Archive for February, 2008

This had to happen some time, and it did on today. Woke up at 5:30am and was ready go soon. Left my house by around 6:15 am, after the guy who had to pick me up got a little delayed. The traffic on the Tumkur road NH-4 highway isn’t all that good even that early in the morning. The road widening has begun in that part, converting that to a 6 lane highway. Took a turn towards Hesaraghatta main road, after Dasarahalli. The road after Hesaraghatta main road is very patchy, some stretch being really laid out well, and some very bad. The bad road along with asking directions to lake took us some time, after we missed the route for some distance. Finally reached the lake by 7:15am, and we thought we were really late.

Surprise, surprise. We weren’t too late, the mist had entirely covered the lake. We could hardly see if there was a lake. We could hardly see any person standing 10m far, forget spotting small birds! We took a stroll along the lake, and soon the mist started clearing up. Around the bushes on the edge of the lake, we spotted few birds. There were Robins, Bulbuls, Greater Coucals, purple sunbirds, and many more. Just building my birding vocabulary, so excuse me for not identifying many more i could spot. Could catch a good view of yellow-rumped sunbird.

There were plenty of Swifts, and Common Mynas. Also along the lake bed were many Little Egrets and Indian pond herons. We walked down the lake bed, and spotted many small field birds, and identifying them with my limited knowledge is a pain. My delight was in watching Black Drongo and Magpie Robin. There were many Brahminy kites. Unfortunate that i couldn’t take snaps. But here are few birds that i spotted.

Magpie RobinMagpie Robin

Greater Coucal

Greater Coucal

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The replacement for the bulky desktops had begun nearly three decades back, though there is still uncertainty about the first laptop.Osbourne 1, the first portable computer

Osborne 1, introduced in April 1981, is considered to be the first true portable computer. If you see the picture, you’d surely not call it a portable computer. This was the first commercially available portable computer, with an 5 inch display. Yup, you could put it on your lap as well. There was another portable computer, earlier to Osborne 1, custom made for NASA space shuttle expeditions in 1980s.

The quest for making the portable computer slimmer and thinner was on since then. At present, the Macbook Air seems to have taken the cherry for being the thinnest laptop commercially available. Just when i thought there could be no match for this, Lenovo has come up with ThinkPad X300. Almost as thin as Macbook Air, and comes with DVD drive too. The Macbook Air lacks an optical media drive, which i mentioned in one of my previous posts about the death of optical drives. Apple’s Macbook Air

On the sheer thickness front Apple‘s MacBook Air beats X300 hands down. Macbook Air has a thickness of 0.16 inch on one edge to 0.76 inch on the thickest edge. The thickest edge of Macbook Air was more thin than the thinnest edge of the slimmest available laptop, Sony Vaio TZ series, when Steve Jobs showcased it at the MacWorld Expo ’08, beating the Lenovo team for the ultraslim laptop market. ThinkPad X300 has thickness of 0.73 to 0.92 inches, a close match to Macbook Air.

Both ThinkPad X300 and Macbook Air have a bigger screen of 13.3 inches as compared to that of Sony Vaio TZ series laptops which comes with 11.1 inch screen. Also, they have full fledged QWERTY keyboard, unlike Sony’s 82 keys keyboard. The cost of TZ series laptops range from $2200 to $3700. You can read the side to side comparison of Sony Vaio TZ versus Apple Macbook Air here.

ThinkPad X300The miniaturization of the electronics has allowed them to pack so much in such a small case. The ThinkPad X300 too fits in to an envelope, just as Jobs showcased Macbook Air. The image below shows what goes in to the ThinkPad X300, from the board with Intel Core 2 Duo processor to the DVD drive, audio cables and screws. Thinkpad X300 scores over the Macbook Air in having a better screen resolution of 1440 x 900 versus Macbook Air’s 1280 x 800, a DVD drive, 3 port USB and Ethernet for net connectivity. These features makes ThinkPad X300’s estimated price in the range of $2700 to $3000. Macbook Air basic version costs $1800, this is the one without solid state hard drive. The one with 64GB solid state drive costs $3100.

Lenovo ThinkPad X300

The cost of these ultraslim laptops are about twice that of any good laptops available in the market today. The ultra slim laptops are very flimsy, and handling them well is very important. This makes them attractive, and can be sold without much marketing. Remember how MotoRzar revived the Motorola‘s mobile market share just being very slim?

No doubt i’m very excited about such laptops, i feel there is also need for more rigid laptops handling little more rough use, something like the Sonim’s indestructible mobile phone, which may not be all that attractive and slim. There is need to strike a balance, neither making it too flimsy nor too thick and unattractive. Make little way(about an inch) for theses ultraslim laptops.

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Having spent couple of decades in Bangalore i have watched the behavior of the traffic cops closely, be it in collecting fine or controlling traffic or yelling foul mouthed words abusively at the commuters. I can understand their plight, for being so rude and ruthless. But their behavior is no excuse. They are on a job, like everybody else.

bangalore traffic police

The most amusing thing is their ways of collecting fine (read bribe) that is unlike anything ever seen. Anyone who has commuted on Bangalore roads must have encountered them, and know that once they stop you there is no way out without a penalty. They seem to have this voracious appetite for making ‘something extra’. There is very slim chance that you are let off without yielding to their carving, unless you have good ‘contacts’.

They are there when you don’t have a license, and don’t seem to exist when you have it with you. They’ve also got an uncanny sense to catch the ones who doesn’t have the right documents. Even if they catch someone who’d produce all the required documents, they have an uncanny sense to find some fault with your vehicle number plate or mirror or your driving style.

