Saturday, September 01, 2012

A New Computing Experience with Windows 8: Dos and Don'ts, Likes and Dislikes

Some people will surely remember the derogatory remarks I made earlier about Windows 8. At that time I was using the developer preview version, and a lot of things went wrong. However, within a span of 6 months, things have changed, and it looks like, however improbable it seemed before, Windows 8 is going to be my favorite OS of all.

 I have tried double digit number of linux distros and have tried all the desktop interfaces. I am not an obdurate supporter of Linux. I liked to use it for its simplicity. Things just work, and once I set up the distro, I don't have to take much care of it except clicking on the update button bi-weekly or once in a month. For Windows, it used to take more. Registry cleaning, disk clean up, defragmentation, update antivirus etc. I was tired. Moreover, I didn't like that once in a while Windows would have the blue screen errors. I am a computer user, and not a computer caretaker. Though Windows 8 still requires disk clean up and defragmentation, a lot of those tasks have been automated and a user can just bother less to keep his OS fast and less bloated.

 A few days ago, I downloaded the Windows 8 release preview. I installed it on my cheap netbook, and was worried whether I would find the right driver software for all the hardware devices. I went ahead and took the risk. When I looked at my device status through the device manager later, I was surprised. All the drivers were automatically installed. Even the proprietary Radeon driver was installed. That was my first moment of awe with windows 8.

 I don't like anything flashy. I uninstalled all the video, photo, music, messaging, mail, people apps as soon as I entered into the metro interface. I uninstalled everything I didn't need. The metro interface was left only with the shortcuts of the programs that I normally use. It worked wonderfully for me. I don't miss the start button. The metro interface is my start button.

 Very soon I installed k-lite codecs, VLC player, Chrome, Firefox, Google hangout extension, skype, Office 2010 and Adobe Reader. I have been a massive Chrome and Firefox user. But this time almost always I use Internet Explorer 10. I have set up the adblock/ tracking protection and set my default search engine to Google. I really enjoy the inbuilt flash. Another reason I enjoy the Internet Explorer 10 is because of its ability to send clipped text, images to Microsoft One Note. IE9 could do the same, but it was not as fast as the IE10.

 I am not a fanboy. I want to use what's best. So far it has always been Ubuntu. But on my netbook Ubuntu feels sluggish, and deteriorates my experience with each new click. I am enjoying windows 8 and I will keep recommending it to people if they want a smooth experience, good battery life and less stress while working on a computer.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pride and Prejudice: The Fedora 17 Edition

This afternoon I installed Fedora 17 Linux Distribution on my netbook. So far it has been amazing. In fact, it is so amazing, that I have decided to put in on my mighty-powerful desktop. Putting it will only make the desktop more powerful, faster.

There has been an war in OS world for a decade now. Windows sneer at the Linux users, the Linux guys mock the windows users. There is also another OS for the bimbos, that is Mac OS.

Mac gives no control over the OS. Windows gives moderate. Linux gives full.

To be honest, there are some applications on windows that I really enjoy (e.g. Adobe LIghtroom). The thing I don't like about Windows is, it comes in between the user and the application- which in my view is annoying. I don't have that many complains about OS X. The one and only complain I have against OS X is that it doesn't give any freedom to its users in customizing the interface. You are stuck with the gray bars forever.

The main thing I like about Linux is that I am fully in control. I can control every aspect the operating system. Once I set things right, I don't have to worry about it for years. With that said, Fedora is not a rolling-release distro. It has a life span of only one year. But that's okay with me, since I like to experiment with things. If you install Arch Linux or Sabayon, you can theoratically use it till the end of time.

I have set up all the things in Fedora 17. I have exactly what I need in it- nothing more, nothing less. This has been an amazing distro. I can say that because in last two hours I have tried all the weird things possible in it, and it has survived all.

The reason I mentioned "Pride and Prejudice" in the title is to get more focus on the fact that I am not trying to convince you in any way that Linux (or Fedora) is better. It is just my choice, and it goes the way that I want it to go. That's it. Clear and simple.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Learn Photography in an Involuntary Way: Develop the Photographer's Eye

One famous photographer said, "Your first 10,000 photos are your worst". I extend this statement, and say, "Your first 30,000 photos are your worst". By the time you take 30000 photos, you either give up photography or become a very good photographer. At the same time, if you do not have passion for photography, you cannot reach the 30000 photos milestone.

