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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Google+, Google voice, Chrome Webstore, Chrome OS, Google Music, Google TV, Google Shopping, Android, Google Fiber network; And most recently, Google Play.

Where do all these products culminate?

The answer is a tablet!

What Apple and Amazon understand and few other tablet makers such as Sony and RIM don’t is that tablet is not a device in itself. You need to give consumers an ecosystem to nurture the usage of the tablet and other devices.  Tablets are no longer a device that has a space between smartphone and computer as Steve Jobs introduced. It is inching closer to replace computers. There is a keyboard dock for iPad!

Google understands this as well as Apple or Amazon do. They also understands how people communicate and hence is striving to build a good social network, despite the early struggle.

There is need for a completely integrated ecosystem where a user can listen/buy music or movies, communicate with friends/family and share thoughts/news.

High speed Internet connectivity is also a big hindrance to ubiquitous usage of content accessible through these devices. Google has been setting up fiber optics and hopes to provide broadband 10 times faster than existing US average. The gamble by Google to create a complete end-to-end ecosystem from Apps and OS to hardware and internet infrastructure is as ambitious as it could possibly be. Pulling it off could be as revolutionary as Google search was for internet.

There are two important hurdles:

First, monetization could be a challenge: would Google try to put Ads on their devices and sell them at affordable prices (and hence go Amazon way?) or Make fully controlled premium devices (and go Apple way?). Hybrid option may seem the best alternative, but the trade off is not clear. Monetizing access to Google Play answers some part of this.

Second, Creating a seamless experience for user across multiple Android devices could be a challenge. Can Google make access to content purchased from ‘Play’ (and everything else) on Samsung SmartTV/GoogleTV, HTC Android Phone and Sony tablet seamlessly? It is a tough task, and an area where closed-system approach of Apple and its array of devices are scoring over Android. It becomes even more important in future.

Google seems to have or building (and integrating) all components of making a seamless entertainment experience on multiple devices. It would be interesting to see how Amazon and Apple play out. I think the first casualty could be Amazon if Google does well, before threatening Apple.

P.S.: Started writing ‘why Google tablet is important’ more than a month back, but only completing now. There is so much more I want to write about this, but got to run.

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“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

 

I realized the impact of lacking the knowledge of what customer wants when a product that I was working on was shelved for lack of market. An entrepreneur needs to know what customers want, be it in service or in product, in advance.

 

“It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

Vision is almost everything for an entrepreneur. It not only steers the company in the right direction, but also motivates people who work for you. A good product is not a result of how much money you spend in developing it or how much you pay for hiring the best talent. I believe all that someone needs to be happy is something to be enthusiastic about. A good entrepreneur understands this, and leads the people with his vision and extracts the best out of them.

 

“I’m not afraid to start from the beginning.”

To me a real entrepreneur is one who can say this at any point in time. For these reasons, the entrepreneur I admire the most is Steve Jobs.

 

 

This was one of the the essays I wrote while applying to the Marshall School of Business last year. I am preparing for my first final exam (Strategy) of business school. We have a case on Apple Inc., and I can’t help but wonder the void Steve Jobs has left behind in consumer electronics industry.

Have a look at this article which captures this void beautifully:

feeds.harvardbusiness.org/~r/harvardbusi…

 

 

P.S.: Some portion of the essay has been edited for not-so-obvious reasons, but 95% is unchanged.

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It had been over 2 years since i cleaned up my computer at home. I was sharing space and processing with a zillion viruses that had inflicted the computer. I always found a way to out-smart the virus that tried to prevent me running few applications. I’d either kill the process running the virus (don’t ask me how i would know which process to kill, this is the advantage of playing at home turf ;) or just let it have its share (lazy me).

Of late, i wanted to clean up data that i had gathered and make space for my photography stuff. Last week i formatted hard disk and installed Windows XP. To my horror, i realized i don’t have motherboad and other device driver installation CDs at my disposal. Frantic search on Saturday night ended in finding these CDs.

