quote

An expert is a per­son who has made all the mis­takes that can be made in a very nar­row field. — Niels Bohr, Dan­ish physi­cist and Nobel Prize winner.

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The 21 New Signs that you are a Real Photographer!

Peter Phun wrote the orig­i­nal 21 signs that you’ve crossed the thresh­old from pre­tender to con­tender in 2009. I read it yes­ter­day and found it quite out­dated. So i decided to re-write it and update it to what i feel the cur­rent con­di­tion is.

The 21 New Signs that you are a Real Photographer

In a day and age when any­one with any sort of cam­era and a social net­work account can call them­selves a pho­tog­ra­pher, it can be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out when you’ve sep­a­rated your­self from the pack to become a real photographer.

There­fore,  here are the New 21 clues that you’ve crossed the thresh­old from pre­tender to contender:

1. Your friends have begun to ask you which cam­era to buy so that they can take bet­ter pic­tures at social gatherings.

2. You don’t run out of bat­tery power because you have a solar charger.

3. You upgrade your cam­era to shoot bet­ter pic­tures of your kids.

4. The sales­man at your favorite cam­era store asks you whats new in the market.

5. You cor­rect peo­ple when they can­not get the word ‘bokeh’ to describe what they are talk­ing about.

6. A gor­geous woman with a dig­i­tal SLR brushes by you — and you take only a frac­tion of a sec­ond to notice her cam­era and what kind of lens she has. After that your eyes focus on her bum.

7. You con­cen­trate on the light­ing instead of the subjects.

8. You abuse folks in the back row at the con­cert shoot­ing with an iPhone or a point-and-shoot when they ask you to get out of their lens’s field of view..

9. You don’t go to a photo lab anymore.

10. Your in-law who’s a pro asks you for new tips each time you meet.

11. Other pho­tog­ra­phers fol­low you to see where you’re shoot­ing from. Shoot from the same spot, review the pic­ture on the LCD, shake their heads in dis­ap­proval, but do not delete the picture.

12. Other pho­tog­ra­phers treat you as though you are a snob when they see you at cam­era stores.

13. Your pho­tog­ra­phy work­flow is not com­plete unless the pic­ture ends up on some social net­work­ing site.

14. More and more women want to be your friend either because you have a big cam­era or they want to buy a big camera.

15. You stop ask­ing what aper­ture and shut­ter speed was used to take a pic­ture. Instead, you look for lens dis­tor­tions in a picture.

16. You crit­i­cally analyse other peo­ples photo vest – mak­ing a men­tal note of what equip­ment you can put in which pocket.

17. You have stopped tak­ing group por­traits and now focus only on indi­vid­ual side-lit portraits.

18. You are ashamed to carry/use a point-and-shoot even on fam­ily outings.

19. You can dis­tin­guish a 500mm f/4 from a 400mm f/2.8 and a 600mm f/4 from a mile away.

20. Your spouse stops ask­ing you to teach her/him photography.

21. Right now you are think­ing which cam­era or lens to buy next.

Are there any other clues that you might want to add? The list can always be extended to include your inputs. Tell me, use the com­ments sys­tem below.

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The reincarnation of AUTO

The reincarnation of AUTO

Gone are the days when peo­ple shifted from their SLR cam­era to a DSLR. Today, peo­ple are upgrad­ing their com­pact dig­i­tal cam­eras with entry level DSLRs. Most of them are upgrad­ing only their cam­era, not them­selves. Upgrad­ing a cam­era is easy – you buy a new one. Upgrad­ing ones self is more daunt­ing a task – it takes time, energy, ded­i­ca­tion and most of all a desire to improve. They sel­dom have a desire to improve, most of them have just a desire to ‘click photographs’.

When they first take a DSLR in their hands they are over­whelmed by the num­ber of but­tons and the choices in the menu. After fid­dling with it and not being able to click pic­tures half as good as what their com­pact cam­era cap­tured, they give up and find refuge in AUTO.

AUTO is a very sim­ple func­tion with a very spe­cific mis­sion. Its func­tion is to get them the best pic­ture pos­si­ble in any sit­u­a­tion. Its mis­sion is to enslave them. Using its sim­plic­ity as a charm it makes them for­get there is a world out­side AUTO that is more adven­tur­ous and fun than that bor­ing four let­ter word. AUTO ensures they get the same kind of bor­ing pic­tures again and again and again. The kind they have grown to like, to love.

They are over­joyed to find the very same AUTO which once sat on the dial of their faith­ful com­pact cam­era that has got them this far. They remem­ber their AUTO, it gave them the best pic­tures. And thats exactly what they want – best pic­ture in every sit­u­a­tion. But who should decides what is best? AUTO or they?  From time eter­nal we have heard, its not the cam­era that makes the pic­ture, its the per­son behind the camera.

By turn­ing to AUTO they are sub­mit­ting them­selves to the cam­era. They are say­ing, ‘The cam­era is a bet­ter judge of pho­tog­ra­phy than I am.’ They are say­ing, ‘The cam­era makes the pic­ture I just tell it to click.’ They are say­ing, ‘The cam­era is the pho­tog­ra­pher, I am not.’ AUTO sat­is­fies them, sat­is­fac­tion kills their desire, and desires death leads to the death of creativity.

If you are using your DSLR on AUTO, kill yourself!

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How to set up any camera within ten minutes

How to setup any camera within 10 minutes

How often have you been handed a cam­era and asked to click pic­tures – at birth­day par­ties, at wed­dings, at pic­nics or on hol­i­days?. How often have you had to use some­one elses camera?

Using a cam­era you are not famil­iar with can be frus­trat­ing. But it is eas­ier and a lot more fun if you under­stand the set­tings on the cam­era and repro­gram them to suit your pho­tog­ra­phy. To set up any cam­era for basic oper­a­tion you don’t need to wade through its 100 page user manual.

