Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Aviate Launcher For Android is Logical, Simple and Clean

Aviate, the latest Android OS launcher is apparently a must-have on your smartphone right now. And knowing that I might be interested, close friend and sharer of information on all things tech, Romario, was kind enough to send me an invite.

Aviate is a smart app that tracks your usage patterns and automatically categorizes applications stored on your Android phone based on context such as WiFi, GPS, time of day, or accelerometer. Aviate sorts your apps into categories and pages based on time of day, or where you are.

Aviate is cool because, when you're at work, the launcher displays a work screen with productivity apps like the Calendar and Calculator apps. When you're at home, you have entertainment-based apps like YouTube on your screen.

For instance, Aviate understood that the first application I check every morning is Gmail and the last one before I sleep is usually the Goodreads application. So now, every morning, the top of my phone home screen has a shortcut to the Gmail application. Aviate needs to know what apps you have installed as well as your location to do this.

The learning nature of Aviate automatically displays for you a better and user-friendly home screen with apps based on location and time of day. What Aviate calls spaces, are these sets of applications that match your needs whether they be at home in the morning, driving, at work, or at home in the evening.  The best part is, the more you use Aviate, the more it learns and smarter it gets, perfecting your Android experience.

The look and feel with Aviate is neat and clean. You can choose either the light or dark theme in settings. Plus, you may use more than one image on your home screen. This ensures applications are not in the way of the image due to being placed in some odd position that requires change each time you use a different wallpaper.

There are four screens on Aviate. Swiping to the left takes you to the first screen that sort of works as a settings page. The second screen is the home screen with Collections to the right. Collections include  'sets' or 'collections' of your phone applications in Social, Work, Music and other categories that can be tweaked by placing the boxes as per priority. And the last screen takes you to a sort of application drawer that neatly displays all applications on your phone in alphabetical order.

Thanks to the recent Yahoo acquisition, if you are among the first 25,000 people you can use the code “YAHOO” and give Aviate a try. Or if you know a friend they could send you an invite instead. If you are not as lucky, worry not, Aviate is still worth the wait. Update: Aviate is now available for everyone's smartphones.

Are you a fellow Aviator? Reply in the comments below or tweet your reply to @epicgrammatic about your experience with Aviate Launcher.

Romario is one of my favourite go-to friends when it comes to smartphones, tablets and laptops, and is a complete gamer geek. He has nice hair, is funny and polite. Follow Romario on Twitter.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Poisoned Food, Ghost Tales and An Inspired Alchemist

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, Afterlife Ghost Stories From Goa and The Alchemist are three recently read books. Read on to know which of these could be the next book on your bedside table.

1. The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken - Tarquin Hall
Vish Puri is Delhi's Most Private Detective and like so many Indians back home speaks in a mixture of his own concoction of English and Hindi. Creamy, buttery, butter chicken is one of his favourites. So when it’s served at the Delhi Durbar hotel at an India Premier League cricket match dinner, he’s the first to tuck in. Faheem Khan, father of Pakistani star cricketer Kamran Khan, probably didn't relish it because he ended up dead after a few mouthfuls. Now it's up to Vish Puri to solve the case.
There are other stories that unravel themselves during the course of the hunt for the murderer that makes the story fun. To say that Cricket and food was given importance should be no surprise as that is what most folk of Delhi (and other cities) thrive on. That, and Bollywood. A little history and travel weaved in makes you want to visit new places too. The end comes with a tangy twist that may leave you dissatisfied and glad that it's all over at the same time.

