Category Archives: personal

Infibeam Pi – a review

After using – playing with infibeam.com’s Pi, for almost about 4 months I thought to write about it. Many people have been asking me online and offline ‘How is it?’ And could simply respond with ‘Good’!

If you think this is smart device, can do much more like iPad, Galaxy Pad or so, its absolutely misconception. Its very very simple and dedicated eBook reader, and almost nothing beyond that. No wi-fi, no 3G, no browser, no touch-screen!
The device is meant for very specific purpose.

Battery:
The battery lasts long and the main reasons behind them is the way is designed – no backlight and E-ink  screen. This is indeed smart technique, absence of back light and flat simple screen provides very smooth, no eye itching experience. This definitely provides equally pleasant experience as if you were reading physical – paper book. Battery indeed lasts more than a week for me after a complete charging cycle.

Connectivity:
Connectivity is pretty simple way, charging and data transfer is possible with mini USB interface. It also has SD card  slot, so you every time do not need to connect reader via cable to transfer books.

Ebook reading / formatting:
Though it supports vast variety of formats including, TXT, EPUB, PDF, HTML, and more, the device converts – formats text on its own. For non technical reading, its indeed good. This may result into different placement of image, but is fine as long as you can link the reference!
However, for technical ebooks, this isn’t good. For instance, code snippet or some tips also gets converted and formatted with different font. This makes it little annoying to understand flow. Also, limited screen size may also split continuity. Reference to diagram involves multiple flips between few pages.
The best and i-like-most part is support for major Indian languages. Font support and formatting is really very nice when it comes to Indian regional text.

Audio:
It has very basic audio player which supports MP3 format. This player is indeed basic, don’t expect rocking sound experience! The ideal purpose, though not highlighted much anywhere, is audio ebook listening, and nothing beyond.

Screen / display:
It has simple 600 by 800 pixels of display which is sufficient for normal book reading. The landscape and full screen book reading experience is good for continuous reading.

  • Font families – changeable includes Georgia, Courier, MTX Bold
  • Size switches – increase / decrease actually changes font size and reformats text. For ebooks with scanned image type text, text recognition is not there, so can also use zoom in-out.
  • E-ink displays image in grayscale.
  • Refresh / response time is bit more, so requires patience after button press! 😀

Others:
No keyboard, very limited functional buttons, so no confusion for first time users.
Sudoku game, image viewer.

Minor bugs:

  • Landscape mode reading doesn’t show full title of ebook, even if it has sufficient space.
  • Header shows date, but not time – crazy!
  • For Indian scripts, specially with subscript characters and superscript characters, post formatting gives little annoying experience, for example a signle word is broken in such a way that first line terminates with consonant character and associated vowel goes to next line beginning! 🙂
  • About section – device says “GNU General Public License – this product contains software which applies to GPL. You may obtain and redistribute the GPL source code.” This is indeed crazy, GPL is license and not any type of source code. And the company – infibeam doesn’t mention which software (under GPL) is used, and from where! (consider it major, if you’re also open source promoter, like me.)

The bottom line:
This is dedicated ebook reader for India, but not as per ‘Indian Price’ – bit more expensive considering set of features. However the available options are good enough for non technical or semi technical reading.

Couple of one liners from my friends when they played with my reader.
“Please remove paper placed on screen and switch it on, I want to see!” (though actually it was on with some book opened)

“If this is offered around Rs.5000, I shall get one.”

“This is a book only, and is thinner than our technical books.” (when I handed over with leather case)
Bonus for readers of this post –

Get your favorite newspaper delivered to your e-mailbox, daily and read using this reader

  • Grab copy of Calibre Ebook Management software. It’s free and open source, supports multiple operating systems.
  • Install and open
  • Click on Fetch newsSchedule news download and you will see a window like below:Schedule news download
  • search for your favorite newspaper / magazine and click on the name. Of course, you can also add your own way – own news feed. But this requires little technical knowledge.
  • When you select – highlight the item, Schedule option on right side will be enabled, just select preferred time and frequency and save.
  • Now click on Connect / Share icon and setup your email account, make sure you enabled auto send option.
  • That’s it!

