Friday, December 17, 2010

Yahoo to shut down Delicious

It has now emerged that Yahoo will be shutting down some of the services that it deems unproductive. Surprisingly among those services to be axed is Delicious, the very popular social bookmarking service.

To be quite frank, this decision of Yahoo isnt surprising since they had revealed a need to cut down on employees. However that having an effect on its services, especially popular ones like Delicious is quite unexpected. There are only a handful of services from Yahoo which I find useful. Among them would be Flickr (the image sharing site cum community, which happens to have an incredible numer of professional photographers), Yahoo mail (yeah some of us still ue it) and Delicious. Yahoo search engine is nothing even remotely close to relevant, even the new Bing seems to have become more popular than Yahoo search (although Yahoo does contribute to Bing in a very complicated and weird way). So frankly Yahoo would be closing down one of its three most relevant services. Now thats really shocking.

Anyway the only thing one can hope is that Yahoo does get its act together and maybe integrates Delicious into one of its other social portals.

Friday, December 10, 2010

India's new climate policy - a layman's view

Cropped from image of Jairam Ramesh the Indian...Image via Wikipedia
Cancun has turned out to be something of a surprise as far as climate change is concerned. The world seemed deadlocked in the 'no change in the stance of developing countries' debate, especially so after the Copenhagen fiasco.

And then came Jairam Ramesh. India's charismatic environment minister with a hairdo, even David Beckham might find hard to pull off. When the Cancun conference on climate change was heading the Copenhagen way, he announced that India was after all willing to change its rigid anti-emission reduction stance and enter into a legally binding agreement for the same.

India has for a long time held a view that the developed countries contributed more to global warming than the developing ones. Something which is factually true. However the US and the other developed countries were of the view that India shouldnt take the same path to development that others have taken in the past. Hence, a complete U-turn of India's stand does come as a surprise.

India is an emerging superpower, or in the words of the current US President, India has already emerged! Now a legally binding stand on reducing emissions will take a hit on India's economy and growth. In a country which still has a large number of people living below the specified poverty limit, can we as a country afford to think about saving the greens? Arent we being burdened by a problem which has been created by the West? Why should India suffer because of their mismanagement and failed planning of the West?

Well, we could go on arguing about these. But frankly this will lead us nowhere. Decades of such discussions, confrontations and negotiations have yielded absolutely no results. Unfortunately these have left us with little option but to act, with immediate effect. It is the responsibility of everyone regardless of their contribution to the present climate scenario to chip in with whatever they can. However balancing growth and reducing emissions will be a tough act which will have to be addressed by the governments.

Notion Ink Adam - Doubts and Confusion Abound

portada_notion_ink_comImage by darkpollo via Flickr
It has been a long time since Notion Ink started on their journey to create that tablet of dreams. A tablet to rival even the mighty Apple iPad and the now immensely successful Samsung Galaxy tab.

Slowly the technical specifications started rolling in. And astounding they were! Dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, Pixel Qi display, HDMI ports, inbuilt Adobe AIR/Flash compatibility, Android 2.2 and beyond compatibility, etc.

The company was however very careful in what it released. I never found a single video of the tablet in action. Everything from the boot screen demo to app functions were 'custom made' videos. Even pictures of the tablet being posted were either immensely photoshopped or had serious typographical/grammatical errors (check out this screenshot posted yesterday). Although this was indeed making me suspicious, it didnt really dampen my spirits especially since its an Indian made tablet which hopefully would be much better and cheaper than its Apple and Android counterparts.

Yesterday, after long and long and extra long delays, Notion Ink finally opened their 'store' to pre orders. However thats when things started to go wrong, horribly wrong. Notion Ink had promised the Notion Ink "family" that it would open its doors first to them and then to the world, 6 hours later. Many many 'members' then commented on the blog that they hadnt received the notification mail even when they were part of the Notion Ink 'family'. Later when the store opened up for everyone, there were payment faults, error messages, payments getting failed etc. Notion Ink has admitted now that there was indeed a problem with the servers.

To add to the slew of problems was Notion Ink posted their terms and conditions and warranty policies which not just shocked many but also made Notion Ink Adam a contender for 'scamware of the year'. To be short and precise, Notion Ink will charge you for every single manufacturing fault of theirs even if its within the warranty period and will deduct the shipping charges from your pocket too! I cant remember the last time I came across such insane warranty policies. Oh wait, there's more. Notion Ink Adam will apparently ship from China! (Yea even I was WTFed when I first learnt about it) And so, you will have to shell out $50 for shipping plus import duties regardless of where you are located.

Compare this to the support system of Samsung which gives you Samsung warranty without any such weird preconditions and shipping issues. I really dont mind shelling out the extra $$$ to get the largest selling Android tablet. Notion Ink's business just seems way too fishy right now. What a shame!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nexus S - A Gamechanger?

Its quite known now that Samsung will be coming out with the next version of Google's beloved Nexus 2, now of course universally known as the Nexus S. Although the technical specs arent very clear right now, it is expected to be very impressive, in the league of the Galaxy S and HTC Desire.

Android is clearly the smartphone of the future and is bound to overtake the iPhone in due time (provided of course Apple doesnt come up with an outstanding phone by next year or so). And since the Nexus one has been such a legendary phone, its expected that the Nexus S will take that bandwagon forward and build a whole new N class (not to be confused with the N series of Nokia, which has become pretty pointless by now). Something very interesting therefore awaits us in the coming months.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I Hate Winters

Windbeeches on the Schauinsland in Germany (Bl...Image via Wikipedia
1. Winters are cold.
2. Winters are cold (pun intended).
3. Winters are for vegetables (no pun intended!)
4. Innocent animals get killed in winters (for the pleasure of the fashionistas).
5. Winters are for people who like "dressing up". (not that I'm a nudist. But wearing layers and layers of woollen clothes SUCK!)
6. Winters have shorter days. (I mean seriously, arent the above points torturing enough?)
7. Winters have long nights. (oh that was kinda the continuation of the last point)
8. Winter is a bad time for birdwatching. (pun intended? Well I'll leave that to you)
9. It impossible to wake up early in winters.
10. Did I say winters were cold?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Should the online world have complete freedom of speech?

Icon for censorshipImage via Wikipedia
Blogs, websites, online diaries or any other form of online publishing enjoys quite frankly the complete absence of censorship. To be fair though, there is 'some' amount of filtering which is done but its mostly regarding absolutely outrageous content. 

Then again, if one has a self hosted blog that censorship doesnt happen. So frankly everone can have a field day on the internet expressing our beliefs, opinions, concerns and fears without having to worry about any part of it getting blocked.
Then something like the wiki leaks episode happens and politicians go crazy and the moral police all over the world start talking about excessive liberalisation happening all over the internet. This in my opinion is a valid debate and should be discussed. Even though something like wiki leaks is about exposing the deeds of various governments by leaking various documents obtained by shady and unethical means, it still is a glowing example of the freedom of 'speech' in the online world.