2. Afterlife Ghost Stories From Goa - Jessica Faleiro
The story begins in Goa. The Fonseca family gathered in Savio's house on the eve of his seventy-fifth birthday. It starts raining heavily, the electricity fails, and in the candlelight, the family members start narrating their encounters with the supernatural. As the night goes on, more stories are revealed, all connected to the Fonseca name that tells of an ancient curse that has bound the family to doom.   For a better understanding of the book, here is an excerpt from Jessica's article in the Herald that sums up how the stories are portrayed in the book. "[Ghost stories are] not a metaphor for anything sinister; the original manuscript for my novel was based on ghost stories.  After months of research and writing, followed by more research and more writing, I’m beginning to realise that ghosts aren’t necessarily about those ethereal, supernatural entities that creep us out. They could also be about the things that haunt us."

3. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho 

Shepherd boy Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids thanks to a strange dream, a Gypsy woman and a man who calls himself a king and alchemist. Santiago goes out on his quest and is not deterred by the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within himself.

A book like many other books telling you to follow your dreams and with a happy ending too. The personified wind and alchemy aside, Paulo Coelho's Alchemist is every bit as inspiring as I was told it would be. It teaches you the kind of patience that brings peace inside you mind. It inspires you to travel a little in your life. It motivates you to move. Perhaps we all cannot be Santiago in the world of today but that should not stop us from exploring and discovering new things. That Santiago dude is one lucky shepherd to have followed that crazy dream.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

6 Reasons You Should Stay On With a Low-Paying Job

So you just got a job that pays you in peanut shells and you need to know if you staying on is still okay, read on.

1. This is your first job
Often, the most obvious reason is that you haven't got any prior experience in your field of choice. Starting small can often lead to bigger opportunities and eventually a chance for richer learning. Starting from scratch helps lay the foundation for your future and even a way to work your way to the top.

2. You need this job experience
We would all love to be picky about the kind of opportunities offered. Sometimes, a good offer comes in small packages but can result in much-needed experience you previously didn't have. Think of it as climbing the ladder to success. One rung at a time.

3. Your CV was picked out of many
Your CV spoke for you. Going through a pile of CVs can be tiresome for any company that's looking to hire. Most of the pile goes straight to the bin. Yours didn't. This means that the company saw something in you that they were looking for.

4. Your work is appreciated
Being underpaid and unappreciated is one thing, but underpaid but appreciated for the quality of your work will result in you working harder to improve yourself on a regular basis.

5. Challenge accepted
Have you ever done this kind of work before? No? Does it pique your interest? Yes? Yes, it's as simple as that. Meeting the same clients or performing a certain task repeatedly can get monotonous and eventually bore you to kingdom come. Fresh challenges can change that for you.

6. Pays the rent
If it is enough to survive on for the moment and leaves a roof over your head, working at your current office should be alright. Just make sure you keep regular track of your expenses and note your savings too. Even if the pay keeps your wallet lighter than you would want it to be, today might not be the day to give up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eating Ice Cream Burns Calories?

Why have ice cream in winter? Ice cream scoops do not melt as quickly when you are just walking down the street (singing do-wah-diddy diddy-dum-diddy-do).

Do note that this is not a quick-fix or fool-proof method to lose weight. This is not a new fad diet to try out. Why? Because, science and common sense.

While stuffing ourselves with our triple-scoop ice cream cones from Baskin Robbins at Deira City Centre, Dubai, it got me thinking about how our bodies must have to spend a little extra energy as it tries to bring the temperature level of the ice cream to match with our body temperatures. So does that mean that the energy spent can burn calories? This blog post says that your body burns more calories when you are eating ice-cream. Besides the fact that it may seem like a big Haagen Dazs ad at first, does it really make sense? Read on to find out.

"Did you know that you can lose weight by eating ice cream?  I was sitting at dinner the other day and I learned from an enlightened friend that the energy it takes to heat up really cold ice cream not only burns the calories in the ice cream itself but in fact is calorie-negative.

Pretty sweet, huh?  Check it out:

The energy intensity of ice cream, according to Haagen Dazs, is about 270 Cal/106 g = 2.55 Cal/g.
And now how much energy does it take to raise the temperature of that Haagen Dazs from 20 degrees F to 98.6 degrees F. 

