Phone stacking, you really need to know about this.

In my recent memory I cannot remember the day when I left the house without my mobile phone. Our lives are more or less run my Mobile Phones. Being in construction, the entire “coordination” for all activities on site / engineering and others actually relies completely on Mobile Phones. This gets even worse with fields like sales, events where constant updates change the game. The additional usage gets worse when you include such devils as the BBM into the equation. Although I use it in my opinion it is a plague to the society. From movies to the dinner table including first dates, people all over the place seem to be using their phones.

One annoying habit that seems to be very common is people sitting with friends or family and are on the phone chatting, checking emails etc to be somewhere else. And this is not just work related stuff (some people are justified with that). So in another out of box thinking a new solution has appeared online, from tumblers to now the bigger blogs all are talking about Phone Stacking.

I ’ve seen/heard this described as both “The Phone Stacking Game” and “Don’t Be a Dick During Meals”, but a quick  poll of my friends suggests that it hasn’t become widespread yet. Which is a shame, because it’s perfect for folks in tech. Interested to learn more ?

Rules:

1) The game starts after everyone has ordered.

2) Everybody places their phone on the table face down.

3) The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.

4) Loser of the game pays for the bill.

5) If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.

Variations/house rules:

-Starting the game after everyone is seated.

-In the rare event that multiple people flip their phones simultaneously, the bill is split between said players.

– Feel free to invoke penalties/strikes systems.

Notes:

– No touching or messing with anybody else’s phones.

You can explain the game in a few different ways. Most obviously, it could be a protest against the indecent, unthinking use of cell phones during social gatherings. Or maybe it’s a game that acknowledges the new reality and tests your willpower accordingly. Personally, I like to think of it as a free market exercise. After all, people love to say, “Sorry, but I have to take this.” Do you have toanswer it? Really? Is it that important to you? Great, then you can pay.

 

What’s the alternative options if Bit Torrent sites are closed ?

Survival of the fittest is the motto that Human Beings have always lived by. When faced by adversity or restriction, we tend to fight and find solutions that are tailored to the problem as well as solutions that are well sometimes out of the box. Today, the online world especially most of the people who download content from the internet are faced with some serious restrictions to what people can download and share. A wealth of information / data and content is available online but not all of it is copyright, one of the most efficient ways to share this information especially large information like music movies etc was through the very very popular Bit Torrents. Bit torrents have gained popularity over the years and as you would imagine most people use them. But with the introduction of SOPA / PIPA and now ACTA it is getting more and more unlikely that these Bit Torrent sites and clients can move further. But like I said earlier we do come out of problems with innovative solutions. Although I believe that more solutions will present themselves in due course like the Option 2, currently there is a budding solution to our woes.

The truth about piracy is simple, I would download a movie and watch it only if I am not really interested to go see it in the theatre. In fact if torrent downloads were not possible, I would not really go and see it at all ! So in that sense the movie industry does not need to fear torrent downloads per se. The real piracy is the fake DVD’s, CD’s and other activities that happen in the shadow and bringing a few websites down will fuel these activities even more. Demand Supply rule here. If you look at the infographic I posted last week this gets terribly visible. The bad movies made the top 10 list as well as the good ones, the downloading trend will probably affect by pinching away those users who would love to buy and keep copies of movies. Not the real cinema money. Food for thought.

First lets talk about Torrents in general. 

A torrent file is a document containing a number of pieces of information about a file including the names of its various component parts as well as pertinent identifying information. Torrent files do not point to specific files on specific servers but instead point to codes that identify chunks of a file. These files are actually quite large – a few kilobytes to a few hundred – and most BitTorrent feeds have used them exclusively for the past few years.

There’s a problem with torrent files, however, that has to do more with perception than reality. To the average politico – and to the average media lobbyist – Torrent files are “files” that point to pirated content.

