The Perfect Gadget

Solemn Note: This post shall henceforth be a eulogy to my cell phone, as no more than five days after I posted this was this very phone stolen right out of my pocket.
In its memory, I hereby pledge never to travel by BMTC buses again.

Now this is gonna be a long one.

I'd been thinking about upgrading from my phone for a while. [from about a month after I got it actually]. And I'd considered several phones and spent a lot of time researching phone models. Not that that makes me an expert, but when a friend of mine asks for my advice on a new phone and after listening to my advice goes and buys a faulty calculator with a torch and calls it a phone, my knowledge in the field is insulted.
Allow me to explain this calculator's fault. It accepts interference with other devices and causes some too. This friend of mine misunderstood those faults as features such as telephony and radio. How naive can one be? Anyway, she din' have enough dough in that month to get something of my recommendation, so she thought she'd get the cheapest thing out there as a two-month-stand. [as in one-night-stand, (temporary) I have to spell out everything, don't I?] I asked her what she'd do with it after 2 months, she actually had no idea. Naive and short-sighted.

Bad calculators aside, when looking for an upgrade to a phone, the new one has to be better than the current one in more than a few ways. So lemme first introduce to you my current phone:
Things I love about it

The Camera.

I'll let the images speak out loud. Click on the thumbnails and when the new window opens, click on the images to see them in full size.
You might wanna try pressing F11 to have more screenspace for the image. Firefox users just right-click on the image [not the thumbnail] and click View Image to optimize the size for your screen. F11 helps Firefox users too.

Autofocus Autofocus 2

Hires [high enough for me]
Photobucket Photobucket Resolution

Xenon flash
Xenon Flash

My dog betrays his evil side only when the piercing light of Xenonia seeks it out.

Burst Mode
Burst Mode 1 Burst Mode 2 Burst Mode 3 Burst Mode 4 Burst Mode 5

Light in motion Caught by my phone's camera in burst mode [capturing 9 frames in a second].

Flight mode - When they tell you to switch off your phone in flights, all you have to do is switch to Flight mode and you can listen to music and stuff without causing the plane to crash [read: without inducing minor static on the pilots' headphones]

Expandable memory - I can put in a 2GB card. It supports 8gb cards too, theoretically.

Music: Having all that memory helps to carry a lot of your music around and the music player is pretty good. And the HPM-70s are great in-ear phones meant to isolate noise. A huge plus in my case. [My case is explained at the footnote of this post].

PC Synchronization: The standard out-of-the-box package offers you nothing special, but this freeware, MyPhoneExplorer, which works for all phones from SE, is a Godsend. It synchronizes with the PC so well that I can back up all my contacts, messages, calendar appointments, notes and call history with only a few clicks. Transfering contacts and stuff from one phone to another was never easier. And as far as music goes, my music organizer [MediaMonkey] recognizes the device as a removable disk and offers up its Sync-ing capabilities. Works like a charm.

Multitasking – The best part. I can reply to a message while replying to another message that was opened during an internet session (on Opera Mini 4.1) which was going on along with the music playing while there was a game paused in the background (to while away the loading times between pages). I can switch between the two messages I'm typing and I can also switch to the music player to go forward or back within the song. (I don't need to switch to it to alter the volume or change the track or stop/play. There are separate buttons for that.) And all this without any visible slowdown. Even if I copy all the text of the longer one of those messages to the clipboard. Now I didn't try sending files over bluetooth while I was doing this (I've got two ppl waiting for me to reply to their sms'es, after all), but the odds are that I can.[You know that someone's taking a cheap-shot at the iPhone when they start talking about copy-paste and bluetooth. But hey, Apple deserves it. And Apple deserves this too: The iPhone is incapable of recognizing a phone number if it isn't stored with the country code prefixed. Bet you didn't know that.] Back to my phone's speed. The internet is slow, yes [I know you noticed and were itching to post a comment about it].
But that's Airtel's fault. Along with TRAI's. If only they'd get the spectrum for 3G allocated already, I wouldn't have that problem.

Yes my phone has 3G.

Which phone IS this, you ask? [You ask because you either don't already know that or you haven't figured out already {you can find out if you snoop a little bit on what I've already told you and shown you ;) }] I'll tell you that after I tell you what I don't like about it, so the gullible short attention spanned many of you don't make a hasty decision. Man I sound like an Ent all of a sudden.

The Things I don't like about it

Video recording: Oh my FSM! I cant think of anything good to say about it other than that it works, as in, records more than one image [at QCIF resolution! {that's a bad thing}] per second [15 fps actually], in daylight.

