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Monday, December 03, 2007

Ultimate in Music for the ones with an ear(or two) for music and details.

Hot on the heels of the PMP post, I thought what better than writing about the headphones to go with such good devices.

My search for the best headphones has perhaps ended, and with an happy ending. After growing up with the tinny sounding Sony headphones bundled together with cassette walkman and chatting headsets, I finally noticed what I needed to hear the music, one which I have so carefully collected and cherish. Yep, a better set of headphones !!

Since I am on the move often now, having a portable audio device was half the answer of spending your time waiting for that flight, or once inside, waiting for the flight to land. With the noise in the plane, especially when you get the seats next to the roaring jet engines, none of your normal earphones can overpower that noise. This resulted in maxing out the volume on the player and trying hard to listen to your music amidst the roar. This is when I found about noise cancelling headphones.

Noise cancelling headphones are use technology to solve the noise problem. They cancel the noise by generating opposing spectrum, which for me, didn't sound so nice. Even though I haven't had a chance to try any noise cancelling headphones, I am pretty sure they wouldn't come close to the real champs - Noise Isolating earphones.

Noise Isolation works without any technological/electronic way of suppressing noise. All they do is create a fit like an ear plug (in ear canal type) or a snug fit over the ears (in studio style), which blocks out the external noise thereby providing you with a silent listening environment. At first, I was apprehensive about the ability of the headphones to really isolate the noise as they mention. So I thought, why not give a try . . .

After researching for over 7 months, I finally narrowed down my choice of IEC type earphones to two brands : Shure & Ultimate Ears. I had heard a lot about shure and its audio equipment is top notch. Ultimate Ears was a new term to me, however after diving deep into the web with google, I found it to be comparable and in some cases better than Shure.

The prices of these brands itself is a big deterrent, more so in the case when you don't want to buy the lowest class of their range and feel left out from the top offerings. Amazon is a heaven for electronics and I chanced upon a lovely sale of the Shure E2c IEC earphones for $49.99 (reg. price $99 and above). I was quick to order one and in the meanwhile Radioshack came up with Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 3 Studio IEC
earphones for $49.99 (reg. price $80-129). Also, I got the UE Super.Fi 5 Pro series which retail for $249 for $169 from Amazon to see what difference do the higher version makes.

UE Super.Fi 3 Studio was outstanding in build and immediately showed me what I was missing all these years. Sound never was so clear, at such low volumes, and best of all, I could be in any noisy surrounding and still the volume level need not be pushed up !! I heard instruments in the soundtracks and albums which I couldn't have thought existed.

When the UE Super.Fi 5 pros arrived, I didn't wait for the Shures to come in and opened them and got going. There was a slight disappointment at first, since I didn't find a huge difference in the sound, but then after hearing for a considerable time, the UE 5 pros made their impact with rich bass and nice acoustic feel. Now only the Shures remained and I tried them on. To my surprise, I couldn't manage to get them to fit in my ears and gave up on it and returned them. So, I was left in dilemma about these two from UE. Both were excellent headphones, with UE Super.Fi 3 providing excellent sounds for vocal based audio and UE 5 for instrumental and jazz based. I decided to keep them both. A whopping investment of $200. But what the hell, I got something for which I am never going to go back into the market.

Sounds music to your ears, well go out and try it for yourself. The UE 3 Studio is still around in Radioshack stores if you can find one.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

In search of the ultimate PMP (Personal Media Player)

From the comfort of the sofa at home, with sleet (snow mixed with rain) falling outside, I dream of a device which would bring the ultimate audio-visual experience to me. Just for the information, I have been in the hunt of the perfect PMP. This is my current set of devices I have :

To state that, I should have found what I was looking for after owning these devices is really a optimistic statement. See, as time progresses, your music collection increases (I won't get into how would you procure it); and ur players falls short to hold it at one go.

I started off with the need to listen to mp3 alone with some use of the USB storage space resulting in the 5GB Zen micro. After 1 year to be exact, I found that I had run out of space for my collection,. US being such an electronics haven and that too when you get brilliant deals, causes an unending desire to own the latest and greatest and sometimes the slimmest !!

I settled for the 1 gb nano which I picked up for around $29 AR to use it occasionally. All was running fine till I got a $75 dollar coupon for Dell to spend with certain time; now this causes temptation and usually additional money too. So I picked up the 8gb Zen V plus with its photo/video and music playing capabilities. The size of this device is just fantastic, sometimes you forget that you are carrying it.

And finally what happens when you visit sites such as Woot. You end up spending more money and thats where I fell prey to the craze of $99 deal for the 30 GB Microsoft Zune. I ended up buying 5 of them for F & F.

Now isn't 30 GB enough !! Well, not exactly. My current collection of Music and Videos (mostly DivX and Xvid ) runs into 90 GB+ !! and Zune doesn't play Xvid out of the box. So my search continues and I run into something which has been making waves recently . . . . The Cowon Q5.

