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Category Archives: Gadgets

I don’t get to hear this so often. But when I do, I really try to reason and understand how it could happen. Despite my efforts, I haven’t been successful yet.

Is the demise of android possible? Yes. Remember why we don’t get to ride dinosaurs these days? yeah?. Shit happens, right? I think that dinosaur analogy is going pretty good with android. Android is pretty big right now and it’ll likely take an asteroid like blow to take it down. To hell with my knowledge about Dinos, that is pretty much all the way I can make with that analogy. (I’m using too much p-word. Pretty annoying eh?.)

Let’s get a bit serious about this. Android, reminds me a lot about windows. You read me right, Windows. Microsoft Windows. But why? Windows was essentially an open platform. Not as in ‘open’ we see on news these days. But open enough. People could make software for the system without getting in any walled gardens. And the system could be put on hardware that happened to be abundant.

Remember the rival of Windows? Hope you do. And I hope you can remember the restrictions it had those days. And we all know where each of the players ended up at the end of the OS war.

We can say that those golden days are more or less behind Microsoft. And some might argue that Microsoft is dying. But the shocking truth is, for Microsoft to go down with it’s main product, takes a loooooong way down the hills.

Can you relate that with the story of Android? Let me start with the least significant of all. Android’s rival in this mobile OS game happens to be… wait for it… just kidding, we all know it. But that is a fact only good for making cool jokes. But what’s the real deal?

Unlike it’s rival’s, Android’s eco-system is open. There is a marketplace governed by Google, but not as tight as the rival Apple happens^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hchose to do that. People can make software and distribute on their own, without any restrictions at all. This invites bad software in too but didn’t windows have that problem?

iOS comes on what is known as iPhone and iPhone only. One piece of hardware, very well done yeah, but still it’s just one piece of hardware. Android on the other hand, is put on wide range of different hardware by different manufacturers. Almost all phone manufacturers have their own android phone (Nokia? we’ll be there in a moment). Oh and did you know those crappy Chinese phone makers have discovered android?. The hardware can be junk but here is a market for that. Not so classy but market-share.

The open availability of android has opened doors to amazing things. Meizu the Android from China that would feature dual/quad core processors and this $80 Android phone from Kenya are just two random things I grabbed off the top of my head.

Unlike Windows, Android is open as in ‘open’ we hear in news these days. And that has opened doors to other amazing things too. Cyanogen mod and plethora of android ports to different hardware platforms show how good is it to be that open.

Let us move on to other possible reasons that can lead to the sudden death of android (or even iOS). The other players in the game. Let me try to list them in the order of effectiveness. Windows phone 7, BadaOS, Symbian, Meego and webOS. The last two went down in relevance respectively due to Elop’s decision of making Nokia sleep with Microsoft and Apotheker’s decision of making Hurd’s brain child not seeing light. Symbian will face only slightly better fate than that of Meego. Bada will have to be side by side with android, in Samsung.

That brings us to Windows phone 7. WP7 cut a deal good for them with great hardware maker Nokia. It’s known to have an OK like user interface. Also known to have an ambitious launch parade completed with drama’s of iPhone’s death. But come to think of it, we still didn’t get many real phones out with WP7 on it. No Nokias with WP7 yet. But let’s forget that and think of the ones that are actually there. Not enough to kill iPhone or Android I guess.

I, for a don’t-really-like-MS guy, was really enthusiastic about WP7. Not because anything but I loved to see more competition in the space. But did it make a dent in the graph? I don’t think so. And what kind of an application eco-system it has?. I honestly haven’t heard much of one. BTW check this piece of news saying windows phone market-share being down by 38% since WP7 launch. Doesn’t sound like the android/iPhone killer.

And now about patents. This seems to be the only thing that makes android haters sleep at night. Oracle blew the one giant asteroid like blow on android with Java patents. Or did they?

Anyone in software industry knows how sweet software patents really are. Apparently there has been a lot of hullabaloo about patents in the UK and the rest of the Europe. Also in the US, current economic crisis has kindled rounds of discussions about how patents are crippling innovation. Even with all that, new regulations coming in and taking the pain that is patents away forever, for good is only as probable as  Oracle’s big bad bloody brutal blow on Android actually killing it over night.

I haven’t had the scoop of inside news on the progress of Oracle-Google legal battle, heck I didn’t see any worthy news item regarding that blinking on radar after this. According to that, some judge somewhere with some sense had ruled the number of claims Oracle has against Google down to 3 all the way from 132. Yes 3 patents is still a lot given the fact that there can be the single patent that is the big fucking deal. Anyway this more recent news item says bit of a different story. And we are apparently not likely  to see much of an improvement in the case any soon. With all that in mind, I’d say that I don’t see much of a chance for Oracle’s legal actions against Android will be anything like the asteroid were to dinosaurs. I’m not good at predictions but we’ll definitely find out in the years to come.

So the demise of android still seems far from reality. An the other thing is even if it goes down, it has to go a loooong way down.

It rekindled that habit. The habit formed in me when I still was a kid. The habit that made me understand good lessons about life without actually having to go through all those hardships. The habit that let me leave reality for a better imaginary world. Amazon Kindle did what once seemed impossible: Making me read, after the computer. And the Internet.

This is the day I got my hands on my own Kindle.

Since then, I’ve been reading. I’ve been reading on the couch, on the bed, on the bus and even on a Kottu place chair!

Yeah Kindle is like a book. Only better. Well.. minus the smell (solved already?). Minus, sometimes, the weight too. And it’s not just a single book, more like a mini library, right. OK let me organize my thoughts a bit and improve my bragging.

