Category: Life Experiences

Against Evil and Darkness


Today is Diwali or “Deepavali” as we call the most important Hindu festival in South India. It is a very key occasion when Hindus all over the world celebrate the victory of good over evil, and lights abolish darkness for ever. While it is a religious occasion, it is also a time to celebrate time with families and friends – a time for acquiring a “feel good” feeling which kind of emancipates us from the clutches of daily routine and frustrations, and brings a strong whiff of good will and smiles all around. Of course, we eat a lot, specifically sweets and savouries, which add to our waistlines and continue the long-standing Indian tradition of diabetic influence in our lives as we chugg along.

Not very different from Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or any of the other major religious festivals around the world.

We are fortunate that Singapore (and Malaysia) celebrates Diwali like a national festival, and has a public holiday today (like India), considering a significant population of Singapore are from Indian ethnicity. Other ethnic compatriots like the Chinese and Malays wish us “Happy Diwali” when they see us in public places like condominium lobbies, and that greeting enhances the bonding that we all have towards Singapore. The “Little India” area of Singapore has been lit with “Happy Deepavali” LED lights for nearly a month now.

For the first time ever in my career, I became an avowed Diwali enthusiast, and declined business meetings on the eve of Diwali and during the Diwali holiday (which is today). I realized that it is time that I respect my own private time during this auspicious occasion, and avoid taking calls in temples (of all places!). Calls came, of course, on Tuesday evenings, but I politely declined. The world needs to understand that Diwali is celebrated by almost a Billion Hindus, and the festival needs to be respected. Even the White House celebrated Diwali! President Trump read out a statement and then lit the lamp adorned by bright flowers, surrounded by key Indian officials.

I also declined calls during the day today (most of Asia works today), and did not look at my laptop all day. This was an unusual departure from my usual practice over the years, when I treated Diwali as any other working day (though it was always a public holiday in Singapore and India), and continued to transact business. Now, I am of the opinion that all religious festivals of national importance have to be given the requisite space and attention, whether one has any faith or otherwise. It is the sheer number of folks who follow the faith(s) and the festival(s). I also realized that the crucial message of the festival would not percolate down to our children, if I continue to be nonchalant about its importance and its place in our life.

As I sit down this evening with a glass of wine and contemplate the times when I was very young (less than 15 years old), I feel an overwhelming sense of self-pity and gloom that I have missed out a lot. May be it is true, but for me it is an emotional recall of my younger days in the city of Madurai in South India where I grew up. I am able to easily visualize the Deepavali noise and celebrations in front of my house in Palace Road and Mahal Vadambokki Street in the 1960s and 1970s. My eyes are wandering down Palace Road and making a turn towards my famous school – the St Marys’ High School of Madurai. I remember most of what was going on during some of those years, though not able to correlate the specific year with a specific event.

It is a far cry now where I am sitting in the Thomson locality of Singapore, but I believe my soul never left Madurai. Though I have not gone back to Madurai since the year 2000 (my India base is now Madras or Chennai), I still have those Deepavali and other connections to Madurai tugging me, asking me to visit the place. Some of my school mates are still living there, and I have been in constant touch with them through the magic of WhatsApp.

So, now I am thinking about Deepavali and its critical annual role in providing me with a sense of relief and liberating thoughts. I did not go to temple today as we as a family decided to stay away from the crowds. We went to the temple Monday evening, and I was so happy to make a quiet visit to the Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon area of Singapore with very little crowd at 6:30 PM. Apart from the temple visit, I also enjoyed the free “prasadam” or temple food paid for by a devotee, which in my opinion is a lucky occasion. If I am able to stand in the queue and receive the temple prasadam, I am fortunate as I then totally forget that my family was supposed to go elsewhere for dinner! The food was so delicious that we decided to eat the same and dropped the dinner plans. Such is the simple beauty of utter simplicity in thoughts and deeds. There were others who had driven their Mercedes and BMWs into the temple parking lot who were also queuing to receive the temple prasadam. We all do not need it, but we relish the important fact that the temple cooked the simple food, and we have to sit down on the temple floor to eat it on a piece of “butter” paper!

