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Love-hate-love my (Nokia) ‘smartphone’

By on Aug 1, 2011 in Tech Takes | 61 comments

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As you may have figured out from my previous blog post, I am in the money now thanks to the summer internship gig I did in Singapore. Now that I’m in Taipei city – home to HTC among other technology firms – with a healthy bank balance I feel sorely tempted to buy a new phone. Should I buy one?

I currently own a Nokia 5630 XpressMusic. It’s a candy-bar Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition phone that’s little known outside of Europe and in a long line of Nokia phones that the company itself seems to have forgotten. When I was looking into buying a new phone, I was considering getting either this or Nokia 5530 / 5230 (Comprende Nair owns one). Back then though, Symbian Series 60 5th Edition wasn’t mature enough, and the 5630 comes with WiFi support; the 5230 didn’t have that but it had GPS support instead that the 5630 didn’t. Typical Nokia to cripple the phone in one way or another.

Over the year that I have been using this phone, I have come to realise that WiFi is next to worthless because the browser crashes whenever trying to open the menu while browsing – which is as big a bug as it gets (although a ‘recent’ update has helped with this). Technically it has a Webkit-based browser like Mobile Safari or the Android browser too but its standards support is much worse and page rendering slower. I only ever use the built-in browser when I’m downloading apps. Here’s where Nokia (until recently) annoyed by forcing you to sign in before allowing you download any map fro the Ovi Store.

I’m forced to use 3G instead of the WiFi, as the latter clearly doesn’t work for me. The downside is that the WiFi radio on most devices uses much less power (in the order of ~100mW) compared to the 3G radio that much more power-hungry (in the order of ~1.5W). Leaving WiFi scanning on all day will deplete battery perceptibly but for data transfer WiFi is far more energy-efficient than 3G. This disparity in power consumption is partly due to the fact that with 3G your cellphone often has to make contact with a base tower further away than required for WiFi. The Nokia 5630 has an 860mAh battery – woefully less for 3G browsing usage, and lasts less than five hours moderate to heavy usage. When I’m travelling and don’t have easy access to a charging station, my phone turns into a useless brick I have to carry around. (Recently, I switched off my phone’s 3G antenna and battery life has shot up dramatically as a consequence.)

So I do most of my browsing via Opera Mini. I’m addicted to browsing on the move. I check my emails and social networking accounts all the time. Pressing speed dial shortcuts as soon as I open the browser and launch five different tabs has become second nature. I like to lie down in bed before going to sleep or on waking up in the morning going through my reading list (synced via Read It Later) or the news. I find going through long form articles easier to do a small screen, for some reason. Scrolling bit-by-bit and reading for hours has a therapeutic effect on me. I feel much refreshed when I do so. (More than one roommate has commented how my phone appears to be physically glued to my hand.) No matter how good the Opera Mini experience is, it’s often just not good enough – especially when a site doesn’t have a mobile version or uses anything beyond trivial JavaScript. Formatting, apart from bold face, is stripped out too. I often resent that when I need Opera Mini to be able to handle JavaScript the most, it fails me. The poor browsing experience ends up frustrating me a lot.

I’m a heavy texter too – I prefer texting to calling – and with Twitter / Facebook / email thrown into the mix I type a lot on my phones. My previous cellphone was a touchscreen phone that required a stylus to enter text and so I’m grateful to find a physical keypad on this phone. I’m good enough with T9 to be able to type without looking at the keypad. I’d prefer a QWERTY keyboard though, only to save myself the hassle of choosing alternatives for particular key sequence.

Media playback on the phone isn’t bad at all. The music player is good as they come, and the dedicated music buttons help. At one time this was actually useful for me as I used to maintain a music collection but now I almost exclusively use Spotify for listening to music. I pay for the Spotify Unlimited account that costs £5 per month, though it doesn’t allow me to stream / store offline to mobile (that costs an additional £5 per month). I wouldn’t mind paying the extra subscription fee but if I did start using my phone as a music player in addition to my browsing device, it’s battery is going to last me even less on a single charge.

People often say that Nokia makes good camera phones – especially the ones that it fits with Carl Zeiss lenses. Nokia, at least one point of time, certainly sold the highest number of digital cameras once you start considering smartphones as digital cameras too. The Nokia 5630 comes with 3.15 megapixel camera with LED flash (and an additional front-facing VGA camera for video calls) with the ability to stitch together panorama photos too. Sounds good, doesn’t it? In my experience though, every single Nokia phone that I have seen has been plagued with poor colour reproduction when used to take pictures not in bright sunlight. Anything other lighting condition results in harsh metallic toned images. Performance in low light conditions is next to useless because of noise in pictures taken, even with the pitiful LED flash.

