Tuesday, April 17

Compared: HCL MeTab U1 vs Micromax FunBook

Both HCL MeTab U1 and Micromax Funbook were launched within a span of a few days and both of them are focused on education. Here we've compared the two.


Both tablets have more or less the same hardware and software. Both have 7 inch capacitive touchscreens with 800 x 480 pixel resolution. Both are based on Android 4.0.3. However, while the Micromax Funbook does offer access to Google Play app store MeTab doesn't, and this is a big flaw as it means that one will not have access to the lakhs of apps on Android's app store.

HCL MeTab also has a slower 1 GHz processor compared to the 1.2 GHz unit that powers the Funbook (however this difference could be the result of overclocking as both use ARM A8 processors). On the RAM front both use a 512 MB DDR3 RAM, which is low for an Android 4.0 device.

There is a front facing VGA camera on both tablets and neither has a rear camera. HCL MeTab scores higher than Funbook because it has a 3600 mAh battery; compared to Micromax's 2800 mAh unit.

In terms of connectivity too both have the same feature list with HDMI and USB ports, and WiFi support. Neither has 3G, but Micromax is offering a free Tata Photon dongle with the tablet, making it a better offer.

Micromax is also priced better at Rs 6,500 compared to HCL MeTab U1 at Rs 7,999.

Educational content

Micromax and HCL differ in their content strategy. Micromax offers an educational content marketplace called Vriti, where there are 500 different course materials from about 30 content publishers. These materials can be bought starting at Rs 50 and going up to thousands of rupees.

HCL has varying content plans for its different MeTab tablets. MeTab U1 doesn't have any content and is priced at Rs 8,000 while the, K12 version which offers course material from KG to 12th is priced at Rs 11,499 (Rs 3,500 for the content,) and the higher education version, on which some content can be accessed on the cloud is offered at Rs 10,000 (Rs 2,000 for content and cloud access).

While in terms of content both have something to offer, we like the Micromax deal better because it offers all the choice and doesn't force any content on users; while HCL's tablet limits the choices.
The Micromax offering is also much more scalable. It is a third party offering on the Micromax Funbook and the content creator has announced that its platform will be available for all Android tablets, but then Micromax is not charging for education content.


Both companies are India based and have a very strong presence here. Micromax being a mobile phone brand has wider reach, but then it has limited the launch to 50 cities right now. HCL on the other hand is an IT company selling laptops and other IT products therefore its network is slightly limited. In terms of service, HCL's network is stronger as it not only supports its own products, but also products from several other brands; while Micromax relies more on third party services.


We have not tested these tablets, but going by first impressions, the made in India Micromax tablet is slightly better.

In terms of price and availablity Micromax Funbook is a clear winner and has the same hardware as HCL; we don't think our opinion is going to change even after testing the hardware.

The original article was posted here 

More from The Mobile Indian: 

3G vs Wifi tablet

Micromax to launch phone with solar panel

Source: Yahoo!

Saturday, April 14

Maruti launches Ertiga at Rs. 5.89 lakh

Maruti has launched the Ertiga MPV with introductory prices of Rs. 5.89 lakh for LXi, Rs.6.60 lakh for VXi, Rs.7.30 lakh for ZXi, Rs.7.30 lakh for LDi, Rs.7.90 lakh for VDi, and Rs.8.45 lakh for ZDi. Powered by next generation K-series 1.4litre V V T engine, Ertiga will offer a mileage of 16.02 kmpl. It will be available in diesel variant as well, powered by the 1.3 DDiS engine inherited from SX4. It will give a mileage of 20.77 kmpl.

The 3-row, 7-seater Ertiga will slot in below the Innova and Xylo both in size and price.

Ertiga's compact dimensions make it easy to park and maneuver. Its active and dynamic stance from the outside, and the quality fit and finish and features in the interiors, enhances its appeal among customers.

Ertiga will be offered in both petrol and diesel versions. The Ertiga is launched in India with an aim to pioneer a new market of compact 3-row vehicles.

The all new powerful and light weight K-14 VVT petrol engine will debut on Ertiga. In that way it's also a global unveiling and extension of the 'K' family engines. In addition, the Ertiga's diesel variant will be powered by the acclaimed 1.3 litre DDiS Super Turbo diesel engine.

