Day 10: Leh Khardung La and Back

A trip to the highest motorable road in the world. This is what we had been riding the last 9 days for. Granted Pangong Tso was spectacular and offered a much better view, but you can’t take the brownie points away from a ride like todays.

Apjoo had taken permits for the Nubra valley for all of us and most of the group was actually planning to spend the night at hunder or diksit after crossing over Khardung La. I wasn’t too interested and wanted a rest day for myself. It had been raining the whole of yesterday and last night was also pretty cold. But we didn’t realise that it could have snowed at Khardung La and because everyone else wanted to go further to Nubra, we all started early. Which was a bad thing ! It was freakin’ cold and within a few kms of the ascent to K’La, we had to stop and warm our hands on the bike’s engine. The gloves were of no use at all.

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Interesting Take on Ubuntu

Another excellent post by Sharninder on Ubuntu and why it isn’t ready for the masses yet.

“To put things into perspective, I am a fairly advanced Linux user, having started using Linux around 10 years back. I started with RedHat, moved on to Slackware, Redhat again, Fedora, Debian (stabl and sid) and finally Ubuntu. Since I don’t live on Mars, I still have had to use Windows occasionally. I started with Windows 3.0, moved to 3.1, NT, Windows 95, 98 (or whatever they called it), ME, 2000 and XP and probably used some other versions in between. I have also owned (used to … until the motherboard failed on me after three years of hard usage) an Apple iBook running Mac OS X.3 and later on X.4. I use an iMac running X.5 at work and dabble a bit in freeBSD and Solaris from time to time. Phew !”

He then goes on to give an example from his usage of Ubuntu.

“All this time, I’ve been running Mac OS X on my iBook and using that as my primary machine at home connected to my WPA2 WIFI network. One fine day the thought of ditching OS X came to my mind and I installed Ubuntu on this laptop. Dual boot, of course since I wasn’t ready to give up on OS X just yet. I spent about 20 minutes installing Ubuntu, so far so good. And then I spent the next two days trying to make it work with my wifi network. I did get WPA2 working with it, but then an ubuntu update came through the wire and all hell broke lose ! I was without wifi access again. I would have again spent the next two days configuring wifi on my notebook if canonical hadn’t decided to take away Ubuntu’s support for powerpc machines and so I ditched ubuntu and installed Debian … for a day. The very thought of spending another two days to get networking working again on this thing put me off it. As you might have noticed, I don’t take notes … never needed to and probably never will. I was back to OS X on my beautiful white notebook and life was good all again. Never had a problem with OS X on this machine.”

Must read article.

QT 4.4 Released

Trolltech has announced the immediate availability of QT 4.4, the cross platform GUI toolkit available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and now Windows CE and Windows Mobile also. The exciting new features include Webkit based HTML rendering engine, the new Phonon multimedia framework and of course the ability to run on windows CE and Windows mobile. arstechnica has an in-depth article on the new release.

iPhone SDK

Sharninder has an interesting post going by the title of “iPhone SDK and the aftermath”. Sharninder analyses the release of the SDK and the developer communities response to it.

“Apple has decreed that all iPhone applications will be sold via the iTunes store and that the developers will not be able to host their applications themselves. Further, to post applications to the iTunes store, the developers have the pay a one time charge of $99 and if they do manage to sell any apps, they will have to give 30% of their income to Apple. This 30% charge, apple claims, goes towards maintaining the web presence, hosting their applications and the credit card transaction charges. Apple also gets to approve the applications before they can be sold on iTunes. Apple has also stated that they will not allow VOIP applications on the cellular network but will allow VOIP while on WIFI.”

For the complete post go to Sharninder’s blog.

XBox Finally making some real money

Its a shame that in this cut throat world of bottom lines and margins, Microsoft had to sell it flagship console at a loss and hope to make money in volmes.

Well, the results are out and MS’s entertainment division has actually turned up a tidy profit this quarter too, and that last quarter’s profit wasn’t just a fluke. Granted the percentage profit is just a small blip on the bigger MS radar, but what is amazing is that even with all the price cuts by both xbox and its closest rival PS3, MS has still been able to make money while, as far as I know, PS3 still hasn’t come clean.

Here’s hoping that the PS3 division of Sony making a tidy profit too, keeping the competition alive 🙂

8GB iPhone and iPod Touch reach end-of-life

Atleast in the UK. Engadget is reporting, on the basis of a leaked O2 memo that the company has managed to empty its inventory and is not going to replenish the stock as it has reached it’s end of life. The recent price cuts in the UK have no doubt a part to play in this, but sceptics and rumour mongers would definitely be linking this with the imminent launch of the second gen iPhone 3G with higher storage. Whatever be the reason, it can only be good for those in the market for a new iPhone. Wait and watch this space for more updates.

Day 9: Leh city

We had initially kept this day as a free day to recuperate from the journey till now. None of us wanted to mount the bikes and were all in the mood to actually walk and explore Leh. But, of course, laziness took over and apart from the walk till German bakery for breakfast in the morning , we rode to all the other places we visited, which was good ’cause otherwise we wouldn’t have ventured as far as we did.

After a nice and heavy breakfast, we went for a little shopping in the market. The Leh market is filled with fake chinese clothes and shoes. For some reason, everything seemed more expensive than what we were used to and some of the shopkeepers even downright refused to tell us their prices saying that we won’t be able to afford their wares ! Guess, they were more used to the firangs walking around the streets and willing to pay a premium for the substandard goods on display.

The shopkeepers aside, Leh seemed like a very calm place with a nice and friendly people.

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The iPhone: A 'humbling' experience

The iPhone is beautiful. There are no two ways to describe it. I’ve never ever used a mobile phone as easy on the eyes as this phone and I’m loving it, absolutely.

But, as I use the iPhone more and more I’m starting to miss the various ‘features’ of a phone which I’d been used to all along. This has been discussed umpteen times around the interweb, but I just have to mention this. Features like SMS forwarding, rejecting incoming calls, sending business cards, taking down a number while in a call are not premium features and the iPhone should have provided these features from the go. But well, when you consider that the iPhone didn’t even allow one to send an SMS to multiple recipients till some time back, you realise that there is something seriously wrong with what the designers at Apple were thinking. I call using the iPhone a humbling experience because thats how I felt when I tried forwarding an SMS to a friend for the first time. I was humbled that, I,  an all powerful human, holding the great iPhone couldn’t even forward an SMS to another contact !

Don’t get me wrong here, I love the iPhone for what it is. And I know that an incoming call can be rejected by double tapping the power button. And that a new contact can be created while in call by going to add call->add contact. And there are external unsupported application available to forward SMSs and business cards. The point here is that Apple has released a semi functional device into the market to gain market share and is now trying to play catch up by introducing ‘premium’ features masked as firmware updates.

I’d have been happy if I’d paid $50 for a phone and it didn’t have certain features I was used to, but a $400 phone should have all this built in already. But then, Apple has been doing this for ages, Mac OS X 1.0 for almost unusable and they have been gradually making it more and more user friendly and feature packed, but a phone is not an operating system and missing to provide an SDK is different than not providing proper SMS functionality.

I’m still in love with my iPhone and only because I’ve never had such a good mobile browsing device and a phone in the same package before, and I’m really hoping that Apple puts in some of the missing functionality back with the new iPhone 2.0 firmware that is in the works right now.

Update: I know about the iPhone’s missing bluetooth profiles, MMS, Java, no copy-paste etc etc, I just haven’t started missing those features yet. Its just been about 15 days with the phone for me, though.