Tribute to a friend who fought and died!

He was born somewhere in Japan. I heard about him around four years back. He was stylish and the best in what he did at that time with some unique features no one else could match. After some self-debate, I decided to invite him to my life, as a friend who stays by my side no matter where I go or what I do. And he came. He did come with me no matter where I went or what I did, literally. We climbed mountains, did scuba diving, enjoyed the beauty of nature and did a lot more, together. He opened a whole new world of opportunities before me which I never knew existed. He inspired me and helped me inspire others. And he died, last month. It might be better to say I killed him, unknowingly. He didn’t give up till the last moment, he fought and died.
I am talking about nothing but my beloved camera, Canon IXY 800IS (a.k.a IXUS 800IS or SD 700IS).

Just after I bought it

Released in 2006 February, IXUS 800IS was the first point and shoot camera with the Image Stabilization (IS) feature. It was when I was looking for a new camera that I heard about the IXUS 800IS. I didn’t have to do a lot of research as I always wanted to get a Canon IXUS and also since all the reviews said IXUS 800IS was an excellent choice. And from my experience I’ve got to say, it was an excellent choice I made.
I still remember the day when I got it. It was during 2006 Onam celebrations. It has been almost 4 years and I have taken around 30,000 photos with it. Yeah, that’s a lot of photos and the CCD was showing signs of aging recently. Still, the photos I took with it are amazing. I bought the waterproof cover shortly after I bought the camera and I have taken my IXUS literally everywhere I have gone. I have photos from each and every month since I bought this it.
Last month, I and my friends went to a water theme park and that’s when it happened. As usual, I cleaned the cover and the O-ring, put silicon grease and fastened the camera inside the cover. We took some photos in water and after sometime I noticed the camera restarting periodically. Immediately I went back to the dry area and opened the cover to see it was half filled with water. I might not have closed the cover properly. I tried my best to save it, but I guess it was not my day. Even when it was half filled with water, the picture we took were of the same quality as before and I could retrieve them from the SD card later.
During the 4 years I had the camera, many things happened in my life and I have snaps of most of the memorable moments. Even after I bought my DSLR, I used IXUS just as before. Both served very different purposes for me. It really showed me what photography is about and I doubt there are any settings in the camera which I have not experimented with. I guess the time has come for me to move on. There may be a lot of high end cameras out there with awesome specs, but I really doubt whether I could find one which could truly match my beloved Canon IXY 800IS.
Here are some of the best shots (unedited) and memorable moments which originated from my IXY’s CCD,

One of the very first photos which showed me IXUS’s potential

One of my most viewed photos in flickr

A beautiful moment from my life back in 2006 - taken during our trip to Kalakayam, Trivandrum

X’mas celebrations at my old office

Underwater Self-Portrait - One of my first experiments with the underwater photography

Water-vision – This is how you will see sky if you look up under water

Fireworks – I never got enough of ‘firework’ photography

A nostalgic moment

Time standing still – Saying goodbye to one of my best friends, ever.

Family Reunion – My grandmother’s 80th birthday celebrations at my home

Vishu – A local festival

I always loved colors...

Panoramic View – I was breathless when I first saw what this camera was capable of

Another X’mas at home

Water - when time stands still

After a rainy morning

Playing hide ‘n seek


Making new friends – During our trip from NUS to Melaka, Malaysia

Friends forever – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nemo and his father – it’s a totally different world down there

Me, after my first set of dives

One hell of a start – New year celebrations at Phuket, Thailand

Final moments – I think that’s when water started getting in the cover

Last shot – The last shot which my IXY 800IS took

More photos in flickr

Review: Google Nexus One

It’s been around 2 weeks since I’ve got my hands on my new Nexus One. I’ve got pretty excited when I saw the DHL vehicle parking in front of my office to deliver it (yeah! I was waiting for them). I’ve got the same level of excitement even now, writing this blog and I am really happy to say, this gadget has exceeded my expectations. That’s my review in short. It’s awesome and it changed the way I’ve been experiencing the web. On the downside, there isn’t a single day my friends haven’t asked me, “is this phone more important to you than us?” both joking and seriously.

As they say, this is definitely “Web meets phone”. Previously, there wasn’t a single day I don’t use my laptop. After I got Nexus One, I haven’t used it more than 4-5 times. I do most of my ‘web-things’ using Nexus One, such as mails, messengers, social networking, news etc. After I started using Nexus One, my ‘online presence’ has increased a lot.