The fol­low­ing steps will help you set up any cam­era to shoot any­thing within 10 minutes.

1. Check how much space is avail­able on the mem­ory card

2. Set the Shoot­ing mode to PROGRAM ( P ) or AUTO if PROGRAM is  not available

3. Set the Image qual­ity to the high­est level (or the sec­ond level if you have less free mem­ory on the card)

4. Set the ISO to AUTO if AUTO is unavail­able set it to 200

5. Set the White bal­ance to AUTO or AWB

6. Set the Meter­ing mode to MATRIX, EVALUATIVE or MULTI (Depend­ing on the cam­era model, they all mean the same)

7. Set the Auto Focus to SINGLE AF

8. Set the Drive mode to SINGLE. Set it to CONTINUOUS if you are shoot action

9. Turn on IMAGE STABILIZATION (IS), VIBRATION REDUCTION (VR) or ANTI-SHAKE (Depend­ing on the cam­era model, they all mean the same)

10. Turn on RED-EYE REDUCTION or RED-EYE CORRECTION for the flash­light if you are shoot­ing people

Note: This tuto­r­ial assumes what you own a com­pact dig­i­tal cam­era and are famil­iar with its fea­tures and func­tion­ing. If you are not then you should start by read­ing the cam­era manual.

As usual, if you have any queries feel free to write to me. Your com­ments can come below.

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How to choose a compact digital camera

Compact digital camera

This post is for those who are buy­ing their first or sec­ond com­pact dig­i­tal cam­era. If you already own a DSLR con­sider skip­ping this arti­cle and read­ing some­thing else.

Buying  a  com­pact dig­i­tal cam­era is often con­fus­ing because of the vari­ety of choices avail­able. The var­i­ous per­mu­ta­tions and com­bi­na­tions avail­able are mind­bog­gling for a per­son just start­ing off with pho­tog­ra­phy. By shar­ing with you this sim­ple think-flow, I aim to make it eas­ier for you to choose a cam­era that best suits your needs. Fol­low these steps to their log­i­cal con­clu­sion and if you are still unde­cided or unclear about any­thing, you can always email me your query or write it at the end of the arti­cle in the com­ments box.

Step 1: Fix your budget

Digi­tal cam­eras are avail­able at all price tags. If you don’t check your wal­let and decide how much you want to spend, it will be extremely dif­fi­cult to decide on a model. Your bud­get has to be a fig­ure, not words. Don’t say ‘inex­pen­sive’ or ‘not too expen­sive’ or ‘mid-range’. Con­vert words to num­bers, say ‘less than Rs. 10,000′ or ‘not more than Rs. 15,000′ or ‘max Rs. 12,000′. Don’t set unre­al­is­tic bud­gets like ‘around Rs. 4000′, the idea is to buy a cam­era, not not buy one. Always choose a bud­get that will allow you to buy a qual­ity prod­uct that will last you at least 2 years (I usu­ally aim for 3 years) before it finds its place in the tech grave­yard. Hav­ing arrived at a bud­get, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Deter­mine the type of use

What do you want to pho­to­graph? It is impor­tant to know the pri­mary use that your cam­era will be put to. Each type of pho­tog­ra­phy has at least one spe­cific fea­ture require­ment. You should buy a cam­era that has the feature(s) your pho­tog­ra­phy requires. Like, if you do a lot of close-ups of small objects like flow­ers etc. then your cam­era should be able to focus real close. (i.e. have a small min­i­mum focus­ing dis­tance). If you do a lot of action pho­tog­ra­phy your cam­era should be able to take many pic­tures in a short dura­tion (i.e. have a high ‘frames per sec­ond’) to ensure you don’t miss any action.

When tak­ing fam­ily pics indoors you will need a cam­era with a good wide-angle lens (ide­ally 24mm or at least 28mm). But when you are on a nature safari your cam­era needs to have a good tele­photo lens (ide­ally 400mm), here its OK to have a wide-angle lens of 28mm or 35mm.

Sim­i­larly, a good flash­light is a boon if you are shoot­ing in low light or indoors, but if you are pri­mar­ily shoot­ing out­doors, in good light, a flash­light is of lit­tle use, but the pos­si­bil­ity of using a lower ISO is a boon.

Don’t stretch the scale too much, if you want a cam­era that takes good indoor shots of your kid’s birth­day party and also of the small bird sit­ting high up on the tree you will do good by buy­ing a top-of-the-line com­pact dig­i­tal cam­era (they are not so com­pact in size though).

You don’t have to restrict your­self to only any one type of pho­tog­ra­phy, you can short-list a few but keep in mind the most fre­quent use your cam­era will be going through. Hav­ing done this, move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Con­sider the fre­quency of  use

It’s time to be hon­est to your­self. How often will you be using your cam­era? Are you going to remem­ber your cam­era once in two months, or will you be click­ing every week­end? Your fre­quency of use will be a fac­tor in decid­ing which model you should consider.

If you are going to shoot only a few pic­tures now and then, (like: an occa­sional get-together, annual vaca­tion and birth­day par­ties) then you need a cam­era which is light, sim­ple to use, and uncom­pli­cated. So that when you see it after a month you don’t have to won­der where the con­trols are.
It is not going to be dif­fi­cult to find a cam­era for such use within your budget.

If you are going to shoot reg­u­larly, like every week­end or more often than that, then you should con­sider choos­ing a cam­era that is built for fre­quent use – is more durable and will with­stand the tangs and bangs of reg­u­lar use. A cam­era of this type usu­ally finds itself at the top end of your bud­get. These cam­eras may have more fea­tures which in turn may give you more con­trol over your pho­tog­ra­phy. The addi­tional fea­tures and options may seem of lit­tle impor­tance in the start, but as your pho­tog­ra­phy improves, which it will if you shoot a lot, you will find use for these fea­tures too. Hav­ing decided how often and how much you will be shoot­ing move on to Step 4.

