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One of the most important works of Science Fiction- Foundation Series by Issac Asimov

I am a sucker for science fiction , the realms of possibility when you combine science with fiction is just mind boggling.

But I am ashamed to also admit that I have not read a lot of science fiction work. I have been feeding my appetite for science  via  books such as Brief history of time, theory of everything and also via numerous documentaries on string theory, m theory and movies and TV series such as Dr Who.

In all this I missed reading Issac Asimov, yes Issac Asimov.Yes I know I can no longer call myself an old Science fiction fan :). I am  like a new born.

So I strarted with the series called foundation, and man, I have been missing SO much.

People call it one of the most important work of science fiction.

The story is about the time when human kind spreads throughout the galaxy and a galactic empire is setup. A scientist Hari Seldon calculates that the empire will crumble in 500 years and the entire humankind will be in the clutches of chaos and barbarism for 30,000 years. No One can stop that , but he can reduce the chaotic time to a mere 1000 years. He sets up 2 planets at the opposite ends of galaxy  and names them Foundation, where he gets in scientists from all over the universe and puts them to the task of preserving the knwoledge of the universe. This is the story of one of the planets and how it navigates through a crumbling empire

The novel has many many incidences which make you question  the things you are taking for granted and see the world in a different light. It makes you see how histories are twisted and how beliefs are changed over the course of centuries .

Trying to imagine foundation as our future, we suddenly become aware that we also are someone’s future and our past is as forgotten , as misinterpreted and as lost in myths and fables like we might be.

The way the novel speaks about technology, the socio impacts of  haves and have nots , the way  science fiction  which eerily reminds you of the current state of affairs is simply brilliant and makes you   wonder , did Asimov look into the future ?

Currently on the second book in the series “Foundation and  Empire”

 

 

 

 

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Book review: The Edge: Become More Than What You Are

Recently I got a chance to review a book by my friend Nishit Lal:

“The Edge: Become More Than What You Are”

So what exactly is this book about?:

In one line: The book talks about how you can change your behaviour and eventually your fate by changing the way you think

The book talks about various concepts and tricks that can be used to change your outlook towards life . It also talks about how simple things such as resistance to change can affect your view point and lead to stress and even depression.

The hits

As per me the book scores high on simplicity of message and language. The author does not try to evoke awe by filling up pages after pages with difficult non comprehensible vocabulary , instead relies on a more conversational tone. The book is more like a dialogue and concepts covered are simple ,practical yet powerful.

I liked the chapter on mental states the most , where the author tries to reason that many a times our issues are because of the wrong mental state we are in and how important it is to be in the right state.

The Miss

Some areas where I felt the book lacked was verbosity and overlapping concepts. For eg if one example is sufficient to explain a concept , the author tries to reinforce it by giving too many examples. This possible can work when speaking to someone face to face but may tire a reader.

Also I felt that some of the concepts were very much interlinked and could have been merged or shortened. I liked the choice of topics but was a left a little unsatisfied by the length. The book can be condensed to a collection of short and powerful essays.

Also, though I am not sure of it falls under misses, but some form of spiritual angle(not religious) , where the change is more at subconscious level rather than conscious would have been welcomed.

Should you Buy?

Yes : If you want an easy to read book that brings forth simple yet powerful concepts that can help you.

No: If you are looking for some inspiring book that you believe can change your life , or you have read too many self help books and have developed a  disdain for them .

Buy Link

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Tata Indica Vista D90 review – First Look

Vista D90 Volume controls on the steering
Vista D90 Volume controls on the steering

I recently got a chance to drive around Indica Vista D90 before it’s official launch for three days and have been tweeting and updating about my real-time live experience with the car as it happened.

Here is a gist of my and my friend’s (who accompanied me for various test drives)  experiences.

First Look:

Not drastic change in the exteriors except the contrast roof, which I simply loved,  and the headlights. the interiors as expected were very spacious and well done.

Best was the volume controls over the steering wheel. Can be real handy when you are driving and listening to music

Positives

Power: With 90 ps engine this car definitely packs some punch. The acceleration is superb.

