Walls on fire

From the ancient times humans have been trying to enliven their surroundings. The following images show one of the oldest discovered images made by man. Humans are one of the few animals, who have a sense of aesthetics. Well many nests made by birds, or mud castles made by termites, etc. are beautiful too, but more than beauty they are primarily functional. Humans are I guess the only ones who make art just for the sake of it.

“The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti carved on the walls of Pompeii, including everyday Latin insults, magic, love declarations, alphabets, political consigns, and quotations from famous literature, offering us a direct insight into ancient Roman street life.” This line, a quote from wikipedia on graffiti, gives a very apt summary of ancient street art.

Fast forward to twenty years ago. The new age graffiti appeared on the urban lanscape. Intertwined with Hip-Hop and punk music, it was illegal and so very cool. They were considered vandals and chased by the police.

In 1986 Frank Shepard Fairey started a street art campaign called ‘André the Giant has a Posse‘ as an experiment in phenomenology. Propagated by skaters, they now have full firm called obeygiant, selling everything stickers, clothing and music. Their tagline is ‘Manufacturing quality dissent since 1989’.

Banksy on the Israel west bank wall, earned wordlwide media attention.From piss stinking walls it has sneaked into the exhibition gallery. Banksy who was one of the pioneers of the stencil art, now has exhibitions with a live elephant painted with gilt. He sells his prints for thousands of dollars. Street art has even been covered by the time magazine.

And this street art culture has been widespread, running through many countries. Recently I read an article on the first generation street art in Iran. I had always felt why I did’nt see any in India. I have been in Mumbai and now in Delhi, but apart from the trivail and egoistic, ‘i love u rita/sita/anita’ scratched on walls I didn’t see any. So it felt really good when I spotted a few in Delhi on my way to office. One is that of a grinning face with a sort of cross for his face. This has been stencilled along the outer ring road, on the sides of flyovers and bus stop signals. This image was taken at the Hauz-khas/IIT flyover.
vaibhav bus ticketvaibhav bus ticket

With decrease in printing costs, new media like stickers and pasteups have arrived. People are experimenting even with cut metal. While it is debatable if what these artists are doing is right or not, as they sometimes do paint on private property. But it cannot be dismissed that they do make our surroundings beatiful. Here is a slideshow with some pics of prominent street arts.

So people stencil the city, but do it right.

Browser War – 1

99% chances are that you are reading this on a browser. So being a usability/design blog why not analyze your browser first. For starters let’s just focus on very basic browsing goals, in three web browsers mainly IE7, Firefox 2 and Opera 9. And we won’t be going into how these browsers render html code or how margins behave differently in IE and other browsers. Because the users do not care; all they want is a browser which lets them do things they want. And they won’t change their browser if a margin goes a little here or there. So what we will do is analyze how these browsers respond to normal basic browsing.

What is normal basic browsing? Opening new windows, new tabs, typing in a URL etc. We will go task wise and try to accomplish each task in each browser.

Task: Opening a New window from file menu by either File> New Window or by the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + N. Then typing in the URL and pressing enter using the keyboard.