When I am able to come down from my elitism to the simplest common denominator of a guy walking down Serangoon Road, then I have become a Socialist craving equality among the masses. In essence, that is who I am. While I am not saying no to the comfort of my savings, it gives me more pleasure when I am one among the people who are commoners doing things which 90% of the world’s population does on any specific day. No one else does anything for me at least. If I am able and willing to do things on my own, then I am a Social Animal and unlike what the Rich folks say, I am willing to work hard for myself and my family and earn my worth. The Rich Republicans (I am using the U.S. example here to ease the understanding of the readers) always point that the “Left: or the Socialists are weak and poor, and do not deserve subsidies or handouts, and do not work at all”. It kind of aggravates me – that is utter nonsense. Most people want to work and earn. Sorry, I am distracting you into a completely different topic, but the essence of what I am saying is that being an elite removes you from the sufferings of the masses.

So, that is the conclusion of my Diwali holiday today, and back to the office tomorrow. In the meanwhile, enjoy your respective fatty foods and sugars and drinks today. After all, we have driven out the evil darkness from our lives, and the life ahead is full of light.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

18th October 2017

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Maharani Ojima


This is the first ever time that I am writing about an Indian restaurant in Tokyo.

I was in Tokyo for better part of last week, and had the opportunity to have dinner with few colleagues at the Maharani Restaurant in Ojima area of Tokyo. The area is located towards the eastern part of Tokyo (some 13 stations away from the famous Shinjuku station on Tokyo’s complex subway system). It is easy to get lost in Tokyo’s Metro and Subways – Shinjuku is an underground city almost, with connections to various parts of Tokyo, and it always amazes me how the Japanese built such incredibly sophisticated underground systems several decades ago. And, couple of things continue to amaze everyone – how efficient the system works all the time (breakdowns are unheard of), and how easy it is to navigate once we understand the system interlinkages. Further, there is not much of noise anywhere, though thousands of commuters are always traversing the stations. One cannot hear loud noises or loud speaking – people move around in almost an eerie silent manner! Their discipline is simply difficult to believe or achieve in other countries (even the developed ones).

Well, let me come back to the restaurant. It is a smallish one, as most Japanese restaurants are, and located in a quiet neighbourhood with many apartments and small shops (it looked to me as though it is some part of Mumbai or Chennai). Not being in the central business area, Ojima is quiet with many old folks walking along the pavements, and some young ones riding their bicycles. Taxis have not changed in Tokyo for ages, with Toyota Crown still dominating the roads (very expensive with minimum fare starting at 410 Yen or USD 3.70, and accelerating fast as you cruise in search of your destination). I saw far less taxis in Ojima, and it is well covered by the subway.

There was no one in the restaurant when we reached it at around 6:30 PM. We ordered Rotis, Bhindi Masala, Dhal Tadka, Chicken Biriyani, Roasted Papads, and Raita. All items were well prepared and delicious. Of course, we ordered Kirin Beer which went well with the spicy Indian food. Our Japanese colleague enjoyed the food, and I asked him whether it was the first time for him at this place. He replied saying that he had been to this restaurant many times, and every time he had always relished the food. In fact, like in many developed countries, the restaurant menu displayed the severity of the spiciness of each item on the menu, and my Japanese colleague selected either a 4 or a 3 out of 5! I like Japanese food – especially the Sushi and Sashimi (yes raw fish), and also their unique Rice with the Chicken Gravy (called “Curry Udon”), and of course the Tempura Set. Mostly it is bland, except for the masala gravy on the Curry Udon, but it is pure and tasty. So, I always appreciate when a foreigner enjoys Indian food!

Though the Maharani Restaurant is small and the ambience probably gets only a 3 Star, the service is outstanding and rates a 5 Star. All the Indian staff and the Chef speak fluent Japanese (and of course, Hindi). They strive to make the patrons very comfortable with a polite conversation and smile all the time. They engage in some small talk with the Indian patrons.