The question is though, is this freedom being misused? Is this freedom an example of all rights and no duties? Does this freedom need some curbing? Do we need some sort of censorship of sensitive content?
Time and again, the internet (rather some people using it) has been used for outrageous hate speeches. Be it against religious icons, celebrated leaders or regarding sensitive classified content. Some of these actions have led to public outrage and chaos in some parts of the world which could have otherwise been avoided. Some of the web is registered for unethical and illegal activities.

Total and complete freedom may be essential for a flourishing democracy, the online world being one but its upto the users to ensure some sort of filtering mechanism. Now that sort of a thing cannot and should not be imposed upon us by governments but by independent people around the world of considerable repute. Only then will the web be a safe, smart and civilised domain.

Monday, November 29, 2010

High end compact or a DSLR?

Category:Photographers who committed suicideImage via WikipediaIf you happen to be a professional photographer then its not really an issue. DSLR will always be the safer and the better option. However for an amateur/wannabe pro/advanced amateur its a life or death situation. The first camera is always the easiest to buy. Its generally a point and shoot with decent features and more importantly available at an attractive price point. Thereafter though things get a little difficult and more complicated. The second camera is something you will stick with for a certain amount of time. So getting the right thing is important.
A high end compact point and shoot camera these days offer just as many features as a DSLR. You can change aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. Some of the really high end compacts (like say Canon SX30 IS) even have the shooting in RAW mode, something which is a defining factor for a DSLR these days. So frankly, to someone who is a wannabe pro, the difference between the two types of cameras isnt really that distinct.
The DSLR has the advantage of changeable lenses which basically allow you to explore the world from various perspectives. The ability to add filters and other accessories to the camera is an added bonus for many. However all these add to the bulk one has to carry while travelling. Imagine carrying three or four or more types of lenses in your bag, changing them at the right time while making sure that the sensor doesnt get damaged. To a pro this may seem pretty simple, or lets say something which comes as part of the package. To a not-so-pro guy (someone like me) this is a dealbreaker. I want a camera which can do some pretty extreme photography without having to worry about having a coolie (not meant in a derogatory sense) carrying the accessories.
This is a situation I'm currently being faced with. Still to decide which team I want to be on. But team compact is as of now my favourite.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shall We Dance

The problem with democracy is that everyone has a voice. Doesnt matter if that voice is stupid, doesnt matter if that voice is senseless and idiotic but it has to heard nonetheless.

Hence what we have in this country's Parliament now is pure "khichdi" (google that!). The opposition keeps demanding for a perfectly sensible joint Parliamentary committee probe into the 2G scam and the government simply refuses to oblige. And now even the party in power has started playing blame games (perfectly right they are) over this by accusing the opposition of sheletering a corrupt chief minister.

Days of parliamentary sessions are being lost to settle this squabble which usually ends up with an adjournment. If only we had more civilised methods of solving such a crisis without fighting it out in public on national television. Then again, from the looks of it Lok Sabha tv does have its share of decent TRP. So I'm not quite sure if they'd want the squabbles to end.

Its almost as if the government and the opposition have taken over the role to show the world how emocracy works, Indian style. Sadly naach gaana (google that too!) isnt the sol domain of Bollywood but of the Indian democracy as well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Obama Visit

So finally its Obama time, India! The US President who is projected as a saviour by almost everyone has desired to land in the largest democracy in the world.

For what? Erm...not sure. He sure wont be strengthening India's bid to join the United Nations Security Council as a permanent member. He sure wont be liberal when it comes to visas. So basically he would be touching upon all non controversial topics, discussing them with our Prime Minister and claim to have had a successful series of talks.

I used to be a big fan of Obama and I still believe that he is, in the current situation, the best person for the job. But he is so conventional! So predictable. He chooses to please all in his speeches and time and again portrays, or at least tries to portray himself as a do-gooder.

The United States has its share of issues, as a recent beautiful piece of article in the Hindustan Times by the ever so articulate Vir Sanghvi shows (India is fighting a lone war against terror). I think it should sort out its own issues and agendas first before choosing sides and literally deciding the fate of nations.

I, as an Indian, welcome the US President to my country. But I would also request him to look into the matters which are troubling South Asia. It is perhaps time for him to be clear and concise for the sake of innocent people in the region. It is time for some action, Mr. President.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Of late I've become increasingly passionate about photgraphy. The once greek terms like shutter speed, aperture, ISO have suddenly started to make sense. And I've also realised that maybe, just maybe, with enough practice, I might get good at this.

Photography I've come to realise is a brilliant way of seeing the unkown world and reinventing the known. Also, most photographers are really friendly people willing to share their knowledge among others. Of course, I might be mistaken because I've met very few professional ones.

However the field of photography isnt all that hunky dory as I've come to realise. It requires extreme patience, quite literally, an incessant will to know more about stuff, and more importantly it requires money. Lots of it. Infact, more the merrier.

I'm a strong believer of the fact that a good photographer can take an awesome shot regardless of the technical specs of the camera he has at hand. But its true only to a small extent. When it comes to macro, true wide angle photography etc. one needs good hardware materials. Simple point and shoots, regardless of their price points just dont cut it when it comes to semi pro or lets say above amateurish photography. And SLRs cost a bomb. Most good ones do. There's no point going for a cheap SLR because one can attach good quality lenses later.

And the expenses dont end there. For shots which need slow shutter speed running into seconds, one needs a tripod. Then one needs a shutter release device. Then there are filters. And of course there are the hugely expensive lenses. When one considers all these, suddenly photography is all about money, okay maybe not all, but certainly quite a lot. Maybe I should stick to being an amateur and trying to do my best with a simple point and shoot. My lovely Canon PowerShot SX130 IS is perfect for that.


There go my dreams of becoming a good photographer. The end. Thanks for tuning in to my rant channel. Till next time...keep ranting...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Epic Festival

Like every other Bong all across the world, the month of October is of special significance. If India is a land of festivals, Durga Puja for Bengalis is the mother of all Indian festivals. But this year has been special. I have, this year, made it a point to visit at least most of all important puja mandaps across the length and breadth of Kolkata, something which I had so far never ever attempted.

The roads were crowded, the walks long, the rains irritating and disturbing, but the indomitable Bengali spirit, so vivid and exuberant during the pujas, conquered all that and more... In the end, on Dashami, as I write this post, recharging my batteries, quite literally, for one last go at Ahiritola Launch Ghat, this heart is feeling heavy, the eyes wet and the unmistakable sense of parting very much overwhelmingly palpable. I have come out of this Puja realising that no matter where one is, no matter how old one is, the Bong spirit is genetically tied to Goddess Durga.