The Indian specification Ertiga with a petrol engine delivers a peak performance of 70kw@6000rpm and a maximum torque of 130Nm @ 4000rpm. The Certified fuel efficiency (as per CMV Rule 155, India cycle) of Petrol Ertiga is a top of the class 16.02 km per litre.

read more @ Yahoo!

Source: Yahoo!

Earthquake Safety Tips - Keeping Safe

Earthquakes are a common occurrence, rumbling below Earth's surface thousands of times every day. But major earthquakes are less common. Here are some things to do to prepare for an earthquake and what to do once the ground starts shaking.

Safety Tips

    Have an earthquake readiness plan.
    Consult a professional to learn how to make your home sturdier, such as bolting bookcases to wall studs, installing strong latches on cupboards, and strapping the water heater to wall studs.
    Locate a place in each room of the house that you can go to in case of an earthquake. It should be a spot where nothing is likely to fall on you.
    Keep a supply of canned food, an up-to-date first aid kit, 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water per person, dust masks and goggles, and a working battery-operated radio and flashlights.

    Know how to turn off your gas and water mains.

If Shaking Begins

    Drop down; take cover under a desk or table and hold on.
    Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you're sure it's safe to exit.
    Stay away from bookcases or furniture that can fall on you.
    Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
    If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.
    If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
    If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Stay in the car until the shaking stops.

The 10 biggest earthquakes yet recorded
Source: Yahoo!

Tuesday, April 10

Airtel launches 4G services at Rs 999/month

Bharti Airtel, has launched India’s first 4G services in Kolkata today. Airtel , which had bagged BWA spectrum in four telecom circles -- Kolkata, Maharastra, Punjab and Karnataka -- for Rs.3,314.36 crore in 2010, selected Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE to manage its services in Kolkata. The services are priced between Rs 999 per month to Rs 1999 per month for with a free quota of 6- 9 GB.
"High speed wireless broadband has the potential to transform India, provide a robust platform for building the country’s digital economy and truly empower people. With one of the largest pools of young population in the world, India will see massive growth in consumption of data and content over mobile devices and proliferation of mobile commerce. I look forward to Airtel playing a pivotal role in shaping this exciting future for India," Bharti Airtel, Chairman Sunil Mittal said.
Airtel plans to launch its 4G services in Bangalore within 30 days. Bharti and its rivals paid a total 385.43 billion rupees to buy fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband spectrum in a 2010 government auction, which saw bids at much higher prices than initially expected.
What is 4G?
4G is short for Fourth (4th) Generation Technology  which is an extension on 3G  and 2G connection. What 4G technology will basically bring is high speed internet (upto 5 times faster than 3G). Compared to the existing 3G services that allow downloads speeds of up to 21 mbps (mega bytes per second), 4G allows download speeds of “upto 100 mbps’
This basically translates into high definition video streaming and instant photo and video downloads. It will also facilitate quicker uploads.
This move will help in bridging the digital divide and add to economic growth in rural areas by enhancing the reach of e-governance, e-health and e-education services. 

Source: Yahoo!

Meet The 28-Year-Old Who Made $400 Million Today

Reports say Systrom will make $400 million in the deal.
Instagram is a photo-sharing app that launched just a couple years ago, and already has 30 million users.
We'd love to talk to Systrom about the deal, how he got to where he is today, and his plans going forward.
But we can't.
Facebook is going to IPO next month, and that means its executives – now including Systrom – are required to honor the SEC's "quiet period" rules.
Fortunately, Systrom is not just a wildly successful CEO, he's also a Quora addict. He's answered over 50 questions on the site. Also, Systrom did a Q&A with Business Insider's Matt Rosoff last fall. 
Below, we've collected (and lightly edited) some of the best questions and on-record-answers from those resources to compile a Q&A with Silicon Valley's newest $400 million man.
Depends what you mean by coding. I've been programming here and there since I was in middle school. In high school I was excused from my foreign language requirement so I could take more computer science classes. The first real class I took was in Pascal, and then later in c++. Independently I started playing with MySQL and PHP, but never did anything significant.

My freshman year at Stanford I took CS106X which was the first year's worth of CS in 1 quarter (it's usually two). I wouldn't say I did so well... I looked around and saw so many fantastically smart folks in that class and decided I was better off majoring in something like business. Looking back I wish I had stuck with it. It turns out that no undergrad class prepares you to start a startup -- you learn most of it as you do it.

