Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goa 2011

For our first anniversary we decided to go on a planned but unplanned tour of Goa. Planned because we applied for leaves unplanned because nothing else was fix, even the bus tickets were booked a day earlier!

Day 1 - Palolem Beach:

We reached Goa and decided to get down at Madgaon (margoa) instead of regular Mapsa or Panji. Madgaon is generally the last stop for Pune - Goa busses and its closest if one wants to experience the less crowded yet more beautiful southern Goa beaches .

We took the bus to Canacona and got down near Palolem Naka that took around an hour and cost us Rs. 50 instead of hiring a Rs. 1000 cab!

Took an auto-rickshaw and reached near beach and decided to check-in in one of the beach side shacks flavia, after some bargaining got a good shack for rs 600 per day.

Had breakfast, and brought some necessary things from nearby shops. Rest of the day was spent relaxing. 

Of all the beaches I have seen, Palolem has thickest cover of palm trees, it's an amazing place!

As sun became a little kind we had a good walk on the beach.


 Took a Kayak on rent for Rs.100 and drove it deep in the sea. It feels great when looking back you can't see where you you left the shore!

 As always the sunset  was euphoric...


After enjoying the sunset it was time for dinner and that better that a candlelight dinner right on the beach!

Day 2 - One for the road :

Work up early and had a nice walk on beach mornings are as pleasant as evenings in goa.

Got Yahama FZ on rent, they generally ask for rs 450 per day, but if you bargain good you will get it in 300.

With this tone for the day was set. Day 2 was decidated to curvy Goan roads!

We bought a map and circled three things old goa church, Mangeshi temple and Dona Paula.

Road to church was confusing but with GPS on my windows phone we cracked it soon

On the way to old city church we saw this another church. Quite and nice.

 There was some function arranged in the old goa church and the tent there insured I could take no good pictures of it.
 Church is very grand and beautiful. However, very unusual for a church, the only thing missing was  the peace, it has became more of a tourist place, but can't complain I was part of the problem :-)

In church we visited the art gallery on top floor, photography was not allowed there and I wonder why! Even if it was allowed I wouldn't have spent my camera battery there.

After church we left for the Mangashi temple that is around 22 Km far. Lost the way in-between but were back on the track soon.

Reached Mangashi temple in the afternoon, had some food and started walking in the direction of temple, much like other temples road was crowded with small stalls and hawkers selling food, toys, flowers, cloths and almost anything one can imagine, even tattoos, Rs 1000 an inch! I preferred keeping my body flawless ;-)

And finally reached to the temple. The oil and fats we burnt to reach hear was worth it.

Built in white, the gracious architecture of Mabgashi temple is pleasure to eyes.

It was very quite inside that inspired me to take a quick sitting nap, few also call it meditation ;-)

After Mangashi temple we left for the Dona Paula. We were late for sunset and the traffic on the road didn't help either.
 When we reached Dona Paula, the sun had finished it's day's work like an honest government employee.

 So that left me relying on private light sources for the photographs.

I opened the camera lens widest it can and made the shutter wait a long before it can blink to let sensor grab enough light to build a photograph.  Dona Paula by night... Looks good isn't it!

Oh dear! It was dark and road back to Palolem was long.
Trees both side and no one to ask directions, road was scarily quiet, when we reached near our shack the meter was reading 205 KM. This wasn't much compared to 400+ KM I covered in a day during Karnataka bike trip, but that was during day on NH4, this one was real scary!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Windows Phone 7 (WP7) update 7.0.7392.0 is out. Security is the agenda.

Today I got a surprise, a WP7 update! I did not expect mango updates so soon. So to get more information I visited Microsoft's official web-page for windows phone updates and found it is not mango but a small yet critical security update, I doubt if we can taste the mango this summer as it is the biggest WP7 update announced till date, thus should take more time.

The important thing about the 7.0.7392.0 update is it confirms what I said earlier 'Microsoft is serious and proactive about security'. This should please business users more.

I got this update as soon as it was available, now imagine this with an android where multiple versions coexist in the market and updates has to go through heavy OEM customizations.

WP7 has certainly scored +1 over Android in this regard.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Buying Windows Phone 7 (WP7) in India? Consider This.

While I am in love with my HTC HD 7 Windows Phone 7, and the updates went buttery smooth, there is a pain point that might not go well with many, ‘The Market Place (App Store) is not yet functional for India’. I will tell you a work around for this in this post.

