Cuic-Cuic and the Pig



 I just finished reading Papillon by Henri Charriere. The book was given to me by my friend Ajoy Chelat, as an expression of pure friendship, for me never asking for that. In this book also, we see the protagonist Papillon (the author himself, the book claims to be more of autobiographical) coming across such so many friends, too eager to help him in his endeavors, and expecting nothing in return. Is it the virtue of the underworld as he claim it to be, or pure human nature, or just exaggerations of the more pretentious and too much self important story teller, I can't say – may be a combination of all. I put in the third possibility, 'cause wherever our hero goes women start drooling over, whether it is the governor’s wife or a tribal Indian girl, he transforms into their greatest relief and once he has enough, 'broken heartedly' leaves them without a word.

In this enormous novel, extending to 560 pages we see too many confusing characters wit h still more confusing names. But I am sure, any one read the book wont forget Cuic-Cuic, the tough China man who has no hesitation to thrust his mercy-less blade onto three men and stuff them into charcoal kiln. He lives in an island surrounded by a treacherous mud pond. It is impossible to traverse the pond, 'cause of the ever changing nature of the mud. A shallow firm area this hour can be a bottomless mud pit in the next. So how Cuic-Cuic make his way? He has a small pig, an excellent navigator, who walks in front with its master following. At one occasion we can even see Cuic-Cuic carrying the pig, 'cause it was too tiered after a long walk. When they start off for a break through the sea, Cuic-Cuic insist that he should take his pig along. (and never leaves it broken heartedly) While on voyage, Papillon jokingly ask him, “ when are we going to eat the pig?” The Chinese retorts, “ He is my friend. Anyone wants to put his hand on him, have to kill me first.”

We see a few more moving scenes of the pig and its master. But as usual, when Papillon moves along leaving old friends these characters are also forgotten and we hear nothing more of them. But after reading this much acclaimed – I think more hyped and overrated – novel, it was this small silent animal and its master who impressed me more than the larger than life hero. The problem with my tastes, may be!


Nokia 5230. User review

Usually, good looks is the last thing one would expect from a Nokia. Thats the only reason why Nokia eluded from the list of almost half a dozen cell phones, I owned till now. Also thats the reason why the other brands get a chance to compete!

But with 5230, (and of course 5800, 5233...) the things are different, not because there is some radical drift in design, (for everything in 5230 yells out that “I am a Nokia”) but because every external details are offset by its excellent high resolution screen and its themes. Yes, 5230 is a beauty and like any other Nokia, is very practical.

5230 is a frugal version of 5800, cheaper by almost 5K. The latter have a 3.2 mp camera and wifi connection while the former sports a 2mp camera without flash and no wifi. ( Some say 5230 have a faster processor- I am not sure) The other differences are in softwares.

The specifications, you will get it from a hundred sites. So I don’t go into the details. Any way it is a 3.2 “ touch screen, 3G supported, with GPS. It runs on Symbian Os S60 version 5, which is the latest. The reason I selected the phone was of the GPS navigation. It is an assisted GPS, which means some kind of support is channeled from a provider server in data assimilation and collation. This means quicker positioning and calculation, but the flop side is that it requires a net connection for total functionality. Don’t worry, it works well even offline.

The phone doesn’t come with built in maps. You need to download them. Nokia is kind enough to provide them free of cost from their site. But you need to do some serious amount of downloading. No software come bundled with the phone. You need to download everything from Nokia PC suite which is around 33Mb. Then Ovimaps which is some 8Mb. This is a smaller version. For serious navigation you need to use map installer (28Mb), and to install this, have to download and install some 55Mb of windows patch. With the Map installer in your PC, download 128 Mb of Indian map data to your phone. But every thing is worth the effort. You have a near perfect GPS navigation system with audio directions at hand!

The touch screen is resistance type, so at times we may fell it a less sensitive. But not much of trouble. The menu are quite intuitive and very user friendly. The phone have a built in accelerometer so it automatically change the display format according to the way its held. This also help to provide some interesting feature like silencing the phone by turning it display down and also support third party softwares like step counter, leveler, dice games etc. It also have a proximity sensor, which shut down the display when you bring it close to your ears and switches on when taken away. Power management!

