Monday, January 31, 2011

The England-UK-Great Britain Conundrum Explained

A subject which has piqued me, and numerous others, is the confusion between England, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Ireland, Commonwealth and the associated labyrinths of geo-socio-political phrases. Can you refer you to a person from London as British? Or a Scotsman as a citizen of the United Kingdom? Or why for that matter is the difference in the 'classes' of countries that participate in the Commonwealth Games? Who are the British Overseas Territories and what constitutes the Crown Dependencies?

That's when I came across this video that not only answered all of my queries but also put in some questions in my mind and answered them as well! It's a sincere advice to all of you to take out 5:15 minutes and go through this video, you will not regret it.

P.S: In case you prefer text over video (though I still suggest go for the latter) you can read the entire script here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amazon Kindle - Review

First things first, the Kindle is a reading device. So, if you're in the habit of reading - books, journals, magazines or anything for that matter, or if you like to read but cannot read as much as you would like to, only then should you think of buying one, or of reading this review for that matter. And if you belong to the category described above, I can assure you the Kindle will become one of your most trusted friends for years to come. I can safely say that even for a gadget freak like me it is one of my favourite devices of all time. Thank you Veni for the early birthday gift!

The Amazon site itself does a fantastic job of highlighting the key features of the device, posting a screenshot from there (click the image to enlarge)

Now for a more personalised review, I would like to highlight what I love the most about this gadget.

1. The paper like feel of the screen. It really does make you do a double take. I will go so far to say that it was love at first sight for me when I saw my friend Aniruddha's Kindle a few months back. It's e-Ink technology is very different from any electronic gadget you would have come across. The paper feel is also very comfortable on the eyes, and you can read for hours without endangering your sight. To top it all, you can read on your Kindle in direct sunlight which perhaps is it's biggest selling point. Unlike most electronic screens there's no glare. There is a flip side though, the Kindle doesn't come with backlight, so if you're planning to read in the dark you require an external light source, like a clip on light or something similar.

2. The lightness of the device is to be experienced to be believed. At 8.5 ounces or 240 grams it's lighter than most paperbacks. Also, the 6 inch screen makes for a seamless reading experience. And unlike with 'real books' here you can change the size of the font to your liking.

3. The virtually unlimited number of free ebooks you can download and read (legally!). While the Amazon store itself has a lot of books at $0.00 value, there are many other websites (notably Project Gutenberg) that distribute free e-books in Kindle ready format (.mobi). These are completely legal, as the copyrights for most of them have expired. And of course, nowadays almost all the books that are launched have a Kindle version launch as well, so you can buy the latest books right from Amazon store. It takes less than a minute for the book to be in your device. Here's a helpful post about downloading free ebooks for your Kindle

4. Battery life! This has to take the cake. Take a wild guess about how long does a fully charged Kindle last with 4-6 hours of usage per day? E.g. a laptop lasts 3-5 hours, iPad 8-10 hours, Smart Phones 18-36 hours, normal phones 36-72 hours. Correct? A Kindle battery actually goes on for more than 20 days! Some claim a month as well! Just think about it, add a bunch of books to your Kindle, by bunch I mean a few hundreds. Or thousands. And go off for a hike, trail what have you. After a month you may not have much to eat, or enough sleep but your Kindle battery still has life in it!

Coming to the most important question, what's the damage? If you buy the Kindle from the official Amazon Store you will get the Wi-Fi only version for $139 (Rs. 6500) and the WiFi+3G one for $189 (Rs. 8700). Important: These are US rates. You need to pay a heavy delivery fees + taxes to ship it to your address to India, this brings the total cost up by ~$70 (Rs. 3100). So, if you have a helpful friend in the US who is planning to come to India sometime soon, you may want to request him/her to get your shipment. A huge thanks to my friend Debarati who brought the package along with her already overstuffed bags!

Oh, yes before I end, some other points that come to mind. The Kindle can be charged through your computer using a normal micro USB cable that comes along with the package. They also send you a wall charger, however if you're in India you need to get a converter for the Indian electric plugs. Finally, it's highly recommended you get a cover for your Kindle. This is not a part of the standard package. You may want to order it directly from the Amazon store along with your device. And it's a good idea to get a clip on light along with it.

Thank you to my Kindle savvy friends - Kalpana, Juhi, Pavan & Sid for convincing me to get this magnificent piece of art and technology.

If you have any further questions about the Kindle please feel free to leave them as comments or write to me at

Here are some photos of my Kindle.

The Kindle with the charger and manual

Side shot of the Kindle

The paper like feel of the screen

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Walk To Remember

This is a pretty pointless post to describe an even more pointless video about a long, long walk at Delhi's new T3 Terminal at IGI Airport on a cold Delhi morning. It's fair to warn you right at the beginning that this is a 10 minute video with no climax or aha moment. Also, this is not to ridicule the new terminal, which I think is sparkling and shiny and nice, but just to highlight an exceptionally long walk with yards and yards of carpets and chairs on either sides. But above all, as I mentioned, at it's core it's just another pointless video in an ocean of such in the waters of YouTube.

Come, enjoy the walk with me. Commentary included!