Sunday, April 22, 2007

Free PDF Viewer for Windows

Logged into Windows to install a few security updates and update my laptop BIOS. Also ended up downloading a pdf file and found that I did not have Adobe Reader installed on this machine. Funny, as this laptop is close to a year old. Shows how much neglect Windows on my laptop gets.

Anyway, just wanted a lightweight PDF viewer and looked around on Wikipedia and saw that there is an excellent program called Sumatra PDF. It's based on libpoppler which is the same pdf rendering library that evince uses. Nifty!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cowon , now in india

My favourite MP3 player manufacturer, Cowon just started distributing it's hardware in India. Though I've never owned a Cowon product, I've been following them for nearly a year and my must-have MP3 player is the Cowon iAudio X5 60GB. To my surprise as I was browsing the official Cowon website, I came across the 'Where to Buy' link and (surprise, surprise), there was our dear Indian flag.

Here are the contact details if anyone needs them:
LipLap Systems Pvt. Ltd, A-213 , Virwani Industrial Estate, W.E Highway, Goregaon, Mumbai - 400063. Email : iaudio _at_ liplap _dot_ com.

Here is a detailed review of the MP3 player I'm interested in, iAudio X5 (60GB). It's a bit outdated player but still one of the most feature rich, non-DRM supporting, open-formats(Ogg) playing player which runs Linux (yay). Also it's fully hackable by installing the rockbox firmware. Liplap did seem to have the X5L which has better battery life but a bit thicker for around Rs.17,000

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bandipur : A tale of two bandhs

me decided to go to bandipur to visit the Bandipur National Park on Friday. Well this trip was even less planned than the dandeli one. Atleast for the dandeli one, I had an address, a telephone number and a name to look for when I got there. The Bandipur trip was totally chaotic from the word go.

Day 1 : Saturday March 31st
Started at 10:00 from Bangalore. When we landed at KGBS, heard that there was a strike in Tamilnadu and all outward buses to T.N were cancelled. Bandipur lies on the border of Karnataka and T.N and one needs to take an Ooty bus from Bangalore to reach there. Once we got the refund, we decided to take a bus to Mysore. Reached Mysore at 14:00 (blame the traffic), had lunch there and took a bus to Ooty (strange!). Bandipur is 18 KM from Ooty and around 13 KM from Gundlupet (the last place where IT-people can survive). Reached Bandipur at 17:00 and immediately took the mini-van jungle-safari.

The mini-van safari costs around Rs.75 and is recommended if you are on a shoestring budget or are travelling with a large crowd(15-20) in which case you can book the whole van for around Rs.3000 (will tell why this is a good thing later). The problem with the mini-van is that it's very very loud (animals in Africa can hear it), it's crowded (and hot), you'll have babies in the bus who can't stop crying and that everpresent jerk who thinks he's funny everytime he shouts "Look! TIGER!". Saw a bunch of peacocks, spotted deer and a elephant family which practiced "We 2, Our's 1".


After the safari, we had a problem, No place to stay and it was getting dark, fast! We tried the forst department if they will have us for the night, but they just shooed us away. As luck might have it, the person manning the STD/ISD booth helped us out by giving us the contact info of a farm owner who might have a "room with a double bed". Seeing the sun go down, we had two options, take the offer or prepare to be scratched and mauled by local langur's. We took the safer option.

The farm house we were to go to was around a couple of kilometers from the national park. It's pretty close to Tuskar Trails, a pretty well known resort. The owner (?) of the farmhouse Mr.Shumalu was very kind and showed us to the room. It was nothing to talk about: a double-bed, a bulb and an attached bath. We took the room and cleaned up. I guess we were just lucky as all throughout the night, cars kept pulling up to the farmhouse asking if any room was available. The place is packed during weekends as people come in from Kerala and T.N to dirty up the place. We just got lucky in finding a place to sleep.

Day 2 : Sunday April 1st

Saw daybreak after a long time. Beautiful..

Dawn at bandipur

Was back at the Bandipur National park at 7:00. Not quite satisfied by the mini-van safari the previous day, we decided to take the Gypsy Safari. This has a bag of advantages. It's quite, the driver stops the vehicle when you want it to, your party is the only one in the vehicle and he will take detour's into the jungle rather than follow a tar road. Downside ? it's costly, around Rs.1750 per jeep (can accomodate 6 people).

Peococks in mating ritual

Moving into the internal parts of the jungle gives you the probability of catching a glimpse of shy wildlife. We saw a bunch of tiger pugmarks all around the place. Either we were late in spotting the tiger or it didn't want to be seen. At all times you have the feeling that a tiger is watching you from the tall grass which is prevalent in the jungle. Spotted a Malabar red squirrel which os pretty huge for a squirrel. We saw a bunch of sambar, it's strange how sambar look so meek in photos but if you get close to one you can really feel it's presence. The male sambar is almost as big as a horse and is a daunting sight as it leaps away at the faintest sound. Though the jeep safari is around 90 minutes long, the last half hour was kinda boring as it was almost 10:30 and was starting to get hot. No hope of any animal coming out of the coolness of the jungle to be photographed by a bunch of camera weilding IT folk.

We had plans of visiting Ganeshgudy Betta but couldn't find anyone to take us there. So by 11:00 we decided to start the journey back to Bangalore and boarded a Mysore bus.

A turn of events
When we got to Gundlupet, people were talking about riots in Bangalore and Mysore. When we got to Nanjangud, the bus stopped and we were told that all buses to Mysore have been cancelled due to bus/lorry burning on Mysore highways. Time is around 11:30. After a hour of sitting at the Nanjangud bus terminus and getting our nerves in order we decided enough was enough and decided to keep moving towards Bangalore.

Took a private van to Mysore. On the way to Mysore we saw the burnt vehicles being towed way. Reached Mysore at 14:00 to see large groups of people walking and the city almost shutdown. Most of the shops were half-closed. Immediately took the next bus to Bangalore and reached 'bang' safely at 18:00.

Will definitely visit Bandipur again, just to relive the travelling experience. There's something about mixing with the local population and eating, sleeping and commuting as one among them.

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