Brown County State Park

28 Jul

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Some photographs of Prague – 2012

16 Feb

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Subjective comparison of Nokia Lumia 800 with Samsung Galaxy S2 and Apple iPhone 4S and their eco systems

25 Dec

Disclaimer: I am known to be an Apple fanboy. I consider myself a fair evaluator but over the years I have come to appreciate Apple products.

My review after using the three products. I have used the Apple products since release, the Samsung product since 2009 and the Nokia Lumia since December 2011.

 

iPhone 4S and itunes:

Pro’s: Most mature smartphone in the market, the 4S is just a minor evolution on the 4, better A5 processor, more RAM, bugs and antenna improved, very solid, very fast, everything works, iOS 5 is stable, notifications are a great improvement. Best phone in the market. iTunes integration is superb, especially on the Mac, has the best sync eco system among all phones. Largest collection of apps. Screen still among the best 18 months after introduction. Battery life is decent. The camera is best in class and is the benchmark for other phones. Bottomline: Everything works as advertised.

Con’s: Design is now 20 months old, screen size is smaller than the others, still expensive to buy unlocked. Single design not many options and configurations. Siri is decent but needs another year of work to be really useful. Glass back is fragile. Doesn’t support 4G as of now.

Apple iphone 4s

 

Samsung Galaxy S2 and Kies:

Pro’s: Best Android phone in the market, the S2 is a major evolution over the Galaxy S, better multitasking processor, more RAM, the Super AMOLED+ screen is 4.3″ and is gorgeous. The phone feels good to hold in the hand is very fast and works well on gingerbread. Everything works reasonably, Gingerbread is stable, and Gmail integration is very good. Samsung’s own skin on Android is not too intrusive. The camera is decent.  Android has been improving and now a good selection of applications is now available almost comparable to the IPhone which is good. Phone features work well.  Bottomline: Best android phone, comes close to the iPhone but lacks some of the finesse to make it the leader. Pricing is better than Apples. Supports LTE is some markets, but will poor battery life resulting.

Con’s: The design feels plasticky and a bit cheap for a top of the line phone. Kies software is quite crappy and Android integration with computers and the cloud is just not a good as Apples or even as goods as Microsoft’s. The fragmentation of Android shows through, the latest software doesn’t become available quick enough. The phone freezes up sometimes for no reason and then starts working wonderfully for no apparent reason. In India sometimes signal switching between towers is slow or requires manual connections to get it to connect. Music is a big weakness of the Google markets. Accessories are not easily available or of great quality.

Galaxy S2 offical PICS 4

 

 

Nokia Lumia 800 and Zune:

Pro’s: Most exciting and new user interface to hit the mobile market, the Mango version of Windows Phone is stable, fast and reliable on the 800.  The hardware is gorgeous, the body is the best design I have seen come out of Nokia in a while, the solid polycarbonate body feels very good to hold, the screen is very nice as is the camera (though its still not as good as the iPhones camera).  The Zune software is decent and integrates better than that found on Android though not as nice as ITunes. Nokia’s built in maps and voice navigation software is superb as is the media integration.. Bottomline: Nokia has made a strong comeback, best windows phone in the market. If you don’t want an iPhone this is the next best choice. Very good pricing.

Con’s: No front facing camera, Mango doesn’t support multi processors, not enough the popular applications, Mango doesn’t feel as mature as Android or iOS. Organization in the marketplace or the selections don’t appear as wide as that of Apple but far better than Android. Does not support 4G as of now.

Nokia lumia 800 picture

Madurai – Meenakshi Temple Photo Tour

6 Jul

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View of Temple complex from nearby hill hotel Taj Gateway Madurai

 

 

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Early morning view of Meenkashi temple complex

 

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Evening view of South Temple Gopura

 

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B&W Stone idol of ganesh

 

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Room with 998 stone pillars, amazing structure

 

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15 year old female elephant at the temple

 

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Light of devotion – women praying

 

 

 

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Praying with lights to Nandi

 

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Lovely Ganesh idol adorned with gold

 

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Fantastic stone carved corridors

 

 

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View of the central pond complex

 

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East gopuras

 

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View from the street

 

Looking forward to iOS 5

9 Jun

Really looking forward to the new iOS 5. My favorite feature is “notifications”. The feature appears to be very similar to Android notifications which is one of the nicest features in Android.

http://www.apple.com/ios/ios5/

My next major feature of interest is the twitter integration.

http://www.apple.com/ios/ios5/features.html#twitter

The link above takes you to all the major features of iOS 5.

Attached are some links of hand on reviews on the new software.

http://www.apple.com/ios/ios5/gallery.html

http://www.engadget.com/wwdc-2011/apple-ios-5-hands-on-preview/

 

All in all looks like Apple is ready with the next evolution of the best phone system.