Don't Panic!

Something inside doesn’t want me to say this but I like kindle better than a book. Only thing I miss is the smell. (I liked the kindles smell though it faded too soon and not gonna renew with a new book.). Talking about the ‘wins’, first thing is ease of holding it. I don’t have to try and keep it open. It weighs just perfect that a book rarely will weigh less than that.

Surprisingly, it’s dimensions don’t ruin the thing at all. I said surprising because the first time I had a kindle in my hands (Bud’s Kindle) I thought it (the screen to be precise) was a bit too small for a book replacement. But it really is not. One day I was reading on Kindle and it just occurred to me, “Dude.. the Kindle’s screen dimensions are just perfect”. I should be exaggerating things a little but you still get the point.

The screen quality, as they have advertised, is really close to print quality. Kindle 3’s screen beats ‘LCD for reading’ any day, hands down. The text on Kindle has sharp, well defined edges comparing to other e-ink screens I’ve seen. Sometimes the screen shows a ghost of previous screen and other blurs and stuff but Alt+g wipes it all clean. To be done with screen quality, you can read on Kindle screen almost anywhere you can read a book. This means it serves fine under bright light and won’t magically light up in the darkness.

Once I slide the power button and get the device in life, thanks to the instructions on the screen savers, it’s pretty much straight forward to navigate and start reading.

Before I see a kindle for real I thought the page flip buttons on the sides are to flip to the respective side (left button to go left/back and right button to go right/forward). Once I started using one I realized it is not and that it would almost be a usability nightmare if it was. On both the sides the bigger, lower  button is to flip forward and the smaller, upper button is to flip back. This allows the user to have the device on either hand and not worry about flipping. And we rarely flip back, so the smaller button. I find flipping pages on Kindle to be easier than it is on a real book. Oh and I can go to a specific page using the menu and move between chapters with left and right navigational buttons.

When I read a book on kindle, it presents me with some interesting information on the bottom of the screen. From right to left, number of pages, current location and the percentage I’ve currently finished. Below that information is a bar that visually represents the progress and the milestones (chapters). This seems to be very encouraging when you are  reading. Yeah the little things matter most.

Little things...

The in-page dictionary look up has been very much helpful and convenient. Up/down navigational button spawns and moves a cursor on text and kindle automatically looks up dictionary for the word next to the cursor. The result is shown on a small box on top or bottom of the screen. I’d only ask for quicker ways to navigate! (hint: touch)

Amazon promises a month long battery life for reading (with wireless off). I could never test on this because I plugged the device to the computer many times and sometimes left it plugged for so long. But I can say I used it without plugging for more than a week and didn’t see a significant drop in battery level. Probably it’s the infinity for practical usage.

Kindle comes with many extra features, advertised and not advertised. MP3 playability and the browser are among advertised extras (experimental). Both the features will come pretty handy when you need them ’nuff said. Image viewer, minesweeper, Gomoku and screen shots features are not advertised by Amazon as I know. I use the image viewer just to show off.

Kindle’s text to speech is well advertised but I never seriously used it. Of course it adds up on show-off-ability.

I honestly think that the Kindle 3 is really great for reading. As Jeff Bezos wrote on his letter to me ;) (the letter appeared on kindle when I registered it online) the Kindle disappears in my hands – getting out of my way, leaving only the author’s stories, words and ideas.

Yes I jailbroke, rooted and did whatnot with my Kindle (thanks to the awesome people who made it real) but all that was only for few days. Now that I’ve had enough bragging and showing off, it has come down to ‘something I read on’ from ‘teh ozam thing’.

I can’t really ask for more but if It could accept touch on screen to navigate, I don’t think it would ruin the whole idea of simplicity in Kindle. Most the people who got this in hand tried touching the screen first. That probably is a result of the ongoing touch-hype but there have been times I’ve felt that I could use some touches for good.

OK time to read some awesome books on ‘the thing I read on’.

I love my Kindle.

PS: … and I love my friends who actually made me own one. Thanks @aerobender , @geekaholic :)

Hope everyone can remember the earlier comments from Sony about netbooks. Sony said that netbooks (or UMPCs -Ultra Mobile PCs) market is a negative impact on notebook market.

Mike Abary, Sony’s US SVP of IT Products Division said to engadget that the trend of netbooks is “a race to the bottom.
” if consumer expectations begins to weigh too heavily toward the $300 end of PCs, he believes that kind of consumer adoption would have a profoundly negative impact on the industry, referring to its effect as “a race to the bottom.”

Sony UK Vaio head Nicolas Barendson Added to that in last december with a simillar idea. liliputing reports it like this, quoting zdnet interview with Mr.Barendson.

He says all of the 7 to 10 inch notebooks available today are kind of “in-between” propositions for consumers, since they’re too large to fit in your pocket but still much smaller than full sized laptops.

That’s absolutely true. But he’s wrong in making the leap from there to the idea that consumers aren’t happy with the mini-laptops available today.

(However in September 2008, few months before Mr.Barendsons thoughts Mr.Abary said something different.)

But the time is changed. Sony announced a very ‘sexy’ *NOTEBOOK* at CES(Consumer Electronics Show). I won’t make any conclusions. You just check PCworld news on Sony Vaio P, an Intel atom powered 8.9 inch, *NOTEBOOK* (as they call it) weighing 694 grams with a price tag around 900 USD, and share your ‘conclusion’.

Sony Vaio P

Sony Vaio P