Category: Humor

Ads that suck: Tax Masters

My wife often jokes that the ads here in the US are extremely complimentary — half of them entice you towards more and more (junk) food; the rest sell you medications that seem to create more problems than they solve. In honor of the remarkably consistent bad ads on television, I’m starting an “ads that suck” series. To kick-off the series, I present to you, the Tax Masters commercial:

Some observations:

  • If you have not filed your tax return for years, the IRS should be coming after you and auditing you! The IRS should relentlessly pursue you for your unpaid taxes.
  • I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who are hurting and are not able to pay their taxes for legitimate reasons. But the ad does not convey that at all. It almost sounds like “Hey, I’m going to tell you how you can get away from the IRS and not pay your taxes”
  • Everyone knows how targeted television advertising is. For instance, if you watch Comedy Central, you’ll see a lot of ads around dating websites, calling services for singles etc. I see the the TaxMasters ad on CNN all the time. Wonder what that says about CNN’s audience.
  • This ad sucks because it doesn’t really engage the audience, the value proposition is not clear to me at least and there is absolutely no creativity.
  • But I gotta hand it to TaxMasters — I was pleasantly surprised to discover their blog and their sense of humor.

More to come.

My experiences with Apple: A poem

Apple Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a Linux guy; Windows was never my thing honey
Apple seemed interesting, but required too much money

I have ideological problems with Apple too,
What with all the DRM and hardware lock-in they do.

But people are crazy about Apple, and I used to wonder why,
I had a dream: to own Apple products that I didn’t have to buy.

A few months back my wife gifted me an iPhone, bro!
And then at work I got the new Macbook Pro!!

Thus suddenly I was an Apple user,
Sure, some people called me a sore loser.

Allow me to share my early experiences,
Some accolades and some grievances.

I’ll try to keep a neutral tone,
Shall focus on the Mac and not the iPhone.

Integration, integration, integration!
The attention to detail gives a wonderful sensation.

User experience is the key,
Excellent design is for all to see.

They’ve taken care of the enterprises,
Exchange support, Google integration — no surprises.

It’s by far the best laptop I’ve ever used,
The hardware is slick, the software is smooth.

Image representing iTunes as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

But boy do I hate iTunes,
It’s so broken it should be called Looney Tunes.

Try connecting multiple iPhones to the same device,
Or plug your iPhone in another laptop (poor advice).

Sync is threatening, sounds like a bully.
“I shall sync or destroy”, that just sounds silly.

The Terminal app should aspire higher,
No 256-color support leaves much to desire.

Keyboard shortcuts are hard to find,
Change them? you must be out of your mind!

“Features” like “Spaces” are overrated,
More like awaited, belated and deflated.

I prefer iTerm over Terminal and Adium for chat,
Chrome over Safari, and this over that.

I’m certainly not blown away,
But a Mac is convenient, I have to say.

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Computer science is comprised of many many different areas such as theory, graphics, vision, AI, systems, databases to name a few. Naturally, one can not expect to master or even grasp the basics of all the different areas. But there is a difference between not getting a chance to learn all the different areas, and having studied but not understood the different areas.

Oh, the irony

The irony that I’m talking about is this. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate education, I was mostly a “systems and networking” person. Obviously I took classes in several other areas as well, and I think I learnt or retained something from most of these classes, with one exception. I took a database course in IIT, and then once again at UCSD, and both times I failed miserably to appreciate the subject.

At this point it would be easy to blame the faculty for not doing a good job, but I’m confident that the fault was no less my own. I remember sleeping through a lot of my database classes :(

Anyways, the point is that here I was, with a systems PhD, with zero background in databases and having pretty much zero appreciation for databases as an area, and where do I end up working at? A company that builds distributed database systems. I think its funny in a way. But the great thing is that I’m learning so much about databases now and appreciating the kind of engineering insight and effort that goes into building a performant, robust distributed database system.

Gillette: the best a man can get?

I think it is fair to say that shaving, as an activity, is critical to humans, as a species. And as we have all been conditioned to believe, Gillette is the best a man can get to address this most pressing of problems.


I beg to differ.

Allow me to bring to your attention the series of innovations Gillette has “pioneered” in the past three decades or so (courtesy Wikipedia):

  • Double-blade razor: 1971
  • Triple-blade razor: 1998
  • Battery powered razors: 2004
  • Razor with five blades: 2007
  • Razor with rear trim blade (for a total of six blades!): 2007

Notice a trend? Going from two to three blades took nearly three decades. Going from three to five blades only took three years. Thats an exponential growth! If the trend continues, I predict that we will see a new razor from Gillette later this year that will have 6 blades or more.

No seriously, think about this for a second: the only real innovation shaving products have seen in the past 50 years is increasing the number of blades. And somehow we should believe that this is the best we can get? And this company is actually making money?

I’ve been using Gillette for more than a decade now and I can tell you that my shaving experience has not gotten one bit better. For a long time, I used the two blade Sensor Excel and I was very happy with it. Until Gillette executed what is known as planned obsolescence. I could not find blades for my razors anywhere. I was hence forced to “upgrade”, and I went with the latest Gillette Fusion. Even with 5+1 blades and the satisfaction of a tiny AAA battery buzzing the razor, shaving has not gotten any better.

I did use a Shick Quattro one time and I actually think their blades are a lot better and long lasting. As soon as I have used up all of my Fusion blades, I am going to give the Quattro another try. This is an industry that could use some serious innovation.