 

 

The Kathi Rolls of Kolkata

27 Feb

Whenever I travel to different parts of India, I like to try out the local foods. Once such Indian “Fast food” which originated in Kolkata and is now available in most parts of India is the Kathi Roll or the Kathi Kabab Roll as it is called in different parts of the country.

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Attached is a wikipedia link, for historical details, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kati_roll

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I visited Nizam’s the source where this form of the roll originated. Nizam’s is located behind the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata. To get to it one needs to walk through extremely crowded streets till one gets to an old building which probably looks the same since it was started 70 years ago.

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The menu was limited, just rolls, biryanis and some gravies with rotis and parathas. Different types of rolls were available, in combination, of egg, vegetable, chicken and mutton, with options of single or double portions.

The ratio of waiters, dressed in islamic green costumes,  to customers was almost 1:1, so service was fast. A large suspicious looking board read, “No Beef”.

I chose the grandest of the rolls, a Double Paratha, double egg, double mutton roll (No wimpy chicken rolls for me). Even this hefty combination cost Rs. 62/- a small sum considering similar meals in other towns wold set you back Rs. 200/-. I asked for what was available to drink and got an answer, coke, limca or sweet lassi. I went with the conservative limca.

The roll arrived in ten minutes wrapped in paper, with the waiter telling me, that he had included a lemon and that I need to squeeze it on the roll.

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I grabbed the roll with both my hands and gave it a big bite. I was delicious, lovely crisp paratha, the double egg had been spread on both sides of the paratha and was perfectly cooked, lots of raw thin spirals of onion and well cooked and wonderfully flavoured pieces of mutton, they also appear to have added a tart sauce on some kind on the mutton. All in all a wonderful experience, one of the best rolls I have eaten anywhere in India. The quantity was plenty and I was glad I hadn’t ordered two. Great value for money and worth the walk into this crowded location.

A must for any foodie when one visits Kolkata.

 

Ashwath Ram

February 26th 2011

 

 

 

Investing in the Indian stock market in 2011

8 Feb

The stock market has again crashed, not because people don’t see a future in India, not because of an fundamental indicators weakening but because if liquidity and partial recovery in global markets. From a peak of 22,000 the market has crashed to below 18,000 which represents a close to 20% market correction.

The Indian economy continues to be strong, with close to 9% growth in 2010 and at least 7 to 8% forecasted in 2011.

India continues to be under invested in infrastructure, power generation, housing, automotive industry and per capita consumption. With a growing middle class and the second largest population in the world, India continues to enjoy high growth rates and strong demand in most market segments.

Based on these facts, I would invest in a diverse portfolio which consists of:

Auto / auto components:

Bharat Forge; Mahindra and Mahindra

Banking:

HDFC; HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank

Engineering/Capital Goods:

Cummins; Larsen and Toubro, Elgi Equipments

FMCG/Hotels:

ITC; Hindustan Unilever, Procter and Gamble; Indian Hotels.

IT:

Infosys, TCS, KPIT Cummins, Persistant Systems

Pharmaceuticals:

Cipla Pfizer, Wockhardt, Dr. Reddy’s

I strongly believe investing in this type of portfolio in the current market condition could produce returns of over 20% in a 12 to 18 month horizon.

 

Disclaimer: All opinions, advice are my own and are not endorsed by any investing body, my employers, etc. I may at any time hold positions in these stocks, which I would divest or reinvest in at the right opportunity. If you are not experienced at investing please consult a professional investment advisor. Past success in investing is no guarantee of future results, so please follow after considering these risks.

 

 

Images of Mumbai – Gateway of India & Taj Palace Mumbai

6 Feb

Some Images of Mumbai

View of Gateway of India from Room

 

View of Gateway of India from hotel window

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View of Taj Palace and Harbor

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Taj Palace View

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Gateway of India in the evening, less crowded than usual due to security


Mumbai harbour in the evening panorama

Panoramic view of the harbor in the evening


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Taj Palace, front view


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Harbor and GOI in the evening, with the tourist boats all lined up.


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Night view of Gateway of India from Room

Anatomy of a Five Star Indian Breakfast Buffet

30 Jan

I love breakfast buffets in India, especially those at holiday resorts. Nothing feels better than going for a jog or a walk along then beach, getting back to your room, hitting the showers and then heading out to partake on a sumptuous feast. This is not a meal to be taken lightly (Hah!). One needs to prepare and strategize on how one needs to handle the flow and quantity of food to ensure maximum foodie delight. One needs to carve out a couple of hours from one’s day and plan for at least 8 hours after this meal when one does not see any other food.

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The modern buffets cater to all tastes around the world, while retaining its distinctive Indian flavour.

The buffets are broken into sections catering to different markets and tastes, so there is something for everybody and lots for the food lovers.