Step 4: Start doing your homework

Now that you know what you are look­ing for it’s time to find the cam­era you need. No, don’t walk into a store just yet. Go online. Visit web­sites of major cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers (Canon, Nikon, Sony are most pop­u­lar in India) and browse through their offer­ings. You can visit an online retailer (ebay.in or jjmehta.com) to know the approx­i­mate price of the cam­era mod­els. On a piece of paper (or on your mobile phone) short­list 2–3 mod­els of each man­u­fac­turer that you can con­sider buy­ing – these cam­era mod­els should fit your require­ments almost per­fectly. Rewrite your list arrang­ing the cam­era mod­els accord­ing to your buy­ing pref­er­ence. The one you are most likely to buy should on top and the least likely option should be last.

There will always be minor sac­ri­fices that you will have to make – like buy­ing one with 3x zoom instead of 4x or 12MP instead of 14MP. These sac­ri­fices will be prompted because the cam­era has other fea­tures which you desire more.  Hav­ing pre­pared and finalised your list, move on to Step 5.

Note: Avoid buy­ing a cam­era model that is sell­ing at a huge dis­count in a num­ber of stores. Most prob­a­bly, a new model is about to be launched and the shops are dis­card­ing the cur­rent model before it loses value. This will be obvi­ous when stores adver­tise dis­counts in newspapers.

Step 5: Try and buy

Now you are going to buy your cam­era. Armed with your list walk into a cam­era store (or an elec­tron­ics super­mar­ket: eZone or Croma, in India) on a Sun­day morn­ing (or when it’s least crowded). Don’t get dis­tracted by the loads of cam­eras on dis­play, stick to your list.

Start­ing with the first cam­era you have short­listed, hold every cam­era in your hand to see how it feels. Can you work the con­trols? Are the but­tons of a con­ve­nient size and shape? Is it easy to hold and oper­ate? If you are in one of those large elec­tron­ics super­mar­kets you may not be allowed to actu­ally take pic­tures (the bat­ter­ies are removed), but you can still expe­ri­ence the camera.

When you entered the shop your aim was to buy the first cam­era on your list. Now, after expe­ri­enc­ing it, if you find it’s not con­ve­nient to use, don’t buy it. Buy it only if you can get used to it dur­ing your learn­ing curve. Choose a cam­era that feels good and which you will enjoy using. If you don’t enjoy hold­ing it, you won’t enjoy tak­ing pic­tures. If you don’t enjoy tak­ing pic­tures, there’s no point in hav­ing a camera.

Sum­mary

How to choose a com­pact dig­i­tal camera?

1. Decide how much money you want to spend on a new cam­era.
2. Spell out the kind of pho­tog­ra­phy you will be doing most of the time.
3. Short­list the fea­tures that you need for your kind of pho­tog­ra­phy
4. Admit to your­self how often you will be using the cam­era. If you are not going to use it reg­u­larly, there’s no point buy­ing an expen­sive one.
5. Go to cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers’ web­sites and short­list mod­els that best suit your require­ments and fit into your bud­get.
6. Visit a store to expe­ri­ence the cam­eras you short­listed. Chose one which you can use con­ve­niently.
7. Buy it.

Enjoy your new camera!

Still con­fused? Or have a query? Get in touch with me through the com­ments below or email me.

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Use your Domain to Dominate

dominate_with_your_domain

Peo­ple sel­dom use the full poten­tial of their domain name.

Using your domain name as a web address for your web­site or blog is just one of the things that you can do. The other thing is to use it for a per­son­alised email address. But you can also use your domain name to cre­ate a trail of pres­ence over the inter­net by using it to access var­i­ous ser­vices that you use.

Lets assume you have a domain name such as yourname.com (this could also be your-punch-line.whatever). Here is all that you can do with it -

1. Host your web­site or blog. (you will need to have web host­ing space for this)

2. Use Domain For­ward­ing to redi­rect your domain name to your blog at Blogspot.com or WordPress.com (or any free blog host­ing services)

3. You can cre­ate Sub-domains. Most reg­is­trars allow you to make unlim­ited sub­do­mains for free. (Make sure you check this before choos­ing a reg­is­trar. Always use a reputed, trans­par­ent reg­is­trar to avoid lock-ins or addi­tional costs)

4. You can use Sub-domains in the fol­low­ing ways -

4.1. Make a sub-domain like blog.yourname.com and for­ward it to your free blog at blogspot.com or wordpress.com

4.2. If you have another blog you can set that up too, like, blog2.yourname.com or whatever-its-called.yourname.com

4.3. Have facebook.yourname.com for­ward to your Face­book pro­file (For exam­ple: facebook.meethil.com will take you to my Face­book pro­file page)

4.4. Have linkedin.yourname.com for­ward to your LinkedIn pro­file (For exam­ple: linkedin.meethil.com will take you to my Linkedin pro­file page)

4.5. Have twitter.yourname.com for­ward to your Twit­ter page (For exam­ple: twitter.meethil.com will take you to my Twit­ter page)

4.6. Have flickr.yourname.com for­ward to your flickr col­lec­tion (or set or gallery, whichever you want)

4.7. Basi­cally, once set up, all your social media, net­work­ing and photo shar­ing web­sites can be accessed this way.

4.8. The advan­tage of doing this is – tomor­row for some rea­son if you change your blog address or some account id, you just have to change the for­ward­ing URL in your domains con­trol panel and the URL you dis­trib­uted before still works.

