Showing posts with label Queens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Queens. Show all posts

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Chinatown: My Favorite Part Of Manhattan

English: Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City 2...
English: Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City 2009 on Pell Street, looking west towards Bayard and Mott. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was just there yesterday. I was in a no English zone for half an hour. Part of it was a woman patting on my chest while I lay in a reclined chair letting her look into my ear. Calm down, be brave, you will get through it.

I like NYC, period. I will walk any block in the city. Because I like it so. And I don't differentiate among the boroughs, except for Staten Island, that I think is a legitimate part of New Jersey, or even Delaware.

But Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan. These three are a cluster. The Bronx is a little off. It is not in my route. One day years ago I realized the borough I have walked the least is The Bronx. So I camped out at a college friend's place for a month and walked that borough out thoroughly, left to right, north to south, east to west. Walking is the only way to see a city. There is no other way. You have to see at a certain slowish pace. I realized The Bronx of the popular imagination is only the southern Bronx, right north of Manhattan. I got called upon around there for taking a picture. What do you think you are doing! Someone yelled. I don't know if I got scared, but I did get uncomfortable. Okay, maybe a little scared.

Manhattan, Brooklyn: I have walked everywhere. Queens is just so big. I have walked many parts of Queens. But walking everywhere in Queens is quite a task. I am on it. I have walked from Jackson Heights to Jamaica to Flushing and back to Jackson Heights many times. I call it a walking kind of marathon. It takes a good part of the day. At the end of it you are guaranteed a great night of sleep. You are so dog tired. Walking to Astoria, to Long Island City: no big deal. I once walked from Jackson Heights east all the way until I was in Nassau County. And then I walked back.

Chinatown in Manhattan is awesome. The British colonized us, and then they left. Otherwise India and China were the richest countries on the planet for thousands of years. Europe was barbaric people land. India and China might again get their act together this century. And I mean that in a win win way. America does not have to lose, Europe does not have to lose, for India and China to win. If it were not for the strong Chinese economy the 2008 recession would have become a global depression. So there's that. And it is democracy like in America that will help India realize its true potential. For all those centuries India was feudal. There were kings, monarchs, emperors, some good, most not so good.

Chinatown in Manhattan is so different from every other part of Manhattan. And to think I grew right next to China in Nepal. But the British left and left a whole lot of them behind. I had a British education growing up, at a British school too. And so I grew up in the worldview where the only place China was next door was on the map. Otherwise China was nowhere to be seen. Britain and America felt closer than China. It was in the education.

Dumplings in Kathmandu are the staple snack. And so in Chinatown I am in dumplings town. It is a treat. I got 100 frozen dumplings last night, to go. It was a feast.

Chinatown is big and unique. Not even Harlem has it. And Harlem is considered the black capital of America, rapidly becoming more Hispanic and white. But Harlem is still English. Chinatown has Chinese characters on all sorts of signs and boards.

I am a bargain shopper. I don't believe in buying expensive. The exact thing can cost you three times, five times more in the wrong location. I am not up for that. And Chinatown beats even Queens on prices. I don't know how they do it. Let it be their secret sauce. A 10 dollar haircut in Jackson Heights can be had for five bucks in Chinatown. It should have been the other way round. I hear you can get vegetables in Flushing for really cheap. Flushing is in Queens, and it is actually bigger than the Chinatown in Manhattan.

China is so flush with cash, it wants to build bullet trains in India, not as foreign aid, but for profit. I am all for it. China is better positioned than anyone else to engage in massive infrastructure projects in Africa. And Africa is the ultimate sleeping giant. I think most people don't realize the African economy is coming along really nice. By the end of the decade Africa will be fully on the global map.

Beijing has grandiose plans to become the capital of the world. You should be able to take a train anywhere on the planet and end up in Beijing. I would love a Lhasa to Lumbini railway that also extends to Beijing and Delhi.