While, taking photos is the most direct way to learn photography, you can sharpen your eye for it in an involuntary way. Make yourself exposed to a lot of good photographs, and you will soon start developing the photographer's eye.

I would recommend you to add a bunch of photographers on Google+. When you are registering for Google+, the option comes up. If you have missed that step, search on "Google" for some shared circles on photography and add the circle to your own profile. Add as many photographers as you want. Soon you will see a pattern. Soon, you will discover what kind of photography you like. Follow them, copy-paste their style- it doesn't matter. Keep taking photos. Keep looking. In two years you will become a better photographer.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Measurement of Ambition: cm or inch?

You are as great as your ambition.

I have tore off more than 700 pages in 2005. All those 700 pages were full with my writing. Why did I tear them apart? Because they didn't survive my standards. It's funny if you look at it: your own writing didn't survive your own standard. So what are you supposed to do? Quit?

Quitting is the easiest option in any situation. If your personality allows it, then go ahead. QUIT.

To be honest, I didn't write much post 2005. I got a feeling that, may be writing isn't in me. I was wrong. I discovered that recently.

I found few pages that I had forgotten to tear off at that time. I read them, and I was engaged very soon. I looked for the other pages to know what Captain McGinity was going to do. I had picked up the name McGinity from one of the Sherlock Holmes novels. He was my dream character. At that time I used to read Jules Verne a lot. All the stories I wrote at that time had some influences from Jules Verne. I also wrote romantic stories. I couldn't finish any- because they were not real. I wrote one story every time I was infatuated with a girl. I often could not talk much with those girls. So I wrote stories to figure out how it would feel if we were lovers. Often those stories were unfinished, because I couldn't come to a decision what to do with them. I was not comfortable with the girl leaving me, I was not comfortable living with that girl my entire life.

So what does all these lead to? I didn't write crappy stories. My taste was too high. My taste is still high. This time I will work hard enough to be as great as my ambitions.

Did someone say, "The journey of a thousand miles start with a single step?"

Monday, May 21, 2012

How would Hemingway say it?

How would Ernest Hemingway say it?

"How would Hemingway describe it if it was going to rain the next day?"

This question was asked to Isaac Asimov by one of his editors when Asimov was still a very young man and was still an amateur.

In reply, Asimov came up with a very beautiful line which reflected nice use of adjectives, profoundness and a strong command over the language.

The editor said, wrong.

If it was going to rain the next day, Hemingway would say,

"It is going to rain tomorrow".

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another Dose on Writing

The problem starts when I deviate away from my true self.

The problem starts exactly when I suppress my own opinions and give in to the fantasies.

A piece of writing should be rock solid, not necessarily perfect. There is no second Hemingway, no second Charles Dickens. Yet it is possible to become a writer close to their heights by being brutally honest  to oneself.

Asimov's writing pattern is linear. Yet he is adept in creating extremely complex stories.

You often feel confused by the verbose nature of Stephen King's writing. Yet his writing wouldn't be this engaging without those words.

All the successful writers were true to themselves, at least in their writings. You cannot convince a reader something that you don't believe in. You can take that attempt in one or two paragraphs, or one or two pages, and may even succeed, but the overall writing will fail without exception.

How much have you written today? What was your excuse?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to refresh the mind?

How to refresh the mind?

I have tried to find the answer to this question. Searching through my life events, I have found one that has refreshed my mind so many times that I have naturally lost the count.

Every morning I wake up, I push the power button of my laptop. While the laptop turns itself on, I go to the kitchen and prepare a cup of tea. I prefer the Darjeeling tea which is fresh and still looks like leaves while I am boiling it in the water. The hot smoke and the hot air help me to get over my sleep. I, then, come back to my room and increase the volume of my laptop which is suitable to my ear but on the louder side. There is one track composed by Johann Sebastian Bach that I always listen to. Keeping it the same every morning, I play the track and look outside of my room. Slowly I come out to my veranda and let the morning sunlight penetrate my skin. I let the gentle breeze fly through I. Bach's music makes the air dance. When the sound reaches my ears, it is already a bit deemed, but it just soothes my mind. I slowly sip tea, feel the breeze, feel the music, and feel the morning sunlight. I feel so good. I just refresh my mind.