Note, this trick requires software to be open and internet to be connected, for the time you have scheduled. You can use scheduled activity to start / wake up your computer before the schedule and hibernate / shutdown post schedule.

I also recommend Calibre Ebook Management software as it has vast options to convert ebook to multiple formats.

Update:

infibeam Pi is just a wrapper and Indian branding of netronix ebook device! I was bit surprised to find this. Also, firmware upgrade is also not smooth. Post upgrade, you may expect some bugs as new gifts! 😀

Exploring Himalayan Valleys

It’s been more than a month since I already returned from the vacation, but this summer reminds me to write and ruminate about it!

Yes, already excited since planned. The journey began from Chandigarh, a shared capital of Punjab and Haryana, 2 neighboring states. We reached Chandigarh on 28th March, 2010 morning.

Plan was to catch booked taxi and have a quick city tour of Chandigarh. But the taxi operator had some problems with the reserved taxi and driver. Also he could not manage for alternate.
With another contact of my uncle, somehow managed to get another taxi, fortunately, with that delay we could adjust the schedule to reach Mandi, by skipping Chandigarh sight seeing!

We reached Mandi, a pre destination place for halt on 28th late evening. Almost everybody was tired.

We again started for Manali on 29th morning. On the way to Manali, we found one of the best utility of gravitation force, an automated ropeway to transfer goods – between higher peak to lower peak in diagonal distance!

Automated Ropeway 1

Automated Ropeway 1

Automated Ropeway 2

Automated Ropeway 2

Idea was simply good. Use of 2 trolleys, one for carrying goods, another (with heavier water containers) for pulling goods to upper side!
Passing appx. 5 KM long tunnel and beautiful mountain ranges, we were following Beas river almost throughout route.

Tunnel

Beas River

Beas River

Rope Bridge on Beas River

Rope Bridge on Beas River

During this, I realized the value of rope, especially in mountaineering. Be it making a bridge or transfer of goods, ropes make these things dynamic!

View from Hotel @ Manali

View from Hotel @ Manali

We touched Manali by evening; found and finalized stay at a hotel, little away from main city and market, but closer to nature, a very peaceful area.

Hidimba Temple

Hidimba Temple

The next day we visited Hidimba Temple. The design was very different, had a touch of Mongolian building style.

Apart from this, its an historical place. The building design was different from what I had seen so far, it was constructed with both stones and wooden slabs as packing. Possibly this combination is an invention to protect against earthquake shocks and frequently changing weather.

Yak, near Hidimba Temple, Manali

Yak, near Hidimba Temple, Manali

I saw ‘live – moving’ yak, for the first time in my life!

The owner asked for Rs. 50 for taking photo, after it was captured!!! The owner should not keep his yak in public then!!!! 😀

Evening @ Manali Market

Evening @ Manali Market

Manali was beggar free, one good point especially being a tourist place.

Way to Rohtang Pass

Way to Rohtang Pass

Snow fall @ Rohtang Pass

Snow fall @ Rohtang Pass

Snowsuit

Snowsuit

Get ready to ski

Get ready to ski

Bhojpatra

Bhojpatra

On 30th March early morning started for Rohtang Pass, probably most exciting, adventurous and beautiful place.

Rain wear was available on rent on the way to Rohtang Pass. Gum boots and snow resistant suit made all look fatty. I made some attempts to learn skiing, but low air pressure and suddenly started snow fall stopped me for more attempts. But experience and feeling being under snow fall was amazing!

The icy hills are best condition for Bhojapatra – an ancient white tree to grow self. These trees’ skin was used to write notes in old days.

My evening was bit boring as elders were busy shopping in Manali market. I passed time by updating through tweets.

The financial year may although passed with a tag like ‘recession’, but end was definitely going to override such tags as I was enjoying vacation at heavenly places.

On financial year end day, we visited Naggar, a nearby place to Manali. It has renovated and hotel turned castle. Although castle is not gigantic viz campus, the structure and design is perhaps unique.

Naggar Castle 1

Naggar Castle 1

Naggar Castle 2

Naggar Castle 2

Naggar Castle 3

Naggar Castle 3

Naggar Castle 4

Naggar Castle 4

Next visit was a Buddha Monastery and Manikaran, a holy place for the Sikhs, situated on the banks of river Parvati.

