Random Tales of Total Geekery

Devil in the details, ebooks in India..publishers, wakey wakey!!

Posted by Q on February 2, 2009

Top 15 Fiction Bestsellers for upto Oct 2008  in India – take a look


1. Solve Your Problems The Birbal Way  – Anita S R {2005}
2. 3 Mistakes Of My Life – Chetan Bhagat {2008}
3. One Night @ The Call Center  – Chetan Bhagat {2005}
4. Five Point Someone – Chetan Bhagat {2004}
5. Inheritance 3: Brisingr  – Christopher Paolini {2008}
6. Story Of My Experiments With Truth – Gandhi M K {forever}
7. A Prisoner Of Birth  – Jeffrey Archer {2008}
8. Kite Runner  – Khaled Hosseini {2003}
9. Creation Of Wealth  – Lala R M {2006}
10. Wordpower Made Easy  – Norman Lewis {forever}
11. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho {1993}
12. Brida  – Paulo Coelho {1990}
13. Secret – Rhonda Byrne {2006}
14. Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Robin S Sharma {2003}
15. The Greatness Guide 2  – Robin S Sharma {2002}

Any name in that list that you havent been seeing for ages. Now, compare that with the NYT lot…

Top 5 at a Glance

1. MURDER GAME, by Christine Feehan
2. THE APPEAL, by John Grisham
3. THE PAGAN STONE, by Nora Roberts
4. GLITTER BABY, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
5. MARRIED IN SEATTLE, by Debbie Macomber

Top 5 at a Glance

1. SUZE ORMAN’S 2009 ACTION PLAN, by Suze Orman
2. TWILIGHT, by Mark Cotta Vaz
3. THE LOVE DARE, by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough
4. SKINNY BITCH, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
5. WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

Top 5 at a Glance

1. MARLEY & ME, by John Grogan
2. DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, by Barack Obama
3. THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, by Barack Obama
4. THREE CUPS OF TEA, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
5. TEAM OF RIVALS, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Clearly, there is a huge sync gap between what we read in India compared to what is being read in an English country. Barring a few major ups and downs, I don’t see this list changing drastically for any other country apart from US. Which is really weird because in all places where English is not native, you’d expect ethnic literature selling; which does not seem to be happening in India either. We seem to have been caught in some sort of time bubble as far as new book releases are concerned
Maybe we are less willing to spend that much amount of money on an activity as frivolous as fiction reading. As the table clearly shows, we tend to buy things that are cheaper and known VFM {Value for Moneys}. I’d hate to be a newly published author here. Here’s the pricing table

1. Solve Your Problems The Birbal Way  – Anita S R –> INR 80
2. 3 Mistakes Of My Life – Chetan Bhagat –> INR 95
3. One Night @ The Call Center  – Chetan Bhagat –> INR 95
4. Five Point Someone – Chetan Bhagat –> INR 95
5. Inheritance 3: Brisingr  – Christopher Paolini –> INR 600
6. Story Of My Experiments With Truth – Gandhi M K –> INR 30
7. A Prisoner Of Birth  – Jeffrey Archer –> INR 180
8. Kite Runner  – Khaled Hosseini –> INR 300
9. Creation Of Wealth  – Lala R M –> INR 295
10. Wordpower Made Easy  – Norman Lewis –> INR 95
11. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho –> INR 195
12. Brida  – Paulo Coelho –> INR 295
13. Secret – Rhonda Byrne –> INR 550
14. Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Robin S Sharma –> INR 185
15. The Greatness Guide 2  – Robin S Sharma –> INR 185

Note: 50 INR= 1 USD

Well, I suppose book publishers do have a business case for churning out reprints after reprints of back catalog instead of putting out newer authors. Which means that for a reader like me, who unlike the rest of the countrymen is abreast of what is happening around the world, has only one way of getting hold of a Pat Rothfuss or a Joe Abercrombie – and that’s ebooks. Sadly, no marketing/BTL push has been happening on the book front here. It still is very much a second-hand/pirate market than anything else. And we ALL know how many titles are available as ebooks 😛 So, if I say I’ve read all of Scott Lynch’s/Tobias Buckell books, you know where I got them from.