This is how I do it. I am sure you will find one such ritual in your life that you are celebrating for years, but haven't noticed it. You just need to find yours and make it as strong a ritual as mine- if possible, even stronger.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Canon or Nikon? Which one would you buy if your Dad was Donald Trump?

Canon or Nikon? This is the question that no one has been able to answer since the dawn of time (note: time started in the 1930s). I think most of the photographers think answering this question will prove them to be fools because one of these companies wins the battle over the other time after time, but (and a very big BUT) alternatively. When Nikon declares D700, Canon announces 5D Mark II- which, in fact, is better. When Nikon again declares a better model- D800, Canon promises to deliver a mighty 5D Mark III (and they delivered).

So which one? Canon or Nikon?

Consider this: Nikon delivered the lenses for the early Canon cameras. Canon seems to have forgotten this, and shows no sign of gratitude.

If you want me to sum it up in three lines, I would say it like this:

"Canon and Nikon don't give a damn about manufacturing your dream camera, because none of them considers manufacturing cameras as their main business. Canon is an optical-electronics company which makes cameras, Nikon is a lens company which makes cameras. You get the picture here."

Personally, I have used both Nikon and Canon cameras for a significant amount of time. I think the Nikon lenses are better, and the operation of the Canon cameras goes more smoothly.

You will hardly notice any difference in the image quality. As I said, Canon is an optical-electronics company, the noise performance is better (somewhat). On the other hand, as Nikon is a lens company, Nikon images are sharper (somewhat).

Which camera will you buy?

If you don't have much money, go for the Nikon D3200. If you have money, and want a full-frame camera, go for Canon 5D series. If your financial situation is in between, buy the Nikon D7000 or the Canon 7D. If your dad is Donald Trump, buy a Leica M9 Titanium.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Windows 8 should be a MEGA Flop???

What Windows 8 OPERATING SYSTEM has that a simple 3-min install BROWSER Google Chrome doesn't have?

I can think of two things. The Video app that can play videos that are already on your hard-drive, and the clunky Music app that can play music that you already have on your hard-drive. Apart from that what's new?

You press the windows button on your keyboard to access the metro interface. You click on the Google Chrome browser button to do a similar thing.

Chrome web store is already matured with apps. You already have more than you need, starting from themes to high-performance games. All the apps you have installed once will automatically be synchronized across all the chrome browsers that you have signed in with your Google account. Seriously, what's new on Windows 8?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Confession of an Amateur Writer

Reading a book is like travelling to a new land.

When you read a book written by Ernest Hemingway, you live the life that Hemingway describes in his book. You become the protagonist, you do all the actions, you fall in love and you get hurt- as long as you are reading the book. A good write can make that process easier for you.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez can engage the readers in the shortest possible time. His world is very different from the one I live. Yet, it takes only the first paragraph to start the journey. Same goes for Charles Dickens.

I have read more than 300 classics in my life. Classics is a journey that you can take again and again. Each classic is like going to a different place and travelling there. For example, when you read Thomas Hardy, you travel to a distant England village, when you read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you wander around in America.

I recently read 1984 by George Orwell. Reading that book is like travelling to a communist country. Orwell is the guide himself and he carries a gun. You know your guide and his job, yet the gun in his hand makes you not trust him entirely. You always stay a bit confused, a bit tensed. As he describes different aspects of the place, you listen with a sharp pain in the back of your head. You always stay aware of the presence of the gun in the hands of your tour guide.

James Joyce is again a tour guide, but he is mad. You are confident that he knows everything, yet you can't figure him out. He probably knows too much. He talks in a level which is beyond your intelligence. When he talks, he talks in a poetic voice. You are not quite sure if you like him, but you feel you like him.

A mass-market fiction writer is like a tour guide who spoils all the fun by not taking you to places instead, telling the whole story by his clever oral power. You never get to live the life, you just listen to him. So when you finish listening to him, you often forget what he has already told. You get the excitement, but you never quite remember as you have never lived that life.

There are some writers who take the middle path. Stephen King's Duma Key is a prime example of that. He tells the story and he makes you live the life- both at the same time.

