. Hence, I reached the Sports Bar and hopped onto one of those stool thingy they have at the bar and ordered first of many pints I had that evening. In fact, going all alone proved to be in my favor, as I got the bar stool, right in front of the screen. Had that bastard Alok been with me, we would've struggled to find a table with a good view of the screen as most of them were taken. Now, this is what I call, ditched yet happy. *ding* Two opposing forces!

Barely few minutes had passed in the first half, Man United missed a close chance to score.
"Dammit!!!", I exclaimed out of rage, banging my fist on the bar almost spilling whiskey of the guy sitting next to me.
"Sorry.", I said. He was still perplexed. Turned out, it was more 'cause of the fact that we missed a goal than my physical exclamation.

"Shit, just missed.", he said.

I asked, "What the goal or the drink?" We both had a laugh over the pun. As a matter of fact, guys easily bond like chaddi-buddies over drink & sports. Being ardent Manchester followers, both of us started enjoying the game together with hi-fives over goals and "ohhhs" & "ahhhs" over missed chances. The match ended in a disappointing loss for Manchester and a big blow to their title hopes, which Chelsea went on to win at the end of the season.

While finishing our drinks, Vivek & I got into a typical post-match analysis like boys generally tend to do. Conversation moved from football to cricket and later to F1; to which he told me, he was planning to watch Abu Dhabi GP that year. That's when I learnt, he's basically from Dubai and he's here on a personal trip.

Just then his phone rang..."Hello". "Oh, you're here, already? Great! Come inside, I'll finish the drink and we'll leave in 5-10 minutes." Not being the nosy kind, I never bothered asking, who it was. Just then a gorgeous yet familiar face walked towards us. He got up and gave her a warm hug.

Introducing us he said, "Remember, I told you, I'm here on a personal visit? She's the reason I'm here. My fiance, Khushi. It's her birthday today!!!"

Dumbstruck I became. Of course, I remembered it was her birthday. How can I ever forget? Her birthday was the very reason I was disturbed since morning. 2 years back, on the exact same date, she was holding MY hand at the time of cake cutting. Till 1 and half year back, she used to be in MY arms at parties. The hug that he give, I used to gave thoat to her every day at the college. An avalanche of memories overloaded the heart.

Even she looked stunned. I guess she too couldn't believe her eyes that I was standing in front of her. With the amazement, I could also sense her discomfort and fear.
In the mean time, Vivek finished the last sip of his drink and said to her, "Give me just 2 minutes sweetheart. You just wait here with him, I'll quickly go to the restroom and then we'll leave."

As he left, Khushi looked at me and asked, "How you've been?"

"How do you think, I've been? Alive, I guess.", I replied angrily.

She asked surprisingly, "Why are you talking like this? You used to be one of the most ambitious & positive guys I've known. Now look at you. You look a pale shadow of your ownself. What happened?"
I answered shockingly, "What happened? You of all people should know what happened?"

Khushi: "Please don't tell anything about us to Vivek, we're going to get married soon. Besides, it was all in the past. It's been more than a year, since you and I..."

"Irrespective. Love & feelings are not bounded by time frame, my dear. Sadly you'll never understand those things," I said angrily.

Khushi: "You mean you still...??"

The conversation was broken by Vivek's arrival. "So what are you guys discussing, huh?", asked in a happy & curious tone.

Silence, all around. Neither of us, said a word.

Vivek broke the silence saying, "So we'll leave now, it was nice meeting you buddy!"

We shook hands. I moved my right hand towards Khushi and said, "Happy Birthday".

Her trembling hand met mine and with a deep nervous voice, she said, "Thank you."

At that moment, I looked into her eyes and everything stopped. Seemed like, I was thrown back in time. She was struggling to maintain eye contact. Out of nowhere came out the words, "I'll miss you, Khushi. I still do..."

These words are hard to digest for any guy who loves his fiance. "Hold on", said Vivek. "You guys know each other?" he inquired in a strong voice.

Khushi, "No."

