Picturelife — backing up and organising my iPhoneography

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Recently I decided it was time (after three years) to backup my mobile phone photographs. I only started taking mobile photography seriously after getting my Note 3 and that enthusiasm swelled with my iPhone 6 Plus. In all I had about 1,300 photographs made since I got my iPhone — just the photographs I wanted to save, the total number of photographs is greater. And I looked around for an ideal backup and storage solution with which I could maintain my photographs.

The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.

Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.

Update: After this article was published and discussed around the web, Picturelife got in touch with me and offered a generous 20GB of additional free storage for life. Thank you. And here’s to Picturelife for being one of the top cloud storage solutions for all of us.

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The utter nonsense of the first draft

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Anyone who has ever written a substantial piece of text knows how hard it can be to put together well. The most important word in the last sentence was the last one: well. A chimpanzee can put together a substantial chunk of text — even a meaningful one. In fact, this is called the infinite monkey theorem and states that a monkey can almost surely type all of Shakespeare’s work if given enough (read, infinite) time during which it taps at random letters on a keyboard.

Equating Shakespeare to a chimpanzee is not the best way to begin any article, but that blame (or credit, depending on whether or not you’re Christopher Marlowe) goes to Frenchman Émile Borel. Neither is the monkey here a monkey, nor are the mathematicians who designed this thing full of life because a monkey is so much better than the randomly typing machine they proposed. (At least a monkey was more believable — back in the 1913s.) But I digress.

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Unread: in search of the perfect RSS reader app on iOS

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There was once a time when Google Reader was the top dog in RSS aggregators. And then Google shut it down, much to the dismay of its million-strong user-base, like it almost habitually shuts down services (Knol, iGoogle, Google Talk, Buzz, Answers etc.) In fact, there exists something called a “Google graveyard”. In any case, while some got replacement services, Reader never did.

That was when a lot of us moved to Feedly, but soon Feedly (which was fully free up to that point) created a pro subscription with all the good stuff. It did not make sense to me to pay monthly fees for the convenience of reading a bunch of articles when the articles themselves were free. And thus began the search for the (near-)perfect RSS reader app on my iPhone and today, it appears, we have an winner.

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No language should be compulsory

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This morning I awoke to preposterous news: Kannada, the local language here in Karnataka state, is being made a compulsory paper for all levels of education, from school to graduation. Nobody has a real defense for why this should be done — some genuinely seem to believe it helps. Is it their inferiority complex that makes them believe that others believe Kannada is beneath, say, English or Hindi? Or is it a misplaced sense of pride or cultural dissatisfaction? Or, worse still, is it a classic case of being opposed to multicultural society?

I love Kannada. I have nothing against it, but these are times when one should think logically rather than emotionally: learning Kannada has no better advantages than learning Sanskrit or French or Mandarin or German or Russian or Greek or Latin or Hindi or Urdu or Arabic or Swahili — you get the point. All languages have a geographic significance that is non-existent beyond certain borders. And no language is different.

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Sunset on Mars is blue

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We are so accustomed to certain things in our daily life that we rarely wonder if they are the universal norm. Take sunsets, for instance (yes, I planned on getting straight to the point) — they are orange. Worse still, they are supposed to be orange. Or red. We associate warm colours with sunset, but the same sun on our neighbour, Mars, sets coolly.

I woke up to some feverishly exciting photographs this morning, sent in by NASA’s Curiosity rover. The land-based experiment vehicle which landed on Mars on 6th August 2012, sent back its first picture of the sunset 956 sols later. (A sol is one Mars day, which is roughly one earth day.)

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Manthralayam: photographs and passing thoughts

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I had been to Manthralayam purely by mistake a few months back. Manthralayam — or Manthralaya — is a Hindu pilgrimage site in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. I did not visit the temple there, of course, bust instead spent close to an hour outside, photographing the devotees.

How I came to visit this place is not worth discussion: I was traveling to another city and decided to visit this because it was on the way and we had surplus time on hand. What piqued my interest in visiting Manthralaya was not its burial of the Madhwa saint, Raghavendra Swami (hence the pilgrimage), but the fact that, in 2009, the Tungabhadra river, which flows through the town, had submerged it in heavy floods.

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Have we crossed the Great Filter?

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One of the biggest arguments regarding the existence of aliens are the famous Drake equation and the equally famous Fermi paradox. I wrote about them four years ago and debated that aliens may still exist in spite of these arguments against them, and I still stand by that belief.

I was reminded of this again recently when I read about a so-called Great Filter theory that attempts to explain the standard sceptic’s question: if aliens exist, where are they? why haven’t we seen or met them yet?

Stemming from astrobiology, the idea behind the great filter is that a civilisation or species reaches a developmental wall it cannot cross. But some — including myself — like to believe that we have already crossed this wall, or filter. And that leads to some interesting ideas.

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