Oct 222012
 

Those times of rewinding your celluloid films before opening the back of your camera are long gone. Infact, still cameras with celluloid film are very rare sight, with manufacturers stopping mass production of the films. The advent of digital cameras and high resolution cameras on mobile phones have fueled their decline. Of course, old time professionals and die hard fans still swear by it. But the younger generation has born in the digital age and accepted it rapidly. I, neither am from the  older, nor the younger generation. I belong to the generation which witnessed this change and was a part of it.

That being said, the methods of printing photos have also changed. First, it was rewinding the film and handing over to the studio, which developed the roll and we could print whichever photos we wanted. To save the hassle of going twice to the studio to select the photos, I used to just get the entire film printed. Now, printing is so out of fashion. It’s the age of sharing online. That way, we spend less, the photos need no preserving/salvaging, and they are accessible to friends and family, anywhere, anytime.

But people who like to have print handover the digital copies on pendrive/cd to the studios and get them printed. The prints either plain photo prints or artistically designed albums. Since quite some time now, photo editing softwares are being used to mix and match and create albums which add a better perspective and visual appearance to the albums. But it can be a rip off for your wallet if you want to create albums with lots of photos.

A cheaper alternative to this is getting the albums printed online. I’ve been using this for quite sometime now and I get excited when I see the results. It requires bit of work on my part, but then I get the album exactly as I want. Couple of site offering this service are Zoomin, Snapfish, Picsquare, Myprint etc. Personally I’ve used zoomin and snapfish and I am satisfied with both.

Upon registering on these sites, you will either receive coupons or few free prints as a welcome gift. You need to upload the photos using their photo upload utilities, or if you have uploaded on picasa, zoomin has the feature of linking the account, thus “pulling” your photos from picasa on to zoomin. The user interface for creating the albums is quite user friendly. You can customise according to your choice and budget. It gives you an option to choose from a plain paper flipbook, to hard bound and leather covered album for a premium.(which, I feel is less then what normal studios would charge). You can select the type of paper used, the number of pages, size of the album etc. You can allow the software to automatically arrange the photos, which normally doesn’t give good results, or manually insert individual photos. The theme for the album can be selected from the available options and if it does not satisfy you, you have an option to individually design the pages with individual background from the available choice or even your high resolution photo. Then there are lots of cliparts to decorate the photos, just like the ones shown below. While organising the photos, they can be cropped, resized, rotated inplace thus getting the actual effect of the final finished page. Captions can be added to the page as and when required.

For Zoomin, this entire activity has to be done online and hence requires a stable internet connections. Snapfish used to provides a downloadable software which could be used to create the album offline and then uploaded. I found the offline utility tedious to use and while uploading, it would be a very big file at a time. I highly doubt they still provide it. Check it out. Zoomin on the other hand has the feature of saving online so that the album can be worked on at a later stage.

Once completed with creation of album, the user needs to just pay for the print, give the delivery details and the album reaches in major cities within 3-4 days. (I created the album below and applied 40% discount coupon available online.I got a discount of about 600 rs. and paid some 1300 rs. for the below shown, 45 page album.

For people looking for a home project to spend time on something creative, this kind of job is exciting and a standard 2 hour job for about 130 photos. The pleasure and satisfaction you’ll get after you receive the album is worth the 2 hours.

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Front of the Album

 

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A random page inside

P.S.:The project need not be just for albums. There are lots of other products on offer on these sites like tea/coffee mugs, calendars, collages, name tags, cards, keychains etc.

Oct 202012
 

With the advent of digital cameras and lots of free space available online in form of Picasa, Google Drive, Photobucket, quickly archiving your current photos has become and easy job. Just click and synchronize via the software provided by the websites. But the real deal is about preserving your old photos, dating back to celluloid film era.

I didn’t have a digital camera till year 2007. So all my old photos are in print format. All seen once or twice, bundled up and stored in a cupboard. Recently it occurred to me to create collage of all the events right from my parents marriage till current times. After few days of procrastination, we got the bundle out. It was disheartening and shocking to see that some photos are losing colors due to age and some are almost glued together due to damp environment, thus damaging the surface. I am trying to salvage whatever I can at this moment, but I guess, best of my memories will be all smudgy.

Luckily I have a scanner and I have taken it as a home project to scan as many photos as I can and preserve them. I may want to look back at my childhood in some years. I may want to recount those memorable moments in my life.