The Multitasking: It lets many things go on at the same time. That's mostly a good thing. Only not when it decides to beep your message tune, delivery report tune and other such things while you are listening to music. I know that those alerts should get higher priority and stuff, but why does it pause the music for just vibrating the phone when it's in Silent mode? Just leave the music alone, bitch!

The joystick: Yea, after about a year, it grows a mind of its own. One with an attitude at that. But it doesn't stay bad. It kinda fixes itself in time. And then it doesn't stay good…

Video playback: A 2.0 inch screen with optional playback in Landscape mode. It's good, but it could've been better. The controls for moving about the clip are awkward and sequential mode doesn't work. That's probably why they hid it in a sub-menu and didn't include a shortcut in the media player.

Earphones: There is no 3.5 mm jack. And the provided earphones are crappy buds. The HPM-70's have to be bought separately. But at least they're compatible and cost just INR 350.

Bugs too minor to put into individual categories, but not small enough for me to overlook them : Several.

This is my current phone. The Sony Ericsson K800i. [k790 with 3G and a VGA videocall camera]

An upgrade to this, in the real world would have the following kind of big-numbered boring specs:

  • 5Mpix camera with video recording at 30 fps / VGA.
  • A 3 inch touchscreen with a 800x480 resolution
  • Memory card support for 1gb to 16gb cards.
    • Internal memory should be 128mb shared for messages/notes/contacts/calendar entries.
  • A 3.5mm jack.
  • A 1500mAh battery
  • WiFi, GPS, 3G and EDGE support
  • Office Document support [including pdf's]
  • A good music and video player with good music organizing options [including album-art, lyrics and ratings management support]
  • Capability to power on without a SIM.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 satisfies a lot of these features, but as it costs upwards of INR 40K, what I did do in my gadget-quest was to get a PSP instead. Someday Xperia, someday.

The perfect device in an ideal world should actually be several into one.

For example,

It should have a 5 inch screen and also fit into your wallet.

It should be a 10 megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens and optical zoom and should also be your personal assistant who remembers things without being told to.

It should cater to your gaming needs and must be bullet-proof.

It should be capable of video capture at 120 fps and at WVGA resolution and must change colours based on the weather.

Forget FM and IMEI numbers, it should have Satellite Radio and should be impossible to lose/get stolen.

It must be have a slider and a flip form factor. [Yes, both].

It should come with the Shure SE530s free and should be able to mimic the keys to your home/car/bike/etc.

It should connect to the internet without having to depend on the local service providers and should act as a repellent/anti-repellent [as required] for the opposite sex.

And finally, it should be one of a kind and should be cursed. [just coz that'd be cool]

That's it for this post. I'll continue to go mad with power in some other post.

Update: Now that my cell phone is no more with me and I need a replacement, I have entered the hunt myself. Now, considering that I have already made a purchase of the PSP from the gadget department, I definitely cannot opt for the Xperia. Instead I'm leaning towards the G705 and W902 phones. Sucks that neither of those are available in India yet. I dunno how long my mom's willing to stay without her k510, but I'm hoping it's long enough... Sony Ericsson, if you're reading this, I'm waiting. And also, the Xperia is overpriced.


Filler: Red Bull

How many of you who've had Red Bull have paid for it? A reliable answer should show up above soon.
Their way of marketing was enjoyable, yes, but effective? Not very, I'm sure. I wonder if they're still doing that. Have some girls give away free red bull near colleges and in fests... During an economic meltdown, trying to prove that their drink works by this method might not be the smartest idea. And that's when we consider doing the same in non-super-bearish times as a smart idea in the first place.. So if you've seen their marketing still going on full swing (or even half swing for that matter), do let me know in the comments. You don't have to sign up or anything to comment, you know.

Another thing about Red Bull is its name. If a Red Bull sees itself in the mirror, does it attack? What if it sees itself by doing the bull equivalent of looking down (erm, looking behind..) - what does it do then? Make wings and distribute 'em to random people in college? Is that what the Red Bull GmbH are trying to say? Something to think about.

P.S. The short length of this post is an indicator of how much time I have these days.
Those rumors in coll that i heard about this company went like this-
If you wanna study for higher preparations (or prepare for higher studies, I'm not sure which) this was the place to go work in. I misunderstood that to mean "Lots of free time".

What it actually meant was "Those nerds among you who haven't ever had enough work to do and wanna go on paying someone else to bore you with lectures would like this place. Coz it's a place where you'll get "challenging and interesting work" (Yes, double quotes within double quotes.) and you wont go a minute with nothing to do."