I don't know what kind of writer I am. I am writing, I keep on writing, I will write, till I am satisfied with my writing.

Arthur Golden took 10 years to write Memoirs of  a Geisha. In that time, he wrote the whole book 3 times. And at the end of all that, he created such a beautiful place that I love going again and again and again...

Friday, March 02, 2012

Few Words about DSLR

Why people love photography so much? No, I am not giving an answer. People in the world who don't love anything love photos. The most frugal people even spend the extra cash for the extra "Megapixel" (without having the slightest idea what a pixel is). I hate the word "DSLR". A DSLR doesn't make the photo, you make the photo. Photography and DSLR are not synonymous. Strange but true, most of my photos are not taken by a DSLR. Some of them by a VGA camera that comes with a basic Nokia phone, some of them by the cheapest possible digital camera. Photography isn't a cool thing. That's not gonna impress your girlfriend. If you want to show that you have the money to buy a DSLR, then go ahead. Just try not to spoil the world of photography with your filthy DSLR.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Photography Questions Answered: Q1: High ISO

When I got my first digital camera, I explored the menus, and I discovered there is a section called ISO. I didn't know what it was, but discovered the highest rated ISO was 1600. Not knowing what is ISO, I set it up as 1600. I got  a lot of grains in the photos I took in low light. I thought my camera wasn't that good. Later I thought there was dust in front of my camera lens. I started hating my camera.

At that time I didn't know one thing. I didn't know what ISO iss.

ISO is comparable with Film Speed in the film cameras. Higher ISO ensures higher shutter speed, ensures reduced image quality, ensures more noise in the photos. You can think of ISO as light multiplication factor. An ISO rating of 200 means that it is twice as bright as the natural light that you could capture using ISO 100. ISO 400 means it is 4 times as bright as the natural light.

If you are shooting landscape, I will recommend you to use ISO 100. In the early morning, or late afternoon, you can try ISO 200. The less ISO, the better image quality. More ISO, worse image quality.

If I could, I would shoot everything in ISO 100. But I cannot. If I am shooting in low light, and the subject is moving too fast, higher ISO will ensure the sharpness of the photo. Otherwise, the image may get blurred.

Canon, Nikon and other camera companies these days support ISO more than 100000. That is meaningless. You may capture the face of your assassin  hiding in your garden with that kind of ISO, but the photos will almost always never be good.

If you are shooting inside your room, keep ISO to 400. At max 800. Use large aperture. If you capturing one face, keep the f-stop in between 1. 8 to 2.8. If you are capturing many faces, use f-stop between 4.5 to 6. If people are moving, use flash.

Forget higher ISO. If you take care of ISO and use it effectively, even with a compact camera you will get stunning quality images.

Check this link. Here, a number of photos were taken by a compact camera. See if you can distinguish them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Good Photograph Hierarchy

As of 2012,

Photography is 70% capturing, 30% editing.

If you don't capture a good photo, editing won't make it better.

Out of that 30% editing, 60% will go into cropping.

Out of that remaining 40%, 50% will go into proper contrast, 20% into brightness, the remaining 30% varies.

Out of that remaining 30% very often, 60% will go for saturation, 20% for vignette, 20% for unknown things.

Note: I didn't consider if your photo is a colored one or black and white. The figures are not accurate. This is just to give you a rough idea.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Window

The window.

I look out of the bus window. I look out of the room window. I look out of the launch window.

I look out.

Things mostly remain the same. My perspective changes.

The river I cross almost everyday, hasn't changed much in the last thousand years.

Sure, the water has been changing continuously. The landscape around has changed a bit. But, the overall feeling and the reason for which it is called the river hasn't changed.

I don't live in the moment. The moment lives in me.

For, hardly anything changes.

The bus route doesn't change over ten years. The shop from where I drink tea hasn't changed it's location. Only my view, my perspective about them change.

I look out of the window. I look at the sky. Everyday I have seen a different sky, yet the sky is same to me.

Same is a thousand books in my bookshelf, same is 5 pair of shoes in my shoe rack.

Who am I?

Where am I?

What is this earth?

Am I too certain?

How can I know that the things I know as true are true.

How can I know I haven't woken up this morning with the entire past in my dreams?

