One versus Four

Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One
Galaxy S4 versus HTC One

No, this isn’t some odd fighting mismatch! This is our head-to-head of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Two flagship devices pitted against one another. Who will come out on top?

Both these devices have been closely followed by fans for well over six months. And with good reason. The One represents a paradigm shift for HTC and their design philosophy (although some UI elements could have been improved further) whereas the S4 hopes to build on the mind-blowing success of the S3 and imbibe some good qualities of the Note II. It is also possible to consider the Sony Xperia Z for this match up, but it fell short on a wide range of parameters… including user anticipation! So here we go… Continue reading “One versus Four”

Life in the Clouds

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a model of networked online storage where information is stored in a remote database instead of your computer’s hard drive and the internet provides the connection between your computer and the database. It is wonderful to have a cloud drive for backing up your important data and ensuring it’s available to you wherever and whenever you need it, but there are pros and cons to being dependent on cloud storage. While choices abound, there are some that do a better job than others. Here are five that you could try out. Continue reading “Life in the Clouds”

Television on Demand

APR4-iTunes

Heard of hulu.com? It’s a streaming TV service in the US. They make available TV shows online for small payments. It sounds innocuous enough, but it’s a revolution. And you are already part of it. In India, this was led by YouTube who first introduced us to on-demand video. Then came the pirates who recorded and put anything they could find on TV online. Then came the suits who figured this could be profitable and are now making money by the truckloads letting us see on the computer what we may be missing on TV. Continue reading “Television on Demand”

Best waste of money?

iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is available for sale on Ebay.in. Considering it’s not yet officially launched in India, this has to be a smuggled piece. Nonetheless, at Rs 54,250 for the cheapest option, it seems a tad bit steep to me!

iPhone 5
iPhone 5 for sale on Ebay.in

I could think of a ton of better uses for this money. Would you spend 54k on a phone?

[The Goan] Outlook.com Review

Outlook.com
The Outlook.com interface

To be fair to Microsoft, calling Outlook.com refreshed is really selling them short. They’ve done a stellar job of actually making a non-Gmail service look and work well. Admittedly, it’s just been a few days since they opened their doors to the world, but it’s a huge (humongous, really) improvement over what Hotmail had become. Bloated, unusable and quite frankly, pointless. So what makes Outlook.com worthwhile?

For one, Outlook.com does really extend the main features of the desktop mail client to the web. And it does without compromising too much on speed or quality. The continued extension of the Metro UI is also a good change. It will let users get used to the interface before Windows 8 launches later this year.

Yes, there are some annoyances as you would expect. But the hope here is that Microsoft will listen to the users and iron these out. The operative word being hope! Without further blabbering, let’s dive right into it.

Continue reading “[The Goan] Outlook.com Review”

A tab that does the job

Karbonn Smart TabTablets are all the rage. If you don’t have one, well, why not? For one, they are now smaller than ever starting at 7-inches in size and cost less than a decent smartphone. Really.

Much is in questioned about the capability of tablets like the Micromax Funtab, the Karbonn SmartTab and others in the sub Rs 7,000-range. So we set out to find the truths. With a Karbonn SmartTab 1. And we’re impressed.

At Rs 6,499, this is perhaps great value for money. Yes, the Google Nexus 7 will be a gamechanger at Rs 9,000 (approx.), but till then, this one will have to do. We did play around with the Micromax Funtab as well, but the higher processor speed (1.2GHz) of the SmartTab swayed us toward it. Also helpful was that there are no physical buttons on the front facia, something that will prove useful as you use the tab in different situations. Continue reading “A tab that does the job”

Fighting a custody battle

Now, now. No alarm bells, please. All is well with the wife and I and of course, the child! This battle has me as the subject of custody. And although the two principals in question don’t know they are fighting for me, well, they are!

The history is thus: In about 2007, I moved from Windows to Apple because I could. And I loved it. I used my black Macbook 13.3 (it wasn’t called a Pro back then) to the fullest for the next 3 years. Of course, time came for an upgrade and I started looking for the next Mac. But it wasn’t available to me. The cost was prohibitive. And before you knew it, Windows 7, like one of the favouring parents, had wooed me away. Apple didn’t seem to care much about this, but I kept longing for the parent I wasn’t in touch with. Windows was true, it kept giving me more and more until I could need no more.

But here I am, once again on the cusp of yearning for that missing parent. Why? Is Windows mistreating me? No. To the contrary, just today, they gave me and the world the free preview of Office 2013. It’s fashionable to diss Windows, but let’s face it, they are more accessible. But I digress.

In this custody battle, like others, are external factors. While Windows is true to me, it always has a barrier between itself and me. The hardware. It’s never true to itself. And this barrier keeps pushing me away. Unbeknownst to Windows. And the pull of Apple is as strong as ever, the prohibitive pricing notwithstanding. So I wonder now what to do? Wait till I’m rich enough to completely embrace the parent who hasn’t done much for me and has continually become more inaccessible? Or keep with the one that has been with me, but continues to offer much frustration thanks to the barriers that are constantly formed?

It’s a tough and expensive decision.

This time, though, the expensive part applies to the ward in the custody battle.

What’s ‘real’ photography?

If one were to compare, it can be argued that this question parallels the “Chicken first or egg” argument. What is real photography? Opinion is pretty evenly divided. One camp, who call themselves ‘purists’ say it is what the camera captures. The other camp argues it is what the photographer visualizes and creates. This includes post-processing (aka ‘photoshopping’) and any other techniques. Darkroom processes and techniques have existed since photography became mainstream and photographers have used these to improve their photos or even alter them.

I lean towards the second group. Photography by itself is a tool-based art. So why should addition of more tools make it any worse? Moreover, I agree with the thought that a photograph is finally a photographer’s vision and not what the camera captures. That is the difference between point-and-shoot photographers and those who use more equipment, techniques and tools to capture their image. Already, we’re going in circles!

A bigger thought that I still don’t have an answer to yet is what constitutes a good photo? Forget the theoretical definitions of perfect composition, etc. The question is for any photograph. What in the photo can deem it to be good?

Admittedly, it is easy these days to just aim and shoot. The better the camera, the better the result. In case of people photography, make-up, hair, clothes and other embellishments that are part of the photo always take precedence. So what is a good photo? Is it being able to communicate the original thought irrespective of the embellishments? The way photojournalism aims to? Or is just taking a pretty picture and letting the viewer make his choice?

Lots of questions there. Here’s what I think:

– Like a good song, a good photo is whatever pleases the viewer. Highly subjective, even trying to define this is stupidity.

– A photographer should make maximum use of all tools available to him/her to get the image they originally wanted. So long as the photographer is honest in telling the viewer that the photo has been altered, it should be acceptable.

– A photograph is the photographer’s to create and the viewer’s to accept or reject based on the final offering. Tools and means should not matter to them.

But to the viewer, what is a good photo?