The inputs are through touch screen. You can do it perfect with fingers. Still Nokia provides a stylus and a fancy triangular one which you can thread to the wristband. The key pad can be predictive or Qwerty type depending on the way you hold the phone. Quite cool!

This phone comes with two java games. In the office section, we have an English – English dictionary which is quite good, but the word collection do not seem to be exhaustive. No other productive utility is included other than a converter. But we can freely download and install Quickoffice viewer, (supports Word, Excel and Powerpoint) the one without editing features. If you badly need to edit, buy one for $19. So after all these downloading and installations you have brought the phone close to 5800.

The music player is of fair quality, and the phone is bundled with a no frill headphone. The camera is fair, but as you can understand, a 2mp camera with a miniature lens is not enough for any serious photography. So is video.
The ring volume is not loud enough, you will easily miss it if the phone is in the next room. But the sound quality is excellent. The phone also features a stamina battery which will go for almost 3 days with average use. Very good indeed.

Though the phone is 3G supported, it do not have a second camera for video calls, which is a disappointment. But for this price you will be asking for too much with such wishes. Also it do not come with a USB connector. Still no problem, it is freely available with computer and mobile shops for around Rs 100. (Ask for micro USB connector)
Up dating.
(Image courtesy: GSM arena)
It was only today I could try out the Navigator feature to full extend. The reason was so silly, I couldn’t find a proper holder for the phone. Today I got one from the Fiat dealer, and ’navigated’ back home, some 50 km. The result was beyond my every expectations. She guided me precisely through every turns and corners at Kochi, and even in state highways in interior areas, the map was precise. It got a bit confused when I took too many short cuts and detours (of course deliberately) but was swiftly back in full performance when opted ’different route’ in the menu. Its a full fledged navigator, real real good!

Another thing, Nokia releases software update for 5230. It offers quicker transition from display orientation which was a bit sluggish earlier. Also provide better music search. I installed it and the transition change is evident and quicker. Very good! But Do NOT try it unless you have a broadband connection. It is 125 Mb and any interruption during the updating process can be catastrophic!

One thing of relief! Release of new software may be a gesture that alleviate the fears about the discontinuation of this model.

So my conclusion ( something some of my friends were dieing to get!) If what you need is just a phone, go and buy any phone. But if you need a navigator, buy Nokia 5230, save at least Rs 5000 and get a phone, music player, a camera and many things more for FREE!!

Suzuki GS 150R. User Review

Its quite interesting to note that how quickly we need to change our opinions. That’s why I needed to rewrite my review completely. Actually my earlier review was a preview, with just a 10 mt visual experience with the bike at showroom.




I need not to elaborate on all those specifications. I have done some 2000 km (first 1500 km run in.) on the bike, and here is some real review.



I think the photographs didn’t do justice to the bike. It is much much better looking than seen in the ad visuals. And definitely bigger than any other 150 cc bike. Pillions may find it a bit awkward at first, for the seat is set very high but will agree on the comfort eventually. Everybody is likely to make the first comment on the tank, but it really make you reassured while you are on the riders seat. You feel like you are riding a really massive machine. The ride is very comfortable.



It is an incredibly stable bike and the handling is quite a pleasure. You twist it and turn it, it stays cool balanced! The sitting posture is very ergonomic. (But nothing beats my old RTZ in this aspect.) Every other levers and switches are all placed quite ergonomically. And see, you can’t self start the engine without completely releasing the clutch, a cool method to prevent accidental double cranking. Nice! Also you can start the engine at any gear position.



The breaking is quite impressive, especially the front disks. The lights are all powerful, but needed some adjustment on positioning. They have fitted a really annoying indicator beeper. Every time I switch on the indicator at some populated area, I feel embarrassed. Have to find where it is placed and should disconnect it.



