Dec 30, 2014

2014 In Review..Rise of ISIS, Xiaomi, Ebola, Germany, Modi, Malala and Spurs.. And us

If you ask me then 2014 was an year full of disasters, executions and plane crashes (and/or disappearances).
Almost every week I have seen since my birth is full of events, with at least few major ones. Very few affect our life but many touch our emotions. Some of those events change many lives.

At the end of every year we look back to our achievements and what we lost in addition to one year of our life. Most of us see some failures and see an year gone, we see our attempts and accomplishments and losses; indeed mixed feelings makes us strong and with positive attitude we make some new year resolutions. I believe new year resolutions are as important as going to next year in college. Its like living a complete year again and I remember the famous words of Ray Lewis - "This year, we did what we were supposed to do. We fought as a team; we fought as a team, there will be one Super Bowl champ crowned at the end of this year. That’s it. So the way we feel, somebody will feel like that tomorrow. And somebody don’t feel like that in a week. That’s a fact! And the fact, these, we got to come back and go to work to make sure we finish it next time."

2014 also saw rise of new powers like ISIS in middle east, Xiaomi in mobile world, Ebola as deadly disease, Ice bucket challenge, Modi as greatest politician & leader of India, Malala as new face of Muslim women, Germany as world champion of football, Spurs as NBA champion, and many more. 

If we review 2014 now, we will remember below (Some of the headliners of 2014) - 

ISIS - 
Terrorist group claimed World wide Caliphate and claims religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide. The group existed for more than a decade but in 2014 it got known world wide for its brutality, beheading, and attacks. Started in Jan, when ISIS captured Falluja, Iraq. And in August US started bombing ISIS. In September ISIS posted video of beheading US journalist. 

(Image Source - http://madworldnews.com/isis-threat-cripple-us/)

Sochi 
February, Longest city of Europe - 148 kms or 92 miles, with population of 400,000 hosted Winter Olympics between some controversies and host nation Russia was number one in medal tally. 
(Source - http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/logo/sochiru-2014)

Ukraine
International news started coming from Ukraine from Feb, when gun fight between protesters and security forces left 100 people dead and parliament votes to remove president. 
Ukraine is the new battle ground between Russia and West. But where lies Ukraine, its is East accoridng to Russia. It might be new Cold war, and reason behind missing flights. But its lot more interesting if we read history. 
(Source - https://www.veooz.com/news/GuvP9~.html)

MH 370
March 8, Malaysian Airlines flight 370 travelling from kuala lumpur to Beijing goes off radar, disappears in airspace over gulf of Thailand. Lots of stories and via controversy club, USA is behind this, some guess US guessed plane was hijacked and another 9/11. 
(Source - http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1022048/pg1)

Boko Haram
Militant Islamic group from Nigeria kidnapped 276 teenage girls from school in April. Hundreds of people killed by this group every month and in May white house announced to act. 
(Source - http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/09/world/boko-haram-fast-facts/index.html)

Sewol
The sinking of the MV Sewol occurred on the morning of 16 April 2014 en route from Incheon to Jeju. The Japanese-built South Korean ferry capsized while carrying 476 people, mostly secondary school students.The incident was followed by investigation, legal case, international reactions, emotions, and a documentary "The truth shall not sink with Sewol"
(Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_MV_Sewol)

ALS Ice bucket challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on someone's head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research.

Thailand Coup
Thailand's military declared control of country. It affects those tourists who travel Thailand for sex. It affects many illegal migrants from nearby countries. But more important is Thailand's economy is badly hurt, making country less attractive to investors. 
(Source - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-27483816)

World Cup Soccer 2014
Brazil hosted and Germany won. 
World cup started between protests in Brazil. Brazil reached semi-finals but saw biggest defeat in history since 1920. Mirolsav Klose broke Ronaldo's record in same semi-final match between Brazil and Germany. Germany emerged as best team and won the world cup. James Rodriguez was another hero from World cup who is now with Real Madrid. 

MH 17 
July 17, Malaysian airlines flight MH17 crashes in Ukraine. 
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was travelling over the conflict-hit region when it disappeared from radar. A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members were on board.
(Source - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28357880)

Flight 5017
'Disintegrated' Air Algerie plane found with no survivors
Read more - http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/25/world/africa/air-algerie-crash/index.html?iref=allsearch

Spurs
Spurs took revenge with Miami heat. Lost previous championship title in last 30 seconds, spurs came back, either they forgot past or they never forgot but this time they were destined to win. Spurs seemed more than prepared for the series. Superstar miami team with LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Ray Allen was controlled well by organized and balanced spurs. Leonard did the MVP job by tackling LeBron. Spurs are creating history and are most likely to win in 2015 too. 


