Monday, June 25, 2012

Read: Predictably irrational by Dan Ariely: Behavioral Economics

Nice book - I find that the experiments were interesting and a lot of predictable irrational human behavior is explained. However, the ending was rather abrupt and even the summary hurried and unlinked - I am left feeling a little directionless with all the facts and figures. Dan Ariely is a trained economist and the linking up economics and behaviour is coming up pretty well. I heard theres a book by Kahnemanthats similar too.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tall trees is a great place - review and photos

Where to stay in Munnar ?  I stayed at Tall trees and found it to be a great place

This is a very nice place. Nestled inside a near 70 acre forest greenery and a little away from the Munnar town (approx 4 km) 

They offer beautiful cottages that overlook a green forested hill side. The campus is tastefully done and the staff is helpful. Its very peaceful..... note that I did not say silent - the cicadas and birds and frogs go all day long but I am sure you dont mind it ;-). The cottages are well done and furnished / maintained well.

 They have a small shop that sells knick-knacks too - chips, ceigarettes et al.
 The  way to the restaurant
 Brooks inside the campus....
 Glass roof dining at the restraunt .... very nice ambience and very friendly staff

They have a restaurant "Hill spice" that served Buffet Dinner and Breakfast. Very unique setting with glass ceilings. The only downside is that you need to walk up a hill (by city people standards) about 300-600 m to reach the restaurant .... well it builds up an apetite

There are lots of things for the children to do too - TT/Carrom/Rock Climbing/Play area/Shuttle and for some grown up types too - Ayurveda , Fitness walk

They help you hire an auto or a car to to to town or sight seeing in Munnar respectively.

(PS: I even heard Edavapathi movie is being shot in Munnar when we were there. Wonder what the movie name means!)

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A plea for sanskrit college

A plea for sanskrit college

The following article appeared in The Times of India earlier this month.
The institute is struggling for funds. Please contribute, if you could, by calling +91 44 24985320 or via PayPal.

Sanskrit centre struggles to stay alive

The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute attached to the Sanskrit College in Mylapore is in doldrums because of lack of government patronage.
The Institute, one of the three involved in Sanskrit research in the country, has been surviving on private donations. With not enough resources, the management is unable to pay the faculty the benefits of the sixth pay commission.
Institute director V Kameswari said the Union government stopped its financial support in 1995, after which it has been solely dependent on donations. “The institute has a trove of rare palm leaf manuscripts and books not just about Sanskrit literature but also on architecture, fine arts, geography, history and astronomy in Sanskrit,” says Kameswari.
The two other such institutes are the R G Bandarkar Sanskrit Institute in Pune and the Ganganath Jha Sanskrit Institute in Allahabad. “We have requested a onetime grant from the Union planning commission and also annual assistance from the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, but are yet to get any support,” says K S Balasubramanian, deputy director of the institute. The plan panel had given grants to the Mumbai Asiatic Society and Kolkata-based Asiatic Society.
The institute was getting about 10 lakh till 1995 but due to a misunderstanding between the government-appointed members of the governing committee and the management, the aid was stopped. Today, there are 24 scholars at the institute, most of them women doing their PhDs. “Scholars from across the country and world visit the institute. We send out publications to many foreign universities and they in turn send their publications which are preserved here,” says Kameswari.
The institute was started as a private non-profit organisation in 1944 in memory of Kuppuswami Sastri, a renowned Sanskrit scholar. It has a library with books on astronomy, architecture, fine arts, mathematics, Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and various branches of science.
“A private entrepreneur made a donation with which we have air-conditioned the library. The palm-leaf manuscripts in the library are 600 to 1,000 years old. Many of them are in Grantha script. We also have books on Jainism that speak about solving mathematical equations and explain geographical concepts,” says Kameswari, who is worried about keeping the ancient language alive.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

What to see in Madurai: Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal Palace, Famous Jigarthanda and Madurai Meenakshi temple and Mariamman tank (Part 1)