The food and service are of high quality and I do not have hesitation in suggesting this place for a lunch or dinner. It costs approximately between USD 20 to 35 per head depending on the items ordered, and could be more in case one orders Sake or Whiskey.

That is my experience of Tokyo last week, though I had the usual business cocktails and dinners in 5 Star hotels. However, it might get boring as it is more of the same all the time, in most cities. The unique local experiences define the feeling for a place that one develops over time. Like the “Blue Bottle Coffee” that I had in the Roppongi business district – amazing coffee which would make you not to venture into a Starbucks again! And stories go on like that……..the world is fascinating if only we can get out there, not fixated on our laptops or smartphones. Talk to the people around – for example, I engaged in a brief conversation with a Blue Bottle employee, and it reveals another side of human life that we are totally unaware of!!!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

15th October 2017

Eye & Eye


I have continuously worn eye glasses for 45 years. The spectacle is part of my life as much as any part of my body – sometimes (forgetfully though), I have even taken a shower with my glasses on. Clearly, I had come to consider that my eye glasses are an integral part of my being, and respect it as much, all these years.

So, imagine my plight without eyeglasses for the past few days! Really miserable!! Especially when the eye doctor instructed me not to read anything – whether newspaper or smartphone – for the next few days, after my cataract surgery. Yes, I had my first ever surgery of any kind last week on one of my eyes at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). I will have surgery on the other eye next week. The difficult phase of life between the first and second eye surgeries is characterized by one eye being able to see long distance, and the other one unable to do so. It is a kind of funny situation as I walk around with one eye blurred, and not being able to wear my favourite spectacle frame. So, now I have no eye glasses, and that appears to be a situation when a man has no clothes!

The good part of the experience, is of course, the ability of the rectified eye to see long distance, and suddenly everything appears to be crystal sharp. I was sitting on the living room sofa, after a few hours of surgery, and was a bit startled to be able to read everything at a distance of more than 10 feet, even small letters on an equipment or a box. It was never the case before, and even with glasses it has always been tough to discern characters from a distance of more than ten feet, unless these are somewhat big. The other eye of course refuses to cooperate, as it is yet to be rectified.

I read about laser-assisted cataract surgery, and can only wonder how far things have progressed in medical technology. In fact, my doctor also commented on this point – that technology has taken us far ahead, but we still use files to write comments on. I remarked it is just a question of time when almost everything in life will be automated (coming from a technology company!).

In a nutshell, I have not been reading my emails and WhatsApp messages for the past couple of days, and this is a blessing in disguise, I should say. I have been able to think about substantive matters of existential importance (which always happens to all of us when we get out of a hospital), and that line of thinking throws up new areas to discuss and of course, blog!

Lots of eye drops go into the operated eye every few hours, and this is part of the recovery process. I am going through that now, and it will continue all through October (4 weeks for each operated eye). The guidance and service at the SNEC has been excellent, though it is a government facility. I got a friend’s strong referral for a senior consultant at SNEC, and that is how I landed there. The professionalism and strict adherence to procedures and processes are what distinguish such institutions.

OK, I will have to stop writing further as my wife is frowning, and asking me why I am violating the code of conduct. Will report later on how life is going to be transformed without my favourite eye glasses.

In the meanwhile, have a good weekend, and a good week ahead,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

01 October 2017

 

 

 

Wisdom – knowledge, experience or age?


What is “wisdom”?

There is a simple definition – without any attribution, I think that wisdom is one’s ability to reach intelligent conclusions on any problem statement, with a combination of judgement, insight, experience and knowledge that one has accumulated over the years. Of course, there should be ample common sense, a keen understanding of the issues on hand, an analytical mind, et al.

However, wisdom is not just knowledge only. Neither is it just experience. And, I don’t believe that wisdom accrues based on age – meaning it is not necessarily true that wisdom is directly proportional to just age. The older one is, the wiser he becomes – this is not true, while it may be true in exceptional individuals who combine other factors to become a sort of sage with head filled with abundant wisdom.