Some how I garnered the courage and said, "Yes, we do." All the trauma and sadness that I've gone through because of her, pushed me into a state of trance and I yelled out the bitter truth, "Apparently, we dated. We loved...no, correction, I loved her. She...ummm...she only passed her time. Your beautiful fiance at that time was only looking for a companion to pass her time till graduation. I was ready to do anything to be in the place where you are right now, but she would never marry her college sweetheart. She only wanted a boyfriend to enjoy the college years, and later on go and marry a rich NRI businessman to enjoy material pleasures of life. Money over Love. You over Me. That's her. And if you think, I'm lying, maybe you should try to search for truth in the tears that are rolling down her cheeks right now." Stunned silence. She couldn't believe that I told Vivek everything. Even Vivek couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Vivek, I've been wrong only once in my life in recognizing a person. And from our interaction today, I can tell that you're one of the nicest guys around. So, whatever you do with your life, think about it once again. All the best."
I looked towards Khushi and said, "I request only one thing from you, whatever you do in your life never break a man's heart. You wouldn't know, but it hurts. It really does. Really badly. Take care." and I stormed out of the bar, hoping never to see her again.

I don't know if they're still together or not, but as I walked out, there was an indifference on my face and peace in my mind. The restlessness brewing inside me since 1 & half year was all gone. I was surprisingly calm.

There was guilt of probably ruining someone's life but also a contentment of paying back to someone who almost ruined mine. I still don't know if I was satisfied or filled with remorse, I don't know if I did it out of love or hatred, I don't know if what I did was correct or not...nonetheless I did it. No looking back now.

This post is written for Close Up "Fire-Freeze" Contest on Indibloggers.

I suggest everyone to log on to Close Up fan page on Facebook and Like it and post similar stories of yours where you had experienced two opposing emotions at the same time.

Also, if you liked, what I've written and if you have lil time, you can go my contest entry on Indibloggers and vote for it there. Here's the link. I hope you do this as I don't like to ping (spam) friends individually with my blog link asking them to vote/comment for me. Thanks in advance.

Audi A8 L 3D integrated campaign

Audi A8 L 3D integrated campaign is actually a campaign about Audi A8's latest model that is as long as the name of the campaign itself. Don't take my word for it, look at the "L" in the name, that signifies it's Long. Long Wheelbase, to be precise. 

Being an auto enthusiast, I was excited about it ever since Srinivas informed me about it. Anyways, so this campaign was organized by Creativeland Asia at PVR, Juhu who takes pride in having waterless toilets.

The event being on the fifth floor of a multiplex, it was nothing like a traditional car launch which I earlier misunderstood it to be.

And no, the campaign was nothing like it's shown in the above pic.

Nope, she wasn't present there either. 
Between you and me, actually we don't go to public functions together. She went to the Australian launch while I went to the 3D campaign here in Mumbai, so that, neither of us miss the event, at the same time the paparazzi doesn't clicks us together. Jennifer looks gorgeous in this LBD isn't it? Ya, I know. I keep telling her the same.

Coming back to the event; so finally I reached the 5th floor where the event was taking place, not before being frisked thrice on my way to the 5th floor. Damn, people seriously don't believe that a 20 something guy can actually afford an A8. Maybe, they're right. Heck. So upon arrival, I was greeted by this guy wearing a Creativeland Asia Tee who asked me where I'm came from (he meant company/publication probably)? Apprehensively, I told him I was a blogger and pointed out my name in the list. Much to my relief, I wasn't thrown out, instead was asked to wear this particular friendship band.

While heading toward the open bar to drink some daru interact with other bloggers, ran into a pretty girl called Malvika, (the very girl who mailed me the event's invitee) who educated me more about the event.

Just then I met Srinivas (who was carrying a camera) & Sudeep (who was carrying a beer mug). After the casual hi...hello, we thought of going inside the screening hall and take seats but were stopped as liquor wasn't allowed inside. Sudeep had to finish his beer in about 27 seconds (not his personal best though). Thankfully, Srini didn't had any such problems with his camera.

As we entered, the organizers gave us 3D glasses. The entrance was lined with photographers and cameramen. *Phew* Paparazzis, I tell you.

Inside the hall, there were black boxes and grey folders (containing press release & a DVD) under which seats were placed on which we were supposed to sit.

Soon, Raj who happens to be some big guy in Creativeland Asia, started the proceedings with introductions and gave us all a thorough why, what, who, whom, where, withered, without, watered, whaddup & what not regarding the whole 3D campaign which inshort was the world's first 3D integrated campaign and it was about Audi A8's newest version, the Audi A8 L (2011 edition). Raj would either talk about the campaign (which he did for a time period which in mathematical terms was 2.57 eternities) or would get into Philosophical mode and talk about peace of mind, contentment, yoga, higher level of existence, chastity (okay maybe not chastity) & blah blah. Whatever happened to focusing on the product?!?! It was almost like the owner of the Opera House coming out and talking about the effort he and his crew put in, in vacuuming the carpet and the seats, instead of welcoming/felicitating the musicians.