Madurai - Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal or Palace, Famous Jigarthanda : What to see in Madurai:   (Part 1)
(Also referred as Thirumalai Naicker or Nayakar Mahal)

Many of us have solved the travelling salesman problem  but the same is faced by nearly every tourist (especially when faced with triple constraints of time wife and kids ;-) [See my earlier post on how to get to Madurai by bus]

So for those who want to spend a day in Madurai and dont want to strain yourself (i.e. want to nap in the afternoon and only do visits in the morning and evening)

Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace - Nice large hall worth visiting and will take about 2 hrs. I was pleasantly surprised with the the tamil language has evolved - it was quite a simple script with much reuse (modular language ;-))

As you finish the Palace and are feeling quite hot - head out to the "Famous Jigarthanda" - yes... thats the name of the shop. The Jigarthanda drink out here is amazing.

Its as good as the stuff thats available at Chennai Murugan Idly albeit the ice cream is filled with ice flakes

<<End of Part 1>> see Part 2


Friday, June 8, 2012

Writing and note taking apps review : iPad

For most people writing is a personal thing and not quite used for communicating with others unless it's typed out.I find that my task list, meeting notes , mind maps etc stick when they are handwritten

A superb use I found for the iPad is to use it as a notebook.I bought a few stylus ( in eBay and croma later) griffin, Targus, igo, Chinese 2 for 400 type pens on eBay

I bought notetaker HD , notesplus and the hand writing add on , noteshelf, penultimate, notability, upad, remarks, neunotes, paper, bamboo, penultimate, ghostwriter, tapose, write pad, notify and ...

Whew a whole lot of software....

My take on the noteworthy (pun intended) ones

Notetaker HD - probably the second best app but still my first and favourite for all notetaking. Has every feature you can imagine . It's done by dan bricklin the inventor of VisiCalc spreadsheets adding that geeky twist to selection.Can tag and staple

Notesplus - has great set of features and also with an addon you can recognise and convert to text too! A painful reference library to access the books quickly

Noteshelf - one of the best ink I have seen. I would rate this app as number 1. I just moved out since I found this too much eye candy for me ad wanted something little more clunky

Notability - great ink, great eye candy. I liked noteshelf better since this kind of felt like it was blottingWrite pad is for direct OCR and text conversion

All the other apps are quite far away in functionality or are very un-intuitive compared to these.
Example, ghostwriter - clunky,
penultimate and bamboo - no magnify mode,
upad lite is probably ok and will probably come close to the noteshelf,
remarks - cant change palette,
tapose and notify - more for cross referencing

If you wanted to spend money, go for notetaker hd and griffin or Targus stylus.Please do give your comments if you use any other apps.

Travel: Chennai to Madurai by road - Bus

Chennai to Madurai by road - The omni-bus ride! (My experience and some tips) 

 We did the Chennai Madurai by road using a speacial bus from Chennai CMBT (Koyambedu) - Man! what a nightmare of a jam. The bus was full and he left at 11:20 and reached Madurai at 7:30 - about 8 hrs. You will hear a lot of tales of 6 hrs of travel, but I think safe reasonable time for 560 hrs is 8 hrs While it was a good "Volvo" bus, and had only one stop over at Tiruchi, could have been a lot better had he started someplace else. (Perungalathur being too far)

 Please make sure that you get down at the Periyar bus stand (there is also a mattu thavani stand but I think its a little outside town)

 BTW some tips for going on the long distance bus from Chennai :
1. Parking at CMBT for a drop: Follow the general melee of buses and theres a way for cars too to drop you behind the KPN /Parveen stall
2. They do give you water and blanket in "Volvo" bus (Parveen) 
3. Carry night blinders and a pillow if possible
4. Book on kpn web site or parveen website. Just check the cancellation fees . I think its 10% for upto 12 hrs before travel. Book seats in front but not the first row if you can avoid it (The first row is next to the driver and lights from oncoming vehicles are a pain till the curtains are drawn -usually after perungalathur)

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