iPhone 3G

I bought an iPhone 3G a few months ago and have been in love with it.

When the original iPhone came out in 2007, I really wanted one but I decided to wait for a while because I had my Treo 650 and had a cell service contract with AT&T as well.

I am glad I waited because I got the iPhone 3G last year and fell in love with it. It really is a revolutionary phone. Even Michelle loves it and found the touchscreen interface very intuitive. She loves to watch YouTube videos, take pictures (she has even figured out how to take screenshots), play games (Touch Hockey is her favorite), draw (Doodle Kids is the app she uses), and look at Google Maps.

There are a couple of things I do miss:

  • Lack of copy and paste is the most annoying and I hope Apple adds it as soon as possible.
  • Push notification support for applications and Gmail.

I have setup the iPhone to use my wireless network at home and also the AT&T wifi network at Starbucks and McDonald’s, etc. However, 3G data speeds are also very good.

iPhone wifi speediPhone 3G speediPhone EDGE speed

Download (kbps) Upload (kbps) Latency (ms)
Wifi 1863 242 86
3G 1201 249 169
EDGE 96 36 887

In accessories, I bought a Jawbone 2 bluetooth headset which reduces noise quite a lot better than any headset I have seen.

Since I use the iPhone a lot, I have to charge it every night regularly. The iPhone battery cannot be changed by the consumer, so once the battery’s gone through enough cycles, I’ll have to get Apple to install a new battery.

The applications I use the most are the following:

iPhone Apps 1iPhone Apps 2iPhone Apps 3iPhone Apps 4iPhone Apps 5iPhone Apps 6iPhone Apps 7iPhone Apps 8

I recently switched my ZackVision email accounts from being hosted by my webhost to Gmail using Google Apps. It should not change anything for those sending me emails, but I like the Gmail interface and their spam filter is also much better than the one I was using at my webhost. One problem with the email switch was transferring the tens of thousands of emails I had in my different mailboxes. Google has an Email Uploader for the purpose but it was not transferring a significant number of my emails. So I just had to set up IMAP accounts in Mozilla Thunderbird for my old and new (gmail) accounts and move the emails folder by folder. This took some time.

In addition to email, Google Apps also provides me with my own calendar and documents. So I uploaded all my Outlook contacts to Gmail and decided to switch completely away from Outlook. Instead of syncing my contacts and calendar between Outlook and iPhone via iTunes, now I am using “Google Mobile Sync”http://www.google.com/mobile/apple/sync.html to sync over the air between my iPhone and my Google calendars and contacts at my own domain. So the only real thing I need the iTunes sync for is podcast subscriptions.

And now I am salivating over the Kindle 2.

Quantum of Solace

James Bond is one of a kind. I have watched most of the Bond movies and loved them all.

Quantum of Solace is the latest James Bond movie and I am a 007 fan. So, of course, we watched it as soon as it came out.

This new Daniel Craig Bond is different. He isn’t as suave and smooth as the earlier versions. In fact, he falls in love, goes for revenge and gets hurt. So what exactly is Bond-like about him? May be not much but I still like the new version. After so many Bond movies in the old style, it is fun to watch a Bond with cuts and bruises and hurt feelings.

I rate the movie 7/10.

Khudkushistan

While late, here’s the account of our trip to Pakistan in October last year.

Khudkushistan, Land of Suicide Bombings, formerly known as Pakistan, Land of the Pure, is where our parents live. Thus we have to visit once in a while despite these statistics from September 2008.

Suicide attacks have killed almost 1,200 Pakistanis since July last year, most of them civilians, according to military statistics released Monday that highlight the ferocity of the militant threat facing the country.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting between Pakistani troops and insurgents on the Afghan border has sent some 20,000 Pakistanis fleeing into Afghanistan, the United Nations reported.

Figures released at a military briefing in Islamabad showed 88 suicide attacks have taken place across Pakistan since the Red Mosque siege, killing 1,188 people.

Of that figure, 847 were civilians, while the rest were troops and police. More than 3,000 were listed as injured.

So we bought tickets in mid-August for a trip in October. A week later, more than 70 people were killed in twin suicide bombings in Wah Cantt, the city where my in-laws live and thus was one of our destinations.

