Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vijay Mallya - Kingfisher Airlines

The expression comes to mind "Chadhte sooraj ko sab salaam karte hain." (Everybody salutes the rising Sun). There was a time when Vijay Mallya was the Man, everybody you talked to sang his praises and suddenly all you see about him is the comedy skits and people making fun of him. What happened? Nothing happened, it's just that his airline is in financial straits right now.

I am a man who deliberately stays away from news. Newspapers, TV, Radio, Internet, I don't follow news anywhere. So my news comes filtered through indirect channels like blogs, comedy shows etc. I think that gives me a unique, unbiased perspective on this man. My opinion of him is based on my contact with his business - Kingfisher Airlines.

The first time I flew Kingfisher was about 7 years ago from Poona to Delhi, a short, domestic route of 2 hours flight. I had flown that route before but with Spicejet. The ticket with Kingfisher was double of Spicejet's even in the same economy class. But I wanted to try it.

It was my hard-earned money that I spent on that ticket but I had no regrets. It was worth ever penny! The difference on tangible and intangible levels was amazing! First of all the most important part of any service industry - people. I have been told that Vijay Mallya handpicked his staff. Whether he really did or that his training program was exceptional, I can vouch personally that Kingfisher's staff was exceptional in the true sense of the word. I have never seen any airline staff so attentive and polite and my experience includes several international airlines. Kingfisher staff right from the moment you entered the terminal was always on hand, always very proactive in asking you if you needed help and very proficient in their jobs.

Being a man I don't look much at the male staff, but never forego the chance to look at the pretty airhostesses. (I have heard they are called Stewardesses now, yeah, like I care.) Kingfisher's airhostesses were always good-looking, always dressed smart and nice (attractive I'd call it, not sexy) and the behaviour from them was courteous and professional to a degree almost impossible to find in any Indian service industry.

By that time I had flown so many times that I could recite the security briefing by heart "Iss vimaan mein chaar dwaar hai....aapaatkaaleen sthiti mein.." (This aircraft has four case of emergency..) but in Kingfisher I watched this briefing with my full attention, and then I watched it in English with the same attention. Why? Because the announcement on seatback screen was done by the gorgeous model/actress Yana Gupta! Vijay Mallya appears in the video right after and promises warm hospitality by his airline and gives his personal email address to contact him directly if you have any complaints.

We all know some flunky in headoffice would be in charge of that email account but it still feels very good. The IFE was always populated with relevant programs and I was always spoilt for choice.

And they give a small gift packet to every passenger, even in economy class. It had a pair of Kingfisher branded headphones and a pen etc. but a gift is a gift. Nobody else had ever given me a gift even when I flew to US with them.

It was these touches which made my experience with Kingfisher so great that I never bought a Spicejet ticket again even though I owned stock in Spicejet.

Years later when I was looking to blow some money by buying a business-class ticket from UK to India I looked for the best business class available to get the most value for my money. You know what I found? That Kingfisher Airlines was the world's first and only 5-star business class airline! Even Virgin, Jet and British Airways are 4-stars. It made me feel a little proud that an Indian airline had that honour!

Sure enough this time I booked my flight with Kingfisher without any doubts. And the experience was memorable for life! I have no regrets.

And now that airline is in financial trouble. But like Jesus I will ask who among us has never been in financial trouble, who has never made a wrong decision when dealing with money? Maybe the beggar on the signal is exempt from this but other than that anyone who deals with money, including Baba Ramdev, makes mistakes. I cannot condemn a man for making a wrong decision in business.

Maybe I am ill-informed (I will make no attempt to fix that) but I don't look at Vijay Mallya with disdain, I think he is a very intelligent man with a flair for living life King size. All these people who were singing his praises yesterday can jeer and point fingers all they want, I for one, wish him the best and hope that he comes out of it, and Kingfisher Airlines flies again.

I may be the only one saying this but I don't care. 

