Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog changed

Hey folks,
As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I have moved my blog to
RSS feeds are available at:
Update your bookmarks and feed readers :)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Satio Review

I was actually planning on buying the Xperia X10 when it released. I really couldn't wait for 2 months till it did, and, now, I want that too. Men..and.. gadgets..huh!

I have been using the Sony Ericsson U1i (or the Satio ) for about 4 months now. It costed me about Rs. 28K. I had read up a few reviews about it before I went to buy it. Most reviews echoed the same thoughts – Feature Loaded but buggy software. Whatever they said, I kinda liked the phone.

Specifications? Well, the Satio is really feature loaded – 12.1 MP camera with LED and Xenon flash, GPS, WiFi, WLAN, Bluetooth, 3G HSDPA (7.2 MBPS) HSUPA (3.6 MBPS), a big 3.6 inch touch screen, Web browser with Flash support, TV out etc. Like most other SE phones, the OS is based on Symbian S60 5th edition with customized UI screens. It comes preloaded with trial versions of QuickOffice and WisePilot GPS navigation system. It also comes pre-loaded with YouTube app.

I should say that the original software that came with the phone was a bit buggy. However, it didn't freeze or crash on me. There were a few rendering problems at times mainly. SE have released a couple of updates so far and my phone is up-to-date, faster and better. So, make sure you keep your Satio updated. If you are an IM/Social media user, you will need to download apps. The second software patch I received had a Facebook app. So, I didn't have to download that. I hated (and still hate) the fact that the phone comes with trial versions of QuickOffice and WisePilot. I tried buying QuickOffice online and the payment gateway kept having issues. So I uninstalled it. As for WisePilot, the software was a bit expensive for me, anyway, I found a cheaper and quicker alternative on the net and use it. So, that was another uninstall.

I like taking photos and the 12.1 MP camera is really good as expected. The Xenon Flash is not that powerful (as a regular camera), it is enough with decent lighting around. Night photos aren't that great. You could set the camera in Manual mode or auto mode. However, don't expect manual settings like on a DSLR/SLR. There are different shoot modes you could select from – Normal, Panorama, BestPic, Smile detection and Touch Capture. The thing I like here is that you could hold the phone like a digicam and shoot. The size of the phone makes it comfortable. You can also use macro mode and set white balance among a whole bunch of other typical CyberShot settings. It is a good cam whenever you don't take your DSLR out. J Once you take a pic, you can upload it directly to Picasa or blogger or even add your own webservice.

The Touch Screen is not as good as the iPhone. It is just enough to get you around. It does get a bit slow at times, especially, if you have a few apps running. I guess you could expect that with a 600Mhz processor. The menus are neat. I would have liked the Phone book shortcut on the home screen also. The phone supports handwriting and I must say that the hand writing recognition is very good! I prefer the smaller onscreen keyboard, which, could be a bit hard to use if you have stubby fingers. Luckily, the Satio has a bigger pad for it! I prefer typing with my fingers than using the stylus. The smaller keyboard (which I use) has got good sensitivity and precision.

Let's talk about Music, baby! Oh yeah! Ok, music quality is great only if you are using the walkman silence-out ear phones or attach it to a good speaker. The on-phone speaker gives a more tinny output. I love to have a bass punch and the Satio has it, inspite of the fact that it has no presets or an equalizer. You can load up the 8GB card that comes with the phone and listen to it for about 5-6hrs continuously before having to recharge the battery again. The charge doesn't last more than 2-3 hrs if you are watching video, due to the screen size and contrasts.

Normal phone features function as expected. Connectivity options are also really good. I use 3G and the speeds are really good, whether on the phone or connected to my laptop. Yeah, a lot of it depends on my service provider, but, the phone supports it and that makes me happy! The thing I wish for is an option to share my card as a drive when I am connected on WLAN. Data transfer over Bluetooth is patchy. Connection drops when you are transferring large files and especially if you are just doing a drag drop over Windows explorer rather than using the PC Suite. USB connectivity is available and is much better. If you are using PC Suite, transfer over Bluetooth is better, but it still takes a long time to transfer those biggies!

Overall, I would give the Satio a 7 out of 10. What pulls down the ratings is the Bluetooth speed (as mentioned above), Lack of free productivity software (Office), Lack of free GPS software, a bit of a buggy phone OS (freezes at times!) etc. Ideally a powerful phone like the Satio should have these traits to become a hit and I guess they need to learn that from Nokia in some ways. I am a huge SE fan and I want them to make the phone the best! J


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Events, CS5 and life..


