I take an Uber cab almost every other day. Most times like a spoilt brat I take a cab ride for a mere 2 km drive from home to work or vice versa (which sets me back by Rs 200, 5x the rickshaw fare).
All along I couldn’t explain this addiction to ease and convenience to myself. So when I read this I felt a little less guilty:
Uber capitalizes on what economists refer to as “slack resources” or “underutilized capacity.” Translation: Why let your car sit idle in the driveway when you can turn it into a cash machine? The future is all about monetizing downtime. “The thing that’s really striking to me is that a lot of people who use Uber—it’s not like they used to take taxis,” says Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business who specializes in the digital economy. “It’s almost like you’re inventing a new way of organizing your day because you can get a car in three minutes. You can define a new lifestyle for yourself.”
- GQ’s Mickey Rapkin who drove around as an UberX driver for Uber Confessions
Here’s how I justify the ubering whenever i open the Uber app, especially if it’s that indulgent 2 km ride:
- I don’t have to deal with the traffic myself: The time-effort-peace of mind cost of taking the car, torturing myself with errant drivers, parking woes for a ten minute ride is high.
- I know exactly when the cab will arrive: I have to hail 300 Mary’s, 40 rickshaws before I can find 1 rickshaw to go the short distance of 2 km. Once I do come upon that 1 auto guy, I almost always have to plead with the guy to charge by the meter or swallow my activist pride and add in a ten rupees tip. Time - Peace of Mind cost again is high. I also have to account for violence-prone drivers who might want to hit me for not carrying change, traffic policemen who will ask me to “get lost” if I ask them to intervene.
- I perceive it as a safer alternative: I’d walk the 2 kilometre distance between home and work if there were footpaths, streetlights and if I wasn’t afraid of being plucked off the streets.
With Uber, a cab is one button tap away. The drivers are pleasant and polite. None of them bicker that they have to travel only 2 kms. Nobody threatens to hit me if I don’t have change. The stray driver who does ask me about my destination over the phone before he gets even to my location? I tell him not to pull that Ola Cab style garbage on me. There’s also the threat of the driver’s contract being discontinued if he/she is consistently ranked poorly (below 4.3, I think).
My brain on FUD overdrive when riding Uber
What happens if a driver’s iPhone switches off and he/she drives off the grid? Their FAQ section doesn’t answer this. Ola Cabs’ drivers have been known to lie about the health of their phone’s batteries to make a quick buck on the side.
Uber doesn’t have a support number I can call from within the app - I have to submit a request. Yes, in writing. No, not in triplicate.
The process is quite cumbersome too - it would be easier to tweet for help. To submit a request, I’m taken out of the app and onto a “Submit Request” page in the browser where I have to fill up these MANDATORY fields:
What my question is about
If this was built into the app, I’d have to only fill in 3 out of the 5 fields. I’d also drop the subject and just make it 2 fields. Just saying.
There are way too many Toyota Innovas and I have never ridden the Jaguar or Mercs they have in their fleet. The surge pricing can be a wee bit annoying because it creates a sense of pseudo-urgency. Some of the drivers are a little too afraid to speak up - they think the camera on the phone is constantly recording and monitoring them.
But hey, I love the service. They make my life simpler by reducing the stress around routine travel and add a dash of luxury while at it. As Stewart Butterfield put it in his post over at Medium, they don’t sell saddles here - they’re selling an experience.
I really like what you have done here, but your design is too consistent.
Ah, sounds so familiar.
Someone I know didn’t want a style guide for this exact reason. “It would be all too consistent, too same-same.” Uh, huh.
What I’m Lovin’ This Week | Waterlogue
Madly, deeply in love with a new app called Waterlogue.
Waterlogue for the iPhone (and iPad) turns your photos into water-colour masterpieces. Plain and simple. If you’ve tried the water-colour filter on Photoshop but wished there was something with more nuance, you ought to try this.
Select a photo, apply a filter and the water-colour painted-photo(?) is ready. The hook, though, is the water colouring process. After you’ve selected a photograph to be watercolored the app goes through the various stages of painting a picture. It’s strangely addictive watching the ‘painting’: the picture being drawn, colours being selected, the wetting of the brushes and then the shadows and hues slowly being layered on before the final water-colour emerges.
I thought I’d stick to just a few photos for my 2014 album on Facebook but ended up painting half the photos on my phone. The landscapes turned out gorgeous. K even exclaimed “Does this mean we can now print these out and put ‘em up?”