I still repent the day I lost all my Honeymoon photos when I wrongly configured and then formatted my Hard Drive.

A flatbed scanner will cost somewhere around 4000 rs. but when you have all your memories backed up, the trouble will be worth it.

May 162012
 

I am an e-shopaholic. I love buying things online, due to its super convenience. The offers available online on few websites cannot be matched by shops on the street. My love for shopping online started with baazee.com and later increased with tradus.in during the good old days when they had auctions online. Those days are gone and baazee has been bought by ebay and tradus sells for a higher than street prices. But I still buy from ebay.in since I get good deals with discount coupons that they send to my inbox. Meanwhile, I keep an eye open for sites with good deals.

My brother-in-law intoduced me to this website. He got a very good deal on a pair of shoes and I was tempted. I logged in to jabong.com and instantly an ecoupon was delivered to my inbox. The coupon can be used four times until 31st may 2012, with a discount of 500 rs each time. I need to shop for 1500 rs or above each time, which is not such a huge sum considering the deduction after coupon. I had a quick look on the products and found that the catalogue was quite extensive. They sell major brands online, not some cheap stuff sold at fashion street. You can buy anything from clothing, fashion accessories, house hold furnishing, fragrances etc.

Payment options are by credit card, Cash on Delivery or net banking. Quite impressive. Don’t miss it. It won’t hurt to have a coupon in your inbox in case you feel like shopping online in near future.

May 082012
 

Technology! It fascinates me!!

I may not be the richest kid in the town but I sure love to buy what my heart craves. I have seen many people flaunt their expensive high end mobiles or those iPads. But when it comes to using those gadgets, they limit themselves to making calls or just watching movies or browsing he internet. The true potential of that device remains unlocked, almost always. It’s very disheartening to find out that people buy high end android phone and play tetris on it.

If you read the autobiography of those devices, you’ll know that they feel their life’s wasted.

Not with me. I try to live my life with technology the fullest and get every bit of juice out of it. And to keep in line with that, I just bought the active 3D glasses for my Samsung SMART TV.

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Found a very good offer on ebay.in and decided instantly that I had waited long enough. The seller shipped it to me within 3 days, enough time for me to download two 3D videos. The model number for these Active 3D glasses is SSG 3050GB and is compatible with D6000 and above LED TV released in 2011 and D490, 550 Series and above for Samsung Plasma TV released in 2011. The glasses came in cute packaging and the seller took extra care to pack it in a plastic container to avoid damage. Included in the pack is a short, multilingual, handy operation manual, which doesn’t specify if I should remove the plastic protective covers on the glasses. I guess I have to. The box also contains lint free cloth for cleaning the glass and a non rechargeable battery(standard 3V CR2025). Insert the battery and the glasses are ready for use.

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Since this glasses use active shutter technology, you require a dual frame video(L/R). Sadly, we do not have any 3D transmission in India as of now, but the glasses also work with the video running from a pendrive. All you need to do is switch on the glasses using the white poser button on top and place them neat the TV. This will enable the glasses to pair with the TV and once paired, the TV will display a message confirming the pairing. After that, the video can be viewed from a distance of about 2 m to 6 m. For 3D effect, the 3D button on the remote should be pressed and the L/R image mode should be selected.

I had no problems whatsoever in carrying out the process. The pairing went on smoothly and before I realised, I was watching an IMAX video in 3D. The glasses can get a bit uncomfortable due to its weight. Also since there is no provision for recharging, the battery needs to be changed after about 150 hours. Also the design of these glasses is not exactly orthodox and for some they may look strange. But for me, they are entertainment at the fullest.

May 042012
 

3G revolution has taken India in its stride since some time now and almost every telecom operator offers you internet connectivity via various means. One dominantly used connectivity option is the use of a data card dongle. Starting from 1x speeds, the operators have improved our connectivity options to mbps speeds in major cities.

One drawback of using a data card dongle has been the non availability of network on a single card throughout India,  reason being the flawed licensing methods of our governing bodies. They may have their reasons for doing it their way but being a consumer, I feel cheated when I need to possess many data cards if I roam a lot. Data cards, though bought in bulk for very cheap by the operators, are sold at a premium to the subscribers without any add-on. That’s the second level of cheating we are forced to endure. Then these cards are locked to the operator’s network even though the consumer has paid for it in full. Take these three levels of cheating schemes to the US of A and all the Kokomos and Fairtels and Bodafones will be biting dust. But we are Indians and we are born to suffer.