After watching numerous demos and videos posted on the internet, I was very eager to see the launch of the Adobe CS5 suite. Luckily, the launch timing wasn't too late and I got to see the whole thing. I am not so much of a designer, but, Adobe Photoshop CS5 really gets my hats off among the rest!

I remember that during one of our group discussions about product life-cycles and how a product loses market to another because the Nth feature has been added to it and the software actually gets bloated due to lack of innovation. It was sad that one of the examples that was sighted there was Photoshop (for whatever reasons!) and I am very happy to see that the Photoshop team @Adobe actually proved the theory wrong and made us realize the huge mistake. Photoshop CS5 kicks ass! The new Content-aware fill and HDR really makes me say "Duhh" to the example sighted the other day. Photoshop team.. u rock!

My favourite software – Flash is the next in my CS5 list. I was happy to see the improvements in the Flash IDE – improved code hinting and code addition, code snippets panel, XML-based FLA files, Flash Builder integration and the fact that you could publish content to any target now (including the iPhone) and other features. More on the iPhone part later! My pick of the list would be the code hinting and auto-code addition part. I've always wanted the IDE to automatically write the initial lines of my class file (package, public class.. part!). It was a real bummer that the earlier versions didn't have it and the feature is a real time saver. Of course, I also like the "publish anywhere" feature, but, I guess I would be using that lesser, so, it doesn't make my top feature.

Illustrator CS 5, Premiere CS5 and Dreamweaver CS5 also have good features, but, I cannot say much about them, since, they aren't a part of my daily life. The features, makes them interesting though.

The new versions - Adobe Flex 4, Flash Builder 4 and CF Builder were also released a few days earlier than the CS5 launch. Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 certainly makes my heart go wild! J

I am eagerly waiting for the release of AIR 2.0.


The tale of the 2 A's

To be honest, I have never liked Apple. Somehow, the very fact that their products use the pronoun in front of the product name made me feel yucky! I forcefully got myself an iPod, which I bought more to be used as my standby hard disk than a music player. I hardly used it, thanks to my Satio and my earlier W705. I kinda found it cumbersome to use. Somehow, iTunes never worked properly on my laptop and I wasn't very interested in trying to fix the issue. I did find a tiny plugin for Winamp, which I used for transferring songs. Stepping back into the topic, well, Apple's statements in the recent past were shocking and very silly! As a software developer, it is a closed opportunity. In my understanding of the world, I guess, we only grow when we are open and receptive.

For people, who thought they had a chance to get into the Apple development territory and find Objective C or any "supported" platform a bit difficult to learn, given the circumstances, the statement comes as a huge blow. I read in some post the other day that Mr. Jobs thinks that Flash is "slow and buggy" and the claim that the application store or "ecosystem" would filled with very generic and low-quality programs that will not be using the unique hardware of the iPhone and iPad and will hinder the progress of the platform.

Here's a fanboy with some "clarifications":


Other things..

I don't want to waste the page talking about half-bitten fruits. As mentioned in my previous entry, I will soon be migrating my blog to my own space. The development of the new site is going along fine, but, it is slower than I expected. I had to re-create my database from scratch to support some new features I have in mind for the CMS. Also, the development of the CMS is kinda stagnated a bit, coz, I want to use Flex 4 for it than Flex 3.

See you shortly!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Migrating soon

Well, It has been a long time coming! Somehow, one thing led to another and I had to keep putting off the final release of my new website - RedSpace/Redmedia. I call it "InfraRED" (Yeah! kinda like the Caption of this blog). What I have tried to do with the website is to keep it almost minimal but dynamic. The site works on my "Componentized Website" concept, where, each part of the website is a component that can be enabled/disabled from a configuration file. Here's a good example of a "Componentized concept", which, I created for the header of a Landing Page for Lenovo:
The site has been created using Flash (ActionScript 3.0), PHP, XML and MYSQL. The site is also tightly integrated with the REDSpark Site Admin system, which is currently in the initial phase of development (meaning more details later).
Basically, what all this means is.. I will soon stop blogging here on Blogger and start afresh on my site. Ofcourse, it should take about 15-20 days for the whole process. All links will need to be updated :)

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Every year, I write my new year's post a few days before or on the eve of the 1st of January. This year, why shouldn't it be any different? It should, so I am typing up this one a few days later! J

Before I really start pouring in the words, I would first like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I am sure this year should be better than the year just gone.

