First impressions: Windows Phone 8.1 Preview on the Lumia 720

I installed the Windows Phone 8.1 update on my Nokia Lumia 720 last night (instructions here, including how to get Cortana in non US locations). The whole process took around 2 hours including the download. I like the new features quite a bit, especially the action centre (the notification panel) & the swipe keyboard that I’m using to compose this post.

The animations also seem to have been speeded up a la iOS 7.1, and this makes the phone feel snappier than before. The Windows Store seems to be acting up at times though. Hopefully it’s just a temporary glitch given the extensive overhaul of the store.

The online reviews seem to be positively glowing this time around and there are no real gaps in the core OS functionality compared to Android or iOS. Windows Phone now offers the smooth and polished experience of iOS with many of the useful features of Android in an affordable package. Here’s hoping to a strong year for Windows Phone. Hope to post a more detailed look at the changes after some extended use.

What are the best examples of people cheating the system?

Gotta try this sometime…

Answer by Anonymous:

Source:

Guy does to bank what banks usually do to other people

The idea of beating the banks at  their own game may seem like a rich joke, but Dmitry Agarkov, a  42-year-old Russian man, may have managed it. Unhappy with the terms of  an unsolicited credit card offer he received from online bank Tinkoff  Credit Systems, Agarkov scanned the document, wrote in his own terms and  sent it through. The bank approved the contract without reading the  amended fine print, unwittingly agreeing to a 0 percent interest rate,  unlimited credit and no fees, as well as a stipulation that the bank pay  steep fines for changing or canceling the contract.

Agarkov  used the card for two years, but the bank ultimately canceled it and  sued Agarkov for $1,363. The bank said he owed them charges, interest  and late-payment fees. A court ruled that, because of the no-fee,  no-interest stipulation Agarkov had written in, he owed only his unpaid  $575 balance. Now Agarkov is suing the bank for $727,000 for not  honoring the contract's terms, and the bank is hollering fraud. "They  signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their  borrowers say in court: 'We have not read it,'” Agarkov's lawyer said.  The shoe's on the other foot now, eh?

Edit:
Later, they settled on both dropping the charges they pressed on each other. Agarov stated that it was all an escalated joke.

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So you got a DSLR

It has been a while since my first 2 posts on this topic, but better late than never. A DSLR is a powerful tool no doubt, but it can seem intimidating at first with its gamut of controls. The OEMs have tried to ease the learning curve for first time DSLR users by providing a bunch of automatic modes just as in Point & Shoot cameras. These modes make for a good starting point for starting your photography journey and get you acclimatized to the controls of your new camera. Today’s DSLRs give pretty good results in typical scenes that you want to shoot. However, there will be situations where the automatic modes will fail to give you the desired results. These are the times for which you need to prepare yourself, and some basic understanding of the way your camera works and photography is going to prove very helpful. To unlock the true potential of your DSLR you will of course have to switch to the semi-automatic and manual modes eventually. The first thing you need to do is master the basics of not just your camera, but also photography in general. There are a wealth of resources online and tons of books on the topic, and I will try to guide you to some of the ones that I found useful.

A couple of key concepts to understand:

  1. The exposure triangle that relates the 3 key parameters – aperture, shutter speed and ISO – is one of the key concepts behind image making. Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure is the best book in this regard and explains the key concepts in a very easy to understand manner with lots of examples.
  2. Metering modes and learning to read your cameras exposure meter (particularly important when using the advanced controls).

Now that you have understood a couple of basic concepts, don’t forget that every camera comes with this wonderful free book that contains a wealth of information about the controls and how to use them. Not many people end up reading it though as it is not presented in the most attractive of formats. Yes, I’m talking about the manual that came with your camera and it can actually answer a lot of questions that you have initially. In most cases, there should also be an electronic version of the manual and you could do worse than to copy it to your smartphone and\or tablet to have a ready reference with you. In case you are looking for a more attractive and easier to read package, there is also a series called From Snapshots to Great Shots for most of the recent models, and you can get hold of the version for your camera. It also goes without saying that practice is the best teacher, and the digital medium lends itself naturally to the trial and error technique of shooting.

This information should help you get started with your shiny new DSLR. Also, keep in mind that just because you are trying to master the basics does not mean that you should not check out the advanced modes and controls. So go ahead and explore your camera, and I will try to whip up a few posts (hopefully quicker than this post) on how to get better results.

Some exciting startups in the HealthTech Space #health2india

Originally posted on Best Engaging Communities:

James Matthews, a good friend and entrepreneur invited me to attend the Health 2.0 Conference for entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals today and speak about Health Tech investments. About 80 to 100 folks were in attendance, featuring about 30 entrepreneurs, 25 investors and the others were from Pharma companies, Hospitals and diagnostics chains.

Our panel featured an entrepreneur (Poonacha), a healthcare product company (GE) VP (Partha) and Ravi from Zanec.

There were 4 startups that were allowed to pitch the investors, and while there was no commitment from the investors, the startups were not looking to raise immediately either. This was a session for them to get some feedback from potential investors.

There are 3 high level observations that relate to investing and entrepreneurship in the space that I want to highlight first and then talk about the interesting companies.