IE7 opening a new fileIE: It duplicates the existing page instead of opening a fresh new window. In some cases it might be useful but in most of the cases it is completely useless. Now if the user presses the stop button or presses the ‘Esc’ then the page loading stops. Let’s assume the user does not stop the loading page, instead clicks with the mouse on the address bar. While clicking on the address bar s/he is looking at the monitor. After
bringing the cursor into the address bar, the user looks down at least once towards the keyboard and begins typing. Meanwhile during this time what many times happens is that the duplicate page has loaded and the browser puts that URL into the address bar. The user’s click has gone waste.
There are two problems here:
a) The browser opens a duplicate page when ordered to open a new window.
b) Once the user clicks any editable textbox, s/he should be its master. But here the browser usurps control.
Opera new window optionsOpera: Opera has got it exactly right. It opens a fresh new window with cursor blinking on the address bar. The behavior when starting opera, and when opening a new page are totally different and as expected. A new page is a new page. And users can set what they want when starting opera, homepage, or last open page, etc.
Firefox new window optionsFirefox: It opens a blank page when a new page is opened, as it should. This takes it’s value from the Tools>Options>Main>Startup. The options here are blank page, homepage or last session. When either blank page or last session is selected, it opens a blank page when we do Ctrl + N or File>New Window. But if the homepage is selected it starts opening the homepage in every new window. Architecturally the problem here is that the browser behaves in the same way when it starts as well as when a new window is opened.Here we have to look into the benefits of setting a homepage. One would set the homepage as something which s/he wants to see the first time s/he opens a browser. It maybe an email site, a news site or whatever. But once he has opened the browser, the homepage is loaded. And the marginal utility of the homepage loaded on any new window is considerably lower.

Here too the problem with the browser loading the URL over a clicked address bar is present.
Task: Opening a page by pasting a URL into the address bar.

IE and Firefox: Behave similarly and as expected.

Opera: We copy the URL from somewhere and paste it in the address bar. To start page loading we would need one thing, the ‘Go’ button. But where is it? Opera has added a feature, when right clicked in the address bar; it has an additional option, ‘Paste and Go’. Though this is very useful as it eliminates a click, removing a very basic button, just because you have a new feature does not make sense.opera go button absent

Task: Opening a new tab window by either File> New Tab or keyboard shortcut Ctrl + T

There are multiple ways of opening a new tab in each of these browsers.
IE: a) File>New Tab along with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl +T. They have put this option above the New Window option. Guess they want to propagate tab navigation.
b) Click on the rectangle, which gives a new page icon on hover. Which I guess is a little less discoverable. The easy thing could have been to put in the icon by default and on hover a text box saying ‘New Tab’.
c) Clicking on the tab bar, in the vacant space opens a new tab. The problem with this is when the number of tabs increase to 4-5 the tab bar is fully covered. And there is no vacant space. So this feature is only useful when the tabs are less than 4-3 (in different monitor resolutions). The workaround IE has done is, even when the number of tabs increases the rectangle still remains and remains to the right of the tabs, where new tabs should come. So the users flow is maintained.
IE New Tab

Opera: a) File> New Tab along with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl +T. Here also it is above the new window. No surprise because these are the people who started tabs.
b) On the left of the tabs is the button for the ‘New Tab’. It has both text and the icon which makes it quite intuitive. But the utility of this button is a little suspect because of its positioning. Also it is too near the File>New Tab.
c) Here also you can click on the vacant area on the Tab bar and open new tabs. But as soon as this space is taken by the new tabs the user has to go back towards left to the ‘New Tab’ button. This totally breaks the flow. They could have easily put the button to the right of the open tabs, like IE7 which would solve this problem.
Opera New Tab

Firefox: a)File> New Tab along with keyboard shortcut Ctrl + T. But it goes below the Ctrl + N option. I can’t understand why.
b)It does not have the tab bar by default. Only if you open the first tab in a window does the tab bar come. This hugely reduces discoverablity. People who may not know about tabs, may never come to know of it. Also there is not default button for new tab. User’s can customize and add it. Now how many people do actually customize?
c)Here also you can open a new tab by clicking on the vacant are on the tab bar. Again the same problem of having no vacant area as soon as 4-5 tabs are open.FireFox New Tab
The rest of this post will be posted in a few days. It will include rest of the ways of opening a page, i.e clicking on a link, right clicking etc..