So anyway, long story short, I only took one CS class at Stanford, and instead of majoring in it, I coded basic projects on the side for fun (a student marketplace, an internet radio station, etc). At Odeo as the intern I picked up Ruby on Rails but forgot it quickly as I took a marketing job atGoogle.

Only at my next job at Nextstop would I say I went from being a hobbyist to being able to write code that would go into production. The lesson I take from this all is that a) don't give up so quickly if it's something you actually enjoy and b) 99% of what I do on a daily basis I learned on the job -- classes/majors can prepare you to learn on the job, but *doing* the work is where you learn what you'll use every day.
Our filters are a combination of effects – curve profiles, blending modes, color hues, etc. In fact, I usually create them in photoshop before creating the algorithms to do them on the phone
I wish that I could say it's more interesting - but often it has to do with the inspiration for the filter... a type of film, a photo we've seen, or simply what we were doing at the time.
From day one. We realized that if we were going to do photos, that we'd have to be different and stand out. Square photos displayed really well in a feed format and frankly we just liked the aspect ratio better. It wasn't much more complex than that.
I was born Dec. 30th 1983
Yes. I've been doing mostly backend work lately – python/django stuff.
A long week of searching for something that combined the 'right here right now' aspect of what we were trying to accomplish with the idea of recording something in your life (hence the suffix -gram).

We also wanted something relatively unique. We had a bunch of other names that were in the running, but there were lots of other apps with names that were too similar. Another characteristic was whether or not you could tell someone the name and they could spell it easily.
KS: It's hard to answer this question, because there's the client and then there's the server. Most of the server code was taken from Burbn. (For those who never used Burbn, Instagram looks/feels/acts a lot like burbn, only it's focused on posting a photo). That code took many months to develop, refine, and turn into libraries that we can use internally on just about any project. We built them knowing we'd likely reuse them in other experiments down the road. We learned *a lot* along the way that made Instagram act the way it does currently.

The app itself took about 8 weeks. 
KS: It was just two.
KS: Instagram is an app that only took 8 weeks to build and ship, but was a product of over a year of work.

The story starts when I worked at Nextstop. While I was there working in marketing, I started doing more and more engineering at night on simple ideas that helped me learn how to program (I don't have any formal CS degree or training). One of these ideas was combining elements of  foursquare (check-ins) with elements of Mafia Wars (hence the name Burbn). I figured I could build a prototype of the idea in HTML5 and get it to some friends. Those friends ended up using the prototype without any branding elements or design at all. I spent weekends working on improving the prototype for my friends. At a party for the Hunch folks I ran into a bunch of people who would basically make starting Burbn a reality. At that party were two people from Baseline Ventures andAndreessen Horowitz. I showed the prototype, and we decided we'd meet up for coffee to talk about it. After the first meeting, I decided to take the dive and leave my job to go solo and see if Burbn could be a company. Within two weeks of leaving, I raised $500k from both Baseline and Andreessen Horowitz, and started work on finding a team.

Mike Krieger and I started talking and he decided he liked the idea of helping start the company. Once he joined, we took a step back and looked at the product as it stood. By this time, we had built Burbn into a (private) really neat HTML5 mobile web app that let you: Check in to locations, Make plans (future check-ins), Earn points for hanging out with friends, post pictures, and much more.

