March 15, 2015

Can one take long exposure photos using Nikon ML3 ?

Nikon ML3 is the wireless remote which works with Nikon DSLR cameras using the inbuilt infrared option. I read several articles on web regarding long exposure photography and most of them mentioned a separate wired shutter release option as a prerequisite, but I did not come across any information regarding using of a wireless shutter release option for "Bulb" or "Time" mode for long exposures. 

I had already placed an order for Nikon ML3 for my D3300 and would have been disappointed if it had not worked with the bulb mode. Fortunately, it did. Pressed once, it locks the shutter and pressed again, it releases the shutter. It does not, seemingly, differentiate between bulb and time mode, but it essentially works well. 

Go ahead and buy it if you want to experiment with long exposure or for controlling shutter remotely, but make sure you also buy the spare CR 2025 battery for the wireless remote to be on the safer side.

November 19, 2014

Audio testing

My niece crying

My niece getting up from sleep

I have been dabbling with audio recordings since quite sometime now. Recently acquired Zoom H1 and just yesterday recorded these two audio files and now putting this here to test how exactly the embedding options work on Blogger blogs.

October 14, 2014

Interaction with friends and family on social media sites

I learnt very late that I better not interact with friends & family on social media sites. In fact, I have blocked few of my best friends on Facebook and don't follow any of my relatives, except one, on Twitter. I don't know or have forgotten the reason why I blocked them many years ago. But now it just doesn't matter, neither to them, nor to me. I believe, social media can or should never replace our personal interaction with friends and family. That is why I dislike large family and friends WhatsApp groups. It, eventually, kind of becomes a substitute for the actual interaction.

June 18, 2014

Do you listen to music while reading books?

Not always do I listen to music while reading a book. Most of the times, it is only because I want to avoid the outside noise. For those moments, I am more grateful to those wonderful composers than those who put their thoughts into words.

Music, when I am reading , elevates not just the writing but my entire thought process. Yes,  writing can take us to unimagined places and makes us think and ponder over so many things. But when I listen to music in the background, that makes me experience emotions which are far more intense, far more complex and which can never be explained. In that moment, I completely surrender to the music in a way I can, perhaps, never surrender to words.

April 07, 2014

Goodbye forever

Yesterday, I went to a shop near my uncle's house to buy groceries for my aunt. The shop which was reasonably a big one, was surprisingly manned by a very young and talkative kid.

He started conversing with me as if he had known me for ages. He was continuously talking about cricket and asked if I was following the t20 world cup. When I said I only watched test cricket and stopped watching that too, of late,  he had a look of someone talking to an alien. Said he liked Dhoni and I was also surprised when he started rattling about the spot fixing controversy. Going by his size,  I thought he was wasn't aged beyond 9 years. But then, when I asked if he was going to school, he said he was now in sixth standard. Only then I realised it was the summer holidays for him.

I was done with the purchasing at the stores and  enquired if there was any shop,  nearby, which sold milk. He immediately said, "We sell milk too" (with an expression of how could I not know). I confessed, I was from a different locality and had come to my uncle's place and didn't know much about the area.

Gave him the money, he ran home and got me the change. I chatted with  him for a couple of minutes about his schooling and cricket and said bye to him and was about to start the bike, when he innocently asked, "You are not going to come here next time, no?"

I knew, perhaps, I wouldn't visit that shop again. But I didn't want to disappoint him. He perhaps asked that question very casually, or not. But to me, who had come to the shop only minutes after saying goodbye to my uncle's dead body, it sounded very differently. Lied to him and said, "No, I might come again."

March 26, 2013

Rangayana in trouble

If you are in Mysore, or closely following the developments of Mysore, it is hard to miss the issue of theatre repertory Rangayana. It pains to see that the organization which should be concentrating on the production of plays is now embroiled in bureaucratic problems.

Rangayana is a state government funded theatre repertory started under the initiative of B.V. Karanth almost 25 years ago. Most of their initial years were spent for the sake of training. Public shows started only after few years of training. It has taken lot of effort, mainly by Karanth and later on by others, to build the team.

It was when Prasanna became the director that Rangayana started the practice of weekend shows. And that practice is in place till date. If you visit Rangayana on a Sunday, you can be rest assured of a play being performed at six thirty pm (usually by Rangayana or by other teams when they are on a tour).

