Mumbai in 80 hours

It’s quite obvious, 80 hours (or even 80 days) are not enough to explore this dynamic city. And in fact out of the 80 hours, I spent most of the time in meetings so not much photos were taken in this trip. Pictures aside, found something interesting in the trip …

  • There are lots of private jets in the airport taxi area (i.e. lots of rich families);
  • The Hyatt Regency Mumbai Hotel is high-tech and traveler friendly;
  • The Kindle works perfectly in the plane and a great way to kill time when waiting in lounge (no free Wi-Fi);
  • The in-flight entertainment system of Cathay Pacific, the movies District 9 and Inglorious Bastards are great;
  • The GMail is smart enough to insert a pull down menu in the editing area to let me input Indian characters;
  • You can live like a James Bond, or Jackie Chan … just hire a cab;
  • And yes, the Indian food in ITC Maratha Hotel is really delicious.

Okay, here are some photos:

Running Gmail with your Kindle 2

Imagine the following scenario …

  • You’re a stranger in a foreign land / airport;
  • Your smartphone is out of juice or you don’t want to pay hefty data roaming fee;
  • You cannot find a (free) WiFi hotspot for your laptop;
  • And you need to answer some emails via Gmail.

Sounds familiar ? Now you can do that if you have a Kindle 2 (or Kindle 3), as long as you can live with some constraints. As many of you already know, there is a very simple browser come with the Kindle 2, and there is a mobile version of Gmail with minimal graphics. Therefore, it makes sense to use that simple browser to access the simple web application. The constraints and preparation works are:

  1. It works only for countries / cities that support by Amazon Kindle 2’s WhisperNet  (the flip side of this is you don’t need to pay expensive data roaming fee to check emails !!)
  2. The screen of Kindle 2 is relative small;
  3. The keyboard of Kindle is hard to type;
  4. There is no scroll up and down function (you need to use Next Page and Prev Page keys);
  5. You cannot read / write double byte / Unicode characters;
  6. You will not able to attach files.
  7. In the settings of the browser, turn on Advanced view mode and turn on Javascript

Still want to continue ? OK, let’s start, step-by-step :

  1. Turn on the wireless in your Kindle. Then go to “Home” / “Menu” / “Experimental”, and select “Basic Web”
  2. You will see the bookmark page, and “Menu” / “Enter URL”, and enter m.gmail.com
  3. You will see the basic login page and enter your Gmail account information.
  4. Somehow, Gmail will display the usual Gmail screen with all the mails which makes the screen very busy. I believe Gmail do this because they know that the request is not from a mobile device. Now, go to the URL bar on top, and enter m.gmail.com again !!
  5. Now you shall see the mobile Gmail email list page.
  6. Press “Next Page” key till you reach the last page, locate “Compose Mail” command …
  7. Enter the from address, to address, subject line and mail content. Add CC, or BCC if needed. Press “Send” and that’s it …

Don’t forget to “Sign out” (in the mobile Gmail page footer) before you turn off the Kindle !!

Enjoy …

Olympus Colors – E-P1 or E-1 ?

As a owner of the legendary Olympus E-1 for almost 6 years now, I am still keeping this camera for many reasons. The rock solid body, the excellent handling, and of course, the signature Olympus color. Even I also have the E-300 and E-510, I still think in most of the times this “old” E-1 camera can out-perform the other two cameras I have easily – as long as you compare the output colors only.

And then six months ago, Olympus released their first Micro Four Thirds camera E-P1 and I am very pleased to find that the straight-out-of-camera JPEG colors are as good as the E-‘s1. In dpreview.com, there was one member gave these two cameras a blind test and it confirmed my findings. Looks like Olympus again did some magic in the latest image processing engine.

In fact, the more I use my E-P1, the more I have a feeling that I can leave my E-1, E-300 and E-510 at home … followings are some E-P1 pictures from Australia.

Sydney Bridge

Hervey Bay pier

Kata Tjunta

Photo of St. Sulpice Church, Paris

It is a rather old photo, taken a few years back. Just resurrected it from the hard-disk and earlier this month submitted to DPreview.com’s “Church Interior Photos” Challenge. And luckily, this photo was ranked number 22 out of the 300 submissions, with 2648 votes.

I then submitted it also to the local Olympus user group’s 5th anniversary photo contest a few days ago and it’s voted one of the top ten. Love it … and I hope you like it as well.

St. Sulpice Church, Paris

Facebook photo album image size

Are the pictures in your Facebook album all look blurry, or out-of-focus ?

The reason is simple, your pictures are not optimized to be displayed in Facebook. Even though nowadays’ digital cameras can capture very high resolution pictures but you shall not upload your full-size pictures to Facebook album straightaway. That requires Facebook to resize the pictures to fit their page layout, and makes your pictures look blurry.

In fact, the optimal size for pictures in Facebook album is 604 pixels high (or wide). Therefore, before you upload the pictures to your newly created album in Facebook, try first resizing the picture to 604 pixels wide or high. Then, use the sharpening tool or unsharp mask within your image editing tool to sharpen the pictures. Lastly, upload those processed pictures to the album.

Update 1 : From January 20th 2010, Facebook has upgraded their photo album feature to support 720 pixels high (or wide). So if you have fast Internet connection, then why not resize the photos to 720 pixels and share those with your friends ?

Update 2 : From 2nd October 2010, Facebook upgraded their photo album to support upload of photos with 2,048 pixels. In addition, the site rolled out new uploader, friend-tagging feature and lightbox based viewer.

Update 3 : From end August, 2011 – now Facebook can display the photos up to 900 pixels (you can upload photos with bigger size, but it will downsize it to 900 pixels to display).

Update 4 : Just in case you are searching for this … the new Timeline Cover image / photo size is 850 x 315 pixels.

Update 5 : From March, 2012 – Facebook  upgraded the photo viewer application to support a full-screen view up to 2048 by 2048 pixels, the maximum upload size for users. However, the upgraded view will only work in recent versions of Firefox and Chrome. Users can open up the full-screen view by clicking “Fullscreen” in the options menu beneath the photo or clicking the arrow icon at the top right hand corner of the picture to expand the size.

Update 6 : So …. Google+ also changed the profile layout, and if you want to make a cover photo just for Google+, don’t forget to resize it to 940 by 180 pixels.

Update 7 : I just prepared some Facebook Timeline cover images for you all to download and use for free. Enjoy !!

Here you go, one sample album from my Kyoto trip with my beloved Olympus camera (link to E-P3, but the photos were taken with E-510). Enjoy !!


Chicago – I’m lovin’ it

It’s cold in Chicago, minus 13 degrees celsius. I think the last time I was in the same cold condition was probably 25 years ago, and I hated it. But the Chicago city is a great city … not as crowded as New York, but with equally great hotel, food, museums, parks and shopping. I’m lovin’ it.

Click the image to see more photos from Chicago.

Old Beijing

It’s really not easy.

May be I have not spent enough time in Beijing, or I simply didn’t know where to look for. It’s not that easy to find the old Beijing, in the post-Olympics days. But still there are lots of places that I wished I could spend more time and took more pictures. What I managed to do was to keep taking photos, and selected some to process it with Virtual Photographer plug-in … and here is my old Beijing.

Click the picture to jump to the gallery in Facebook, and hope you like it.