It is also not true that young people are waiting to gain wisdom. There have been thousands of stories of young individuals who are far wiser for their age, and have even built companies at a rather tender age, and running their business with financial and technical acumen, not seen even in much older folks.

So, wisdom has a qualitative edge to it which is sometimes inherent in the individual. Experience does add significant value to people, and helps to generate an insight into problem resolution. Knowledge is important, but much less important than experience and judgement. We find older folks (like me for instance) are more judgemental (not a good thing), more critical (not a bad thing), and less wise when it comes to seeing new things in a new light, or even existing things in a new light. Being judgemental is not a good thing, but having a good judgement is a good thing. Hope you understand the difference. Being negative does not add to one’s wisdom either. We can be critical, but cannot be negative.

Increasingly, we find that young folks between the ages of 10 and 30 are playing in the world with wisdom that did not exist in us when we were their age. So, we need to understand that the context, ecosystem, and social development have progressed in an exponential manner just in the last two decades, which has produced wisdom in many young people.

Why did this not increase wisdom in the older people?

Interesting question. My answer may not satisfy the older folks, however.

As we age, we set our minds on things which we believe are unchangeable. What are these things? Integrity, Honesty, Affection, Commitment, Focus, Dedication, Determination, Achievement-orientation, and a lot of ego. We think and believe that in essence, we are innately good people, and we can do nothing wrong. At least, nothing wrong that could affect other people. Nothing wrong in the moral, spiritual, religious, or intellectual spheres.

In other words, we get fixated on things which are important and critical to us.

We also do not update ourselves to stay in sync with the fast evolving human ecosystem, and we dismiss most of it as not relevant to achieving what we had achieved in our working lives. We continue to live in our own space, not really accepting what our children are doing while they are growing up. This means that mentally and intellectually, we stay disconnected, though we yearn for a complete sync.

It does not take more than 30 seconds to put your right hand on your heart and feel if what I am saying is true or complete hogwash.

I truly believe that though I have kept myself technologically updated, in my mind I am still the same old guy from wherever I came from. Nothing much has changed in my mind, though I do certain things not compatible with my heritage like eating non-vegetarian foods and sending ugly WhatsApp messages, etc., We all have to make an inventory of things that have changed in ourselves from the time we started going to primary school.

When I am still the same old guy, how am I going to change myself? Can I ever change? Can I challenge myself? What should I do to generate “new” wisdom in myself?

I have not finished. I am just at the ground floor of this rather interesting and challenging topic. This blog post came about because I met one of my mentors (who really thinks I am a rebel in most things I do) this evening, and he suggested that I should start analyzing the subject of wisdom vs. age……….that set me thinking.

Wine has been banned at home for some 10 days, so my brain is a bit challenged to think more at the end of my Saturday. However, don’t you guys think this is a good and relevant topic for all of us?

Let us exchange notes and discuss.

Have a great weekend.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

23rd September 2017

Rating of People Interactions and Behaviour


I have had a long-term habit of generating a rating for every new person that I meet up during the course of my work or on a personal basis, and also an opinion of how people that I know already behave in a particular situation of interest to me. I believe a constant assessment of all people interactions is a necessary basis for judging people, though there are always call-outs by youngsters “don’t judge us” or “don’t pass judgement on people”. But in a world of shifting stances, it is absolutely necessary to define the kind of folks with whom we wish to have a longstanding relationship and that can be done only with some serious assessment and judgement.

While I have mostly managed to keep my ratings and assessments, and consequent judgements private, sometimes when others interact with me, a few judgements do fall out into the open. Recently, I made the point to a couple of people that it is a necessary way to measure potential outcomes – people with high ratings tend to deliver on their commitments, and people who have poor ratings do not deliver as expected, but not necessarily of course. Especially in the corporate context, it is essential to develop a barometer of ratings of people that one comes into contact with on a daily basis, whether these folks are internal to the company or external folks (such as client, partners, analysts, suppliers, service providers, etc.,). You can then determine how to get things done most efficiently for the benefit of your company or yourself!