I’m well-aware of the technical challenges. It’s not easy to make camera sensors that small of good enough quality and expect them to perform in a range of conditions. That’s okay. But the way Nokia and many other manufacturers market is that this one device can replace your music player, your digital camera, your PDA. When it performs bad to just average, it’s disappointing because it doesn’t meet the expectations it has set. Many iPhones and Android users will tell you happily though how they don’t have to think twice about whether they need to grab a digital camera when heading out for a trip, and they’ll be quite right. Here I am as a Nokia user who has to think through whether my phone’s camera will suffice to take pictures at events I’m attending. Even goddamned Blackberry phones take better night pictures than my Nokia phone does and that was the company everyone laughed at for not being able to do multimedia well!

I’ll give an example of how deceptive Nokia’s marketing is. Around the launch of Nokia N8, they released this promotional video, ostensibly to show off the high quality video recording capabilities of the phone. (They also released another video starring Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire and Pamela Anderson.)

When you see the video, it’s a bit hard to believe a phone camera could achieve such quality. And you’ll be right too. Nokia had the balls to upload a behind-the-scenes video clearly showing that they used professional-grade cameras and sound recording equipment to shoot the ad.

If the phone itself wasn’t used to shoot the ad, then what’s the point? Nokia isn’t in the business of foosball tables after all, is it. It’s in the business of selling phones and an ad claiming it’s phone had a good camera couldn’t be shot with said phone simply because it isn’t as good as it claims!

I’m quite impressed by the quality of the camera on the iPhone 3GS / iPhone 4 especially its performance at night and in filming video. If I record a video on the 5630, I get videos with random tearing and jitter in images. Solving it is supposedly easy – “just do a hard reset of the phone” – and this is the advice you always get from Nokia and its users as if it’s expected to solve everything. Why should I be the one who has to suffer though for mistakes that Nokia has made? I was recently – a week or two ago – prompted that a stability update was available for my phone…which was released two years ago! I had specifically and manually checked for updates and yet I never received a notification for it – neither from Ovi Suite nor on the phone itself. 5630 supposedly can do firmware upgrades over-the-air, so I want to know why I forced to tether the phone for the update.

Speaking of the camera, what particularly hurts is the lack of options to be able to share pictures on the move. Network effects come into play here. The only easy upload option is to send it to Nokia Ovi Share, but I don’t want to send it to that! I want to share directly to Facebook (and enjoy all the privacy options it provides me) or directly on Yfrog (where I post my Twitter picture updates to) because that’s where all my friends whom I want to share an update are. I could upload to Facebook via email / MMS, but I don’t feel like doing that because of the many steps involved. I certainly don’t want to say that I’m too involved in documenting an event to be able to live the moment and enjoy it fully. Still, there are times when I come across something funny or where a picture can provide much better context (worth a thousand words, etc) to what I want to share. Click picture, wait to go back home to upload it, forget to, finally get around to it weeks later – that completely kills the moment.

You know where this is going. Until a couple of years ago, the feature a cellphone came bundled with made or broke the decision whether you would buy it or not. In 2011, it’s all about the app ecosystem the phone supports. It doesn’t matter whether your phone can toast bread or allow you to upload pictures on the move; it matters more whether “there’s an app for that”. I want to act all hipster and upload pictures of Starbucks coffee cups to Instagram. I want to be able to check-in to Foursquare using the app (which crashes as soon as I started it on my Symbian phone) rather than using the shitty mobile website Foursquare has.

I am not the only one complaining. Long-time Symbian evangelist blog Symbian Guru shut down last year because the editors got fed up of the random bugs, poor integration with hardware, and complete disinterest in part of developers to build apps for the platform. What they speak there is something that many Nokia users will nod in agreement to. Stephen Elop understands that the game is all about platforms and apps now, and I like his bold decision to go with Windows Phone 7 platform so as not to have Nokia end up as ‘yet another’ Android. Symbian fans just don’t get this and keep on going on and on about how it could be made better, how Meego could be a reasonable alternative, how Symbian has rock-solid power management features and back in the day, we spent hours optimising. Old-timers can rant but nobody fucking cares as long as they can play Fruit Ninja, you see. Nokia phones are built like a fucking rock, and given the state of the Ovi App Store, have the functionality of one too.