Moves and Shakers 2012

It stands to reason that as soon as I said that Comedy Circus is the only Indian TV show I watch it changed. My nephew reminded me that Movers and Shakers has started again and I should check it out. So I did. But this post is about the first season of the restarted show, the first 35 episodes.

The first time when the show started it was in 1997, and to the best of my information it ran for 4 years. At that time I still lived in India and had never been out. I used to watch this show as and when I could. Basically, the show is Shekhar Suman. He is like a star of Indian television and an amazing host and presenter. But saying that is like saying that Taj Mahal is an old building.

Shekhar is a powerhouse of talent and I don't know any Indian who doesn't know him or doesn't admire him. To list all his accomplishment would be a tall order but still I want to mention a few that I know of and like. He was a judge on The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (my favourite comedy show), before that he was an actor, he was well-known for acting opposite the Bollywood legend actress Rekha. He was later a judge on Comedy Circus as well for a couple of seasons and was known for his long comments on performances.

It was during the TGILC stint that he went for body-building in a big way and came back looking younger. They sometimes show the old clips from the old Movers and Shakers in the new one, and I can see that Shekhar doesn't look younger than he was but he looks more handsome and distinguished than he was. I am sure he's pleased to see his old self on screen and enjoys the comparison.

At that time, when I used to watch the first M & S the one thing that I used to be immensely impressed with was Shekhar's speaking style. He has a flow like a river, the twists and turns, changes in tone, and what impressed me most at the time was how he could thread his way through English and Hindi with such flawless fluency that you never knew when he changed and he never missed a beat!

That flow and that flawless perfection of his delivery is still there but I guess as you grow up your way of observing things also changes. By now I have also been to many foreign lands, living in the UK at the moment and I can also go into Hindi and English fluently, by no means with the same skill as Mr. Suman, but good enough for my purposes. His use of the language is not just fluent but educated. He uses pure Hindi words in a way that doesn't look like a show-off but makes me feel proud to be a Hindi speaker. But still...

What I enjoy more about him in this new 2012 M & S is his way of dealing with people. It is a delight and an utter pleasure, (also full of admiration) to watch him interview these celebrities. I watch his manner very carefully as he asks the questions and talks to these people and I see that his way of talking to Om Puri is completely different from his behaviour with Sameera Reddy. He asks piercing, controversial and provoking questions of all of them, but his manner is radically different in talking to Mika and talking to Kader Khan. He always respects the senior guests, plays around with the younger ones, flirts with the girls and in doing all of that he always maintains his class.

That's the thing that I like more about M & S as compared to Comedy Circus. That touch of class. Even when he's mimicing Rabri Devi, or when he's cracking jokes on the prime minister, or dancing with Veena Malik, or flirting with a beautiful female guest, he always carries himself with class and dignity. And he treats his guests with dignity. He never hesitates in asking the tough questions but he never makes his guests feel bad while doing so. It takes considerable skill to do that with such a diverse range of personalities but Shekhar makes it look easy.

This time I am trying to learn that from him.

I am sure it helps that he's a celebrity himself and he has worked with so many people that he has developed this knack. The guests that he has worked with or people he knows personally, his behaviour shows it, within the limits of the show's format he is friendly but also a host. I notice all that and admire him for it.

When I watched the very first episode though (even though I checked it out months after its start, I started from episode one, courtesy of YouTube), there was the starting jingle and as I heard the words "The King is back...Shekar's back, the King is back" I thought, "Hmmm, Shekhar, ego much?" But then as he started talking he mentioned the first incarnation of the show and talked about himself and his activities in the last 11 years, he said, "Gaana nahin aata tha phir bhi album nikaali." Then I knew he was okay. A man who can make fun of himself earns my respect immediately.

Yes, that's another one of his accomplishments. He went into a singing reality show and also published an album of his songs. I have only heard him sing in M & S and I won't say he doesn't know how to sing. It's obvious that he has worked on his music and he has learnt how to sing. But in my humble and outspoken opinion, it's his voice. He has a great speaking voice and I think he's singing in the same voice. I think he will have to experiment and find his singing voice. It should not be hard for him as he's a very good mimic. I am not a singer or a singing guru so I have no right to give him advice but I just thought I'd add my two cents.