Anecdotes Bhilai valon ke

I’ll post anecdotes about friends sent in by friends :).
The first batch has been baked by subhash. Aur kisi ko kisi cheez se pain ho toh mujhse kahe…and if anyone wants to narrate any other kisssa abt our friends plz mail them to k.a.anand@ gmailDOTcom

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:—–Anirvan:——

1) This is one of the stories that can b treasured as it was created by anirvan(in my words his name means anir–matlab bina pani ka,,,van–matlab maruti Van),,,,,
U may remember Mr. chakraborty,mathematics teacher (the ghost of middle school),,,well when anirvan was in bhilai some 5-6 years back in durgapuja,,,he had a small dispute with the persons who r from sec-4 durga pandals(as anirvan belongs to sec-10 durga pandals),,,so he took a stick (bans ka danda) frm one of the pandals n was likely to beat Mr. chakraborty n told him that i m no more a student of urs n can slap n beat u…..well what a gutsy guy….

2) This was one of the famous story that many of us knew that anirvan had created when we r in middle school,,once upon a time one of his relative(as far as i remember his maternal aunt)was going to scotland via aeroplane(thankgod usne yeh nahin bola ki khud ki fighter-plane se scotland gaye the…),,,so when they have reached at very high altitude,,,then anirvan aunt suddenly saw a whale with his/her family in the ocean….cool a person who is flying at a very high altitude cannot see the ship equal to size of titanic but can see a whale with whole family…..

3) One of anirvan magic creations….we all know the situations that all the mumbaikars have faced last monsoon on 26th n 27th july…..well at that particular time anirvan was there at mumbai stuck somewhere (a few miles away frm his home in mumbai) due to heavy rains,,,,as the rains stopped for a while he had started his journey back 2 home,,,due 2 heavy rains all the roads flooded n its impossible for all people 2 go back 2 their home but our gutsy anirvan had swimmed back 2 home along with the bodies of dead mammals n rodents,,,infact the water current is so strong that it is impossible for animals to swim(it is well known fact that most of the animals can swim very effectively),,,but anirvan had swimmed back almost 12 kilometers n that too against the current(well we all should suggest anirvan to take part in competition to cross indian ocean for this rare feat)….then when i asked him why he is not accompanying us to swimmingpool in lonavala trip then he told me that he forgot swimming………

4)Anirvan who has enough potential to recreate the aura(magic) of HARRY-POTTER series….had convinced Abdi(AKA Abhishek Choudhary) that my nick name, my family used 2 call me is Maadho(infact it is MANTU.),,n that abhishek had clarified with me on lonavala trip after so many years finally he got out of anirvan aura…..

5) Anirvan who had done Phd. in fekology have one more emotional+tragic story in his kit(potli baba ki) that he reopened in front of me n my roommates………….story is like this:-

He had 2 face the flood situations whereever he goes(last time in mumbai,,this year in surat),,may b indradev is unhappy with him…….

well flood alert has been given 2 surat residents in prior,,,so our MR.Feku chakraborty,,,had purchased some vegetables n milk(as his mind is always active),,,finally surat is in flood,,,,n his mind signalled that he should smoke,,but to his utter disappointment he had exhausted his stock….then he saw a paan-thela open(astonising paan-thela is opened apart of the fact that 1st n 2nd floor of his apartments has been evacuated due to flood),,,,then this hero of surat swam again to have his cigrattes packets,,,when he is back into his apartment,,,the packets got soaked leaving cigrattes wet,,,,,he then lit the gas stove n dried the cigrattes(i m not a smoker but my friends tell me that if once cigrattes got wet its not possible them to dry up in fire),,,may b anirvan had dried the cigrattes in pan….anyways he became hero of the apartment n everbody have great expectations frm him,,,,he is very kind 2 give all the milk packets 2 the family having childrens(round of appalause for that)….now anirvan resides in 3rd floor n water had flooded 2nd floor n now came up till his window(just a feet or two below his window)…he catched two-three big fish from his window n then made fish-curry frm that n invited whole apartment 2 have feast,,,n all gujju maximum of them are vegetarians,ate this fish-curry with delight(i don’t remember the exact no. of flats in his apartment that he had told me,,,but if my memory serves me right then it is approx to 30)….

