The webosphere is all about design and aesthetics these days, which is of course, just what the doctor ordered and mainly thanks to Google and Apple (yes, I know you were waiting for me to say that).

And when Paul Graham says we are now witnessing the return of the Mac, people sit up and take notice (my iPod agrees with me too).

I especially liked this part:

So what, the business world may say. Who cares if hackers like Apple again? How big is the
hacker market, after all?

Quite small, but important out of proportion to its size. When it comes to computers, what
hackers are doing now, everyone will be doing in ten years. Almost all technology, from Unix
to bitmapped displays to the Web, became popular first within CS departments and
research labs, and gradually spread to the rest of the world.

That reminds me of the Shufflephones hack that my friend Jim has made. Now, that is something really designer-ish but very usable at the same time:

Shufflephones

He even has a whole blog dedicated to shuffle hacks.

I try to always keep in mind that ‘Usability and Simplicity’ are the two most important factors for anything to succeed. It almost feels like Apple invented that concept.

This also means that I’m getting a Powerbook soon. I can’t wait.

Yahoo! 360° is now open for a public beta.

360 pixels

This photo is by Ernie, one of the Yahoos who has worked on 360° ; that 360° logo was created out of pixel blocks (whatever that means).

Leave a comment (with a valid email address) if you need an invite.

P.S. Remember, 360° is not blogs, blogs is one aspect of 360°. Read this review to understand what it is really about.

P.P.S. The only thing I really don’t like is the name 360°, I wish they had stuck with Mingle.

After recommendations in the comments of my previous posts, I used Picasa to brighten up the Ranga Shankara images (see previous post) using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. It works so well!

It even created collages for me:

Collage of the RangaShankara photos
Collage of the RangaShankara photos

That is so neat. I can’t understand why they’re giving away that thing for free!

On a tip-off from Anita, I had come to know about Girish Karnad’s play ‘A Heap of Broken Images’ at the Ranga Shankara theatre.

Entrance of Ranga Shankara
View of the theatre from the outside

I just came back from the theatre. I have to mention that I have never been to a real live play before (other than skits in school and college). This play was by Girish Karnad, so I was all excited about it. The play started at 7.30 pm exactly. They were very strict about switching off mobile phones, obviously.

Warning: Plot spoiler ahead.

The story is about Manjula Nayak, a not very successful Kannada short-story writer who suddenly became famous and wealthy by writing a novel in English. She comes to give a 15 minute speech on TV just before the premiere of the Kannada movie based on her English novel. After a humorous speech, she is about to leave. Then, suddenly she is confronted with herself in the TV image. “And, without warning, it’s her own image that decides to play professor, psychologist and inquisitor.”

Yes, the story seems a bit boring to hear, but since I went to see the drama without knowing the story and without expectations, I really enjoyed the play. The most amazing part was that the play was completely by a single person, Arundhati Raja (who has a fantastic hold on English) and she converses with herself on video. She had to keep pace with the video and that is really tricky to do but she did it really well. Her emotive face made the story so real.

Posters on the Ranga Shankara glass wall
Ranga Shankara Logo

I have to mention that Ranga Shankara was the dream of Shankar Nag, one of the most talented Kannada actors of yore. It is now being realized by her wife Arundhati Nag who herself was an actress as well. I did manage to get a glimpse of both Arundhati Nag and Girish Karnad :-).

All in all, a great one hour of drama. I hope to go back to Ranga Shankara for more.

From Adam Bosworth on ‘Tensions on the web’:

Indeed, every year in August, I vanish for a month from the web, turn off email, and deal with the withdrawal and suddenly I relearn how to think and concentrate. In a world where knowledge and thinking is everything, it is ironic that increasing availability had led to decreasing time in which to reflect, ponder, and just let the mind wander and yet these periods tend to be essential to truly thinking hard.

As always, he is bang on target!

… by hiring the top guy into your company and then cut off all incentives for the community to get interested.

Yes, I’m talking about IronPython and in this case, the company happens to be MS.

Read what Edd Dumbill has to say about it, especially this part:

Third-party patches won’t be considered until after the 1.0 release. Hugunin encourages
people to be involved, but only in filing good bug reports and feature requests. And when doing
this involves a .NET passport, and using the GotDotNet web forums rather than good old
mailing lists, it’s a bit of a disincentive.
Added to that, there’s some uncertainty about the freeness of IronPython’s license. While it
looks free, it’s got the same name, “Shared Source”, as several Microsoft licenses that
definitely are not free.

I have nothing more to say except that such an awesome ‘open source’ project has been effectively killed off – IronPython may go on to become 1.0 but it is now reduced to a one-man show when so many people could have contributed to it.

I opened up Yahoo! Groups and I see that it has got a new look.

I really hate the choice of colors – light blue really doesn’t cut it for me – I can’t figure out how to change that in the settings. The ‘Management’ section for moderators is really useful. If it was already there in the old look, I haven’t noticed it before. The vitality alerts are interesting and the GMail-style snippets look of the groups is a nice touch.

Now, if only they did something to browse by threads like Google Groups conversations, that would be great.

Sidebar: Totally unrelated, but has anybody used FuseMail? The demo looks cool.

Update: I totally fail to understand one thing – why is the new and redesigned (emphasis on new) design of Yahoo! Groups not using XHTML?! They are still using HTML 4.0. Even MSN Search is XHTML Strict compliant!

Charlene Li (of Forrester Research) claims that Y! Mail has upped the storage to 1 GB to match GMail and combining that observation with the recent increase of invites count to 50 for all GMail users, it is a sign that GMail is soon coming out of beta!

Holy smokes, that is tempting – a non-beta stable GMail. I can think of a few things I’d like to see in GMail:

  • Ability to break conversations and save individual mails
  • Single-click ‘trash this mail’ button
  • Ability to add notes to a conversation? That would be really really cool.
  • Google Calendar (I badly want to see this)
  • Send and receive using my domain email account (This can be a plus feature. I’m willing to sign up)

If they can implement these things, I’m hooked!

Also, I’m waiting to see a face-lift to Yahoo! Mail as well. Whatever happened to the supposed Oddpost integration? Sigh.

P.S. If you are wondering why I seemed to rant about the ‘innovative’ part in my previous post… well, it’s just that I’m tired of the Google orgasm that the world is in today. Yes, Google rocks and does great stuff. Let’s not forget other companies do great stuff as well. For example, MSN Image Search seems to be better than the competitors out there.

Update: Will GMessenger come out on April 1st (like GMail last year) ?