There's one thing I admire about Indian TV channels, instead of crying "copyright infringement, oh save us, our money, we are being robbed!" they are leading the YouTube revolution. There used to be so many people who used to upload Comedy Circus a day or two after it was telecast on Indian television. But it was always in 6 or 7 parts per episode and the quality wasn't good. Then Sony TV started uploading on their own YouTube channel. The show is in one long segment and the quality is awesome. I don't know if they make money from it, but I still get to watch it for free just like before and now I don't even look at any other uploads by individual uploaders.

Sab TV also does the same thing with Movers and Shakers. I am still catching up on the backlog so I don't know how quick it is but the quality is good and I love it that I can watch it so easily even though I don't live in India.

Other than YouTube M&S also has a Facebook page which Shekhar announces in each show AND a twitter account. The Facebook page is - Other than being a web presence for the show, the page has extra photos from the episodes, jokes, people's comments and other tidbits like the upcoming guest's photo etc. Their Twitter handle is @Shekhardobara

Now about the new format that they have started from episode 36. In simple words, I don't like it. They have changed the set but that I don't care about, the things I don't like are these.

The interviews are shorter, instead there are some silly activities which feel like cheap formulas and don't feel like they belong in M & S. They have added a section of comedy with Priya Raina and one of the Comedy Circus comedians. Priya Raina is extremely boring, and the comedians don't do much either as the script for them is 3rd class to non-existent.

Another thing which maybe small but matters to me is Shekhar's entrance. Oh btw, M & S also features the famous Surinder on the tabla, yes, the same one as in Comedy Circus. But I learnt from first episode that he was in the first incarnation of M & S as well so I think he belongs more here than CC. Here also Shekhar cracks jokes on Surinder but here Surinder is more part of it and it feels like he's treated better in this show. I have seen him speak more in M & S in 5 episodes than I saw in 15 seasons of Comedy Circus. I used to suspect he was mute! Here Surinder himself makes the jokes and takes part. So it feels good that Shekhar treats the band members well and includes them in things, otherwise on-air talent can be really snobbish as well.

Yes, so Shekhar's entrance. He used to climb down from steps on the right side of the set. There is a cute girl who stands/sits right in front of the band and most of the time when Shekhar came down the steps she would hold her hand up and Shekhar would give her a slow, soft high-five as he passed her on his way to his mark on centre-stage. Couple of episodes his didn't do this but in about 32 of the 35 episodes he did. (Yes, I do know the girl singer has changed after a few episodes but it still applies). Even though it's a small thing, I used to like it very much. It made me feel like, they were all, Shekhar, the girl, the band, part of the same team and there was a comraderie between them on and off-camera.

Now it doesn't feel like that. Shekhar's entrance is from behind centre-stage he comes and stands on his mark and starts the show. Not so good.

It's not just me who's missing the old format. Judging from the comments on their Facebook page, nobody is liking the new cheap-thrill format. I hope Sab will listen to the public demand and go back to the old format.

One thing they never did in the old or new format is to show the studio audience. I think they should.

Other than that, I am really enjoying it and I love it that it's 22 minutes 5 days a week. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kalidas Katha

Princess Vidyottama was a scholar woman, and very proud of it. She was insistent that she'd marry only a man who would defeat her in Shastrarth (scholistic debate). All the learned men in the kingdom tried, but all of them lost to her and had to leave in disgrace. 

The pundits of the state also tried their luck but none could defeat this learned woman. Their ego was hurt and they decided to join together and get their revenge by making her get married to an absolute fool. With this intent they ventured off to find the most stupid man in the kingdom. 

They happened to come across Kalidas who was sitting on a tree branch and cutting it, sawing between him and the tree trunk, putting himself in danger. 

