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Friday, July 27, 2007

Sexy Indian Ads

Adjective: sexy (sexier, sexiest) seksee
1. Marked by or tending to arouse sexual desire of interest
"feeling sexy"; "sexy clothes"; "sexy poses"; "a sexy book"; "sexy jokes"
2. Exciting sexual desire

That's what the wonderful and handy dictionary - WordWeb - describes the word "sexy" as.

Since it is difficult to be suggestive (leave alone being explicit) without inviting the wrath of the right, left and the centre in India, the sexiness quotient in Indian advertising is different from more liberal societies.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has prohibited the transmission or retransmission of the advertisements of 'Lux Cozy Underwear' and 'Amul Macho Underwear' on all broadcasting platforms with immediate effect.

Nevertheless, we have had a lot of campaigns with a lot of oomph. From the vintage to the ones from century present, I've attempted to collect some. More will follow.

Sexiness depends on the point of view (pun intended). What's sexy for one is obscene or tasteless or even loathsome for others. Here are some generalisations.

First the Amul Macho chaddi ad, which has got everyone, from the mithaiwallah to the mantri, so excited.

[Click on the images for a bigger (and better) view]


Sanah Khan with her twaing expression.


To share/embed this video click here
Download video [00:00:44 FLV 1 MB]

Any gyaan on the meaning or symbolism of the word twaing?

It was Liril - and the original Liril girl Karen Lunel - which added the much needed sizzle to the world of Indian advertising.

Towel wrapped sexiness from 1975. Bombay Dyeing.

The big bad controversy. A campaign for Tuffs shoes and the hot couple Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre in the buff (except for their Tuffs shoes) and a python coiled between them.

More Tuffs. More skin.

Now here's the python with Madhu Sapre. Wonder where Milind went? Maybe the python got jealous and hungry at the same time.

Well men say that they like the 'eyes' but actually they mean what their eyes see. And you know where. Dayal Opticals do help you see better.

"Nokia N93i with extra powerful zoom." Does it zoom any closer?

That anorexic female from the Numero Uno ad. (Damn! I can't recollect her name). More of her later.

Why does Levis call them Low Rise jeans? Shouldn't they be Low Fall?

Okay, now I got it. When they fall low, others rise. All the faces in the above two ads seem familiar. Can you name them all?

I don't like the look of the new Bisleri bottle. The previous one featured in their 'Play Safe' campaign looked much better. Well, it would've been even better if the bottle wasn't there. More from the campaign in later episodes.

Dark desires. Now I got her name. Lakshmi Menon in Swatch Bijoux ad.

More of swatchy, sultry and sweaty Lakshmi.

[To be continued. Keep a tab here for updates]

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Watch Movies on Your Mobile

Ever since I got my new mobile phone I found a new way to keep myself entertained on the long journey to and from work - by watching movies. Though the idea of watching a 70mm film with Dolby and the works on a tiny 320x240 pixel screen may not appeal to all, I've found it to be worthwhile pastime.

But the problem was to find the right format to play on the cell. I had downloaded a few clips from the Internet, while a few played fine, the others didn't. Though the manual says that the mobile (LG KG300 Dynamite) supports MP4 and 3GP playback, not all videos in that format are necessarily playable. Higher-end mobiles face fewer of these problems as they support a much wider range.

After some permutations and combinations and thanks to the super software called Super (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer), I could convert some DVDs which would play on my tiny screen. Though the web is full of 3GP conversion software, nothing worked, while Super did a decent job for free.

Since my needs were limited to my phone model, I didn't try what was best for other phones. Though I played one of the movies on my colleague's Motorockr and it played fine (and now she wants some movies of her choice converted). The only hitch is that the best resolution that Super provides for the combination of codecs which play fine on my mobile is 176x144, therefore the videos pixelate a little while playing on a 320x240 screen, but not to a very noticeable extent (you might overcome that I bit by increasing the video bit rate).

Since the audio is encoded in AMR Narrow-Band the quality is not very high and is mono. But on the positive side, a standard two-and-a-half hour long Hindi movie will fit into 150mb. Though files in RealMedia are known to be even smaller, but pity my phone doesn't support that.