With a heavy heart, I'll leave you with an image of Maa Durga which I took at Maddox Square.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's Next For India?

Now that the Commonwealth Games Delhi have gone on to a great start, thanks to the stunning opening ceremony, there is talk among various sections about India bidding for hosting the Olympics.

Its a natural progression one would say from the 'not-so-widespread' Commonwealth Games to the Olympics. But one needs to realise that the people in power have been very shoddy in their work. Deadlines have been missed consistently (in the works of Mike Hooper), bridges have collapsed and animals from dogs to reptiles have been found in the Games Village.

Even if the games do manage to happen flawlessly it will only be a matter to sheer luck and nothing else. After all it was only after the Prime Minister intervened that things started moving on ground zero. Imagine therefore, the fiasco that would befall upon us if we were to bid for the Olympics. Sure it would enhance our country's image as a growing superpower but frankly that was supposed to happen with the CWG too. Instead our nation's image has taken a beating. Can we risk that all over again? Do we really have the guts to rise above all difficulties? Do we? That is for the people at power to answer. For me, India has a long way o go before it starts getting professional about these things. Till then, we should stick to providing our poor with basic needs.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No More Potter, Please!

J. K. Rowling has recently hinted that she might come up with the eighth, ninth or even a tenth Harry Potter novel if she felt like it. Harry Potter has been an epic success for not just the author and the publishers but also the film industry (well WB specifically). Now all that success depended on two factors. One, Rowling's command as a breathtakingly wonderful writer and two, the readers' desire to read more about Potter's adventures.

The readers have since then "grown up", quite literally as well. To expect the same kind of frenzy around Potter books now would be nothing short of foolishness. I am a huge Potter fan and have read and reread every single page of every single Potter novel numerous times. I believe the Harry Potter series has reached a logical conclusion and no one should tamper with it any more. It has been a magical journey and a near perfect one. Lets us not spoil the magic. Releasing another Potter novel after such a conclusive Deathly Hallows would be disastrous, especially for us fans. I hope the J. K. Rowling realises that.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nokia Needs To Do More, Much More

Finally the N8 is out in the wild. After months of delay, numerous false announcements, Nokia's latest flagship device is available to customers (to be frank there is some doubt if this is actually a release date. Especially since the preordered phones are the ones being despatched).

A lot is riding on the N8. In short, Nokia future will be defined by this device. If it turns out to be an epic failure like the N97, then lets say, its all over for the Finnish giant. If however this turns out to be a success, it will give Nokia another opportunity to prove to the world that they are capable of producing quality phons even now.

Although individual bloggers had already come up with pretty good positive reviews of the N8 (thanks to Nokia's "trial a phone" for free sweetness), Techradar's (a much more reliable source for reviews than individual blogs, and more recently even CNET's) detailed review of the phone has bared it all. From what I understood from the review here are the conclusions regarding the N8 -

Pros: good camera, good build quality, good battery life.

Cons: oh well, the same old ones to be honest. Okay you start checking if I miss anything. Symbian^3 is primitive, not nearly as good as android or ios interfaces, severe shortage of apps, sloppy internet experience, okayish touchscreen and physically "heavy". Apparently its much heavier than the likes of iPhone 4.

And from the look of things, the reviews arent going to get any better for Nokia. As someone said on a personal blog, had this phone been released a couple of years back, it would have blown everything else, but in 2010, there are simply way too many better phones out there for the N8 to even remotely create an impact.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why I Hate Windows & Why I Still Love It

There will be very few, if at all any, who havent used Windows. Windows has been a pioneering OS for many years now, bridging the geek-noob gap when it comes to personal computing. It has in its own way, rewritten history by making computers something personal, something usable and something pleasant. What it has also done though, is make the personal computing territory their own domain. Fighting tooth and nail to register patents and copyright stuff and making life more and more difficult for people who arent using their OS. Well that has meant that Windows now, in 2010, is an expensive operating system, well beyond the reach of many. Linux on the other hand is staging a comeback. Its free, open source, has no copyright/proprietary issues and is extremely stable. When I speak of Linux, I speak of Ubuntu. Why, you might ask. Arent the other distros worth anything? My answer would be simple. You see, as I have already mentioned, the reason why Windows became popular was because it successfully bridged the geek-noob divide. None of the other distros, apart of Ubuntu is doing that when it comes to open source OSes.

Recently I had given Windows 7 a try. I had been hearing a lot about it and really wanted to use it. So after the fairly simple installation, what greeted me was a sleek looking OS with pretty nifty options which definitely takes Windows to another level. The transparent menus and the themes look really elegant and the effective firewall is definitely a welcome change. Video and audio playback was pretty smooth and hassle free. But frankly as soon as that wow-factor faded, the glaring faults of the OS became clearer and clearer. I will try and summarise them.

Windows 7 has a "veil" of security. Its firewall is definitely effective but irritatingly obtrusive and hampers the user experience. Installing softwares and games greets the user with numerous confusing firewall setting options which can get on one's nerves. Next, there are no multiple workspaces! So basically its clutter and more clutter that you have to deal with when it comes to multitasking. Windows effects are cool but absolutely nothing compared to the animations Compiz has on Linux. (I have to secretly admit here that 'rotating the compiz cube' is one of my favourite hobbies on Ubuntu) I was always a fan of Windows fonts as a kid. After all who has passed an entry level computer exam without knowing about "Times New Roman". But after having used Ubuntu for a while now, all of a sudden, the Windows fonts have started looking wobbly and weak. Its a feeling which is difficult to put down into words but something which I feel strongly about. And finally, one still needs an antivirus and an antispyware on Windows. Now thats completely okay had it not been consuming memory (RAM). But since thats not the case, I would much prefer to use a system which utilises every single byte of my 4GB RAM to the fullest without having to dedicate it for security purposes. Ubuntu offers me security and not at the cost of excessive RAM usage.

So there I was, switching back to Ubuntu after having used Windows 7...for a day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Assassins, Heroes of the 21st Century?

شوالیه سزار سطح20Image via Wikipedia
Assassins were a notorious group of trained killers who under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah were responsible for murders of numerous kings during the Middle Ages in Persia. There are colourful stories about them and their extraordinary lives, replete with "a secret garden of paradise" where damsels, fairest among all, roamed and pleasured the young men who were deceived into becoming trained killers. These have been well documented by Marco Polo. Their most famous assassination was that of Nizam al-Mulk by a killer dressed as a Sufi. Of course, there are exaggerated accounts of their sex lives and drugs and strange beliefs. Nothing of which can be verified. What is however known to be true is the fact that the Assassins were a hated group of trained killers.

