Monday, March 6, 2017

I switched to iPhone 7plus and might never look back

I switched to an iPhone. T- mobile made this happen. And no, I am not blaming them, but in some way thanking them  for acting as a catalyst to take this decision. This was not a conscious decision either . Months ago, I wanted to upgrade to the S7 edge. The reason behind this was that I needed a decent point and shoot camera - and was not looking to buy a DSLR yet.

The only time I got to know about the Dual camera setup for the iPhone was during a random read on one of the phone review websites. Until then, I was either routing for a Pixel XL or the S7 Edge. People who know me well would vouch that I am an Android guy all along and was never really into anything "applish" .

The one experience which I had constantly faced with Android was its sluggish performance as time went by. Those were the periods when applish friends  would abhor  that - " Your Android phone looks like a cheap Chinese model" . They would boast how fast their Apple phone was, and that how the experience was always "optimized" -  snappy irrespective of apps running on the phone. I always liked my Galaxy Note 3, not only because it was a 3 year old phone already by the time I brought it in 2015, but because it was my mother's gift. I know Samsung's cameras were always good and the Note 3 was no different.

So, coming back to present time - T-mobile had an offer where they would provide 0$ down payment for customers who would pay their bills on time. Neither the S7 nor the iPhone were included in this offer. But with a one time price tag of 380$, it was a sweet deal to get the S7 Edge. My sister who uses AT&T brought the same model for 760$. I go to the store, deciding to get the S7, and then I hear all the voices where my apple friends were boasting in my back head. And bam!  without even trying out, I ordered a JetBlack iPhone 7plus. Why Jet black? Because I kept reading articles which mentioned that this model had a waiting time - so there must be something good about it right?


One week on, I have not regretted the switch to this platform which I have alienated for so long. The phone is blazingly fast and I can actually experience what my friends were mentioning all along. I should also mention that occasionally when I use my Note 3 (For reading Quora in the loo), I cannot emphasize how much I am loving this experience and don't regret the switch from the platform I was so loyal to and to something which I am looking forward to explore. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Game of thrones - Winter has come and gone for me....

Yes I  got addicted to game of thrones this year(briefly) . Very late to the party - but better late then never right? For me, my all time favorite serials still remain to be Alias and the X files. No question about that and no second thoughts. No one can replace my love for agent Scully or  Bristow. But why the deviation like never before?  Turns out its a one time addiction.

Before I even started watching it, friends of mine who were die hard fans would say " oh you still didn't watch it? You have to watch it - its so awesome! " Like I had committed a crime for not watching it till now duh!

So I wanted to put their misery to rest - and would forcefully watch it until the first  season was finished. To what I understood - GOT in  a gist can be explained as a 45 minute drama filled with Sex, Nudity, Prostitution, lot of beheading and romance between brother-sister, father-daughter??, more war scenes and to round up - conspiracy theories. For me, the intimacy between family members seemed more unnatural than romance between same sex folks.

I don't know what it was - but as time progressed I became really additive to this. Was watching it even before the day I had an interview!! Such a precedence is dangerous but well, it happened. While some characters simple seemed necessary for me, I got into the habit for forwarding the story until my favorite characters were in action . One thing which spices up the show is the ruthless way in which the characters are eliminated. At the end of every season - people would be murdered or would commit suicide . May be this is one of the reason I never wanted to have an attachment with the story as I had with the X files and Alias because no one was dying there! Also, I silenced my friends who were hell bent that I watch the entire series and not miss even "a single episode". There -  I did it and now I am free. I also believe there are others who have been in my shoes. It really sucks when people give so much importance to fiction and talk as if it is the end of the world for not watching it. Give me a break fellas

Oh khalisi!  I hope you will get the iron throne pretty soon because winter is coming... 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Lenovo Yoga 900 - A lean beast to reckon with



So I was sent a Yoga 900 as a Christmas gift last year and also to take some time to use and review it. Before that in spring 2015 I was given an opportunity to work with its older sibling, the Yoga3pro – part of the multimedia centric – Ultrabook laptops. I used both laptops – The Yoga3pro through spring 2016 and the Yoga 900 post-Christmas. 

I do not want to compare both of these models right now because the Yoga3pro is no longer available at the Lenovo shop. What I do want to share is how worthwhile the newer Yoga900 is .
When it comes to aesthetics, it is almost similar in size to its predecessor, save the thickness because of the CPU which is more powerful when compared to the previous core m on the Yoga3pro 



The System which I obtained had the following specs
Intel i7 6500U with 2.50 Ghz, can be clocked to 3.01 Ghz with Turbo boost
16 GB RAM
256 GB SSD
Windows 10 Home 

The best part about the Yoga 900 is the watch band based hinge, similar to the Yoga3pro. It provides a sturdy and a nice feel to the laptop when it is being swirled between the tablet and the tent mode. 