We decided that if we were going to build a company, we wanted to focus on being really good at one thing. We saw mobile photos as an awesome opportunity to try out some new ideas. We spent 1 week prototyping a version that focused solely on photos. It was pretty awful. So we went back to creating a native version of Burbn. We actually got an entire version of Burbn done as an iPhoneapp, but it felt cluttered, and overrun with features. It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities. What remained was Instagram. (We renamed because we felt it better captured what you were doing -- an instant telegram of sorts. It also sounded camera-y)
Why do you think the app took off so quickly?
KS: We took a very basic action that everyone does in the world, taking a photo, and we put some meaning behind it, some reason behind it. The reason is suddenly all your friends can see that photo immediately, in an instant. But also we make the photo more beautiful. It doesn't take very much to convince people to do what they do every day anyway and then do it through you're product. Really we're just taking people and shifting them from taking photos anyway to taking them on Instagram.
But then, because of the encouragement through making photos beautiful, people are taking way more photos than they would have otherwise because there's a reason to share them.
But what advice would you give somebody to get that initial notice and get that spike in usage?
KS: It's interesting because I've started to work more closely with startups trying to do exactly this, and a lot of people think it's a marketing game. But really, if you build a quality app you will naturally rise through the ranks. I don't know how many apps are in the App Store, but everyone knows a fraction of a percent are really well done, quality, thought out apps. There are a lot of apps that are fun to use, they're utility apps, they're fine. But there are a fraction of apps that are in the cream of the crop. You just need to be in the cream of the crop to get noticed.
I think far too many people focus on how many emails can I send the user to get them to come back at the end of the week. If you build something beautiful and useful they will come back. And sure, you should also do those things, but I don't remember the last email I got from Google saying "hey, you haven't been back to our site in a while."
There are gimmicks, paying for downloads and stuff. But we've never spent a dime on marketing. Great products sell themselves.
What does your average user look like? Do you have a few "whales" who are taking tons of photos and then a bunch more casual users, sort of like Zynga with games?
KS: You can split it up into personas. There are definitely people who don't take any photos but like photos and comment on photos. Like people who joined for Justin Bieber -- a lot of them are there for one reason, and the reason is Justin. At the same time, there are people who subscribe to thousands of people and not only like and comment on their photos but take beautiful photos as well.
What do you think of native apps for mobile phones vs HTML5 apps? I talk to some people who think HTML5 is the way to build one app that works on multiple platforms.
KS: I don't buy it, mostly because we started off as HTML5.
What I don't buy is just your statement. I totally buy HTML5. It's great for some companies. For instance, I think it's awesome for bigger brands who are not technology companies to invest in HTML5. It's much more accessible, the refresh cycle's much smaller, it's just better for the organization to spend their time doing what you do well. If you're a larger brand, having the flexibility to do HTML5 is also great.
But to do what we do, there's no reason why we should do it in HTML5....We were HTML5 when we wereBurbn. But there were so many stumbling blocks getting it out to consumers, the second we went native it was the best decision we ever made. I think that's true, for folks to have a strong consumer experience that needs to be completely polished. I don't buy the cross-platform thing.
What about writing in HTML5 and then wrapping it for each different platform?
KS: Why would you do that? You might as well learn Objective C. I think the big stumbling block is a lot of developers are worried that they don't know this other language so let's build it in HTML and JavaScript. But it turns out if you spend a couple of days learning Objective C, you can get really far. The experience is great, too.
You also hinted at moving beyond photos into video?
KS: I've been mentioning this a lot lately because I don't want people getting stuck with the idea that Instagram is a photo-sharing company. Instagram is a media company. I think we're about visual media. I explain ourselves as a disruptive entertainment platform that enables communication through visual media. I don't think it's just photos. There's a reason we don't allow you to upload photos on the Web as albums. It's not about taking all these photos off your DSLR putting them into an album and sharing them with your family. It's not about that. It's about what are you up to right now out in the real world, how can you share that with everyone. It's about what's happening out in the world. It's about can I consume media from folks like Taylor Swift. That's really interesting to people. What's not interesting to me is becoming a photo storage platform.
Video requires a lot more resources.
KS: Everything does. So does Web. We get six million visits a day to our Web site. Imagine us launching a Web site [for sharing], how much more infrastructure would we need? All of these things are commitments. We have to see where they make sense in our lifecycle?
Are you a photographer?
KS: It's funny, I was a photographer before I was a programmer. But in high school I basically got them to waive a bunch of science requirements so I could take more computer science. I got to college and decided I didn't want to concentrate on computer science for some random reason. But I've always done photography, in the darkroom, and I've always really been into digital photography. If you go on to my Flickr page, you'll see a photo that looks like an Instagram photo, from about 2007. I've always been into taking my photos, cropping them square, putting them through a filter in Photoshop. We just reverse engineered how to do filters, now we opened it up to the masses....
I've done all our filters except for a few. We worked with Cole Rise, one of our users, who did a fantastic job on Amaro, Rise, and Hudson. He did the first three on the list and they're awesome, I use them 24/7. But we're definitely itching to get new ones out there. We talked about doing limited Christmas holiday ones, or whatever, but we're not Angry Birds Seasons or anything like that yet.

Source: Yahoo!

Do You Give Your Kids an Allowance?

How do your kids really learn to manage money? Do they learn about money at school? From their friends? By watching TV? By buying snacks from the corner shop after school hours to eat on the bus?
Probably all of these. But as with any other matter, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Most kids don't really learn to manage money, they learn to spend what they have and wait till they get more. Kids today, just like when we were kids ourselves, are more about instant gratification and less about planning for the future.
There's usually no practical money education at school, their friends might know about as much as they do and also this is not something children talk about, and if they try to learn by watching you things might seem complicated and they will simply become confused.