The Chinese are doing something right. They are not a one person dictatorship. It is a dictatorship of a political party. Which means a lot of patriotic people end up at the top. It is an alternate system. China can teach campaign finance reform to America, for sure. The Chinese have pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty. India needs to. And now India is poised to become the fastest growing economy on the planet. It has trillions in catching up to do.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

OnePlus One

OnePlus One Launch Keynote

I am still with my Nexus 4. The Nexus 5 has not felt like a major upgrade. And the Moto brand has less appeal after Google got rid of the company it bought. Moto E looks like a good budget phone, but I am not paying less for less memory space and a similar size battery.

My biggest gripe with my Nexus 4 is its battery. I managed to replace the battery at a phone store in Queens. But funny things are known to happen in Queens. My "new" battery still drains pretty fast. So I am in the market for a new phone.

I went back to the store wanting to know if maybe they did not put in a new battery, and they said it is your phone, not the battery! Go figure.

My next phone might be the OnePlus One. Actually I am pretty sure it will be. It comes with 50% more battery power. And that is the top attraction. But I also want more memory space. My Nexus 4 has 8 gigs, and now I want 16, perhaps more. I want my phone to be able to hold more pictures, more videos.

The OnePlus One is being touted as the "Nexus killer" and I think they might have a point.

I might go for the $349 model and get myself 64 gigs of space.

After battery, I am looking at its bigger screen size. I do not make that many calls on my phone. My phone is primarily a small portable computer. 5.5 inches are a phablet. And I am ready for one.

Then I am looking at the camera. 13 megapixels is a step-up from the 5 on Nexus 4, although I have not had major complaints at 5.

I am still a little superstitious about moving away from the stock Android experience, but a larger battery is a huge attraction. Currently I am used to carrying an External Battery that is the same shape but bigger and heavier than my phone. One guy told me at least I was not carrying with me a generator that someone else he knew was seen carrying.

OnePlus One (Unlocked)
$299 ...... Call quality, unfortunately, was one of the biggest sore spots for the OnePlus One. Volume in the earpiece is frustratingly weak and made callers on the other end sound muted, distant, and difficult to hear over even the most innocuous of ambient noise. Transmissions through the mic fared better, coming through more clearly, but still on the low side for volume. The headphone jack works fine for music, unlike in our initial hands on, but the OnePlus One couldn't route calls through a wired headset.
Google Nexus 5 review: You can't beat the Nexus 5 at this price point
We do wish that the rumors about the 3,000mAh battery life were true. One thing we love about the Nexus 5's distant cousin - the LG G2 - is that big battery and long life...... Our two biggest gripes with the Nexus 5 are its battery life and camera. Both can be hit or miss ..... Battery life struggled on some occasions, too. After a full week with the Nexus 5, we can confidently say that we can never be sure when it will last a full day, or when we should bring our chargers and battery packs with us. As you'd imagine, we tend to err on the side of caution, though we really wish we didn't have to.
OnePlus One: Sales start in May, wider availability expected in late June (Updated)
OnePlus, a company which only made itself public in December last year, has launched its first smartphone, the OnePlus One. On paper, it’s more powerful than a Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8, but at $300, it will cost less than half their price. The device was unveiled at an event in Beijing, and the proceedings live tweeted through the company’s official Twitter account. We’re excited about the OnePlus One ..... the initial run of 64GB black phones in early June. We’re told to expect increased availability in late June, at which time invitations will have become widespread...... OnePlus calls the phone “amazingly elegant.” It has decided not to slap its name or logo on the front panel, leaving it very understated. The screen sits in a slightly recessed bezel – just 0.07mm according to OnePlus – and the edges have been machined down to give a contoured finish...... slightly larger than the Galaxy S5 ..... the lightest 5.5-inch smartphone out there .... a brand new Snapdragon 801 processor will power the phone, just like the new Xperia Z2 and the Galaxy S5. It’ll be backed up by 3GB of RAM, and a 3100mAh battery will be inside the device. Lau says the decision to make it non-removable means it can have a higher capacity, while keeping the device suitably slim. OnePlus’ phone will run Android, but it’ll be a custom version of CyanogenMod...... the camera, which uses a 13-megapixel, six-element, f/2.0 Sony Exmor IMX214 sensor. Image stabilization and slow-motion recording at 720p will be standard, and a fast 0.3s shutter speed is promised. The camera also shoots video in 4K (Ultra HD), and selfie fans will welcome a 5-megapixel front camera fitted above the screen...... the phone is the world’s first to feature down-firing stereo speakers, something which other manufacturers avoid, due to the complexities with fitting them inside the phone. OnePlus has partnered up with JBL to ensure they sound great. ...... the software has a flat, minimalistic style. Although CyanogenMod is designed to be endlessly modified, OnePlus will include various themes and wallpapers to make personalization a little easier.
A $300 smartphone has never looked so good
It doesn't make sense that the OnePlus One should be this inexpensive. It looks elegant, feels solid and performs smoothly, and it doesn't show any signs that it's a first-generation product from an unknown company. Regardless of how well it sells, the industry will see this as a benchmark for what an affordable phone really can be. All told, it outperforms Google's Nexus 5 in nearly every way -- and it does so at an even lower price. Heck, it's better than many flagship phones that sell for twice as much. ........ The OnePlus One doesn't look like a $299 phone. Its arched back, polycarbonate build, elegant chassis and top-of-the-line spec sheet could easily fool someone into thinking you paid $600 for it. ..... I actually enjoy the One's display more than most flagship smartphones, and it's leaps and bounds better than the Nexus 5. Because it uses an IPS panel, the One's viewing angles are among the best in the industry, keeping pace with the One M8 and absolutely destroying the GS5. ........ the colors are natural, making them more satisfying to stare at than the saturated GS5 and overblown Nexus 5. ........ What exactly is CyanogenMod? It's custom firmware based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and gives the user more freedom to fiddle around with settings, icons, themes and... well, nearly every aspect of the Android experience. Cyanogen's one of the most popular pieces of third-party firmware in the Android universe and can be installed a wide variety of devices, but the experience is even better on the One because it was built into the phone; since CyanogenMod could work with the hardware early in its development, it was able to add a bunch of optimizations that you won't find on other phones. ........ At first, it doesn't appear that different from stock Android, save for a few style changes (think: icons and buttons). But don't let its understated facade fool you: There's a lot of power behind the scenes, and it becomes more evident as you continue to poke around. There are several new features, with tweakable settings thrown in everywhere. Many of you are simply looking for an inexpensive phone and don't care about making dozens of tiny adjustments to your Android setup, and the beauty of CM is that it can fit your style just as easily as it can fit the preferences of power users -- it's completely customizable, and it's fantastic. ....... one of the One's best features: always-listening voice recognition .... The Nexus 5 has a lot of endearing traits, but the camera isn't one of them. Sure, it has its moments of greatness, but I can't help think this is a case of settling. The OnePlus One, on the other hand, uses a 13-megapixel rear camera with a Sony sensor, six-element lens setup and f/2.0 aperture for lower-light shots. Additionally, the front-facing camera tops out at 5MP -- a sizable improvement over the 1.3-megapixel sensor on the N5. ...... Video recording here is solid ..... It's hard to believe that a $300 device like the One has as much muscle underneath the hood as the Galaxy S5 and Oppo Find 7. In fact, you technically can't get any faster, since the phone sports a 2.45GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974-AC), a 578MHz Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB of RAM. Until the Snapdragon 805 comes out later this year, this is the absolute best silicon that Qualcomm has to offer. But what does it mean to you? Smooth everything, fast everything and no lag as far as the eye can see. ....... CyanogenMod's firmware gives you the option to change your performance profile to one of three modes, ranging from power conservation to battery sucker. .... soft audio output, both on the external speakers and in the earpiece. All of my conversations were much quieter than they should have been, and I could barely hear music blaring at full volume. .. Fortunately, none of this was a problem when I used headphones; in fact, I often had to turn down the volume to make my ears feel comfortable. In addition, the One has an equalizer app called AudioFX, which lets you fine-tune the audio. ...... The One has a 3,100mAh non-removable cell that's just a tad smaller than the battery inside the Note 3. What's more, it's actually larger than what you'll find in the GS5 and One M8. On most days, I made it to the end of the evening with around 5-10 percent life remaining. (On average, this constituted 14-15 hours of solid use, and roughly four hours of screen-on time.) These were days full of emails, calls, travel, social networking and a little bit of gaming. All told, our standard video rundown test yielded 10 hours of life. This isn't the best I've seen, but I'd consider it well above average for a smartphone -- and I'm hard-pressed to ask for more from a $300 device. ...... the $349 64GB model, offered in black, starts shipping in early June. For the rest of you still waiting for an invite, OnePlus is hoping to send one your way by the end of June.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jackson Heights: Possibilities And Limitations

Vinod Khosla
Vinod Khosla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(written for Vishwa Sandesh)

Jackson Heights: Possibilities And Limitations
By Paramendra Bhagat (

I have had people tell me, go to California, go to Manhattan at least, this is not the place. I have been to California, and through my daily readings of news in Silicon Valley I have a pretty good feel for the culture there. Manhattan is but a short train ride away. You get on the E or F and you are in Manhattan in 10 minutes, maybe 15. There are people who work in Manhattan but live in Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania even.

There is something to be said to the culture of Silicon Valley. The top venture capitalist in NYC is on record saying it will take NYC decades to get where Silicon Valley is already in terms of startup culture. One generation of successful entrepreneurs provide seed funds and mentorship to the next generation of entrepreneurs, and the network keeps growing.

The first investor to put in half a million dollars in Facebook made his money for being one of the founders of PayPal: that half million became over a billion within years. The first person to put 100,000 dollars in Google made his billions for being one of the founders of Sun Microsystems: that 100,000 became over a billion in less than a decade. The guy who put his money into Twitter made his money by selling his company – Blogger – to Google: he sold Blogger for a few hundred million, his stake in Twitter is worth billions. Vinod Khosla made his money in hardware but is now a top investor in clean tech: he is the richest Indian in America. I don’t know him, but I do know someone who does.

But when I have approached local Nepalis who might have made middle class money through old economy ventures like law or medicine or the restaurant business for seed fund money for Nepal hydro, the reaction is, what’s wrong with you? Do you not have your own money? Are you so lame? That is the cultural difference between Silicon Valley and Queens.

I have met many merchants in Jackson Heights - most of them Indian, several Pakistani and Bangladeshi – to shore up interest in the idea of a virtual mall. The interest level, at least starting out, has been tepid (“Come tomorrow”) to non-existent (“We are not interested”). I have scaled back. I might have to start with an online community to go on to a virtual mall to perhaps a physical mall, a smart physical mall.

Walmart is the most successful company in the history of the world, and Sam Walton built it in the South, the poorest region of America. They are like the American Humla-Jumla. Message: do not underestimate Queens.

So what is the lure in Jackson Heights? The first one for me is that I guess you need a hometown. Jackson Heights for me is like going home without getting on the plane. It is also like being able to go to New York City, the capital city of the world, without getting on the plane. But the bigger lure is diversity: more than 50 countries are represented in Jackson Heights, the most diverse town of the most diverse borough of the most diverse city in the world. Even when I come to software and clean tech, I come from the human interaction angle. My feel for group dynamics is the number one thing I bring to the table for both, that and vision. I need the people to be there.

Jackson Heights has the largest concentration of Nepalis in the city. If you are thinking Nepal hydro, it is a good place to be. After all the idea is to marry NYC money to the fast flowing rivers of Nepal. You are trying to play matchmaker.

There is high tech and then there is high touch. Software would be high tech. People are high touch. In many ways high touch is old like wisdom. In several ways high touch is post high tech. The diversity of Jackson Heights is a great backdrop where to keep honing your people skills.

There are white folks to whom all Chinese look literally the same. I have met white folks to whom I look Arab. The day 9/11 happened I was in a small town in Kentucky. The locals called the cops on me! A month later I was in an office setting in Lexington, KY, in the open foyer. I overheard a guy in a cubicle talk on the phone: “There is an Arab in my office!”

But then there are seniors in my homevillage in Nepal who think the Christians belong to some kind of a fifth caste, way below the Dalits in the village. That village is not exactly progressive on gender issues. You have to maintain perspective when talking about race.

Give me broadband. Give me the subway. Give me my smartphone. Give me a mobile hotspot to go with my smartphone. Give me a Chromebook. Give me people. Give me a water bottle. Give me samosas. Gimme, gimme.
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