Thank You, Team India for a Golden Era 2007-11

The Perth Test is over and India have lost 0-3. Well played Australia. 

Thank you team India for the great time in the last four years. 
A golden era in Indian cricket has ended, albeit on a somber and unpredictable manner.

But what was predictable is the response of the fans- those who watch cricket for entertainment but pass comments about the competitiveness. We lost badly- our pride is hurt… now that we lost, we should never have selected our seniors? Lets give the younger generation a chance, any way we lost… 

Yes, we failed, but this was the best team we had. 

The job of selectors is to take the best, irrespective of age. Why? Because of that very same national pride- which comes before giving an unproven player a chance. Which is why Ponting and Hussey are still in for Australia.  Just that the selectors have to do so before the the event. Sure, if youngsters had seized their chances, they would be preferred. Not happening in world Test cricket (Tendulkar, Dravid, Kallis, Hussey, Sangakara, … still amongst the top run makers).

Respect our guys who have done us proud. They tried to make a last bid to take on Aussies on their turf, but played well in patches. (We actually were ahead in Melbourne, but their tail wagged better, and only the seniors played well). In hindsight we all look like pundits. 

Viru-Gambhir have been the best opening pair so far as I can recollect since many decades (although I prefer Sehwag not to open overseas). Dravid had a resurgence with 5 tons last year. Laxman cannot be dropped against the Aussies. Tendulkar just failed to make a 40 for the first time against Aus after 12 matches (6 home, 6 away- a double ton, two 150s, a ton (98), two 80s, two 70s, two 60s). 

The youngsters who are good- Yuvraj, Raina, Kohli are yet trying to replace Ganguly’s spot since ’08. Perhaps Rohit Sharma can move into tests, after being out of the World Cup ODIs. Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Pujara had limited success overseas at top order, but are possible options, with Rahane.

As far as bowling- the good news is Umesh Yadav is looking good. Soon Rahul Sharma will be a good leg-spin option next year. Ashwin has a good attitude and will learn overseas. Hopefully Zaheer Khan will remain fit for a few years more.

As far as fans go- if we want better, ask your kids to get off that angry-birds nonsense and go to the nets. Play cricket or even help grow some grassy pitches at home. Oh yes, fill up the empty stadiums in Test cricket, it is still a good form of the sport to learn from. Missing a day or two at school will not hurt, if you are sincerely interested in cricket. If you are not, you perhaps made a mistake reading this. Sorry.

The aging players are not going to be around too long. But then it is not certain if Test cricket might survive either. So soak up whatever comes along, especially from the veterans, as they are yet the best ambassadors for the future of Tests.

Mumbai, India

Inspiring beyond Eras- Dedication to Steve Jobs

Clouds at Dawn, Angkor Wat
Time lapse shot on 1 Sept 2011 (c) @saumilzx
iClouds was Steve Jobs last major contribution and his final keynote.
This will impact tech and travel, two areas which are close to all of us.

On a recent trip to Thailand/Cambodia for my travel projects, I decided to go PC-free. This was the first time I went without my Macbook on an overseas trip. I did have my iPad and an iPhone 4. And the camera stuff- a DLSR (Nikon), a Panasonix Lumix with an UW case (useful in rains too).

I had a local 3G connection on my iPhone. So with Personal hotspot activated, I could use my 64Gb wifi-iPad to go online as well. I did have a USB car charger, and a Tenda mini wifi hub (in event my hotel room lacked wifi). I used the camera connection kit, to backup to my iPad.

So how did the shooting go? It was great and I have to say I did not miss my Mac. The iPhone shots (panoramic, stop motions, videos to document a locale) were transferred over to the iPad via Photo Transfer App [iTunes link]. I also used Dropbox to backup my iPhone media online, as an additional option. Although uploading media can take time, it can all happen when you sleep. You just need to check if all went well, every time you wake up:)

All in all, It was not problematic. But I was trying to accomplish Photo Steam and iCloud with manual supervision. I was always concerned whether I was backing up all right. Were there duplicates of some at the cost of omitting others. Not even one shot need be lost! After all, I did need to delete media from my iPhone every few days (a 16Gb model, I had underestimated the value of iPhone shooting, being a regular photographer).