Somehow, 2009 didn't seem the best to me. I remember grumbling about how artificial people were and how life's gotten a bit "routine" in my new years' eve blog post. Something in my gut didn't feel right back then. Maybe it was the alcohol odour mixed with the cigarette smoke that gave me the tummy ache. Just as the old saying goes – "What happens on the first day of the year will keep happening", the whole year was kind of a tummy ache in ways. The economy did a "rolli polli" and a lot of things didn't shape up too well because of that!

At work, most understandably, we didn't get our yearly appraisals (the money part!), but many of us did walk away with promotions and bonuses. For now, things seem a lot better at the workplace – more organized and more interesting. We have a kewl new boss and we kinda seem to think alike in some ways, so, as far as I am concerned, it has become more "developer-friendly" from "banner-friendly".

A year into being a married man certainly changed me. Marriage isn't about added responsibilities, it about being more committed, thoughtful and a whole lot more. It is nice to keep telling people we understand each other perfectly. There have been instances where we didn't, but, because we understood each other perfectly, we made each other understand what we didn't understand and made sure we understood each other perfectly the next time we didn't understand each other. Confusing, huh? Well, that is the way we deal with it and laugh about it all through. We both know we love each other a lot and we will understand each other well.

When I bid adieu to Lucy (my previous dog), I couldn't think of having another other dog. It took me a lot of time to cope up with the loss of Lucy. My "perfect family" picture always had a dog in it. We had to have one and we do. We added Snoopy to our family and he is our sweetheart J

A few years ago, when I couldn't really drive much, except in a straight-line, I drove this lovely car – The Fiat Palio 1.2 Sport. It roared and rocketed as we drove through the campus. I had selected the car I would buy, back then. Of course, it had to be red and more powerful than its predecessor. Luckily for me, Fiat brought out the 1.6 Sport in Formula Red. It took me a few years and 2009 had to be the year I bought my first car – A Formula Red colour Fiat Palio 1.6 Sport. I added a Sony Xplod system and things rock while we rocket into the distance.

A lot of my friends' got married, got new jobs, went abroad, came back home etc..

"Every cloud has a silver lining". 2009 wasn't the best of the year in many ways. I had my fair share of good luck and I am thankful for that!

2010, I am sure would be more awesome – the CS5 Suite would release, Flash Builder 4 would release, Sony Xperia X10 would release, Linkin Park should release their new album (I hope), I will get my driver's licence, Schumi's back to F1 with a Alo/Mas pairing at Ferrari, we will be celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary and Snoops' first b'day and a whole lot more.

Generally, I don't let out my New years' Resolutions. This time, I will be different. Here are some of mine:

  1. I will become more "health conscious" – eat less oily stuff, more veggies and fruits, exercise regularly
  2. I will throw away a huge chunk of my lethargy.
  3. Travel more, take more pictures, work at my photography skills and maybe get my lens J
  4. Build and streamline my application development portfolio a lot more.
  5. I will be less sarcastic and reduce the "at-ur-face" stuff J

At the end of 2010, I hope I am as successful as I was at the end of 2009. I am sure I will be able to check off atleast 4/5 of the above. J

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Zinc 3.0 versus AIR

Adobe AIR certainly changed the way we think about rich desktop applications. It was a real sigh of relief for me when the details of AIR came out during the initial days. We no longer had to battle with the Flash security sandbox while building desktop/kiosk applications. A lot of our dreams could turn to reality. It took a few lines of code and the power of Flex to build a simple Picasa desktop widget to display your Picasa album pics. The same code with a few changes can be ported to the web as well. Now, that's kewl!

As the human needs grow, we want more power in our applications, to not just build apps that rely on the power of the Flex SDK, but, to push the limits a bit further and talk more to the system, use DLLs built using .NET or other languages, configure the application easily setting numerous options, create screensavers, use the text-to-speech engine to make things more interactive, launch other applications and the biggest of them all – do no framework installation. A lot of clients just ask for a simple EXE which doesn't rely on other installations to run. Even though AIR 2.0 address a couple of necessities, it doesn't offer them all.

