Sunday, September 07, 2008

Behenji's Lucknow


Lucknow and Kanpur recently appeared among the top 10 cities in India for business/industry in of the leading business magazines. There are a lot of things working in favor of these UP cities like a very enthusiastic and young population, low infrastructural costs, a 'supportive' state government. I had the opportunity to visit Lucknow a couple of days back. It was a short journalistic stint which lasted a single night. I reached Lucknow at 8:00pm and spent the night roaming in different areas of the city finally leaving in the morning at 6:00am!
Most areas of the city are in fact very safe even at night, I could find police forces almost everywhere in the city (though none of them were alert and paid attention to people like me roaming at night, taking pictures. I could have easily been some terror element). The roads are nicely lit, which is a pleasant surprise in any UP city. One of my friends in Lucknow told me that there were no power cut in the city since the last few years. For a state in which most other (important) cities like Allahabad, Varanasi, etc. are facing a heavy power shortage with just under 20 hours of electricity provided on most days, this is quite a feat. The financial capital of India, the resurgent IT capital (Hyderabad) all are facing regular power cuts. The only street which was poorly lit was the one dedicated to the citizens by the former chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav. The street lamps were either broken or missing and along the stretch of a few kilometers I could not locate even a single police post, the only mistake of this forsaken road being its apparent loyalty to the Mulayam government.
There has been a recent development in the city politics with Mr. Akhilesh Das (the former Congress and SP supporter) joining Behenji's brigade. Huge banners and hoarding plastered the city streets pledging support of a few sections (read casts) of the city to the potent Behenji. This power show was atleast worth a few million rupees which could easily be utilized in much more thoughtful ways.
The whole city seems to have been engulfed in a 'blue' light. The color of the lights to light up major city statues, the lights around the road crossing, all other major structures were flooded with blue light signifying the illuminance of BSP waiting to spread on to Delhi with Behenji dabbing Delhi in blue hue.
The area near the railway station (central) and Hazaratganj is donned by many statues, some old and forgotten like that of Mahatma Gandhi and some immersed in heavenly blue light surrounded by scores of Policemen. While the blue statues (thus heavily guarded) fail to be more than a landmark for the city, the Mahatma's statue was still providing shelter to the homeless at night (see picture below).

With such disparity between the capital of UP and its other cities in almost all areas of development, it is a tormenting thought to think of Mayawati as the PM of India. If such a thing does happen I hope that BSP rises from its 'power-show-politics' and beings to think of the greater good of the underprivileged sections of the society which it claims to represent.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Chrome. Google's browser or something else ?


Chrome, the 'browser' from google is available for downloads. I would not like to call it a browser though. Web browsers, historically, have been used to 'browse' the web since the ancient days but things have changed drastically since the late 90s. In the old times all we had were 'web-pages' and now the cyberspace provides more than just static information, this is the time of 'web-services'. Chrome is a browser to make the best out of these services available online today. This would be the perfect solution for those of you who like to play online games, listen to music, chat, etc. THIS IS THE NEXT EVOLUTION IN BROWSER HISTORY.

One of the major architectural changes in chrome is the multi-process approach. Most of us have experienced browser crashes and long 'hold-ups' for which some obstinate javascript applications may be responsible. Chrome changes this experience by refining the old 'single-execution-thread' approach and adopting the new multiple processes. A sneak peek at the 'processes window' (try pressing alt+ctrl+del)will give you an idea of what I mean by multiple-processes. Web apps like gmail would work the best with Chrome.
Another major feature of Chrome is the elegant use of Gears (the amazing research project of google labs which is already surfacing in some of the most wonderful projects). Gears, in a nutshell, is an 'thing' which will enable online applications to run offline (with a few constraints). For example, if I happen to go offline which I'm in the process of publishing this post Gears would make sure that I don't lose any of my work and I will continue to 'work' as if I was still online.
The design, look and feel is very refreshing and revolutionary. The tab placement is well thought of.
An amazing feature is the 'incognito' window. If you want to browse without leaving a track of all you did online the options that most popular browsers (Firefox and IE) give you is a complete deletion of browsing history this could be a little disturbing if you don't wish to lose all your 'history' but rather want a selective deletion. The 'incognito window' gives you an option to choose which records should be preserved and which should not.
A clever move to fight malware and other attacks is to allow each of the processes to run in a sandbox without harming your system (the user, however, has to be alert about the add-ons that she installs).
There is an interesting 'comic' that you can read about Chrome here.