It is therefore very surprising that in this day and age, someone would want to glorify them and turn their acts of barbarism into noble deeds. Assassin's Creed is an immensely popular game released a few years back. It revolves around the quest for a machine Animus, "which allows viewing of the protagonist's genetic memories of his ancestors". Now this is where I protest. The protagonist here is/are the Assassin(s). Painting a barbaric killer as a protagonist, is plain obnoxious. I seriously dont know why in our quest for eternal happiness and unimaginable wealth (much like the Assassins, thats what all of us are looking for) we tend to sacrifice our basic conscience! Gamers unaware of these killers of yore, will now think of them as heroes, as people with a mission. A one man army whose courage and killing skills are to be worshiped. Is this what we want? The next time we will have a game with Hitler as a protagonist! Where is this leading us? Just because the gaming industry is profitable, does that mean they can impose on us whatever junk they decide to come up with?

I leave the rest to your good conscience.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rare Indo-Pak Collaboration

Bopanna/QureshiImage by Rahul and Gayatri via Flickr
How many times have you seen India and Pakistan collaborate, for anything? You'll have to google that one coz no instances come to mind immediately. Well, this US Open is quite legendary in that aspect. Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, from India and Pakistan respectively, have achieved the unimaginable. This duo has managed to reach the finals of the US Open in men's doubles as partners, at a time when tensions between the two countries are at an all time high.

With Pakistan reeling with the flood disaster and the cricket world blaming its board, PCB, for bot doing enough in the match fixing fiasco, the nation has been under considerable amount of pressure recently. The news of Qureshi reaching the finals in the US Open men's doubles with Bopanna and becoming the runners up at the mixed doubles, should come as a welcome relief. For India this heralds another chapter in Indo-Pak politics with sportsmen leading the way in creating an incredible goodwill gestures infront of the entire world.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Buying via ebay in West Bengal

Its practially impossible for electronics goods to enter West Bengal without having paid millions of taxes and furnished thousands of documents. Why do I say this?

The other day after signing up on and almost placing an order for an item, I found out that the seller wasnt shipping to West Bengal, specifically. Why? Coz apprently one has to supply the customs officer with a certain form 50, a mythical piece of document which is applicable to professional buyers and sellers in the state. This is done to stop people from evading taxes like VAT etc. Fine? Oh yeah, fine indeed. I'm totally okay with that. But here's the thing, even non professional buyers and sellers (I mean a normal individual simply wanting to buy something for personal use) has to furnish that document! Now how irritating is that?

I want to pay my taxes and all other duties that the government levies, but please, cant they make the whole process simpler? At present most sellers on ebay wont ship you any item if you hail from West Bengal. Let me rephrase that; if you 'live' in West Bengal.

Now this buying via third or even fourth party dealers not only increases the price of the product manifold, it also makes it impossible for the dealers to provide an appropriate discount. Fortunately though, these weird tax rules dont apply to books bought from online stores. Dunno who created these strange laws but I honestly hope someone realises the utter stupidity of the situation and comes up with a solution. Till then, no ebay for me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Mac

iMac goodness...Image by [kilodelta] via Flickr
1. They look good - Yes, Macs are the ultimate toys for someone into computers. They dont look geeky but they do look classy. The minimalistic design has won it fans all over the world and is a winning fecture of all Macs.

2. They have no driver issues - Since Macs are custom made by Apple to run OSX, it doesnt have any driver issues at all. All the hardware components are Apple certified for top notch performance.

3. Synchronisation - if you own and iPhone or any other Apple device, owning a Mac is going to improve the whole "Apple" experience by a thousand times! It is this synchronisation with its other devices which has convinced many users of the need for a Mac.

4. Support System - Let's face it, Apple's support system is superb. If you ever face any sort of problem with your Mac, support and help is only a phone call or an email away.

5. A class of its own - Apple users are a hallowed species. Only around 2-3% people of the entire planet own Macs and hence the moment you buy one, you are immediately elevated to this supreme class of ultra rich users. This is in contrast to the "everyone is equal" philosophy of Linux and open source softwares.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy A Mac

Contract employee rageImage by chrismear via Flickr
1. Macs are expensive - Its no secret that Macs are expensive toys, well out of reach of many, infact most of PC users. In an age where "value-for-money" has acquired a whole new meaning, expensive Macs do tend to go against the consumer friendly trend.

2. Hardware Issues - Yes the Macs do come with pretty decent (decent as in okayish) configuration. But frankly its standard models are nowhere near as powerful as today's PCs. Most games (the few ones which run on a Mac) have more demanding system requirements specifications for the OSX versions than their Windows counterparts. Also, ports (or lack of it) have forever plagued the Macs. Apple somehow enjoys sticking to dated ports and trying to dodge recent trends.

3. Upgrading Issues - I think most of us are aware of this drawback, because the Mac is such a compact piece of work, it does not give the user much upgrading options. Upgrading a hard drive in many models is impossible and changing the motherboard could kill the device altogether.

4. Its closed source - Its a fact that Mac laves you with no other option but to run Apple's OSX. Now that is a really good OS, but since its closed source, development wise its prospects are limited and security feature solidifications completely dependent on the whims and fancies of the developers employed by Apple.

5. Lack of softwares - Like it or not this is a big issue. Windows has a plethora of softwares for various purposes but OSX has few. Even Linux has more softwares than OSX. The reason is of course the closed source nature of the OS and the lack of users.

So these were my top 5 reasons why I think you shouldnt buy a Mac. To keep the argument fair, I will blog next about why you should buy a Mac.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Purchase Apps from Ubuntu Software Center?

Official Ubuntu circle with wordmark. Replace ...Image via Wikipedia
I have been pretty open in the past about my love of open source softwares. The best thing about open source is that development doesnt get stagnated if the developer gets bored of the project. Also, since most open source softwares are free (as in free for downloding) their popularity is guaranteed.

What is not guaranteed though is the popularity of the OS 'for' open source. Most Linux based distributions these days suffer from the acute problem of sheer obscurity! Even Ubuntu which is (quite wrongly) said to be almost synonymous with Linux suffers from this problem. After all more that 90% of the world's PCs run on Windows. This sheer lack of popularity is one of the reasons why big developers and companies have stayed away from Linux. Most think that since Linux is all about free and open source, there's no money to be made here. Thats partly true. But shattering that myth Canonical has now introduced an option to purchase apps right from the Ubuntu Software Center.

I know many will be up in arms about this and a few might stop using Ubuntu altogether crying foul. But the fact is (and rude as it might sound), we need to grow up, desperately. Most Linux based distros suffer from acute shortage of funds and to sustain development of a distribution, funds are a necessity. There's another theory. Linux is a hotbed of open source apps, and there are many. However sad as it might sound, there are very few professional grade apps with support system out there. GIMP is a great application, but only a fool would compare it with Adobe Photoshop (I used to be one such fool). Similarly I think there is a severe shortage of games on the Linux platform. If developers and companies are encouraged to come up with more decent quality applications and those are featured on the Ubuntu Software Center, I think it can only be good. After all, even the Canonical online store has options to buy closed softwares from them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Janko Tipsarevic training in Roland Garros 2009Image via Wikipedia
Janko Tipsarevic is perhaps better known for his sense of style than his tennis. But he changed all that today when he ousted one of the top players in men's tennis of our time, Andy Roddick. The class, the power and the entire persona of Tipsarevic looked magnificent at the Flushing Meadows.