5. Use email on your domain. Thanks to Gmail you no longer have to stick to a fea­ture starved web­mail or machine depen­dent pop-mail client when you want to use email@yourname.com. Most hosts allow you to setup unlim­ited (or at least more than you would require) POP mail accounts (though these can be lim­ited to 1 GB or 2 GB Inboxes). But using Gmail you can use you@yourdomain.com to send and receive email from within your cur­rent or new Gmail account while using all the Gmail features.

Advan­tages of using Gmail on your domain:

1. Use the ben­e­fits of web mail
2. Use all Gmail fea­tures
3. Col­lect email from mul­ti­ple POP accounts in one inbox
4. Send and receive emails using any of the POP email ids you setup

To get per­son­alised tips on how you can use a domain name feel free to get in touch with me. You can send in your queries by com­ment­ing to this post or email me.

Thanks for reading.

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Rekindle Reading with the Kindle

amazon-kindle

Since it kin­dled in 2007, Amazon’s Kin­dle has been on my mind; pri­mar­ily for two rea­sons. First, its use­ful­ness to vora­cious read­ers and sec­ond, its poten­tial to influ­ence the pub­lish­ing industry.

The Kin­dle is designed for vora­cious read­ers. If you are not read­ing at least one book a week, you can­not pos­si­bly under­stand the impor­tance of a Kin­dle. And, if you are not spend­ing money buy­ing books, you can­not digest the ini­tial invest­ment of Rs. 18,600 (cost of Kin­dle plus import duty), that the Kin­dle requires.

This is what the screen of a Kindle looks likeThe Kindle is as thin as a pencilWith a Kindle in hand

Hav­ing said that, lets how it ben­e­fits the avid reader.

The Kin­dle is pen­cil thin and weighs 300 g, but it stores up to 1,500 books. Ensur­ing you never run out of a read at the wrong time. It makes it a great travel com­pan­ion, be it short trips or long, you may be on the first page of the book or the last chap­ter, you don’t have to worry as long as you have a few of your next books stored on the Kin­dle. If you read more than one book at a time, using a Kin­dle, you don’t have carry the extra weight. And please don’t wail about read­ing on a ‘screen’. The Kin­dle screen is not the same as the ones on your lap­top or LCD mon­i­tors. It is a totally dif­fer­ent tech­nol­ogy called e-ink and it will not strain your eyes.

If you are in the habit of buy­ing books, ebooks for the Kin­dle are cheaper than paper­backs (as of now it is so in the USA, it will soon be the case in India, read below to know how). This means you can read more in the same amount of money you spend buy­ing paper­backs today. Or, if you are the fru­gal type and want to fac­tor in the inter­est of the Rs. 18,600 you have already invested in buy­ing the Kin­dle, it would just mean that your can still read the same amount of books as before, know­ing that you are pay­ing less for each book.

How often have you bought books by new authors or authors you have not read before? Kin­dle allows you the chance to exper­i­ment. You can get free sam­ple chap­ters before you decide to buy the book. It helps you dis­cover authors you have shied away from all these years. How does this com­pares to an in-store expe­ri­ence? I don’t think you have ever read more than a chap­ter in the book­store before you bought the book an any reader worth his/her salt knows that the book excerpts on the back cover are PR gimmicks.

Kin­dle con­tributes in widen­ing your read­ing hori­zons in more than one way. It pro­vides sub­scrip­tions to blogs, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Though not all mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers you want to read are avail­able  today, but, please under­stand that the Kin­dle is just about to go inter­na­tional, up till now, it was only avail­able in the US and pub­lish­ers did not have a huge mar­ket to tap. Now that the Kin­dle is enter­ing the inter­na­tional arena, more pub­lish­ers will tie-up with Ama­zon to pro­vide their con­tent to an inter­na­tional read­er­ship. If you are seri­ous about your lan­guage skills and look up new words in the dic­tio­nary while you read, you will find the Oxford Amer­i­can Dic­tio­nary1 built into the Kin­dle, a big help.

An Amazon Kindle DX has a 9.7 inch screen but is not internationally available, yet.

An Ama­zon Kin­dle DX has a 9.7 inch screen but is not inter­na­tion­ally avail­able, yet.

How Kin­dle can affect the pub­lish­ing industry.

Print­ing books is a money inten­sive activ­ity. The pub­lisher invests a rea­son­ably large sum of money in print­ing each title. This investment-heavy busi­ness model means that they have a fixed bud­get and can only bring out x num­ber of books each year. Losses if any, are borne by the pub­lish­ers. If the pub­lish­ers had to print lesser num­ber of copies, they could pub­lish more titles in the same bud­get. But with today’s busi­ness model, print­ing lesser books trans­lates to sell­ing lesser books.

If Kin­dle is accepted by the book-buying masses it can change the busi­ness model. It will allow pub­lish­ers to print lesser copies of  books but at the same time main­tain sales, thus facil­i­tat­ing smaller print runs with­out loss in rev­enue2. Ama­zon claims that of all the books bought on its US web­site, 48% are bought on the Kin­dle. There­fore, if we assume that a per­son does not buy both ver­sions, ebook and paper­back, pub­lish­ers in the US can safely drop their print run by 45%3. That is a huge sav­ing for the publisher.

For book pub­lish­ers in India, brick-mortar book­stores are the pri­mary points of sale. There­fore, retail­ers get a size­able chunk of the list price (approx­i­mately 40%). Few book­stores pass on their prof­its to the cus­tomer as dis­counts4. Pub­lish­ers and dis­trib­u­tors, in turn, have to keep book­stores happy because sale of books depends on them.

If pub­lish­ers had another reli­able sale point, they would not be cow­ing down to brick-mortar book­stores. Ama­zon can be that sec­ond sale point5. But an aggres­sive online book­store would break the monop­oly of the brick-mortar ones and cre­ate a price war. To lure cus­tomers back into book­stores they will slash their profit mar­gins and the price of the paper­backs will fall. Thus, ben­e­fit­ing those who do not own a Kindle.

For read­ers and pub­lish­ers who fear that with wide spread e-publishing, paper books will lose their value, let me assure you, they won’t. With the growth of e-publishing, lesser paper books will be printed, and like all things, here too – less is more. Books will only gain in value. In the future, you will see signed copies, lim­ited edi­tions and spe­cial edi­tions gain impor­tance for the niche reader who under­stands and appre­ci­ate their value. With the bulk of the read­ing mate­r­ial dis­trib­uted in the elec­tronic form, pub­lish­ers will con­cen­trate their efforts on vol­umes that are a value-add and get in addi­tional rev­enue for the pub­lish­ing chain.

Advan­tages of the Kindle

A Kindle DX sits on a stack of books1. Access many books on the go
2. Directly down­load books through Amazon’s Whis­per­net, inter­na­tion­ally
3. Is backed by the world’s biggest book­store – Ama­zon
4. Text-to-speech fea­ture and adjustable font size makes it acces­si­ble to a wide range of age groups and abil­i­ties
5. Sub­scribe to blogs, mag­a­zines, and newspapers

You can see a com­plete list of fea­tures on this Ama­zon Kin­dle page.

Dis­ad­van­tages of the Kindle

“Each coun­try has dif­fer­ent pub­lish­ing rights. It’s a seg­mented busi­ness model. That’s why we won’t see one book­shop where you can buy all books for a while.”  Steve Haber, Pres­i­dent of Sony’s Dig­i­tal Read­ing Division

1. Selec­tion of new nov­els, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines is lim­ited for Indian Kin­dle own­ers, yet. (Tie-ups with pub­lish­ers should improve the sit­u­a­tion)
2. Ama­zon Whis­per­net may have teething prob­lems in India.
3. Cost of own­er­ship at approx­i­mately Rs. 18,600 is a bit high. Should be between Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000
4. At Rs. 450 a book, its almost as expen­sive as buy­ing a new paper­back in India. The price per book will have to reduce for the Indian market.

Con­clu­sion.

Kin­dle is not an assault on books. It aims not to take books away from you but to bring read­ing closer to you. You never fell in love with blank sheets of paper bound together, but the words and sen­tences writ­ten on those sheets of paper. Kin­dle will show you those words and sen­tences, and it will make you love it – just like you love books. You don’t have to choose one, you can love books and Kin­dle at the same time – just like I do.

Foot­notes

  1. With the Kin­dle going inter­na­tional, i am sure more dic­tio­nary options will soon be avail­able
  2. There will be mar­ginal drop in prof­its, but that is coun­tered by a smaller invest­ment on each title pub­lished
  3. It will depend on the genre of the book and the exact sales fig­ures from Ama­zon
  4. Bad book­stores charge you full price, good ones give you a 10% dis­count, very good ones give you a 20% dis­count and your best-friend-bookstore gives you a 30% dis­count.
  5. Note: Ama­zon, being the largest book­store in the world, is known for dog ear­ing pub­lish­ers and mak­ing life hell for them
post

Five reasons why you should play FarmVille

1. It teaches you Patience

Far­mVille is a game that requires you to be patient. Real world farm­ing is a patient job, once you sow your seeds there is noth­ing you can do till the crop is ready for har­vest­ing. Trans­lat­ing this ide­ol­ogy online, Far­mVille does not require you to hang around once you have sown your seeds. You can come back at a time when your crop is ready, har­vest it, plow the land, sow a new crop and be on your way. Came back at a later time, when you know your crop is ready. There is noth­ing you can do to accel­er­ate the growth of your crop; you have to be patient and reap it when its ready.

2. It teaches you Plan­ning

You will need to plan your crops depend­ing on when, next, you are going to be online. In the real world, rota­tion crops are planned based on the weather pat­terns. In Far­mVille, you can sow seeds and let them grow while you are offline. But know­ing when you are next going to be online will help you chose which crop to sow so that they grow max­i­mum in the hours you were offline. When you reap this crop, again cal­cu­late when next you will be online and sow a crop that best fits that time frame. To best uti­lize the time, with min­i­mum wastage, you need to plan the rota­tion of your corps to suit your inter­net usage.

3. It teaches you Money Man­age­ment

Like all farm­ers in the real world, in Far­mVille too, you will be start­ing small, with lit­tle money and lit­tle land. As you earn more money (and expe­ri­ence), you can plow a larger area. and you sow a larger quan­tity (and vari­ety) of seeds. But you have to be prac­ti­cal and not spend use­lessly on unnec­es­sary or uneco­nom­i­cal stuff. For exam­ple, buy­ing an ani­mal in the ini­tial lev­els of the game is use­less – they are very expen­sive and give too few coins per day. Your money is bet­ter invested in plow­ing the land and choos­ing crops that give a high yield. Dec­o­ra­tions like hay stacks and fences are use­less and do not buy them unless you have more money than required to plow and sow, any crop you wish, at least twice.

4. It teaches you Goal Achiev­ing

Farm­ers have to be ambi­tious, they must want to try out new stuff and exper­i­ment with var­i­ous crops. But after a cer­tain level Far­mville might get a bit aim­less. That is when Rib­bons come in. Rib­bons are what you get for achiev­ing pre­set tar­gets and tasks. These tasks might make you do stuff that you would, oth­er­wise, not have tried. Like, planting/harvesting all the crops at least once, mak­ing neigh­bours, har­vest­ing x num­ber of trees etc. By the time you have won a major­ity of the rib­bons you get into a habit of set­ting your own goals and work­ing towards them.