Posted in eBooks, Fresh Bubbles, Now Reading | 3 Comments »

Read ebooks or just start with one

Posted by Q on February 2, 2009

Teleread is one of the blogs that’s pretty much keyed into the whole ebook scene (note: ebook & not #bookwarez) and they’re promoting a Read An ebook Week in March. And i’ll welcome anything that lessens the upward eyebrows which get drawn as soon as i start speaking e-speak. I wish them the best. Here’s the banner (plz click, o! irregular reader)

read an ebook week

read an ebook week

Posted in eBooks, Secrets of the Web | Leave a Comment »

Books Read – November

Posted by Q on November 27, 2008

Okie, it’s still a few days before November ends. But i have free time only now 😉 was thinking of doing it for October also, but never got around to actually doing it; guess iwll update as soon as November ends

Peter V. Brett: The Painted Man (aka The Warded Man)

Brilliant fantasy debut. I’d say 8.5/10

Robert Charles Wilson: The Divide

Was the usual RCW Spin style book. Interesting, but the ending felt flat. 6.5/10

Simon R. Green: The Author of the month, i’d say. Read tonnes of his stuff. All of them would be 7-7.5/10

Nightside Series

Something from the Nightside
Agents of Light and Darkness
Nightingale’s Lament
Hex and the City
Paths not Taken
Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth
Hell to Pay
The Unnatural Inquirer

Deathstalker Series

# Deathstalker
# Deathstalker Rebellion

Hawk & Fisher Series

Hawk & Fisher; No Haven for the Guilty

T.A. Pratt: (YAUFA) Yet Another Urban Fantasy Author. 7/10

Marla Mason Series

Blood Engines
Poison Sleep
Dead Reign

Scott Lynch: Red Seas Under Red Skies (Book 2 of the Gentleman Bastards)

Did not have quite the flavor of the first book, Lies of Locke Lamorra…but still quite an entertaining read 7.5/10

Brent Weeks: Way of The Shadows

Good fantasy debut. Assassin, trainee assassin, court intrigue…all checks in place 😉 8/10

Michael Moorcock: Elric of Melnibone

somehow did not get into the book at all. a weak 4.5/10

Richard Kadrey: Butcher Bird

good writing and a stronger plot than the usual urban fantasy mess. i’d like to read more from this guy. 8/10

Posted in eBooks, Now Reading | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

i can haz new indie rock?

Posted by Q on November 27, 2008

My slow descent into Alcoholism…


…saved by cheezeburger kitteh!!

been listening to some indie rock for some time; Flaming Lips, White Stripes (ok, not indie anymore), the new pornographers et al.  And as teh kitteh wud sey…


Posted in Music, Secrets of the Web | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

iPhone & The Art Of Selling Touch-screen Phones

Posted by Q on September 30, 2008

This post has got nothing to do with the iPhone; 3G or otherwise

Sometime back, when i was still an B-schooler unschooled in the art of marketing, i had made a few video ads for a competition @ IIM Kozhikode. Our presentation was on Touch-screen mobile phones & i remember we got ripped apart by the judges because they perceived touch-screen technology to be a distant futuristic invention & we weren’t to sully the good ol’ name of the art of snake-oil selling. Now, that the iPhone has seen the light of the day even amongst cave-dwellers, i hope those good folks are living on a steady diet of humble pie. Here ends the obscure iPhone reference.

Disclaimer: I don’t have the license to use music from Enya’s Watermark, Gladiator OST & Enigma’s Greatest Hits Disc compilations. I just hope that they dont mind 😉

The videos are courtesy Getty Images

From An Advertising perspective, i guess the copy-work is pretty bad; but hey, these were my first vid (and last till now 😦 ) vid edits

a) Theme – Doctor & Baby

b) Theme – Redemption

c) Theme – Sensual

Note: Here’s the CC License

Creative Commons License
Touchscreen Ads by Q is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at dotstuff.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://dotstuff.wordpress.com.