Breads and Baked Goods: This section typically holds fresh breads, the famous Indian white and wheat toast breads (more robust than the typical American whites that crumble when you try to butter them without a brush). Some hotels have good french breads, baguettes, chocolate croissants, danish, doughnuts, tarts, coffee cakes, etc. Avoid the entire section if you are on Atkins diets. Lots of fresh butter is always handy, after all – what is good toast without lots of salty “Amul” butter.

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Juices and drinks: This section typically holds fresh juices (Orange, Watermelon and Mousambi [Sweet Lime]) are most common in India, but some hotels have others such as apple, mixed fruit, mango, kiwi, these could be fresh depending on location and season or from cartons. There is usually a vanilla, strawberry or chocolate milkshake with fruit smoothies now available in the better buffets. I get my “paisa vasul” (value for money) in this section.

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Cold Cuts and Cheeses: This section as expected has delectable slices of ham, turkey, chicken ham, and assorted typed of cheeses including camembert, cheddar, brie these are usually served with crackers. Great for people on high protein diets. Frequented by “goras” (white folk) and yuppie kids.

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Breakfast cereal and Milk: An assortment of the usual packaged cereals and some fresh muesli. Lots of fresh cold and hot milk for the milk drinkers. The waiters will usually whip up a hot chocolate if you ask for one. Some Indians like milky chai (tea) and supplement the regular tea with extra milk from this area.

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The Indian Vegetarian food section: This is the favorite section for most Indians. Here one gets to sample Dosas (savory rice and lentil pancakes made thin and crisp), Onion Utthapas(the pancake with onions, chillies and tomatoes added), Idlis (steamed rice and lentil dumplings, staple food for most of South India, probably the most healthy food on the table), Medhu Vadas (fried savoury rice and lentil doughnuts) all served with hot sambhar (soup of spices, vegetables and lentils) and coconut and chilly chutneys. This is where the discerning Indian food lover is heard telling the manager that their chutney is inedible – for anyone used to the authentic Palaghat Iyer chutneys, this comes as a rude shock. The good hotels usually take the feedback and return with suitable modified chutneys with enough chillies to kill small animals but with a flavour designed to go with the Indian meal and bring out the taste of the hot tea thats usually drunk with the meal. Other buffets have Puri-bhaji (A North Indian favourite, rolled and fried dough eaten with a spicy potato and tomato curry), Upma (a spicy savory dish made of cream of wheat, onions, chillies and other spices), in the west and south they have sheera/kesari (a sweet version of the upma with no vegetables, garnished with raisins and roasted cashewnuts). The dosas are typically prepared fresh on the spot by a chef and served piping hot, enjoyed with South Indian coffee. Some hotels also serve fresh aloo (potato), gobhi (cauliflower) or mooli (white radish) parathas, these are incredible when eaten with dahi (plain yoghurt), amul butter and lime or mango pickle. The Indian section has so much variety that its hard to imagine, so one needs to come prepared to spend a few hours and sample each type of food.

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Eggs and meat : This is one of my favorite areas, here a chef will fix you up with a nice sets of fried eggs, a fluffy or flat masala and cheese omelet (with onions, tomatoes, chillies) or masala bhurji “scrambled eggs with the masala). Usually this area is supplemented with sausages, bacon, fried tomatoes, hash browns and tons of tomato ketchup a must for every breakfast. Indians typically eats eggs with crisp toast and butter and hot “ginger” tea on the side makes this go down real smooth.

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Fresh Fruits and Yoghurt: This is great wrap-up to the meal, lots of fresh oranges, apples, pears, peaches, pineapple, plums and other season fruits. My favorite are in the winter when one gets fresh anjir (figs) and chikoo (Sapota fruit imported by the Portuguese from south America). There are different flavors of yoghurt available the most common being strawberry, peach, mango and plain. Some hotels now serve baked yoghurts that are also very nice.

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Armed with this information you are now ready to go to any large five-star hotel and assault their buffet for complete happiness. Enjoy!

Working with Windows 7 Beta

28 Jan

Have now been working with the beta release of the 7 product for over a week and so far the feedback is that its pretty stable.

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It seems to work on my older Toshiba laptop with 1.5 gig’s of RAM pretty well. Some web site seem to cause it to freeze up and I found media player to be quite sad.

The installation process was seamless and smooth, I did an upgrade of my system from Vista so that took more than an hour to do.

Some bugs I have found so far are to do with drivers for my Toshiba built in wireless card and also the system when opening multiple IE tabs seems to load the processor to 100% and sometimes freezes up.

Further some applications such as Outlook 2007 also seem to freeze up if left on for a long time. I think the system leaks memory as the performance seems to deteriorate after the system is on for a few hours.

In summary, I am quite happy with the product at this stage of evolution and will be successful once Microsoft fixes some of the issues listed.

Also if you are reading Microsoft, one version is all we need.