Buddha Monastery 1

Buddha Monastery 1

Buddha Monastery 2

Buddha Monastery 2

Buddha Monastery 3

Buddha Monastery 3

Buddha Monastery 4

Buddha Monastery 4

Manikaran

Manikaran Gurudwara

Rafting in Beas 1

Rafting in Beas 1

Rafting in Beas 2

Rafting in Beas 2

By evening, shopping of shawls from Factory outlets in Kullu highway was finished. Thereafter I enjoyed water rafting in Beas river with my daddy and rafting crews!

For safety measure, the authority was running a parallel raft boat with ours! This was probably next major adventurous and exciting experience for me, next to Rohtang.

On fools day, morning we left Manali and started for Dharmashala, another place with scenic beauty and closest place to headquarter of the Lamas. Highway was beautiful as Tea gardens passed by.

We settled at a hotel in Dharmashala by evening.

On 2nd April only plan was to visit McLeod Ganj, the most important and famous place, especially for Buddhist. This place in fact was giving essence like a capital of Tibet, too many Tibetians and foreigners.

McLeod Ganj 1

McLeod Ganj 1

McLeod Ganj 2

McLeod Ganj 2

McLeod Ganj 3

McLeod Ganj 3

McLeod Ganj 4

McLeod Ganj 4

3rd April was driving us towards end of vacation. We reached Pathankot railway station to catch train for return journey, by noon.

Visit to such places definitely expects good driving skills for any vehicle owner. The only thing we could not enjoy much is food, either traditional food in Himachal Pradesh consists more of non veg or that food is not much in focus. The only served Punjabi dishes, that we ate, were also not always satisfactory. But we did not go to such places to have food, so was ok to compromise at.

We had Ramesh & Bharati Dave, a known couple in Gujarati literature, with us, during the trip. To us, they are living encyclopedia of trees and flowers. Having them with us was another angle of fun and chance to grab some knowledge about nature! Sapling and shawls were the only shopping that they did!

Photos of trip are available at here, credit goes to my dad, brother and me! 🙂

Royal vacation @ Rajasthan

This Diwali, I went to Rajasthan with family. Only three, very selected destinations were routed – Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh, Bassi

Kumbhalgarh has world’s second largest wall – of 36 kilometers length. Lighting on monuments and wall is major attraction.

Night View of fort

Night View of fort

We were fortunate enough to have a night view with beautiful lights on the place for more than 30 minutes. Usually the place is enlightened for about 15 to 20 minutes only.
The reserved accommodation was simple and clean. Food was not upto suitable taste, of course, not bad at all!

Second day and night was planned to be spent at Chittorgarh – city of forts where a bunch of monuments are surrounded in a campus on mountain peak.
There, we compromised over accommodation but got reasonably acceptable. We were dissatisfied for food, what and wherever we had!
However, an evening tour to the fort was fabulous. On entering the campus, we hired a guide, mainly to have glimpse of monuments and to get proper road directions. The fort campus is so vast that a motorized vehicle is merely needed to visit every monument!
Its history had a general element that the Rajaputs, mostly fought in defensive manner!

Carvings on ceiling of Vijay Stambh

Carvings on ceiling of Vijay Stambh

Vijay Stambh

Vijay Stambh

Almost all monuments have unique carvings. The Vijaya Stambh is really a symbol of such high and unique architectural and structural design.
The light & sound show of 52 minutes was really good to visualize history.

The last day and night was just an experiment, and at end has turned to be most memorable place we visited in this trip.
Bassi is a small town, 25 kilometers away from Chittorgarh, on the highway to Kota. Nothing special, nothing great appeared till we reached to our ‘accomodation’. But anything and everything, appeared thereafter had an essence of royal!
The home of the Chundawats – Bassi fort is a unique symbol of hospitality. Just surfing through Internet, for accommodation inquiries for Kumbhalgarh and Chittorgarh, I came across this name, and fascinated by reviews forced to add one more destination to the vacation trip.
They have their own way to welcome guests. Not just that, the uniqueness differs when number of arriving guests increases! Food – quality, quantity & taste was highly upto our expectation.
The palace has very selected number of so called rooms, decorated with choice, rich of wall paintings. The furniture with ancient style carvings is another feather of royal theme.
Candle light dinner in open space in palace campus itself was a rare experience. If I could increase my vacation by one day, I was in mood to be seated on one of the Jharokhas whole night!
The palace campus has a Kalpavriksha – wish fulfilling divine tree, which has holy values in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The tree and its fruits have unique characteristics – fruit has life of 3000 years and the tree can survive without water for 2 to 3 years, according to Randheer Singh Chundawat & others.