Such a conditioned measurement rating is developed by careful observations of words, ideas, proactive commitments, timelines, and quality of interactions with others. I developed a system wherein I followed the old, traditional methodology of A+, A, B+, B, C, D and F. There was hardly anyone in the A+ category as to be expected, may be because the other person does not see value in the particular engagement and does not deliver his or her best. Some 5 to 10% of interactions fall into the A category based on quality of interactions, relevance of commitments, follow-through on expeditious basis to deliver, and actual quality of delivery on commitments made. May be around 15 to 20% of the people fall into the B+ category, more than A category, and the rating is based on potential ability to deliver rather than actual delivery (sometimes a perception rather than pure reality). Most people in this category do strive to deliver but sometimes not equipped or capable to deliver on their commitment. Sometimes, the quality of delivery suffers. Sometimes, the behaviour or performance on the way to achieving the desired outcome is not compatible with the level of expectations. Ability to engage on an equitable basis is achieved by the A category folks, but not always by the B+ category.

Most of the folks fall into B or C category (and a few into D, none in F) and while it might be important to maintain the ties for the purpose of future improvements, it is not always necessary to nurture these folks, as the time available is limited to achieve desired outcomes. It is far better to focus on A and B+ categories of people as their productivity far outstrips those of the remaining people in the rest of the categories. Achievement of objectives, delivery of a common goal, accomplishing mutual satisfaction in the relationship and behavioural impact in a strongly positive sense are all critical to success, and these are delivered in ample measure by A category folks and most of the B+ folks as well.

It is sometimes difficult to synchronize the internal ratings system and the actual physical engagement with the concerned individual. The rating assigned to the individual remains in our head and tries to influence our behaviour towards that particular individual. I try not to get caught in this cycle of influenced behaviour and continue in the most nonchalant manner to get on with the task on hand. After all, there was a need for that meeting with that individual and it is important to progress that meeting towards what could be a positive conclusion, without getting unduly impacted by the rating I had given to that individual and his interactions with me in the past.

Such a self training improves our way of looking at people around us and the world, which is not a super-duper A+ world, but on an average, not a bad world either. Most folks around us are average, and fall between B and C on the Bell Curve. This does not mean things do not get accomplished in the world, or the quality of interactions is consistently poor. Things do progress, things do happen, people do work with each other. If the world is comprised only of A+ and A people, then it could become a threatening place driving super productivity in a mechanical manner. If we have people manager responsibility, it is critical to help our reportees move from a C to a B or B+ performance level just to stay in the competitive race, and they do understand this need.

With all that said, it is still essential to measure people around us with whom we come into contact with for meeting some goal – corporate or personal. Such a careful assessment helps not only our thinking, but might eventually help the others in measuring up. When I measure others, I am not judging from an A+ or A pedestal. I position myself in the midpoint, say a B+, that is what would give a considered judgement of other peoples’ potential, their abilities, and their behavioural tendencies. If I position myself as an A+, almost everyone else in the interaction is going to be pushed down in the ratings, and one should consciously avoid this trap. Measure yourself on the same scale and rate yourself first.

Interesting, right? It is a very interesting exercise. Just apply to yourself and the people around you. Measure others as they would measure you, in terms of all the parameters above. You will be surprised to learn that people who you have ignored in the past do get better ratings if measured in an objective manner!

And so on, and so forth.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

6th August 2017

 

Charlie’s Counsel


I met with an old friend of mine yesterday who worked with me in Singapore many years ago. He is from the Philippines and was visiting Singapore on business. He is some 7 years younger to me, but is wiser than me and I should say, more broad-minded. I always try to meet up with him whenever he visits Singapore, and has been the beneficiary of his counsel on many matters of life.

He thinks highly of me as well, and shares his views on business and life with me. We know each others’ families, and I have stayed with him in Manila during one of my trips. My views on the Philippines is largely shaped by his commentary on his country.