The pundits shouted to him, "O fool! You are cutting the branch you are sitting on. You will fall!"

Kalidas replied, "So what? It took me a long time to climb up here. At least I will come down faster!"

They then knew that he was the right person! They persuaded him to come down and talk to them. By promising to get him married to a beautiful princess they persuaded him to come with them. But they made him promise that come what may he would not speak a single word in front of the princess. He agreed.

The pundits took care that Kalidas looked the part of a learned pundit with his clothes and appearance. When they put him in front of Princess Vidyottama they told her that he was a great scholar and they were all actually his disciples. They told her that he was willing to engage in Shastrarth with her but he had a maun-vrat (vow of silence) which would last for a few more days. The princess agreed to have the debate by hand-signals.

Here's how it went.

The princess lifted one finger to signify that God is one!

Kalidas in his idiot mind thought that was she was saying, "I would gouge your eye out!"
He lifted two fingers to say, "I will gouge both your eyes out!" 

The princess was confused. She asked the pundits to interpret. They asked her why did you lift one finger. 
She said, "I said that God is one."
परमात्मा एक है। 

Pundits said, "Guruji says that God and Human Soul are two. Without the one the other is incomplete." 
"आत्मा और परमात्मा दो हैं। एक के बिना दूसरा अधूरा है। "

The princess conceded and they moved on. 

Our genius hero thought that she was saying, "I would slap you!"
So he showed her a fist to say, "If you slap me, I would punch you!" 

Again the princess was confused. She asked the pundits to interpret. They asked her, "What did you mean?"
She said, "I said the human body is only a combination of the five elements." 
शरीर तो पांच तत्वों का पुतला है। 

The pundits said, "Guruji replied that when these five elements come together only then the human body is constructed which can be used to worship God!"
जब पंचतत्वों से मिलकर शरीर बनता है तभी मनुष्य उसे इश्वर की आराधना में लगा सकता है। 

This continued for a little while more and finally the princess conceded her defeat. She was happy to marry the learned scholar who had finally defeated her and proven himself worthy of her. 

Now, here comes the twist in the story. 

After the wedding, on the wedding night, Princess Vidyottama and Kalidas were in her royal palace. Out of the window Kalidas spotted a camel and delightedly pointed it out to the princess. 

But when he spoke, he used the word "utra" for camel whereas the correct word in Sanskrit for camel is "ushtra."  
The smart princess understood in a second what had happened and how the pundits had gotten her married to an utter fool. 

She was furious! She called Kalidas a fool and kicked him out. 

But hold on, this is not the end, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost

Spurned by his bride and tortured by his love, Kalidas left the kingdom and travelled far and wide. He was not heard from for many years. 

But several years later, he returned back to the same kingdom. He had spent the years studying and learning everything he could. And now he was a real scholar. 

When he knocked on the door of  Vidyottama's private palace, she asked, "Who is there?" 

In Sanskrit, this sentence has four words. Such was the new, learned Kalidas that he created 4 epics each one starting from one word of that sentence - Meghadutam, Kumarsambhava, , Raghuvansam, Ritusamhara. 

He wrote many other works one of which "Abhigyan Shakuntalam" is considered his masterpiece and was one of the first Sanskrit works to be translated to English. The flow of his flawless Sanskrit in those epics is still unmatched to this date. 

He went on to become one of the "nine gems" of Emperor Vikramaditya's court. 

Now, here's my shame. When our Sanskrit teacher told us this story in high school, he told us the princess's question also in Sanskrit and then he narrated the first shloke (verse) in the original Sanskrit from each of the 4 epics created by Kalidas illustrating how each one started  with one of the words in the question. I feel very ignorant to admit that I don't remember any of that in the original Sanskrit. :( 

Why iPhone sucks - Google Rating

This is a proud moment for me. If you Google "iPhone sucks" or "why iPhone sucks" my post is listed on the first page of the results.