My (Dad's) old buddy Minolta

My dad had (has) a Minolta SLR camera which fell (has fallen) into insignificance as soon as I bought a digital camera. The reason the camera died is simple. These days no one sees the point in buying a film. There is less film variety now: if you want a film with a speed of 400, you won't find it. Also, after shooting with the film, it is a hard task to develop the film. It wasn't hard years ago, but it is hard now. No photo shop (not Photoshop) wants to turn their machine on just to develop one roll of film.

Recently, I shot with that camera again. I was impressed. My 3 year old Fujifilm digital camera gives a resolution of only 7.2 MP. The Film camera gives at least 25 MP. There is no definite way of confirming it, but that's what the researchers say.

Film is full-frame. 35 mm. It has a large sensor, very good noise performance, deep depth- all the things that are missing in a point and shoot digital camera.

The lens I used is 50 mm and is 30 years old. Still the photos look better than the ones from a point and shoot digital camera that are available today. Cool thing is that I can still mount a large 500 mm lens on the camera and spy on the next building.

The only thing I found hard is the control. A very good knowledge of photography is required to operate the camera. Almost everything in the camera should be operated manually (f-stop, shutter speed, focus). I have taken more than 30000 photos till this date, so I have some experience. I didn't find it that hard. For a novice, taking photos in an average condition would not be tough, but to capture dramatic light would be a tiresome work. 

The other problem with this camera is that it is slow. It takes a long time to perform. You may miss the running dear if you have ruined the first shot already.

Overall, I like the camera very much. It has a antique feel to it. Also, it's metallic and heavy body makes it feel like a pro camera. My Dad still longs for a Canon A1 film SLR. But he somehow knows that a Film A1 is surely not as good as a Canon 5D Mark ii or a Canon 7D. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Road less Travelled

From today onwards, this blog will feature articles which have focus on things other than learning.

It took me time to realize the truth. The truth is “I hate definitions”.

Definition is a clear way to limit things. Define yourself as a vegetarian. Now you have given yourself a proper definition to restrict yourself from some of the finest quality foods in the world (read sushi). You are a customer service employee, so automatically all the great ideas you have for the growth of the company will be rejected, doesn’t matter if the CEO is a dumbass.

A portrait of the artist as a young man.

For a long long time, I read the title of this famous book wrong. I didn’t know how careful James Joyce was with words. I always read “The portrait of an artist as a young man”.

These different choices of words make a huge difference.

“The portrait” is definite. “An artist” seems arbitrary. James Joyce wouldn’t like to declare himself as too qualified to capture the metaphysical truths masterfully. He knew it is often beyond our limits to capture even a little bit of the art. He was certain about “The Artist”. He wasn’t sure of the artist’s work of art. He used “A portrait”- which is arbitrary.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that the previous title of this blog was “The science learner”. Then I figured out the word ‘science’ restrains me from writing on other topics. So I dropped the word “science”.

The reason I started writing on this blog was to encourage people to learn and experience the world with a little more scrupulousness. Writing only on “science” wouldn’t serve that purpose. So wouldn’t only “learning”. Ultimately there is nothing called “learning”. It is all an experience.

I welcome you to encourage me to go with my new found spirit. Let’s explore the world of randomness. Let’s give our autographs to our unique endeavors to bring a collective change in the world.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Haven't you gone through a phase in your life when you find it hard to pass time?

I had gone through that phase. Now I have gone passed it.

I read somewhere, no one ever feels bad after doing any kind of physical work. I agree.

If I don't have anything to do, I just get up and clean my room. Or I rearrange the room. Or I write in my diary. Or I wash my clothes.

I have been travelling so much lately. Last seven days, I was in one place in the morning, another place in the evening. Another country the next day.

I have seen people from more than 40 different countries. I have talked to people from 5 different countries.

I have tried foods of varied taste. I have eaten to the last limit of my tummy.

I enjoyed every bit of it. I was running out of time. I don't have enough to time to everything I want to do. Still it is fun. Still is more interesting than any other thing in the world. Life is wonderful!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Science Learner's Quote

What good has the secondary school education done to you?

- It has made you educated enough to educate yourself for the rest of your life in whatever topic you choose (that can start from archeology, stop at biology, finish at doesn't matter what you choose- only you need to have enough passion for it).