Are apps cannibalizing print newspapers?

When I go back home on holiday, my morning routine is to fix myself a cup of tea and head down to the garden with a newspaper. I spend about an hour leisurely sipping a hot cuppa and reading the paper from cover to cover (well, almost!). Every time I return back, I promise myself that I will get up earlier so that I can read at least the headlines and a couple of stories before I rush off to work. But, I’m a late sleeper and a late riser, and reading the newspaper is something that I just cannot fit in to my morning rush to get to work. I used to try to get onto a newspaper website before I started the day at office so I was not totally oblivious to the world around me, but that didn’t always happen.

Then, I bought my iPhone and was initiated into the world of apps. The New York Times (NYT), Hindustan Times and NDTV were among the first few apps I downloaded. Of these, the NYT app is my absolute favorite. The headlines and the entire news story are downloaded when you start the app, and you can read them whenever you have a few moments to spare. I generally download the news as I run around getting ready, and then quickly scan through interesting news stories whenever I am stuck in traffic. You just gotta love technology, right?

Given our increasingly busy lifestyles and the proliferation of the internet and smartphones, it’s no wonder that newspapers (especially in the US) are seeing subscriber numbers fall. To deal with the loss of subscribers and declining ad sales, a few publishers are once again putting their online content behind a pay wall. The NYT has started asking users to pay up if they want unlimited access to digital content, and News Corp. put so much faith in the proliferation of content on tablets and on the success of Apple’s offering that it launched an iPad only subscription news magazine The Daily.

Are these moves warranted? Recent figures seem to say yes.

Paid subscriptions to read News Corp’s Wall Street Journal on tablets (Kindle, Nook, iPad and Android tablets) quadrupled to 200,000 in 2010 from about 50,000 a year ago. Though this may be a very small figure compared to the 1.6 million print copies that are circulated each day, it is a huge leap forward, and may well be the start of a brand new trend. Who knows, the day might come when people will have to go a museum to see what a printed newspaper looked like!

What’s your take? Do you prefer to read a newspaper the old fashioned way, or have you moved online?

Preserved memories: On keeping a hand-written journal

Oh, the smell of fresh paper. The feel of the rough page beneath my hand. The sense of possibilities expanding before me, as I gathered together my thoughts, put pen to paper, and wrote.

Gone are those good old days of keeping a hand-written journal. Of carrying around a diary everywhere I went, so I was never stumped if inspiration struck, or if I saw a particularly good quote that I wanted to note down forever, or just wanted to ruminate.

Click image to purchase on Amazon

Gone are those days spent flicking through old journals. Looking at ticket stubs from that movie I went for on my first date. Of the restaurant bill from the last time I met up with my gang. The coffee spill that put so much more atmosphere into the story of me that I was writing.

All of that has been replaced with my iPhone. True, it’s much smaller and lighter than my diary. It’s with me everywhere I go. The chances of my forgetting it anywhere are slim. But it’s just not the same as my dear diary.

There are no pages to rifle through. No coffee spills to highlight passages of my life. No drunken scrawls that I cannot decipher the morning after. It’s too neat. Too structured. Too…cold.

Click image to purchase on Amazon

Maybe its time for me to go and buy myself a new diary. A leather-bound one this time, maybe. To doodle. To write. To keep for posterity. So that years later, when I am dust scattered over the earth, someone can come across it and say “Oh, so that’s what writing looked like in those ancient days!”

What do you think? Do you miss your hand-written diary? Or are you happy recording your thoughts digitally?

How a book lover gets enticed into buying an e-reader

“I saw the Amazon Kindle today, one of the parents was reading on it. It’s amazing! It looks just like a book! I want to gift you one provided you stop buying so many books.”

My husband called me up in the middle of the day to tell me this. He never calls me during the day. Never.

I was so stunned, all I could manage was a weak

“Umm…ok….can we talk about this in the evening?”

