Buying eBooks in India ?

A few weeks ago, Apple opened its iTunes music and movies store for India users but Apple bookstore is still not available for Indian users. Similarly, Google Market/Google Play does not offer its vast collection of ebooks to Indian users. The Indian stores Flipkart and infibeam do offere ebooks but their collection is nothing much to talk about. The only option Indian users have is to buy books from Amazon kindle store.

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This is strange considering India is a booming market for tablets. And, many of the tablet users do use the tablets as ebook reader but when it comes to buying ebooks they do not have many optoins. Recently, we saw Amazon launching its outdated ebook reader Kindle in India and Asus launching its Nexus tablet. Although, ebook readers are not going to find much market here (even globally they are losing out to tablets) but people are looking forward to buying ebooks and reading them on iPads or android tablets. But eBook lovers do not have many options. As of now, there is only one option. Buy ebooks on Amazon and download kindle app for reading books on your devices (luckily the app is available for all your devices and for all operating systems). However, the prices of ebooks/kindle books are more than the price of hardcopy edition of the same book in India. I wish google play or Apple bookstove soon start selling ebooks in India till then we are better buying hardcopies of the books.

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iPad Mini: A disappointment

The iPad 3rd generation (with ratina display) is a fantastic piece of technology but it is surely not for those who want to use it for prolonged period as a book reader. It is too big and too heavy to be a great ebook reader. So when the rumors started about the possibility of miniature version of iPad, I had this inkling that it would a good device for those who want to use iPad for their primary ebook reading device. And, yesterday’s Apple event confirmed that. iPad mini is great for those who want to buy a light portable ebook reader or for those who think the iPad is too big and bulky.

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I would have surely gone for iPad mini had it been priced under USD 250. At sub USD 250 price, it would have killed the competition. But it does not deserve the USD 329 price. First, the display is quite a disappointement. Anyone who has used retina display iPad or iPhone would be disappointed by the low resolution display. Google Nexus and even Amazon Fire HD have better displays than this iPad. The processor and RAM are also not upto the current standards; it has A5 processor and RAM is only 512 MB.

On the technological innovation front, it offers nothing. It is just watered down miniature version of the iPad. Probably, I will be better buying Kindle Paperwhite if I need a great ebook reader. It comes much cheaper at USD 119 and Amazon does sell ebooks globally. For us living in India, iBook store is still not available for buying ebooks.

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The must know Excel Financial Functions: Future Value

Future Value : The future value of an asset or investment is the value of asset or investment on a specific date in future. Most of the people who use excel for financial analysis or accounting purpose rely heavily on the excel’s inbuilt function for deriving the future value.

FV = (rate, nper, pmt, [pv], [type])

Example: You just opened a bank account with Rs. 20000 and you have decided to deposit Rs. 4000 at the end of every month for next 10 years. The bank offers 9 per cent annual interest on the savings account. Now, you want to know how much money you will have in your account at the end of 10 years. Here you can use excel’s future value function to calculate the total amount that you will get at the end of 10 years.
Lets break this problem in key variables that will be required by the FV() of Excel.
Rate: 9 per cent per annum. But we need to calculate the monthly rate of interest as the period of payment is monthly. So Rate = 9%/12% = 0.75% or 0.0075 (Take note of the percentage sign).

Periods (nper): 120 months (10 years X 12 Months)

Payment (pmt) : -4000 (since its going out from your pocket, hence the minus sign)

Present Value (pv): – 20000 (same logic as above)

Type : 0 (if payment is deposited at the end of the period), 1 (if payment is deposited at the beginning of the period)

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The function now becomes:

FV=(0.75%, 120, -4000, -20000,0)

You will get Rs. 823,084.25 as the result. This is the money you will receive at the end of the 10 years.

How to reset the security password for Day One app on Mountain Lion?

Day One is really very handy app for anyone  interested in writing daily journals. It syncs beautifully to all your devices using either Dropbox or iCloud. You can use a password to protect your journal from prying eyes and  it works perfectly. However, if you forget the password, reseting the password is not easy. You have to go through a number of steps, depending on whether you are keeping your content synced through Dropbox or iCloud. The detailed procedure is given here. But, the procedure given at the official support webpage does not apply for those users who are using iCloud for syncing on Mountain Lion. The reason, there is no ‘Mobile Document’ folder that you can access on Mountain Lion. But you can do it by deleting the ‘security.plist’.

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‘Go to System Preferences’ -> ‘iCloud’

Click on Manage and Choose ‘Day One’  and then find ‘security.plist’ and delete it.

 

Amazon Kindle: After-sale service in India?

I really loved my Kindle classic, probably the best book reader around, but just las week it developed a snag with its displace and it made it completely unusable. There is a one ad that is stuck 3/4 of my display and only 1/4 of the screen is working properly. That means that you cannot use it for anything. I tried resetting many times but nothing seem to work.
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I am wondering if there is any way to get it repaired in India. We got it from US and I think it is still under warranty. But the warranty is not available in India and I am not aware of any agency that does repair officially or unofficially. Did anyone face the same problem and more importantly did you get the kindle to work again?

The best blog-editor for Mac

I have been searching for a good blog-editor for MacOS and experimented with a number of them (Sadly there are not many available). Most of the professional bloggers on MacOS use either Ecto or MarsEdit and while these are decent options, these are not free and I would not say the best options for amateurs bloggers for two reasons. One, they are still have some bugs, and second, they are not free. There is another option Qumana, which is available all the platforms, but I find it rather slow and buggy.