Posted in Fresh Bubbles | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Getting back @ the man

Posted by Q on September 30, 2008

https://i1.wp.com/www.comtech-networking.com/images/Administrator.jpgi detest my sysadmin. Or, to put it more accurately, i think their IT policy is moronic

lemme list out the weirdo rules:

  1. No Admin Rights
  2. Scheduled AV scans; daily, weekly, monthly
  3. No USB access
  4. This is all ofcourse, on top of outdated hardware; pis-poor RAM power

In the often meandering & confused fight against piracy; these guys have the typical buried-head-in-the-sands routine…lets shut everything down, no sysadmin rights to users, no new software, no piracy blah blah blah.

What does it matter that Xobni is revolutionizing the way we(I) use Outlook, Evernote is making my notes seamless between machines, Dmailer sync is eliminating 3.5 kgs of Laptop lugging everyday…Feed Demon, Google Talk, WinRAR; are all what i NEED!

So, anyway. here’s the guide to a more powered existence. Death to syadmin rules!

a) Power-Up from user to admin

Download this Zip File (Link). Burn CD. Follow instructions. You’re set

USB Access is ofcourse granted the minute you get admin rights

b) Delete scheduled Admin scans on Symantec AV


Goto HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>SOFTWARE>INTEL>LANDesk>VirusProtect6>CurrentVersion>LocalScans>

Delete all “ClientServerScheduledScan” folders

Anybody else has a solved/unsolved grouse, do write in!

P.S.>No Torrent/P2P/mIRC How-To’s to be posted

P.S.2>psst, use Usenet 😉

Posted in Secrets of the Web | Leave a Comment »

My innerview on peegee !

Posted by Q on June 13, 2008

the kind folks over @ PaGaLGuY.com have put up my gobspeak for all the world to see. And, i haven’t managed to string “tow coherent sentences toga-thor” (see!) for the past 6 months. Plus, this is a very very neglected blog, desperately in need of new posts. ergo, here’s the link:



<<<—thatz Quinty v1.0. the newer version weighs lesser, plays the guitar, drives a Bentley (okie, kidding); but is generally cooler than ever before (i.e. last week) 😉

Posted in chitchat | 1 Comment »

The Kindle Gets Launched!

Posted by Q on December 13, 2007

Finally! after months of idle speculation of the ugly device in picture, Amazon has finally revealed the whole deal behind the Kindle package and needless to add, the canning has started.

MobileRead’s Bob Russell marks it off as the worst thing that could happen to ebooks, while the Techdirt Insider community feels that overpriced content is only leading kindle to the road of failure. Teleread hasn’t really waded into the debate yet, except for some grumblings about the clear snub to .epub (and, accept it guys, you are obsessed over the Tower of eBabel). And, while we get an onslaught of marketing videos on the Amazon Site, another to be launched e-ink device (Cybook) languishes in an insipid YouTube video and my own Sony Reader..well, did you know that there is a version 505 out there ?

Anyway, back to the topic under discussion! While the tech community is less than enthused over this new package, i am extremely happy at the way Amazon has put across a very amazing business model.

first up, a list of things the Kindle is providing: Boing Boing & Wikipedia cover almost all of it, but in short simple terms:

  1. Yes, except for PDF & secure mobi, all the ebooks that you currently own can be transferred & read for free on the Kindle
  2. No, there is no way to convert those $ 9.99 azw beauties into a format of your choice and to be read on another device/PC…yet! (Bad Amazon!)
  3. Yes, it does audio and audiobook enthusiasts; the milli-ens of them would be pretty happy to hear (hehe) that they can transfer their own files to the device themselves.
  4. No, they havent hacked the free EV-DO internet to work for laptops yet 😉

ok! the last one was mostly in jest. But seriously, some good thinking on part of the Amazon gang.

