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2016 Reading Challenge – Progress so far

As 2016 started I set out with a goal – read 24 books in this year. That’s about two a month – not that a difficult goal to achieve. Main reason for me to set this goal was to get back to regular reading. There were times I used to read more than two books in a week. But just similar to cycling and running goals for the year, this one too fell flat on it’s face. Nine months gone, here I’m with only 6 books read. That is way too short of my initial goal. With three months left I’m lowering the bar to 10 – that leaves me another 4 books to read in ninety odd days. Below is the list of the books I have read so far.

BookAuthor(s)LanguageCategory
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenChristopher McDougallEnglishSports, Nonfiction,
The Room on the RoofRuskin BondEnglishFiction
Stories of Work, Life & the Balance in BetweenTomson RobertEnglishFiction
ನನ್ನ ತಮ್ಮ ಶಂಕರ (Nanna Tamma Shankara)Anant NagKannadaBiography
Himalaya Bound: An American's Journey with Nomads in North IndiaMichael BenanavEnglishTravel, Nonfiction
Raakshas: The Serial KillerPiyush JhaEnglishFiction, Thriller

As the name says ‘Rakshas’ is a thriller by Piyush Jha set in Mumbai about a serial killer. Himalaya Bound by Michael Benanav takes us into the unknown nomadic life of Van Gujjars in Uttarakhand. ನನ್ನ ತಮ್ಮ ಶಂಕರ (Nanna Tamma Shankara) is a biography of Shankar Nag, a well known Kannada film actor, director & screenwriter by his elder brother Anant Nag (another legend in the Kannada film industry).

Celebrate the games, Play Bold

20th September 2014, that was the day I ran my first race. A 10 KMs run on the banks of river Kaveri. It had been only couple of months 2 years ago I had started running regularly. I wanted to check how much I have progressed. On that overcast Saturday morning I set out to run the longest distance I had ever attempted. When I returned home triumphantly with a gleaming medal around my neck, my little niece was more happy than me seeing that medal. "Did you win? Were you first?" pat came the questions from here. It was a bigger task to explain to her about preparation and participation than worrying about winning or losing. When I saw Virat Kohli featured in the 'Made of Bold' video by Royal Challenge Sports Drink, I couldn't help but think about my efforts and preparation I put in for my first ever 10K I ran two years ago.

playbold

Those efforts are no where when we compare to these amazing guys who represent India at international level. The 'Made of Bold' video is an ode to these wonderful athletes, their bold spirit and attitude. In a cricket crazy country like India, it is not easy to be a sportsman in other sports. We have athletes participating in many events – Gymnastics, Rowing, Boxing, Wrestling and not to forget Field Hockey (in attempt to bring back the glory days). Defying all the odds, sweating out day in and day out, with a never give-up attitude, they have already created history in qualifying to the event. It was not an easy path for each of them – their daily struggle narrate bold stories. A marathoner from a small tribal village in Kerala up against the mighty Kenyans and Ethiopians, a gymnast who has the credit of being the one only five in the world to perform the deadliest vaults in Gymnastics, a rower from a draft stricken village from Maharashtra – the stories are endless.

Many of our athletes have come very close to winning a medal for our country in the past and there will be many more gritting it out. As we wait in anticipation of winning medals for out country, you guys have already won our hearts. Here is a big cheer for you guys – go out there and play bold.

#PlayBOLD

A Day Out with Indiblogger and Flipkart

The day started a bit early than the previous few Saturdays. An early morning ride took me to Manfo Mist resort near Bannerugatta where I was one of the 100+ bloggers to be there to experience #FlipkartOutdoors. When I got to know about the #FlipkartOutdoors IndiBlogger Meet by Shrinidhi, I was grinning like a kid who got hold of a bowl of candies. If you ever have a glance at my wishlist, the top of the list goes like this – a GPS watch for my running & cycling, an action camera to capture all my antiques during cycling & trekking and a wireless bluetooth headphone to keep me company during my long distance running. The list goes on with more and more items that are linked to outdoor activities. After ogling for ages at these products on online portals many times, it was a perfect chance to try them out and experience these products.

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Polaroid Cube posing as a monkey

Post breakfast arranged at the resort, all the bloggers were divided into 7 groups, so that it will be easy for us to visit each of the stalls to have a glimpse of the products that were on display & experience them. The brands present that day were Garmin, Sony Action Cam, Samsung, Altec Lansing, Polaroid Cube, Coleman and Red Chief shoes. As a team we moved from one stall to another, experiencing the products. Our first stop was at Coleman camping and outdoor gears. A wide range of products were on display – tents, coolers, folding chairs, compass, hydration bottles and many more. I made a mental note to place an order for a set of stretch cords or the bungee cords – that come in handy to pack my bag during my cycling adventures. And guess what? I won the same product as part of one of the team activity.

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Sony Action Camera
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Garmin’s Vivofit

Next stop was at Altec Lansing – while everyone was busy with checking the waterproof speakers, I found one of those in my wish list – the Bluetooth Active Earbuds Headphones. I tried them on, they fit in very nicely and didn’t come out even after jumping up & down & swaying my head wildly. Unfortunately I couldn’t test the sound quality as the earbuds were not charged. From the speakers we moved to Red Chief shoes. We had a wide range of all-purpose shoes in front of us. A quick demo of the shoes, we moved to Sony stall. Since one product per team was handed over to try out for the next half day – I volunteered to try the Sony Action Cam with a head-mount. I did manage to perform a crash test of the Sony Action Cam during the artificial wall climbing. It fell down from a height of about 15 feet & successfully cleared the crash test with flying colours.