Common sense dictates that the younger they are when they start to learn, the more they will absorb and respect what you teach them. Kids today are growing up faster than you would believe. They develop wants and needs and financial lifestyles at a very young age.
By the age of 6, your friend's daughter will be asking for a cell phone and will want fun events at her birthday party to be better than events at her classmate's party. At age 8 your neighbour's son understands your computer better than you did at 16, and he wants a cell-phone and the Nintendo Wii too. While children may have financial needs, wants and demands, this is in fact the best age to help them understand money.

The 3 S's - Spending, Sharing, Saving
As a parent, you're going to take care of everything. School tuition fees, new clothes, shoes, books, food, shelter, presents... it's on you up to a certain age.
So what's the allowance for? What your child needs to learn is that the allowance is for 3 things: 
  1. Spending: Personal items, snacks, toys, clothing items, entertainment
  2. Sharing: Birthday presents for family members, friends, classmates, giving charity
  3. Saving: For very special occasions or bigger purchases, your child can learn to start saving money a little in advance
And as your child gets older - we can add Investing to the list.

Money Education for a Child Aged 4 to 8
  1. The main thing to do here is ensure your children can first identify money and are good at basic math money transactions. Help them know the difference between a Rs. 10 note and a Rs. 100 note, a Rs. 100 note and a Rs. 500 note and so on.
  2. Have mock transactions with them when they are very young. 'If I like these pens that cost Rs. 25, and I give the salesman a Rs. 100 note, how much should he give back?' and so on. For a child closer to the age of 8, try this - borrow money from them for a few days and pay it back with interest. The math might be beyond their level, but they will understand in simple ways how interest works. With a little extending, this can become a practical exercise in compound interest.
  3. When you go to the grocery store, ask them to choose a sweet, find out how much it costs and give them Rs. 10 to buy it. They can decide whether to get 10 sweets for Re. 1 each and share with the family, or a chocolate bar for Rs. 10, or something else. Let them choose what they want and carry out the transaction themselves. And if your child loses the Rs. 10 note, don't replace it on this grocery trip. Explain gently but firmly that money is important and should be handled with care.
  4. At a young age, the allowance should be very small and should be given once a week. Young children cannot plan for expenses of the month, the best they can do is 7 days. They should also get into the habit of writing down all their expenses on a piece of paper stuck on their cupboard. Savings should go into a piggy bank or a coin pouch.
Money Education for a Child Aged 9 to 12
  1. As your child grows up, his or her money responsibilities should gradually increase. It's at about this age that parents start to tie allowances to household chores. 'Clean your room, put your shoes books and clothes away, finish all your homework, clear the dining table, and you will get your allowance.' This is potentially a bad idea.

    If this is done, some children might feel entitled to money simply because they are being well behaved. What they need to learn is good behavior is simply part of being in a family, and everybody does it. Your kids should feel responsible to contributing to household chores, irrespective of their allowance. If their responsibilities are not fulfilled, a better way to teach them might be curtailing of freedom like TV time or bedtime curfew.
  2. Around the age of 10 or 11, start your kids on a savings plan. Open a joint bank account as this will allow your child to have a little freedom in their purchases. If the lessons they learned from ages 4 to 8 were strong, they will be responsible in their expenditures. If not, wait till they are 13 or 14 years old before you do this.
  3. Encourage charity. It will not only help your child do good in the world, but also learn the difference between being privileged and being under-privileged. With this knowledge will come understanding and appreciation of their own lifestyle.
  4. Encourage discerning shopping habits. In this age bracket, kids tend to have more needs but also more wants. If your child wants a particular item, ask them to do a little research on the net and find out various options available. They can do a trade-off between features or prices and show you their findings before making the purchase.
Money Education for a Child Aged 13 to 16