Being in Mysore, we get to watch other amateur team’s productions too. And as part of theatre festivals like Bahuroopi (organised by Rangayana) we get to watch performances by some of the most renowned theatre groups across the country. But having watched the productions of Rangayana, it is difficult to be easily impressed by any other performance. That is the standard which Rangayana has created and we Mysoreans are lucky to have such a repertory here. After watching so many plays and shows of Rangayana repertory, unknown to them, we audience, have developed a kind of rapport with the actors and the team.

But now, the government, on the idiotic advice of Ranga Samaja, wants to split the team and transfer the artists, whom we have watched all these years as part of Rangayana. The issue of transfer started during the short tenure of controversial director of Rangayana, B.Jayashree. But fortunately for Rangayana and also for Mysore, her tenure did not last long and after her departure from here, the issue was buried, though temporarily. That was during year 2009-10.

Now with the establishment of two more Rangayanas, one at Dharwad and another at Shimoga, Government wants to use the services of the experienced actors here. The transfer of 12 actors of Rangayana to the other two branches is with the idea of facilitating the newly established Rangayanas to get proper training.

This is a very foolish step from the governing body, supported by the Government. It is very difficult to believe that the governing body is acting without any mala fide intention, but even if one gives them the benefit of doubt, one fails to see the logic behind this act.

Ranga Samaja is being lazy in not trying to search for new actors and instead trying to depute the actors here at Rangayana as trainers at the new branches. These people are trained to be actors and not trainers. Moreover, the team which has been producing plays since 25 years would have developed a comfort zone with each other and it reflects in their plays too.

We Mysoreans are used to watching the plays of the same team since so many years and now, all of a sudden, if 12 actors of the team are sent away, who will act in the productions of Rangayana? Not to be disrespectful to the others, but the 12 actors who are transferred are among the best actors of the team, at least for me, personally.
If they are not part of the team, there is no way I or many other regular Rangayana audiences would watch the plays. It also means that the repeat shows of the old productions, of which, these 12 actors are part of would not be performed or would be performed by the new actors who are not as experienced as the present team. There is no way the quality of the productions will remain the same. The highest standards of acting which we have come to expect from Rangayana would be lost forever.

Ranga Samaja and also, the government, have to remember that Rangayana Mysore was started with 25 fresh faces. It is difficult to guess as to what is stopping them from doing the same at other two newly established Rangayanas.

The actors are now fighting for cancellation of the transfer order and exploring many ways to solve this problem. And the director of Rangayana, B V Rajaram, who also supported the actors in their protest against the transfer order, was immediately sacked. Curiously, the director was not taken into confidence before the transfer orders were issued to the actors. The incident only shows the dictatorial attitude of government towards one of the most prominent cultural institutions of Karnataka.

This is something the actors of Rangayana should have realised long back, but at least now, hopefully, after this issue gets solved, they should realise that the more quicker they come out of the clutches of Ranga Samaja and the bureaucracy, the better it is. We audience do not know who are the members of the governing body and how are they elected and for how long they remain elected. But we are now aware that such a thing exists and we want the old Rangayana back, free of it's clutches from the unknown and faceless Ranga Samaja and the non empathetic bureaucracy.

April 06, 2012

Review of Blob- first ever Symbian app for Blogger

It has been many years since Blogger was started (1999) and later on, acquired by Google (2004). And Symbian platform has been around since 15 years. Surprisingly, Blogger never thought of developing an app for Symbian nor did the developers. To be fair to Blogger, the Android and iOS apps were developed by them only recently. But at this point of time, no US based service will probably invest their time and money on developing for Symbian (Kindle is another such service).

But in the last one year, Symbian has perhaps seen the birth of several apps for the platform than it did in all those years of existence. But none of them filled the void of a missing Symbian app for Blogger services. That is why I was overjoyed when I saw this blog post by developer Anand Bibek.

The app went live last night on Ovi Store. But is it really worth the wait or is it just another QT/QML app? Read on.