1. Older Indians overall have little respect…

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Takeaways from the #health2india 2014 conference

Attended the Health 2.0 conference in Bangalore over 7 & 8 February that had some very thought provoking sessions on the way technology is shaping the way forward for the healthcare industry.  Also did a live coverage of the event on twitter (ab_aditya) in form of public notes. Here’s a summary:

  • The industry is focusing on preventive care driven by advances in technology, particularly cloud, mobile devices, sensors & genomics
  • A lot of useful technology already exists and the industry needs to integrate these to create meaningful solutions through collaboration among the various stakeholders
  • Challenges include reaching out to the masses untouched by healthcare, providing leave scale quality service with empathy & improving the efficiency of the ecosystem
  • Regulators & governments have a very important role to play at the current inflection point in removing obstacles to innovation
  • Startups in the West are focusing primarily on consumers, while most in India are targeting healthcare professionals

Healthcare links 01/25/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Apple Death Knell Counter

Taking a trip down the Apple doomsayer memory lane. The pieces from the pre-iPhone era make for particularly interesting reading including naysayers for Apple Stores and the crowd favourite Macs. Also, note the dozen times Rob Enderle has been quoted over the years – not a quitter for sure. Incidentally, the first quote (at the very bottom) comes from Steve Jobs himself, way back in 1995.

tags: apple death

Some of the highlights:

  • Google will probably run the most popular online store, but there will be thousands.

  • This will happen quickly because mobile phones are being turned over about every year.

  • The era of the all-in-one hardware and software solution has been gone for at least the last ten years, even though Apple hasn’t quite caught on yet.

    • Well, we’re comfortably past 2010 and the rest of the industry is trying its best to get their all-in-one strategies into place
  • Sometime in 2006, Steve Jobs will probably get hosed

  • Apple turns to Philips Electronics for a bailout and is sold to the Netherlands-based consumer electronics giant for $80 a share.

  • by the time Longhorn ships, Apple likely will have discontinued active computer OS development, anyway, so that the company can concentrate on the consumer-electronics market.

  • If it doesn’t offer solutions that will play on those platforms the way iTunes currently does on Windows, it will probably become a footnote by the end of the decade.

  • Let’s hope Apple has broader consumer electronics plans than just the iPod.

  • The panel agreed that it would be Apple, Sun and Novell.

  • iTunes won’t contribute to the bottom line and iPod is not "the only game in town anymore

  • some sucker, likeApple, is left holding a brand of dubious (and soon to be extinct) value.

  • A few years downstream, Linux desktops will force Windows to get cheaper. At that point even Windows boxes, seriously cheaper than Apple, will be in the "too expensive" category

  • press the 48-year-old Jobs to split Apple into two separate companies built around its hardware and software lines of businesses

  • They have to dig themselves out of the going-out-of-business cycle they are currently in

  • No one at Apple has the guts to correct the mistakes of Steve Jobs.

  • Find a way to exit these businesses – preferably by spinning out or selling to a company that can continue to support die-hard Macintosh fans who are married to the ways that the Mac OS blows away Windows.

  • The company is moving toward the consumer electronics space, in everything from digital media boxes to handheld players — but that is even more vicious and margin-thin territory than the PC biz.

  • Even for Steve Jobs, going up against Sony has to look a bit scary.

  • "Certainly by…2005, possibly by the end of 2003, Linux will pass Mac OS as the No. 2 operating environment," said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky.

  • "I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake." David Goldstein

  • But Jobs’s dream of becoming the world’s biggest computer-maker will likely remain just that — a dream. 

  • He succeeded in the short term during this, his second, Apple tenure because he ran the whole company as a product team.

    • And look what it did over the next decade
  • Faced with a similar question on what he would do if he were acting chief executive Steve Jobs, Dell chief executive Michael Dell said, "I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.

  • I think you have done enough to "save" Apple.

  • The Macintosh will die in another few years and its really sad.

  • Unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat, companies tend to have long glide slopes because of the installed bases.

    • Even Steve Jobs hadn’t envisioned the rabbits he pulled out of the hat.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What is the geekiest joke?

How do you measure the height of a building using a barometer?

Answer by Ankur Talwar:

Some time ago I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student: The instructor and the student agreed to submit this to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.

I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question: "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer."  The student had answered: "Take a barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building."

I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, if full credit was given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question I was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did.

I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said no. He had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on.

In the next minute he dashed off his answer which read:  "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop that barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then using the formula H = 0.5g*t squared, calculate the height of the building.  At this point I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and I gave the student almost full credit. 

In leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said he had many other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. "Oh yes," said the student. "There are a great many ways of getting the height of a tall building with a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer and the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building and by the use of a simple proportion, determine the height of the building." 

"Fine," I asked. "And the others?"  "Yes," said the student. "There is a very basic measurement method that you will like. In this method you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units. A very direct method."  "Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of `g' at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference of the two values of `g' the height of the building can be calculated." 

Finally, he concluded, there are many other ways of solving the problem. "Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: "Mr. Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you tell me the height of this building, I will give you this barometer."  At this point I asked the student if he really did know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think, using the "scientific method," and to explore the deep inner logic of the subject in a pedantic way, as is often done in the new mathematics, rather than teaching him the structure of the subject.

The article is by Alexander Calandra and appeared first in "The Saturday Review" (December 21, 1968, p 60). It is also in the collection "More Random Walks in Science" by R.L.Weber, The Institute of Physics, 1982.

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