Before buying the phone, I had done my research and was sure that app store will work properly. Following links suggests that:
But there is a catch, the zune market place on PC shows prices in INR until you connect a WP7 with live id registered to India. Marketplace just disappears from zune once such phone is connected to PC.

So I changed the regional settings of my PC to US and connected my phone to Zune on my PC as expected the marketplace was visible again with prices in USD. But when I tried to install free apps I got an error message saying ‘The location setting for your Windows Live ID doesn't match the setting for your computer’.

To overcome this issue, I tried to change the country to US for my existing live account (To check yours: log in to live account >> options >> Email Account >> Account Information >> Country/region) but it did not help, because I believe the country settings are imported only once and changes done later won’t affect the location setting in phone.  I was still facing the country mismatch issue mentioned above.

Now, only way out was to create a new live id with country as US to use with your WP7. To change the registered live account from WP7 one has to reset the factory settings, this will remove all your contacts and apps however the phone updates remains intact, and then use this new live id to log-in to your phone.

This wasn’t a big problem as I did not have a lot of things on my phone. Following link gives you steps to change live account on WP7. I suggest instead of creating new live id with US as country try changing country to US for your existing live id before you log in for the first time this might save you from creating a new live id just to get access to market place.

It is important to note that changing the country to US will make it very much impossible you to buy the applications, you can only install free apps on your phone, and right now I am not keen on buying applications so it works well for me.

It would be interesting to see how much efforts it will take to back up and restore contacts and settings when the marketplace is functional for India.

This isn’t certainly coolest thing to do but I am living with it, isn’t a deal breaker for me as I can see Microsoft is silently working on marketplace for India.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Updates in India

This was something I was most worried about when I decided to buy WP7. Will my phone get updates in India? I was worried because the WP7 ecosystem is still growing and no updates means missing out on some necessary and some existing features.

The good news is, yes it does,I could update my HTC HD7 without any hassles, I just connected it to Zune on my PC initiated update, I got both WP7:
1. Update for making updates smooth
2. NoDo update with copy paste and performance improvements

Now I am waiting for Mango update, this will enable developers to write more existing applications for my phone including multitasking.

The phone also indicates if there are updates available. This can be verified in settings >> phone  update.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why choose Windows Phone 7 (WP7) over Androids and iPhones!

I like Windows Phone 7 (WP7) for its amazing interface and features, it is the most eye-catching mobile operating systems I have ever seen, it is a visually pleasing experience.I have watched countless videos and read as many articles about it (both positive and negative). I am already a fan of it! I can't wait to put my hands on my HTC HD7 that is bought by Yuvraj for me in US.
So I thought it is a good opportunity to put down my rational behind choosing this mobile operation system over other popular ones. I can be very critical about the shortcomings and problems with iPhone and android but I will avoid being a bad mouth and rather focus on what WP7 has in offer for you.

Most of the reviewers who bashed WP7 done so on following points
• No copy-paste
• No multi-tasking support
• No threaded email view
• Less apps / late to the party

The missing features like copy-paste and multi-tasking were not the discovery of the reviewers as these were never kept in dark by Microsoft. I do agree all the points above are important but very few reviewers made a genuine effort to understand what WP7 is made of, what is good about it, why it is different yet useful and what it has to offer for the future while keeping less focus on the above short comings.

Let me take on the short-comings of WP7:
Copy-paste patch along with performance improvements is already released by Microsoft and Steve Ballmer has already announced progress on multitasking support. Threaded email is small software issue that will come eventually to WP7 it is not like multi-tasking support where core changes are required.

I find arguments about few applications and ‘late to the party’ the most funny, these comments are so naïve!
Does the company that produced the first commercial car still makes the best cars in the world?
WP7 is in its Initial stages it is in version 1.x, still one can find most of the major applications on the app store, and given the developer base of .Net and Silverlight the count will rise quickly.

Look at this review on HTC HD 7 published on 16 Mar 2011, very negative and on-sided. Interesting enough is that the article still focuses on copy-paste feature while it is already in use on WP7. Skip the article and  read the comments below it, they are funny, and it shows people don't buy if you try to sell wrong :-)

So, what is good about Windows Phone 7?

• The eco-system: 
Windows 7 Phone is the platform where Microsoft is integrating everything, all of their offerings. The phone integrates
-- Microsoft Office
-- SharePoint
-- Zune media manager
-- SkyDrive and Cloud based services
-- Bing and Bing Maps (I found Bing maps a lot better than google maps for navigation)
-- Add Center
-- Xbox Live
-- Exchange Server
This means WP7 can act as an interface for your entire digital life. So if you are big on Microsoft products and services this phone will make your life a lot more organized.