And just two weeks before our visit, there was a suicide bombing in our other destination, Islamabad, when Marriott Hotel was destroyed and more than 40 people killed.

So we were a bit apprehensive about our visit. I mentioned this to a few people who live in Pakistan. They seemed nonchalant and argued that they lived there and the risk was in any case minimal. I agreed that the risk was low but while they lived there, I did not and thus I was worried about visiting a war zone.

On October 3, we flew to Islamabad via Kuwait. At the Atlanta airport, it was difficult to get the ticket agent to understand that Kuwait was a city and a country and was not Iraq. She kept saying Iraq and I got so angry that Amber had to intervene. Our flight was uneventful except that Kuwait Airways food sucked and no one cares about No Smoking signs at Kuwait Airport. Also, Michelle grabbed my usual window seat and had a lot of fun watching the plane take off, fly and land.

When we reached Islamabad, we realized that my bag was lost. So we had to wait until all baggage had arrived at baggage claim and then file a missing baggage complaint. So the first order of business was to buy a toothbrush and some clothes for me. Fortunately, we got the bag the next day.

While we were in Islamabad, there was a suicide bombing at the Islamabad Police HQ, which just goes to show how appropriate the name I have coined, Khudkushistan, is.

There was a lot of road construction going on in Islamabad and Wah area. Some roads have also been widened since the last time we were there. Also, this was the first time I drove on the limited-access toll highway. After I saw the condition of the GT Road, I decided to use the M-1 motorway(Pakistan) to drive between Islamabad and Wah Cantt. Interestingly, most of the vehicles on the motorway drove nowhere near the 120km/hr (75mph) speed limit and I had a lot of fun.

One new thing on the roads of Islamabad and Wah Cantt were the blockades by the police. There are usually two or three fences or other barriers right after each other so that the vehicles have to slow down completely and zig zag through them. Some of these blockades were quite dangerous with sharp metal pointing towards you probably to dissuade anyone from running through the blockade.

We also noticed that signs of any military related buildings that used to there were nowhere to be seen now. For example, the Pakistan Military Academy near Abbottabad has no signs on the main road pointing to its location. Similarly, the Naval Sailing Club at Rawal Lake in Islamabad is difficult to find without any signs.

Unlike our last visit, I didn’t have huge allergy issues and stayed mostly healthy during our trip. Michelle had a lot of fun with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins.

Here are some random photographs from our trip.

Ayub Market, Islamabad
Ayub Market, Islamabad
Karachi Company, Islamabad
View of Islamabad
From Pir Sohawa
From Daman e Koh
A mosque
Faisal Mosque
Sunset at Rawal Lake
Gun in Wah Cantt
Weapon worship in Wah Cantt
GT Road, Taxila
Vase shops, Taxila
Intersection closed, Islamabad
 

On our way back, it took me a long time to go through immigration in New York City and we barely made the flight to Atlanta. Thus we waited at baggage claim at the Atlanta airport for a long time without any bags. All our bags were delivered to our home the next day.

Darwin Day

Today is Darwin’s 200th birthday and in November will be the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.

Today is Darwin Day, the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, the man who revolutionized biology. 2009 is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, On the Origin of Species. Thus there are events planned all through the year. Some fun reading is:

I have not actually read On the Origin of Species yet, but I plan to before November 24, which is its original publication date (in 1859).

Of course, everyone has heard of Darwin and his theory of natural selection. But it was only while doing some literature search for my graduate work that I actually read one of Darwin’s works. That is his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. I found it a fascinating read and my estimation of Darwin as a great scientist grew as a result.

You can read the book on Google Books or Project Gutenberg and see the images included on Wikimedia Commons.

Dreams from My Father

I usually do not read autobiographies. Or books by politicians. But Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is an exception.

First of all, it’s written by Barack Obama and was written before he got into politics. So it’s refreshingly honest. Secondly, Obama writes well, very well.

Dreams from My Father is basically about the young Obama’s quest for identity. As a child of a Kenyan black man and a Kansan white woman who was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents, he was somewhat of an outsider to both the African American experience and the general White majority.

It is a work of self-reflection and Obama comes across as a thoughtful and honest person.

I read the book on the way to Pakistan (more about that in my next blog post) and during my stay there.

If you want to understand Obama the man and where he comes from, I think this book is essential reading.