Option 1 : Tribler

One of the technologies that builds on the BitTorrents which is going to be more relevant than before is Tribler. The Tribler BitTorrent client is no newcomer to the BitTorrent scene. It has been in development for more than 5 years and has delivered many innovative features, which have mostly been ignored by the masses. Developed by a team of researchers at Delft University of Technology, the main goal is to come up with a robust implementation of BitTorrent that doesn’t rely on central servers. Instead, Tribler is designed to keep BitTorrent alive, even when all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers are pulled offline.

So how does it work?

Like many other BitTorrent clients, Tribler has a search box at the top of the application. However, the search results that appear when users type in a keyword don’t come from a central index. Instead, they come directly from other peers. Downloading a torrent is also totally peer to peer and not from a central location. When a user clicks on one of the search results, the header information or meta date (what exists in the torrent file) is pulled in from another peer and the download starts immediately. Tribler is based on the standard BitTorrent protocol and uses regular BitTorrent trackers to communicate with other peers. But, it can also continue downloading when a central tracker goes down.

Tribler uses crowd-sourcing to keep the network clean. Content is verified by user generated “channels”, which can be “liked” by others. When more people like a channel, the associated torrents get a boost in the search results. All this without a central server, guess what no more shutting down websites, and no more losing downloading opportunities.

It simply can’t be shutdown, blocked or censored, whatever laws politicians may come up with. One thing that could theoretically cause issues, is the capability for starting users to find new peers. To be on the safe side the Tribler team is still looking for people who want to act as so called bootstraptribler peers. These users will act as superpeers, who distribute lists of active downloaders. The only other way to shut it down would be to shut down the internet. Imagine that !

While the Tribler client only has a few thousand users at the moment, for avid file-sharers it must be a relief to know that it’s out there. No matter what crazy laws may pass in the future, people will always be able to share.

Those who want to give it a spin are welcome download Tribler here. It’s completely Open Source and with a version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Option 2 : 3D Printing

This for a lot of people including the Pirate Bay is the future of downloading. With 3d printers getting more affordable as well as a lot more advanced, the days when 3D artwork of a movie Blue Ray downloaded and printing your own copies of the Blue Ray disks is not far away. This about this as an option, you browse popular 3D sharing websites including ones like Google Sketchup, where some user uploads a 3D image of a DVD with the print of the movie on it, all you need is a 3D printer to make unlimited copies of the movie for you.

This is a bit distant but do not under estimate the importance of something like this, especially when Pirate Bay makes a prediction on these lines.

Option 3 : Other Peer to Peer tools 

The third option would be the one that people that plant viruses and malware love. Back to the age old software like Limewire, iMesh and other clients on desktops that can also help in peer to peer downloads. I think we all know the era when we relied on these and what was the result. COnstant pain of viruses and such.

Regardless the option we choose, the options for the industry to block the downloading would only mean that we will find another means and source, after all we are not the most successful species on the planet without the adversity to adapt.

Wordless Thursday – The most pirated movies of all time

With SOPA, PIPA and now the ugly cousin ACTA, the world is getting ready for a series of laws that are ready to stop our piracy habits and with it freedom of usage f the internet. It will end the era of remixes and such as well if implemented right. So, well ladies and gentlemen before the governments complete the act of putting up the new laws where you will not be able to download anything from the internet without having to pay someone money, please go ahead and download some movies / music or what ever you want. If you need help, here is a link from one of my early posts in how to.

If you are not sure what you want to download and keep or you want to know which movies are the most kept for record, here is this week’d infographic that might help. The most pirated movies of all time. Wordless Thursday is this blog’s attempt of bringing interesting infographics to the eyes of people.

The 7th Sense and the Indian origin of Kung Fu

I love movies, I love the fact that we can be lost in the movie forgetting all the woes for a while. But then there are movies that make you think, and we would all agree that these type of movies seem to be the best.  I am not a person that usually enjoys movies in languages that I don’t understand. Yes, subtitles are a must but I always believe that Sub titles do not completely translate the dialog exactly.So, well when a close friend recommended a movie that too Tamil movie, I was initially a bit skeptical.