Now coming to the engine part. It is where I got disappointed. Actually I was looking for those extra horses, yes they are there, but not at our service when we need them the most. The power delivery is quite inconsistent. They say about the excellent midrange torque. They are right, but understand something, it means poor low range torque. From around 4000 to 6500 rpm range, the engine performance is awesome. All the horses are lined up, and they take you there in seconds! But suppose, you need to slow down, turn at right angle and to ascent a steep gradient, ( as in case to my house) then the engine puffs and coughs and fail you. You will be busy shifting down and down and down. ( what my earlier Discover 125 managed with a single downshift, GS takes it up to second gear.) The engine have disappointingly poor performance in low rpm.



The GS will be an excellent highway performer, but I am afraid you will loose out in quick shift situations. The only way to enjoy the ride is to keep the rev high, but we all know it is not always possible. It is an excellent option if you are a long distance commuter, but if your route is tortuous , I am not sure.The mileage is between 50 and 55 kmpl.

Read the original post at Mouthshut.

Urinary Stress Incontinence and Current management.

Stress incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine, occurs with an elevation of intra abdominal pressure. Quite often subjects, especially women present with the complaint of urine leakage while on coughing, sneezing etc. This problem is quite prevalent among female population, and the Indian incidence is estimated to be around 12% in women of reproductive age group. Often wrongfully considered a trivial situation, the inconveniences, embarrassment and the health hazards it brings in are disastrous.

The exact pathophysiology of stress incontinence is incompletely understood and deceptively complex. Many theories exist as to how the continence is maintained with an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. A reflex activity of pelvic floor which elevates the proximal urethra, intact connective tissue support of bladder neck and urethra, the action of urethrovaginal sphincter and the compressor urethrae are the main among them.  So, most cases of stress incontinence are believed to be related to damage to the neuromuscular functioning of the pelvic floor, coupled with deficient connective tissue supports of the urethra and bladder neck.

Until recently, even the care givers were at loss, when coming to the management of the condition. We were proposing non-pharmacological measures like Kegel’s exercise and all, just for the reason that the surgical measures available were quite inefficient and carry high morbidity. Pharmacological means were equally disappointing.  It is also interesting to note that, the recent studies on the efficacy of Kegel’s shows that, it is no good as we thought it was!

Now we have Minimally Invasive Sling procedures, which are found to be very effective and the risk of complications are minimal. The entire procedure takes less than 10 minutes and can be performed under a short GA. Now that more companies came up with competitive slings, the procedure has become very cost effective also. Tension free Vaginal tape (TVT) was introduced first, but Transobturator Tape (TOT) is more popular now. The success rate at 1 year were found to be 83- 97% for TOT and 86- 94% for TVT in different studies. The most probable complication is urinary retention, and both the procedures carry a 7-8% risk for that.


(Writeup prepared for the local IMA newsletter)

Panasonic Lumix FZ8





If you are an amateur, interested in outdoor photography, and occasionally wild life too, then Panasonic FZ8 is right for you. It offers much more than the point and shoot class.

 

With the present day norms, FZ 8 comes somewhat lean in megapixels, only 7.2 for that matter. But I don’t think it is in any way restrictive for the regular user. (Of course it is not targeted to the professionals.)  It has an excellent zoom, 12X and if you are ready to sacrifice some megapixels, it can be extended to 18X. I am not sure if it is some real optics at work or just some digital trimming. (If you are at 12X and switch over to a lesser image size, say 3.5 mp, the zoom automatically shifts to 18X. You won’t get any further lens movement but a much zoomed picture.)

 

Other positive features are the Leica lens, 2.5” LCD display and the Mega optical image stabilizer.

 

Nobody needs any explanation on what the Leica lens means. Even from my childhood I was hearing photographers talking with great admiration on Leica cameras and their ultimate dream of having one. Thanks god, times have changed and even I can own a Leica lens.