Now, i say the device is good and i am never going to buy it ! i think the business model behind Kindle is brilliant even though the device is damn ugly.

If you look from the rampant ebook piracy point of view, ebook selling websites shouldn’t exist. But they do (Baen, Sony Connet, ebooks.com, mobipocket.com)! and so do sites for Music (iTunes) & Videos (Netflix). So basically there is a market out there which is being currently served/serviced.The next question is, ” is the market big enough?”

Simple answer is NO! I do not believe that the current market is even 1.5-2 million “paid” downloads. So, market opportunity cannot be more than $10-20 mn. Now, which company is even looking at a New Media Industry like that, when in comparision, the new Wii consoles have sold 15 mn units, since Dec 2006 (Xbox – 10 million & PS3 – 8.8 million); Industry behemoth ipod sold 18 million units..hell, even Zune sold 1.2 mn units ! look at the figures and despair…all ye ebook reader companies!

The immediate need of the market is rapid expansion – like the Wii did for the console business. What i contend is that the business model behind Kindle is really going to blow up the market.

Lets look at the reasons why –

No. 1 Instant Gratification – Ever wondered why all those Point-of-sale terminals are loaded with small goodies? That’s for enticing you to spend your money rather than taking the view away from the pretty cash-countress :p Look at Kindle. Instant Wireless connectivity…get any of 90k books/blogs/magazines. All it takes is 1 second of need and you’d have bought yourself a monthly Times subscription, a BusinessWeek or a NYT bestseller. Sitting in your drawing room and having Coffee next to a roaring fire ain’t gonna boost sales…an idle, boring wait at the conference you went to, or the local subway ride..and there the money would flow.

No. 2 – Convenience – I can reasonably source almost any possible fiction book on the planet, that i need, given enough time. My sis, who just has to mail me to ask for a new book, couldn’t be bothered. She already has too much stuff on her plate. This is the reason why people buy the Norton Antivirus’s or the Windows Vista DVD’s – it’s not that they can’t source it illegally – it’s just that they do not have the time or familiarity to trawl through the wastes of pirate cells and look for stuff they want.

And what do we get in return…

We get a bloody bigger TG. More people into ebook reading. And that gives rise to consumer choice! All those screamers about getting bogged down by format, seller, DRM etc all exist because the industry is monopolistic. Once an adoption of readers happens, be it the Kindle, CyBook, Illiad..or anything else, we can have lower prices, better devices and services. Planning 25 years from now for owned content is stupid (Sorry, Cory Doctorow, your books are good but this is incomprehensible nonsense to me). Hell, all the paperbacks from my college days (which wasn’t that long ago) have all wasted away.

A growing market right now can be better news than a great device which supports all formats, has color display and costs $150. That device willl only come if there is a market for it. Otherwise, no one is gonna plonk down their shareholder wealth in this particular mess.

That’s why i think Kindle is good. It’s good for the industry. It will force companies to change their whole idea about this marketplace. It brings in new technologies and delivery mechanisms…which might not be perfect, but are radically different! that counts for a lot, i say!

And all those internet based (text) content services, finally also have a revenue model that is not based on Advertising or Premium Services. Good old-fashioned subscription…finally making a pie, albeit a very small one, out of the $0.00 internet service!

I think that it is great to have something of this sort come up now. Let’s hope the ebook industry becomes bigger…its in the interest of all of us!

