Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book review

Read some really good books recently.

1. Undercover Economist:

A very good book. It is more of an extension to Freakanomics (One of my favorite books). It talks more in detail about an economists views on day to day life, like traffic in the roads or medical care or insurance for example. It does have a chapter on How China is going to be the future of the world. It seems like these days, you cannot finish a single newspaper without stories about China's rise to power.

I liked his views on reducing traffic in the road. Singapore is exactly following his idea. The whole ERP grantry thing is exactly what is being suggested in the book. (ERP was desinged before the book was released. This goes to say Singapore is run by smart people)

Also I liked his views on medicare. Singapore implemented his idea long before the book was released. As I said, a very good book. If you have interest in economics, i would strongly suggest this.

2. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri:

One of my favorite authors. She is definitely an amazing writer. I have read interpreter of maladies and Namesake by her. So decided to read this and absolutely loved it. If you are a foreigner reading this blogpost, do read this book to understand Indians living abroad. It is a collection of short stories just like Interpreter of Maladies.

Hema and Kaushik was my favorite of all the short stories. I rarely read novels. (I prefer watching them in movies) But i actually can read this book again.

3. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho:

I know this is a famous book that has already crossed like 20 editions. It has been translated into 67 languages. Sold 65 million copies. But i read this only now. And really liked it. As people say, it is truly a modern classic. If i were to gift someone a book, i would definitely choose this. Anyone who reads this book will find it useful in their life. This is like "Who moved my Cheese".

4. Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell:

Another good book i read recently. People say this is better than Outliers. But i kinda liked Outliers more than this one. But still it is worth reading. A very interesting idea. I wanna read Blink next.

5. The White Tiger:

It is a famous book, but few of my friends didnt like it. But i found the book interesting. It has a wierd sense of humour. The author writes about his life to Wen Jiaboa. So the entire book is in a letter format. He explains the wierd caste system and so many other things to the chinese premier. The story ends with the author murdering his boss. The whole book is the reasoning for why he did it. Pretty interesting book.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kindle 2

Kindle 2

I recently bought the Kindle 2. I have been waiting for a long time to buy this. Sure, if i had waited a bit longer, could have gotten a more advanced and better performing device. But I got a good deal and so couldnt pass it on. I did so much research on all the ebook readers available in the market, before i decided to buy the Kindle. At the end of my research i actually wanted the Nook. But as i said, i got a good deal on this Kindle.

It is such an amazing technology. It looks exactly like paper. There is no back-light involved. And hence less strain on your eyes. No glare whatsoever. So amazing to read using the device even in sunlight. If you ask me, the entire amount we pay for ebook readers is basically for this technology. The Kindle or the Nook doesnt really have a spectacular processor or any other expensive parts in it. The price you pay for the device is simply for the e-ink. Check out some videos and you will know what i am talking about. I have shown the device to so many people. Friends, colleagues, etc. And every single one seem to react the same way when they look at the screen. "Is that a screen? It looks like paper" is the response i get all the time. So money worth spending on this.

But the biggest minus is the refresh rate. It is pathetic. If you understand how the technology works you might not feel so bad. But for someone who is looking at it for the first time, the refresh rate is such a big annoying thing. The entire screen turns black and then you get to see your new page. Actually the refresh rate is better in Kindle compared to other devices in the market. It is actual hydrocarbons that are behind this e-ink technology. That is the reason.

Free 3G:

This is an excellent add-on in Kindle. Not available in any other device right now. You get free 3G (Surprisingly not wifi. Just 3G. Ya i know. That is wierd). It doesnt work in Singapore though. But it works even in India. So Kindle is an amazing device if you travel .

Pdf support:

They recently added pdf support to Kindle. But the device shrinks the entire a4 pdf into a 6" screen. Hence the readability is poor. You can convert the pdf to any kindle recognised formats and it works fine for pdfs with mostly text. If you want to read pdfs with images or charts in it, forget Kindle (or Nook for that matter). I would suggest wait for a better device or just buy the damn ipad.

Battery life:
Now that is a good selling point. A single charge lasts for more than a week. If you find that strange, read up on e-ink. The technology uses battery power only to refresh the page, and hence when you are reading, it is not consuming power at all.

This is an amazing piece of software. If you use ebook readers, you need this software. It is open source and free to download. Simply put, it is the iTunes of ebooks. You can select your ebook reader when you configure the software and whenever you add a book, it will automatically convert the book to your format and when you connect your device to the computer, it will automatically synchronize everything. The best part about this software is, you can specify your RSS feeds and it will convert them into ereader format. So schedule a download for all NYT business articles at 8 am in the morning and connect your device to get today's NYT in your device. I have been using this for over 2 months now and trust me when i say this. Calibre is amazing.

Nook vs Kindle:

Nook is more open. It recognises all kinds of formats compared to Kindle. It runs based on Android. People keep telling me the bottom color screen with touch capability is an impressive thing. But i find it to be extremely annoying. Nook has wifi in it. And it looks a bit more cooler. But as i said, i got a good deal in this Kindle.

Kindle is not a bad device either. It has text to speech which is absolutely useless, if you ask me. It has global 3g support which is pretty impressive. It is just a matter of time before they bring 3g support to Singapore. Then it is an amazing device.

Kindle Vs iPad:
It is pretty difficult to explain this. First of all, i have a decent laptop and buying the iPad doesnt make sense. In my view, you need a device like ipad when you have a desktop, which doesnt offer much mobility. But when you have a laptop, i am pretty comfortable in watching movies or browsing in it. My laptop allows me to run background tasks. Dont get me wrong here. I am not comparing a tablet computer to a laptop. I am just discussing the usability. So when i wanted to buy a kindle, my main aim was to read books and newspapers in it. That is it. Nothing more. Nothing less. And i think if you are this kind of person, go ahead and buy the ebook reader. If you want more than books and newspapers in a device, then ebook reader is simply not your device. To me, it doesnt make sense when someone complains that they cant watch video in Kindle. Frankly it is not made for watching videos. It is made for reading and it does an excellent job at it.

Sure, iPad is not what we all thought it would be. But it is only a matter of time before we see loads of other competitors coming up with similar, probably better devices. 100,000 apps in a computer is not a big selling point according to me. I dont need an app for Citibank in my tablet computer. I might as well go to their website to make a funds transfer. The main reason apps became a hit is because the browser in the phones are too crappy and slow to do anything. So people came up with ideas for apps and it is a huge hit in phones. When it comes to computers, please dont say apps are a big plus point. They are useless. But iPad is a tremendous hit. They sold 300,000 devices on the first day alone. By now they would have sold a million devices. By few measures it is selling faster than the iPhone. (FYI, there are close to 18 million iPhones in the market right now)

I realized the true potential of Kindle during my recent trip to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Sure, the free 3g doesnt work in the three countries. But i had few good books in the device and it was so useful in all our long bus journeys.