Along came, Michael, Director of Audi India, who seemed to be a jolly good fellow & more importantly, talked about things that were less boring. Finally, someone spoke about the product. About the company. About the car. About Audi. About A8.

At first, they showed us an advert/short clip of the new car in 2D and then later on in 3D, with the glasses on. More on that later. First, let me tell you, what that mystery black box contained. Nopes, it didn't contain a scale model of the A8, unlike my high expectations. Instead, it had this...

It's a pair of 3D glasses for home viewing their website. :-S
Funny thing, this one is. It actually has two different colored glasses (blue & red). It looks more like the glasses used to track Mr. India's invisbility. The box also contained a 3D picture booklet of A8 which looks like its misprinted given its 3D appearance. Well, it's supposed to look that way if you see it without wearing those 3D glasses.

Coming back to the short clip, I'd say it's one of the coolest adverts ever. And no, I'm not paid to say this. Well, not yet atleast (someone listening?).

From what I understand, the advert is actually about this guy... 

...who has Rajnikanthesque superhuman power; who, if bothered can inhale from the bottom of his stomach in such a powerful way that it throws him backwards...

Not only that, but his inhaling is so powerful that all the components of the car are drawn towards him...

Seats, headrest, suspension, c pillars, arm rests, wing mirrors...

steering wheel, satnav, clock, volume & AC controlling knobs, jumbojet-takeoff-shifter-lookalike gear lever...
headlights, windshield, bonnet, wheels & all the remaining bits and pieces come together and make this beautiful car.

Not to forget, this was all done by a single breath...infact half a breath. Do, notice how the car levitates in air for a while.

And the car drops to the floor, only once he's done breathing in & is about to exhale.

& more importantly

Hence, I wonder, why they made the whole thing around the car when it was this gentleman who was responsible for it all? Confusing souls these creative people are.

Click here to see the clip. Or here if you hate intros.

After the clip, there was a small question-answer session with Michael to whom, yours truly asked a couple of questions about Audi starting their single make races in India too, to which he replied that, they're looking at racing aspect in India but would take a more concrete decision once F1 track is laid down later in the year.

Post presentation was the drinks session, where I waited the entire length 2 wine glasses for Richard to get done with the interviews, so the petrol head in me can go up and talk to him one on one and ask a few more questions but sadly by the time I reached 3rd starter, he had left.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting experience! Now, just waiting for the invitation for the official launch of the car where the car is present in physical sense and I'm not made to wear some funny glasses to get the feel of it.

Ahmedabad Traffic (non)Sense

So last week, I was in Ahmedabad. Went there after almost 15months. IMO Ahmedabad has the highest potential difference between the best roads and worst drivers. I'd stick my neck out and say, the roads over there are even better than what we have here in Mumbai but the people over there have driving sense (or should I say 'driving nonsense') of Mr. Neanderthal.
I hate to admit it but most Mumbai autorickshaw drivers are angels compared to 97.37% Ahmedabadis possessing a driving license. Ahmedabad has great infrastructure, no doubts about it. But, after laying awesome tarmac, the local authorities over there undid all of it by constructing huge circles instead of traffic signals at most of vehicle-overflowing crossroads. You know, you use circles instead of traffic signals only at places where people have basic understanding of how turn signal & rear view/door mirror works. Also, it seems that the guy in charge of switching on the traffic lights is on a sabbatical & hence you feel you're in the middle of some 'Die Hard 4' movie. Also at places where the traffic lights ARE working, the traffic police exercises their VETO power. 
Speaking of traffic police, I believe they're the unfearfullest traffic cops I've ever seen. I mean, here in Mumbai whenever you see a traffic cop, you go through a mental check list of things you should have - license, helmet/seat belts, Insurance, PUC... and if even one box is unchecked you keep a low profile and drive/ride to the extreme right hiding behind a lorry/truck & try to get away. It's not the same in Ahmedabad. They're not bothered if you're wearing helmet or not or you jump a red light when the traffic from the other end is slim. In Jeremy's words, Ahmedabad's like Greece; the authorities have given roads saying, "Look here's the road, you drive. If you get mangled, don't come crying to us". If you ask me, that's how it's supposed to be. Give us great infrastructure, leave it to us, how we wanna use it w/o the guys in uniform stopping us every 27 meters. :P
All in all, I'd say, Kudos to infrastructure in Ahmedabad but 4 thumbs down for the drivers. Combine Ahmedabad roads with Mumbai traffic sense and you have an Epicwin, other way around is Apocalypse.