The codec combination that I used to convert my videos on Super (playable on LG KG300 and other phones) was:

Output container: 3gp (Nokia/NEC/Siemens)
Video codec: H.263
Audio codec: AMR Narrow-band

Other details can be found in the screenshot below:

Ideally I would've liked to know of the ideal conversion settings for the MP4 format, but still haven't been able to figure that out. If I do, you'll find that posted here.

If anyone knows of a better software or of a better way if going about doing it, please do let me know.

You might not always have DVDs or VCDs around to convert and feed your mobile phone with. But there are plenty of places online from where you can find good quality videos to download from. One of the sources that I particularly like (for the quality combined with compactness) is Though DivX allows downloads from their site, but it is through the DivX player. There's no explicit direct download link.

I hunted around a little and found a shortcut to directly download DivX videos (many others would've also discovered that). Here's a 'How to Download Videos from Divx/Stage6':

1. Go to
2. Identify the video that you want to download
3. Right click on the thumbnail and 'Copy Link Location' (on Firefox) or 'Copy Shortcut' (Internet Explorer), alternatively you can left click on the thumbnail and copy the URL from the address bar
4. The URL would be something like:
5. Copy the numerical id of the video. In our example it is 1361844
5. Insert the id into this URL (replacing the asterisks):*/*.divx
6. Your final URL now becomes (as per our example):
7. To download the file (in DivX format) you can paste the URL into the browser address bar and press enter or let your download manager take care of the downloading.

Occasionally there are errors while downloading multiple files simultaneously from the site, therefore it is preferable to download one at a time. To play the videos you can play it on the DivX player or the very utilitarian VLC media player (which plays multiple formats which most other popular media players don't).

Else, you can convert the downloaded videos on to your preferred format using Super (with many options) or Audio/Video To Exe (very handy and lightweight but minus the customisation options of Super). It is preferable to keep both the free media converters on your PC as often what one cannot do, the other performs seamlessly.

If your movie is split over multiple files, it is preferable that you merge them into a single file before going for the conversion process, so that you enjoy uninterrupted viewing pleasure. 123 Audio Video Merger is a nice and easy freeware utility to care of the video merging process. But it might have some issues while merging multiple vob files.

For the readers of Cutting the Chai, I've put up a mobile compatible version of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Rashomon.

You can download the movie for your mobile from the links below:
[01:27:54 3GPP 148 MB 256kbps 8000KHz Mono] [View/Embed/Share]
[01:27:54 3GPP 98.9 MB 156kbps 8000KHz Mono] [View/Embed/Share]

I'll try to upload more movies which are now in the public domain (I like to play it safe) in mobile compatable formats under a newly created category on this blog - Movies for Mobiles.

Click here for the complete post...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another Fantastic Female

[This post is the second in a new category that I'm including in this blog - 'Fantastic Females']

Watched Kabir Khan's Kabul Express some days ago and quite liked the film. Indian films getting better and different (as different from the erstwhile hatke films) and that's something to celebrate about. Rather than dissecting the entire movie (which is quite short by Hindi film standards), I would focus on the what I liked the best about this adventure to post-Taliban Afghanistan - Jessica Beckham, the Reuters journalist played by Linda Arsenio.

I was quite smitten by Linda in the film (most of the earlier off-shore imports female actresses didn't impress me much. No, not even Samantha Fox) and this post is dedicated to her. She seems to be a good actress too. Hope to see more of her in Bollywood and also praying that she isn't turned into another firang caricature as a fine actor like Tom Alter was.

Another positive about Kabul Express, there's still hope that John Abraham will turn into an actor someday.

Here's a collection of images of Linda that I grabbed from the film:

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Delhi Don'ts for North Easterners

I hail from one of the states that form what is referred to as North-East India, a cluster of states which 'mainland India' cannot or doesn't want to distinguish from one another, I live in Delhi and I would like a copy of the booklet - Security Tips for Northeast Students/Visitors in Delhi. I too want to know firsthand how 'others' want me to act like.

While the booklet might have been issued in good spirit, but it ends up sending the wrong message and gives further credence to the unfounded presumptions about people from the far eastern regions of the country that many in 'mainland India' harbour. The officer behind this initiative, Robin Hibu, is himself a north easterner and an IPS officer from the Arunachal Pradesh cadre.