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

Now, as those of you who read this blog regularly (love you guys!) know, I love physical books. I enjoy browsing through a bookstore, picking up books, going through the back cover and then randomly reading a few pages before deciding to buy it. I have a bookshelf at home that is groaning under the weight of filled with books I’ve stuffed into it. And now, I am getting a new, bigger, fancier bookshelf built to hold my books and some doo-dads.

The husband, though, just wants the compulsive book buying to stop. Thus, the offer for the Kindle in exchange for no fewer books entering the house. And a tempting offer it is. I have been reading e-books on and off on the tiny screen of my iPhone. If I can read on that, an e-reader would be a breeze. But which one to choose?

Kindle, the dedicated e-reader or the cool kid on the block – the iPad? Much research later, I listed the pros and cons of each.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

The Kindle’s e-ink technology makes it a strain-free way to read for hours; you can read it in direct sunlight but not in the dark; and the experimental browser allows you to connect to text-only sites on the internet (Wikipedia and Google) in black and white. However, it supports its own file format and transferring pdfs and epubs is painful (for me at least).

iPad Display Item

Image via Wikipedia

The iPad gives you the option of accessing e-books through iBooks, Kindle, Nook and many more apps; and it gives you a whole multimedia experience as well, allowing you to do a lot, lot more with it than just read. On the flip side, the brighter screen can be impossible to read in direct sunlight (not quite true, since I can bump up the brightness on my iPhone and read very clearly even in direct sunlight, thank you very much) and the battery life is lower compared to the Kindle.

Of course, there are the issues of weight and technical wizardry – and this is more of an apples to oranges comparison – but if you have the money to spare, the iPad definitely gives you more bang for your buck.

Plus, since I’m really not going to completely stop buying books ever, I may as well go for the other bells and whistles too, right? Which makes me lean (heavily) towards the iPad. Now, to con convince the husband to fork over the extra cash!

iPhone 3GS vs Nokia E7 – 1/3

Yes, you read that heading right! I recently had a chance to play around with the new Nokia E7, and some of its features compared to the iPhone really blew me! I still heart my iPhone, but if something’s good, it’s good, right?

Nokia E7 and iPhone side by side

First off, the E7 is a pretty refined phone, with a form factor that’s quite similar to the N8. Being the latest in Nokia’s impressive array of Communicator series phones (come on, admit it – there was a time you loved that phone!), the materials and build quality are excellent. But I’m sure you can find many hardware and software reviews online – what I’m going to focus on are the three features that I loved on this phone.

Nokia E7_gray1

Image by Nokia RSA via Flickr

The first is the tilt-out display and physical keyboard. Though it takes a while to figure out how to slide open the phone, once you get a hang of it, the hinge mechanism feels really solid. No matter how much you fidget with it, you’re unlikely to spoil it. The angle between the phone and keyboard is perfect for typing, as well as for watching videos. The keypad is laid out like a standard computer keyboard with a separate numerical pad, making messaging and emailing a breeze.

But choose your location carefully. Flick it open in a crowded coffee shop and you’re sure to get some attention, as I found out when I decided to type up a blog post on the phone. It’s not easy to get work done when you have people looking over at your table and nudging each other, or coming over and quizzing you about the phone, wanting to try it out hands-on! But then, that really isn’t a cause for complaint, is it?

So, what makes it any different from  an iPhone? Though the virtual keypad on the iPhone is easy to use, there are times when you mis-type spellings and sometimes the auto correct is quite annoying. Using the E7’s keypad is similar to trying on the laptop, and the pleasure derived from that is surely unbeatable.

What sets this phone apart from the BlackBerry and other QWERTY phones on the market – screen size, baby! The E7 boasts a 4” AMOLED screen with vivid colors, which makes viewing web pages, videos and camera images a pleasure. But that’s another feature and another post.

Stay tuned!