And yet. And yet…

I cannot complain that my Nokia 5630 has served me well. I have dropped it, manhandled it, gotten in wet due to rains when travelling, browsed on it when eating lunch/dinner – keypad all greasy and then wiped it off easily, put it into pockets with keys and other sharp objects that could scratch it…and every single time it has shown me the Nokia ‘Connecting People’ logo the next day. Gorilla Glass or no, it’s a level of abuse I do not expect an iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone to put up with.

Then there’s the inexorable march towards large touchscreen phones. I can’t help but think that this form factor is not necessarily the best for everyone, and the world has a lot to lose with companies such as Nokia exiting the market for other form factor smartphones (or Blackberry struggling to keep traction). Then again, my dad currently uses a Samsung Bada OS ‘smart feature-phone’ which I thought he wouldn’t like at all; turns out he does and he finds it more intuitive to use.

Am I being a spoilt brat who just wants the latest toy to play with? Or do I genuinely need to get a new phone that is a better fit for my usage pattern? I only have a few days to decide…

***

I have a thang for ‘underdog’ cellphones ever since I have owned a personal cellphone. Due to ‘circumstances’ I have barely held on to each phone for more than a year. I wanted to document my journey through the cellphones I have gone through in past few years.

To this day I’m proud of the fact that I bought my first cellphone with my own finances and not demanding my parents for one. (You see, the quizzing business is a lucrative one.) My first phone was a Nokia 3220, a cute little number – I am as embarrassed as the next guy in describing it this way, though describing it as anything else would not do justice to it nor would be truthful – that died a sad, slow death as even Nokia ignored it.

Not even an advertisement showcasing the glory of its 8-bit retro polyphonic ringtones could save the Nokia 3220

Those were the days when Nokia 7650 was the thing in the cellphone market – period – and yet I went gorilla shit over the 3220 with its synchronised flashing lights. I was an early adopter of the phone too, buying it not long after it was launched. The design and the funky lights – oh the lights – made me forgive everything about this phone that was bad: the VGA camera, the 5 MB of shared memory with no room for expansion, no Bluetooth. In the end, while the 3220 died a slow death in the market because it was caught in the awkward position of not being sober enough for adults and too cartoonish for hip youngsters, my own model of the phone died due to water-logging from sweat.

Burned by the poor multimedia experience on 3220 (memory, memory, memory) I started looking for a phone that could ‘do multimedia’ better. I did not like the bulk of the  classic iPod and the iPod Nano offerings back then hadn’t matured enough to my liking, so preferably a phone that could double up as my music player. This is when I chanced upon an ad in the newspaper for the LG KG300 ‘Dynamite’ series phone.

This promotional video bundled with every LG KG300 was pretty much the high point of the phone

On paper (literally, in that newspaper ad), LG KG300 appeared perfect for me. It had a 2 megapixel camera (that, on usage, turned out to be not bad at all), a music player that the ad claimed had ‘a graphic equalizer’, and expandable storage – perhaps not major differentiator from other phones, objectively speaking. In short, it appeared to be much better than what I had been putting up with so far. Alas, the actual phone was a far cry from the promotional material. On the surface, the Dynamite series looks good but dig deeper and you’ll find niggling user experience issues: within a Java application (Opera Mini for instance), you could not use T9 predictive text, there were parts of the interface where user prompts were in ‘Engrish‘, the video player couldn’t play Mp4 videos (as it promised) without a time-consuming conversion process that you need to find third-party software for as the bundled phone suite didn’t have that function, and (the biggest deception of all) the phone didn’t actually have a graphic equalizer – it had a couple of preset equalization for which it played back a fixed ‘graphic equalizer’ animation. The way T9 was implemented in the text message composer was particularly annoying too as it didn’t show you a list of possible options, sometimes forcing you to cycle through the whole list again in case you accidentally skipped it.

Within a year, I was bored with my LG phone and wanted to move on. I set my sights next on the Motorola ROKR E6e (E6’e’ variant was a minor upgrade that added support for EDGE). The main attraction for me was that this was a Linux phone with a vibrant community was coming up with hacks to extend its functionality. Back in the day when app stores weren’t big. custom modifications such as this were the thing. This was the first phone I owned that offered multitasking capability. ROKR E6e came bundled with a PDF and Office documents viewer, a robust email client, and handwriting recognition. Yet, the handwriting recognition was letter-by-letter, which broke the flow of writing text. More often than not I ended up using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard instead. Although technically you use the touchscreen with your fingers, the small (QWERTY) keyboard size forced you to use the bundled stylus instead. The browser – Opera Mobile – was actually quite good. The camera however didn’t work as well; the problem with it was that it took a picture as soon as shutter button was depressed. On a phone doing this causes your hand to shake, thus resulting in blurry images. Many people who had this phone complained but nobody seems to have listened. There were other niggles such as the screen used to take a noticeable time to refresh the screen when scrolling, causing a jittery scrolling display.

Motorola’s advertising in India pushed the music features of ROKR E6

Still, as far as phones went this cheap model offered features many higher end smartphones in the day offered. Certainly it put up with more abuse than other phones would have been able to handle; try dropping an iPhone down a couple of flights of stairs and tell me whether it survives intact. My ROKR E6 became useless for me though when the hardware lock for the touchscreen broke. Yes, there was a ‘soft’ touchscreen lock too, but the same screen also put a dial pad and a switch off button that caused random phone calls to friends or sudden shutdowns when I carried it in my pocket. I was in the UK when this happened and as the phone was never launched there, I was informed by Motorola that the only way to repair it would be submit it for repairs and wait while they shipped the phone to China and back for repair. I would have to wait for two months to get my repaired phone back! I could not live without one for so long, and I started looking for a new phone.

That’s when I decided to buy my current Nokia 5630. There was drama associated as usual with this purchase too, as Royal Mail lost the first shipment of the phone that I ordered online. I had to wait over a month for the package to be officially lost as declared before I got a refund and ordered a second time online.

You’ve read the rest of the story above.



61 Comments

  1. Vivek

    August 1, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Small correction: your preloaded graphic equalizer animation wasn’t what you think it was. The equalizer affects the sound. Graphic just means you can see bands. You had presets. The animation was a spectrum analyzer.

    So which phone are you eyeing now?

    • Ankur Banerjee

      August 2, 2011

      Post a Reply

      It wasn’t even a spectrum analyser dude, it just played the same animation over and over again. I know the difference between the two. :P

  2. Amrit

    August 2, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I had the weirdest of tendencies to shout “iPhone bitch!” :D

    I always thought Nokia sucked until I got Samsung. That changed it all. A friend of mine got the Nokia X3 or something. Looked more like a giant brick.

  3. Ishan

    August 5, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Dude, way too long. Brevity is the language of the internet.

    Anyways, I’d say go for android, the iPhone’s nice and all, but if it’s tinkering you want, which I think you would, considering you were on Symbian S3(hacked?), android is the way to go. Besides, if you have a budget, androids come pretty cheap too, and there are quite a lot with full qwerty keypads.

    Plus, you’re right. Nokia pretty much sucksalot in the camera department. The amount of noise in photographs taken even in full daylight will make one want to gorge his eyes out.

    Actually, if you think about it, the entire Symbian ecosystem is in a rapid downspiral. It had its hayday (read: before the iPhone; I remember asking Santa to get me a N85), but today, it’s just too frickin primitive. No amount of revamps/updates/changes will rescue it.

    Infact, it’s not just Nokia. All other major mobile OSes are vanishing, and any that tries to come up with one to contend with the big players (iOS, Android, BB) is soon to go as well. I remember a lot of hoopla over the Bada OS, but the wave’s pretty much dead. Gone are the days, when almost every one had a different mobile, with a different OS.

    Also, frankly, the iPhone sux. Andr01d rul35.

    • Ankur Banerjee

      August 9, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Bada OS is a director competitor to Symbian and better at it. It’s meant for ‘smart-featurephones’, not smartphones and thus it could do well in the mid-range niche.

      • Ishan Saluja

        August 9, 2011

        Yeah, it most definitely is, but to Symbian, a dying OS. Not to any of the bigger ones.