Anyway back to the movie in question, the name of the Movie is 7am arivu, literally translated it means the 7th sense. The movie is loosely based on facts and added fiction to come up with a decently gripping storyline. The movie follows the exploits of Bodhidharma. If you don’t know who that is, well like most Indians you would not. But according to history books, he was the third son to a South Indian King and is the founder of the Zen form of Buddhism along with wait for it, Kung Fu. Here is a trailer of the movie.

Yes, you read that right, Kung Fu. It is believed that Bodhidharma trained the monks at the Shaolin Temple seeing their bad state of health and the martial arts took shape. Interestingly most Indians are unaware of this, but this could be our biggest contribution to the Chinese world. Now well like usual the Inquisitive Mind went in to do some research about Bodhidharma and the truth of the situations, here are the findings.

Bodhidharma was born in Kanchipuram,Tamil Nadu.His original name was Bodhitara.He was born as a prince in pallava dynasty around 440 AD. Some accounts shows that he would’ve been came from Persia , but there was no manuscript evidence to prove it. He was the third child of King Pallava. Being a follower of Buddhism , be was religioussly became a buddisht monk during the 5th/6th century and also credited for zen arts. Hence starting the Zen form of Buddhism. He arrived to china during the Liu Song Dynasty founded by King Liu Yu.

In one legend, Bodhidharma refused to resume teaching until his would-be student, Dazu Huike, who had kept vigil for weeks in the deep snow outside of the monastery, cut off his own left arm to demonstrate sincerity. Shaolin monks and disciples follow a unique practice among Buddhists in that they greet each other using only their right hand.

There is a complete and interesting history and life of Bodhidharma put together at this link which will give more insights and a very fairy tale or storybook type line to Bodhidharma’s life. Interested people should check it out.

The movie however just touches on some highlights of his life, as well as tries to bring into the future the personality of Bodhidharma in the quest of relevance. Although the song and dance, provide the indian movie factor, the movie all in all does a fair job at keeping you interested in the plotline although it is a fairly anticipated ending. The movie also boldly enters into territories of Genetic Memory and such to provide some scientific touch in the movie, the interfaces on the computers etc provide some geek eye candy with Sruthi Hasan providing just the Eye candy.

The first section of the film detailing Bodhidharma’s exploits in China is definitely the best part of the film. There is very little dialogue and Surya makes the most of his very expressive eyes to convey the various trials Bodhidharma has to undergo. While copious amounts of research appear to have gone into the making of the film, in this section it has paid off and it makes for a strong opening. Sadly though this isn’t maintained. The story has a lot of potential as it mixes science fiction with a disaster movie theme and a dash of Indian masala romance but it doesn’t quite gel. The most overused part of the movie however is Hypnosis, and I am not too sure about it. Does make for an interesting movie plot though, oh enough with the spoilers, I can see some of you already not wanting to read the rest.

In my suggestion if you have not seen the movie, you probably should. If not for the movie itself, but for the attempt of the indian movie industry to move forward than just, boy meets girl fends off the world to get married. South Indian movies, especially Tamil and Telugu movies seem to provide the audience the mental stimulation along with entertainment, unlike a Akshay Kumar starred no brainer. Dashavataram (10 avatars) was another such attempt toying with the idea of Chaos Theory and such, but very badly executed. However, 7am arivu provides enough mental fodder for even the most critical cinema buffs.

The window of the future is truly insane

Over the past few years Samsung has well and truly worked its way up to the top of the electronics Manufacturers market and with new innovations they seem to add in interesting and intriguing possibilities into the world of the future. This one well, is a bit over the top. However, having invested as much as they have in the past few years on Television screens, and just screens of every type, it seems like a natural progression that they will try to include screens anywhere and everywhere possible.

There’s a lot of buzz around the Samsung Transparent Smart Window, the full touch TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD display that turns any household window into a prop from Minority Report. The 46-inch, 1366×768 resolution display won the CES 2012 award for innovation and, from what we see in the demo below, it’s not hard to see why. A video from Samsung video gives a nice overview.

