Category Archives: Uncategorized

For your next annual physical – the iDoc

As I get ready for my annual physical, I don’t know what is burning more, my gut or my wallet. It’s not all the poking and prodding that has me worried. Pardon the vulgarity but when you’re a 40 year old female with 2 children, you’ve had more than the average person’s share of being poked, prodded and examined. By now, I have had more than enough time to cope with the loss of dignity that walking into a doctor’s office entails. No – it is the colossal waste of money that has me so riled up. Continue reading

The end is near – for the DVD

Netflix recently reported the first quarterly customer loss in the company’s history a couple of days ago. An article in the San Jose Mercury News ascribes the decline to Blockbuster’s rival service which is marginally cheaper and offers customers the option of returning their DVDs at their nearest rental store. Netflix plans to respond by improving customer service and reduce its prices marginally.

Not that Blockbuster is doing well. According to the same article –

(Blockbuster)..lost $49 million in the first quarter. Blockbuster last month indicated it might try to reverse that trend by raising the prices of its online service.

While these rental giants are battling it out, they may be missing the technology changes happening right before them. The need they fill, as I see it, is three-fold-

– New movies just out on DVD

– episodes of popular TV shows

– hard to find foreign films.

As a consumer, I get all my new movies from the pay-per-view service on TV. This may be slightly more expensive than renting the DVD, but it gives me the quick fix of the movie I want, when I want. TV shows are harder to find but Joost is busy making deals with basic cable channels like FOX and thanks to mobile technology and the video iPod, show producers have woken up to the revenue potential of the Internet. Latest episodes of popular shows are already being offered on the websites of basic channels like ABC and NBC.

That leaves the classics and foreign language films. Admittedly, Netflix has a phenomenal collection but companies like Jaman, which offer online downloads and rentals are grabbing the long tail and inching forward. There is also a social networking component that adds value to the viewing experience. Once studios get over their piracy paranoia and get comfortable with regulated rentals and sales over the Internet, the floodgates of online movies should open.

At least, that’s my hope. As a fan of films from India, I am particularly frustrated. The DVDs I purchase rarely survive more than 3 viewings. After that it is a merry game to figure out the story between skips. I have started hoarding my ‘Kaagaz ke Phool’ DVD knowing that it has only one life left.

All this presupposes that the DVD will actually work. My fussy ‘Made in Japan’ player has rejected several films for not being ‘in the Zone’. For the $19.95 that the DVD typically costs, it hardly seems worthwhile.

As for the few foreign films I own, exactly how many times can you watch the ‘Godfather Trilogy’? Surely we can feel the same pride of ownership in a file name?

The imperfections of the market and the unavailability of broadband connections may keep the format alive a little longer. But it’s just a matter of time. So before you invest in the ‘Star Wars’ 6-pack for the price of a small car, think about it. Someday soon it may be bye-bye DVD, hello download.

Your good name -2

Unlike other Asians in the US, we Indians have by and large chosen to pass on our Sanskriti to our kids in the form of their names. Except for the occasional lapses into Neel, Josh(ridiculous!) Dev and Lori(I plead guilty) we have heroically chosen exotic, hard-to-pronounce handles that even Indophiles would be hard-pressed to decipher(what on earth does Araav mean? or is it Aarav?) Of course, this has led to creative spellings sure to perplex the grandmas back home. Raghav becomes Raaghav, Arun becomes Aroon and the male Suman has to assert his identity by renaming himself Shoomon.

My own dear husband struggled with his unusual name ( Basab)during the early part of his career. After a threat to divorce a possible Buzz or Bob, he backed off on making his name more palatable to his potential clients and decided to vent his angst in his blog. Our realtor could not afford the risk (plus his wife was in the same business). He called himself Mirch, rhyming with perch, Mirchandani. Bob Dhillons and Jazz Gills have sold dozens of houses around the Bay. Venkys and Srinis have exercised compassion towards their phonetically challenged cousins across the Atlantic

But there are signs that at least in Silicon Valley, the worm may have turned.

Go Mukesh! So what if the rare non-Asian client rhymes the first part of your name with a choice 4 letter word. I look forward to the day when the Mike disappears too. In the meantime , if we have to put up with Droov(Dhruv) and Nay-run(Naren) so be it. Those occidental palates have to grow a few new muscles,because we’re going to keep naming our kids the way we want to.

Your good name?

There are over 60 million blogs today.( Add 3 more by time you finish reading this sentence.) That may seem a lot but there are also 6.6 billion people in the world. And while a few dozen Raj Gupta’s and Amit Varma’s can peacefully coexist in the real world, alas, the internet is not so forgiving.

Think of the insane number of hours spent by people trying to get a unique, hip, cool name for their blog. First you come up with a half a dozen witty ones in as many hours. The rosy glow of achievement quickly evaporates as Go Daddy holds up a stop sign. Fine, you say and go back to the mental gymnastics. Perhaps this time the names are not so elementary, even dipping into the vernacular idiom. What! someone is cybersquatting on ‘I am like that only’ and ‘just because’ too?

Finally, the brain cells snap and spew out gibberish – Kaboodle, kadoodle, zabira, zathura. For the humble home blogger with no marketing muscle, an unrecognizable domain name is as good as the 500 page novel scrawled in pencil hiding under the mattress. The blog gurus have spoken- if you want your blog to be found, the name should be relevant. And so, after hours of labour is born

I calculate that I spent at least 50 hours on this singularly unproductive task till I stumbled into the fact that nobody had registered my name so far. I suspect I have earned the sound and round curses of many Vidya Pradhans to come. What if I hadn’t been so lucky? I might have been stuck in a never-ending loop of creativity and disppointment.

So here is my suggestion – let’s just follow a system with alphanumeric codes assigned like license plates. So once in a while a small transposition in the digits could take you to Osama instead of Obama -hey – it might just broaden your horizons. Just think of the hours and hours of saved time that could be used -blogging.

(In case you’re seriously thinking about going digital-better hurry and are already taken. )

The era of guilt

–    over not giving enough to the poor
–    over not having enough time for your spouse
–    over not achieving enough to justify the expensive education
–    over neglecting parents who are overseas
–    over not doing enough for the environment
–    over not paying enough attention to your children
–    over not putting your kids in the right school
–    over not exercising enough
–    over not being religious enough
–    over not reading all your emails
–    over not being up to date with technology
–    over not organizing pictures from the vacation you took 2 years ago
–    over not being productive with your leisure
–    over spending too much on the latest gadget

Hmm…is prosperity worth it?

Blogs are passe

When my mother and grandmother start talking intelligently, (or at least intelligibly) about blogs, I know it’s time to move on. Here is a terminology of blogs to help you pick the one that’s right for you.
B- log – term about to go the way of the VCR and the Walkman.
C- log – used by oceanographers, but prone to sudden blockages
D- log- anonymous site for the Italian Mafia to complain without fear of cement boots
F -log – used by politicians to wax eloquent on the subject of deceased equines
H-U-M log – soapy saga of middle class Indian family
J –log – adventures of a gluteally advantaged superstar
K-log – promoting the virtues of sugary cereals
L-log – support group for people with speech impediments
P-log – desperate attempt at companies like Amazon to get even more information on its customers
S-log – the sad commentaries of cubicle bound office workers
V-log – proof that everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame, even if it is only by dancing naked to the tune from Star Wars.
Y-log – existentialist musings
Z-log – Exclusive continental site featuring impossible to pronounce recipes and wine vintages.

Want to fill in the blanks?