Posted in Gadgets, Marginal Benefits | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Darbadar kya chuh gomutz: A repository of delightful koshur woh-woh’s for all occasions

Posted by Q on November 10, 2007

After 25 years of research, I’ve reached the inescapable conclusion that Kashmiris are one damn fine abusive race. Don’t believe it? Just watch out for any Kashmiri parent going hell after leather for their kyaz-chukh-na-paraan offspring who are all naturally adczots. the only reason they don’t get hauled up by Red Cross is that are damn funny at it! Imagine trying to portray nang mot as an irredeemable loss of childhood innocence, eh ? Since, i am the prototype beem ruudiuyo na kansi hund cze types, here’s to the crafty buggers and their collection of delightful pieces of linguistic ding-a-lings that are thrown at the thick skins of their own koshur kids

Now, there are just 4 main types of woh-wohs:

  1. Those dealing with character assassination
  2. Falling objects leading to loss of face
  3. Associating with misery/penurious conditions
  4. And just irritating kids sticking it in your nose types.

In no order, here are the examples.

Now, most mothers start off after their irritating kids with the more wailing ones like :

  • hata goi kya (what now?)
  • (kol) Darbadar chuk gomut/ darbadar kya chekh gamach (wanderer! desultory time-waster)
  • khar (moron)
  • ponz (monkey)
  • mot/nang-mot/khin-mot/gus-mot (not sure actually, its often a term of endearment too… but how can a gus-mot be lovable, beats me!)

If the kid however, is as recalcitrant as ever, they escalate to..

  • adchot/adczot (idiot)
  • beem roduyo na kansi hund che (not afraid of the old man anymore)
  • manchawan kat/mandchhavn kot [embarrassing goat! man! they bring goats (kats) in every conv.]
  • matzar chu aamut/tulmut (making everyone miserable)
  • tasrup chui (not sure..is there an english translation ?)

Now, this is strictly for smaller fry. As the kid becomes bigger and meaner, his future and career are thrown open to everyone:

  • Hangul hue chuk gomut (like someone big, mean and slow)
  • Kol hakhuraa hyu goam agaaid (same)
  • Kol mushraan hyu (something these Mssrs. Hangul, Hakhur & Mushran must have done in their lives to be such eternal examples of wasted youth)
  • kol brehasnatt/yahay chuk brahis natta hue gomut (bird brain! this brahis natta would’ve been quite a guy)
  • mein chuk kal phatravavaan (drives me nuts)
  • matczar chu tulawaan (drives me nuts again..just more colorful and attuned to a cribbing tone)
  • monjj chuk thippaan (very funny! dunno what it means though..but damn funny)
  • raatmogul (night crawler)
  • Vaeraan gomut (have become a wild ass)

Now, misery is a very powerful force in kashmiri folklore. Neighbors are frequently described as follows:

  • temis payee treth (heaven’s fall on him)
  • fakeer kott (son of a poor gun)
  • zar chu gomut yemis (something’s gone inside him…darker than saying mandalas manzh chu kyum chyamuth)

If these don’t work, often character assassinations are invoked:

  • shikas/shikaslad/shikaslada etc (bastard?)
  • taavan paye temis (heaven’s furies be upon him…in a more vengeful tone)
  • taawanzad (bastard again?)
  • hai cze tapael/tapail (curse you, you idiot)

Ancient Gaul was afraid of falling sky, Alexander was afraid of falling sick, fall is a season which brings forth most allergies in US….notice anything common? ha! koshur kats knew the secret of the deadly curse of falling things, esp. body parts. Useful thing to have in your arsenal too. sample the following:

  • pyayi buth vasith (may your face fall down)
  • pyayi nas wasit (may your nose fall down)
  • kaangar payee (may your kaangar, the coal-fired heater inside your phiran, fall down. Don’t ask me, whats supposed to happen next )
  • pyoi kal gandur wassit (hehe..something funny falling down)
  • tse peyi gardan wasith (may your neck fall down…eh? how??)
  • paiya kal vasith (face falling again)
  • pyayi kalhir vasith (more colorful way of face falling)

it’s hilarious..english translations are such a hoot! Anyway, ever since i’ve deciphered these deadly curses, my language skills have actually improved 😉

Posted in Fresh Bubbles | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

The importance of being HTML

Posted by Q on November 4, 2007

HTMLOr, adventures in converting a saved-from-MS Word html file into a readable (& proprietary) BBeB format of Sony Reader.