But, .exe won’t execute! ‘Not a valid Win32 application’ is the error message. Repaied the OS installation, and even reinstalled the OS from another disc. I am not able to install any device driver or application. Virtually my computer is dead, except its not.

How do i solve this issue?

Could this be due to IDE controlled badly configured? Is it possible that computer is not able to read properly from DVD/CD drive i am trying to install drivers from since the device driver of the DVD drive is not appropriate? But if this is the case, how can i install the OS from the same drive?!

I appreciate your inputs on solving this problem.

update: Resurrected my computer. As suspected, IDE configuration was the problem. It just stumps me why, but that’s what it is.

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I’ve started tweeting of late. I know i’ve arrived late just like i arrived late to blogging. I guess gone are the days when people were paranoid to write about their daily activities (read personal) in public domain. I guess people now live more online, and less off it. Though LiveJournal started the cult at the beginning of this century, i think it took Twitter to bring about the change so drastically.

It’s good to see information being passed so quickly through tinyurls to accommodate the link to a detailed article on web with the gist in the tweet. Tweets like ‘Off for dinner‘, ‘Back from loo‘ etc is just plain stupidity. But i’m sure there are people who follow such tweets as well following up with a tweet Hey Britney just got back from bathroom, jeez that was quick!

It gets irritating when people use twitter for conversation. It happened to me. Someone wanted to know if i would do freelance product photography, the conversation went on for some 5-6 tweets, i had no option but to reply on twitter itself. Why don’t people use email or IM for that?! This is exactly like using scrapbook/wall for conversation before chat feature was integrated into social networking sites.

I love the new Twitter search feature, which has a simple search homepage, what Google did more than decade ago. But i wonder why don’t they have ads in the twitter profile page?! It makes so much sense to have a couple of text ads there. For example, one of my tweets went like this: ‘Seems like 400mm f/5.6L USM went out of stock even in US!!! Canon, do something!’ It makes a lot of sense to have an ad for Canon 400mm lens which is in stock. It is fine that you might not be able to facilitate such ads on all tweets, but i’m sure you can find quite a few which do match. Back from loo‘ can have a toilet paper ad. :))

On a totally different note, i’m finding it hard to understand Hyperfocal distance to produce images with greatest depth of field for landscapes. This supposedly explains it well, but i’d appreciate if someone can explain better.

P.S.: Can i change from a postpaid connection to prepaid without changing the phone number? I use Vodafone. This was another tweet for which i’d have appreciated relevant ads. I still haven’t found an answer, would appreciate if any of you can address.

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I visited Canon Image Lounge on Monday evening. This lounge showcases all Canon products for the prospective customers to try a hand before they buy.

This is an excellent initiative from Canon. One can try the latest products from Canon, from Cameras to Scanners and all other accessories. This kind of a concept is for the first time in India, and i was really impressed by the service they offered.

I wanted to try 400mm f/5.6L lens. They were more than happy to let me try the lens with any specific camera body i want. I took multiple shots, with and without a 1.4x teleconverter, with and without a tripod. The lens itself is light enough to work hand held without any issues, but adding a teleconverter makes it hard to use hand held, for two reasons. One, it gets heavier and two, manual focus becomes much harder. But the speed of focus is excellent. You’d miss IS if you are used to it, like me.

I also tried the ‘dream lens’, 500mm f/4L. It is huge, and it’s really hard for me to try hand held. The lens is incredible. There’s no need to write more about that lens.

Sudhir Shivram is giving a small presentation on digital photography at the Canon Image Lounge this Sunday (15th Jan) at 3pm. Read about it here. I plan to go there. The Aero show plan looks bleak. Will catch up if any of you are there. Btw, Canon image lounge is at Brigade towers on Brigade road, towards residence road (after eva mall).

That’s all folks!

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Sleeping Disorder

Kehte hai ke ishq mein neend udh jati hai
Koi humse bhi toh ishq kare.. Kambakth neend bohot aati hai

Sleeping disorder saps the energy out of you. Makes you more stressed. I have been going through this for quite sometime now. And no, no, i’m not in love. In my case, it is not because of this.

I lay in the bed for little more than 8hours on an average but manage to catch only about 4-5hours of sleep. I get into bed by 12-12:30am and i don’t fall asleep for nearly an hour and up to 2-3hours on bad days. If i am lucky, i’ll sleep for few hours before i’m awake by 4-5am. Another hour of battle to catch sleep. Again, by 8am i’ll be awake struggling to catch sleep for the last half an hour or so, but in vain.

This really stresses me out, especially on the days when i have lot of work and when i go out for trips. Even after long hours of sleeplessness i don’t catch sleep easily, like it happened yesterday. I hit the bed by 12:30am on Friday night, and got up (rather got out of bed) by 5:15am on Saturday morning, managing to sleep only for about 2-3hours. Reached home, after a good trip (more about it in the next post), by 4pm. Desperately wanted to catch some sleep, at least for couple of hours. But no. I lay in bed from 4:30 to 5:45 without a wink of sleep, and the i gave up!

Why does this happen with me?! period.

P.S.:

After Bird Race, and Chitra Sante on successive weekends, I went to Valley school on 31st Jan, and Ranganatittu on 7th Feb (yday) . Yet to upload and process images from these two trips. Will try and do this asap.

And, yeah, planning to go to Aero India 2009, the coming week (weekday or weekend, undecided yet). Also, thinking about IndiBlogger’s meet on 21st Feb 28th Feb. Would be good to catch up if any of you are coming for Aero show or blogger’s meet.

Somebody stop me from going out every weekend! I think i should have a girlfriend :))

P.P.S.:

Have accumulated about 50GB of images since i bought my DSLR in late July. Have it all dumped on my desktop hard disk. Since i couldn’t upload anymore images to my computer, i thought to writing these to DVDs. And man, my writer is dead and none noticed. :(

Got writer from my cousin, and started the process. Writing one Sony DVD with 4.5GB of data took nearly 1.5hours!!

I learned that Sony discs suck, and need to get something else. Any inputs on this??

And, ignore the last sentence in P.S.

update:

As Dilip pointed out the problem might be due to device transfer mode in “PIO”, instead of “Ultra DMA”. I had done changes to make the LG drive work about a year back. Read that post.

This link provides more information: http://winhlp.com/node/10

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What’s a super telephoto lens?
Lenses with focal length greater than or equal to 300mm.

Most important aspect to consider before you buy any gear is to decide what do you want to photograph. This might seem trivial, but it is the most important thing going forward. This is as important as deciding to shoot on DSLR up from a P&S.
Why do you want to buy a super telephoto lens? Candid shots of people, Bird/Wildlife photography, sports photography or something else?

When you say focal length is important, ask yourself why is it important?
Can’t you do with a 70-300mm (Nikon/Canon/Sigma) standard telephoto or 70-200mm f/4L or f/2.8L lenses?
To quote someone: ‘ The best zoom lens i have is my legs.’
If you take a few steps towards the subject, your range automatically increases.

Ok, once you have a concrete reason to go for a longer range lens, we’ll proceed.
Lets assume, we have a standard telephoto lens of about 300mm max focal length, and a 1.6 crop sensor camera.

Why is 70-300mm/55-250mm lens not enough?
1. Can’t approach the small birds close enough to capture them, filling the frame (forget full frame!).

2. Actions are happening at a distance from where you can photograph (sporting events).
2. Quality of images, cropped, are not as the best.
3. Not fast enough. Whines to focus on the small bird, even if i have Center point focus.
4. < something more ? >

So, what options do i have?
Say, we are interested in Wildlife photography.
(If you want to shoot candid portraits 70-300mm is sufficient, if you think it’s not enough, you got to work on your technique. Mind you these birds won’t fly :P).