What was impressive was how Tipsarevic never really let go and constantly troubled Roddick by returning even his most potent serves. The US Open 2010 is now truly open. With this sort of form, I wouldnt doubt Tipsarevic's ability to tame another giant. As I always say, we are living in privileged times. Anyone who rises to the occasion to beat a champion without any support from the crowd whatsoever deserves a pat on the back.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nothing New From Apple

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase
Apple has nothing drastically new on offer this time around, surprisingly. In its press conference at San Francisco, Steve Jobs mentioned about the new reinvented Apple TV, the elusive product which has so far never really 'clicked'. They have a new lineup of contracts with television channels with high definition content.

The other major announcement was about the new iPod Touch range which has the same features as the new iPhone 4 (including the retina display, touch screen, face time capabilities etc) without having the 'phony' features of the phone. As the Jobs jokingly put it, the new iPod Touch is the iPhone 4 without the contract. He also announced the lauch of Ping, a new music social networking site.e

Other than that, there werent any other announcements. I wonder if Apple really has something on offer to surprise us any more. After all, havent we already seen the enough of the iPods and the odd set top boxes?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Does Federer Need A Coach?

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Roger Federer o...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
I'm not a tennis player but am surely a sports lover and tennis is surely one of my favourites. Over the years, I've realised that this is perhaps the best time to witness tennis. The fact is we have some of the best players on the planet of recent times if not the best players ever playing the game. Without a doubt, Roger Federer's name would be right at the top if a greatest players of all time list is released.

However I wonder why such a great player who is hailed as the best in the world, needs a coach. Paul Annacone has recently been 'coaching' the great man, after a certain drop in form which resulted in Federer not even making it to the semifinals at his favourite tournament, Wimbledon. But one wonders what would a coach tell a man who has already won 16 grand slam titles, has made a record 10 consecutive grand slam finals appearances and is believed widely to be the greatest man to have hit the tennis ball. Well I dont know, maybe because I'm not a tennis player. But anyway, there must be some utility in hiring the coach who coached the great Pete Sampras. Being a Federer fan, I honestly hope Federer overcomes this slump and emerges as a stronger player, with the help of his coach.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Linux Usageshare

Linux is everywhere now. In the servers where it originally belonged and perhaps still belongs, in the desktop and now more recently even in mobile devices and tablets. But what has remained a mystery for a long time is exactly what the Linux market share is. Windows is touted as the most popular OS with over 90% market share. Mac OSX is said to have around 4-5 percent and Linux a measly 1-2% according to Wikipedia.

(Shown below are the relative market share of various OSes according to Wikipedia)

So Windows is the most popular OS. I think there's no controversy regarding that. What creates a controversy though is the market share of Linux. Now keeping a tab on Windows market share is relatively easy, since there is a definite sales figure (and perhaps tracking). But when it comes to Linux, because its free and no "buying issue" is involved, tracking the total number of users is extremely difficult. What complicates the problem further is the presence of literally hundreds of distros. Yes, Ubuntu is without doubt the most popular Linux distro (Distrowatch reports an overwhelming hits per day statistic in favour of Ubuntu), but its not the only one. Fedora is very popular among Linux users, and there is a dedicated fan following for OpenSUSE, Free BSD, CentOS.

(Shown below is a screenshot from Distrowatch showing average hits per day)

Tracking the growth of each of these distros requires an immense amount of coordination effort among companies and developers which unfortunately the Linux sphere has not seen in the past. Distro bashing these days is a favourite pastime for many and the importance of a collective effort to create a platform for collaboration and the bigger picture is missed altogether.

Canonical has recently brought a new tracking application to its distro Ubuntu which helps it to collect info about how long the OS is installed on the PC etc. As of now there is no detailed info about exactly what information Canonical is collecting and what it intends to do with it and as expected there this concern has been reciprocated by a few users. (See Slashdot and Phoronix more info on this)

So why is tracking all that important? Why is the marketshare such a hallowed statistic? Why does a normal user need to even bother about what percentage of users are using the same OS he's using? The answer has been eloquently given by Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack who says:
"There are hundreds of conflicting estimates of how many Linux machines are out there. Knowing how many people are using Linux is important because larger numbers provide leverage when we go asking for drivers from hardware manufacturers, apps from software makers or try and convince OEMs to bundle Linux."
(Source: TechNewsWorld)

Linux needs more support from hardware manufacturers and drivers support to improve the "Linux experience", if I may say so. The only way to convince manufacturers and developers to do that is to give them hard data. Thats a fair argument I think, as long as the user is aware of the info that the company is collecting.

After all for most (if not all) Linux is much more than just an OS.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Alchemy of the Phirang Desire

Indian actor Abhishek Bachchan with wife/actre...Image via Wikipedia
This is quite hilarious, but frankly every single person has a 'little Britain' hidden inside us. Somehow when people venture outside the (ill demarcated) boundaries of this country to literally land in the West, their accents change! All of a sudden. The 'r' gets rolled and rolled and rolled to the point where its no longer the Indian 'aar' but the phirang 'Rrr'. The 'l' gets a certain thing done to it which is too complicated for me to put in words. Its almost as if its shameful and humiliating to have an Indian accent.

This has happened time and again to people and two of the brightest examples I can cite right now are Aishwarya Rai and her hubby. When Ash 'hit' the west, she almost immediately lost her accent. Maybe she got a voice coach or something. Or accent coach actually. I think these are the ones who get paid big bucks in the BPOs for raining newbies, right? Anyway, so I guess when these accent coaches get tired of their job they become coaches for celebs! And of course the pay scale is better. Greener pastures you see.

Anyway, back to the point. If you havent already, take a look at Ash on David Letterman video. Its on youtube and its already gotten quite a few thousand hits from some sane and many perverts. Ash almost behaves like a true phirang woman! At least accent wise.

The other day I saw Rajeev Masand of CNN IBN doing the same thing while interviewing James Cameron. He almost seemed like the perfect NRI! Cant we just be proud of the way we are? Is it all that necessary to American-ize our accent?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The EVM - fallible and insecure

We have been hearing about the 'un-hackability' of the Indian EVMs (Electronic Voting Machine) for a very long time. And frankly this has been reiterated so many times by the Election Commission of this country, that now even questioning the vulnerability of it is held as a crime.

Hari Prasad, a security expert from Hyderabad, demonstrated on Live television the severe security vulnerabilities the Indian EVMs suffer from, shattering the very basis of the boastful claims by the Election Commission. The video has since then become almost viral and the debate has risen to a different level altogether.