The device is really a transparent touchscreen LCD that can be fitted to any window, so long as it’s no longer than some 46 inches. Resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, reportedly. During the day, illumination is provided from outside. At night, built-in lights kick in.

At first glance, the window, while cool, isn’t necessarily innovative: it just brings all the apps and widgets we’ve come to love to your window. But Samsung has included a few unique touches. My favorite is the “blinds” feature, where with the swipe of your finger, you can open and close virtual blinds that will actually blot out the light. A video report from MobileNations says that mass production will begin “in the coming months.” Samsung has indicated an intention to put the thing out by the end of the year. No word on price yet.

The window is considered to be working as a one sided glass when viewed from outside, making it like ordinary windows. Additionally, the window can also work as a screen for Augment Reality to see overlaid information on the outside world. So in what can be described as a double stroke, Samsung has not only opened another market for the screens they make but also have taken on the window covering world, from Blinds to Curtains.

Wordless Thursday – Apple vs Apples

If you have been following this blog for a while, by now you will know that Thursday’s is a good day for Infographics around here. Well although I am not writing as much as I would like to, it seems like my personal favorite section to write about. The beauty of Infographics stems from the simplicity to represent lots and lots of information in a very fun to read way.

This week’s Wordless Thursday is an interesting infographic about Apple vs the Apples. Although they both are from different worlds in our world, The artist has really picked the interesting similarities.  This infographic is really a  good example of how fun infographics can be made.

How To Use An iPhone 4s Application To Manage Your Finances

The new iPhone 4S, amazing, capable of more than anything before it, and its able to help you manage your finances as well?  I thought coming up with Siri was a major accomplishment, and now Siri can help you manage your finances. Let’s take a look Siri and what it offers in the way of financial management:

Siri is an Intelligent Assistant that just debuted in the newest Apple iPhone, the 4s.  It allows you to give voice commands and receive the information your looking for such as a local restaurant, text, phone call, weather forecast, and so much more.

Pay bills on time:

You can ask Siri to remind you of upcoming payments, including amount and due date.  You can even set an alarm so that you can’t forget a payment is due, and sync her with the newest application RememberTheMilk so you can organize your financial obligations as well as important dates.

Keep track of stock rates:

Even though Siri cannot give you ‘insider’ information, it can certainly let you know what your stock is doing, by answering a simple question, such as ‘How are Coca Cola’ stocks doing?  You can get the latest stock updates on any stock that you choose.

Find closest ATM or Bank:

This is what Siri is best at – finding locations and giving you options.  But if you ask for a specific bank, you can get that address and location as well.

Personal finances:

When you’re out shopping, having lunch or just out spending money, Siri can tell you whether you’re close to your spending limit in your bank account, or if you’re over your budget.  Installing a third party sync to Siri of your bank account through a site such as Mint.com, can help you from overspending.

Moneystrands:

This is an amazing iPhone app that can give you all of your bank and credit card balances, all in one place.  And, offers a pretty up to date budget tool.  I can’t tell you how convenient this is, when we’re used to having to call the credit card companies to get balances before we charge.

This is a free app and can be found at moneystrands.

Pageonce Personal Assistant:

This allows financial monitoring from your iPhone, with access to bank, credit card and brokerage accounts from your phone.  It allows you to access all of your bills, in one simple app, and you can pay them from Pageonce as well.

One of the greatest features of this app is that it is secure, with top security measures taken, you can do your banking, financial monitoring, and bill paying all in the safety of your phone.

Best of all – it’s FREE!  

Pocket Money:

This isn’t a free app, however, its not expensive.  Last check it was $1.99 and will probably go down from there.

This little app does so much, such as tracking accounts, budgeting, keeping track of spending and it actually backs up and exports financial data.  It can handle split transactions and exports data to programs such as Quicken.

Bloomberg:

If you’re an investor, this is the app for you!  The Bloomberg iPhone app offers investment tools and real-time portfolio tracking, all for free.

You can also receive news, according to date and time, and it is available in 12 different languages.

And… it is free here!