  1. By this time your child is probably taking tuitions, pursuing extracurricular activities, furthering hobbies, starting to go out with a group of friends and generally doing much more than before. All of these things will require your child to spend money on food, travel, shopping, and so forth. Make sure that whether they are spending from their pocket money or from a joint account using their debit card, they stay within a certain limit every month. As their age goes up and their expenses go up, so should their savings. This will help them begin investments.
  2. You have probably been investing for them in their PPF account if they have one. There might be other investments in your child's name as well, that you have made for their higher education. Educate them about these investments. The earlier they learn about the difference between equity and debt (on both risk and return fronts) the easier it will be for them to transition from being spenders and savers to being investors. Help them understand the concept of net worth. If you have a home loan, explain to them what that means in simple words.
  3. Help them understand the concept of the contingency fund. Tell them to assess their expenses each month and categorize them. Encourage them to save up to 3 months of expenses. With your supervision, help them to invest this into a liquid fund with you as the guardian. Reward them every so often. If they are very disciplined and achieve their savings target earlier, encourage them by giving them some spending money.
  4. It's never too early to learn about taxes. Start with the basics - direct tax slabs. Encourage them to also look at their purchases and expense slips when they shop or eat out. Note the difference between service tax and service charge on a restaurant bill. Help them figure out how much is a good tip to leave at what sort of restaurant. In these little ways, you will enable your child to deal with money practically and responsibly.

There might be arguments about allowance increases and expensive purchases and you might even face a situation of 'my friends all have it so I want it too'. You will want to provide the best for your child, but remember that you must also help them inculcate the best habits. With a little love and understanding and practical guidance, you and your child can have a very rewarding experience dealing with finances as a family.

Travel Postcard: 48 Hours in Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Got 48 hours to explore Singapore? The Asian financial and business centre has undergone a makeover in recent years and it is now also a playground for Asia's rich where sleek skyscrapers meet quaint shops.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to this multicultural Southeast Asian city-state.
5 p.m. - Hop on the Singapore River Cruise to trace the island's journey from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling metropolis. The boats come at a roughly 15 minute interval and pass through Marina Bay, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.
6 p.m. - Try your luck at the Marina Bay Sands casino, or get a good view of the business district from the SkyPark. You can also check out the exhibitions at the lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum.
Enjoy fine dining at restaurants with names such as Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali. For a taste of East-meets-West, try Sky on 57 by local French-trained chef Justin Quek And feast while enjoying a panoramic view of Singapore's bay from level 57.
Alternatively, take a 20 minute walk around Marina Bay to One Fullerton, where you can see the Merlion, with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, and hit the bars.
You can also take a short walk to Esplanade, Singapore's durian-shaped performing arts venue, and pig out at Gluttons Bay, an outdoor hawker area next to Esplanade.
11 p.m. - Take a cab to Zouk and party the night away. Zouk houses four different clubs: Velvet Underground, Phuture, The Wine Bar and the main Zouk room.
9 a.m. - Tuck into prata, a fried pancake often served with curry, at Little India. Get a glimpse into the Hindu religion at the temples, and shop at the giant Mustafa Centre, which is popular with visitors from India and Pakistan as well as Singapore's own Indian community because of its wide range of goods and spices from South Asia.
12 p.m. - Ride the MRT (subway) to Bugis, then take a 10-15 minute walk to Haji Lane, where you can check out indie shops, cafes and restaurants offering a shisha pipe for smoking. Also visit the gold-domed Sultan Mosque, which was built in 1824.
You can buy arts and crafts hand-made from recycled fabric and other materials by local artists at Doinky Doodles! on the second floor of 33 Bali Lane.
Seek to jostle with the locals? Then dive into the crowd at Bugis Street, which has dozens of shops selling snacks, accessories, clothes and other goods -- like Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market, but smaller. Then head to the Fu Lu Shou area, where the Buddhist Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and the Hindu Sri Krishnan Temple stand side by side.
4 p.m. - Hop on a bus to Chinatown and enter the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which houses the sacred Buddha tooth in a stupa composed of 320 kg of gold donated by devotees. Stroll on the streets and soak in the colourful atmosphere.
7 p.m. - Sample local food such as char kway teow (fried noodles with cockles), carrot cake (fried radish flour with egg and preserved vegetables) and satay (grilled meat on a skewer) at Chinatown Food Street. You can watch while your friendly hawker cooks your dinner right in front of you.
9 p.m. - For the adventurous, take a cab to Geylang for the durians, the "king of fruits," which some say looks like a hedgehog and smells of the sewer.
9 a.m. - Take a walk through the sprawling Botanic Gardens and smell the flowers at the National Orchid Garden, with about 600 species and hybrids on display.
12 p.m. - Have brunch at the all-day breakfast restaurant, Wild Honey, at Mandarin Gallery. The menu ranges from Swiss and Japanese to Yemen and European. Alternatively, try the risotto and the sinful butterscotch apple and mixed berries crumble at Food for Thought at 8 Queen Street.
2 p.m. - Revel in contemporary art from Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations at the Singapore Art Museum.
4 p.m. - Finish the trip by hitting the stores at Orchard Road, Singapore's shopping mecca.
(Editing by Elaine Lies and Paul Casciato)
Source: Yahoo!