5. It teaches you Respon­si­bil­ity and Goodness

You are respon­si­ble for your farm and its crop. If you fail to attend to it, it will wither and die, result­ing in loss of money and hard work. If you know you are going to be away for a few day it is bet­ter not to sow a new crop before you leave. Keep a plowed field so that you can plant when you return. Farm­ing is not a solo activ­ity, there­fore its always good to inter­act with fel­low farm­ers. Keep­ing up this tra­di­tion is Far­mVilles gift sec­tion which allows you to give free gifts to your friends. You can also help your friends on their farm. This keeps the good­ness of farm­ing alive and hav­ing the help­ing nature also gets you rewards in ways of coins and expe­ri­ences. Not to men­tion the free gifts you receive from friends which reduces your bur­den of buy­ing stuff from the market.

Far­mVille Pros please  share your Far­mVille expe­ri­ence! Tell other why you play Far­mVille? Use the com­ments sys­tem below and share your views.

  1. It teaches you Patience

    Far­mVille is a game that requires you to be patient. Real world farm­ing is a patient job, once you sow your seeds there is noth­ing you can do till the crop is ready for har­vest­ing. Trans­lat­ing this ide­ol­ogy online, Far­mVille does not require you to hang around once you have sown your seeds. You can come back at a time when your crop is ready, har­vest it, plow the land, sow a new crop and be on your way. Came back at a later time, when you know your crop is ready. There is noth­ing you can do to accel­er­ate the growth of your crop; you have to be patient and reap it when its ready.

  2. It teaches you Planning

    You will need to plan your crops depend­ing on when, next, you are going to be online. In the real world, rota­tion crops are planned based on the weather pat­terns. In Far­mVille, you can sow seeds and let them grow while you are offline. But know­ing when you are next going to be online will help you chose which crop to sow so that they grow max­i­mum in the hours you were offline. When you reap this crop, again cal­cu­late when next you will be online and sow a crop that best fits that time frame. To best uti­lize the time, with min­i­mum wastage, you need to plan the rota­tion of your corps to suit your inter­net usage.

  3. It teaches you Money Management

    Like all farm­ers in the real world, in Far­mVille too, you will be start­ing small, with lit­tle money and lit­tle land. As you earn more money (and expe­ri­ence), you can plow a larger area. and you sow a larger quan­tity (and vari­ety) of seeds. But you have to be prac­ti­cal and not spend use­lessly on unnec­es­sary or uneco­nom­i­cal stuff. For exam­ple, buy­ing an ani­mal in the ini­tial lev­els of the game is use­less – they are very expen­sive and give too few coins per day. Your money is bet­ter invested in plow­ing the land and choos­ing crops that give a high yield. Dec­o­ra­tions like hay stacks and fences are use­less and do not buy them unless you have more money than required to plow and sow, any crop you wish, at least twice.

  4. It teaches you Goal Achieving

    Farm­ers have to be ambi­tious, they must want to try out new stuff and exper­i­ment with var­i­ous crops. But after a cer­tain level Far­mville might get a bit aim­less. That is when Rib­bons come in. Rib­bons are what you get for achiev­ing pre­set tar­gets and tasks. These tasks might make you do stuff that you would, oth­er­wise, not have tried. Like, planting/harvesting all the crops at least once, mak­ing neigh­bours, har­vest­ing x num­ber of trees etc. By the time you have won a major­ity of the rib­bons you get into a habit of set­ting your own goals and work­ing towards them.

  1. It teaches you Respon­si­bil­ity and Goodness

    You are respon­si­ble for your farm and its crop. If you fail to attend to it, it will wither and die, result­ing in loss of money and hard work. If you know you are going to be away for a few day it is bet­ter not to sow a new crop before you leave. Keep a plowed field so that you can plant when you return. Farm­ing is not a solo activ­ity, there­fore its always good to inter­act with fel­low farm­ers. Keep­ing up this tra­di­tion is Far­mVilles gift sec­tion which allows you to give free gifts to your friends. You can also help your friends on their farm. This keeps the good­ness of farm­ing alive and hav­ing the help­ing nature also gets you rewards in ways of coins and expe­ri­ences. Not to men­tion the free gifts you receive from friends which reduces your bur­den of buy­ing stuff from the market.

post

Photographers and a Mac

Why you love a Mac?

What is it with pho­tog­ra­phers and a Mac?! Every time a pho­tog­ra­pher sees a Mac he wants to buy it. Does no other thought come to mind? Is a Mac so irre­sistible? Or does he think his pho­tog­ra­phy will improve if  he uses a Mac? It is get­ting so irri­tat­ing, i can­not explain in words!

Just last this week i came across three inci­dents of iLust1. An acquain­tance shifted to a Mac; two weeks ago we dis­cussed how use­less the shift was, yet he could not resist it. A good friend almost bought a Mac, he barely wiped the drool off his mouth as he left the store. And, lastly, some one on a pho­tog­ra­phy forum is sell­ing his three month old Dell XPS because he now wants to buy a Mac.

I have been through this phase too, but i shopped around for a con­crete rea­son for shift­ing and found none. Here is what I found, or rather, did not find:



Sep­tem­ber 2007: Adobe Sup­port Forums
Before that: Autho­rised Apple reseller in Ban­dra, Mum­bai
Before that: Tech guy at an adver­tis­ing agency in Mum­bai
Before that: Owner of a pre­press out­fit in Mum­bai
Con­clu­sion

Q1/Q2 of 2009: Apple cor­ner in Croma, Ban­dra, Mumbai

I was pok­ing my nose in the Apple sec­tion of Croma in Ban­dra when this sales girl decided to lock horns with me. I was crit­i­ciz­ing the glossy screen for its reflec­tiv­ity when she cut me short say­ing “it is also avail­able in matt.” Then she asked me what i did and i came around to my colour cor­rec­tion and image pro­cess­ing ques­tions. As expected she couldn’t answer my queries but fiery that she was, she said if i gave her my email address she’d ask her supe­ri­ors and get back to me. I’m still wait­ing for her email. I’m sure she has found the answer to my query but her Mac hung while mail­ing me!