Turning Radius: Can I say I am in love with it’s absolutely fantastic turning radius. Very easy handling and superb for the Indian roads

Steering Wheel controls: Volume controls and phone controls are ON the steering wheel , saving the irritation and inconvenience to the driver.If you are one of the ultra conservative drivers like me, you either would depend on the person sitting next to you  to change volume or simply avoid it as much as possible. With controls on your steering wheel, it makes life much easier

Power Windows: they have included standard power windows and standard one touch power window for the driver.

ORVM: Basically it means you can adjust your side mirrors from inside. Loved this feature as you do not have to open windows in scorching heat to adjust the side mirrors, especially the passenger side

Lumber Support and Height Adjustment: Yeaaa, finally. The drivers seat’s height can be adjusted to suite the driver and yes they do have lumbar support for your back.What is Lumbar Support?  In simple words, the seat adjusts slightly to give support o your lower back. It is like keeping a small pillow for your lower back. Can prevent a sore back on long drives. Wish more cars have this simple but essential feature

Space:

It can officially seat 5 people  and has enough space for all. the leg space is good . In is a fairly spacious car with a large boot space. One issue though is that there is no headrest for the third person on the back seat. Would have loved it

 

Now the Improvement stuff

Cabin Insulation: The car I got was noisier that I expected. Possibly the insulation was not that great. One thing to note is that generally diesel cars are noisier than petrol

Shockers: I am not sure what they did to the shockers but the previous Vista was smoother. It was not as smooth as expected on

Indica D90
Indica D90

bumpy roads

Initial Pickup: Let me put that in simplest words ,acceleration from 30kph-60kph awesome but acceleration from 0-30 a little dismal.This may not be a problem generally

 

With a price of approx INR 7 lakh on road, I would say this car is definitely a value for money and should be in your consideration set while deciding to buy it

 

 

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Product review: WeChat app (Chat app for smartphones)

Recently got a chance to review a chat app called wechat

twechat app reviewThis is a smartphone app, works on Android phones seamlessly ( I tested). They also support IOS symbian and windows and are coming up with blackberry though i suspect how many blackberry users will actually use it.

First thing that will strike you about his app is the beauty , its UI is simply great. good job guys

Think of this as an alternative to whatsapp(i am an addict), have group chats of up to 40 people, add people who have wechat account plus find people

As per the specs

  • Provides multimedia communication flexibility and convenience with text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, Video/Audio calling, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, photo/video sharing, location sharing, and contact information exchange

One thing i liked was the range of emoticons and the ability to change chat backgrounds. Sounds trivial but gives it a personal touch.

Now lets talk about social features

  • You can find people near you using wechat, this is a great tool if you are in a campus. It can act like an internal messenger

But the Con with this feature is that you can potentially set your own location and hence never be sure if the person on the other side is actually near you?

I tried this feature but there were too many Chinese/Japanese people around me. I am not sure if Chinese are that many in Hyderabad

One suggestion to developers: Have some sort of  verification mechanism, via GPS maybe. there must be an option to chose only verified accounts

  • Shake: shake your phone and get connected to random person

Ok this can be a little weird but can also be fun. One warning: when it connects to a new person it gives a horrible loud beep. I had my volume set to 0 still it beeped, i guess it overrides phone volume. I was in a class and it was little embarrassing

Another suggestion: Hate the default beep, it’s too loud and too shrill. Have a non intrusive sound

Games: Yaay, we have games. Always love any game that can be played on phone with a friend . they have a rock paper scissor game and more are being planned. Waiting to see more simple fun games

Plus they also have on demand backup, did not try it but would be useful.

Over all I liked this app a lot except for the features listed above. For me personally the biggest utility of wechat would be Group Chat. It is essential for me but again will depend on how many people adopt it

Some more features I would like:

Find FB friends

Import contact lists from other places, eg Google voice

 

Disclaimer: This is a paid review under the Blogadda program

http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/04/12/indian-blogs-sponsored-reviews-blogger

http://www.wechatapp.com/en/

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