Friday, April 6

The Principles of Investing

For over two years now, the market has been range bound, oscillating between the 16,000 to 20,000 points range. Just when it looks like the shackles are lifting comes the turnaround and just as investors start fearing an imminent crash, the index manages a recovery and rebounds.

Consequently, most investors are in a dilemma and quite don’t know how to play out this situation. While some have preferred to wait out the volatility by staying out of the market, others are indulging in chasing returns by dabbling heavily in gold, silver and other commodities. Yet others are gung-ho on FMPs and fixed deposits where in some cases the returns on offer are in the region of 10% - 11% p.a.

However, the truth is there is no reason for investors to get antsy. While desiring a good return is fine, having a rational perspective is crucial. In an effort to earn 11% p.a., one could run the risk of losing 100% in no time! Chasing returns is always risky and its best to avoid greed. Towards, this end, let’s review some of the lessons that one learns along one’s journey as an investor. Some of these learnings emanate out of personal experience, some out of the experience of others and some is wisdom provided by those who have been fairly successful investors themselves.

First up - the market is like a class room where we are taught lessons. The same lesson is taught to you time and again till you learn it properly. Once you have finished your learning, you move on to the next class room where you are taught another lesson. Successful investors are those who learn the most lessons along their investing life.

And the very first lesson in this classroom is regarding the virtues of long-term investing. Actually, the term ‘long-term investing’ is nothing but an euphemism for the combination of the powerful twin forces of compound interest and time. Compound interest in solitude means little. And time without the company of compound interest is equally meaningless. However, most retail investors lack the patience, conviction, heart and stomach required in combining these two forces for any meaningful length of time.

So here’s what one can and should do. Investing all your money in any one type or class of instrument is always risky, no matter what the instrument is. Instead, consciously spread your investments regardless of the external environment. Amidst all the noise, do not let go of the basics. Keep it simple, keep it real. While investing in gold is indeed desirable, have no more than around 15-20% invested in the metal. Don’t buy physical gold, instead use Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Allocate another 20% to relatively safe bank fixed deposits or short-term income funds. Cash can command around 15%. The balance can and should be invested in equity, not in a lump sum but in a staggered manner through Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs or STPs). This way, you can let compound interest do its work in the company of time. If the market falls, you get the same stuff cheaper. If the market rises, since you are anyway participating, you make profits. Either way, you win. It is really as simple as that.

Don’t borrow to invest. Ever. Do not listen to tips that your neighbour, train friend or office colleague is so gung ho about. Even if you listen, do not act upon the tip. Instead keep it in mind and be sure to check after a year or so what actually did happen to the hot stock that everyone was so excited about. That is, if it is still traded. Invest with mutual funds with an established track record of at least five years. Choose plain vanilla diversified funds. Then hold fast, hold tight and hold out.
Of great relevance in the current situation is a quote from Warren Buffet. He has said – “Five years from now, ten years from now, we'll look back on this period and we'll see that you could have made some extraordinary (stock market) buys. That doesn't mean it won't get more extraordinary a week or a month from now. I have no idea what the stock market is going to do next month or six months from now. I do know that the economy, over a period of time, will do very well, and people who own a piece of it will do well. Just don't borrow money to buy your piece.”
While Mr. Buffet’s statement was to do with the US market, it can literally be copy-pasted for our market too. Over the next five-ten years, in spite of its politics and politicians, India (as compared to the West) will do well. Do participate in this prosperity. And the best way to do this is by staying invested over the long-term. Do not try and time the market. Despite all the upheavals and turmoil that we go through, at the end of the day, we are progressing. And this progress will manifest itself in the stock market one way or another. The timing is irrelevant, that it will happen is certain. 
Or in other words, making your money make money is really so simple that it becomes difficult. However, if you try and actually apply the above principles, day in day out, month in month out and year in year out, the chances of losing are virtually nil. To benefit from these lessons is up to you. The question is --- are you up to it?