MacPro

April 2008: Mac for Busi­ness Sem­i­nar in Mumbai

I met Justin ( Mac sales guy for South­east Asia, based in Sin­ga­pore) in 2008 when he had come to Mum­bai for some Apple pro­mo­tional sem­i­nars. Mr. Apple wanted to push his Macs in the busi­ness arena so there was a sem­i­nar titled Mac for Busi­ness. I attended the talk and heard every­thing — how easy the OS was and how nice it looked and how lit­tle the learn­ing curve is and how well it per­formed and didn’t ask you silly ques­tions and finally how you could use Microsoft Office appli­ca­tions too. Great! I love it. But i don’t care about the OS. So at the end of the talk i walk up to Justin and his assis­tant, pull them to a cor­ner and explain my needs.

I say, “I am a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher, have over 1 TB2 of images, gen­er­ally need to process 16bit TIFF files of 300MB each, some­times need to make TIFFs of 1GB in size. How will a Mac help me?”

He starts rat­tling, “The OS is very sta­ble, it wont hang, its slick to use.…”
I cut in, “When i am work­ing in Adobe Pho­to­shop how will a Mac be better?”

They look at each other, “Ahh…Ahhh.…But it has Time Machine, that will help with back up!”
Both appear very happy and feel they have scored an ace.

I make a face and rephrase my ques­tion, “Can you pin­point any hard­ware supe­ri­or­ity that makes a Mac bet­ter for image processing? ”

I don’t get an answer. Just some this and that. They do some sales talk and say I should go in for a Mac Pro.

At this point i gave up on the Mac.

Other Expe­ri­ences:

Sep­tem­ber 2007: Adobe Sup­port Forums
Before that: Autho­rised Apple reseller in Ban­dra, Mum­bai
Before that: Tech guy at an adver­tis­ing agency in Mum­bai
Before that: Owner of a pre­press out­fit in Mum­bai
Con­clu­sion

Sep­tem­ber 2007: Adobe Sup­port Forums.For Mac

Not know­ing whom to ask I ended up ask­ing fel­low Pho­to­shop users on the Adobe Forums.
They said if the tech specs are same the soft­ware will func­tion opti­mally on both plat­forms.
After that the dis­cus­sion spi­raled down to typ­i­cal Mac vs PC bashings.

If you want to read all the responses to my forum post you can down­load the 25 page PDF.
Down­load PDF (300kb)

Apple Authorized ResellerBefore that: Autho­rised Apple reseller in Ban­dra, Mumbai.

The owner of a book shop that i fre­quent had leased a shop to this Apple Reseller. So when i go buy books he takes me across the street to the Apple Reseller. I spend some time brows­ing and awing at every­thing on the shelves. Then i meet the store owner and get chat­ting with him. He tries to sell me end­less things and shows me how i will never trip on the charg­ing cord because of its mag­netic con­nec­tion, how a remote is stan­dard acces­sory with the laptops…etc…etc. All very impres­sive. Then i ask him the mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion, “How is a Mac bet­ter than a PC? Tell me specs, tell me hard­ware.” He says, “Frankly, the line between them is thin­ning…”. I smile. Nothing.

MacBook

Before that: Tech guy at an adver­tis­ing agency in Mumbai.

A friend of mine worked for an adver­tis­ing agency. She told me they were upgrad­ing all their machines to Macs.
I asked, “Why?”
She said, “I don’t know. Our tech head says they are better.”

I ask if i can speak to him and get an answer, she promises to get him over the phone. So i talk to his cool dude. He obvi­ously is a huge Apple fan (so am I) He goes all over the world with me, tells me all that i already know and then some more.

He con­cludes, “They make the hard­ware and they make the OS, they know best how to inte­grate the two and there­fore it works well.”
Bingo. I ask, “Will it be of any spe­cial advan­tage when pro­cess­ing images or large files?”
He says, “Its the over­all user expe­ri­ence that makes a Mac desir­able, i will see if there is any answer to your spe­cific query.”
I say, “Thank you”.

Later my friend tells me, when a new client vis­its their office, they show him their Mac. The client is impressed with the ele­gant looks and they get the job. So Jobs, what do you have to say?

Other Expe­ri­ences:

Before that: Owner of a pre­press out­fit in Mum­bai
Con­clu­sion

Before that: Owner of a pre­press out­fit in MumbaiMac

Once i had the oppor­tu­nity to help out an NGO with their mag­a­zine. I went to the printer for colour cor­rec­tion of the images. He was doing some other work on a PC, he fin­ishes that and sits in front of the adjoin­ing Mac, the only one in the room an old G4. I take the chair beside him. After fin­ish­ing the third image i saw no dif­fer­ence in the work­flow or the end result.

Very softly i asked in Hindi, “Why are you doing it on this machine and not that one?”
He turns to face me and say, “This is a Mac, that’s why.”
I probe fur­ther, “What’s the dif­fer­ence?”
With­out tak­ing his eyes off the screen he says, “The colours are bet­ter.”
I ask casu­ally, “Why?”
He repeats, “This is a Mac that’s why.”
I was enlight­ened.
He was not.

Con­clu­sion

A Mac is a very good choice if you want one com­puter that does every­thing. Its excel­lent when it comes to a fea­ture set and ease of doing every­day tasks (I guess). But there is no rea­son to believe it’s a work­horse that will work bet­ter than a branded PC hav­ing the same tech specs.