I would say it is on the unique selling points of the system. To start with there is a brand new logo on the top. As with the previous yoga models, it can be changed into various “modes” namely Stand, Tent, Tablet and Laptop. More information about this can be found in my earlier article. 


The screen has a nice 13.3 inches QHD IPS screen.  A great resource to use Netflix and YouTube in High Definition.  The color reproduction looks great most of the time and the only problem I see is that application scaling, where the menus seemed to be garbled or overlapped – this is not a problem with the laptop per se, but the software vendor who still don’t provide Hdpi support to their apps. 


I have not ran all the synthetic benchmarks like others, but what  I did was, pushing the laptop to the limits – by incrementally increasing the workload on the CPU,GPU and memory and see how the system handles it.
So to run the test I installed Intel’s  GPU Analyzer to check out average CPU, GPU load . The test run was for 2152 seconds and this is what I got in the end 


The memory benchmark also resulted in strong performance. The test was run to check the average memory throughput. The i7 combined with the generous 16 gigs of ram is obviously doing a very good job.  To give an idea about much this machine could handle, the test environment I used included 4 YouTube videos running in IE 10 in full HD, One HD video on the windows media player, transferring 72gigs of data from an external hard disk to the system and also on top of that, running an instance of SQL Server 2016 which was executing a set of lengthy stored procedures. I won’t say that this is a generic environment which will apply to everyone, but in my case this is what I do while I use the Yoga 900.
The end results
1)      GPU was busy at 59% on average
2)      Overall Usage of GPU in Average 18%
3)      Aggregated CPU load was 41.85%
4)      Average GPU Frequency was 356 Mhz


To check whether my conclusion about the CPU and GPU were correct, I wanted to take a second opinion, so ran a couple of more tests on the user benchmark tool. The results were not surprising. It compliments my own tests with positive results

Lenovo has created a formidable Multimedia Ultra book which performance very formidably! . This has been one the of the best machines from Lenovo I have used till date, and  explore ways in which I can use to the fullest of its potential 












Monday, May 30, 2016

Singapore

This is a very late post about my trip to Singapore last year. Better late than never right?

So I landed in Singapore in the early morning August 15th while India was celebrating its Independence Day. When I planned for the trip, I expected to see a lot and even extended the tour plan to 5 whole days. I probably did not do my research properly. In 3 full days you can see and experience most of Singapore. My friend Shravan was there to host me – so I took this opportunity to the fullest.

First day, I got to see the night life that Singapore had to offer. We went around various pubs in Boat Quay and Clark Quay. There were a plethora of pubs around the place. There was Russian pole dancing in one, Bollywood themed in another and my favorite of all - the Altitude one pub.  It provides a fantastic night time view of the city. The open top pub on the 60th floor also acts as a good observation deck. 


At one Altitude 

On the second day, we were off to Sentosa Island – the place seemed to be too artificial. Singapore is only a city state, so when there is not much offering in terms of nature, folks have cleverly built and developed areas around the city and marketed it as a place of relaxation and fun.  There are many things one can do while at Sentosa, I explored Madam Thussads (duh! at last! ) . Spent some time at the beach and that was it. Honestly speaking, there is nothing much to do. But you can spend a whole day there. Other options include Universal studios and an Aquarium. (I skipped them both because I knew I could get similar, if not superior experience in the States). In the evening Shravan took me around Marina bay area, and there -   I had a jaw dropping experience. Downtown Singapore on one end and the Marina bay on the other. You could just sit for hours and keep staring the bay area around you. 





























By the fourth day, there was nothing much to do, so we went for a short visit to suntech city. Basically it’s a group of 7 office towers with a mega fountain in the middle. Also known as “fountain of wealth” it’s the world’s largest fountain.  After a couple of photo ops, we were on our way to Little India to visit the famous Mustafa stores. To my surprise the store stretches almost into 2 streets across the road! No wonder this is a famous place for tourists to visit and shop. In the evening, I was back in Marina Bay to visit the famous Merlion . Yes I had planned for this even before I came so it had to happen! 


























































On my last day, I spent the whole day in leisure at the Singapore botanical gardens. I love nature to bits and what better place to chill out in this big concrete jungle. 