PayPal:

You can send money from your iPhone through your account on PayPal.  If that person is on your contact list in your phone, you can send them cash.  And, there are over 190 currencies available, and in 16 different languages.

This is also a free application – PayPal

Shopping Budgeter:

This little app, Gift List Budget Shopper, can actually help you save money by budgeting for gift giving, finding the cheapest price for the product you’re looking for as well as locate it for you, and conduct product searches online.

It integrates with your address book and maps, creates lists that can be exported to the spreadsheet of your choice, and can be backed up.

Gift List Budget Shopper isn’t free, last check, $3.99 and reviews state it is worth every penny!

Currency Converter:

This handy app will help you know exactly what you’re being charged in that bistro in France, or in nearly 200 other countries.

You can convert currency rates in seconds on this ACTCurrency iPhone Currency Converter, and never wonder whether you over paid again.

And, as a bonus, since the rates change regularly, you can get updated exchange rates via wi-fi while you’re travelling.

And, the cost –  .99 cents.

This is yet another Guest Post from one of the readers. Ally is part of the team that manages personal finance guides in Sydney, Australia, which provide tips about Budgeting Planner and Way tso Save Money. Before joining BS & HSTM, she was a Media Planner in McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign. Please get in touch with me using the contact page, if you want to contribute to the blog. 

Are you eligible for debt consolidation with bad credit?

Are you struggling to manage your multiple credit card debts? Maintaining multiple cards all with different fees and varying interest rates can be difficult to manage. You might default on your payment and incur insurmountable amount of debt. Therefore, in this situation debt consolidation can help you consolidate your multiple credit card debts with a single affordable monthly payment. You can consolidate your high interest credit card debts in to a low interest single monthly payment. But if you have poor credit then your consolidation loan application might get disapproved. So here are a few points that will help you get consolidation loan despite your poor credit:

1. Prepare a stringent budget plan so that you can overcome your catastrophic financial situation. You need to accept the fact that will not be easily to come out of debt. Therefore, following a monthly budget can help you pay off the debt in an organized way. Make sure that you keep track of your expenses so that your expenses do not exceed your income.

2. Review your financial situation and decide whether you need help of a credit counseling agency or professional debt arbitrator to manage your current financial situation. Make sure you find a reliable debt relief agency with a Better Business Bureau accreditation to manage your financial owes.

3. You can approach your bank or credit union to apply for new loan to consolidate your debts. If you have an account with the bank then you can apply for a personal or signature loan to consolidate multiple payments. But you might not be able to get a loan if your credit score is low. Traditional lenders and banks will check your credit report before approving your loan application. If you have poor credit score then you can apply for secured consolidation loan. You are required to keep security against the loan amount.

4. If you attend college then you can be eligible for financial aid that can be used for paying off your tuition fees, hostel expenses etc. This grant money can be used for paying off your student loan debt as well as other debts. If you want to acquire more information then you need to contact the school’s Financial Aid Office.

Therefore, if you follow these four points then you can get a consolidation loan despite your poor credit. Once you pay off the debts then you can work on repairing your credit report.

The Best of the Best of 2011 and the prediction for 2012

It’s the end of the year and the beginning of the new year and during this time everyone posts about the best of 2011, the worst of 2011 and so on and so forth, it is also a time when tech companies make their predictions that will change the future and shape our next year. This for sure something that I need to work out for my blog and for the Inquisitive Mind.

Closer to home, this year saw the introduction of Inquisitive Interviews that ran for some time and closed down due to non activity from my side and as a lot of people started to turn down the offers of providing interviews as well. But mostly since I could not provide enough time for the blog. Additionally this year saw me realize a new hobby that I wanted to do for a long time, A Planted Aquarium. You can be rest assured that there are going to be a series of posts about the build (yes I built everything myself) so maybe you can make one yourself as well. On a professional side I managed to take charge of a team for the implementation of the SAS systems at the Airport, making it a very successful year professionally, and in turn the cause of me not finding time to write more often. I have promised myself I will try more and try to make time to write.