  4. Karan

    August 6, 2011

    Post a Reply

    How about Nokia C6? I own that one. It has a resistive touchscreen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. And, it, also, has endured a lot in the last three months it’s been with me (fallen down a LONG STAIRCASE once, and fallen down on the floor quite a few times; It actually has a shock-absorbing system, wherein the battery and back cover endure everything and come out – saving the fragils internals). Also has a decent camera. Initially it had several bugs and applications like opera mini crashed VERY frequently (my mobile internet usage is heavier than yours), but this was corrected by an update… it costed me Rs. 13k in May, should be down by atleast 1k by now…

  5. Animesh Sinha

    August 6, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I say ditch this Nokia and buy a Samsung Galaxy 551 (Android 2.2, 5 MP AF, Capacitive 3.2 inches, 800 MHz) – costs just about the same as this rocket scientist’s (the previous comment – Karan’s) phone …

    I just can’t understand why Amrit doesn’t like Samsung… maybe it’s because the only type of Samsung phones he has seen are those shitty JAVA powered ‘pop’, ‘guru’ and shit – Samsung is an excellent phone manufacturer when It comes to Android smartphones… – even though my 551 hasn’t suffered as much as this space guy’s C6, but still it has suffered quite something…

      • "Animesh" ;-)

        August 15, 2011

        Which Phone?

      • Ankur Banerjee

        August 15, 2011

        I got an unreleased update of Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro, the ‘Mango’ codenamed refresh.

  6. Karan

    August 6, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Ankur, you mentioned something like “… I feel that I’ve matured as a writer over the years …” in a comment of yours on an old post. I wanted to know that whether, by using the word “maturing”, in the comment, did you mean that you’ve “found your voice”?

  7. Rohit

    August 7, 2011

    Post a Reply

    If the phone itself wasn’t used to shoot the ad, then what’s the point? – This is what is called marketing.

  8. Ankur Banerjee

    August 11, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I have a bone to pick there. I hate the demise of long form text and glib TL;DRs. Come on Arnab, you write long posts you should sympathise. Probably not an interesting topic to write a lot on this one, I agree, but I general I reject the whole ‘Internet copy should be short’. If you’re running Huffington Post, yes.

    • Ishan Saluja

      August 11, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Gah! I’m not one of those TL;DR kids. I’m more of a TL, read anyways kid. Also, dude, no offense, but some of your posts become too monotonous to the point of “Why the hell am I still reading?”, although some are pretty epic as well.

  9. Ankit Ahuja

    August 11, 2011

    Post a Reply

    BTW, do you intend to become a writer / filmmaker in the future?

  10. Ishan Saluja

    August 13, 2011

    Post a Reply

    @Ankurb: Just so you know, pretty much everyone’s who’s commented here is getting all of those exciting updates you’re trying to hide via e-mail.

    Gotta love redneck Indians.

  11. Ankur Banerjee

    August 13, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Aman / Ankit / Amit / Karan / Whatever The Fuck You Want To Call Yourself:

    I have been tolerating your anonymous nonsense for a while now, because you asked sensible if sometimes repetitive questions. In the last few hours however, you crossed a line. You are impersonating other, legitimate readers of this site and abusing the freedom of the comments section. Listen here and listen good: this is my site and I allow a discussion as long as you can stop being a fucking coward by hiding behind an anonymous name and treat everyone’s time respectfully by making constructive comments. Any future incidents such as this and I _will_ start blocking whole IP address ranges.

    • Aman Varma

      August 13, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Okay then I’ll tell you the truth…

      This is my real name.

      Karan is my school’s topper, Amit, Ankit, Animesh are my friends…

      All comments by the above guys were actually by me (except the comment here – http://www.ankurb.info/2011/08/01/love-hate-love-my-nokia-smartphone/#comment-14924 – that was written by the real Karan)

      If you are planning a post to deface Karan (or any of the other guys – but Karan is probably the one you’ll be flaming because you also have his blog’s link) – PLEASE STOP… Karan and all other guys are innocent.

      • Aman Varma

        August 13, 2011

        And I’ve also apologized to Karan for that…….. hes forgaven me…..!!

      • Aman Varma

        August 13, 2011

        Oh and Arnab’s (greatbong’s) and Amit Varma’s (India Uncut guy) comments are also mine……or did you really think you write that good!!? >:(

  12. Aman Varma

    August 13, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Actually I didn’t use names of my friends just like that… I used them because I thought that you’d probably think of me as someone stupid (“this moron asks a lot of questions” / “saala bahut bolta hai yeh toh”)… that’s why….

  13. Aman Varma

    August 13, 2011

    Post a Reply

    actually I didn’t use my frients’ names for commenting just like that…… It was because what I wanted to ask ws sounding stupid and so I feared that you’ll probably think of me as some stupid because of my stupid questions… (“this moron is asking a lot of silly questions!” / “bahut bolta hai ye ghadha!”)