But truth is- it all depends on a whole bunch of parameters that you have no control over- like the stream your company trains you in, the project (or bench) you get and economic crisises. I'm kinda looking forward to a bench period now. [Not gonna happen for another coupla months at least.] But when it happens, I'll get to blog more often about more mundane things. I'll be able to read and re-read books. They might let me bring in a PSP. Maybe I'll join and frequent the office gym. Maybe I'll somehow manage to get to practice my guitar in office. Hey, one can dream, cant one? [Man that sounded wrong]

I'll be back with more soon, hopefully.


The Pain Begins

This part of my life, this part that began today, is called Waiting for Weekends.

The irony of life so far, for me, was that when you're a student, you have the time and energy to have all the fun you want, but not enough cash reserves at your disposal to sponsor all the different ways of having fun that you can think of. And when you start working, you get the money, but they make you slog so much that you no longer have enough time or energy to have anything to do with spending that money. I was stuck right between those two phases for almost three weeks and was complaining. Mostly, coz I had nobody to be my partner in crime then. Well, today was my first day at work.

The induction involved a lot of attempts at brainwashing me with "Core values", while only discreetly leaking the info I really wanted to have. For instance, my training for the next month or two is gonna be as far away as can be from my home. And that there will not be cellphones allowed at the office. Aren't these guys fun? This and some shoddy management of certain events made me realized that even though I haven't started working yet, I already hate my job.

From the people today, who are unaware of how stupid their Core Values sound to us while they're righteously and relentlessly defending them [and by relentlessly, I mean relentlessly, akin to zombie relentlessness: "I don't care if you shoot my legs off, I'm gonna continue crawling towards you to tell you that Stewardship, Respect for the Individual, Integrity and Ethics are important"], to the long hours they'll inevitably put me through, to the long rides I'll have to take everyday through rush hour traffic full of mind-numbingly self-obsessed commuters, each one as pissed as the other about there being so many of them, to having to wear formals four days outta the supposedly 5-day week, thereby making me heel-shift the gears coz toe-shifting would ruin those shoes, to having free time only on weekends when everyone else is also free [weekdays used to be our turf], to the cellphone/mp3 player/other-digital-media ban, everything points to my life turning into a game, a game of survival, where I don't know how long I'll survive, coz frankly, I, being of the opinion that we turned into adults too fast, was ready to quit today.

Boy, that was one long sentence.

But, seriously, I'd rather be doing this than nothing at all. At least this way I get to meet new people to make fun of.

EDIT: Turned out my office was further than I expected and I cant go by bike without breaking my back in the process, so I have to take the company bus, which they call a minibus and I call the midget bus, coz even if I were 3 inches shorter I'd have trouble finding leg room in the seats in the back; and if I sit in the front I get all the leg room I want, but there's no headrest for a two-hour-one-way ride, making it so that I cant sleep, cant read, cant move much, and can only keep from going absolutely apeshit-bonkers by listening to music of my own rather than the stupid songs playing on the radio [chaar gilassi, hodi lagodi, tago supari, nacho re, WTF?!].


The Culinary Wars

Food fights are only the beginning. A theory prophesying a dark future, postulated over lunch tables by a group of researchers with nothing else to do, has arisen. So has a voice, a war cry of a soldier on the winning side. I know. I was part of the "study". I'll be part of the quenching of the rebellion.

I'm just surprised this hasn't shown up in The Times of India yet. [more on that later too]

Anyway, give this a read to know more.
You won't regret it.

Now playing: Dark Tranquility - Edenspring
via FoxyTunes


So, the Yamaha R15

Why hasn't anyone heard of this bike?
Where in the world is the advertising? [Here's one, but it's only on Yamaha's website, not on TV.]

The bike's out. It's out with India in mind. It's the perfect performance bike for this country and apart from the P220 and possibly the upcoming fuel injected version of the Apache 160 RTR, it's the only performance bike here. Looking at the bike and the ad, I know that Yamaha is finally treating India with the same respect as the rest of the world and not just ignoring us and chucking mopeds in our general direction. Knowing that feels good.

For the un-initiated, here are the features.. I know these so well now that I can't help but rattle em all off in a single breath.

A liquid cooled, fuel injected, four valve engine. [First in India (except for the fuel injection)]
A six-speed gearbox [Another first]
Fully faired [Looks like "those Dhoom bikes"]
A delta-box frame and forged pistons [Other firsts, whatever they mean]
Kerb weight of 125kg.