Wait a minute… this post is dedicated to Steve Jobs and how he inspires us right? Why am I describing my experience? Because the most lasting impact Steve Jobs will have on the tech world- apart from great design, innovation, and many other things… Is that

he built products which eliminated questions from technology

which were not needed in your solution or the overall experience.

iCloud will do many wonderful things- but as I learnt the hard way, it will eliminate a whole lot of questions which were distracting me from my basic work- to shoot and plan to shoot. Mind you, cloud storage has existed for years, but you still need to monitor and keep asking yourself about the steps you followed or missed, worrying about which version was in which folder or if the latest file was on the desktop somewhere…

So the next time you see a breakthrough Apple product, you can be sure, that it will reduce or remove most, if not all, unnecessary questions from an already existing technology. Keep this in mind when evaluating Steve Jobs’ creations, we will derive inspiration for generations to come, and learn from every magical product he unleashed to conquer… just about every personal computing era of his time.

Long live Steve- many Jobs well done.
Mumbai, India
16th October 2011

THE MATTERS OF A LEGEND #lessons along Tendulkar

THE MATTERS OF A LEGEND #lessons along Tendulkar

An ebook about lessons learnt by @saumilzx, following Sachin Tendulkar over the past decade(s). 

A book by a fan for the fans! 

In my view, fans must participate more constructively and support their favorite sport in direct ways, such as wiriting an eBook. It may be tough to find time, but sports and other forms of entertainment consume 10-20% of our day. If we improve, our sport does too! 


For whom: apart from cricket and Tendulkar fans, there are many aspects which relate to sports as such- from which cricket issues are derived. To simplify matters, the book uses twitter style hashtags for basic concepts and rules and interesting anecdotes. 

Availability: it was intended for 2008/09. But Tendulkar kept teaching us more in 2010. Finally, when India drew the test series in South Africa, (Jan 2011) and got a par/surplus home-away record with every test nation, I decided to put it together. Hopefully, it will be done by May 2011. Will be available on as a Kindle ebook, which can be read on Macs, PCs, iPad, and other mobile platforms. 

Sachin Tendulkar (Career x 0) if we do not win this World Cup?

Sachin Tendulkar (Career x 0) if we do not win this World Cup?
And if we win it, it will be (Career x 1)?

1. If that is what you think, there is a simple advice- do not put your kids into cricket or any team sport. You will only create nuisance for others. 2. If you see India in World Cups since ’92, we have never topped a league phase. We were typically 4th/5th overall. So Saurav Ganguly’s team was a success (2nd in 2003). Even if do win this WC, we have a long way to go to be a #1 ODI team. These knockouts are not extensive tests. (poor format to find a World Champion).

3. If you think the World Cup matches are the only few which matter then were we so stupid to critiicize or watch other 400-500 odd matches India played in two decades. Sure, these are important, but Tendulkar’s frquency of 50s (abt 50%) is about twice that of Ponting or Richards (25-33%), not any more unfortunately. ya, ya, matters and all that… wait for my book!

For quiz and my new book, visit


iPhone nano? Yes, if price is right (Asian view)


Read on posterous

A smaller iPhone may be achievable with Retina technology and with a fixed set of built in apps. The size of the present iPhone 4, is also just fine but if Apple can produce a phone of the current size with fewer features, at $150 (contract free), that will rock Asia for sure, and reach out to the common man.

In Asia, the current iPhone 4, at $599 (contract-free), competes with salaries not other phones.

For the 3 entry level categories in Asia view full article on posterous

An iPhone nano? Yes, if the price is right.

The iTwiverse is abuzz with rumors about Apple launching an iPhone nano- a compact version of the iPhone at a cheaper price. Technically, it does sound achievable, because the Retina display can pack twice as many pixels as the original iPhone. That in itself does not make it easy to build a smaller touch device, as the contact areas for buttons, keys etc., are reduced as well. But if a squarer aspect ratio is chosen, the keyboard can remain the same size as the present iPhone, with few lines of text visible above it. Besides, you can trust Apple to come up with UI adjustments to pull off a nifty smaller touch device (voice navigation?). The iPod-nano is already a good example but with limited apps only. 

But skeptics argue that a smaller iPhone would perhaps be needless, offering no real value over the present iPhone- which is already small enough to carry. But so is the iPod Classic small enough to carry. But Apple has created an attractive range of colorful iPod variants- shuffles, nanos which allow users to step-in at an attractive price range from $50+. The Classic at $249 for 160Gb is still the best value for money, though.

So if Apple plans nano variants of an iPhone, pricing needs to be spot on. A contract free iPhone is about $599 in most countries. Now here is a reason,-a very big reason- why a smaller or cheaper phone will be critical in India and many other Asian countries.

From my personal experience creating travel guides and programs in South East Asia, I can say that the mobile phone has done wonders in keeping the travel industry connected to providers at all levels- cab drivers, souvenir shops to exclusive remote island resorts, irrespective of level of education, salaries, and language barriers. The typical salaries at grassroots start from Rs 7500 (about $150+) per month, to about twice or thrice that amount for fresh graduates.