Super telephotos are mostly used in wildlife and bird photography, where photographer is at a safe distance from the subject. Super telephoto lenses are also used in Sports photography, but these are very fast lenses like 400mm f/2.8L, which costs nearly $7000 and hence we’ll exclude sports photography from the discussion.

For mammals, you need shorter focal length whereas for birds you need the longest focal length one can get.
Here, the decision of what i want to photograph comes handy. If you want to click birds predominantly, you ignore the shorter focal length and buy a prime (use another lens for shooting mammals) or buy a good zoom lens covering the entire range.

Options:

Zooms
1. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Termed as the best wildlife lens. Covers a good range and has IS. 400mm is when focus is at infinity. Gives about 385mm under normal shooting circumstances.
Advantages: Very good image quality. Good build. “L series” lens. Flexibility of zoom from 100 to 400mm. Perfect for wildlife, especially mammals.

Disadvantages: The push pull zoom (if you aren’t comfortable). Probably little more heavier than 400mm f/5.6 Prime.

No other disadvantage as such, but if you want to photograph birds, the reach of this lens isn’t good enough. With Tele Converters (TCs) you’ll lose Auto Focus, unless you are on pro bodies (1D MK-III). Taping pins only improves the situation slightly.
Price tag: about $1350

2. Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO RF
No other lens matches the range of ‘Bigma’. EX lens, Sigma’s “L series”. Good for mammals and birds, provides excellent range and good image quality.
Advantages: Huge range, good IQ when used properly.
Disadvantages: Bulky, need to get used to it before you get good images out of it, tripod necessary (only adding to the weight), not a very fast lens. Actual reach is little under 500mm.
Price tag: about $1000

3. Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM
Next generation of Bigma, BigmOS comes with OS which actually works albeit little grumpy. Good range. No EX tag, but they say IQ is as good as the ones with EX.
Advantages: Light weight (can shoot hand held). OS comes in handy, and it works too! IQ pretty good.
Disadvantages: Makes little noise with OS. As with all zoom lenses, actual range is under 500mm, about 460mm. Heavier than Canon 100-400. Image quality at 500mm not very impressive, Canon 100-400 at 400mm extrapolated to 500mm gives better IQ. Also, aperture is 6.3 at 500mm. But Have a look here for IQ before you write off this lens.
Price tag: about $900

Primes
4. Canon 400mm f/5.6L
An “L series prime”, but without IS.
Advantages: Excellent “L series” image quality. Perfect lens for Birds in flight and focuses really fast. 400mm actually gives 400mm.
Disadvantage: You’ll need another lens to cover the range up to 400mm, especially for photographing big mammals. If you have a 70-300mm or 70-200, this lens could be a good addition.
Similar problem as 100-400 with TCs, may be slightly better. Monopod is handy, to make up for the loss of IS.
Price tag: $1100

5. Canon 300mm IS f/4L + 1.4x TC
Another L series prime, but comes with IS. Faster than all other lenses above when used at 300mm. Add a 1.4x TC, giving you 420mm at f/5.6 with IS.
Advantages: L series prime quality. 420mm reach with IS. AF works well.
Disadvantages: Range, as with 400mm f/5.6L, need another lens for covering up the focal length range. The price for the combo is little more than you’d pay for others.

Price tag: about $1050 + $250 for Canon EF 1.4x II TC, total $1300.

P.S.:
1. I have listed only lenses under $1500.
2. I have listed only Canon lenses, as i am more familiar with Canon. Nikon too has similar lenses at similar price tag (Like 80-400mm instead of 100-400). Exception is Nikon 200-400 f/4G VR, which doesn’t have an equivalent in Canon, and is in a different league altogether at $5000+ a piece.

3. I’m researching for an upgrade and this post is to make it easier for amateurs in the same boat. I still am not sure whether to buy Canon 400mm f/5.6L prime or Sigma 150-500mm OS.

update:

This compilation and the prices are on the day of the article written. And are subject to change.

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