This PMP (Personal Media player) has specs which are out of the world, it plays most of the audio formats you can possibly have in your collection, it plays DivX and Xvid and currently the capacity tops out at 60 GB. Right now, I believe its a wait n watch time for me. Once it hits 160 GB or more, which I think would be by Apr-Jun 2k8. I should be checking out deals for it, or possibly befriend some in Korea to send me over and English version of this beauty.

This player comes with my favourite audio application - Jet Audio VX. I have used it since version 4.0 and to people who are used to it, wouldn't like to use any other app for their amateurish music needs. It has everything, ripping CDs, converting DVDs, cropping music, mixing, converting audio formats and streaming music over the net (I used to use it to broadcast music over my LAN).

So if you are in market for something of this calibre, I would suggest Zune for your normal music needs of more than ~30 GB or more. Its better than locking up your music inside the stupid iPod and iTunes.

or if you are stuck with ~100 gigs of stuff and don't like Archos / iPod Classic 160 GB, then wait till those 160GB HDDs from Toshiba start floating in other PMPs. Till then, do your homework, zero in product of your choice and click the mouse when you find the deal you can afford for.

If you need some advice, click the title link and land on the most possible review collections for DAP/PMP.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Adieu my lovely aunt !! I will miss you.

Risks and causes of oesophageal cancer

Today is a very sad day in my life, having lost my aunt Sajani ( Sajju - her pet name ( father's sister )) to oesophageal cancer. The word "Cancer" sends shivers down my spine, Its the word I dislike the most and feel this is something which no one should get, in any form, at any time of life.

Having seen a budding professional and one of my aunts succumb to lymphoma in front of my eyes a couple of years ago was more heart breaking than anything else. What pains more is the agony which the person has to go through when he/she knows well of what is going on within their body, a slow and painful destruction. 

I pray for my aunt for her soul rest in peace, and her family to have courage to go through this tragedy, something which has changed their lives and a gap which nobody will be able to fill. Sitting this far from them, unable to do anything, I pray for them with my whole heart.

She was diagnosed with cancer in its very advanced and possibly last stage around February this year. The place of tumour which was blocking her food pipe worsened it as she couldn't consume food and whatever she consumed couldn't reach her stomach in good quantity. I guess it just worsened from there on and she was fighting a losing battle.

She was a very caring person, and my very infrequent interactions with her were splendid. Since she lived in Rajasthan, meetings were limited to family functions or summer vacations. The best times I had was in 1998 when I went to attend a marriage in their family and stayed with them for 15 days or so. My liking for Rajasthan caught on from then, and I really cherish that stay there. So much fun. I got pampered like anything.

She was the best daughter-in-law for her family and one of the best persons I ever encountered.

Some memories of her will never go away, like her wedding gifts - glasses and plates etched with her name and year of marriage, her truly "Beaweri" accent of Rajasthani and hindi, her jovial nature.

God, rest her soul in peace and harmony and give strength to their family in this crisis. Amen !!

I will miss you Sajju Bhua . . . :( :(

Monday, July 16, 2007

Watch those H1-B hires, FBI tells American firms-The United States-World-The Times of India

Watch those H1-B hires, FBI tells American firms-The United States-World-The Times of India

Good one to start off the day with coffee on your side. I guess I was pretty curious as to what context of checks or watch FBI was advising american companies to keep on H1B, well after reading the article it turned out pretty dumb.

When you don't allow a propective employee to stay for long and seek citizenship in US how do you expect him to not to go back to his/her country and utilize the knowledge gained for his and nation's development. Typical FBI attitude, doing what they know is stupid, but still going ahead with it.

I guess they are more worried about bits and pieces of a mammoth project being taken away and re-engineered which I along with many people would find really absurd considering that there has to be a specific motive and a whole set of logistics if something of this kind has to be initiated, doesn't look like for competition purposes, I would go ahead and pull out an entire set of R & D folks from Intel and start off my own Chip Fab facility in india !! Come on, is it so easy for you to get venture funded by your country for something like this ?

FBI, you think you are more dumb than anybody else ?? Wrong !! Your dumbness has been long time surpassed by Indian government where even public welfare schemes dont get funded due to lack of targeted benefits, leave apart funding something for which American Co.s themselves have R & D facilities here, so moving data from offshore to use is much more easier than bringing it over from US. I guess the Boeing issue clearly highlights the global connectivity works much easier than an employee coming over to his native country.

God bless the FBI.

Friday, July 13, 2007 - A World of Slickest deals on planet earth !!

This website is something I have been more regular to than my office cubicle I believe ;). Why ? you will ask. The simple answer is the name of the website itself. It gives you killer deals on stuff ranging from a sock to 60" mammoth sized LCD/Plasmas at rates that even grey markets can not afford.