The End of the year prompted some home redecoration and the realization of Another Hobby, the Christmas Crib or the Nativity Scene or the Creche. Will share photos and build info for that as well in coming posts. On the front of technology 2011 introduced me to the Blackberry and BBM (a pest) if you can say, and also added the Samsung Tab 10.1 into my gadgetry. My review of that device and what I think of it also is something that is yet to be written at this stage. However back to the topic of this post, apart from managing to get myself into all of these activities and not being able to write about these things, one thing is certain 2011 was a year of action. From the Arab spring to the Jan Lokpal Bill, this year said go out and do it in more ways than one.

Now, to catch up on the best of 2011 and the predictions for 2012 here is my list of articles around the web that you probably should read if you haven’t already. A lot of the articles are from the usual suspects.

The Year that Was

TIME : Top 10 everything of 2011

MIT : Technology Review The Year in Numbers

Photography :: The year in Pictures Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Photography :: The best of Kalyan Verma’s Pics of 2011 (I attended a photography course with him)

Technology :: The 10 stories that defined tech in 2011

Technology :: 13 Biggest flops of the year 2011

Technology :: Best Android Games of 2011

Technology :: The year in Tech 2011 – TechCrunch

Lifehacker :: Best of Lifehacker, from Best How to Videos, Photography tips to Mobile Apps.

Predictions

Social Media :: Twitter in 2012

Technology :: Updates for Mobile in 2012

Technology :: 5 Tech trends to watch out in 2012

Medicine :: 6 Big HealthTech Ideas That Will Change Medicine In 2012

China ‘s Century or India’s ?

My list of things to do will include updating the theme of the blog, photo blog and writing more, try to get my hands on the Galaxy Nexus as well. All of you who wants to gift me  please note this now. With that I would again like to wish all the readers of this blog both regular and otherwise a very Happy and prosperous New Year 2012. Hopefully the world will not end J and we get to see more of each other even in 2013.

India Innovation – Android Love from India, including a Siri Clone

Its been a while since I wrote about India and the technological innovation there but here is something that is hard to be missed. Being an Indian and an Android fan it is one of those moments that you will be surely proud of, Apps. Indian Software developers are not the foremost to come up with products, yes there are quite a few there, but in comparison to the number of apps used worldwide the apps from India don’t come to the forefront. Indian Software industry has always played a service role for most companies, where we have developed products for others. Not many products that are home-grown. I guess its changing, and here are the first signs that we can be good at it too.

When Apple introduced Siri, every Android user wanted to hear about the version for Android. And there were few but all lacked complete functionality. An Indian Startup is trying to change all that, from the notion that Indian Software companies dont do products to Siri App for Android. Enter Dexetra, A startup from Cochin that is planning to change the world of Android and India.

Iris 

Like the Siri clone, Iris is a speech recognition and interpretation engine aimed solely at the tech savvy always connected Android user. Like the iPhone 4s the Iris requires the internet to be connected at all times to be able to process the information and spit out the results. With over a Million  installs and with tremendous response from the global Android community this app seems to be the one to see in 2012. Along with the company.

Check out Iris for yourself here on Android Market. Oh yes that’s not it, they also have more software like the Speed Sense and Secure Keys that are as helpful as the Iris You can check them out on their developer page on Android Market. Check out decent App Intro Videos as well for their upcoming Android App, Friday. Does this not look like an international App company now ?? Proud to have crossed paths with these guys.

I just hope that these guys find all the support they need and also move along and produce some brilliant Android Apps. Now waiting for some hackable intelligence of connecting the Arduino with the Iris to get a proper solution to the Voice Activated Home. Dexedra Are you listening ??

Wordless Thursday – Year in Review : You are what you Tweet

As the year comes to a close, we usually reflect upon the various changes and the hits and misses of the year. This year was the year of the celebrities and of the Arab Spring. If you ask me, the infographic below does not do enough justice for some of the other important discussions of the year, but such is.

Wordless Thursday for the uninitiated is this blogs attempt to bring some interesting graphics and some interestingness infographic.

2011 in review infographic

Source: http://frugaldad.com