    • Ankur Banerjee

      August 14, 2011

      Post a Reply

      I’m glad you came out clean on that. I knew it wasn’t the real Karan making those comments, and it isn’t in my nature, so I wouldn’t have flamed him anyway. I’m more than happy to answer your questions – because there never is such a thing as a stupid question. It was getting to the point though where you were asking the same questions from multiple identities – expecting a different answer? Anyway, do feel free to comment in the future assured that I will do my best to give a reply that answers it as long as you don’t go berserk with comments like you did the other day.

      • Aman

        August 14, 2011

        berserk? I didn’t post that much comments, did I?… Only 4 comments on this post, and 2 comments on that beef blogger.com post (the replies from ”Karan” on the real Karan’s comment (”actually, you can change the layout…”))

  14. Espèra

    August 13, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Whew, you article was long. But somehow, even after abandoning it once, I cam back to it and read each and every word. Phones somehow just really, really interest me. Plus that “New phone everyday” phone was so fucking cool. I want a phone like that. Fuck yeah. I am bored of my touchscreen phone. I want a colourful, synchronised light phone.

    One of my friends had a Sony Ericsson slider phone (w580i) that would glow different lights according to what profile you set it. So if you set Romantic, it would glow purple and red light from the sides whenever you got a call/msg. They just don’t make phones like that anymore nowadays :(

    I have a Bada OS phone now. Mine’s one with less RAM so it hangs a bit when there’s a message coming and that is really frustrating. Apps suck, yes. But apart from that, I don’t have too many complaints. I don’t use the net on my phone (never needed to), the camera’s decent enough, touchscreen is good, and memory card access is faster than my previous phone.
    Still, it’s the frustration of a hanging phone and the fact that I need to switch it off at least once a day for it to function properly is annoying. :/

    A long comment to go with a long blog post :P

      • Espèra

        August 15, 2011

        You get some Apps in the Samaung App Store, but most of them are useless. :(

      • Ishan Saluja

        August 15, 2011

        Why should devs even choose to develop apps for a platform with a very limited user base, given that there are others that have a gazillion potential clients each.

      • Ishan Saluja

        August 15, 2011

        Why should devs even choose to develop apps for a platform with a very limited user base, given that there are others that have a gazillion potential clients each?

      • Espèra

        August 15, 2011

        Duuude. 43rd comment :P

        Ishan – Well if you are trying to introduce a new OS, at least make sure that there Are devs who would. Or produce some kind of an incentive to do it.

      • Ankur Banerjee

        August 15, 2011

        Samsung actually threw a lot of money at developers to get them developing for Bada OS when it was launched. Problem is that isn’t really a ‘smartphone OS’, it’s more a ‘smart featurephone’ OS. Plus there are too many platforms to bother with right now and Bada is only a drop in the ocean.

  15. Aman

    August 14, 2011

    Post a Reply

    obviously you can tell the real karan from others…… He uses sophisticated hi-fi language while me and ‘animesh’ and ‘amit’ use my stupider language… …….

  16. Ishan Saluja

    August 15, 2011

    Post a Reply

    @Espèra Exactly, and they didn’t. Lets face it, the consumer base of the Bada OS is just sad. Sad in the sense, of being non-existent.

  17. Mayank Bhalla

    August 16, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Hey, I dropped by on your post on e-mail spoofing (The method you described there is obviously useless now)

    I was dazed after reading what post. How can a 16 year old (rough idea after reading your “July 2011” post) know SO much about tech ?!

    I want to know the sources of all your knowledge (tell about the tech magazines / shows you read / watch and the tech blogs you follow)
    While you’re at it, also tell me about your awesome writing skills… I’m 23 right now, study in IIMA, and yet my writing skills / tech knowledge are nowhere near yours. They just suck! :'(

    And also tell about the source of your GK… Every time I read a new post on your blog, I come across 10 different things I didn’t knew before!

    Oh and btw, Hello, fellow Open Source software supporter!

    • Ankur Banerjee

      August 16, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Eh? I’m not sixteen. Tech magazines used to be really good and useful once upon a time, but these days by the time you get them all the news is stale. If you’re interested in tech, then follow Wired.com, Ars Technica, The Register et al – very in-depth articles with a lot of analysis and technical details. Perhaps not easy reading but you’ll find ten new things in every article. I used to be / am a quizzer, so I guess that’s how I got interested in following news. I find that reading analysis instead of just news always helps. The Hindu, thus, is a good newspaper because it has more of that. Internationally, think The Guardian and New York Times.