Although there are couple of other sites which are similar like deals2buy, Fat Wallet, Techbargains, but the simplicity and simply the volume of deals posted here drag me here day after day. It's now a phenomenon where people have reported to go bankrupt in the craze to buy something cheap which they don't need rightaway to people who have simply save hundred's of dollars by watching the website at the right time for the right product they wish to buy.

Personally, my bank account would like to thank Slickdeals for all the money it has saved, although sometimes addiction has a fee associated with it.

So next time you are in US and are looking to buy stuff online / B & M, don't forget to browse through these website's forums !! You never know what you can land !! Some examples of what I have landed ..

Woot : Fantastic site which regularly has great stuff for throwaway prices.
Steep and Cheap : Another site which doles out wonderful stuff.

Bluetooth Headsets - 2 FAR ( Free after rebate worth $ 120)
McAfee products - 8 FAR ( worth $ 500 )
Canon SD 700 IS - $ 270
6 sheet paper Shredder - FAR ( $40 value )
Canon ZR500 Camcorder - $ 175 ( $ 250 value )
Sprint SERO plan - $30 p.m ( saves me at least $ 70 every month on a similar service )
Collection of Creative's MP3 line - $20 - $ 30 AR ( Zen Nano Plus ), $120 ( Zen V Plus 8 GB ).
Loads of SD Cards, microSD, miniSD, USB flash drives (512 MB - 2 GB) - $0 - $20 range.
Targus Groove backpack - $10 ( $30 value)
Loads of cash in GCs valuing upto $ 100.

All said n done, if you want to have the maximum bang of your buck !! Get SDing baby !!

IBNLive : Anuradha SenGupta's Blog

IBNLive : Anuradha SenGupta's Blog

People wouldn't have read much about this particular blogger being featured on IBN's blog page. I didn't either till I landed a blog by her which described her experience of watching Rajinikanth's latest blockbuster down south and all across the world "Sivaji".

I haven't seen the movie yet, which I definitely want to watch, but reading of the blog has kicked off a wave of brickbats, insults, accusations and regional accusations which weren't called for in such a magnitude to a poorly written piece of text. Not only the article shows the author as a poor candidate for writing even a personal review, which I believe IBN is not a medium for, unless that is what the author assumed when she sat down to write that piece of text. The only other reason I could see that prompted her to write this would have been a quickie to some sort of internet celebrity, although in a not so good way.

Anyways, people are people and when it comes to something about a superstar who is worshipped no less than god in and around tamilnadu, strong emotions being vented out on the comments section was rather obvious. What stumps me further is the attitude of the blogger to vindicate her stand and schoolmaster her thoughts to the audience which I think she is poor at communicating by using such a demeaning class of language where she compared herself to a pig, I guess PETA will definitely note that ;).

Media has been evolving to generate mileage and TRPs via such sensationalist comments and articles that "Yellow" journalism looks like being accepted as a quick fix to gain attention and then go to length discussing about it. I hope sense does dawn upon Anupama and she deters from giving her personal opinion on things which she doesn't have knowledge of.

Monday, July 09, 2007

From East to West - Almost

The above sentence captures my journey in the last 19 months or so. Yes !! From the shores of Marina in Chennai to deccaan plateau to the current Santacruz beach in California, for me the world around has come from East to West.

None of the past 19 months have been less exciting than its previous ones, every month promised something new, something dramatic or something topsy turvy. Right from the haphazard transition from India to US to snail pace movement from East Coast ( US ) to West Coast. In between were some really wonderful moments, unforgettable journeys to Canada and Florida and in and around the Upstate of NY.

Rochester probably was the best place I could land into when coming to US. Not so small, the imaging capital of the world, home to the famous lake effect snow points along with Syracuse and Buffalo, courteous people and a really wonderful place to live in. That's Rochester in nutshell. Some wonderful things about Rochester which I miss in the sunny silicon valley of California are :

1. SNOW - I know I can get it if I hit Sierra, but the luxury of snow at your feet and playing around with it is something incredible.
2. Finger lakes - Have visited some of them and needless to say they are the best places to relax.
3. Working @ Kodak - the pioneers of Imaging, great team to work with.
4. Cricket @ Rustic - As wonderful are the apartments, so is the pleasure of playing and meeting people there.
5. Community of Wipro - Probably the best off-work interaction with colleagues in my career, if this community wasn't there, life would have been surely as white and bland as a snow packed lake.

As it was destined to happen, events lead to yet another change, this one not happening in January for a change but yes, it happened in June. Moved over from an Indian MNC to a French MNC. Hopefully the changes stop for good now.

Back into the land of the Silicon Valley, the Indian occupation seems more powerful than US one on Iraq and for good too. Though technically we never invaded, but now we own this as a Indo-Sino territory. Plenty to be happy about here, including the most pleasant weather, nearby San Francisco, Sierra Nevada, long beaches and yes the world famous Sequoias. Hoping to discover more of California than did the gold diggers of the past.

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