Monthly Archives: January 2007

Gmail/Gtalk bugs – me 5

Before my usage of gmail started, there was a long period of avoiding it because of the unusual “no frames” interface, also because gmail was in beta phase (will it ever get out?) and because I didnt need the space as I already had a 1 GB spymac account (which incidentally launched before gmail did and didnt even need a silly invite). Eventually I also created a gmail id to at least “occupy” the usual id’s that I have on every other domain. As expected, they were already taken on gmail. It took me a long time to actually start using gmail for important mails (I still don’t trust it completely). Gmail certainly has some good points. The main reason why it scores for me is the auto refresh feature in mail and now also, because of the chat embedded inside the mail. I have the “option” of having at least something available for instant written communication, where all other clients are blocked (at my workplace i.e.). Though I am a bigtime “keyboard shortcuts” person, I avoid gmails shortcuts because they tend to interfere with a lot of other shortcuts applicable on my machine. Apart from the “bells and whistles” there are a lot of glaring eye sores as well in gmail. Soon enough google launched gtalk and has practically taken over every successful website on the net making ur gmail sign-in a one stop dashboard for many things. But in the process have come out some glitches mentioned here. Of course a lot of the ones mentioned are independent to the “one sign in” feature.

1. Is gmail even giving the very basic of email services – which is “somewhat reliable delivery” of email? If an email is not delivered, one should at least get a mailer daemon saying so. Else it’s assumed to be delivered. But with gmail, the best part is that a LOT of times (yes substantial enough to not be ignored) mails do NOT get delivered and the sender does NOT receive any kind of error either. Basically the mail just “vanishes” into the quarries of the internet or maybe somewhere in gmail’s huge server space. No one knows where and no one knows why. It has happened with me a whole lot of times and right from when I started using gmail till now. One would think that this abominable glaring BUG would be rectified instantaneously but that hasn’t happened. I have actually had terrible misundertandings with friends because of the things that we take for granted in this technologically advanced world of today. A lot of times I have sent important mails which never made it to the recipient. A number of times I havent received responses I expected and later learnt that they had indeed been sent. Both situations have not been good for my personal relationships. And here I am talking about just the ones I cared about. I dont know how many mails actually get delivered.

2. Use gmail with gtalk and a plethora of bugs can be unearthed. There is *always* a mismatch between the number of users one would see online in gmail and the ones in gtalk. Understandably, those who logon to gmail and not gtalk should be shown in gmail and not gtalk. But this does NOT happen. There is always a random mix. And implicitly one needs to be logged into both to actually get an idea of who’s really online.

3. A lot of times, if a person is online in gmail/gtalk both, then the online status of that person would be different in both. I am not just talking about the availability status but also the status messages ppl set for themselves. A lot of times they refresh in just one of the two.

4. Every time I come online in gtalk, it shows my last set textual status message for a couple of seconds before coming down to “available”. That confuses ppl a lot of times. Understandably they can’t fathom why I am “on phone” or “At global voices summit” or some such thing for a few seconds, which possibly couldn’t be happening at that particular time.

5. Gtalk lacks on space eventually! It’s buffer space that I am talking about here not server space. Gtalk has a buffer problem ~ 1025 lines or some such. The buffer would obviously be based on the number of characters and not lines. When it reaches that buffer, it just hangs and then one is left with no option but to kill it and restart it. Most of the times, a restart doesnt work. Switching over to gmail in the browser is the best bet. Also worth noting is the fact that if one is having a voice talk *along* with a text chat (same person) then this buffer problem somehow gets circumvented. Gtalk does hang but eventually snaps out of it on its own IFF a voice conversation is also happening. Don’t ask me how I got the chance to “test” that. And no, it’s not a problem with the RAM or the processor on my end. Both are pretty high end and all other apps work just fine.