The writer is Director, Wonderland Consultants, a tax and financial planning firm. He may be contacted at sandeep.shanbhag@gmail.com
Source: Yahoo!

Tuesday, April 3

IPL rides high on glamour quotient at fifth season's opener

Amitabh, Priyanka and Kareena and US singer Katy Perry dominated the glitzy opening ceremony of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League.

Chennai, (IANS):
 From a bevy of Bollywood stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor, as also US singer Katy Perry, the glamour quotient dominated the glitzy opening ceremony of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the YMCA Ground here Tuesday night.

In his signature baritone, Bachchan set the stage alive with a heartwarming poem written by lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

This was the actor's first stage appearance after undergoing abdominal surgery. He looked hale and hearty as he came on stage dressed in velvet coat and trousers, to recite "Janam Yadhi Phir Se Mile".

The 69-year-old was accompanied by dancers from the Shiamak Davar troupe, who described the essence of the poem through their performance.

His routine was followed by Colonial Cousins, DJ Ravi Drums and Soth African percussionist group 1st Project who mesmerised with their peppy numbers.

Bollywood's "junglee billi" Priyanka Chopra then took the packed audience by surprise when she went up in the air during her performance, and got cricketer Harbhajan Singh to dance a little jig with her.

Looking chic in a black and white sequinned top, black pants and a red wrap-around skirt, the actress opened her act with her popular song "Aaj ki raat".

She did away with her skirt for a sporty look as she was pulled up in the air with a harness for an aerial act on the "Don" tune. The 29-year-old mesmerised the audience with her confidence, and landed on the stage for a power-packed dance on the number "Dhantanaa" from the film "Kaminey".

She moved around in the audience, and urged the front row members, including Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh, to dance. Bhajji, as the latter is lovingly called, was sporting enough to get up and join her for a jig.

Later, Priyanka took to the stage again to interact with the cricketers of title holders Chennai Super Kings, who are led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

She pulled Dhoni's leg, and asked the boys to join her for a dance on hit Tamil song "Nakka mukka".

Kareena Kapoor then stole many hearts when she danced to her chartbuster "Chhamak chhallo" and swayed to "Dil mera muft ka" but the cherry on the cake was her warm "Vanakkam".

The packed audience cheered in unison for the 31-year-old as she came on stage dressed in a blingy black overcoat.

"Kaun hai jisne mujhe mudke nahin dekha (Who is the one who didn't turn around again to see me)" from her popular movie "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", played in the background as Kareena appeared on stage. And going by her flashy outfit, the dialogue suited the moment perfectly. Even if one wanted, one couldn't miss her presence on stage.

Kareena set the stage on fire with "Chhammak chhallo", "Pyaar ki pungi", her latest mujra number "Dil mera muft ka" and grooved to some remixed versions of her songs like "Yeh ishq haaye", "Teri meri prem kahaani" and "Criminal".

Her performance was fairly long and vivacious and left the audience asking for more.

India's very own Michael Jackson, Prabhu Deva, performed some scintillating dance numbers as well.

The audience's enthusiasm went up to the next level as the Tamil superstar performed his signature moves to songs like "Main aisa kyun hun" from "Lakshya" and "Tera hi jalwa" from "Wanted" in his hometown.

The 39-year-old even went down the stage to mingle with the audience while shaking a leg and people were seen enjoying his performance to the fullest.

Indian cricket board president N.Srinivasan in his speech promised to help 185 Indian cricketers with the proceeds from the four play-off stage matches.

Srinivasan said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be distributing the proceeds among 185 international and domestic cricketers.

"The proceeds from the play-off matches will be distributed among former cricketers, who have represented India at the international level and also among domestic players. The BCCI will give a one time assistance to those cricketers and around 185 Indian cricketers will benefit. It is a small gesture from the BCCI to all those who have done yoeman's service to Indian cricket," he said.

Standing alongside the nine IPL team captains, Srinivasan said it was a proud moment for him.

"It is a proud moment for me to stand here on this stage with nine captains. IPL has gone from strength to strength and has become one of the premier tournament of the world," he said.

Srinivasan also said that IPL has helped the BCCI to develop infrastructure for the sport all over the country.

"We distribute proceeds from the IPL to all the state associations to build infrastructure. BCCI spends substantial amount on helping to develop the game at the grass roots," he said.

Source: Yahoo!
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