The left turn at the end of Cunninghm road, on the road connecting to Race course road, they hide on the edge of the road waiting for someone to break the signal, that appears briefly only for pedestrian crossing. Cops are not to be seen in the evenings when there are many people crossing the road. They appear only by 8:30-9pm, evidently to catch commuters who jump the signal thinking they wouldn’t be there at that time.

In the last two weeks, i’ve been caught three times between the Cantonment junction and Cunninghm road, and twice by the same cop. This i must say for not really any big fault of mine.

bangalore traffic police

The small approach road taken to join Cunninghm road, to avoid the longer stretch of busy Queen’s road, that many other commuters take is supposedly one-way. The one-way sign is supposedly hidden somewhere on that stretch. The constable who stopped me asked “Yaakre oneway-le bartha idhere??”, i asked “idu oneway-na!? Yaavaginda?” To my astonishment i hear him say “Mur varshdinda!”

update: I couldn’t find that no-entry board, i traced back on that road in the ‘right direction’.

Few days prior to this incident, i was caught on benson town road. I had not been caught since my PU college days before this. Unfortunately, i had not kept a copy of vehicle insurance and RC book with me. I had removed it when i gave my vehicle for service and had forgot to put it back. The last incident for skipping that Cunninghm road signal at 9pm, that i did by looking at that approach road if anyone was driving through that “one-way”. To my amazement there were few people driving through that road!

My bad luck i must say. The strange thing i noticed is how their tone changes once they’ve got what they want. The constable who caught me for not having Insurance and RC book said ‘I’m leaving you only because you said you have it at home.’ I thought ‘Oh not because for what i transferred from my wallet to yours huh?’

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I was reading an opinion article on AV Max, an audio video monthly, by Mehul, who had written about the death of CD drives in the future with portable music players with connectivities to every kind of bigger music system/speaker array replacing the HiFi music systems of yesteryears. His HiFi system laser lens had lost the intensity and replacing that was the only option. Non-availability of the lens in the market made this a hard task.

I was thinking as how long would these optical media drives last, as a technology? Not just the CD drive, but in general all the optical media drives, the DVDs and Blu-rays. For the ones who learnt about the Macbook Air, recently launched at the Macworld expo by Apple, know that Macbook Air comes without an optical drive. This is evidently to make it thin enough to slide it on to an envelope, as Steve Jobs demoed.

Macbook Air

The pen drives and portable hard disks are going to replace these optical drives. Yes, i know some people would like to have collection of their favorite movies or music on DVDs. But weren’t the days when people had audio cassettes collection seem like an era lost in history? Come on, i would not have the patience to burn and keep track of 50GB of data a Blu-ray disc provides. Blu-ray would be a failure even before it kicks in(hard). Sony has lost it in this space.

The real killer would be the Internet. With broadband connections becoming common, people would rather watch movies online, streaming or downloading it. At least, i’d do. I do that even now. I’d rather prefer watching movies at my convenience on my computer online than rent it from the nearby DVD store or ask a friend for it. Wireless broadband speeds reaching high enough to watch a SD video would soon be a reality. May be HD movies streaming would also be possible, with better compression techniques and greater bandwidths, in the near future.

Now about the softwares. How do i get a substitute for boot-up disc or an OS installation? I’d say pen-drive. This should be the substitute the present day optical drives. Downloading the softwares you want should not be a problem. I’m sure the speeds for this are already there, even in India. Only thing is you may have to pay for these stuff, but you can always find a P2P torrents.

So the final question is how long would these drive last, a decade or half a decade? May be less than that. I’d say about 3-5 years. Let’s see how long we’ll put up with these. :)

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Craziest of ideas could be patented if you have the will and some money to go for it. There has been no dearth of such ideas for me in the past year or so. Tea time at work being the most productive for getting most of these potentially-noble-prize winning or million-dollar ideas. Lunch, and the occasional chit-chat around cubicle has blossomed few nice ideas. Well, nice is relative as you’ll come to know.

The motivation to put down those craziest ideas came to me when i read the article ‘Patent granted on smartphones, everyone sued‘. When such non-specific and generic application can get patent, why not get a patent for some innovative idea, implementation of which is not been currently achieved?

Ideas had become so popular that, once Sumit asked me what’s your ‘idea of the day?’ :)

Here are a couple of my wackiest of ideas:

1. Splitting CO2 into O2 and C:

However funny it may sound, i got the idea of splitting up the Carbon-di-oxide into Carbon and Oxygen by magnetic resonance. Can’t you resonate the CO2 and impart enough energy to split it up to Carbon and Oxygen? How do you do it? You can do a research on that and figure out a way, i’ll file the patent for the idea and sue you when you’d get the solution.

2. Storage in air

Air is abundant, why not device a way to store data in air? Nitrogen, Oxygen or any other gas you might think of. Get some spin-stabilization and some insight into nanotechnology. Yup we discussed about the security issues with the free flow of air, some encryption? Whatever it is, Slog your ass off and get a way to implement that. I’ll patent the idea. May be some day someone will device a way to do it.

There were few more sane ideas, which i didn’t consider worth putting up here.
I got some insight to patent just the ideas, and develop a product in future. You have to first obtain a provisional patent by paying Rs.15000/-. This is for patents in India, and is valid for a period of one year. In that period you can work on your idea and get the working model. Once you have got this, you can go ahead and get a patent in the USPTO. The charges for the lawyer filing your patent would be additional. The ‘handling fee’ is Rs.20000/-. If you fail to get more details of your innovation within 12months, the patent gets void.

Terminating this post with another wacky idea of patenting the idea of patenting. :D

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