Saturday, May 28, 2016

The evolution of reading

 Disclaimer: All the information provided is to be consumed(if) with no reponsibility attributable to me. Reader discretion is adviced regarding all the issues mentioned in the post.

If there is one hobby which is universal across the world and the most followed hobby, it would be Reading. Now reading is a very broad word. It can mean reading a newspaper from the first word to the last word without much of internal processing. It can be reading a weekly, nonthly or yearly magazine with a little bit of processing. It could be reading a novel visualizing all the characters and the plot so as to stay in that realm for a finite time. It could be reading for gaining new knowledge, upgrading knowledge, assimilating knowledge and maybe for a few create fresh knowledge. The latter one takes the maximum amount of internal processing. Now all this is available to the common man after the gutenberg printing revolution. This revolution has created readers over the continium of minimum processing to max processing of the brain by the readers. Books were everywhere. All the knowledge accumulated till then in varied forms of storage reached the common man on paper. The most cost effective form of sharing and recieiving knowledge. Books had their own charm. The process of buying a book itself is one of the most satisfying excercise of human life. The collection of books in anybody's house speaks volumes about the individual. Again here individuality of hyman race stands out. There are no two similar individuals who read or write books. The fingerprints are vastly different when it comes to consumption and creation of books.

In the intial era of book printing, the contents were normally textual form, augmented by a very few illustrations, if and when requireed. Maybe an illustration for every chapter. This trend was later turned around with text taking the second precedence over the visual content. The creater wants to talk to the reader in a more visual realm and in exact terms of his vision. The textual realm allows for every reader to have his own visual realm, albeit with minor or major differences based on the invlolvement of the reader and the description of the writer. But with visuals taking precedence over text, the reader has to be in the realm of the writer. These books we now call them, comics, graphic novels. I dont find much difference between a comic and a graphic novel(Since this is a pure text post, the readers are welcome to choose their own visual realm for differences between the two).

With technology picking up great pace, computers taking over majority of the mundane human tasks, creating and reading content have also changed over the decade. The big change for content consumption have been mobiles, tablets and most importantly e-readers. Here, when i say e-readers I am talking about devices which work on reflected light. The other classes of devices work on backlight. The human eye is trained for reflected light. It is not designed for long hours staring of light originating. The eyes adore the beauty of te moon than the sun which the former just reflects. We see things through reflected light. We differentiate objects based the amount of light that is reflected, its wavelenghts and intenskty. We tend to look away from direct sources of light. It is no secret that people found it tiring to read on LCD/LED screens powering the phones and tablets. The skim reading or just going through and article augured well for these devices. But continous reading possible with a physical book i impossible with these devices.

Enter the e-reader. The most important innovation in the present digital world for bookworms. The ereaders have all the technologies available on modern computer devices with a reflective display. The human eyes love reflective displays. If you want to read a physical book you need to have a light source somewhere in the room. If your are reading in broad daylight, the physical book is much more easy to read. The same tech is used in an ereader. If your are in the dark, you cannot read from the ereader. Yes, there have been work arounds by putting LED's on the edges of the ereader screen to assist in reading at night but, there is still a certain amount of direct light which hits your eye with thes devices but, it is a good start. I stil love reading with a bed lamp than an ereader weith LEDs on the side.

Now let us see what these ereaders can do

1. They can hold enormous amounts of books
2. Bookmarking is as easy as exiting the book and chosing a new one to read
3. Add annotations
4. Check for meaning of word which the author has intentionally used to more understand his point of view
5. Battery life of nearly a month on one single charge
6. Buying books on your couch, on your train or bus journey
7. and much more

Let us complete it with what an ereader cant do

1. Give u the arom of a new book or the bliss of opening an old book
2. The joy of reaching the right page where we left off and forgotten to bookmark it
3. The joy of hinting a friend writing on the specific page regarding some history or a deja-vu
4. No question of battery life
5. The joy and the fulfilness of buying a physical book after a tiring journey of the bookstore just to realize that the first book you saw while entering was the book you want to buy
6. The vanishing individual's book shelf
7. The infinite sharing of books

The most hated aspect of all ereaders is the incorporation of DRM, wherein the books are tied to you and you are in no way entitled to share it with your friends and family, mitigating free will. One more thing i hated was their size. You are not able to read a magazine or a graphic novel or a comic in its true size. The most bacic problem is they dont display pdfs in their full glory. If the ereader does support pdfs, the problem is that the format doesnt flow and adjust to the screen like epups format. Normally all pdfs are genereated based on an 4 size sheet which is what printed magazines come out in. Trying to read it on a regular ereader would involve pinching and zooming complicated by thre refresh rates of the e-ink reflective tech screens.

Since the advent of ereaders I always wanted a device capable of dishing out pdfs and graphic intensive books. This prompted me to consider a 10" tablet. But, the issue here is that they are backlit. Yes, the colors are beautiful, but, your eyes get tire very easily. In the beginning of the year there was a lot of interest for producing ereaders with larger screens prompted by the company supplying majority of hte e-ink type of devices. Their 13.3" e-ink display prompted all this sudden interest. Sony came out with a device with an exhorbitant cost and capable of reading only pdfs. This was clearly aimed at the enterprise market and I believe it was(is ?) mostly made to order.