Now to the review I’ve offered. I wanted to post this after the first couple of days, but I felt I won’t be doing the phone justice by an early review. That’s why I waited patiently and jotted down the points.

Disclaimer: This review is solely based on my experience as a consumer. This might not be true for any of the other Nexus One’s out there. I have tried my best not to be biased, but then again, I love this phone.

1. Device (General)

Fast, fast, really fast: The thing I was sceptical the most was about the speed of the device before I bought it. I’ve got to admit, it’s really fast. Gone are the days when we press an icon and wait for the phone to load the application. I don’t know whether it’s android or the hardware, which is also pretty impressive. I haven’t been much of a smart phone user before, mainly because I felt it was not the right time to get one. But I always tried to be updated and whenever possible tried different phones. None of the experiences matches with this one.

: You can use anything with anything (use any app with any other app). This is really an awesome feature. I can talk over phone and at the same time share images or web pages or videos etc with them. And this is going to be a long post.

2. Web Experience

“Everything is in the cloud, babe”: Since Nexus One is directly from Google, all of their services are tightly integrated to the phone. To me, it’s a boon as I use almost all their services except for a very few. For e.g. I prefer Flickr (to Picasa), Facebook (to Orkut), twitter (to buzz) etc. For some users, it might be a curse as you may have to rely on third party apps for things like contacts or reminder (calendar) if you don’t like syncing with your Google account. Some of my experiences are given below.

: If there is anything I don’t like about Nexus One, it’s the contacts. I had to spend around two days to get everything right. I used to store all my contacts in my SIM card. After I inserted it and copied the contacts, I couldn’t see them in the contacts list even after I disabled syncing with Gmail. But they all get added to my Gmail contacts (multiple times as I copied it multiple times) and my address book was in a big mess. After spending around one day merging and deleting the duplicate copies of my contacts to Google contacts, I added my Facebook account. It synced everything to my contacts and messed up everything again and I was back to square one. The same thing happened with my Orkut, twitter and other accounts. Finally I decided not to sync any of my accounts except my Gmail & Facebook account. Some of the other problems I faced (and still facing) with contacts are,
1. There is no option to set a phone number or email id as the default option. Some of my contacts have multiple numbers – personal, mobile, work, home and multiple profiles – Google, Facebook, Orkut etc. I cannot find the option to set a particular number or profile as the default.
2. Joining contacts from different accounts is also a mess. The phone automatically chose the default name for the contact. I have friends with multiple profiles. They have same mail id, but different display names in different accounts. I want to choose the display name, but I am unable to do so. Even if I edit my Gmail contacts, it may display another profile’s info as the display name.

: I noticed most of the syncs, especially YouTube takes some time. This happened when I favourite-d a video using my laptop and tried to accessing favourites via Nexus One.

: The browser is really fast with features like the pinch to zoom, multiple windows, bookmarks etc. I cannot find much of a difference between a normal (PC) browser and the Nexus One browser. A double tap automatically formats the page to display screen after zooming which is really easy for reading. I am eagerly waiting for Froyo (Android 2.2) for flash support. Some of the features I wish for in the future version of the browser are,
1. YouTube video in browser restarts when switched to other tasks. It would have been nice if there was a ‘resume’ feature.
2. I haven’t figured out which fonts are supported by Android and how to install them. I read regional language news and that is one thing I miss as Nexus One doesn’t support Malayalam fonts.
3. Even though there is pinch to zoom capability in browser, it won’t work if the browser is opened from other apps, say twitter for example. That’s really annoying.

: Since my main account is Gmail and my work accounts are also sync-ed with Gmail, I don’t have to use another email client. But to send using my work mail servers, I have to configure the email client provided. I haven’t been able to do that till now. The Gmail app is cool, but I would like to see a few additional features implemented in future.
1. I have configured multiple accounts in my Gmail account and when I compose mail from a PC, I can choose which account to send from. I cannot find this option in the Gmail app.
2. When I press the attach button during ‘compose’, it opens the gallery. Instead I would have loved if it opened the file system. Now I use a third party file explorer to tackle this issue.
3. Unlike the PC version of Gmail, there is no ‘frequency based email id selection’. If I want to mail a friend with multiple mail ids, I have to type the exact mail id, and cannot simply select the one on the top. Also the email ids won’t fit in the screen in portrait mode.