Ranvijay Singh a.k.a. Shaitan Singh

Ranvijay Singh a.k.a. Shaitan Singh

The prince Chundawat – fondly calling self as Shaitansingh Chundawat is a cute boy. He is naughty enough to attract anyone! He too was expressing his freedom – as is studying in a school of Udaipur. And the time of vacation allowed him to move and enjoy inside big campus of the palace!

Upto our surprise, family members of the royal Chundawats spent enough time with us, talking about activities, little bit of history etc. Not just that, family members as if divided into small batches, attended us twice!
Finally, when a time to leave the wonderful place and royal family came, I realized that we stayed in a heritage hotel, by the last bill; of course, reasonable in amount!

I salute such ‘kingdom’ where ‘king’ is down to earth and good enough to maintain respect of ‘servant’!

Pics of visit are available here.

Fantastic trip to Jambughoda

Before quite some time, I had made a plan to visit Jambughoda, along with cousins for the holidays of 15th and 16th August.

I was not well one day before, so was in confusion about the plan. But everything went almost on track and we were on track to Jambughoda, about 190 Kilometers away from Ahmedabad.

Before checking in to the booked palace hotel, we went to Kadaa, a natural dam. This place is close to our destination and provides good stay. But we came to know about the place late, had no booking!

The destination – Jambughoda, is the palace of the Ranas. Apart from historic values, the hotel turned palace is great place with pleasant atmosphere, greenery all around. Basically, the locality too is a part of forest, so is rich of trees, different species of insects!!

A 10 Kilometers place, Jhand Hanuman appears to be a great attraction to devotees. Of course, the way to reach there is roller coaster journey.

We learnt that we should be familiar with local language, of the place to visit. Asking for direction and stay to local public, we could not fetch proper information, because we were going to stay in Raj Darbar!!

Dining experience at the palace hotel was not at all good, or perhaps we expected something great! Of course, by other opinions from past visitor, I can assume that the cook was under training and was experimenting on us!! 😀
We discovered a near by town, Badoli is a good place to eat around.

Proper trained staff and management at the palace hotel can fetch more fame. However, overall hospitality was good. And, stay in forest can perhaps not be better than this.

Selected pics are here.

Moon Mission

This weekend, Saturday night a sudden power failure in our area stopped many activities, but gave me a chance. Moisture in air drove everybody to go on terrace. Suddenly an idea clicked in my mind to have photography experiment on my dad’s Nikon D60 DSLR camera.

Full moon gave another opportunity. Here are few results….

Once again...

Once again...

Moon with co-star, photo taken with improper settings led to the blur photograph.

Not bad

Not bad

Good photo with co-star far away, but acceptable result and concentration.

I felt this photo best – it has a costar visible, rough surface on moon (no Hubble telescope is used! :p), sharpness is at expectedly best level.

Mission accomplished!

A true youngster

He…

… was a radio operator on ships during his early life

… was a true fan of Vincent Van Gogh

… was very specific and talking for very short time over phone, without missing anything

… was a quality writer in English

… was a huge collection of vocab words

… was a very good translator

… was one of my best wishers, always asked me to take care of self

… was holding an agency for subscription of more than 20 odd, rich quality magazines published worldwide

… was using computer, Internet, and many of modern gadgets, with quiet good control over them (at old age too, living in Abrama, Valsad)

… was old by documented age, but had been young by his work, his enthusiasm and perfection

The need to write in past tense – was – arise on February 15, 2009. The youngster was none else, but Vinod Jhaverchand Meghani.

My salute to this young man.

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