There is also a debate about how Mr. Prasad aquired the EVM, supposed to be under strict security vigil. However instead of addressing the basic issues, the Government has committed a blunder by arresting Mr. Hari Prasad for theft. That Prasad exposed a serious issue is of no value to the government or the commission. Both have found an easier way out by trying to bury the incident. Both would have won over the hearts of the countrymen had it made an announcement about patching the security loopholes and going public with the source code. Pity this isnt the election season and hence, winning hearts is the last thing on the government's agenda right now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bad Time to Buy an E-book Reader

various e-book readers. From right to left iPa...Image via Wikipedia
This really is a bad time to buy an e-book reader, especially if you happen to live in India. I'll tell you why. The two of the most popular conventional (read eInk) e-book readers are the Amazon Kindle and the Infibeam Pi. They are slow, colourless and lacked intense multimedia capabilities. But then, after iPad release a host of companies came up with their tablet offerings. The netbook, once a hot product, seemed to dying a painful rather sooner than expected.

The problem with the tablets is that since they have an LCD display, there is a considerable amount of strain on the eyes on prolonged usage. The eInk on the other hand doesnt do colour, so thats a potential let down.

Enter Notion Ink. A revolutionary product in the making which seems to have solved the problems of netbooks and tablets all at the same time. Its powered by android and has a pixel qi display. Pixel qi is something quite revolutionary which inspite of having a brightness comparable to LCDs, has the ability to reflect direct sunlight and also reduces strain on the eyes. Seems too good to be true doesnt it? Even I didnt believe it until my friend Abhirup convinced me about this truly amazing development going on in this country. A lot is being promised and lot of interest has been generated thanks to this cutting edge device and thanks to its really attractive price tag of $498 for the 3G with wifi version. However, no release date for this device has been announced as yet although its expected that it might release by the end of this year or early next.

Incidentally even Infibeam is ready with its tablet offering. They call it the Infibeam Phi (the eInk edition is the 'Pi'). The Phi has Android as well as Windows versions and is decently powered. However since it has an LCD display, its difficult to call it as an ebook reader. The dual screen technology of pixel qi is far superior than the traditional eInk and almost as good if not at par with LCD brightness, this is where I think the Notion Ink tablet scores over the Phi. But even the Phi hasnt been released yet, although Infibeam is taking preorders.

Hence my conclusion that this is indeed the worst time to buy an ebook reader. The suggestion would be to stay put and abstain from investing in any such devices until both the Infibeam Phi and Notion Ink hit the mainstream market.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Stupidity of Indo-Pak Relations

The recent floods in Pakistan has wrecked havoc over large stretches of the country. Pakistan is finding it hard to cope with the scale of the disaster and the ramifications of this could unfold in the near future when there is a rise in water borne diseases. Aid is of the prime essence and it is trickling in but frankly a lot more needs to be done to address the situation. Add to this the complicated relationship India has had with Pakistan and what you have is the recipe for disaster.

Pakistan is yet to take a decision on the Indian aid, $5 millions which has been offered by the Indian government. Although to be fair to Pakistan, they have thanked the Indian government for the offer. It is a shame that bilateral relations between two of the most important nations in the subcontinent have reached such a low that even accepting aid for flood victims has to be thought through by taking diplomatic relations into consideration.

However, if one does think deep, there are valid reasons for not accepting Indian aid. India has forever been regarded as the biggest enemy by Pakistan, accepting Indian aid could potentially weaken its anti-India stand, and maybe it would invite the ire of fundamentalists in a country already reeling under immense international pressure for not ating tough on terror.

But frankly, a disaster of this scale requires politicians and leaders in both countries to rise to the occasion and act as good politicians and good leaders for their own respective countries.

What happens to Kalmadi now?

It has been proved beyond considerable doubt that Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has had a huge involvement in the scam which has shamed the entire nation. Even the Congress has distanced itself from the man reassuring everyone that action would be taken against those responsible. However from the look of things, its unlikely that the government will take actions against the man in the question just now, raising fears amongst all that he might utilise the clout and hide his tracks. That however is probably unlikely since a new committee exclusively selected by the Prime Minister is in place to oversee the Kalmadi and his mates.

The doubt however remains as to why no one is willing to order a probe into the whole scam now, when the games havent started. Kalmadi leading the organising committee is a bad example being set infront of the nation. Someone who is accused of corruption running into hundreds of crores of rupees. Isnt that a shame? Isnt it a shame that the best person India could come up with to head the committee for organising the games is a corrupt politician who is so invaluable that he is not removed from his chair even after prima facie evidence clearly points towards his involvement in perhaps the biggest scandal this nation has seen.

If Kalmadi is allowed to head the panel, even after all these allegations, it will set a bad example for not just India but also about perceptions about the country. Can we as a developing nation poised for exponential growth and hailed as the superpower of the future afford to do that?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is it time to take a step backwards?

Nokia N900 communicator/internet tabletImage via Wikipedia
Perhaps in this rat race of features and more features and powerful processors, the importance of good battery life for a mobile phone has been lost. Battery life used to be a serious buying criteria back in the 90s and the first half of this decade. But today, its no longer a leading criteria, perhaps lost in the jungle of featues and apps and processors and GPUs.

However the neglect and perhaps the lack of innovation in this regard is quite astonishing. Nokia's once flagship device, the N95 had a fierce reputation of having the worst battery life among mobile phones of the age. The same reputation is being carried forward by the new generation touchscreen devices of the company. The N97 Mini has a hilariously short battery life for a smartphone. Its not just Nokia which is facing problems. Even the hallowed iPhone 4 has battery issues, as in the battery life isnt as impressive as the 3GS. The same problem can be found with the Samsung Galaxy S. Reason? Well for starters, its the super heavy duty processor and battery life-unfriendly OSes. Now tell me somerhing, whats a smartphone which cannot be used for extended hours? Whats the use of a device which requires you to carry chargers or cables as daughter packages wherever you go?

Now would you go back to a simple good old blackberry, or a N70? These truly had awesome battery lives. I guess most would say no. Hence whats required is a better battery management system where every single app will be able to utilise the battery power only as per the minimum requirement. I am hoping that the manufacturers already have this in mind and are working towards a solution. This also goes with the 'green' theme everyone's suddenly obsessed about, hence makes good marketing sense. Else we consumers would be forced to used dated devices with poor functionality.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The $35 Tablet

Kapil Sibal, Union minister in Ministry of Sci...Image via Wikipedia
Yes, its no longer a rumour. There is infact a $35 tablet, waiting to be released to the masses. The minister for human resource and development (HRD), Kapil Sibal, was on Gadget Guru this week where he unveiled the cheapest tablet on the planet.