 

The LCD display is really cool. It is fixed, but offers some digital adjustments for angled view, in case you need to take pictures with the camera well above the eye level. The camera offers a multitude of display options, explaining them all are beyond the scope here. The menu is quite straight forward and intuitive.  Panasonic have provided a joystick for easy navigation. Enumerating every feature will be a waste of time and space here, and for that you can visit the numerous sites offering those data.

 

I have serious doubts regarding the image stabilization. I wonder if it works at all. The camera promptly, warns us regarding the shakes in appropriate situations, but unless we use a tripod or something like that the picture comes out blurred. But with the tripod and the correct settings, the results are magnificent.

 

The camera offers an array of automatic and manual settings, including an intelligent mode. But the camera’s intelligence doesn’t seem to be in same frequency with ours. J. In the point and shoot modes the results are not excellent in lowlight situations. Indoor photos, even when we think it is well lit, come out with lot of noises. But the out door photos are excellent. 

 

Once you become acquainted with the manual settings, you yourself can identify the quantum improvement in the picture quality. You need to be familiar with the camera to take good pictures. Or you can remain happy with the mediocre pictures in the automatic modes.

 

The camera is powered by lithium ion battery, supplied along with. Charge lasts pretty good and enough for more than 350 pictures.

Panasonic provides graphic software bundled, but I haven’t tried any. Picassa and Gimp already installed in my computer manages every need. (For the same reason I have not tried the raw format.) 

 

Verdict: This camera is an excellent buy in its class and price range. (I bought it for 15K on an offer from Pixetra, 8 months back.)  It have excellent potential for good photos. It is a camera for occasions and not a take it everywhere. For that purpose use your mobile phone camera.

 

Review originally posted at www.mouthshut.com

 












Making a Choice. Motorcycle!

I was trying to manage without a motorcycle since I sold my old bike. It was a Bajaj Discover. A pretty good one, decent mileage, but over four years of use drained much fizz out of it. I was not planning to sell it anyway. But one day someone with a generous offer and instant payment came and I let that go.
Two months since that, I am badly in need of a bike. Anyone who started motorcycling at the age of 14 and enjoyed it for more than a quarter century can’t be weaned just like that! I need a bike!!
Definitely I need a better one. More power, but should have good kmpl. That was important. Anyone saying they don’t care about mileage is either filthy rich or, spending someone else’s money or simply lying! If I were rich enough not to consider mileage, I would have booked a Suzuki Intruder. Wow!
The bike I wanted for long was Avenger. But not many endorse it. Bad mileage too. No pro-biking service centers in 70 km. Sorry to Avenger.
Pulser? Actually I love it. But there are more of them in the road than needed.
Hunk. Well, I don’t like the looks, what’s that ugly thing they screwed to the tank?
Unicorn. Sure, a good candidate. But have 3 months booking. Not worth for that waiting. But have some very strong points, riding comfort, mileage and puncture proof tires.
Apache. Too much vibration, doubtful durability. (Actually, I don’t know much about that. Not common in my area. Net search returned the above impressions.)
Now the choice narrows down to Yamaha FZ 16 and Suzuki GS150R.

The Yamaha is a definite head turner, no arguments. I would say it’s the first bike in India with some radical design concept. Good power too. 14 bhp and excellent midrange torque. I almost booked it. But, again buts..! FZ16 is designed for city commuting. Its engine and ergonomics are best fitted for that. Excellent for a rabbit chase, but not good for long distance ride. Pillion rider position is also not comfortable. Worse for women. I love long distance biking and my wife frequently pillion rides.