All these together are what ought to make you ignore the fact that the engine is a single-cylinder 150cc one that produces just 17PS of power. Coz, the technology that's gone into this takes it across a quarter mile .4 secs quicker than the nearest competitor and go upto 15kmph more on the top speed.* And what's more, it's handling is as sharp as its looks are. So, for those of you who still don't get it, I'll put it simply:

This bike can whoop the P220's ass... with ease.

But here's the problem. If Yamaha doesn't ramp up its marketing campaign - make that its awareness campaign - it's not gonna sell. Their marketing is good. They had a Launch Day/Race Day/Track Day, whatever you wanna call it, in Chennai on a track, where people who'd booked R15's would get a chance to have a go around the track. Wonder if they'll make that a regular thing. That'd be neat.
Anyway, the turnout wasn't bad, but I didn't hear about it till a day before it happened. Now I know I don't religiously follow news channels [more on that, later], but I keep track of car/bike news in the country. And no, that doesn't include the number of times that John Abraham had a bike crash [I've got enough to count between myself n aXay] or which bike Dhoni is buying..
Now, this event might've been promoted in Chennai, and I get that it didn't need promotion here in B'lore, but the launch at least should've had some hoopla around it. I mean there have to be people like me out there whose dream come true would look like the R15. So, if Yamaha decides to make it possible to realize those dreams, couldn't they let 'em know 'bout it as well?

Now onto how I had a hand in the design and conception of the bike. The story goes as such:

These 2 girls came to my college around a coupla years back. They claimed to be from IMRB - Market research Bureau or somethin in Delhi. They were looking for people who owned Pulsars or Karizmas [which can be interpreted as owners of high-end bikes], for their opinions on a few TVCs they'd show. And for it they's give each willing person a sum of one thousand rupees.

Me n a coupla my friends signed up, although we were skeptical about the whole deal. We expected it to be a prank or something. Who'd just give away 1K for some opinions, right? But we were proven wrong the next day.

But in our time of distrust, we did some snooping around. They'd called us using a landline to inform us of the time and place [Pizza Hut, hehe]. One of my friends called back later to find out more about them. It was a hotel at which they were staying. The person he talked to said that those people were from Yamaha.[besides tellin him that they weren't in their room at that time] So,.. convinced that we weren't heading towards a spot on MTV Bakra, we went to the meet.

There were those 2 girls and another PYT - their senior. We were made comfortable and eventually shown about 20 TV Commercials. 12 of 'em bike ads, 7 car ads and one Kwality cornetto ad. We were told to write our opinions on them on a set of sheets. Three Yamaha ads were thrown in at random.

When we probed as to who they worked for, all we got was that they were working mainly on 2-wheeler market research and were associated with one company in the market. The one we knew about, of course.

All throughout the session, i was subtly trying to give em the idea that I'd be the 1st one to ditch my current Bike for a new Yam 250 as soon as it came out.. When the Yam corporate ad was shown, i expressed my dislike of the fact that they show John Abraham talkin bout big bikes, they show the R1, but in the end all that we're offered to ride are 125cc mopeds. Then a talk started which eventually lead to Xbhp.com where th PYT had read someone say "Yamaha cheated India". I told her that i agreed. Then all subtlety was put aside when I told her that I was one of th people eagerly waitin for th Fazer250. They took that into account and we parted ways, me with a cool grand in hand.

A coupla months later, we got calls from those same girls again and this time, when we got there, there was Sanjay Tripathi [Dept. Head, Product Planning & Strategy - Yamaha India] [Of course I didn't know his position then], and with him were a bunch of Japanese businessmen who didn't talk much. We were shown designs of bikes and asked to pick the better ones, asked about our riding lives (how much we ride, whether we tour on our bikes, how long we intended to ride bikes, etc.) and told to assign priorities to aspects like power, styling, price and mileage (that was my order). And once again we left happily, being a thousand bucks richer.

Months passed by and I started cursing Yamaha 'coz I thought all they'd achieved with that activity involving us was try to make a raunchy ad like the Cornetto ad they showed us earlier [which we liked]. The Alba ad. Don't even get me started about anything to do with that bike.

But here are the actual results of that market research. I'm glad they tried just asking potential buyers what they want. And I'm proud that I helped them create this wonder of a bike. And I'm gonna go on record to say that though I'd much rather have the Fazer 250, this is my next bike, come what may.

There, now they've got celebrity endorsement too. What more do you need Yamaha?

* As per an official release by Yamaha.**
** As heard in the review on the Overdrive show on CNN IBN:

Did i mention i got free pizza too? on both occasions..