Unlocked

There is a way out. Infact two ways, one legal, and one not so legal. These methods use the fact that all the data cards use SIMs(Subscriber Identification Modules) to gain connectivity. The legal way is buying network free data card dongle that supports the 3G SIM of the network which you want to use. SIMs are very cheap and one can afford to possess many at a time. Install the SIM in to the data card, activate a good 3G data plan and you are good to go. Few top data cards are described here.

(Disclaimer : The above method is not yet tested by me hence the compatibility of SIM with card should be checked by interested user.)

The other method is unlocking your data card dongle.

(Disclaimer : Legality of this method needs to be checked but I think if you have paid for it fully, it should be legal. These methods are not for novice and may brick your data card if not followed properly. Again, the reliability of this method should be check on internet)

In this method, the IMEI number of your dongle is used to get the unlock code online. Once you get the code, you swap the SIM and connect the dongle to pc. Once it asks for unlock code, enter the generated code. Follow steps as detailed here.

Alternatively you can use this website to download the software for unlocking.

I myself am will be trying the first method soon. Go ahead, unlock your connectivity options.

Mar 122012
 

Hi friends. I came across this wall post on facebook by a friend, a video about something called as Lytro camera. Heard it first time, so of course, had to find out what. I was amazed at how much technology has progressed in cameras.

Years back, Sony and other camera makers were competing amongst themselves in compact camera space. Little did they know that they would face a stiff competition, and eventually loose to a phone manufacturer in that segment. Will Lytro cameras do this for SLRs?

Though the Lytro camera depends on the proprietary software, I guess it’s bundled with the camera hence nullifies the disadvantage. The only minus point is the requirement of MAC OS, so basically an apple computer to use the software. But I think the makers of this cameras will overcome this hurdle soon. Also the prices as per their website are quite within reach of anyone who wants to flaunt this camera.

Though it will be difficult to lure the enthusiasts and pros at this stage, the camera looks like another object of desire with enough usability to justify the purchase for a point to shoot user. Right now shipping only in US.

Feb 012012
 

I love formatting. No, I don’t like formatting documents to create a well structured good looking one. I like formatting electronic equipment. I’ve been at it since about 10 years. I like trying out new things on computing devices and my computer gave up on me after enduring about 8 years of rough use, but the hard drive still doesn’t feel the pain twice a month formatting(on an average). Then it was turn of my laptop to enter the formatting cycle. Hell!! I have even upgraded my television(though not actually formatting, but the odds that the power might switch right at the moment the T.V. is updating the firmware and I may end up rendering it useless, are high). Then there is my phone, my beloved Samsung Wave which has endured some formatting cycles for upgrade from BADA 1.2 to 2.0, then back to 1.2 then again to 2.0.

But that’s another tale. It’s human nature. I love formatting and there’s no correctional facility to cure me of this.

The day was yesterday and I suddenly felt the urge to format my phone(actually  to prepare it for latest upgrade from samsung). During the process, I bricked it!!(When a phone is said to be bricked, there is little hope for its revival at home, and if you don’t get it repaired at a service center, you should use it as a brick to hit someone. Or may be use it in the masonry work when you renovate your house. Hence the term, “BRICKED”).

Today I went in search of a service center, though I was doubtful I would find one in my home town. Miraculously, I found one brand new service center, almost accidently, and walked in without a second thought. I handed over the phone and sat near the counter, unmindful of anyone else’s business. Especially that of the person who was having an argument with the customer service center employee. I tried not to listen, but the word format did fall on my ears. The employee asked the person to sit in the waiting area and check the phone properly.

The man returned after few minutes, complaining that the phone was slow while operation. The service man came out of his cabin explaining that this was due to the memory card. He said that there was a virus transferred from other phone via bluetooth and this normally occurs in phones with memory card and bluetooth. The man digested it. I did not. But the man had come to a service center for simply formatting his phone, so why judge him. Neither did I want to lose my precious knowledge explaining the service center employee or the person with the phone about phone viruses.

A few minutes later the person came back again, complaining that even though the phone was formatted, there was still one message left on it. The employee at the counter stated that it might have just arrived. On this the man showed him the message and it was few days old. The man was right on his part saying that whenever a phone is formatted all files get deleted. The employee simply deleted the file and stated that ……..

“………Sometimes even after formatting, few files remain on phone. It is common” .