The three entry level mobile categories in Asia: 

So here is how an average Asian buyer goes about buying a mobile phone: 

1. I *need* a phone, even if I use it more for incoming calls from potential customers or emergencies. An FM radio never hurts as an added feature. $50 Nokias are damn popular in this category of semi-educated masses, and the not-tech-savvy senior citizens.

2. If I can get a phone, with a decent camera, so that it takes pictures of family & kids (maybe in a village where neither many have a landline phone nor own a camera). Each time I talk too my old cab-mates in Thailand, and ask about their family, the first thing they do is pull out their cell phones and prove that they are keeping their kids happy. So a $100-150 mobile, is the next level, which a lot of folks have to plan and save up for. 

3. The third level- you perhaps guessed it- is a phone for the new generation of Facebook teens, Twitter centric graduates. It must be understood that the average student in Asia, may not own a laptop or a desktop, and if they do, it will usually be a shared machine at home. So FB and Twitter on a phone become a pre-requisite in this trendy but ever expanding category, looking for their own personal space. Perhaps upto $200 is what they can justify, with help from their parents. 

Above $200, becomes expensive to justify as a need. Other worries begin to creep in- that it can get wet in the rains (4-6 months in India, Indo-China) etc., and what if you forget it somewhere. Of course, if you have an IT job or are a graduate working for few years, you start looking north, but the range of smartphones from $300-400, the Blackberries, etc., are usually still the first choices. $600 can be a month’s salary. 

How Apple can address these three categories, with one model or more, is anybody’s guess. 

If they can build a cheaper phone at the same size as the present iPhone- minus many features that would be fine. But if a smaller form factor is needed to cut costs, that is the next best option, but will work as well. Even just the built-in apps to begin with, plus a social media client, would do fine. 

Go for it Apple, size does not matter, if the price is right, so long as you proivde space for 140 characters* 

Happy Valentine’s day to the nano generation! 



*Just follow that up in Asia with aggresive mobile-me offers 

Orientation Lock on iPad- soft or hard?

Orientation Lock on iPad now mute…

After iOS 4.2 for the iPad, the orientation switch next to the volume control is now no longer used to lock the iPad in a portrait or landscape mode. This is now a mute switch, instead. The orientation control has now been shifted to a soft lock next to the iPod controls (double click home button and swipe left).

This change has not been welcomed by users at large, who loved the ease of locking without digging into a UI panel. It has not affected me much at all, as this feature is most useful when reading while lying down, when the iPad may be more horizontal than vertical, but you might still be reading in portrait mode since your head is reclining as well. The lock prevents rotation of contents, as the accelerometer based detection will tilt it for the wrong orientation. I have been reading extensively on the iPad but usually in a sitting posture while coding. My epubs, reference PDFs, (on iBooks) and other Kindle books have been a constant companion.

But the reasons Apple has altered this, are based on many factors, and not a ad-hoc decision.

  • Frequent switching of apps, after multitasking- we normally lock orientation based on what we see on the screen. Now with many apps open, and each app is designed to work better in a given mode, the meaning of the hardware switch is bound to be undermined- as what we see on screen changes a bit more frequently- and locking will get in the way a lot more often than desired.

  • By moving it away, Apple is discouraging users from frequent locking, as one of the best aspects of iPad apps is how different functions work in either mode, enhancing productivity, almost instantly. This is one important area where tablets are not the same as desktops.

  • Soft locking, in my view will eventually make it possible for app specific locking, something which is not meaningful with a global hardware switch. At the moment it is system wide. But apps such as Keynote or other video based apps, even now work only in landscape mode, no matter what the lock indicates. But an app such as Flipboard supports both modes. I prefer to use Flipboard in landscape, and had there been an app specific lock, I would have done that.

  • Locking is best used when you will surely be using an iPad for quite some time in a given orientation, and that too if held in those ‘in between’ orientations. For that you will need a lock. The overhead for that is a double-click and swipe left (about the same as app switching). Now that is not that big a burden if you will be dedicating a lot of time in one app, and holding the iPad at an angle which is not well defined.

Obviously, the hardware lock was conceived when the iPad was launched and that time the big thing was it’s role as an ebook reader. Now multimedia and lot of work happens here, each within it’s own view of things.. Plus multi-tasking will soon progress with widgets etc. Then many apps will do their bit in different modes. Making it soft will make it flexible.


Mumbai, 9 Dec 2010