The tablet is apparently decently powered with 2GB of RAM and running Android. The touchscreen is (perhaps as expected) a resistive one. The OS isnt sluggish and thats mainly because of the hardware that has been put in.

And yeah, it gets better. In time, the minister hopes, due to rising competition and demand, the price of this tablet would come down to $10! Now when did one get last hold of $10 tablet?

All is not hunky dory though. First of all, the tablet, because of its no frills design, does look ugly and dated. Finesse is something which you cannot expect from this device. The device lacks a hard drive and although this is primarily the reason why its prices have been kept low, I doubt if this is something which will be appreciated. The presence of resistive touch also does complicate matters and spoils the fun of the touchscreen experience. Also the tablet in its current form and price is meant for educational institutions and its students. The mass market version might be priced higher.

Finally, its a mixed bag to be honest. Mediocre functionality/quality of hardware vs extremely low price. The choice as always lies with the consumer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What is wrong with Linkin Park?

Linkin Park performing at Sonisphere Festival ...Image via Wikipedia
Remember those tracks which made you headbang even if you werent in the mood? Remember the rise of nu-metal? Remember those days when In the End was a top hit? Remember Papercut? Remember Numb?

Oh those were the days! A bunch of boys who experimented with rap and hip hop and metal and came up with an absolutely breathtaking combination of the three, which was unlike anything we had ever heard! It was clear to us all that we were going through something new. An uncharted territory where no one else had previously ventured. The realm of Nu Metal. A new genre in its own right.

Although one might argue about its origins, there absolutely no doubt that it was Linkin Park (and Limp Bizkit) who made the genre popular and acceptable. The lyrics were potent, the music strong and the effect was a heady dose of rap and metal.

In its formative years leading to release of their first album, Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park could be classified as a bunch of superb musicians who knew exactly what people wanted to listen to. When Hybrid Theory was released, it became an instant hit. It was certified platinum in 2003, quite an achievement conidering that it was the debut album. Their next album, Metero, took them to astronomical heights of popularity. MTV named Linkin Park as one of the greatest bands of the music video era. Things only got better for them. Tours were a success, concerts sold out and popularity rivalling any of the then popular acts.

What happened a few years later, 2006 onwards, is quite a mystery. Their sound changed, the lyrics stripped down, mellowed, the rapping reduced, overall it was clear that Linkin Park was no longer the same. Many say this led to their music becoming more mainstream. But frankly, thats a lame argument. Mainstream doesnt necessarily denote good music. Infact it does denote quite the opposite. Hardly anyone would call Justin Bieber or Kesha's music revolutionary.

The death knell, in my opinion, came after the release of their song Catalyst on yotube. It sounded so horribly wrong, so un-Linkin Park, so like every other album out there. The comments on the page reflected my concern perfectly well. Many (if not most) felt that Linkin Park was no longer THE group, THE band, THE musicians. Perhaps its not their fault at all. We all know about record companies and their business attitudes. Its no secret that all they care about is maximum number of hits (read mainstream success). Athough I will still remain a fan of the band, I will perhaps cherish what Linkin Park was rather than what it is.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My review of Bombay Rains Bombay Girls

Anirban Bose, a doctor by profession has broken no records, nor traversed uncharted territories with his debut novel, Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls. But perhaps he is part of a very important phenomenon in this country. The rise of new generation Indian writers. No longer bound by the whims and fancies of publishers, no longer bound by the fear of poor sales and no longer bound by the need to script a pathbreaking work of literature, these new writers are proof of the fact that when it comes to writing, what matters is the thought, the ability to touch people's hearts and the ability to stand out as a bold and unhindered.

Describing the life of a med student from a small town (Ranchi), the book follows the travails of Adi, a student of Grant Medical College. The plot wavers and deviates from its roots making it distracting at times, but never boring. The incredible humour element simply adds a strange charm to the book and an accurate depiction of the lives of med students makes it a must read. i wont discuss the novel any further because I dont want to give the plot away and spoil the surprise element.

Its a perfect little novel to have with you when you're lonely or feeling bored. Recommended.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Good Phone

People around the web and everywhere for that matter talk about their phones being 'good' or in most cases not being all that good. So what exactly is the GQ? (Goodness Quotient, if you havent guessed it yet) For starters, GQ as you would expect has a different meaning for almost all individuals. But if we concentrate on the smartphone sphere, the goodness of a phone is defined by the following factors:

1. The form factor - like it or not, the form factor is undoubtedly the most important criteria for people buying a new phone. No one likes an ugly device. This partially explains the success of the iPhone, the amazing form factor.

2. User Interface - abbreviated as UI, this is more or less what makes or breaks a phone. Symbian most say (except for fanboys of course) has the least attractive UI, and android (with sense UI from HTC) and the iOS are generally considered among the best. The others like Maemo and Meego, although not exactly new platforms, but havent been mainstream OSes so far. Nonetheless, UI isnt really their forte.

3. Whats 'inside' - the processor, the RAM, the memory capabilities, etc. This is where android wins hands down more or less. Why? Well, the high end phones have a processing speed of 1GHz and RAM of 512MB. With a GPU (graphics processing unit), thats a killer deal. Sure the iPhone 4 has almost the same specs, but its sort of rendered redundant thanks to its severly restricted multitasking abilities.

4. Apps - applications are what smartphones are made for. And unless there's a plethora of apps to choose from, using a smartphone doesnt make much sense. The android market and the apple app store and legendary in this regard, with Nokia's Ovi Store coming a very distant third.

There you go, the next time you buy a smartphone make sure its a 'good' one and scores high on your GQ levels.

Claimer: these are my opinions so dont expect them to be universally accepted truth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Idiocy of Indian Television Programmes

Miley Jab Hum TumImage by parul2999 via Flickr
Indian Television. Not really a global phenomenon is it? After all in India, prime time programmes are primarily meant for aunties and grannies. The youth of this country has almost forever been starved of good, quality youth oriented programmes. Unless of course you consider 'programmes' like Roadies (MTV) to be proper programmes for the youth. As the clock strikes 7 (pm of course) thousands of women (my mum included) dedicate all their attention to the television sets, for 'saas-bahu' (mother-in-law vs wife) rivalry, family dramas (epitomised family dramas with joint families the size of elephant packs), evil aunties and well, more evil aunties. And what do we guys watch? Well, there's always THE NEWS, although listening to the same crap being repeated 24x7 does not really make for a pleasant experience. Then there's always the talent hunt shows where every female singer, prodded by her over zealous parents, wants to become a Lata Mangeshkar and where every male singer prodded again by over zealous parents and dreamy eyed girlfriend(s?) to become the next Mohammad Rafi. And then there are the business news channels, but from what I gather and from my personal experience as well, this is not everyone's cup of tea. So what else can we watch? Oh yeah, the 'tech' shows which is about as techy as a supermodel showing off her iPhone, where real techy things like open source, source code, etc. are forbidden words, and where the review of the latest mobile phone depends largely on how good its looks are compared to the other device they 'reviewed' the other day. Thats tech for you on tele. Okay so what the hell do we watch or can we watch? Nothing to be honest. No Indianised versions of western tv series (just copy a few shows if you cant come up with original ideas! Please!), no true Indian world class programmes, not even a proper comedy show!