• Productivity Scenarios and MS Office integration

This point needs less selling, if MS Office is the best productivity tool in the world then this phone becomes the default candidate for that crown in phone market. WP7 has very good office integration, reviews say they could do almost everything on mobile version that is possible on the desktop version of office products. However, PowerPoint has view only support.
Besides, Joe Belfiore has empathized that they are putting a lot of thinking on improving the user scenarios this should make easy things easier.

• Xbox live integration and best in class games:

If you believe Xbox is best gaming platform (read: Kinect is fastest selling consumer electronics device, if you don’t believe) this means you have to agree in near future WP7 will have the best phone games. There are already quite a few. In addition, games have deep integration with Xbox live, so you can use your Xbox avatar on phone and publish your achievements over social media without leaving the Xbox hub. Impressive if you are a game fanatic!

• Simplicity of Zune Media Manager:

 If someone offers you seamless media experience over your pc, phone Xbox and Zune HD, will you take it? I will grab it for sure :-)
I have been using Zune since few weeks and I am impressed by it, it is the best media manager I have used till date. I have used iTunes in past but I feel Zune is better; a lot of reviewers think this is the case.

• The Hubs and the interface

Microsoft can proudly say WP7 is not a rip-off operating system of iOS like few other mobile operating systems are. Hubs make this operating system different than other icon based operating systems.
On the other hand, it is more important to be useful than just being different, the hubs are different yet useful.
All the important information about people and applications that you want to track on regular basis is fetched in the background and displayed on the home screen inside the neat hubs. So hubs act as a façade layer of your phone. This saves you from going inside the phone and the applications when it is not required.

The overall user interface is also very neat and minimalistic and the use of panorama control in various applications is innovative.

Windows phone 7 is designed to support your real life with seamless integration with your digital life rather than making an attempt to make the phone your life. It's like go into it get things done and get out of it, get real!

• The SkyDrive and other cloud based services that are free
Seamless integration with SkyDrive is one of the major advantages, you get 25 GB of  space free on Microsoft's cloud, you can store and share your office documents, photos and other files over cloud and use them as if they are on your phone. Amazing right!
As a feature, WP7 also gives you options to manage your phone data over cloud, if you loose your phone you can wipe your data and contacts on phone remotely, pretty safe, isn't it?

• Best in the class testing standards. Robot testing of WP7
Every windows phone 7 goes through rigorous testing done by robots, the touch response and sensors on the phone are tested by these robots. Imagine this with Android that has no control over OEMs on what hardware they use, you can get a Micromax android with old resistive touch as well, thus there is no assurance of quality if you are a less tech savvy user. WP7 gives you assurance of minimum quality that are pretty high.

• WP7 Security
Yes you read it right! Microsoft has always been on receiving end when it comes to security, but while Android is facing major security issues, WP7 is clean yet, one may argue that it is new and less users are using it so hackers are not after it. While this is true to an extent, given Mocrosoft's vast experience in managing security and pro-activeness towards it (Read Microsoft Security Essentials), one can expect Microsoft to be on its toe when it comes to Security.

• Few videos and commercials

Windows Phone 7 has better burn performance than android and iPhone ;-)

Faster and smoother browser than Android and better visuals.

What if the best looking phone room also had brain!

Startup Time. WP7 wins :-)

Following is link to Mix-11 video with Joe Belfiore. New Mango features for developers, a good watch for end users as well. Talks about multitasking, HTML 5 support, user agents and a lot more.

If you want a smart phone that looks great, has high quality standards and makes your life easier without really worrying about configuration and spending time in searching new themes everyday, choose Windows Phone 7. If you are big on Microsoft services and products and believe an eco-system of services and products can serve you better than random applications by developers who are not answerable, then WP7 is for you.
If you are very impatient about having features like multi tasking and availability of some apps then WP 7 might not be your match.

I am getting mine on 2nd May, you will hear more from me on this then :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mula River - Sangamwadi Pune

Sangamwadi is on my way to office, once the bridge is crossed, looking at the right hand side I always used to wonder how the place would look in the morning! River and dense trees!
So, on one fine day I woke up early in the morning, around 5 am and reached to Mula river near Sangamwadi, just to click some good snaps of rising sun over the river bank, and I got more than that :-)

The morning was very refreshing.

The Sun!

As I went closer to the river bank, I saw few unexpected visitors.

These guys with their kayak like ships made my photos look better.

  They were basking in the sun... amazing, they must be enjoying it big time, I wish, I had one such kayak. 