6. I type quite fast but for gmail perhaps it’s a tad bit too much. There’s a lookahead problem in gmail’s buffer. In layman terms, when gmail is busy displaying output, the user can not go on giving more input by typing. When the user presses enter, gmail throws out the text in the chat window and clears the edit box. At times this action goes into slow motion throwing everything out of gear. One would expect that at least the app would keep taking in input but gmail clearly can’t multithread so much. Eventually what happens is that by the time gmail splashes the text in the chat window and clears the edit box, I am already done with typing another long sentence, which gmail clears out while clearing the edit box. A lot of times, to my dismay I realise that the text I typed in, is gone. This problem doesn’t seem to occur in gtalk though.

7. If you login into gmail with an id, then you will have to use orkut with that gmail id only, and vice versa. One can not have a different id logged in into gmail and a different one in orkut. If you try changing then you get logged out. Gtalk however is independent of this and remains online thankfully.

8. A lot of times gmail/gtalk shows the user as “entering text” or “typing”. Just how different is “typing” from “entering text”? Why keep two of them! Whenever any user types a character and then deletes it, the msg in the chatting window gets stuck at “is entering text”. Most of the times, this text is shown even when a user is actually not typing. Whenever the edit box gets empty, the message shd be reset.

9. Now this one is more of a lack of features rather than being bugs – Gmail/gtalk has no option of being invisible. At best, one can block/unblock a user. But that doesn’t let one be “invisible” in the true sense, since one can’t see the activity on the other side either. Through some means, it is also possible to know whether someone has blocked you or not. At least gtalk has now implemented sharing files, and offline msgs thankfully. Unfortunately it still does not allow any text/audio conferencing. Neither does it allow webcams.

10. Again – more of a customization issue – the size of gmail contacts appeared to be non-customizable – it never showed all people online apparently (which was due to the restriction in window size in gmail). This seemed to be a bug, but the number of visible contacts can be customised through settings, though it is still limited to 40 users in gmail. To top it all, even if it is restricted to a certain number of contacts, which happens to be lesser than the number of actual people online, gmail would still show you some offline/idle contacts and omit some available/busy ones! In gtalk, the number of visible contacts again seemed to be limited to the size of your screen (in other words your resolution)! But one can view a scroll bar for the same through settings made by the ‘view’ button on gtalk.

11. There is some WEIRD logic behind the various colours in the thumbnail of the contacts shown in gmail/gtalk (the ones who dont have a profile picture). Orange, blue, green and pink silhouettes are shown on the basis of something that I haven’t bothered googling so far at least. It also happens to be gender biased – no female silhouettes!

12. When gmail/gtalk displays online contacts, how does it sort the id’s? On a larger level it shows them in the order of – available, busy, idle and offline, but within them? The id’s are not sorted in alphabetical order. In fact there really is no order and a lot of times, this order is different within gmail and different for gtalk.

13. The search function in gmail doesn’t really work all the time. At times it doesn’t show up results with strings which are very much there in one’s mail database!

14. With Orkut, why can’t I see all the visitors to my profile? Google assumes that there would be only 4 people visiting me in a day? Anyway this has already been suggested as a feature, but considering that this kind of a thing is readily available in the market since many years, why did Google have to lag behind so much? Plus, why that inadvertent display of online status of gmail/gtalk through orkut, even when I don’t want to share it with my contacts? I haven’t made any settings to share my status and even then my online status is visible to my contacts all the time! There’s no way of “not displaying” it except by probably removing all my friends from my list.

15. If Gtalk crashes while you were listening to music and while displaying your music track, the next time you come online, your status would show the same song as the one you heard when it crashed, irrespective of whether you log into gmail or gtalk or whether you are actually listening to music or not.

Gtalk’s own blog isn’t updated that frequently and most discussions are about some very basic features. And lastly, Gmail “officially” doesn’t have support for other messengers. But here’s a way, one can make it work with MSN, YM, and AIM. Talk away, for that’s one thing where the quallity of service of gtalk outscores on several others.