Yesterday’s meeting was no different. It was a real pleasure to catch up, and the meeting veered towards substantive life issues. Charlie has been impacted by his father’s recent demise. He also described the cancer plaguing one of our mutual friends in the U.S. He mentioned that life is fragile and we all need to do things which we enjoy right away without any undue delay. No procrastination. Spend more time with your family and friends. Do not have regrets.

He asked me a rhetorical question – “is the world going to miss you tomorrow morning if you are gone today”, and the answer was a firm “No”. The world will move on with its business, and a small group of family members and close friends will probably shed tears and express remorse and grief, and that would be all. Things will get back to normal and even close family and friends will move on in life, except for occasional remembrances.

It is kind of difficult to understand and digest this aspect of life. What can we then do today that would impact folks around us? How can people feel the positive impact of anyone in their lives? We are not talking here about the great historical figures who built nations (like Mahatma Gandhi, or Lee Kuan Yew), or who discovered scientific breakthroughs (like Albert Einstein, or Thomas Edison), or the first astronaut who flew around the earth (Yuri Gagarin), et al. Many of these people have had strong impact in the manner in which nations and lives have developed during the 20th Century, and there are hundred of such figures whose names can easily be recalled. But, how about yours? Will anyone outside your immediate circle recall your positive contributions to society? Will anyone even remember us?

If a person has led a good life, causing no harm to others, always wanting to help others especially the downtrodden, and tries to contribute to society in some positive manner, it is not necessary that he or she should be famous with an easily recallable name. The small positive contribution will be recognised by the society. However, the most important effect is that his or her children carry on the same principles in their respective lives, and inculcate similar philosophies in their immediate circles. A small group of people will surely recall how good a person was during his or her lifetime. And, that should be enough.

Coming back to Charlie, he was gazing beyond me yesterday and thinking seriously about the fragility of human life. I told him that I completely synchronise with him on his line of thinking, and suggested that we should spend more time together discussing these aspects of life. It is critical to decipher when one becomes happy, and most of us do not ask ourselves that question – “what makes us truly happy?”. Think about it for a couple of minutes and you will see that the answer is quite complex. There are many happy things that you can do, there are things that you can do which makes others happy, but what exactly that you do that makes you very happy? Think about it.

May be sailing in the sunset with your life partner will make you very happy, or celebrating the arrival of your first grand-son or grand-daughter will make you very happy. But do you become very happy when you receive a huge sales commission or you sell a share for a big profit?

What are you going to do with that money?

We still live on 3 simple meals a day, and our wants are minimal (at least for most of us). One does not need to have huge amount of money unless one wants to donate to charity and help people of Syria, Rwanda, Angola, and other very poor countries.

So, it is time to ruminate your position in the circus of life and whether you are playing it well, not just for your own benefit but for others’ as well. Are people around you happy about you? What are you doing today to positively contribute to the mood at home, or to society at large?

A lot to think for the weekend, I guess.

Have a good one.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

15th July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Laptop Procurement Process


For the past 4.5 years, I have been using a Lenovo X230 laptop. I recall the process I went through in selecting the same after my usual exhaustive evaluation, and placing the order just before I was embarking on a trip to the U.S. way back in November 2012. I received the laptop during a training program I was attending at Reno, Nevada in early December 2012.

I still continue to use the same laptop (which is functioning normally) for most of my work. At office, I use a MacBook Air, so I continue to witness the differences between the two operating environments on an ongoing basis. Of course, since our minds speed up due to the world speeding up, everything one possesses seem to be slowing down, and it was not different with the X230 – it appeared to be slow, more because I had cluttered it with lots of useless applications over the years (which I had been doing to all my previous laptops as well, so nothing new here). Sometimes, due to my excessive attention to enhancing the performance or cleaning up the clutter of huge number of trashed files or optimizing the Windows Registry, the Lenovo X230 did not like me. It used to hang, and I had to do a hard reboot (which I do not suggest). Once, I lost a file on which I had done significant work, and I was furious, but could not blame the laptop. I started backing up using the Seagate backup software (with which I struggled a lot before getting it to work properly), and things seemed to be getting fine, with occasional hiccups.