The man digested it. After all, the service center employees were supposed to know everything that is to be known about a phone.

I couldn’t digest it. A knot of fear developed in tummy. I could see through the window of the service area. My phone was already opened up and being checked by the another employee.

They have asked me to come back tomorrow. I am sure to have a sleepless night. After all, this is the first time that I have witnessed a stubborn message left on the phone even after formatting it.

Dec 252011
 

Have you ever wished that you could somehow be compensated for the amount you recharge on your phone. Well there is just the website operating in India which refund you not only the amount you recharge on mobile, but also the amount you recharge on DTH and Datacard. The catch is that they refund you in form of coupons which can be used for shopping at stores and online and you have to pay rs.10 for the delivery. But something is better than nothing.

I have found that the coupons for mc donalds are the best deals as you get food worth rs 50 when you buy food worth rs. 100, which we almost always do when we are at mc donalds. But do look around if you find some better coupons. The procedure is quite simple and explained in steps on the website itself. There is an option not to avail for coupon if you don’t want to pay those extra bucks. In that case, you just recharge. The website keeps on adding more coupons on the site and I am almost addicted to it.

The website is freecharge.in. Go, charge for free.

Nov 252011
 

I’ve been having some problems with my laptop battery since quite some time and during the course of investigation, I came across an unknown method to check battery health and status. Mind you, my laptop is that of dell, so I don’t know if it will work on other batteries. But I assume all manufacturers incorporate this test.

Have you ever worked with the duracell batteries where you can press at two spots on the battery and it gives the indication of the remaining charge? It works in a similar fashion. On the bottom side of the battery you will find as rectangular area with 5 dots in a row and an icon of a battery(check video below). Press the icon and one or more of the dots will blink. If you keep it pressed for some more time(3 seconds as claimed by dell), number of dots will blink again. The first time you press the battery icon, the indication given is the amount of charge present in the battery. If all lights appear, the battery is fully charged. Each indicator represents about 20% charge. When you keep the icon pressed for a longer time, if one dot blinks it indicated that the battery is healthy and able to charge to its capacity. If five dots blink, it indicates that the battery charge capacity has gone below 60% and should be changed soon.

Check the video below.

More tips on http://wordfight.in/category/tech-bytes/

Cool huh!!

Nov 192011
 

Before I start my brief review of my new proud procurement, I would like to state that off late, I’ve been getting quite lucky while shopping for electronics. To remind you, I had bought a SMART TV way below it’s market price sometime back, as informed earlier. Thought the circumstances got me a good price, I still consider myself lucky. Lately, I had been thinking about doing something about my hobby of reading, which was being neglected by me. It could be due to lack of availability of good books in my region, or just my laziness to venture out towards the stores offering them. Anyway, my friend managed to persuade me that Amazon Kindle was one of the best purchases he had made in his life. And I always take him by his word. Weighing my options, I felt that kindle was my best bet to re-ignite the passion towards books, and so I went ahead and purchased it on ebay. To my surprise, the guys shipping it from the U.S. sent me a Wifi + 3G version instead of plain Wifi which I had ordered. At this point, I feel no remorse in pointing out to people who feel that I should return it, that these sellers have been looting me all through my life, and now it’s payback time. So I keep this model.

KindleAnyway the kindle is here. (Accessory in the picture(Kindle Pouch) is NOT part of supply and needs to be bought separately. Maybe here.)

Ergonomics and Asthetics: The very first time I opened the packet containing my Kindle, I thought that I needed to remove the paper displaying an advertisement on the screen. I lifted up the plastic  cover which was protecting the front and was amazed to find that it was not paper. The screen, as claimed, reproduced the exact impression of paper. I was amazed, and bit amused at my innocence. The display captured my heart that very moment. The box also contained a USB/U.S. standard power adapter, and a quick start guide. After handling it a bit more, I found that though the screen was 6” diagonally, it was sufficient to display enough text without being too smallKindle, while not requiring to turn page very frequently. The form factor is very small. You can comfortably hold it in one palm while the fingers of the same hand can be used to navigate between pages while reading. In fact, Amazon has been very thoughtful while designing the two arrow keys which turn the page. They are replicated on both the edges of the device so that you can hold it in either of the hands and still be able to navigate easily. Tiring your hand while reading, is not the idea of this device.