My selfie from the bathroom mirror didn’t turn out all that great - I turned into a giant polka dot with multiple rainbowy polka dots all over. Here’s why (according to Waterlogue):
Waterlogue turns your photographs into watercolors by selectively removing information from your image. When working with faces that take up only a small part of the frame Waterlogue may treat the two sides of a face slightly differently. Unfortunately the human visual system is exquisitely tuned to recognize human faces. Slight anomalies in a picture of a face are much more noticeable than similar anomalies in pictures of other things.
Waterlogue is available in the iOS/iTunes App Store for Rs 170. Please buy, beautify your life? :)
Sequoia partner Jim Goetz:
From the moment they opened the doors of WhatsApp, Jan and Brian wanted a different kind of company. While others sought attention, Jan and Brian shunned the spotlight, refusing even to hang a sign outside the WhatsApp offices in Mountain View. As competitors promoted games and rushed to build platforms, Jan and Brian remained devoted to a clean, lightning fast communications service that works flawlessly.
It’s hard to do anything but admire this heads-down, focused approach. And it paid off. Very much literally.
Keep your head down, focus, chisel away. That’s how masterpieces are created. #TIL
For those of you in Bangalore who have been noticing the gaping potholes, vanishing footpaths, mounds of garbage we have some great news. We’ve been hard at work building our I Change My City apps for mobile.
We’re constantly thinking about new ways to help you fix your neighbourhood by making it a collaborative process between you and the government agencies responsible for various services.
Our focus at I Change My City (ICMyC) is to make it easy for you to report an issue in your neighbourhood. We at ICMyC then take this complaint, forward it to civic agencies that are responsible (BBMP for potholes, BWSSB for water and sewage, etc) and then work with you and the civic agency to get it resolved.
- Post a Complaint on the go: You can post a complaint about that pothole just outside your house. All you have to do is snap a picture, describe the problem- tell us if it’s a pothole or a broken footpath and ta-da! you’re done!
- Add your Voice to get a issue that affects you: There are other issues in your neighbourhood that could do with fixing and a neighbour has gotten to it before you.
Check out the complaints near you and show your solidarity with the neighbour, vote up the complaint. Click on the button that says “I’m affected” and vote it up. This helps the civic agency prioritise the problems in your neighbourhood. More active neighbours, more issues being posted, the sooner your neighbourhood will be a better place to live in.
How it Works
1. Take a picture of the garbage dump in front of your house, the broken streetlight that is making a street unsafe, the gaping pothole that is causing the traffic jam on your way to work.
2. Post a Complaint using the app and get it sent to the correct Civic Agency (BBMP, BWSSB, BESCOM, etc) within minutes.
3. Easily set the location of the problem on the map, even if you don’t know the exact address. To make it easier, the app picks up your current location.
4. We’ll email you an update when we receive a response from the civic agency, follow up with the Engineer assigned to your complaint and be a Superheroine or Superhero in your neighbourhood!
You can download the Android App here.
As we have written about in previous articles, Preview is a valuable tool in OS X that does not get a lot of press. In this article, we will review how you can use Preview to capture your signature…
Super useful. I wish features like these were more obvious in Preview or at least more obvious than the Annotate features they push so much. (I anyway love/prefer Evernote/Skitch for annotating screenshots)
Heart, is there some stuff you want to let go of? What’s filling you up? Stomach, rethink your lust. Spirit, stay awake. Intuition, thank you; we’ll put it on the memo to trust you more. Fear, we’ve got to boss you down. Lungs, we must be kinder to you and rely on you to slow us down in stress.
In a session titled “Republic of Ideas,” one of the panel members, the sociologist Ashis Nandy, said something that only fellow Indians would immediately understand.
“It will be an undignified and vulgar statement, but the fact is that most of the corrupt come from the O.B.C., the S.C.’s and now increasingly S.T.’s,” he said, referring to “other backward classes,” “scheduled castes” and “scheduled tribes.” “As long as this is the case,” he said, “the Indian republic will survive.”
What he meant was that most of India’s corrupt are from the historically disadvantaged groups officially called the backward castes. From a purely statistical point of view, this is an unremarkable statement given that the castes he had mentioned together constitute a majority of the Indian population. So it should not come as a surprise that “most of the corrupt” would hail from most of the nation.