Frozen ice cream has a specific heat of about 0.4 calories per gram degree Celsius.  This means that eating the ice cream will burn about (.4)*(98.6-20)*(5/9) = 17 cal/g.

This means that for each gram of ice cream you eat, you burn 17-2.55 = 14.45 calories!  Or is it Calories?
Wow!  This is amazing!  I can’t believe that you can lose weight by eating ice cream!  We can probably lose mad weight by drinking ice water too!  But why would you do that if you can eat Haagen Dazs?"

[Also Read: Smartphone-Friendly Gloves For Winter]

Does this article make you want to eat more ice cream or would you rather skip the dessert section and head straight for the salads. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Touchscreen-Friendly Winter Gloves

Winter in Dubai gets pretty chilly once January sets in. So stocking up on winter wear that is both fashionable, practical and affordable, (any two of the three will suffice) would be the natural thing to do.

If you happen to a) work in an office that turns down the air conditioning all the way to freezer-mode and/ or b) have trouble swiping and sliding away on your touchscreen-enabled smartphone when your hands are snuggled in a pair of gloves; this post is for you.

Tech-friendly or smartphone-friendly gloves are your cozy solution to these contemporary winter problems.

The science behind these touchscreen-friendly gloves is that conductive thread has been weaved into the lighter tips on the forefinger and thumb of the gloves (see image).

For the fashion-conscious, the sober black may seem a bit too drab. Just DIY funky designs onto the gloves using sparkly sequins, your trusty needle and some coloured thread and you are good to go.

The gloves pictured in this post can be bought for Dhs. 45 at the Claire's store on the third floor of Deira City Centre, Dubai.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

6 Reasons To Watch The Movie Frozen

Frozen is such wintery bliss. Elsa, who is born with secret icy powers is one day revealed, flees her sister Anna and her home in Arendelle that's left is deep, deep snow. Free to do as she pleases atop a snowy mountain, Elsa unleashes her magic, creating a breathtaking palace purely of ice and now it is up to Anna to help her sister and their little town, Arendelle.

I could easily ruin worldwide dreams and go on about all the faults in the story. Instead, here are six very obvious reasons you should watch this Disney movie whether you are a little kid or even a grown-up.

6. Awesome soundtracks you'll want to play on loop. My favourite is "Let It Go", performed by the voice of Elsa, Idina Menzel. "Let It Go" is an original song by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Tony Award®-winner Robert Lopez. My other two favourites include Anna's "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman" and Olaf's "In Summer." Plus, you can even...

5. Sing along. Because it is Disney, all the songs can be sung at a moderate pace. No lousy un-singable lyrics or tunes that you can't sing along with little kids or have duets with. It is all just happy, uplifting music that can turn your frown around.

4. Olaf the snowman and his misconception about summer is the silliest magical person in the movie. You have probably met plenty of talking and emoting animals and creatures on Disney. But have you ever met a snowman who believes the summer sun would probably just give him a tan? You'll have to find out what happens when he really does meet summer. Okay, fine, he doesn't die. But you still have to find out how.

3. Frozen teaches girls an important lesson, that they should be wary of the first guy they ever fall for. Not every guy, or girl even, is a lying, cheating, smarty-pants. But sometimes girls get carried away in the moment and forget to know more about their lover before saying yes. Frozen says that it is okay to make that mistake every once in a while. And that it is equally important to make the right choice/ decision in the end.

2. It's about sisterly love. It is not all about some little princess falling for this very handsome prince. Okay, so there was some falling-in-love action too but that wasn't the core point of the story. Sticking up for your sister is more important than any lover you will ever meet. Lovers come and go; but sibling-love lasts forever.

1. And family first. If you have been brought up by a family that showers you with love and support all the time, you will understand why this is such an important lesson from Frozen. And when family needs you, no matter what the rest of the world says about them to bring them down, they'll always be the ones you turn to side with first. You will always love them the most.