The bottom of the device holds a volume key(for your audiobooks and mp3. Yes, kindle plays mp3, even while you are reading a book, if you desire), a 3.5mm audio jack for the earphones, mic(internally built), the data/charging port and the power button. Strangely, no headphones are provided in the box. But then, this is primarily an ebook reader, and people tend to read it instead of listening to it. Also the mp3 Photo0007function is experimental, with not standard application menu. The back plate is blank, except for the two perforated grills on top edges denoting the location of speakers.

Weight wise, Amazon claim it to be some ounces. I  wouldn’t care less. It is light enough to be carried around. And it’s slim. In fact almost half the thickness of my samsung wave mobile. And I used to be proud about how slim my phone is.

Reading experience:Don’t ask it if you read actual books. It’s almost the same. I say almost because kindle doesn’t have the problem of you needing to hold the book open, which can be quite cumbersome Photo0012with thick books. On kindle, you just hold the book(device). The text is quite crisp. Just check out the photo on left. And at any word you do not understand, just move your cursor using the navigation key on the keyboard to the beginning of the word and the in built dictionary will do the rest.

Keyboard:The keyboard is QWERTY type with well laid out keys, good enough to carryout the job at hand.You have an option to change the size, font, line spacing, number of words in a single line and even the orientation of the screen as per your liking, using the AA button on the keyboard. Though the options are less, they are quite sufficient for the purpose. No one would a fancy calligraphy or monotype corsiva font on an ebook. The same button also contains the option to use the text-to-speech engine to listen to the text, but I wouldn’t prefer a poignant novel to be read by a robot from star-trek. There is a standard 4 way+select navigation button combination which is useful while navigating between menus and book list.

Connectivity: There are two options available. Wifi and 3G + Wifi. For wifi internet you need a hot spot. Ad-hoc connection(peer to peer) is not possible. I got the device containing Wifi + 3G and India has a very good coverage of GPRS. Though I do not get 3G, I am quite satisfied with the EDGE speed for downloading books. Having said that, the speed is bit less for web browsing( yes, web browsing. I will come to that.) Someone who buys a 3KindleG + Wifi device might complain if he/she doesn’t get 3G access in India, but it should be clarified before buying. By the way, wireless access(be it 3G or Wifi) is only required for synchronising with your online account to buy and download books. Rest of the times, the wireless feature can be switched off very easily to conserve battery.

Battery & Memory: Amazon claims a battery life of a month on kindle when used in purely reading model. But how is that possible? Kindle uses the e-ink technology where the display doesn’t require any power. The device uses the power only to change the display from one page to another. After that the display remains in its state without the need to refresh. This, though translates in to longer battery life and sharper contrast, renders the device useless for fast moving graphics, leave alone videos. The device has a 3GB usable memory on board with no expansion slot. But 3GB ought to hold enough books for lifetime(estimated 3500, in kindle native format).

Advertisements: There are two versions of this device. A normal and a sponsored version. I have the sponsored version wherein a small advertising bar appears at the bottom of the screen whenever I access the home screen or navigate through list of books. Also when the device goes to sleep mode, the screen displays an advertisement. But, while reading a book, no advertisements appear, so the sponsored version is actually not at all bad. In fact, it is listed for 99$ as against 139$ for the normal version in the U.S.

Shopping for Ebooks: Once your device is registered to your Amazon account, shopping for ebooks via kindle is as easy as doing it on computer. It has a search engine to search any book on Amazon.com. Once your payment options are registered on one click payment option, buying books online becomes very easy. The books are transferred using Amazons own whispernet technology(basically a data service through a service provider) to your device. You can group together the books in to collections for easy browsing and handling. You can also use some tricks to transfer some files other then those form amazon. Feed update can be synchronised using services like Kindle Feeder.

Experimental:

  • Amazon has integrated a webkit browser under experimental category in menu along with music player and text to speech. I used the browser, and I fail to understand the word experimental. As a matter of fact, the word experimental undermines the potential and readiness of the browser. It doesn’t play flash. It cannot display colors. Other than that, it can do most of the browsing. I navigated through quite a few websites and I was very happy with the results. The browser cannot open second window hence it is not possible to open a link which tries to open up a new browsing window. The browser requires internet access and is capable of accessing 3G/EDGE data.
  • The integrated music player can be used to play music using certain shortkeys even while you read.
  • Text to speech, as I informed earlier, is robotic.

There might be other things this device is capable of doing, but I have yet to use it to its full potential. All in all, I am satisfied with its usability. It serves my purpose.

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