I am not against AIR and in favour of Zinc or the vice versa. I like them both. They have their own pros and cons and it is up to the requirement and the developer to decide which is best suited. I like Adobe AIR because – its FREE, you can create AIR applications from Flash Builder, Flash IDE or HTML, the certification makes it a secure way to distribute applications, there are so many things you can readily do because of the community reach that Adobe AIR has. Multidmedia Zinc 3.0 is expensive and so is new offering Inferno (I love the name!). Using Zinc, the amount of extensions you could use is really a big point to note. If AIR gives us some of these abilities, it would certainly be awesome!

At the end of the day, the technology we choose is established on "client requirements". The reason I have seen a lot of clients deviate from the use of AIR for deployment is because AIR needs the AIR framework installed. It is not too big a deal for us, but, in closed environments like at my workplace, where, computer users are "Power users" and would not have installation rights for software, AIR draws a big question mark. Most applications I have developed over the years are really simple little applications – Widgets, kiosk apps etc which have the big basic requirement – "Every user should be able to install the app on their desktop". This makes me go back to Zinc every time, even though, I, as a developer, would naturally prefer AIR.

Would Adobe have to worry about Zinc? I am sure it doesn't have to. With the amount of reach and community interest it has generated over the years, AIR is here to stay big time! Most certainly, AIR has a long way to go before everybody accepts it. Adobe took a big step forward with the new features introduced in AIR 2.0. Zinc fights a very good game. I wish the technology was cheaper though. J

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Branding 2.0 – The final part

Yup, "Tomorrow" took a few days to come. Anyway, here goes the final part.

When it comes to online/digital advertising, banners play quite a part! We see them almost everywhere – in all forms, shapes and sizes. The amount of money and research that goes into this simple form of creative is actually very large. Whether people actually click it or just turn a blind spot, it has quite a success rate at times. Good online real estate is expensive. A lot of companies (agencies) do some research on the site that would display their banner before actually mocking up the creative. The research would be on the type content, colour, speech tone etc that the site carries, other ads or banners displayed, user interactions they could make use of and a whole lot of other things. All this effort for a banner that may not be seen? Well, I am not a big fan of banner ads, but, I must say that it is really an effective form of advertising. If you have an interesting concept and it is interactive..well.. Moreover, the various sizes are displayed in various areas of various sites or various pages of the same site or various sites – a lot of "various" makes one big statement – "Just see me already!" or "Ok, I am a banner promoting a product. Keep me in mind. You'll see more of me around..don't forget to say Hi". In all its sense, it builds a brand! For example, on my tech sites I go to everyday, Dell banner ads keep showing up in various sizes and colours. Even though I have a blind spot to normal animated banners, these banners somehow don't seem to stay out of my sight. I don't really know what they say. All I know is, they talk Dell!

Landing pages, EDMs have their say in the digital space too. Our email boxes are lie cluttered with many EDMs every day. I admit it that I haven't seen even 10% of the lots I receive, but, people who want to see will see and click. That is the way it works. It is kind of a trial and error if you think about it. What I am trying to say here is – these forms of assets maybe traditional, but, they still live and will live on. They will take new forms and formats, but they will live on!

There is also a Social media advertising frenzy that has picked up pace during the past few years and especially during the hard times of the recession. Brands resorted to people to carry their brand and product forward. Twitter, MySpace and Facebook became the major medium. Companies have their Facebook pages and invite people to join in. People are successfully building networks, promoting brands and products. In fact, even Human resource and staffing agencies have people on LinkedIn, doing searches, going through profiles and contacting candidates. This goes to show that if you know who your target audience are and what medium they use to network, you have got yourself a possibly profitable medium to reach out. Recently an acquaintance asked me if they allow advertising on Farmville. Neither of us had played FarmVille, but, the game is the talk of the town, and, if you are a maker of farming/farm products, what better way to advertise!

The success of a brand online depends on the fame among its users/viewers, interactivity, research, innovation, network and good catchy copy. The real question is – Are you building a brand or selling a product? Let us remember that the success of the product depends on its strong brand power! Banner ads, much like print or TV don't immediately prompt users to buy products. People buy stuff when they know for certain that it is well worth it and they have done enough research about it. Someone once asked me – "Should we have a "Buy Now" button on the banner or a "More Details" button on it? It isn't a very easy question to answer, even after considering all the messaging and creative line. Would you visit a store and buy a TV because a banner says they are the No.1 manufacturers or the TV has n list of features?

Branding 2.0 is about:

  • Doing your own research
  • Creating a whole network buzz
  • Choosing the right medium
  • Understanding the user and his behaviour
  • Right interaction
  • Building true brand without creating a hype

Build your brand! Make the millions!