And there were more visitors.. may be I was the visitor in this case...

Once the sun was up, I thanked them for the photos, and  got to know they were university students practicing for some event.

Another view!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Sachin’s hundred unlucky for team India?

Again, yesterday Sachin Tendulkar scored a ton and India lost the game. A few days back, he scored hundred against England and India could not win. But remember 2003 world cup, in a big match against Pakistan, Master Blaster got out on 98 and India won! Does this clearly indicate Sachin’s ton is unlucky for team India?

I think the human memory is designed to remember all the wrong things more vividly, but the numbers don’t lie, thanks to statistics which is free from this kind of memory disorders.

This link gives some interesting facts about this issue. Out of 48 one day centuries Sachin has scored till the date 33 has resulted in a win and 2 in a draw. Sachin also tops the chart of players whose tons helped in winning cause of their team.

Another interesting thing in the chart is; he also tops when it comes to remaining not out after scoring a ton while team is winning the match. This gives a shock to the belief that Master Blaster is not a finisher.

Do you really think Sachin is unlucky for India? Is it fair to blame him for poor performance of rest of 10 in the team?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quote of the day!

"You're either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or about to go into a crisis. But, it all works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end."

Got this from here :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bike Trip: Pune to Kashid via Tamhani - Phansad

On a boring Sunday morning when the time was crawling its way towards 10 am, Avani and I decided to do something about it. I had already applied a leave for Monday (with no particular plan in mind).

We thought Harihareshwar can be a good option, I called Hrishi to check if he (along with his better-half) is available, he was not, but he gave me the idea to take this route to Kashid beach.

If you are one of those who believe ‘journey is half the fun’ then this one is for you!

There are still few things google is unaware of, this is one of those! Google maps suggests route Pune – Khopoli – Pen – Alibag – Kashid. But the route we hit the road for, goes via awesome tamhani ghat and phansad wildlife sanctuary.

We crossed chandni chowk and paud gaon in quick time to reach mulshi area. It's always a pleasure to drive alongside the mulshi backwater.

Tamhani ghat is awesome during the monsoon but it isn’t bad either during February, It was all green and yellow.

Crossed Kolad and reached Roha, had food in Roha and left for Phansad. The road to Phansad via Roha is a bit confusing. I always rely on local intelligence but this time they misguided me by saying one can’t go to Kashid from Roha via Phansad. Ignoring it, we continued our journey to Phansad but this made me overcautious.

Problem with reaching Kashid beach is, it is less known (really!) so none of the direction boards on this route will you guide for Kashid until you are close to Kashid.

However, reaching Phansad, a left turn from the highway and we were in jungle!

So we crossed Phansad and Supegoan and entered Nandgoan, This was the first sight of sea for us. Some say Nandgoan beach is also a good time to spend, as there is no crowd there; it is as good as a private beach.

We reached Kashid around 4:45 pm and directly went to beach, atmosphere was nice. This was what I was driving for around last 5 hours!

We spent some time around the beach while Avani had her best tea till the date from one of the thelas near the beach. Then we started our search for accommodation, we checked-in in Nisarga Resort. Owner said the rate was Rs 4000 per day but agreed on Rs 1800 finally. Still, Avani felt I paid more for the place and I agree with her; I am not even a decent bargainer. Good thing about the resort was it was clean and that was enough.

We were back on the beach again!

Sea really makes you feel small…

It was getting better and better as the sun was going down.

With the sun getting weaker, the crowd also got thinner as it was a Sunday evening and most of the people have to go back to work next day.

We managed few good clicks together...

I woke up early in the morning to meet the sea again. I was almost alone one the beach. It feels as better in the morning as it feels in the evening on a beach.

I could not get any good clicks in the morning but I did get an unusual and unexpected friend there. I played around with my friend until I got exhausted!

Some facts about Kashid:
1. They don’t sell sprit there.
2. You can’t do a business there, it is only for locals.
3. Stall near the beaches can’t keep servants at work so whole families are at work there. This also means one can only own one stall there.

We left for Pune around 11 am and choose to take the same route. On the way back, came across this tree with beautiful flowers on it. We could not get time to get in to the Phansad wildlife sanctuary, we left it for our next trip.

For the ones who are interested in taking up this route to Kashid, following is the route to follow.
Warje – chandni chowk – Paud – Mulshi – Tamhani – Kolad – Roha – Chanera - Phansad – Supegaon – Nandgaon – Kashid.

Caution: Not for the people who believe straight and good roads always makes a better trip :)