Of course you might think that expecting a Top Gear or a Lost here in India would be a tall order but frankly, considering the amount of money spent on those zoom-in zoom-out types all 365 days, I think its very much possible. Why cant we have a Lost here? Why not a House? Why not? Honestly why not? Why does the youth of this country have to turn to the US/UK series to satisfy their hunger for top class watchable programmes? Like a lot of things I dont understand (fail to fathom), the reason of this lack of proper good, quality stuff on Indian stuff is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top apps for N97 (Mini)

Ovi Store diventa adulto grazie agli italianiImage by Michele Ficara Manganelli via Flickr
Lets face it, the Ovi Store isnt really a huge repository of apps and most of the apps are well, unusable (read intolerable).

However fortunately there are a few apps which are worth downloading and trying out. I will list them according to my preference (why? Well coz its MY blog and I get to write whatever I want thats why!):

1. Gravity - Well you knew this was going to be the first one didnt you? Frankly Gravity is kind of THE app at the Ovi Store. The twitter cum facebook cum Rss reader cum much more is well and truly the one app which is a must buy if you're on the N97/Mini. The interface is unlike any other and fortunately isnt a memory hog. Hence its perfectly possible to listen to soothing music whil you're tweeting away! To cut the long story short, this is a must download.

2. SPB Mobile Shell - This software transforms the look of your boring N97 into something quite classy and sleek. The look does resemble Android and is not reallty that difficult to use. Okay yeah, it does take some time to get used to but overall this is quite an awesome piece of software totally worthy of its steep price tag. Symbian was never renowned for its looks and this software makes it easier for you to tolerate the boring UI of Symbian by forming a completely different layer. Highly recommended.

3. Raging Thunder - Asphalt 4 for Symbian's touchscreen devices isnt really a good experience. However this game more than makes up for it. Raging Thunder is a car racing game and it uses the built in accelerometer of the devices. That way, this game is quite unique. Also, the price tag is what makes this even more attractive. Completely and whole heartedly recommended.

Nokia - The Way Out

In the past I have criticised Nokia for being utterly nonsensical when it came to coming up with great phones especially of late. But I have nowhere pointed out what it should do to recover its image as a premier mobile manufacturer and a technology leader. Hence today's gonna be an exception.

To be quite honest, Nokia probably knows the way out. But here's what I think should be done:

1. Get a new group of designers on board - Lets face it Nokia phones are now synonymous with the word 'ugly'. Their devices are nothing short of ghastly compared to the finesse and design of the iPhone(s). Getting a new group of designers on board will be the first thing the company needs to do. Nokia needs to realise something basic here: people need functionality as well as a sexy design in their smartphones. Unless Nokia offers them that, its doomed. The smartphone market is no longer the same as it used to be half a decade back. Nokia needs to keep up with the times, desperately.

2. Focus on one OS - Symbian S60 v3, Symbian^1, Symbian^3, Maemo and now Meego. The last thing Nokia one can say about Nokia is its platform uniformity. Almost each of its high end device keeps coming up with a new OS. Thats not just impractical for the consumers but a terrible thing for the developers. What should the developers work on? Meego, maemo, symbian? Thank god I'm not an official developer, else I would have gone crazy by now! Anyway, what needs to be done is to go for ONE particular OS for all its smartphones. Also, Nokia's Android allergy is something beyond my comprehension. Judging from the astronomic growth predictions of android, the world is now divided into two groups: the android and the non-android. Nokia prefers the latter somehow, completely ignoring the fact that android is infact the only OS which has been built for touchscreen devices from the word go.

3. Giving customers value for money products - Lets face it, Nokia phones, especially the recent ones are insanely ugly, insanely slow, insanely dysfunctional and last but not the least insanely under-powered. If Nokia respects and loves its customers it needs to come up with products which have a good balace of feature and price. Android devices and the iPhone(s) are this popular only because the manufacturers are giving consumers a great product which is worth every single penny they are spending. Can't say that for Nokia unfortunately. The N97 Mini is one of the most dysfunctional phones of the planet (I'm currently using one, unfortunately) and still Nokia dares to release this crap and wiat it gets better, price it at around $400-$500. An HTC Legend around the same price is a much better product than that. And well, Nokia phones are reputed for their crap processing capabilities which Nokia fanboys explain as the lack of need of good processors for something as lightweight as Symbian. The statement although partially true, has no practical significance. Symbian OS do need less system resource but for its multitasking capabilities to work (eg. Playing a game and listening to music and downloading content simultaneously) one does need a pretty hardcore powerful processor and RAM. But the great men at Nokia refuse to come to terms with this concept. They are which intent on praising the simplistic UI of Symbian (the ugliest on the planet by the way, if you didnt know) and the fact that its open source (wait, isnt android open source as well? Bloody hell yes! Why the hell then these Nokia folks staunchly supporting Symbian, still?). Nokia needs to do away with this stupidity and be more practical. And for heaven's sake show some respect to your valued customers. What sin did people commit when they bought the 'craptastic' (the word now made famous by Symbianguru) N97? The least Nokia could have done was to ask unhappy customers to return their phones. But NO, Nokia once again proved that it was living in a utopic world where everyone would still be a Nokia fan even if it kept churning out idiotic dysfunctional devices. 'I'm just a dreamer', the famous Ozzy Osbourne track doesnt work in the corporate arena. Nokia would do itself justice by realising that.

4. Create a proper app store - What? Nokia already has an app store, its called the Ovi Store!
Ah yes, of course, the Ovi Store! How many usable apps does it have by the way? Erm...five? Nah that would be lying. How about 3? Yeah thats more like it. How many good usable top quality (not the stupid ones) apps does the Apple App Store and the Android Market have? I can at least mention 150 without stopping and still go on. Need I say more? The Ovi store is the biggest joke from Nokia ever! With absolutely stupid apps being listed in the Recommended section and the lack of proper good apps for even basic tasks such as reading pdf files (thanks largely to Nokia's obsession with ultra low quality harware), the Ovi store is as dead as a dinosaur skeleton. What needs to be done is introducing a new regulatory process for apps and for heaven's sake developing utterly essential ones first, eg. a pdf reader for starters, once where the user wont have to wait for a minute to move from one page to another. Not really too much to ask for. If Apple and Android developers can do it, so can the Nokia developers.

Anyway, those were my suggestions. Sure one can agree or disagree with a few points mentioned here but without a doubt Nokia needs to do something and take drastic measures if it wants to sty at the pinnacle of the smartphone market.