signals of noise

Category: reviews

The Age of Kali: William Dalrymple [books]

A few years ago I had bought a copy of William Dalrymple’s “White Mughals“. But as circumstances would have it I never completed it. Now that I have read “The Age of Kali“, I have to go back to it and finish it.

William Dalrymple must be one of the best modern travel writers around. And the “Age of Kali” is no different. He takes us on a fantastic trip right across India, to Sri Lanka and to Pakistan. He lays bare the decadence in post-independence South Asia and takes us to places where we can never dream of going: like a LTTE training camp in the jungles of Jaffna, the SWAT valley in Pakistan or the students in Lucknow discussing violence, murder and the route to politics.

However, the biggest enjoyment of reading Dalrymple’s works comes from his style of story telling. Which is at once a discourse in regional history as well as current affairs.

This is just the start. Now I am going ahead to read up all his works. This one’s highly recommended.

Grab it from Flipkart or Amazon.

Why We Buy: Paco Underhill [book]

For any one working in traditional retail this book has to be a must-read. The fascinating details about how different people behave in retail settings, how they walk, where they look, how they make decisions and more are backed by years of ground level data and research.

I would say even if you are not in the business of retail, this book provides a great insight into the workings of the human mind that you can possibly use in other settings.

The only problem I have with the book is with Mr. Underhill’s treatment of e-commerce and the web channel. There seems to be a fair bit of anathema for this new area. May not be very surprising for someone working with traditional retail for three decades. My suggestion would be to ignore this one chapter and read up the rest of the book. You will not regret it.

Grab the book from Flipkart or Amazon.

Windows Live Essentials Beta

Windows Live Essentials (Beta) Suite has been available for download for a couple of days now. Head over to to grab it. It includes Photo Gallery , Live Writer (which I am using to write this post), Movie Maker, Windows Live Mail, Messenger and some more.

Windows Live Photo Gallery interface

The Photo Gallery and the Movie Maker makes it very easy to share your photos and videos on Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

Windows Live Writer interface

Windows Live Movie Maker interface

I was also really interested in using the Live Mail for offline access, managing tasks and pulling in my Google Calendar. However, after installing it is just not starting up.

Windows Live Mail startup error

I have tried uninstalling, restarting and reinstalling. It still doesn’t work. Anyone has any idea what may be the cause and the solution?

Update: It started working after a few re-installs. No clue what I did different.

Soluto – Anti-Frustration Software

I have been using Soluto since it was featured in, and won, Techcrunch Disrupt last month. And I love it.

What is Soluto? In their own words:

Soluto overview screen

Soluto Beta allows you to understand your boot, discover which applications are slowing it down (and keep running later in the background, affecting your ongoing experience), and allows you to significantly improve it. While Soluto Beta focuses on the boot, it already researches for frustrations and helps map the PC Genome, and allows you to share your wisdom with others.

Soluto boot application edit interface

Soluto boot timeline

And they do that very well. After the boot you can check which applications load during boot. Soluto also suggests which one’s can be removed along with the time it would save.

You can select each application and either pause or delay it. It also shows what other users of Soluto are doing with the same applications. Though most of the times it is not very helpful. Evidently most users do not quite heed to Soluto’s suggestions. So you would see almost 95% of users still keeping the application in boot.

Soluto information wiki edit mode

The other interesting view is the historical timeline showing how the boot time has changed along with markers for new application installations. This is quite helpful as you can clearly see which installation significantly changed your boot time. May be the said application does not affect the boot time directly, but it may well be starting services that slows down your PC.

You can also edit application description in the wiki mode so that other users find it useful when trying to take a decision to pause or delay or leave in boot. Great in built community features in a desktop application.

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