Friday, May 30, 2014

Of conversations that come out of the blue

We had maybe two conversations all through business school, she and I. Our social circles were completely different, our lifestyles were completely different, and the only thing we probably had in common was that we both kept our distance from the "desi crowd" - her, a tad more than me.

We both ended up getting jobs in the same city, but since her job involves travel, and her personal life involves navigating a long-distance relationship, the first time we met after graduation was at the one-year reunion last month. Where we hugged and promised to get together if we were ever in Dallas at the same time. Because isn't that what you do?

But then she texted me earlier this week asking if I was free for dinner, and I shrugged and figured why not (even though can I just say that my food budget according to has been absolutely haywire this month, and I don't know where all this money has gone. End sidebar.) And ended up having an interesting evening, simply because it was - at least on my part - such an honest conversation.

We talked about the choices we've made - professionally, socially, personally. We talked of turning 30 - three months ago for her, a little more than a year from now for me. We talked of our families, parental expectations, what we look for in relationships, and knowing who we are. We talked of moving to the US from India - eight and three years ago, respectively. We talked of why we chose to distance ourselves from people we should have bonded with over a shared identity. And we talked of what it was like to make friends, meet people, form relationships, at this age, in a new city where you know practically no one. And by the time we parted, I felt like I understood her and her choices a little better.

Her name, when it would come up in conversations with the desi crowd, would always be met with eye rolls and sniggers, because she hung out with a very different crowd, and made no efforts to socialize with them. And I would listen and wonder if I was talked about similarly when I wasn't around (I'm pretty sure I was).

I had dinner with a couple of classmates and their wives last night. Over dosa and rasam, I mentioned meeting her earlier in the week. And listened to the same sniggering comments being made. And sighed on the inside.

She said something to me, just before we went our separate ways... something that made me smile and wonder. We had talked of meeting people and forming relationships, and I had, as I am wont to do, whined about being perennially single. And then the conversation turned to choices in life, and I mentioned something I had written about just over three years ago - about how I've never really gone after things, I've always let life happen to me. And she smiled and said, well then, maybe you need to sit back and just wait for this to happen too.

I wonder.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where I whine about Google being... well, Google

WTF Google?

I've always liked you. Your search was cool, your products were cool, your company seemed fun. You kept coming out with new sites that seemed more exciting than they probably were because you made them so exclusive. Wave, Buzz, even Google Plus. I actually have long Gtalk chats archived somewhere with friends about how we could get invites to these sites. I ignored, and continue to ignore, all the rumblings about privacy issues and data concerns and whatnot, and just liked the stuff you had.

Case in point: despite knowing Wordpress is probably way better than Blogger, I've stuck to you all these years, haven't I?

But then you became this know-it-all that started taking away the sites and features I actually liked and kept pushing other, annoying features and sites at me.

You took away the likes and the sharing features on Google Reader, you shut down Wave (which, to be fair, I can't blame you for; not enough people saw what fun it could be), you even took away Buzz, which let me share articles with people without having to go anywhere. You started pushing Google Plus everywhere you could, linking it to Youtube (although thankfully, at least there you let me choose and switch between my blogging name and real name. DON'T CHANGE THAT.), trying to get people to share articles there rather than on GReader (fat chance, I say), and even trying to trick me into linking it to my Blogger account. You wanted me to log into Chrome - I still have no idea what that really means - but were okay with me ignoring you over this.

The biggest blow to my heart was when you shut down GReader. I've moved on, I've found another home to keep my gazillion feeds in, even though its not as perfect as GReader was. But there's a part of me that will never forgive you for breaking my heart the way you did over this.

And now, you've messed up Gtalk. Gtalk has been my window to the world for so long. I love how it archived everything within Gmail; for someone who loves to search for and read specific old email conversations, it made finding chats to reminisce over so convenient. If I occasionally had wistful thoughts about the more fun emoticons that MSN Messenger had, I ignored them to focus on how easily accessible Gtalk was and how I could stay invisible and still talk to everyone I wanted to talk to.

But then you brought in Hangouts. For a long time, I managed to ignore the existence of said hangouts. I still used Gtalk from within Gmail, and if the way archived chats looked changed a bit, I wasn't overly bothered. I bought an Android phone, and it let me download Gtalk, so I was happy. It kept asking me to update Gtalk to Hangouts, and for more than a year, I managed to ignore it. Then last week, ignoring the voice in my head advising me against it, I went ahead and did a software update on my phone. Which led to various issues on my phone, chief of which was the appearance of auto correct and the disappearance of my dictionary (both of which I managed to fix eventually, thankfully), and the switch from Gtalk to Hangout.

And today I discover that if I have Hangout on my phone, I can't go into invisible mode - not just on the phone, but even in Gmail on a browser, because I get a nonsensical message saying I'm logged in on a device that doesn't allow invisibility.

So I ask, Google, WTF?

Here's what makes me really curious about you, Google. How exactly do you come up with such bullshitty decisions? Do you do focus groups, or tests, or whatever, and pilot these ideas? Or is it just random dudes sitting in what I hear are really cool cafeterias thinking, how can we totally change things that are working just fine, and make everyone who uses this miserable.

Because most of the people I talk to or follow on social media do have similar opinions - good or bad - to the ones I've expressed here. But then most of the people I talk to or follow on social media also weren't very keen on the BJP winning the elections in India, so what do I know. I clearly don't follow very representative people.

Here's the thing. I know you won't give me back the things you've taken away from me; I once spent an entire networking event with your company complaining to a recruiter about you guys had ruined GReader, and he kept nodding and admitting he thought you guys had messed up there, but that didn't help me, did it?

But seriously, can you just stop? Stop screwing with the products I love so much, and just let me use them.

Just. Stop. Change for the sake of change is just stupid, okay?