As you start the app, a fairly simple Sign in/Sign up screen shows up. I would believe anyone purchasing this app would already be an user of Google's Blogger service and hence would not require using the sign up process. Still, if you press the sign up button, it will take you to the native browser for signing up process. On pressing the sign in button and logging in, it will ask you to “allow access” to your Gmail/Blogger account just like few of the other QT apps.

initial screen showing list of blogs
confirmation dialog
Once you are logged in, the list of blogs which you own or part of, as a group blogger, will show up. This being a pro version, there is no limit on the number of blogs you can manage through this app (there will also be a free version, I'm told, which is on it's way to the Store at present, with the limitation of three latest blogs and blogposts in the list see update).

If you have used any of the other popular QT apps for Symbian, then you would be familiar with the UI settings of the Blob. From the top of the screen, you can access the Belle notification bar and on the bottom of the screen, there are three buttons, Quit, Reload and Options. One little thing which I liked about this Quit (or the “back”) button is that you don't have to worry about pressing it accidentally-I have many times exited from Nokia Store unintentionally by pressing the X button. It will ask for confirmation on pressing the back button. I hope other QT apps will come up with similar arrangement.

Settings screen
list of blog posts
The options button displays Settings, Logout and Quit options. In the settings menu, it was a pleasure to see the way font size settings were implemented. You can select any font size setting as you wish (from 8 to 18). But the best part of settings menu is the option to enable white theme. I liked the white theme better than the default black theme. I simply couldn't go back to the default theme after using the white theme (never mind the AMOLED screen).

It is written on the about page (which is curiously same as the settings page) that “more features and lots of updates are planned” I'm glad that app will receive updates. Though we usually pay for the app in it's present status, it is nice to know that there will be updates and improvements.

Now, coming back to the blog list, once you click on any of your blogs, the list of your recent blogposts and drafts will appear in sequential order just like it does on Blogger website. On pressing the settings button, one can access “All comments”, reload (useful if you have any data connectivity problems like me), settings, logout and exit. Settings here are same as the settings in the home page of the app.

By pressing the “all the comments” option, you can see all the comments of your blog. But you can only do that. I wish one could post or delete comments them from this screen itself. When I asked the developer, he said that one could do so only from the individual blogposts where those comments are actually posted. Hope this feature will be added in future.

black theme
white themed post editor
The all important blog post editor-the middle “plus” mark button at the bottom bar takes us to the “create new” screen. As you can see, there are four options below the “title”, text editor, text formatting, labels and blog post scheduler for scheduling posts or changing the time of the posts. Apart from the label settings, what impressed me most was the rich text editor with bold, italics, underline, strike through, link, paragraph break and embed image options. 

text formatting
landscape post editor

Formatting is very simple too, select the written text and then apply which ever formatting options you want to. The option to upload photo does not exist right now. But when asked, Anand Bibek, the developer, said that it was a planned feature. So, right now, you cannot upload photos directly through Blob. But there is a workaround. Upload photos through cuteBox or Dropian and then embed the link here. I know, there are no formatting options for photos, but in case you are so particular about uploading them, then this is the only way.

While on post creator, if you wish not to upload the blogpost, you can save it as a draft for later revision. Though offline saving of draft is not present right now, I'm told it will be present in the upcoming update for Blob. 

blog post with images
in-built browser
Regarding the comments, you can access the comments from the published posts by pressing the comments icon from the bottom bar of that particular blog post. I wish there was an option to reply to comments apart from the now existing delete option. 

One of the good features of this app is the in-built browser for viewing the links inside the blog posts. That is really a relief, since I do not want the app to open the default Belle browser just for checking the links (for that matter I do not want to open the default Belle browser for anything. Opera Mini and Mobile both do better job than Belle browser).

I have been using this app since almost a month (beta testing it). And I have seen it improve in leaps and bounds since the first version which I tested. To conclude, I'm more than impressed with the functionality of Blob. All the basic features required for the using the services of Blogger are present. Agreed, there are few gaps (very few indeed) like absence of sharing options and not being able to reply to comments, but that is not going to stop me from recommending this app to any Symbian user who uses Blogger regularly. With promised updates, things can only get better with Blob.

Ovi Store link of Blob 

Update: Ovi Store link of free version of Blob 

Update 2: The limitation is actually with regard to creating of blog posts. One can only view and delete blog posts in the free version. But with free version you can have a first hand experience of the text editor of Blob.