I too had my share of experience of being an unknown Indian, but being a Bengali by ethnicity and the fact that I don't look like a 'chinky' (it is a derogatory and racist term) I'm spared many of the asperities that others have to face.

Since I'm yet to read the actual booklet and am basing my observations on media reports, I wouldn't like to comment much. But here are some excerpts from what appeared in the papers:

* A proud father sent his only daughter in Delhi to make her IAS/IPS but she returned back as drug addict, promising boy landed into police case for drunken brawl, late night parties with loud music landed six youngsters into police case, revealing dressed up parties lass was molested and thrown out from moving vehicle badly bruised after being outraged…

* Dress code: When in rooms do as Roman does (sic)

* Revealing dress be (sic) avoided. Avoid lonely road/bylane when dressed scantily. Dress according to sensitivity of the local populace

* Bamboo shoot, Akhuni and other smelly dishes should be prepared without creating ruckus in neighbourhood.

Anyone with a dress sense will agree to the fact that north easterners do know how to dress well (especially the females) and the connection between dressing and sexual harassment is something which The Blank Noise Project is trying to disprove.

Food is a personal choice as well as a cultural one. I savour the 'smelly food' and on my flight from home last night, a quarter of my luggage was occupied by the 'smelly' stuff. I don't like anyone else to dictate my food habits and would like it to remain that way.

The interesting observation that emerges from this controversy is that most of the time efforts are being made to assimilate the North East with the 'mainstream.' Why isn't there anything visible which strives towards making the 'mainstream' understand the North East better? Cultural hegemony...

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Homeward Bound

[Generously lifting an old post because the feeling remains unchanged. I'll be away from Delhi and also possibly blogging for the next five days. A short trip home (after a year) and I hope to make it sweet]

The sun plays hide and seek with the nimbus clouds, the moss between the toes is cold, damp. The acidic smell of pine leaves lends freshness to the air. It's getting colder. The winds of November whistle through the bamboo groves. Winter is almost here. She reminded the British of their Scottish highlands. 1496 metres tall, she's beautiful, she's Shillong.

Simon and Garfunkel wished to be home. Here I am with a wish come true - suitcase minus the guitar in hand - homeward bound. Leave sanctioned, bags packed, tickets printed, I should be home tomorrow. The blog posts will be a little irregular, but when I'm back I should have some to tell. Shillong here I come...

Homeward Bound

I’m sittin’ in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Everyday’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see
Reminds me that I long to be

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again
I’ll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptyness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me
Silently for me
Silently for me

~Simon and Garfunkel

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Big B in Durex Condom Ad

After chocolates, chawanprash, clothings, automobiles, televisions, paints, pens, banks and soft drinks it seemed that there were only two things which Amitabh Bachchan hadn't endorsed - chaddis (underwear) and condoms. Now this Durex ad has vanquished for the Big B's another of his unconquered realms.

Though the ad also doubles up as a promo for Cheeni Kum, it is also a condom ad (the definition isn't stretched too far).

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Download video [00:00:34 FLV 836 KB]

The voice over says:

Around the world, love speaks one language.
Durex celebrates love with Cheeni Kum.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

I Didn't Vote for the Taj

...or for that matter for anything else on the world's latest mass marketing gimmick - 'The New 7 Wonders of the World.' I didn't even vote for Debojit despite my family's cajoling. There are no moral, ethical or monetary reasons to compel me to vote. My sensibility vouches for my sentiments.

As pointed out before by some bloggers and a little resultantly by some sections in the mainstream media, that this latest craze is just but an international money minting venture trying to cash in on the emotions of people. In advertising class we were precisely taught this. For India the Bhaskar Group's I Media Corporation Limited had won the exclusive marketing and media rights for the campaign, and they went about it with dexterity.

First there were reports that the Taj was lagging behind and unsentimental Indians were doing nothing about their heritage. It was followed by yet another reminder that Indians weren't doing anything for their dear Taj. Then came stories about the voting picking up, but there weren't enough to push it through the final seven. See the trend here? Very well thought of and well executed. Internet, TV, radio, print everything was made a part of this publicity blitzkrieg. In between two lilting numbers the sweet-voiced RJ doesn't forget to remind us Indians of our duty - to vote for the Taj.

There's nothing wrong with making money, it is an open market. I too try to make some. SMS polls for 'talent shows' have shown Indians another way to blow their money away. But I am within my rights not to contribute to this frenzy and so are you. Think of this, realistically. What benefit will the Taj Mahal and India garner with this 'new found' 'Seven Wonder' status? An influx of tourists? Taj Mahal is already the face of Indian tourism around the world and people do not need to be told an old story again. What difference would it make if the monument didn't feature on some obnoxious list? I went to see the Taj twice-over. I don't need someone else with a brilliant marketing idea to tell me that the Taj is beautiful, I know it is.

I would've liked to see the response within the country if an Indian organisation like the INTACH and not a Swiss-Canadian had initiated this?

Here are a few tidbits that you might want to savour:

* The New 7 Wonders site says, "Fifty percent of all net revenue raised by the New 7 Wonders Project is to be used to fund restoration efforts worldwide." Where will the other fifty percent go?

* Bernard Weber writes in his blog "in just two days, the government signed an official letter for customs to waive the import tax on our airship and to expedite the clearance." Of late there has been a number of objections regarding waiver of import duties. I don't know much about the rules, but someone should check whether Tourism Minister Ambika Soni was too overzealous in facilitating the exemptions.

* And the aforementioned incident lead Weber to announce, "a world record in a country that has a huge and obviously effective administrative bureaucracy." We know what our bureaucracy is.

* Another gem from the Swiss adventurer's blog, "the national animal, in this case the Indian elephant." Who knows our foreign-fixation might just lead a change in the national animal from the Royal Bengal Tiger (who is rarely visible) to the more present and easily accessible elephant. You can't take a ride on a Royal Bengal, that's bad for tourism.

* The New 7 Wonders project isn't just limited to a list and a promise of restoration of monuments. It is a full scale business empire in the making consisting of merchandise sales and international tour operations. And the prices, definitely not reasonable.

Very rightly the UNSECO has refused to give any credence to this gimmick and its observations show the true picture:

Although UNESCO was invited to support this project on several occasions, the Organizaton decided not to collaborate with Mr. Weber.

UNESCO’s objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough. Scientific criteria must be defined, the quality of candidates evaluated, and legislative and management frameworks set up...

There is no comparison between Mr Weber’s mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The list of the “7 New Wonders of the World” will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public.

I repeat that I didn't vote for the Taj and with whatever time is left in there I wouldn't. Lynch me. Will you?

(Will post the related ad campaign after the voting process in over)

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Review: LG KG300 (Dynamite)

[Caution: Loooong post ahead]

After over three years, I have finally changed my mobile phone (to the relief of my friends). The old one is still functioning, but I needed something more to keep me occupied during my 80km daily ride. After a little research and a suggestion from a dear friend, I zeroed in on the Dynamite aka LG KG300.

I was essentially looking for a sub-Rs 10,000 phone with decent features and good looks. With mobile phone prices getting slashed rapidly the sub-10K segment is hotting up, though some of more loaded phones will cost a few grand more. Now on to my dissection of the phone in question:

Why LG? Because I didn't want a Nokia. My first and second phones were Motorola and wanted a change from American style reverse receive and cancel buttons. LG makes good stuff; my family has been a LG fan since we got a Golden Eye television years back.

Price: Yes, that's the most important factor. Though the LG e-shoppe lists the price at Rs 8,990, I got it for Rs 7,710 (with bill) along with a free 512 MB Micro SD card (I got the phone two weeks back). No the dealer didn't round it off, insted he offered me a free !dea connection and a gaudy mobile pouch. The prices should fall more in the coming months. For its features it is the best you can get at that price.

Looks: Well, it is a good-looking phone. The big screen, black and grey combination gives it a sophisticated look. In my opinion Nokia phones in that range aren't droolable. The body is shiny black and the kepads are matte. The shine is a little turnoff for people like me who don't like glossy stuff. I prefer suede or nubuck shoes. The chipped-off edges look good and the grey bar on the sides makes it look slimmer than it actually is.

The blue blinking light on the top left corner (which I've also seen in Samsung phones) is an irritant, but you can turn it off. The LG logo just above the screen should've been absent. All the sockets are covered with flaps and there are buttons on the sides for volume control, camera operation and the music player. The keypads though good looking are prone to making you make some typos.

Features: It has loads of them - that's the USP. Here's what the LG site says:

Music Related Features
* MP3 player
* MP3 ringtones
* Embedded songtones - 2
* FM radio-10 station memory
* FM recording - live FM recording and schedule FM recording
* FM alarm
* Graphic equalisers - normal, bass, dance, class, treble, party, pop, rock

Camera Features
* Camera support - 2.0 mega pixel
* Video recording - unlimited - depends on memory card
* Video playback - 3GP & MPEG format
* Video caller ID
* Photo caller ID
* Digital zoom - 4X
* Continuous shoot - 3/5/9 shots
* Color effects - 14 nos.
* Slide show - manual
* Backlight compensation
* White balance
* Night mode
* Self timer - 5/10/15 secs

General specifications
* Dimensions (mm) - 102.5 x 47.5 x 16
* Weight (gm) - 89
* Standard battery (mAH) - 800 Li-Ion
* Standby time (hrs) - upto 200
* Talktime (hrs) - upto 2
* LCD - 240x320 pixels
* Number of colours - 262K
* Type - TFT LCD
* Standard accessories - battery, charger, operating manual
* Free accessories - stereophonic headset kit and USB data cable [I also got a 512 MB micro SD card]

Additional Features
* Bluetooth enabled
* Internal memory - 56 MB (USB pen drive)
* External memory - Micro-SD, upto 1GB
* USB charging
* GPRS - class 10
* Predictive Text Input - T9
* WAP - 2.0
* Download/save as support -
* Phonebook memory x fields-500 x 7
* Scheduler
* Body mass index application
* Mestural application
* Voice recording - AMR/WAV format
* Call conversation recording
* Melody composer
* Message copy from phone to SIM
* Message copy from SIM to phone
* In-flight mode
* Intelligent call - speaks the incoming call number
* Human voice prompt - speaks the stored no. in phonebook
* Speaker phone
* MIDI - 64 Polyphonic, MP3
* Ringer mute button
* Built in games - 3
* Calculator
* Conferencing
* Frequency Band - GSM 900/1800/1900
* Voice memo
* World time
* Modem
* Unit converter
* Alarm-multiple

There's a lot of good and a little bad about this feature-packed device. The goods you can assume from the above listed specs. Let me give you a lowdown:

* The FM radio allows storage of only nine channels (though the site says 10). Here in Delhi we already have more channels than I can save on this phone. Therefore you'll have to pick and choose for preset stations if you happen to reside in a high FM-concentration city, else go manual searching.

* Voice recording is a nice feature, especially for us journalists where we needn't use any external devices to record telephonic conversations, or go crazy scribbling notes on a notepad. It also doubles up as a Dictaphone. Moreover you can also record or schedule recordings of radio programmes. The recording quality might not be top of the line, but it is satisfactory. There are two recording formats available amr and wav - amr is lighter and will allow more hours of recording but wav gives better quality and also larger file sizes. And you can save any of the recorded songs as your ring tone.

* The embedded ring tones except one (which I've set as default) didn't sound good to my ears. In addition to the 20 preset tones you can store five more of your choice. The two embedded song tones are definitely an irritation - Jhoom Jhoom and Just Chill aren't the songs I would ever like to hear when someone calls me. Trying to figure out a way to delete them. Though the vibration mode doesn't vibrate enough to let you know of an incoming call while you are walking, some of the ring tones are loud enough to be heard in traffic. And you too have a take at becoming AR Rehman (hopefully not Himesh Reshammiya) with the melody composer.

* There are limited options (only six) for incoming message alerts and you can't also add to it. You can have the phone read out the numbers you are inserting, but that's not that useful a feature. There's also an 'intelligent call' alert which reads out phone numbers to you before the phone starts ringing (this might be helpful while using the headset and the phone is embedded deep into the jeans pocket).

* You can set images or video clips as caller IDs. Fun idea.

* The inflight mode allows you to use the phone while barring it's other functions besides music, so that you can enjoy music while on a flight.

* The music player has eight preset equaliser settings but doesn't have a user-defined option. The inbuilt speaker doesn't sound very good and the earphones are decent. Though not comparable to the quality of standalone digital audio players or Sony's Walkman series, it should keep a not-too-finicky listener happy. But playing music guzzles a lot of battery power.

* Everyone seems to want a camera phone. But my honest suggestion is, if you love photography, go for a digital camera. Camera phones just can't match the results delivered by some of the base models of digicams. Nevertheless, it is always handy to have a camera in the phone for those 'Kodak moments' when you think, "If only I had a camera now." Don't fall for mega pixels. It is just another marketing gimmick. The reasons are here.

The camera boasts of a 4X digital zoom (by the way digital zoom is usually useless; it just crops and enlarges the image, thereby deteriorating the quality. Optical zoom is what you should have). But actually it is only 2X in the still camera mode and 4X for the video camera. There are a lot of preset features to help you get closer to that perfect image. There are a few effects which can be put to interesting uses. The video camera quality leaves a lot to be desired.

* The screen is exceptionally bright and but you can't reduce the brightness. The colour display is vibrant. But all these takes a toll on the battery. There aren't also much options to customise the screen display and you have to keep yourself content with the few available options.

* It has Java and a few pre-loaded not-so interesting games. You'll need to download some to keep yourself occupied.

* There are a few interesting extra features like the handy world clock (with a world map) which tells you the time of 60 prominent international cities. There's a unit converter which converts kilogrammes into pounds, kilogrammes into ounces, kilometres into miles, miles into yards, miles into feet, centimetres into inches and also the other war round. It also calculates your body mass index. And for women, there's a special feature - the menstrual calendar. And for the money minded - a currency converter. The interface is quite fast and it responds almost immediately.

Battery: It comes with a lithium ion 800 mAh battery promising 200 hours of standby and two hours of talk time. Two hours of talk time is a little less for the chatterboxes. The battery also tends to drain out fast while using the multimedia features. It has USB charging therefore you don't have to worry about carrying the charger every time; a standard USB cable (it comes equipped with one) should do the job for you. But while using the phone to transfer data to/from a PC, it needs to be shut down. A little hassle, as you might just miss some calls during that period.

Software: Though there's no software that accompanies the phone when you purchase it. You can download the relevant software and drivers for the LG KG300 from the links below [Links updated. Dead links removed] [Added alternative Rapidshare download links - 080414]:
PC Sync [zip 2.90 MB] [Alternative link]
USB driver [zip 131.7 KB] [Alternative link]
Modem driver [zip 3.9 KB] [Alternative link]
A detailed LG KG300 manual can be downloaded from here [PDF 1.66 MB] [Alternative link]

Here are some samples of results from the phone:



To share/embed this video click here
Download video [00:00:41 MP4 1.04 MB]

Audio recording:

And some advertisements (sorry couldn't help it):



To share/embed this video click here
Download video [00:01:39 FLV 1.12 MB]

Rating: I would give the LG KG 300 a rating of 7.5/10. It's value for money and almost lives up to the 'Dynamite' tag.

Note: The web browsing and Bluetooth capabilities of the phone were not tested.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

In Praise of the Present President

Sudheendra Kulkarni shares this heartening anecdote about the outgoing President APJ Abdul Kalam in his column in The Sunday Express:

Here is an example of how his deeds matched his words. Last year, some 60-odd relatives and friends of Dr Kalam from his native village in Tamil Nadu came to Delhi and stayed with him for about a week. Not a single car from Rashtrapati Bhavan's large fleet was used for taking them around the city. The President paid from his own account for the buses hired for the purpose. He also paid for their rent and food, right up to the last cup of tea served to them. Among the guests was Dr Kalam's own 90-year-old elder brother, APK Muthu Marakkayar, who stayed with him in the president's private quarters.

When Dr Kalam insisted on making the payment for his brother's stay, the astounded and emotion-choked staff of Rashtrapati Bhavan said, "Sir, please excuse us. We can't accept payment for this from you."

It is not very difficult to understand why the dear Dr Kalam didn't get a second stint. After all integrity isn't an asset in our democracy, sycophancy is.

[Photo courtesy:]

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