Finally I settled down to Scribefire, a very powerful browser extension that is available for Firefox, Opera and Chrome and available for all platforms. It offeres all the features of a normal desktop blog-editor and very light on resources. It supports all the major blogging platforms (Blogger, WordPress, Liverjournal) and if you are using any of the free blogging platforms the installation is breeze. You just need to fill in the blog url and it automatically detects the settings.Scribefire-the blog editor

Though configuring self-hosted blogs is a bit problematic. I did not detect the settings for my this (http://santoshsing.net) wordpress blog automatically and I had to provide the settings manually. But it is not that difficult. Here is how you can easily configure it.

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1. First, login to your blog admin (htttp://blogurl/wp-admin)

2. Go to Dashboard–>Setting–>Writing and enable remote publising xml-rpc (tick it on if it is not already ticked)

3. Now install the ScribeFire extension in your browser, open it and click on Add a new blog.

4.  Fill in the blog url, Select blogtype -Wordpress, and put your api url (http://yourblogurl/xml-rpc/php)

5. Provide your blog admin username and password.

You are all set to blog now.

 

 

Configure Facebook Chat on Message for MacOS X

Last week, Apple released beta version of the new chat/message client Message and I liked its interface and design. It is a great gift for users with multiple iOS/MacOS devices, you can start the conversation on one device and continue it on any of the iOS/MacOS device. It officially supports almost all the popular chat services such as Yahoo, gTalk, AIM etc.. but it does not support Facebook chat but there is a way around that:

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Step 1: Login to your facebook account and see the url in browser address bar and note down the part after http://facebook.com/.. for example: if you see http://facebook.com/smsmt .. you note down the ‘smsmt’. This is your user name for facebook chat account. 

Step 2: Go to Messages (if you have not downloaded and installed it.. check it on apple website) and go to preferences.

Step 3: Click on ‘Accounts’ and when the ‘Account’s’ window opens click on the ‘+’ sign on the bottom left corner.

Step 4: Select account type as ‘Jabber’ and in username field put yourusername@chat.facebook.com and enter your facebook password.

Now you can use Message with your facebook chat account.

How to configure iCloud mail on Android and other devices?

After three days of initial outage, I finally got my iCloud mail id working. It was really strange the way iCloud smtp server behaved. But anyway, I think this problem is over. After configuring iCloud email on my mac and windows, I really needed it on my android phones so that I can check my mails on the go. Here is a step by step tutorial for configuring your email client on Android phones (the setting works almost on all the devices).

1. Go to the native email client application and go to new account setup.

2. Fill your email address “xxxx@me.com or xxxx@mac.com” and password and click on the Manual Setup.

3. Choose IMAP and fill “p07-imap.mail.me.com” (or p01-imap.mail.me.com etc..)port: 993 and Security type : SSL.

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4. On the following screen configure smtp server by entering these values SMTP Server: smtp.me.com Port: 587 Security type: TLS You need to check “Require Sign In” and provide your username and password. Keep in mind that your username should not be your full email id but just the part before @sign e.g enter sa123 for email id sa123@me.com.

5. Enter the values in option fields and enjoy your icloud mail on android. Note: You need to check your imap server as iCloud has assigned the different servers (p01-imap to p09-imap) to different email ids so check which one of the these works for you. You can also see this in your iOS device mail setting, use the same imap server for android.

Update: Please do let me know if this setting work for you… I would like to know whether this is working universally or just for a few. Update  2: Try changing your password of iCloud account if above settings are not working. For some servers this has solved the problem. Look at the comments sections, you can see what has worked for some other people. The best blog-editor for Mac (Do you agree with my choice…share your views here) 

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The best indian e-book reader.

On my last trip to US, I wanted to buy a Kindle book reader, but the pain of ordering it online forced me to by Barnes and Nobles’ Nook. There is not much difference in Nook and Kindle if you consider the book reading experience but Nook does not have a physical keyboard as Kindle does. I looked at other options such as Sony Reader and Kobo. Nook is a great choice if you want to use this book reader in US as it offers some good freebies but if you want to use Nook in India and do not have a US credit card then it is a pain. Barnes and Nobles online bookshop does not allow you to buy books using Indian crdit cards! I bought it despite knowing this fact as I was not relying on doing a lot of online shopping from Barnes and Nobles. I just wanted to transfer my collection of ebooks which I can transfer to Nook and read.

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Recently I got my hands on a friends’ Infibeam Pi2  and this seems to be the best ebook reader for Indian market. It has more features than Nook and uses the same e-ink technology; the best thing you can buy books from Infibeam bookstore at Indian bookprices (lower than what you pay at Amazon or B&N). The new version has touch screen, so for those pampered by the touch screens of their smartphones and iPads it does gives you a better experience than any Nook or Kindle.

How to root your Samsung Galaxy S- The easiest way..

Disclaimer: Backup your phone data and do it at your own risk, this can brick your phone.

Rooting unleashes the enormous power available with Samsung Galaxy S (SGS)’s super hardware, but sadly there are no official application to do that. Also, there are many applications which are pain in wrong place to get a rooted SGS. Luckily, I tested an android app ‘z4root’ which is in my opinion the easiest way to get your SGS (with Froyo, android 2.2) rooted.

Follow the given below instructions for rooting your SGS. You need to know how  to transfer files from your computer to SGS; if you use Windows OS you can download latest version of Kies from official site of SGS and use that for transferring files. In case you are using MacOS, you can connect your SGS as external usb drive and transfer files.

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1. Go to Settings>> Applications and check on “Unknown Sources”. This will allow you to install non-android market applications.
2. Now Download z4root from this link.. (remember this app is not  available in android market), save the apk file on computer and transfer it to your phone memore/external card.
3. Locate the apk file using file manager “My Files’ on your SGS and install z4root.apk file.
4. After installation launch the application and select “Root” option. And you are done.

This has worked pretty nicely for me on My SGS running froyo.