I must thank all the Apple fanbois who came to my page and commented with a frothing mouth. I thank also the  Android users who took the time to comment and helped educate the fanbois. My sympathy-full thanks to the iPhone users/victims who shared their painful experiences iOS. I must stop now, for god's sake, it's not the Oscar.

But seriously, thank you for all your comments and participation. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Spin City - M.J. Fox

Man, I love this guy! I watched his "Family Ties" and he was a young man in that. I got Spin City only because it had M J Fox in the cast and it's totally worth it. Even as a young man he used to be amazing on screen and in Spin City he's still got that magic. The show is awesome, and it's because of him.

As per a quote from another TV show, "M. J. Fox never looks at the camera."

I just finished watching the finale of Season 4 where he's leaving. They have done a great job on it, an emotional episode but still very funny. Normally, I would stop watching this show at this point and dump the next 2 seasons but I know who's replacing him in the next season - Charlie Sheen. He's another one of my favourites and a worthy replacement. I am very curious to see how he fits MJ's shoes though, won't be easy. But I wanted to write this post before I moved on.

People who are obsessed with height and write essays on the success of tall people in the world must see Michael J Fox in action.

Here's a video clip from Spin City. I loved this dialogue (you'll know which one I mean) and it's just a coincidence that it's delivered by MJ. Enjoy.

Btw, for the males in my readers, the hottie in the clip is Connie Britton. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Do iOS Apps Crash More than Android?

I can't believe it! Apple fanbois are always on about how Android is a rough and under-development OS and how iOS is so polished and smooth and everything just works! And this is the result?

Full article here -

Android Vs. iOS - The definitive video comparison

A very good video with examples of how things work differently with iOS and Android. This was shared by one of my readers on the Why iPhone sucks - the Fact List post. 

It has some good examples to shut up the Apple Fanbois except the ones who are so totally brainwashed the truth doesn't matter to them. Oh, and this is just part 1 of a 5 part series. 

Enjoy ;) 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Comedy Circus Katha

I should warn you now I am going to act like one of those females who spend their evenings watching the soap opera's and then spend the next day discussing the characters of the soaps like they are real people. I am only going to discuss the reality shows and people in them are real appearing in their own person, so I think I am more justified. Oh god no, no, no, no, I don't mean "reality shows" I mean these talent shows where comedians come on stage and make audience laugh. The reality shows? Ugh! I maintain that the sure sign of the decline of our culture is the popularity of those reality shows. But that story some other time.

The first thing I want to say is that I don't like Comedy Circus, never liked it from the beginning. But I watch every episode and even re-watch some of them or part of them later. Contradiction? Well, I am a complex human being, baby!

It was several years ago when my nephew told me about Comedy Circus and I told him I didn't like it. I preferred The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. I had bought several DVDs of TGILC because I loved it so much. Now that I am a regular viewer of Comedy Circus I still say I don't like it, and now I am going to dissect it and explain why it is so.

Some people say that humour should not be analysed and something is either funny or it is not. They are idiots. Comedy is an art but not a mindless art, like any art form it has its principles and like anything else humour can be studied and developed. Note that I said humour can be developed not sense of humour.

At this point I should clarify how I judge if someone has a good sense of humour or not. It's very simple. If they laugh at my jokes, they have a good sense of humour. There is no other definition.

The biggest, most glaring difference between TGILC and CC is the format. TGILC has a very simple format, one comedian or (rarely) a team of two, one microphone, 2 or 3 judges (2 regular plus guests sometimes). That's it. Oh, and a beautiful anchor. But both shows have that. Plus the team of musicians also is common in both.

CC's format is more complex - a writing team, teams of 2 or 3 comedians, an elaborate script, props, sets for the acts and some judges (2 or 3 regular and then guests).

So why I think CC's brand of humour is inferior to TGILC? Various reasons.

1. In CC's format it's easier to do comedy because there are other comedians in your team to help out and give you cues, there is a creative team to write your scripts, there are lot of props and sets to help you create that scene, and overall setup of the show persists from week to week and a lot of jokes are created around that.