At the singapore Botanical Gardens 


Panaromic view of the city
I bet it would take more than a day to explore the entire place. Once the garden tour was done, I still had time to visit the Merlion in the morning and the Singapore Flyer! Yay!  I always wanted to visit the London eye, but this one was something similar. So this was pretty much my experience. All of this was not possible without Shravan – who took me around places. So thanks Shravan! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Spring break Part 1 -- Mountain View

Spring break is a vacation time between March and April for a week in many countries around the world - According to Wikipedia. I had never heard nor knew of it until it came upon the event calendar of my college. There was no way I would be spending such a lengthy time in a university town like Commerce. With my brother helping me pay for the trip, I decided to spend the week at my friend's home in Mountain View. The idea was to explore the place as well as to go visit San Fransisco. I decided to stay at Garick's place because they have been hosting travelers at their place through the Couch surfing platform which I think is an act of pure goodwill. I've also known Garick through the Lenovo Insiders group where we both were invited when it was formed in 2010. To reach mountain view, I had to take a plane from Dallas to Oakland in the early morning hour, take the BART train from Oakland to Milbrae via Sanfransisco and then hop on to the Caltrain to reach my destination. If you ever plan to go to mountain view another option would to be fly into San Jose and take the caltrain from there. My travel option cost me approximately 7 hours of additional travel from Oakland.


My first impression of Mountain View? It was dreamland with people going around on Bicycles, lush green trees all around with a bit of Orange tinge here and there , Travelling on the caltrain from milbrae in the midst of the sceanic setting was itself an amazing experience! 

Garick and Stephine took me to have a look of the Google campus immediatly upon arrival. To me it looked like a large playground for adults. They were even breeding honeybees on campus so yes if you ever become a googler, there  are lot of things you can explore while coding away your stuff. The bright coloured google bikes were omnipresent in the town. To me it also looked like there were as many Indians and Chinese in town. Well Well, I was definitely in Silicon  Valley now! 



Who would go to Google and not spare time to see those Android statues on the lawn? I've been using Android since donut was released and this was the best photo-op for me to go spend some time with the 'droids'. During my stay, there were kept insider somewhere from the public view . Luckily Stephenie knew where they would be and voila! I was trying to have a bite into the droid statues as soon as I got there. Rumor has it that they are edible - all of them. It's just a rumor though ;) . Of all the droids, the  kitkat looked edible but well,it was not! 





While at Mountain View, I was also suggested to go visit the computer Science museum. For geeks who would not want to miss a part of history, there is LOT to explore. I am not sure if there is another place which chronicles 2000 years of computing history!. First stop was the IBM section . I've never been an IBM fan nor have known much about it's history myself.So this was an opportunity to explore its history and achievements.  This is definitely a company which was a force to reckon with back then, replacing punch cards with magnetic disks and propelling computing speeds to improve industrial productivity with number crunching power. 




























When we started learning about computers, all of us must have heard about Charles Babbage engine. Probably the worlds first computer designed to calculate polynomial  values. It is amazing to see that people were into computing in the early 1800's and the Charles  engine is only proof of that. This is definitely a geeky thing! 




























I was never an electronics guy, but it was also interesting to have a look at the evolution of the microprocessor from where it was to where it is now. Big behemoths like Intel have played a major role and still do to bring raw computing power into the hands of the common man and the transition of this invention is more than evident in the processing capacity of a modern day CPU from Intel. There were possibly other players in the game, but since the founding fathers were from silicon valley and they had their vision of CPU processing, it is adept to share a piece of that history on the blog. These are the silicon valley documents - where it all began. 






















































To warp it up, I went inside a section which wad dedicated to Google. One exhibit of particular interest was the Google self driving car which does not require any driver. The model is a modified Lexus SUV and has been going around the google campus for a while, storing telemetry data on its performance. It still does not have a permit to go out on public roads though. Getting to see all of this stuff, one can only marvel at the extent of how intelligent a human mind can be and has the ability to make anything to a reality with compassion and determination. Without my knowledge I spent close to 7 hours in the place and still had time left to go visit other sections from Microsoft and Apple. All of that in another part.

This amazing and fun filling trip would not have been possible without Garick and Stephanie. So thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your hospitality and goodwill. One day I wish you will come visit India and I can take you around places myself!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

7 years of Lenovo Community Collaboration - 'DO' happens right here

7 years ago, I was just another ordinary user,  searching the internet to check for a solution of my PC problems. What I found on this very day is something which will cherish for a long time to come, not only because I was able to expand my technical horizons with the broader set of global audience, it also presented with a perfect opportunity to work with a number of customers like me around the world. Some of them who later became "Super users" . People who had a lot of passion, to reach out and help others in need.

This experience also gives you the opportunity to know about new cultures, build relationships with returning customers for help, who in turn are inspired to help others. The flow of knowledge in this way is only possible because, Lenovo has built the community from ground up, envisioned by Mark Hopkins, and with the help of other seasoned super users from various communities.

So what have I observed since the past 7 years?