Bondgiri 1

In this year of the 007, the new year party had just the right kind of adventure. The predominant flavour this year at the new years eve seemed to be clearly – foggy (oxymoron unintended). I had plans to meet up with college friends in Vasant Kunj. We almost gave up after seeing the fog but then somehow persevered. Delhi had been completely engulfed in a thick fog blanket in the past some days especially in the later hours of the night. I had a fair idea that it wasn’t going to be an easy drive but I have driven in swirling fog earlier too. Clutching the seat, staring out at the looming white walls of vapour, backseat driving, that is. I couldn’t have indulged in driving in such conditions with the old Maruti 800 but now that the “gentleman” is here, I was sure I could take on such self indulgences from time to time. I had the pleasure of driving in thick swirling fluffs earlier some weeks back when I came back from Elevate one of these weekends. The fog on 31st eve was all that and more. A trifle bit more.

The way till Vasant Kunj was foggy but still vehicles could move. The moment I reached Vasant Kunj, I almost felt as if I was walking head on into a white wall. But then braving such adversity had kind of rubbed in with the earlier misty meetings with the fog. It was practically zero visibility. One couldnt see the road, or a vehicle in front. One could only make out blurry outlines of car blinkers, that too at about 5 feet of a distance. A lot of vehicles were just parked on the road. Perhaps waiting for the fog to subside is what they had decided on. The fools didnt realise that it never subsides till the sun comes out or till there’s some heat in the environment. After reaching that block in Vasant Kunj which was a place I was just not familiar with, it became practically impossible to drive as I didn’t even know where to expect a turn or a bend in the road. Driving close to the pavement was impossible because of the vehicle line up. Driving close to the divider was what I had to do. Unfortunately that almost resulted in getting onto a flyover that I had to actually skip. Thankfully I managed to skip it without bumping into any of the vehicles which were parked over the flyover with their blinkers on! Some directions on phone later, I managed to reach the gate of the block I had to reach and then had to ask my friend to come physically to guide through the inner bylanes as dearth of landmarks within the block would have left me spending my new years watching the white ghosts swirling by.

After much ‘walking-into-white-walls-not-knowing-what-is-beyond’, I finally managed to park my car and get inside a warm house. I had so far restrained from consuming some of the refreshments I was carrying and celebrating my own solitary new year somewhere with spectres (car blinkers providing me the necessary ghoulish new year lighting). But getting to the venue did the final trick and soon the host and I (all others were still battling white daemons) indulged ourselves. With the arrival of our drink carrying knights, the party kicked off finally a little before 12 (“We are men and army men at that, we dont need directions“, they said). Everyone had the poison they wanted. We all clinked a lot of wine glasses to begin with and eventually at the stroke of the midnight hour, popped some bubbly. The guys (the other females turned out to be not so adventurous given the weather and never turned up) got high on harmless champagne. Juicy secrets from college times (who had a ridiculous fancy for whom and did what) were let out very much like the champagne flowing into the glasses. The “boys” eventually ended up trying to straighten a victimised fridge, whose only fault was standing alone in a corner. Luckily for us, the fridge obeyed their commands and straightened up – more than the boys themselves. That battle won, we all dug into some veg tikka and some chicken tikka. Lots of laughter, some dance, more champagne (read chum-pug-nee), some more dance, some rounds on the phone with some other college friends outside the country, laughter all along with frequent assessments of visibility from the balcony. I was ever grateful to the fog gods for having descended upon us. It gave me a chance to not hurry up with a deadline. Eventually we decided to set out at 3am. The visibility was barely a tad bit better. I had to get to my place alone, so two of my friends decided to tail my car in their car (that was just an excuse for them sissies what with a perfect fog assist like me).

White phantoms, coming straight onto you while driving and dying on your car’s bonnet was neat. Soulful music at the hour was even neater. At some point since the visibility was absolutely zero and I was driving according to a map in my memory, I overshot a turn and landed on NH-8 at a point where a flyover was being constructed. The moment I realised I had taken a wrong turn and was about to turn around it dawned on me (literally) that a whole bevy of cars had been using me as their support in the thick white fog and had landed right behind me – all of us like sardines in a tin. Ever faced an expectant audience at the end of a performance? Well I have. I quickly courtesied to denote the end of it (pointed out the right direction for all to see) and sped away. I eventually reached home at 4am feeling all nice and accomplished for having done some bondgiri at the very onset of the year. Here’s for some bondgiri in your lives too! Wish you all a very funfilled, charming, spellbinding new year.