And the last choice, Suzuki GS 150R is yet to be launched. All the information I could get from the net were that given in their brochure only, like the engine balancer technology, six speed gear box and the dual mode engine function. The picture of the bike was not very impressive either.
I rang up the local Suzuki dealer and asked if a demo is available. Fortunately there was one.
Compared to the other 150 cc bikes, this one looks definitely bigger. The parameters are bigger than that of FZ, but I am not very sure about the other ones. Looks are much better than that evoked by the pictures. I liked three parts most, the headlight, tail lamp with integrated indicators and the instrument console. All these three are better than anything else in the Indian streets. The only competition for the headlight would be a Pulser 220. The tail lamp is LED with white crystalline wrapping. Very clean and decent. The integrated turn signals match the assembly very well. The instrument console has an analogue tachometer and the remaining functions are all digital. It also has a gear position indicator. Much hyped, but not very needed I believe. Another functionality is the gear up-shift timing signal. That too, just a gimmick I think. But the entire appearance of the instrument console is great.
But when you go through the brochure, you will understand why these three parts are such unique. They are either derived or straight taken from the great GSX-R. Designed with effort and talent.
The remaining body parts are just amateur work. Nothing very outstanding. The design doesn’t seem to have done around any particular theme. The fuel tank is massive. Remember the surprise we had when we first saw disproportionate tanks in Pulser? Now that our thresholds have set high, Suzuki dares to fix an even bigger tank. Holds 15.5 lits. Anyway the tank and the side wraps to the tail end give the bike a masculine look. The tank is all metal unlike that of FZ.
The fuel cock is a straight steal from Unicorn. Bad, I say. That thing would be more appropriate on a fan regulator than on a bike. It’s the same with the chrome trims which is also an imitation of Unicorn. Don’t suit both the bikes.
The riding position is very comfortable. A sixth gear itself indicates that the bike is designed for long trips too. Like the FZ, this engine also have good midrange torque that practically translates to excellent pickup and effortless city ride. The engine is very quite, thanks to the balancer tech. (FZ16 don’t have that but R15 have) The engine have dual mode, economy and power. I read somewhere that it remaps the ignition, but the showroom person says nothing that big is there. It only changes the timing indication for up-shift. Anyway more tech than the modes in TVS and Bajaj.
Suzuki leaves the option for kick starting too. FZ don’t have that. I like to have a kicker for some confidence.
Now the final decision;
Looks: Yamaha clear winner.
Engine power and pickup: Yamaha slightly ahead. Suzuki engine seems to be more refined.
Riding Comfort: Suzuki better, especially on long distance.
Pillion rider comfort: Suzuki
Sixth Gear: Suzuki – yes, Yamaha – No.
Fuel efficiency: Suzuki way ahead.

As I am past the age of adrenalin thump, I decided in favor of Suzuki. Waiting for the delivery in mid January. I will update this review, once I have some real road experience.

Sample medicines, Global warming!

So at the end of the day, the table is piled with packets of all size and colors- ‘samples’ they say it. But don’t be mistaken by the size of it, the actual sample that come out of it often will not satisfy a single patients daily requirement. They play with the size and volume of the packing.  Do they really think, the doctors are so childish to reckon on the size and color? Quite often we feel embarrassed on finding just two tablets in a cigarette packet sized box. So if we want to give those samples to one of our patients, we need to unpack each packet, and then put ten packs worth to a single box, ‘cause we don’t want to belittle ourselves and our patients. We are used to this cheating but the patients are not!
These are all our personal inconveniences. Forget it! Let’s consider the real situation.  I have just opened up a sample packet, which contained just two small capsules. (The pink one in the picture.)  A 25x15 cm sized glossy card paper, with color printing. How much you would have paid for that if you had bought that as a greeting card? How much simple notebook or textbook pages it would have made with the same amount of pulp and energy?  This is the situation of just two capsules. Now think of the total amount of paper, then trees, electricity, manpower etc etc wasted for the entire lot of that medicine. Now think of the wastage on the other products of that company. Even worse, think of the total wastage of the precious resources made by the 6000 and more odd pharmaceuticals that operates in India! And if you care, imagine the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the process.
I know.. I know about recycling. But I bet, 90% of these sample packets never go for recycling. They end up in hospital or home incineration.
I don’t have exact figures. But my mental arithmetic tells me, it could provide every poor child in India with their books if they could save all those paper.  If they don’t believe in charity, they could at least save a thousand acre of forest or so much of polar ice. But that won’t sell the drug!
But I have decided. I won’t accept samples in disproportionate packing, hereafter. I am concerned. . I do care.