EDIT: So I finally did see the ad on TV, but it still lacks information like Yamaha having renovated most of its service centers, the availability of the bike in most cities.. Heck, they make it look like they're making some bullshit promises again. They need to use a simple clear message saying, "It's here."
But I guess that's just me.


On a lighter note...

Q: What would Gary Coleman say while reading about Tom Bombadil in Lord of The Rings?

A: What'chu Tolkein 'bout JRR?

[the following is better heard than read, but still]

Q: Have you ever heard of Madam Yudef?

A: Of course you haven't. 'coz main dumb, you deaf!

Disclaimer [Dis is lamer]: I do not take any responsibility for your brain overloading due to the incredible stupidity of the above "jokes"


Father's Day

I know I'm late for that, but when am I not late? And I'll be damned if I didn't let the world know how cool my dad is. And what better day to miss doing that (by just two days, mind you) than the day that someone decided to call Father's Day with a whole bunch of people (probably his kids, among others) agreeing with him.
Allow me to explain this mood I'm in. Gave an exam today. It didn't go as well as I'd planned. Add to that a dash of your own friends not really listening to you, a drop of having missed seeing a crow prey on a squirrel in your college's parking lot, with a pinch of having heard a new album of an old artist only to find that it sucks (except for the one song shown below) and you get a crappy mood of the kind you haven't seen me in for ages. And nobody except my mom even found out. And I had to tell my mom. Damn, now I'm certainly not the dark, brooding lone-wolf I always wanted to be.
But what's all this got to do with writing a blog post about my dad? Well, a high speed ride home on my bike, listening to good music and watching a Seinfeld rerun couldn't do what a good long conversation with my dad did. It cheered me up. Now we discussed the all new Yamaha R15 and how I played a part in its design and conception (more on that later), my career, football and more of my career. But what actually cheered me up was my dad's response when he found out that my monitor was giving troubles [It takes a random number of presses of the switch before it goes off]. I told him it's only a minor problem and it didn't need any attention from him, partly 'coz I could need a laptop in the near future and if I did get one, getting a new, good, TFT monitor for the desktop was unnecessary and getting a new CRT monitor,... well, I didn't have to explain the stupidity of that idea to him and I'm not gonna explain it to you. He said that regardless of whether I get a laptop or not, the PC at home should have a decent monitor, and he'd been thinkin of buying a good one for a while now.
Here I am, being all frugal and planning my purchases well, while my dad in his typical fashion, is thinking that life is meant to be lived and lived to the fullest. Hmm, that's more full than I was thinking..

Always, he's been on my side and always, contrary to my expectation. HE was the one who suggested the Sony Playstation 2 to me. I was hesitant at first. But he said he was okay with it and I'm now a game addict and loving it.
When I was gonna get a bike, he suggested I get a second-hand one, so I could upgrade more easily to a future release of a better bike. He understood me. Glee.
A year or so ago, he asked me about pen drives. I told him that quite a few of my friends had one. He told me off for not asking him for one. Here I was, thinking he'd say no or "What's the need?" or something to that effect. And he got me one the next day.
He gave me a new k800i when I was willing to settle for his year old k750i instead. The fact that he got himself an iPhone soon after is another matter. [He did let me take the gadget geek's Holy Grail to college for a day though.]

He never opposed my guitar obsession. In fact, when he found out that I spent a significant amount of my savings on a new effects processor, he asked me what the exact amount was, and handed me that money to return to my savings.
When I started growing my hair long and when he knew I intended to grow 'em at least to shoulder length, all he said was that he did it when he was my age and his dad couldn't stop him. So how could he? [Damn right]
He didn't react in any major way to me getting two backs in my 6th sem.
When I told him I'd be riding over 30 kms on my bike with my friends just to go to an amusement park, all he said was, "Be careful". When I told him that I was going on another ride, only 60+ kms this time, he said, "This is the age to do it. Go ahead."

Now he's getting me what I've been waiting to start earning to buy, to pamper myself. [Y'know, the monitor] Is he spoiling me silly? I certainly don't think so. I just think that he's one of the coolest dads in the world. I know people who're terrified of their dads, even though they're 22, Some are embarrassed by their dads. Some have dads who don't really know their kids, leave alone understand em.. I have none of those issues. I'm proud of my dad: his attitude, his cooking and his sense of humour, which is what makes me funny [if I'm funny at all]. I owe him more than I could ever repay. And what's more, he recently quit smoking.

What more could I ask for?

Well, that'll be a whole separate blog post, I think.

Anyway, Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Now playing: Liquid Tension Experiment - Biaxident
via FoxyTunes