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Our next pit stop was at Polaroid Cube – a small & cute action camera. This one is a mini cube sized camera with very limited controls. Checkout Shrinidhi’s comparison & review of the Action Cameras. I spent a relatively short time at the Samsung Gear stall as I’m not that fan of smart watches. But to compensate that I spent quite a lot of time with the Garmin GPS watches. Most of those time was again spent with a Forerunner 920XT and a Fenix 3 in each hand – kind of making up my mind on which one to buy. After the demos, we explored the resort to complete the assigned activities – Water Zorbing, Artificial wall climb (I did win Flipkart gift voucher for successfully climbing the wall, Yay!), Zip line, Land Zorbing, Rope ladder climb and more. Post lunch, we were regrouped into smaller teams for a game of Paint Ball. It was a day well spent with wonderful people & bloggers around.

Tata Sky+ launches ‘Transfer’

When I saw the TV commercial of the new ‘Tata Sky+ Transfer’, I couldn’t help but check more features of the latest offer. Being a Tata Sky subscriber for more than four years (I’ve the Tata Sky HD+ connection), I wanted to check what more they have on offer. To say it in one line – Tata Sky+ Transfer is a Personal Video Recorder along with additional features of streaming and transferring the recorded content to your smart phones/tablets for offline watching.

Let’s have a detailed look of what’s on offer:

  • Buy a new box – existing customers have to buy a new box for the transfer feature – existing HD box do not support Transfer
  • Comes with 500GB disk space to record TV shows
  • No hassles of cables – Wireless data transfer via Wifi
  • Tata Sky Mobile app has to be installed on the smartphones/tablets to transfer/stream content
  • Supports both Android and iOS based devices
  • A maximum of 2 devices can be setup to transfer data from the box
  • Either stream the recorded content or transfer the content to devices for offline watching
  • No hassles of your phone running out of memory as transferred content gets deleted automatically after 48 hours
  • You can pause, forward & rewind the videos like you are watching any video on your device
  • No limit on the number of times the video can be viewed
  • 1080i high definition picture quality
  • 16:9 Wide aspect ratio
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports – one on the rear and the other on ride side
  • Ethernet port
  • Option to record TV program series
  • Video on demand

Few observations that are not on the positive side:

  • There is no support for Windowos devices yet
  • Though the picture quality is 1080i on the TV, when transferred onto the devices it’ll only be 444 x 224
  • The Transfer box has to process the video before it can be transferred. This preparation is a real time process – that means if you want to copy a one hour program, you need to wait for one hour. But the transfer time is fairly quick – a 30 minutes video should be copied in 5-6 minutes time based on availability the Wifi bandwidth
  • The app on your device has to be running during the duration of transfer – minimizing or closing the app will cancel the transfer
  • Though auto delete feature is good to maintain device memory, in case if you forget watching a video you’ve to transfer the data again

Overall the new Tata Sky+ Transfer feature is an interesting one. You don’t have to be in the house in front of your TV to catch your favourite TV show. I would use my daily commute time to work to catch up all my TV shows or movies instead. If you are someone who is shift from a regular cable connection to a Direct to Home connection, check the Tata Sky+ Transfer box once.

To answer your questions check the FAQ page on Tata Sky website

Kill the odour with ‘AmbiPur Air Effects’

Monsoon, one of the most loved seasons, evokes a wide variety of emotions and memories. As I sip a hot cup of coffee, the mind runs in reverse going into a journey full of memories. The very recent cycling trip in Western ghats, those motorbike rides in the rain to Goa and Coorg few years ago, getting drenched & coming back home from school to listen to wonderful sahsranama from mom. Just when I float with memories, I am abruptly brought back to present. It is almost like a war cry – someone runs upstairs to get back all the washed clothes and any rice/grains spread out in the Sun, another one rushes to close the windows. Within no time the entire house is decorated with half-dried clothes. With all the doors and windows shut (thanks to the rain and cold), the wet clothes start their magic. The pungent smell which keep revolving within the four walls is good enough to make every one run out of the house. This is one of the less enjoyable magic of monsoon that repeats every year. As an added bonus we have an inclusion of my baby daughter this year which increases the laundry size many-fold. Thanks to Blogadda, I am better prepared this year to wage a war with the help of Ambi Pur Air Effects (Blossom & Breeze)’. That means no more embarrassments when the guests arrive.

Ambi Pur Air Effects - Blossom and Breeze
Ambi Pur Air Effects – Blossom and Breeze

Right below the fragrance label, there is this bold black words which says ‘Eliminates Odours and Freshens the Air’. The ‘Blossoms and Breeze’ does exactly the same. The air freshener very mild and pleasant. Spray it few times around the room, wait for few seconds for the freshener to spread around. Within seconds the entire room will be filled with pleasant smell and the few sprays is enough for the fragrance to linger around for two to three hours. We have had used other room fresheners earlier, but almost all of them were either too artificial or too strong. But the Ambi Pur air effects comes with natural smell and feels as if the room is spread out with natural flowers all around. I had gone out when this air freshener was used first time at my home. When I got back in I thought there was a fresh bouquet only to be proved wrong that it was the Blossoms & Breeze. Overall it is a very good air freshener at an affordable price. Most likely this Blossom and Breeze can is going to be a permanent air freshener at my home (unless I get hooked up with other fragrances by Ambi Pur Air effects).

Note: I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley activity at BlogAdda.com in association with Ambi Pur