In TGILC, it was usually one comedian, coming with his own material and performing in front of the audience and judges. Those who have stood behind a microphone (I have) know how terrifying it can be. But there were some really talented people who created such amazing performances with only their words to create the scene. Some of those performances were really memorable, while unavoidably there were weak performances as well.

2. CC's brand of humour is cheap and is tailored to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Not all of it is like that but there was a touch of class in TGILC humour which is missing here.

In the material itself there is an abundance of scatological humour, innuendoes, slapstick and other off-colour material.  I believe that the TGILC material was censored better.

Many times, the CC writers and artists try to get away with just making jokes on other artists, Surinder and the judges. Personal jokes while they are funny are also dangerous because if you are not careful they can become cheap, offensive and not funny. This has happened many times in CC.

In CC the performances tend to favour more slipstick humour and a colour of "nautanki" than a refined TV show. Those who have seen a real "nautanki" in Indian villages will understand this, there is no other way for me to explain it. Well, they call themselves Comedy "Circus" I think that's justified.

3. There is also more evident commercialism. Nobody ever came to TGILC to promote their film as far as  I know. Some of these guests who come to promote their film in CC, sometimes add a star value to the show, most times they are just parasitic waste, taking time for no good reason.

4. The nautanki flavour is also enhanced by other factors like adding song and dances to the acts and sometimes between the acts as well (in grand finales mostly).

5. Scoring of course is subjective in such shows but I am more dissatisfied by the scoring in CC mostly.

But there are good things in the show which I do like. For example the talent. And here my first point is vindicated by examples. The man, or girl, who can stand in front of a mic alone and give a good performance (like in TGILC) is a good comedian. Some of these have come to Comedy Circus from TGILC. Examples include Kapil Sharma, Sudesh Lehri, Bharti Singh, Sugandha, Rajeev Thakur, Kuldeep Dubey etc. There are some new talents also that have come and gone only in CC like Mantra, Shweta Tiwari, etc.

Most people will notice one name I didn't mention here. Krishna. That's because I don't like him. I don't consider him a good comedian. I think he survives only because he has a good screen presence and he has Sudesh with him. I find his brand of comedy very cheap and third class appealing to the lower classes.

Another good thing in CC is that they make fun of everything including especially their own surroundings. These jokes when written and performed properly are very good.

They use all kinds of formulas like themed shows, introducing celebrities, singers and soap actors in their shows to create humour. Some of it is very good.

I like the judges as well mostly. Archana Puran Singh laughs like a mad woman, but that's what comedy is for. Since she has done many successful comic roles (remember Miss Brigenza?) in Hindi films, I think she's justified in judging a comedy show even though I don't always agree with her scores. And I salute her sporting spirit that she can take so many jokes on herself, even when some of them are in poor taste. And she looks good. Yes, I said that.

Oh that reminds me. The beautiful girls on stage, as part of the teams or the anchors, I like them as well, when they are good.

In conclusion, I would say the format itself is good but it needs better control over content and class. It's been slipping lately, even more than before.

Hey, this is fun! Maybe I'll write more posts on Comedy Circus later. After all, this is the only Indian TV show that I watch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thinking of my father

As a personal preference I am not a big fan of overly personal or sentimental posts on a public blog. But my blog is an expression of myself so it would not be right if I insulate it from my feelings altogether.

So without going into too much detail I just want to use this space to remember my father who passed away 16th of May last year. Of course, I miss him and always will but instead of feeling sorry for myself I want to mention a few things that give me comfort when I think of him.

He was an amazing man. In so many ways! And it gives me comfort to remember that I realized this while he was alive and I let him know how much I admired and loved him!

Much as a huge shock it was to me and rest of the family that he passed away very suddenly, it is a comfort to think that he didn't suffer. He was a very self-reliant man and never wanted to be dependent on others. And he was self-reliant to his last moment. I think that's how he would have wanted it.