Read this page on apple.com and note that it never says any­thing about bet­ter colour man­age­ment or bet­ter image processing.

If you want to use soft­ware made by Apple, like Aper­ture or Final Cut Pro, then you have no choice but to use a Mac. But if you are buy­ing a Mac just so that Pho­to­shop and Light­room per­form bet­ter then that does not make  any sense to me.  Pho­to­shop and Light­room will work equally well on a sim­i­larly con­fig­ured Dell.

As a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher, I use a Dell Quad Core desk­top to process my images, a Dell XPS in the field and an assem­bled PC for surf­ing the Inter­net and other applications.

Before that: Owner of a pre­press out­fit in Mumbai

Once i had to oppor­tu­nity to help out an NGO with their mag­a­zine. I went the printer for colour cor­rec­tion of the images. He was doing some other work on a PC, he fin­ishes that and sits in front of the adjoin­ing Mac, the only one in the room an old G4. I take the chair besides him. After fin­ish­ing the third image and see­ing no dif­fer­ence in the work­flow or the end result i decided to ask him.

Very softly i asked in Hindi, “Why are you doing it on this machine and not that one?”

He turns to face me and say, “This is a Mac, thats why.”

I probe fur­ther, “Whats the difference?”.

With­out tak­ing his eyes off the screen he says, “The colours are better.”

I ask casu­ally, “Why?”

He repeats, “This is a Mac thats why.”

I was enlightened.

He was not.

.

Con­clu­sion

A Mac is a very good choice if you want one com­puter that does all. Its excel­lent when it comes to fea­ture set and easy of doing every­day tasks (I guess). But there is no rea­son to believe its a work­horse that will work bet­ter than a branded PC hav­ing the same tech specs.

Read this page on apple.com and note that it never said any­thing about bet­ter colour man­age­ment or bet­ter image pro­cess­ing. [http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/why-mac.html]

If you want to use soft­ware made by Apple, like Aper­ture or Final Cut Pro, then you have no choice but to use a Mac. But if you are buy­ing a Mac to use Pho­to­shop and Light­room then thats does not make any sense to me. Pho­to­shop and Light­room will work equally well on a sim­i­larly con­fig­ured Dell.

I use a Dell quad core desk­top to process my images, a Dell XPS in the field and an assem­bled PC for surf­ing the Inter­net and other appli­ca­tions. Yes three machines. I am also wait­ing to buy my first Mac, hope­fully it will be a Mac­Book Air.

  1. A word I use to describe this lust for Apple prod­ucts
  2. now over 2TB of images
post

Snow Leopard comes too soon

Mac OSX v10.6 Snow Leopard

When it comes to find­ing names for ver­sions of  OS X, Mr. Apple is really rais­ing the bar. If i were Mr. Apple i would think twice before call­ing my OS X v10.6 Snow Leop­ard. Snow Leop­ard (Pan­thera uncia ) is a top cat. The ulti­mate in the Fel­i­dae fam­ily 1. Does Apple imply that his OSX v10.6 is the best ever. Of course, being soft­ware, it can­not be the best ever, it will evolve into a bet­ter v10.7. But what will that be called? I don’t know of any cat bet­ter than the Snow Leop­ard? Does Apple? Along with tech are we also hid­ing a new species under our sleeve?

The global snow leop­ard pop­u­la­tion is esti­mated at 4,080–6,590 (McCarthy et al. 2003). IUCN Guide­lines (IUCN 2006) define pop­u­la­tion as the num­ber of mature indi­vid­u­als, defined as “indi­vid­u­als known, esti­mated or inferred to be capa­ble of reproduction.”

Apple should have reserved the Snow Leop­ard for a v10.9. He could have filled the inter­me­di­ate ver­sions with names like Clouded Leop­ard, Siber­ian Tiger, etc or other smaller cats like the Linx or Fish­ing Cat.

Mac OS X Versions (source: wikipedia.org)

Mac OS X Ver­sions (source: wikipedia.org)

Also, the fact that Mr. Apple com­pletely avoided the Lions really upsets me. You can­not pos­si­bly con­vince me that he will be nam­ing the v10.9 Lion. No one would think of nam­ing a new prod­uct ver­sion Lion when it’s pre­vi­ous ver­sion is called Snow Leopard.

It is very inter­est­ing to see how Mr. Apple has, up to now, suc­cess­fully named all ver­sions of OS X after a par­tic­u­lar specie of the cat fam­ily. But i am going bonkers think­ing which fam­ily of the ani­mal king­dom will he choose next to name ver­sions his OS 11 (or OS XI). I rec­om­mend choos­ing one of the mon­key families.

Monkey Families: Will Mr. Apple choose from these for naming his versions of OS11. (source: wikipedia.org)

Mon­key Fam­i­lies: Will Mr. Apple choose from these for nam­ing his ver­sions of OS11. (source: wikipedia.org)

Whichever fam­ily he ends up choos­ing, it will have at least 10 dis­tinct species. One each for ver­sions .1 to .9. With OS X v10.6 just com­ing out of its cave Mr Apple has ample of time to find his new family.

Updated on AUGUST 31, 2009.

Mac users would like to read this page on ZDNET before upgrad­ing to Snow Leopard.

ZDNET also says “Peo­ple eager to get a copy of the lat­est ver­sion of the Mac oper­at­ing sys­tem, Snow Leop­ard, should be wary of sites offer­ing free copies because they are likely to get some nasty mal­ware instead, accord­ing to antivirus com­pany Trend Micro.

Which ani­mal fam­ily should OS 11 (or OS XI) be ded­i­cated to?
Use the com­ments sec­tion below to tell us what you think.

<span class=“drop_cap”>
  1. In my opin­ion