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.

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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.