He lived a full life, with a full, flourishing, loving family. His sons were with him in his last moment.

In Indian culture it is said that the first teacher is the mother and second teacher the father. He fulfilled that responsibility amazingly well. Almost everything I know I have learnt from him directly or indirectly.

He was a strict disciplinarian but a very loving father as well.

I find it comforting that I made him proud of me, and arguably, in my siblings I was his favourite.

He left a gap in my life that cannot be filled. But I find comfort in the thought that wherever he is, he is always with me!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 - A Simple Review

Samsung Galaxy S3 - The New Champion?

Samsung launched the much-awaited Samsung Galaxy S3 (though it's SIII officially) last night in a much hyped event in London. I was not dedicated enough to stay home and watch the live streaming from the event so I was on the road going to the cinema when this was happening. But I was dedicated enough to check the specs and first review on my Galaxy Note while the trailers were playing.

Now, that I have read the spec's and seen some initial reactions from people, I feel I need to speak up and add my 2 cents. I think I am seeing about 50-50 reaction of "liked" and "disappointed". Some of the disappointed ones are Apple iSheep and fanbois as is obvious from their comments, but some of them are real people as well. Not saying there aren't any idiots in the real people. One guy says the Samsung phone designs don't make him "feel good". Dude, it's a phone, not a girlfriend!

Before I talk in detail about the specs let me make one clear-cut prediction. This phone will be HUGELY successful! And you can quote me on that! The caveat would be that no big issues are discovered and Samsung and network providers don't play any dirty tricks in marketing. I don't expect that and I am saying this will be at least as successful as the Galaxy SII if not more.

Let's talk about the spec's. At a glance they are:

1.4 GHz Quad-Core Exonys processor
16GB/32GB/64GB built-in memory
MicroSD card
4.8" HD Super AMOLED screen with 1280x720 resolution
8MP rear camera
1.9 MP front camera
2100 mAh replaceable battery
Physical Home button on the front
Firmware: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Price: £500
Release date: 30th May (available for pre-order now)
Typical deals: Free with £36/month 24 months contract

Understandably, there's some criticism over just the 1.4 GHz processor and small amount of RAM. The 8MP camera is also a disappointment, it should have been 12MP. I won't try to argue with anyone who says that hardware of this phone is a disappointment though I don't think so, but I agree that it's not spectacular. Unlike most people, my only expectation was that it be better than the SGSII which IMHO it is.

(According to Samsung the new processor peforms better but consumes 20% less power than the SGS2.)

I won't discuss all the new features or it'll be next year before I am done but let's see why I say it'll be a success.

Ever heard that the pleasure of life is in the little things? Apparently Samsung has heard it too. There are lots of small changes which will be a value-addition in an S3 owner's life and make him the target of envy.

First of all the screen is awesome and I expect it to be amazing like the SGS2 and Galaxy Note. The processor even though only 1.4 will be another awesome part, the SGS2 is still the fastest phone and SGS3 will be the only one surpassing it I am sure. The big screens are all the rage these days (yes 3.5" is NOT the perfect size) and 4.8 will be really good to watch videos and browse the web on. I know I love the 5.3 inch screen on my Note and the SGS2 feels puny compared to it. The 133gms weight will be quite nice to handle because of its distribution, again I speak from my experience with the Note which is heavier.

There are small enhancements like the phone vibrates if you pick it up and there's a missed call or text waiting on it. I want that feature! Notification light is another thing I always miss, it helps in real life. Same with physical home button. It's not a coincidence that both my current phones have it. It's so much more convenient to use it to wake up the device.

Face-unlock is there as well which is an Android 4.0 feature.

Samsung's TouchWiz UI is quite nice to use, I have one phone with it and one without, so I know that you miss it. SGS3 has a plastic body which people argue feels cheap but I like it. It makes the phone light and the design makes it feel stylish rather than cheap. I don't want to carry a glass-backed phone like an idiot!

At 8.6 mm SGS3 is only 0.1mm thicker than SGS2, a slim design feels even better in a bigger phone. The phone also has an eye-tracking technlogy which keeps the screen on while you are reading stuff and turns it off when you put it down. I need that feature badly. It's called Smart Stay. This will help with the battery life as well.

I'd like a 12MP camera like everybody else, but I won't cry about it. 8MP is quite good for candid photography considering the settings and options you get in Android camera. I just bought a DSLR recently (Canon 7D no less) so if I am going to need awesome photos I will carry that, for casual snaps 8MP is fine. So it's not a dealbreaker for me. Flash would have been a dealbreaker but it has the LED flash. It also has a replaceable battery without which I will NOT buy a phone. Same with MicroSD card. I am glad Samsung included it and didn't go the HTC One X route. Without an SD card slot, I would have shunned the phone like last year's girlfriend.

Samsung has also developed S-Voice which is being called the Siri replacement and so far I have read some reviewers calling it better than Siri as in you can do more things with it. Well, anything will be better than Siri as you have to carry around a POS iPhone to use Siri. But I am curiuos as how it'd behave when the music is playing. Supposedly you can still control the phone by voice while music is playing on the phone. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a lot of use for a voice-operated phone in a real life, but sometimes it's handy and can make the difference between using or not using your phone.

For example, last weekend I was walking out of Waterloo station trying to pick my way through the throngs of humanity that is always there and I needed to call someone but wasn't getting through. I didn't want to take my phone out in that crowd while trying to walk fast so I just pressed the button on my bluetooth handset and said "Redial last number". Even in that din it picked up my command and made the call. Every time. I didn't get through finally but I could try 5-7 times while I walked.

With SGS3 when you pick up the phone and if it has a missed call or text, you just put it to your ear and it will dial the number. So useful.

Voice typing has already been good on Android, I expect that to be still there and better with 1.4 Quad-core processor.

For connectivity, there is Wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, all bands covered. Bluetooth 4.0 is there and you cna bet it won't be a crippled BT like you find in iCrap. You can connect to your Samsung TV via DLNA or use MHL cable to connect to any monitor or TV. But that's not new, just retained. HSPA+ is still there and I expect USB hosting to be there as well. I love both!

There's an awesome feature that I have sometimes wished I had. You can play video in a pop-up window and continue doing other things on the screen at the same time! I am a born multi-tasker. I KNOW I would love this!

Sensors include GPS/A-GPS, a built-in gyroscope, digital compass, plus screen-flipping accelerometer, proximity as well as a barometer.

And of course, there's NFC. :)

One thing I really don't like in this phone though and that's microsim. I really hate these manufaturers (Apple) who make you cut up your SIM to use the phone. HTC joined Apple in this with One X.

So far this is the only dealbreaker for me but to be honest with you, I can see myself going through the 7 stages of dealing with loss. Right now I am in Denial - I am NOT going to buy a phone for which I have to cut up my SIM card! There will be Anger - "Why Samsung, why??". But at some point there will be Compromise - maybe I can use a microSIM adapter when changing the SIM to another phone? Also, T-Mobile is really good to me and I am sure they will change my SIM for free again when I want like they did 2 months ago.

I don't understand why Samsung followed in Apple's shoes though. I am really disappointed with that.

Overall, my conclusion is that it would be a phone worth having, depending on what you are upgrading from. I am upgrading from Samsung Galaxy S2 (retaining my Galaxy Note) and I think it's worth it. But then I love smartphones and I love Android!

Feel free to add your comments below. Are you disappointed? Or is this what you really expected? Apple Fanboi's are also welcome to leave their comments but just beware that your comments are not mindless, iSheep blubber..I will rip you to pieces!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Random Sher - Hijr

क्या गज़ब है कि हिज्र के दिन भी
ज़िन्दगी में शुमार होते हैं

Translation: Hijr means separation from loved ones or that one beloved. The shayar expresses his surprises that even the days of 'hijr' are counted as part of life. 

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