But then most of India’s heart surgeons do not hail from the backward castes, and that is where the substance of Mr. Nandy’s message emerged:
In an unequal society, corruption provides opportunity for those who do not have the means to progress easily otherwise.
What I’m loving this week | No Nasties
There are many BIG problems that our Indian cotton farmers face. Here’s what the numbers look like:
Cotton is the “dirtiest crop” - 55% of all synthetic pesticides in India are used in cotton farming.
The average rate at which farmers commit suicide in India is every 30 minutes.
There are 60 million child labourers in India - nearly the population of the UK.
If I were to estimate the size of this BIG problem and try very hard to boil it down to an equation, this is what it would look like:
BIG Problem = Conventional Cotton Farms x Regular “Nike-style” Factory x Exploitative Brands x Greedy Customers
All of these obviously cannot be solved by our armchair activism. But armchair shoptivism (yes, I just coined that word) could help solve a teeny-weeny bit of it and that’s where No Nasties steps in.
I love the approach they take. They take each bit of what makes up that equation and do their bit to change and improve it! How’s that for multiplicative effect? If you were to work that backwards:
No Nasties makes t-shirts. With 100% Organic Cotton. Which are 100% Fair Trade. They sell them through their 100% Awesome Store. We get to own 100% Cuddly-Bunny Soft Tees that keep us 100% Happy.
The cotton used is pesticide free, the dyes used have no carcinogenic chemicals and the packaging has no plastics
What’s amazing is they are doing this while building an ecosystem of No Nasties around them - sustainable business taken to a whole new level. No Nasties also works with designers to build a community that regularly contributes with artwork and all their tees are delivered through Mirakle Couriers that employs low income deaf adults.
If you’re still not convinced about how all of this feel good, no nasty business works, here’s what they have to say:
”You may be tempted to ask if purchasing a single t-shirt matters; if participating in something so small can really make a difference?
We believe it can! And it starts with you! Start small; do your bit. Sooner or later, the others will join in. And then some more - and more - and everyone will do their small bit. And one day, there won’t be any more left to join & the world will be a better place. Magic!”
It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.
In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.
It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.
Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.
Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
and repeat attempts!
Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.
All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.
Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.
Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.
Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.
There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.
always arrives by that very moment too late.
In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.
By Wislawa Szymborska
From “The People on the Bridge”, 1986
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
Go forth on high heels, come back on
foot. Post-lunch trauma. The tragedy that
strikes black stilletos and my twisted feet
shall only be spoken about in hushed
tones. Deference to the departed.
The slinky black stilletos now lie
wrapped in a neon pink plastic bag in the
trash can, their next-to-last resting place,
on Robertson Boulevard and Melrose
Avenue. Right outside Cecconi’s.
This tragedy which was followed by dinner at
Louie involved the consumption of
generous servings of mussels and clams,
whilst further drowning in the charms of
Mint Juleps and Sparkling wine. The
mourning spilled over into the morning,
where I helped myself to
pizza with Italian Sausage from Terroni’s
and gulped down mouthfuls of French
Vanilla flavored coffee from the
May the shoes rest in peace.
They had seen better days.
Made up beds and made up minds, waiting to be disarranged.
Home, Bangalore. November 2013.
“Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.”
- Richard Walker in Twenty-Four Hours A Day.
The other day K was dropping me to work and we were stuck in traffic on Bamboo Bazaar Road. The days are overwhelming and everything is a struggle, I sighed.
I don’t know about you but the eternal cynic/pessimist in me can never point out a single year gone by that I have loved. Every year seems worse than the previous one. I’m not sure I can help it - My blood group is B negative, the cynicism is in my blood.
But 2013 would have to be the worst amongst all the years that I can remember. So much stress, so much loss, so much sadness.
Atul is not around any more and neither is my grandad. But! I find it very comforting everytime I check Atul’s twitter profile and it still says “@AtulChitnis follows you”
I wonder where they are, I asked out aloud. At the same time, I thought to myself: If I believed in a god, I’d be hoping they were sitting next to god right now and pleading my case. Y’know saying something on the lines of “Give her a break maybe?” It’s hard to not tear up every time I think of these two gentle giants who probably believed in me more than I did in myself.
Why are you crying now?
Because I’m missing Atul and Papa.
I repeated what I had thought to myself a few seconds ago.
And right at that time, a huge branch from the tree overhead crashed into the windshield.
That must be a sign?
Yup, things keep falling on my head. Or overhead. There must be a god.