      You can obviously tell I’m a liberal.

  18. Mayank B

    August 17, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I know you’re not 16, but you WERE 16 when you wrote that email spoofing post.

  19. Arpit Singhal

    August 20, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Have a tip for good writing: Write as you talk. It’ll help you figure what’s required and what’s not.

    I understand that you love writing. But you should always make it a point to delete something that’s not related to what you’re writing about. What you wanted to say in this post could have been said in well under 500 words.

    People say it requires 10 years of consistent practice on something that you want to become exceptional at… You’ve been writing good stuff since about four years. So, six more years to go. :))

  20. Arpit Singhal

    August 20, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Your profound knowledge of phrases and your well-developed vocabulary is your strength.

  21. Mayank Bhalla

    August 20, 2011

    Post a Reply

    um, I remember you mentioning that you mostly read e-books on your laptop, instead of printed books, in some post of yours. Which software (are those e-books in .pdf format?) do you use? Some .pdf software have a feature in which we can replace the text and background colors (like text = white, and background = black, for lesser strain on the eye…), do you use these features?

    • Ankur Banerjee

      August 21, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Mostly PDFs yes, although for certain genres like graphic novels they are packaged in CBR format. I also read using the Kindle App for PC / Android (don’t own a Kindle yet) for books that I buy in ebook format. I don’t switch around the colours (not sure if Adobe Reader supports that?) but what I do use is this feature in Adobe Reader called ‘Scroll Automatically’. Don’t have to keep hitting the page down button when reading, that’s the most annoying part.

      • Mayank Bhalla

        August 21, 2011

        there is this software, Foxit Reader which has this function. I use this colour-switching feature because obviously reading e-books normally (black text, white background) will boil your eyes out… Foxit reader also supports automatic scrolling (also has all those annotation features you use as you said in your “The joy in Writing” post, plus lot more).

        What I also wanted to know is that do you have any problems concentrating on your when you read very (very long – A Suitable Boy / LOTR Pack) long books on your PC? I can read about 300-400 pages on my laptop, after which I have problems concentrating. When it comes to reading printed books, I can go on and on reading for hours …

      • Mayank Bhalla

        August 21, 2011

        Also, people say that this Amazon Kindle has a special kind of screen that’s more optimized for reading (absolutely no strain on the eyes?)and also that a Kindle only need to be charges about once every month… is this true?, Also, does it support .pdf formats or will I have to use a conversion software? if yes, then I’m going to get one – because I have (and maintain) an extensive e-book collection (about 1900 books, all award winners, all popular authors, all in .pdf, a legitimate e-book collection – no stolen e-books)

      • Ankur Banerjee

        August 22, 2011

        The Kindle has a type of display called e-ink that doesn’t need a lot of power to run and isn’t backlit, so it doesn’t hurt your eyes (but you will need an external source of light to, say, read in the dark). And no, it doesn’t support PDF out of the box as you’re expected to buy everything from Amazon store although I’m sure there must be some kind of conversion software. It’s one of the few drawbacks of the Kindle that it doesn’t support PDF or EPUB formats.

        I don’t find reading a problem on the screen, even black on white for long books. I do use a screen-locking software though that prompts me to take a three-minute break every half hour to beat fatigue. It’s built-in in Gnome (if you use Linux), otherwise there’s Workrave for Windows.

      • Mayank Bhalla

        August 28, 2011

        I use Ubuntu with Gnome 3 (I hate Unity!), tell me how to activate that feature?

  22. Abhinav Garg

    August 28, 2011

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    Always wanted to visit the Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia trio, but am afraid of getting mugged (Was mugged once in Pachmarhi. Didn’t lose much, though; Gave the mugger a fake wallet containing fake business and credit cards and Rs 250 in Rs 10 notes…)

    What precautions did you take to prevent yourself from being mugged (of course, apart from NOT roaming around after 6 evening)?

    • Ankur Banerjee

      August 29, 2011

      Post a Reply

      No, there isn’t any major danger of getting mugged in those countries, and in fact it’s quite safe to travel out even till 1-2am without any issues.

      You know what, this is sort of going off-topic. Email me directly at the email address listed on my about page and I’d be happy to continue the conversation there.

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