3. Apps

Lots of ‘em: I have seen iPhone ads which boast over 250,000 apps and Android store having only around 50,000. Come on people, do you really think you are going to install all the apps? I haven’t had any problems finding the apps I needed. One might argue its because I was not a previous smart phone user. In the worst case, you always have the choice of writing your own app since Android is an open platform. And believe me, it’s not that tough if you know java. (Yes, I have some experience with that)

: We cannot change the “Available”/ “Busy” status without changing the current status message. There is no option of simply using the same status message and changing the status as in the Gtalk PC application. Hope they add this feature in the next release.

: I would love to see the map data stored locally in the phone, so that I don’t need a data connection while travelling (especially when I am at sea).

4. Display, Camera & Gallery

The display is gorgeous. The colours are so beautiful that you won’t feel like taking your eyes of the screen. The AMOLED screen can be used smoothly even in bright sunlight. It’s got a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash. Normal users (who need some/any camera) can use this as a replacement for their point and shoot cameras. Unfortunately, I - being a power user - don’t fall in that category. I feel phones are not yet ready to replace even point and shoot cameras.
Don’t get fooled by the appearance. To test the camera and the display, I took 2 similar snaps with Nexus One and Canon IXY910 IS during one of my recent trips. The shot with Nexus One looks awesome in the phone even better than the canon one. But when seen in a normal display, it doesn’t look that great. Check their properties (attached) for the details. (Notice the time difference between the two shots, as they were not taken exactly at the same time)

Taken with Nexus One

Properties of photo from Nexus One’s Camera

Taken with Canon Digital IXY 910IS

Properties of photo from Canon IXY 910S

Some of the other comments are,
1. The camera settings menu gives only very basic settings. Atleast a custom timer option can be easily implemented, I guess
2. As for the image editing part, after I crop an image to set as wallpaper, I noticed the images losing their clarity. I didn’t dig much in to this, so it may be a problem with what I did.
3. There is also the issue of photos not being loaded to the gallery immediately after they are taken. Sometimes, when the gallery is opened right after the photos are taken, they may not be there. So, it would have been nice to have a refresh button for the gallery.

5. Connectivity

Since I do not have a data plan, I depend heavily on Wi-Fi. In Singapore, you will find connectivity almost everywhere. At shopping malls, there is Wireless@SG program and one can easily find data access.

WiFi Stack
: It’s fast and almost perfect. Yeah, almost perfect. There are many features I would like to see in the WiFi utility/stack in the future,
1. The main one being the ability to set priority for hot spots. There are two hotspots in my office and I want to set the priority between those two.
2. Most of the hotspots these days use web captive portal method for authenticating users. So it would have been easy if Nexus One could remember the user names. This is not the “remember username and password” feature in the browser I am talking about, but the “Adding to dictionary” feature. My login ID is a weird combination of my name and the department name. Every time I have to manually type it rather than selecting from a set of choices shown. It’s a pretty basic feature I have seen in other phones, but not in Nexus One.

6. Battery

Space for improvement: Hmm, this is one place all the smart phones need improvement. With Wi-Fi & GPS turned on all the time and on medium display brightness level setting, I have to charge the mobile once every 12-18 hrs on an average. While charging, it gets a bit hot, but not as much as my previous Nokia handset.

7. Music Player

Simple and Plain: The main functionality I wish for in music players are the ability to sync manually, which is already there. I love the Nexus One player for just that reason. I haven’t tested any third party music players. Some of the features I am looking forward in the future version are
1. MP3 tag editing option
2. Wireless Synching like Microsoft Zune

8. Miscellaneous Experience

Some of the features I am really looking forward which cannot be classified in to any of the above categories are

1. Undo: The most important feature which is applicable everywhere in Nexus One is the ‘undo’ feature. When I tap the textbox and if it selects an already typed text and if I accidentally touch the keyboard, it’s gone forever. I can’t find the undo option anywhere.

2. Search: When I click the search button, the search box comes with the previous searches. When I select any of the previous search terms, it directly start searching, I want it to wait till I press the search button, so that it will enable appending of additional search terms, before it start searching.

3. Wireless mounting: Accessing of Nexus Ones storage over WiFi. I don’t want to carry my data cable everywhere I go.

4. Landscape Dock: The dock available now is only for the portrait mode. If there was a landscape dock available, it would have helped for watching videos.