1) When ever I login here, there is a sense of happening, be it the super users working together to keep spam away, looking out for major technical issues that could impact a broad range of customers or banning socket  puppets.

2) It is a privilege to be a part of this  group, which has industry leading experts on subjects like Security and Malware. I can't imagine if I could have gotten the opportunity to interact and learn from such folks, had I not been here.

3) The community runs 24x7 ,365 days of the year.  The moderator group is so diverse, that I can always find at least some of them online, making sure that things work like a well oiled machine. Folks from US,Australia,Turkey,India,Europe, Russia and other Spanish countries make the core group of superusers.

Newly Launched Russian Community 


4)What started as an English community in 2007 has now being expanded to help customers from non english speaking geographies. This only shows that Lenovo is serious about reaching out to its customers.There is also a sense of commitment from the employees and the super user group - something which inturn keeps me inspired to 'DO'  things.

5) There were only a bunch of Moderators and Gurus when I first joined the forums, what I see now is another super set of users jumping in.Be it Microsoft MVP's, technology partners and others. This indicates that the  folks who started the community are always looking for newer vistas which could benefit the customers in one form or another.

6) I also feel lucky to be a part of various Advocacy groups in Lenovo since 2009 apart from the community, which has helped me to have hand's on experience the latest and the greatest . Run by the marketing,I have been invited to international platforms like the CES in LasVegas and the Mobile World congress in Barcelona. This is also another channel for funneling feedback to the company because you get the opportunity to meet top level executives from the company.

One of Lenovo's advocacy groups circa 2011


It has a been a wild ride so far, and I heartily   thank Mark Hopkins for keeping his faith in me, and mentoring me for all these years along with other amazing people like Jane,Andreas,Erik,Dave,Aryeh, Linda,Andy ,Cleo,Serene and many others. You guys are just amazing and I only hope we 'DO' more good things together in the forthcoming future. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Virginia Diaries -- Close encounter with aerospace marvels

I've been watching them on the Discovery channel since my childhood. Their very sight on the TV made to me to get glued to the TV untill the show was finished and I wouldn't hesitate the to watch the show again and again.

I went to National aerospace museum in Virginia last week.. Initially it was only the SR 71 black bird in my mind which led me to go there, but there were other things in store which brought a sense of inspiration and amazement of how far the human mind would go to build such complex machines.


As I entered the museum, far in the front there was the space shuttle - majestically resting in the hangar. . It is one thing to watch these go skywards and another thing to see them in real. Even after trying a number of times, I could not capture the whole thing! Can only imagine how bigger the rockets would have been which took it into space.



























It is amazing to see such complex piece of machinery on close quarters. One cannot stop admiring the reach and technical competency of the human mind which has taken us by leaps and bounds into the sky and beyond. 

The SR 71 Black bird, my all time favorite plane was right before  the shuttle in another hanger. This sexy black beauty made by Lockheed Martin is a feast  to aero enthusiasts. One plane after another my close observations with these wonders make me feel, if we as humans could achieve so much in the past 40 years , there is a lot of potential in store for the future. I spent almost 50 minutes around the jet trying to take photographs. I just wanted that perfect moment to be captured. 





That  such a spy plane used for reconnaissance could deflect and hide radar was beyond my imagination. Now I keep hearing rumors if the US used any alien technology in this? have they? we might never know. Kudos to Lockheed  for conceiving such an idea and for always being on the edge. No wonder this baby is still the fastest plane in the world at Mach 3+ speeds. 

If SR 71 has been the fastest ever airplane, it might only be applicable for the military side of things. But what when ordinary humans wanted to travel faster? This is where the Concorde  comes in. Many people might already know about it, This is another plane which I wanted to see in real some day. I was always curious about it's operational mechanism and how it would fit into the passenger market. Cruising at Mach 2.04 this has been the fastest passenger jet so far taking people from New york  to London in just 3 hours. To compare things - It takes 6 hours for a Boeing 747 and 1 hour 45 mins for the blackbird to travel the same distance. But we have to take note here that the SR 71 travels at 80,000 feet which is an altitude where even conventional oxygen masks wont work. Hence Concorde in all it's glory is the only passenger supersonic aircraft. 





























Before I windup, there are 2 other planes which I want to mention. One is the F35 Stealth fighter and the other one is the B 29 Bomber which was used to drop the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima during Word War 2. Both of the planes have served or have bee serving for their unique purpose for what they were created. Heck I even was thinking to get a glimpse of the F22 but my bad.. it was too much to take in for a 5 hour trip. 



There are no words to describes when you get to see such engineering marvels. You walk around them in awe and all I can do is salute the geniuses behind machines which have challenged the technological limits humans.