However, my wife wanted a new laptop for herself without my encroachment all the time. Though she had her own Apple MacBook, that was taken by my son on loan and it became his permanent possession. One day, my wife took a strong position on her computing needs and refused to time slice between Lenovo Windows 10 and Apple MacBook. She demanded I get her a new one and did not provide any specifications for the same. I guess she secretly desired an Apple, but I had been consistently under-selling the new range of MacBooks, pointing out battery problems and lack of new processors, etc., I also felt that Apple is not paying enough attention to the MacBook range, instead focusing only on the iPhone. Slowly, I was able to edge her towards Windows 10, with the promise that I will get her the best that is available in the market.

It took me couple of months of intermittent research, but finally I narrowed it down to three choices: Dell, HP and Lenovo. I would be surprised if most shortlists do not have these three names anyway, especially in the Windows world. The Microsoft SurfacePro was also in the running, but I dropped it considering the fact that it was not sturdy enough to be a home laptop. My wife was specific on one thing – she did not want to have a touch screen, and she did not want the funny pyramid or triangle type standing ones.

Lenovo Yoga range and HP’s latest laptop range were indeed sexy with tons of new features. I really liked the Yoga and almost selected a model that fit my specs, but finally chose the Dell. Within the Dell range, I struggled a lot between XPS 13 with rose gold colour and XPS 15. Had XPS 13 been available with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, I would have gone for it and saved a few hundred dollars of additional investment, but XPS 13 did not have that combination (at least in the online ordering site of Dell). I was very clear that the new laptop should have the latest Intel Kaby Lake processor, 16GB main memory and 512GB SSD drive. In terms of graphics processors, I preferred the NVidia against Intel’s own. I was fine with 13.3″ screen with no edges (maximum screen real estate) at the minimum and wanted 4K resolution if it was not too expensive. The Dell XPS 15 met all these specs but I downgraded the screen resolution from 4K to 2K as the additional investment was almost USD 400!

I also wanted backlit keyboard and a fingerprint scanner, with all the usual ports. I had to keep raising the budget to meet my expectations, and as always, was surprised that not every “good” feature was available in a laptop that should not cost more than USD 1,200. But, alas, that was not to be. The cheaper laptops (you see these advertised from USD 300 onwards) lack most of these features and surely are not geared to delaying product obsolescence. In electronics, there is no guarantee of not getting obsolete in 12 months time, but I was preparing for something which could stand on its own feet for at least a 2 to 3 year timeframe.

So, I went ahead and specified a 4-year warranty coverage (1 + 3). This substantially increases the cost. As folks who have used Apple would know, the Apple Care protection is not cheap, but it is absolutely a necessary thing – never avoid investing in Apple Care, as repairs are hugely expensive when it comes to maintaining Apple products. Windows laptops from major manufacturers are not far behind from a repair cost perspective, so I decided to invest upfront. I also wanted a laptop which can be purchased in the U.S. (like my own Lenovo) and then transferred over to the country where we live.

So, my wife now has the Dell XPS 15 with a beautiful 15.6″ display and specs which match what I have listed above. It is blazingly fast (of course, since there are hardly any cluttering applications on it – she won’t allow those to be installed anyway), and looks pretty nice, though a bit heavy to carry around. It is an appropriate acquisition for older folks like us with eyesight challenges (wearing glasses, hope she does not read this!!!), with a bigger screen and big font sizes.

I have installed the usual Anti-Virus, Firewall and related software to protect the laptop. I believe this is an excellent choice for the specs I have outlined. I am available for any unpaid consultation for digitally challenged folks who would like to design their home networks and operate a set of devices – not just laptops, but other devices such as Amazon Echo (which I recently installed and will write about soon), and also protect the network from cyber snoopers.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

9th July 2017