A chinese complany showed interest in making one with the same screen. They have already shipped the first batch of their devices and it is called the Boox Max. This is one company which is serious in their e-reader offerings, They have all kind of sizes with the latest being 13.3". They have an all metal eraeder, a 9.5", 6" and I think many more. The 13.3" got my fancy and I followed it up since their announcment. There is a german website which is taking pre-orders for the second batch of Boox Max if your are interested. The tech spec is on their website. I would just like to add that on the software side there are some glitches. There are occasional freezes. The company has promised updates to the android version as well as its bundled applications.  But, reading on it is a breeze. it has re-kindled the reading in me. The greyscale display puts me right back to the gutenberg era. Reading comics and graphic novels is an experience. Reading an epub format file with plenty of books available on the guternberg project, it is perfect. The text is crisp, the display size is perfect. The battery life for such a huge device is definitely good. Did I forget to tell it has the Android play store, wifi, bluetooth, audio jack. Another downer is that you have to interact with the device only with the stylus provided. There are buttons for page turns, but the interaction with the device is only throught the stylus provided. That is ok since you will not be pinching and zooming at all. Once u open a book it is only with the next page and the previous page.

The product page : Boox Max
User discussion forum: Mobilleread
Pre-order Boox Max:  Ereader-store
Wiki: Boox wiki 

Happy reading.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tithi-Movie-The celebration of death

Tithi- The celebration of death.

What an awesome medley of characters. I can sum up the experience of watching this movie by my son's statement just 15 minutes into the movie. "Amma idhu namma ooru"("Mom its our village"). The characters are so real, no just, "real". They breath everyday life. They do mistackes, cover it up. Scheme up things, fail, cover it up. Continue Living. Go on living through the hurdles life throws at you. There is no person with superhuman strength. There is no saving the world. It is the story of the last mile in a village. The appeaerance/experience of the film cannot get more rustic. The clothes, the bullocks, the sheep, the chicken, The sounds in the village atmosphere. Captured in their entirety.

And the characters that make up the movie, Oh my God. Three generations of varied tastes, ideologies and technology. All the things related to culture/practises tossed out at the first mention of money. Simplicity nearing divinity in one of the characters. Is nomadism the answer to all the issues ailing mankind. Is it better to revert back to out initial instincts of nomadism. The director has bought out issues with nomadism also. Happiness being obtained in variety of ways based on the age, culture, financial condition. A death affects a few and does not affect many others who are more close. Death also carries weightage based on the image the living cultivate during their lifetime by themselves as well as the perception of people around.

Simple thinking can yield results and consequences most complicated which is behind the comprehension of the simple mind. So, should you be simple in your thoughts or think it out basing every action using the chaos theory. Is sex such a vital activity of human life that people go the extreme distance and take up the highest of the risks or does the society program the individual so. Why does the society always tie happiness with sex or money or its indirect buy. Why do humans form themselves into groups, thinking so inward, Why?

Does death warrant celebration? Why is it that majority of the cultures have the celebration of death in common. Why have various communities come together in the celebration of death. Are they happy somebody died. Do they inherently have to celebrate death. What a contradiction celebrating life as well as death. Is a human being a group animal or does it shine as an individual. Does the human have more powers when he is single surrounded only by the environment not being affected by fellow human beings. Does everybody have to be right all the time, ethical all the time. How did these ethics come about. Were all these rules of societal living introduced to safeguard an elite few, when the elite few found out the methodology of creating that elitist environment. What is wrong and right. Who is wrong and right. Does earth bother about our rights and wrongs. Would the earth be a different place without all these countries/languages/religion/culture/ethics/ideologies/God/The one/Athma/The divine....

The film is a not a new way of film making. It is film making. It is entertaining. It questions everything and does not answer a thing. All characters are "alive". They don't need a costume designer. They are what they are. Are you suggesting you should cast a rich man in rich mans role? Yes. Similarly for other characters. Human life is itself entertaining and enriching. The film reaches great heights when the main protogonist(Gaddadappa) is on the screen. But this greatness is bestowed on the character because of the hollowness of all other characters. All other characters in the movie are inward thinking whereas the thoughts of the main protogonist is holistic and one with nature. But then that character is great because of all the smaller ones. Without narrow minded people around how do you recognise a broad minded one? If all were broad minded then every frame in the movie would be boring.

  It is all about capturing the essence. It is all about waiting and observing it. All great writers did this. This movie does just that. It observes and paints a certain time frame in the smallest of the human establishments possible. Telling about the society, the society enslaving the individuals and viceversa and an individuals triumph(Is it) against the societal setup. We dont have actors, we dont have musicians, we dont have songs, we dont have staged action sequences, we dont have item songs, we dont have elaborate costume designers to perfect the last stitch, we dont have a huge canvas, we have life in its true color and vigor in front of us.

Go taste it.

Thanx to all the people responsible for making this film and ensuring it reaches the people.