Sunday, April 03, 2011

Adam from India

I have always wondered why India, with its vast pool of smart brains and thinkers does not awe the world with great inventions.

Googling 'Indian inventions' brought a wiki page listing a handful of 'trivial' items that have been listed as our inventions. Pajamas, Buttons, Puppets to name a few.

I have been following Notion Ink since last year, when they announced plans for designing and manufacturing an Android based tablet, called, the ADAM.
Though not completely indigenous, as Apple had just shown the world the greatest wonder of the personal electronics world, the iPad.

To Notion Inks credit, they did have a differentiator in mind, to make the tablet unique and not a mere copy cat of its predecessor. Within a few months after the initial announcement, a pro-type was done and the CEO of Notion Ink (Rohan) carried it around and demonstrated its capabilities and the differentiators.

What seemed like vaporware, took shape very prominently and the final version of the ADAM had started shipping since early this year.

I ordered my Adam when the pre-order window was made available for the early enthusiasts.
It was a gamble to pay $500+ to an unknown company. But, i decided to jump in, just to support this fresh school of thought and the possibilities this will bring to other thinkers, if this had to succeed.

The initial experience with Notion Ink was less than optimal, as they were going through the launch pains, the logistics, manufacturing issues, software issues, customs issues, shipment issues, credit card issues, and you name it issues.
It took more than four weeks to get my Adam on hand, from the initially promised shipping time.

Lets forget the past for a moment.

I did get my Adam last week.

I was glad to get it and unbox it and confirm it was not a vaporware.

It was sleek.

The initial impression (having used iPad before this) was a bit questionable. I was wondering, whether I should have gone for ipad2.
Part of the reason was, Notion Ink's Eden OS (Android 2.2 based). It took a while to get used to it, as there was no detailed manual that came with it.

Even after figuring out the usage, it still lacked a punch, when compared to iPad's simplicity.
After rooting it and getting some apps from the Google Market Place, Adam is becoming healthy and charming to handle.

The negatives so far (or stuff that i havent figured out yet):
1) cant get the vibrator work during key-press. without vibrate, feels brick'd sometimes.
2) camera is mediocre quality. lot of grains and plastic'y.
3) some apps were dis-oriented on launch. launches upside down. (app issue not tablets?)
4) the front panel is buggy. not many apps that support the 'leaf' concept, anyway. (installed Launcher Pro and it works great now. to get the 'normal' android view, touching the timestamp on the front panel slides it down)
5) facebook doesnt show a 'save password'. have to login everytime.
6) a little unresponsive sometimes to the touch, especially on the market place (search icon)
7) The OOB browser isn't cool. (downloaded Opera mini)
8) though the curved shape is nice to see and hold, i couldn't find a good case that will do justice to it.

The positives:
1) the hdmi port (yet to test it)
2) support group from and other sites will prove to be useful.
3) the pixel qi LCD is amazingly cool.

more to come...

Monday, February 21, 2011

FlashBack - me, car, gears, dad, neighbors and electrician

In our side of the world, its a tendancy to project 'family pride'. People goto greater lengths, to show-off their supremacy among the neighbors.

One such show-off included getting a car for the household. In Indian metros, cars are not essential. Public transportation options (though crowded) and call-autos and call-taxis provide more than adequate commute freedom.

but, the household decided to get one anyway, for keeping up with the tradition of pride projection.

Normal cars wouldn't do and luxury cars were beyond reach.

after much debate, we settled for the newly arrived, nicely engineered Swift. Ofcourse the high-end ZX bright red one, as anything less would allow room for the neighbors to better ours.

Trick was, it was a stick-shift and not automatic. Automatics are available, but for a costly premium.

None in the family could drive it. It stayed in its pristine condition for several weeks and a driver was hired @ T&E (Time and expense) for occasional trips. During my annual vacation, I attempted to drive with the help of the driver, but the 'gear' thing wasn't my cup of tea. Added with the insane road sense of my dear fellow commuters, i felt like an ant in the midst of a crowded Chennai bus, every second of my drive time.

I decided 'gear driving' was not for me and never attempted to sit in the driver seat after that.

A year passed by and I went back for my next round of the 4-week stay. Car was still pristine as the other house hold members had similar phobia. The T&E driver thrived and was living happily ever since.

On a fine day, after a heavy meal, I heard my dad calling my name and I went down stairs. He was standing near the car. The electric metre reader from the local municipal office was with him. He was there to check on the metre and the car was in the middle obstructing his access.

My dad said, "Dear son, we need to move this thing a few inches back. Sit in and put it in neutral and I will push it".

Hearing this, the electrician gave a stunned look and looked down upon me. He said, he will also help push it with my dad, with a grin in his face.

The 'US return' in shorts and T, with my laptop on one hand, didn't want to go down so easily,in front of that electrician.

I said, "don't ya worry dad. i will take care of it. i will drive and move it back".

My Dad of little faith, reluctantly accepted. He had the electrician stand clear and he moved few feet away, and raised his hands like a traffic cop giving me instructions. "Start... move back.. move back.. move back.."

I went inside, turned on the car, not realising the car was in 1st gear. It shook really wild and jumped a notch like a horse and stuttered and stalled.

My dad was startled and moved away and the electician ran for his dear life.

Dad said, "dear son. please put the car in neutral and i will push". I said "NO dad, it's easy and I will take care of it this

time. All i have to do is, keep the car in neutral and start it, and put the car in reverse gear and move a little. Wait and Watch".

Attempt two, the stuttering didn't happen. car started smoothly, but the moment, i applied the reverse gear, the whole

neighborhood came out of their home and started staring at us. Once the car engages in reverse gear, its customary for Indian cars to sing a song in high volume. This was to ensure the house pets and stray dogs raise and run away, if they were snoozing under the car. In my case it was a loud electro tune of the great patriotic song 'vande matharam'.

Well, the car tried to move two milli metres and stalled again. tried again. stalled again. tried again stalled again. tried again. stalled again.

Dad couldn't take it anymore. he said, "SON, you will break the gear. get out of the car and i will put it in neutral and you push it".

The electrician was back in position and he grinned again and said, "i will help too".

I was so ashamed to stand there anymore, with the grinning electrician and the laughing neighbors who were, by now, thinking, "did he really work in the US? he cant even drive a car?.. shame shame puppy shame... blah blah blah..".

I ran inside crying out 'Mommmmmmmmyyyyy..."

When i returned to the US, after the vacation, I decided that I will buy a darn shift-gear and move it from pointA to pointB, which are more than a few milli metres away.

I can't wait for my next trip to Chennai, dear Chennai !!!