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.

Horrible Fast Track Chennai

I have been using Fast Track Chennai for almost a couple of years now, and I realized that I really need a better alternative in Chennai. I have missed my flight twice, reached late at least ten times and lost my temper almost every second time I call them to order for a cab. I can cite numerous reasons (yes, my list is surprisingly long!) but here are three major ones:

1. Their drivers are ill-trained and they never understand their responsibility of informing the customer in case their vehicle is broken or they are running late (which they almost always do if you need them on time.).

2. The call-center employees never understand your requirements and your timing and pick-up address are prone to be goofed up most of the time. Often then tend to attend more than one customer at the same time. Yes, you can easily make this thing from the phone call.

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3. I know that it is my stupidity/lethargy/idleness that I did not learn Tamil and I understand that the drivers are not supposed to be fluent in Hindi or English (though most of the time Fast Track people assure me that they are sending driver who understands English), but I do expect the drivers to know the routes in the city. I am not able to count how many times I have got delayed or paid twice the normal fare due this reason.

There are a number of other operators whom I have started trying instead of Fast Track. Anyone knows a better option in Chennai?

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 Mind of the Market

For someone who works on ‘understanding markets’ and is familiar with previous works of Michael Shermer, picking “The Mind of the Market” from the bookshelf was an impulsive decision. And, the blurb made it clear that I have an interesting read for my weekend.

Shermer, drawing extensively from behavioral economics, neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology, offers his explanation of our seemingly irrational and often unpredictable economic behavior. Shermer, en route to his explanations, builds an excellent repository of cutting edge research in several disciplines and provides his readers a plethora of interesting examples and theories which have been part of great debate among academics; this itself makes his book immensely valuable and enriching. He starts with drawing parallels between Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and Adam Smith’s invisible hand makes a cogent argument about interconnectedness of these two seminal works and how they affect behavior. His rebuttal of ‘Homo Economicus’ might not be very convincing to some but it does provide some good insights nonetheless. 

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“Morality of the market” and “morality and market” are the two themes you will come across in many chapters.
While Shermer confesses the limitation of research findings when applied to real life settings, yet he does resort often to the same for his arguments. Shermer cherry-picks cases and examples to establish the creativity and efficacy of markets and its self correcting mechanism; and this has invited a fair amount of criticism to this book. This was almost expected if you consider that Shermer is also known as skeptic and wrote a scathing criticism for Ayn Rand’s philosophy in his essay “The unlikeliest cult in history” , in this book Shermer the skeptics takes the back seat and Shermer the libertarian emerges very strongly.

Reading list – 2011

Fiction
1. Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro Kazuo
Highly recommended if you are looking for a good thought provoking science fiction.  A mushy story about the lives of clones who were raised to be ‘donors’ for human beings. Was shortlisted for Booker in 2005.

2. 1984 by George Orwell
I read a couple of dystopian novels recently. This was surely one genre defining novel. Does not need any recommendation.

3. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Probably the most widely read novel by an African author. Loved this book, reading this book was a pleasure. Simple story, simple writing, great impact.

4. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevesky
One of the greatest Russian novels. You will love the struggle of ‘the original’ protogonist  with the materialistic society. The tragic love story of Prince and Nastasya adds a number of new dimensions to relationship and love.

5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The second dystopian novel that I read this year.

6. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain
A very highly rated crime novel. Some people put this novel in top 100 novels of last century. Did not impress me that much, story seems too familiar.. probably I read too many adaptation or saw different versions of the story in some movies.

7. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Somehow finished it. I am not a big fan of horror stories, Stephan King’s writing and story telling skills made me tolerate this one.

8. Along came a Spider by James Patterson
Wanted to read some light fiction and picked the Alex Cross series for time pass. Nothing much to write about here. A time pass.

9. Max: Maximum Ride by James Patterson
Juvenile fiction. Well just picked it out of curiosity and lack of other options.

10. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
I read this 15 years ago, could not get much of this book at that time. Re-read it.

11. 2666 by Roberta Bolano
A slow and very lengthy novel. Over 1000 pages. It was an ordeal in patience and test of my passion for reading as the story did not move much in first few hundred pages.

Non-Fiction
12.I hope they Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
Curiosity. Yes, that’s why I picked the book.

13. May I hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray
By One of my favorite bloggers who turned author. A great satire on our life in eighties and nineties.

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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.

How to restore Samsung Galaxy S to Official Firmware

The one big advantage of Android phones that often turns out to be a big disadvantage for many android users is that these phones can be modified, tinkered, rooted, 'rom'ed and what not.. While this feature of android phones gives unlimited freedom to enhance the capacity of these phones and sometime improve upon the official firmware, it has a big risk of bricking your phone or making your phone really shitty. The other major problems that arise after tinkering/modifying the official firmware is that the official software 'Kies' does not recognize your phone and does not provide official updates, and  loss of warranty. So if you have played with your phone and now wants to restore to official firmware here is the step by step guide. This will help you in restoring your phone to Android 2.1 Eclairs and official firmware I9000DDJG4. After restoring your phone to this firmware you can use Kies to upgrade to Android 2.2 Froyo. (Though there is very rare chance of things getting wrong, but there is always a possibility so try at your own risk.)

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But before you start the restoration process here are the the files /softwares you need to have (since you modified/flashed your phone, most of you would be having most of these.. or can download)

Odin Vs 1.03 Download (the software to flash your phone)

.Pit file Download pit .512 (required to map the partition in your phone)

I9000DDJG4 Firmware Download (the official firmware for Indian users, the 'DD' in I9000DDJG4  is indicate country code..if you are from other region you can choose appropriate firmware from samsung-firmwares.com .

The firmware file is password protected, Password is: samsung-firmwares.com.

Now if you want to back up your phone using Nindroid google it to get the details.

1. Check the firmware by dialing *#1234#. Note down the current version of the firmware in case something goes wrong and you need to get help.

2. Install Odin on your windows machine.

3. Extract the firmware file in a folder and copy the pit file in the same folder.

4. Switch off your phone and power it on by pressing 'Power Button'+Home+Volume Down button simultaneously. This will boot your phone in 'downloading now' mode.

5. Start odin and connect your phone in 'downloading mode' to your usb port. The software will detect the phone. Now, choose 'repartition', 'reboot' options. And select the downloaded pit file in odin. Now in PDA option choose the extracted firmware file with '.tar' extension. There are two files in the extracted folder but you do not have to do anything with .dll file. Click on start and let the software do the rest. The phone will restart after installing the firmware.

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If you phone hangs, just remove the battery and put it back and try again. It will work. Once you have restored the phone check the phone firmware by dialing *#1234#. It should reflect the new firmware 'JG4'

Now you connect your phone to Kies, it will recognize your phone and you can officially upgrade to the 2.2 Froyo firmware supplied by Samsung. This will restore all your warranties as well.