Creative technology

I’ve been checking out the Google Art Project, and it’s been fun! As I was browsing around the website though, I got to thinking about how much technology has evolved.

Remember My Space? It started as a place to hang out and make friends, for artists to get noticed, to upload their music. Then came Facebook, and now My Space is history.

In this constantly evolving technology scene, there’s a lot that’s being done to foster and promote creativity. There are places like Flick and Piccasa where you can share your photography and art work and connect with millions of artists from around the world. Your Flickr stream can work like a catalog for your photography, or you could start up a photo blog to showcase your pictures.

If you’re a musician, there are sites like where you can upload your music for everyone to hear. If you’d like, you can even allow listeners to download your tracks.

Not to be left behind, even smartphones have some cool apps that allow you to create and share. There’s LaDiDa, a reverse karaoke app for people like me with limited musical abilities. Instead of forcing you to sing a song in a specific key, the app will automatically choose the key and change the chords for you so that all you have to do is sing. Here’s a demo:

Then there are apps like the Pudding Camera, that gives you a combination of different kinds of camera and film and allows you to click some really creative pictures. This picture was clicking using the Fantasy camera and a Noir film. Pretty cool, eh? That’s straight from the camera, absolutely no post processing involved!


If you’re an artist, there are a ton of applications for you, like Anatomy for Artists: Proportions, which that offers a high-quality reference guide for artist.

There are so many cool innovations and applications that are making it easier and simpler for people to create and share online.

What are some of your favorite places to share your creations, and which are your favorite apps?

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It’s magical when technology meets art

A case for simple living


Where has the happiness gone?
Image via Wikipedia

About a year ago I had written a post titled Jaded Consumerism, where I mentioned that I’ve increasingly noticed that buying material goods doesn’t seem to bring much happiness to me or my friends. Oh yes, there are exceptions — like when I bought my iPhone recently; it still makes me happy! But, overall, we purchase without the joy.

This week I finally gave in to the husband’s constant cribbing and we traded our 10-year old TV for an LCD. That should have brought us (or at least him) a lot of joy…but it didn’t. We bought it, got it installed, he played around with the remote and read the manual, but there was no thrill to the purchase. A TV is a TV is a TV is what I was saying all along, but the husband just wouldn’t listen, would he?

Jokes apart, though, I’ve been wondering about this lack of joy since a while, and then I read an article on NY Times titled But will it make you happy?

SHE had so much. A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people. Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

That was the opening of the article, and I was hooked, because that’s exactly what I had been thinking about!

Strobel eventually hit the stop button on the treadmill, inspired by books and blogs that promoted simple living. She and her husband gave away a lot of their possessions to charity. In fact, “emboldened” by a website that challenged readers to live with just 100 personal items, she went ahead and did just that!

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A case for simple living
Image by eflon via Flickr

I’m quite sure that mustn’t have been easy, and I’m pretty sure that it isn’t something that I could do! But, living simply does have its benefits.

If you can downsize your desires a bit, not bother so much about keeping up with the Joneses, you could end up saving quite a decent amount of money. Instead of spending that on purchasing more material goods, you could use that to travel, to do some volunteer work, or even to help family, all of which will give you infinitely more happiness than simply amassing material goods ever will. And a lot of new research shows just that!

Studies over the last few decades have shown that money, up to a certain point, makes people happier because it lets them meet basic needs. The latest round of research [examines] how to reap the most happiness for your dollar. So just where does happiness reside for consumers? Scholars and researchers haven’t determined whether Armani will put a bigger smile on your face than Dolce & Gabbana. But they have found that our types of purchases, their size and frequency, and even the timing of the spending all affect long-term happiness. One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.

If I could control my spending impulses, there are a lot of things that I’d be able to experience — a trip to Egypt , learning Italian, painting a canvas, going on an African safari — just a few of the things that are on my bucket list.

If you chose to live simple and spend on experiences instead, what experiences would you choose?

You can read the entire NY times article here.