6)Rarest of all:—–

Anirvan who have all kind of stories that can never b imagined,,,n apart of all this he try 2 convince everybody that he is true….

Anirvan likes travelling n had gone to ujjain,,,,,now story takes a new twist…Anirvan visited 2 KaalBhairav,,,that is a temple near a shamshaan bhumi(Crematorium),,,,he reached there in evening and spent a night in that temple(as he had told me that nobody used 2 stay there in night time as there are aghori(tantrik) n u can see ghosts n peculiar looking evil spirits (having tail of lion,head of wolf with horns n body of vulture n now by this time my roommates fainted) between 12pm to 4am…gud thing is that they doesn’t enter the temple but if u will constantly see them they hypnotise u to come out n once u r out of the temple, u will b killed,,however anirvan kept on seeing them for those all peculiar looking evil spirits for sometime n then he slept……..

another story on same day(infact at night)………..

Doesn’t exact remember the place he had gone(but he had gone somewhere like Amarnath Dham),,,,there he met a person who was an IIT passout but have left his house an was living like a saint(duniya ke moh-maya se dur ho gaya tha),,,,,so they both have gossips n after sometime anirvan felt that his stomach was empty,,then realising the situation, saint told to anirvan that as anirvan is very true n kind person he will give him food n then,,,us mahatma ne ek thali prakat ki(jisme chhapan bhog the.) one more thing that magical person had shown that kind of chamtkar only 2 anirvan……lucky guy…ain’t he???? all the IITians passout isn’t it great 2 know that IIT had produced a magical person….

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:——Parag:——

I(sarvanan) n parag both r in pune since long time but got 2 see each other only when we met at the day of lonaval trip…..
he is astonished to see that my height increased so much(i m 5.10″ approx),,,then in between them conversation i told him that sarvanand height had also increased n he is 5.8″,,,,then our parag felt bit awkward aur mujhse kaha abe aisa mat bol,,,,mujhe abhi tak aasha thi ki kam se kam sarvanand se to lamba hoon….,,,well dear parag average indian height of a boy is 5.6″……so there is no worry as u r above average.

Parag whose belly have some extra pounds which is very common if u r an IT guy, had seen adds of sauna belt,,,n alas purchased one,,,,then when we met for lonavala trip during gossips i have suggested him to try sauna belt to reduce those extra flab,,,,then suddenly he screamed…..kabhi sauna belt use mat karna, maine 20 din use kiya 1 kilo bhi kam nahin hua aur TV mein bolte hain har din 1 inch kam hoga…bakwas hai,,1500/- Rs. gaye paani mein……

Tunga Balla Torava

“but inside ….we are all tigers.

That is how the MTv ad for the Xbox 360 ends. Totally out of this world, this ad is weird. When i first saw it, and did not see any product coming, i wondered if it was a MTv promo or something. But then it came in the end. Did some googling and found that the creative director was Cyrus Oshidar of MTv. Also found a lot of postings by firangs who couldn’t make head and tail of it.

So here are some facts:
a) there is no game called Porok. It is purely a fictional game.
b) the language used is just a mixture of 3-4 languages. I could make out mallu and tamil words in it. I am sure the other words are from kannada and telugu.
c) it was shot in the middle of mumbai and not in a village.

Advertisements have to target a focus group. What works in cities, may not work in villages. What works for teenagers, may not work for middle ageds. And so on. So let me ask you who could be the focus of this ad? Who might the people who might buy the xbox?

Games in india are still played on PCs. The personal computer has become ubiquitous in cities. You could play for a hour in a cyber cafe for Rs.10. Highly affordable. My guess is 99% of serious gamers in india use a PC. To me they look like a good market. Very computer savvy. Having high paying jobs in IT. And they would already be aware of the XBox, even before seeing the ad. The ad is not informing them about anything. It’s just selling them the attitude. Every ad doesn’t have to “sell” the product. The point that it needs “selling” may make a bad impression.
And here this ad outclasses many others.