Saturday, January 25, 2020

Getting pulled into in the Apple Eco System

Its been a long time since I came back to post something here but here goes...

2 years ago, I never would have imagined. to be pulled into the Apple ecosystem. I was a hardcore Android fan since my first ever phone which I purchased in 2011. I would spend hours and hours on rooting and unlocking the boot loaders of my Sony Phones. 

Circa 2017 - It was just another weekend when I was headed to T-Mobile store to get the Samsung Galaxy Edge which had a BOGO offer going on. While at the store, one of my co-workers nudged me into getting the iPhone 7 Plus. Eventually, I so fell in awe and love with the fluid UI experience the iPhone that it was only a matter of time before another apple product would make its way into my day to day use.

In early 2018, I started having severe joint pains due to psoriasis. It came to a certain extent where I needed some motivation to walk every day and keep me engaged. My eyes fell on the Apple watch series 2. Having an iPhone made the apple watch a natural fit to share my health data between both the phone and the watch. This was at the beginning of 2018. I would also end up walking 4 miles every day in the trail behind my home.

Come Thanksgiving, I was already looking for a portable computer to consume Netflix and other services.  I am a movie buff, so it only made sense for me to go for a tablet. My initial thoughts were not to spend a lot of a Tab, and rather go the safer way of getting a cheaper Amazon Kindle which ran on a forked version of Android. The 9.7-inch 6th generation iPad which would usually sell for 320$ was being sold for 60$ less... around 240$. I could not resist the urge so yes I got an iPad for thanksgiving. Not to mention, I even upgraded to an iPhone XS Max in late 2018.

One last craving which I always had in my mind was to get a high-end Macbook Pro with lots of RAM. Being a SQL Database admin and an ardent follower of technology meant that, I needed my own sandbox space to learn and test the bleeding edge of whatever technology I was working on. Initially, I used to go around apple stores looking for the 32 GB custom Macbook pro. But I wanted more memory power. My mind was leaning towards the Lenovo P series laptops which seemed to have an insane amount of processing and memory power for a portable workstation. But I held on to my guns.

Apple had quietly released the 16'inch version of Macbook pro in late 2019. I started checking the configuration and when I found that a 64 gig machine could be requested, I immediately started plans to get one these babies. In the last week of December, Apple had an offer for 6% cashback on all the hardware it was selling on the store and online(Provided you had an apple credit card). Another surprise was when the store employees mentioned the corporate discount I could get. This brought the entire discount of the laptop by 506$. My pockets were still cut deep post these discount. The price was still almost a month's worth of paycheck on the laptop but I have no regrets about it. This is a dream machine which I wanted for a long time and have it for now and will keep it for as long as I can

Time flies so fast that, it's hard to imagine me appreciating and savouring the Apple ecosystem. It only seemed like yesterday when I was all over the social media - especially on Facebook cursing Itunes as the crappiest piece of software I ever came across. Time changes some aspects of our lives and surely, the influence and appeal of Apple products is something which will always keep me in awe.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Passing of Mom

The Angel of my Life, my mother passed away on July 3rd. This was a day which I never expected would happen. She was a very strong woman and was battling cancer since last year. Things seemed to be encouraging as she was able to cope up with the Chemo and the Radio sessions since September 2016.

She actually felt a tumour and figured out it must be something serious. The biopsy confirmed it as breast cancer. She was operated within a week, and the tumour removed. It had already spread to the lymph nodes by then. Initially,  she had the same apprehension and a bit of depression about what had come upon her at her age of 68 - but her determination allowed her to go through all of the treatments. I did not get a chance to visit her since my last visit to India in 2015.

But with the level of self-confidence she had, I had her assurance that she was doing well. Meanwhile, I think God had other plans for her. A sudden brain haemorrhage at multiple locations did not give her a chance to revive - With only the heart functioning, the only option for her was to be put on ventilator support.

When I visited her in the ICU, I could not see her in that state with all the pipes going down her throat. She must have been suffering even then at that point internally due to the setup. I did not want to see her in that state and was the first to take a decision about removing her life support system. My siblings agreed to the same on the next day after taking second opinions. The doctors also could not notice any response to the medication.

The last 40 days have been a blur, I still cannot believe what has happened. May be, I'll miss her presence once I go back to the US

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
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


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!