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Google Chrome!

iLog on Chrome

  iLog on Chrome

Couldn’t wait to try out the all new browser Chromefrom Google after Ankit introduced it to me yesterday . From the first couple of hours of use, it looks simple, elegant, intuitive and feels lightweight! I just hope there’s a release for Linux soon, so that Ankit can use it as well 🙂 

I think I am going to continue using this…..

The Tao of Physics : A Review

(Photograph courtesy : Amazon.com)

“Physicists do not need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both.”

Fritjof Capra

A couple of years ago, I happened to pick this book while casually browsing through a bookstore in Bangalore. Though I knew a bit of Physics, but I had no idea what Tao is. Little did I know that this book will turn out to be one of the best I’ve ever read (and will read I guess). No wonder it is on the best sellers list even today, more than 25 years after it was first published. While there are loads of reviews on the web, I would keep it very short and quickly mention my point of view. The book attempts to build a bridge between modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, which are otherwise, pretty  antonymous to each other. A Modern Physicist would always disregard the Eastern Schools of Thought as baseless and unscientific, and an Eastern Mystic would always look down upon Science as being far from the reality. Fritjof Capra, in the most elegant and eloquent of ways, displays the striking similarities between the ancient arts of enlightenment and the modern discoveries in Physics. He has drawn numerous parallels between the two, which would make anyone, no matter what point of view they hold, appreciate them and think. The book starts upon building the concepts in both Physics as well as some Eastern Schools of Thought, draw parallels between them and towards the end consolidates and draws some conclusions. To me this book was simply amazing, not only because of the parallels it draws but because of the window it provides to quite a few concepts, which were alien to me. I had never ever appreciated quantum and modern physics as much as I did while reading this book (If I remember well, I had done 3 courses on these subjects during my engineering days!). The Eastern Mysticism was new to me (I did know in bits and pieces though), but the book gave a good precise overview. To quickly put through, the book provides a window to the following:

Classical Physics

Quantum Physics

Tao

Zen

Hinduism

Buddhism

More than this, it provokes a new way of looking at things around us and within us too! Fritjof Capra, being a front line Physicist himself and someone who has done enough research on Eastern Mysticism, was in a good position to look at the bigger picture, which can be seen in his work. However, it will take an open mind to appreciate this. The book simply added 15-20 books to my reading list! That is the kind of inquisitiveness it generates. Unless you are agnostic, I would highly recommend this book.

2

Indiaplaza is good!

Have been ordering books online for some time now. Indiaplaza seems to be fast and reliable. Books are usually delivered in a 3-5 day span (unless you’ve ordered something which is out-of-stock). Also, the packaging is good which keeps the books intact.

Usually the discounts offered are best when compared to other sites. Last but not the least; Indiaplaza seems to be generous in distributing gift certificates and coupons which adds on to the overall experience!

8

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : A Review

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence

(Photograph courtesy : Amazon.com)

“Since the ‘ONE’ is the source of all things and includes all things in it, it can’t be defined in terms of those things, since no matter what thing you use to define it, the thing will always describe something less than ‘ONE’ itself.”

– Robert M Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

If the above doesn’t make any sense to you and/or makes you inquisitive, do not pick up the book!

I just finished up this book and a couple of people asked me how it was and whether it is worth reading. This was the second time I had picked up the book. The first time, I just couldn’t read beyond the first fifty pages. But that was more because of the fact that I didn’t have any inclination towards reading stuff.

What fascinated me was the fact that this book was published first in 1974, i.e. more than 30 years ago and still is, widely popular. I wanted to start up on philosophy, and this book featured in the top-10 lists at quite a few places. So I decided to give it a go.

To cut it short, this book is about a few journeys. One of them being a literal one as long-distance, cross-country motorcycle ride, one of them into the author’s past life and a third one into a philosophical journey which pops up randomly as the book starts and takes center stage towards the second half of the book. I had not read anything on philosophy before this and yet I could get along with the book. The book starts on a lighter note with more emphasis on the travelogue and slowly emphasizing on the philosophical concepts which the author wants to communicate. I’d say, the pace is built up well even for a casual reader on philosophy.

The book will introduce you to some of the philosophical concepts, however doesn’t really define all of those. Also, the book is ‘open-ended’‘, i.e. although it initiates quite a few questions in mind, it doesn’t really provide answers to all of those. That pisses off quite a few people I guess. But then, I feel that the book achieves what it intends, i.e. generate the inquisitiveness to pursue some of the concepts discussed in the book. As an advice, do not attempt to understand and comprehend everything, as some of the concepts presented are not fully mature and conclusive. Just take it as a starter and if it really interests you, look for some more reads in the main course 🙂

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The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8 Review


Panasonic Lumix FZ8

(Photograph: Courtesy ‘www.dpreview.com’)

It has been a while since I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ8 and a review has been pending. I would have loved to explore the camera a bit more before writing this, however I decided I better do it before the model gets taken over by it’s newer rivals (from Panasonic itself).

Why Panasonic?

Well, before buying this out, I never ever considered Panasonic as one of the options. However thanks to this post for introducing me to this camera. I kind-of got carried away by it’s super zoom capabilities. Upon researching a bit, it turned out that this camera is a great buy in it’s segment and scores decently over it’s rivals. And I don’t regret buying it!

I’ll keep my review short as a complete in-depth analysis can be found here.

I’ve taken about about 1000 snaps with the camera so far, and it hasn’t let me down. I’ll quickly touch upon some of the features I liked about it.

  • The Lens: It has got a LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT, 36-432mm (35mm equiv) lens. No more explanations. Leica is into world class optics for quite some time now.
  • Usability: The camera has well thought aesthetics and controls which make it easy to handle and operate even for a beginner like me. The inclusion of a ‘joystick’ makes it quite intuitive to operate.
  • Pre-set Options: Panasonic has put in a wide variety of shooting modes which cover almost every scenario you could run into.
  • Manual Mode: The camera exposes all the features to be adjusted manually allowing you to experiment and take control of the camera. Once I got used to the basics of photography, I could appreciate all the manual features exposed.
  • The Zoom! : This is what I love. The camera has got a 12X Optical Zoom which makes it fall into the super zoom cameras we have in the market. Also, this gets extended to 18X if one reduces the image quality to 3MP. 18X is awesome! We are getting close to integrating telescopes into cameras!
  • Optical Image Stabilization: FZ8 has got a great image stabilization algorithm which allowed me to take great shots even at relatively lower shutter speeds and/or greater magnifications without blurring the images. However don’t expect any magic over here. You would still need a tripod for longer exposers.
  • Tele-Macro: Recently I have been experimenting with some Tele-Macro photography and I am satisfied with what FZ8 offers. Allows you to take great portraits with the depth-of-field effects. However I can’t focus on anything less than a meter or so when while at the farther end of the Tele mode (12X). No complaints as such. Even a meter is actually great when you consider the zoom.

I could go on. However I would be repeating most of the features already described in the review pointed earlier. I would recommend this camera to anyone with a budget of about US$ 250-300 (Not sure how much it costs in India). The Panasonic FZ8 has got everything to take you from a beginner to a mid-level photographer.

Some of the snaps I took over the last couple of months:

Macro (Flora) #1Macro (Fauna) #1Another flower shot

Nature (Mist)The Pines