Since taking the Reader to work everyday, my To-Be-Read pile, is under considerable attack – a one hour journey either ways is extremely good time for gobbling up a book in 2-4 sittings. Since the Reader cache memory is still too under-powered for instant viewing of new books, i try to convert each txt/html/lit/doc/pdf/etc. into .lrf for easy viewing

And, as Art Speigelman says, here my troubles began…

You see, the problem is conversion. My laptop currently plays host to a wide array of converting utilities which include:

  1. ABC Palm converter (for pdb into everything else)
  2. ABC Lit to htm converter
  3. BBeB Binder (for converting txt/html into BBeB)
  4. Book Designer (editing txt/html/pdb etc)
  5. CLit (hehe) (.Lit to html)
  6. Dreamweaver 8 (don’t ask)
  7. HTML Book Fixer
  8. v HTML merger (for combing 2+ html files into 1)
  9. lib prs500 (ofcourse)
  10. PDB Reader Converter
  11. Mozilla Seabird
  12. Page Breeze Html editor

Now, the usual sequence of events, if i were to be lucky enough to find & download the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone trilogy by Gregory Keyes would be:

first up, i’d discover that the gentle soul who has scanned and proofed the release has done it in three different formats for all three. So the first book is MS Word-to-html, second is RTF, third is non-garbled HTML. So, my ubermensch el geeko instincts kick in:

  • the first book is first opened in MS Word> saved as RTF>> Results in file size ballooning to 4 MB
  • Second approach, Open file in Mozilla Firefox> Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C>New html page in Dreamweaver 8>Ctrl+V>>Says insufficient space to handle operation
  • Third approach, Open file in Mozilla Firefox> Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C>New html page in seabird Html composer>Ctrl+V>>>>Results in an inactive Laptop for 2 mins>character entity reference kicks in> tad difficult to read a character set of &
  • Fourth approach, Open File in Book Designer>clean up HTML>Prepare for second pass surgery from HTML book Fixer (which doesn’t allow _ or [ in filenames)>File rejected for too many errors
  • Fifth approach, Open File in BBeB Converter to try direct conversion>System stalls for a couple of minutes and Operation exits
  • Sixth & Final, Open file in IE> Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C> New HTML page in Page Freeze>Ctrl+V>Save As Keyes, Gregory – The Briar King (v1.1) .html>>Open in BBeB Binder>Save As LRF>Save successful!

Total time taken in figuring out the proper way = 45 minutes

The second and third files did not take as much time. I prefer using the two-pass approach of Book Designer > BBeB binder, whenever it works out. But eventually, it takes me 1 hr to completely transfer 3 files from my Laptop to the Reader in a format of my choice. phew! talk about work.

The same story repeats over a Dozois Gardner Sci Fi collection (16th edit.). The file is a humungous, horrifyingly huge 6 MB unpacked RTF. i pass it through Wordpad to clear unnecessary formatting, save it as a new file from Sea-bird HTML composer, and then manually edit the html to add a Table of Contents and then convert to lrf from BBeB.

Which brings me to the whole point. HTML is without a doubt my favored format for storing files, it has the neatness of a simple txt, gets your formatting done like an RTF, keeps images in check like a PDF and does not change styles. It’s no wonder that idpf, the Open Source format now accepted as the Industry de facto standard is based on an XML architecture (basically XHTML + CSS).

In ebook piracy also, fans usually prefer to bring out new releases in HTML. The only problem being that multiple editors with various degrees of efficacy abound, leading to a huge chunk of files having dirty formatting.

For the reading device makers, i hope some thought into input device formats is also being undertaken. It’s clear that the versatility of html makes it stand head and shoulders above other formats (and no DRM too, hurray!), but unless the pains of conversion are brought under control, there is very little scope for the ebook market – it shall remain a playground for us enthusiasts.

Posted in eBooks, Gadgets | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »