Sid Verma Unnecessary tautology is unnecessary

Hi. I’m Sid Verma. Some people also know me as Siddhartha.

I currently live in Gurgaon, India – where I work as a Software Engineer at Tower Research Capital.

I like to take photographs, write code, climb hills, and watch movies.

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Dumb smartphone is the best smartphone.

Quick recap: I dropped my Oneplus 3 six months ago - didn’t get it repaired for a month. Instead, carried this $10 phone with me for a while.

My interimn phone

Eventually, I did go back to the smartphone - to order cabs, read important emails, and take photographs.

But this really made me miss the bliss of not owning a smartphone. In the previous month, I used to look at the tiny screen for a maxium of 5 total minutes every day. On the smartphone, that returned to a few hours - Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Kindle, Google Chrome.

Also came with it, a lot of micro-interruptions throughout the day in the form of notifications - IMs, promotions, emails, etc. An average of 15 notifications every day.

I have read accounts of people who don’t use a smartphone, or even a phone anymore. Unfortunately, that is not the way for me, at least right now. I recognize, and enjoy some of the features my Android phone gives me. I have a relatively short memory, and a notes app is essential to my life. I can’t drive, so I usually move around by walking, or through Uber. Also, I like charting the sky with the help of Stellarium.

Solutions

  • Uninstall social networks. Except for Instagram, which I post on once a few weeks - all social networks were uninstalled. Those which were not installed, were removed from the homescreen at the very least.

  • Next, remove the browser from the homescreen itself.

Phone homescreens - then and now

  • Disable notifications for all of the IM apps I use - SMS, Telegram, Whatsapp, Signal, Messenger, Hangouts, Personal E-mail. This changed my consumption of messages from a push-based mechanism to a pull-based. Emails are checked every morning and evening. If any IM is important, people would find an alternate way to reach me, or just call me.

  • Over the next few days, continue to disable notifications for any app which ever sent a promotional notification - Amazon, Google maps, Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon Go, Grofers, Uber, Ola, Bookmyshow…

  • Start wearing a watch - I compulsively check the time whenever I get the chance to. This stops me from taking the phone out when I’m away from the computer.

Status, now.

I’ve been using this setup for the past 6 months now. On an average, I stare at my phone for 15-45 minutes every day. 10 of those minutes would be on the shitter, where I am browsing reddit.com, and the 30 could be in commute, where I’d read some book or comic, or just listen to a podcast.

The only notifications I’ve received in the past 6 months are work emails, meeting reminders, and reminders which I set myself. Every other weekend or so, I’d check one of the IM apps and see if I missed anything important. Luckily, nothing as of yet.

I chat with people over slack and facebook messenger - exclusively on the desktop.

If I do need to check a social post some people are talking about, I open the browser after and check it out there.

My browser habits have changed too - I’ve stopped using tabs on phone. As a heavy tab user, this limit on multitasking really makes me not use the browser anymore than absolutely necessary. My phone had 689 tabs opened at one time

Hillhacks and Hackbeach

Hillhacks, as defined by the website:

hillhacks is held in the lap of the stunning Dhauladhar Himalayas every summer.

People from different places, walks of life and lines of thought come together to share, collaborate and learn.

Hackers talk code. Artists share their creativity. Students join in from schools and colleges to learn new skills. Locals and globals mix and mingle. We build things like tables, hula hoops, interactive art installations, and solar lanterns. We connect. We dance and sing. Ideas emerge. Collaborations form. Lives change.

In the hacking, we get hacked ourselves.

Hackbeach is the sister event of hillhacks, held in the winters, on one of India’s coast.

What we don’t have:

  • Sponsors
  • Organizers
  • Welcome packages
  • Huge well-lit stage
  • Chairs around the said stage
  • Air conditioning
  • Booths and banners
  • T-Shirt and stickers table
  • Catered lunch
  • Coffee machine

What we have:

  • Space to camp
  • Beautiful views
  • A long unconference
  • 2-4 day of main conference
  • Setup and teardown of the said conference
  • Talks and flash talks
  • Opportunities to learn new skills
  • Hackers

What we might also have:

  • Accountants, Anthropologist, Farmers, Activists, Geologists…
  • School programs to teach young kids about science and technology
  • Cooking
  • Slacklining
  • Hoola hoop lessons
  • Board/card games
  • Quiz nights
  • Hiking in the hills
  • All day swimming lessons
  • Paragliding
  • Sleeping on the sandy beaches
  • Cartons of all you can grab stickers
  • Open discusssions across a variety of subjects
  • Demostration of cool projects

Hillhacks | Hackbeach

Link etiquettes for web developers.

This post might seem like nitpicking, or unnecessary to a lot of people, but it’s frustrating when links don’t work how they’re expected to.

  • DO NOT use <span> or <div> tags and then proceed to handle their click events. Use proper <a> tags. This breaks so many things!
    • People can’t use them if they have disabled javascript or it just failed to load.
    • Ctrl-click will not open a new tab unless you explicitly handle the situation. (More on that below)
    • Even then, you just dumbed down your users’ context menus. No Open link in new tab, or Copy link address.
    • The same situation on mobile. Long click will copy the text instead of showing helpful actions.
    • The javascript might break, throw an unexpected error, or burn down your house, rendering that “link” useless.
  • Even when you are using <a> tags:
    • If possible, execute whatever JS you want, and then let the link do its job. Don’t preventDefault() and open the link through javascript.
    • If you really have to open it through JS, take care of Ctrl-clicks. And Cmd-clicks in case of macOs. Old browsers might make this difficult.
  • Put mailto: links only where the email-id is the visible text too. [email protected] is so much better than Contact Email. Not everyone has email clients configured, and opening bulky clients when clicking a link is just bad UX. Or people might just want to note down the address, to contact later.