5. The fact that to enable simple speed dial we have to install a third party app is a bit irritating. I hope the android team will include speed dial in the future revision.


I have barely scratched the surface of the things I wanted to write here about Nexus One, especially why I love it so much. At the same time, I didn’t want this to be a long post which even I don’t want to read. Since I had time & space limitation, I mainly focussed on the features which are not currently there in Nexus One. The experience Nexus one offers far outweighs all the missing things I had mentioned above. Then again, there is not much point in writing about all the features which is already very well covered in the common technology blogs. Over all, I love my decision of going for a Nexus One.
I hope this post helps some of you who is confused about which phone to go for. I would definitely say, go for Nexus One.

My New Toy – Google Nexus One

One thing I really hate about society is ‘others’ telling me what I should do. This applies for everything; I hate others forcing their ideas on me about what I should do with my life or ‘expecting’ me to do stuff in the way they think is the only option, or telling me to ‘follow the crowd’. This is precisely the reason why I hate Apple and its products and that’s why I chose to go with Google Nexus One over Apple iPhone.
I totally agree that iPhone is a trend-setter and it set the standards for the smart phone market. But that doesn’t give them the right to tell people what they should do with their phone. I used to follow iPhone and its evolution closely. Every time I look at one, I wish I had one, but I couldn’t cope up with the idea of enjoying a ‘walled garden’. More than that, I would prefer suicide to being tied up with one carrier for 2 years. I was ready to pay the premium to get an unlocked device, but that won’t free me from Apple telling me how I should use my phone. So I decided to wait for the right device to come by.
Then came Android mobile OS from Google and I was very happy to see something promising coming up. For one of my (masters) subjects last semester, I worked on an android based project. We used HTC Dream and Hero for our projects and needless to say, I was really amazed with HTC Hero. But I didn’t feel it was better than iPhone.

Manufactured by HTC and software & marketing by Google, Nexus one has its brand value, to start with. Even though I did know about Nexus One’s existence for quite some time, I never really focussed my attention towards it. One reason is that its Google’s first ‘physical’ device. They’ve only been to the software before and no matter how good they are at what they do, I believe in thinking twice before investing in technology.
It took me around 2-3 days to finish reading almost all the articles out there about nexus one. By the time I finished, I knew that this is the phone for me. Some of the features of Nexus One which did the trick are,

Business Model – Simple and elegant. Only one place to buy – Google store and one price around the world. I know people will disagree with me on this as Google themselves declared this is not a good model as customers like to see and feel the device before buying. But I love this model, I really do.

Not tied with any carrier - As I pointed out early, I hate going to a carrier’s shop (especially Singtel) and waiting in the long queue. Once you get to the sales person, they treat you like pathetic losers. Also you have to sign in for a 2 year contract and you are adding 2 miserable years to your life. I strongly believe that phones shouldn’t be tied to any carriers and it’s a strong violation of customer rights. Telecom industry in Singapore (and US?) has much to learn from their Indian counterparts.

Device is ‘Open’ - You can do whatever the hell you want with it, literally. You can manage the storage device in your own way. I do manual syncing of songs and my data and Nexus One actually allows that.

Integrated Apps - Since Nexus One comes straight from Google, all of its services like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Sky, Gtalk, Google Calendar etc are fully integrated and we can expect full and free lifelong support.

And some of the other ‘much-talked-about’ features (as compared to iPhone) are multi-tasking, bigger & higher resolution (800 x 480) AMOLED display (which is stunning), light-weight, faster processor (1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, 512MB RAM & flash), 5 megapixel camera, upcoming flash support etc
I got the phone around one week back and I have to admit, it’s changing the way I used to do certain things and I love the experience. It’s really powerful and extremely user friendly. Besides the contact syncing problem I faced (yeah, it’s all in the cloud), it took me zero time to get fully ‘Nexus-ed’.
Even though it is one awesome device, there are many things I would like to see in the future software upgrades. I will be posting a review blog soon about my comments and experience with Nexus One.
Now I believe iPhone has met its match. It happened around 6 months before and a lot of new android based devices are coming out, all of which are one step ahead of iPhone. In China, android devices already outnumber iPhones. All these remind me of the old Apple vs. Microsoft war in the PC market which Apple lost miserably. Let’s wait and see whether history repeats, which is something I am betting on.
More links on Google vs. Apple