Modi 
Narendra Modi became apparent as most powerful and undisputed leader of biggest democracy in world. Modi won elections and became prime minister of India. Known for reforms and growth in Gujrat state, he is also know to be involved in riots in state, but more important was his charismatic popularity in whole country. His election affects India's policy towards neighbouring countries and in region. 

Malala
A Pakistani activist for female education and youngest ever Nobel prize winner is the new face of many muslim women. Malala was shot in 2012 and remained in critical condition for long time. The assassination attempt sparked international support, becoming one of the most famous teenager of all time; "I am Malala" became slogan, demanding all children in school by 2015; an finally Malala was awarded Nobel prize in 2014. Lot of controversies exist like the shot in 2012 was planted by CIA, but god knows. 
(Source - http://www.adailyjoy.com/joy-archives/girlboss-malala-yousafazi-wins-nobel-peace-prize)

Xiaomi
Now many wont know that Xiaomi is the third largest mobile handset company in world after Apple and Samsung. Of all those outside China who now Xiaomi, most of them have known it in 2014 only. 
http://www.mi.com/


QZ8501
and year ending with QZ8501 and at time of writing the latest news is 6 bodies found.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-30630330


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Dec 18, 2014

Grand tour of Asia

I was inspired by a blog post, a travel itinerary, a travel inspiration, and travel intel published on cntraveler(http://www.cntraveler.com/) by Hanya Yanagihara (http://www.cntraveler.com/contributors/hanya-yanagihara). 
The link to page is http://www.cntraveler.com/grand-tour-of-asia 
but this link not available now.
I am generally big fan of such an itinerary, because its different and not so easy to execute. But it’s exciting, adventurous, and once in a life time trips. The author travelled to all major destinations of Asia and in a well planned path, which I want to follow. Only negative part was I believe contributor spend lot of money, because she stayed at luxury hotels & resorts. Some of those are in Gold list of hotels.
Since because this post not available on cntraveler site, you may not be able to read contributor’s 56 days of adventure (or 51 days). But I have extracted the key points that will inspire and guide you to make a similar trip. Personally Its in my bucket list to travel to complete asia in 2 months.

First below are the words of Author for making such a trip –
 

Destinations - 


Below you will like most



Now below are the extracts form the original post on cntraveler

Day 2 - Colombo & Dambulla 
After 30-some-odd hours of traveling, I finally pulled up to the gorgeous little Wallawwa Hotel outside Colombo—an eight-room house on a once-sprawling coconut plantation—to be greeted with, in order, a fresh coconut, a friend from Doha, and a plate of black pork curry. Hard to say which was the nicest surprise.
Today’s stop was Dambulla, the 2nd century BC caves hewn from the granite mountainside and today one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO world heritage sites. 
Day 3 - Sigiriya 
Yesterday began with the rapid consumption of 5,000 calories worth of coconut milk-boiled rice and fish curry, followed by the 10,000 calorie-burning (or so I’m telling myself) climb up 1,215 steps to the great fifth-century palace of Sigiriya. 
Day 4 - Tangalla 
Today was a 45-minute seaplane lift (felt just like Tintin (http://www.cntraveler.com/arts/2011/12/the-world-according-to-tintin), minus the dog and apricot-colored quiff) to Tangalle on the southern coast, which reminds me so much of Bali—rocky blue shoreline, modest whitecaps, cheerful little surf shacks—that I felt the years skid out from beneath me. Now at the Amanwella (http://www.amanresorts.com/amanwella/home.aspx%5D), which is so beautiful I wish I could still time altogether. Off for a nighttime walk; tomorrow, Galle. 
Day 5 - Galle 
You know that dangerous moment in a trip when you’re wandering around and think, I could do this. I could buy a little house—that one there, maybe, the one crowned with bougainvillea—and open a little boutique or café and then my life would be so much better?
Well, Galle—the Portugese-turned-Dutch-turned British-turned UNESCO protectorate town on the southern coast of Sri Lanka—is definitely making me think all sorts of crazy thoughts. 
Day 6 & 7 - Mumbai 
Tonight—my second and last night in glorious Mumbai (http://www.cntraveler.com/features/2009/10/It-s-Mumbai-Yaar)—I finally got to put into practice Rule 12 of the Hanya Yanagihara Packing Commandments ®, namely: always pack a good party dress and jewelry in case you’re ever suddenly invited to a chic dinner by a chic hostess in a city you’re visiting.
Stay at Taj Mahal Palace
Day 8 & 9 - Varanasi
I’m getting ready to leave one of my favorite cities, Varanasi, for Agra. Varanasi is, of course, the Hindu sacred city on the banks of the Ganges, and being here—especially at night, when you can see the crematorium fires burning orange against the dark-blue sky—is to feel almost out of time: Here is life and death, sickness and health, boys playing cricket and others with stumps for arms, begging. One feels, when one’s emerged from the area surrounding the ghats, as if one is waking from a fever-dream, one that leaves the world feeling momentarily topsy-turvy. 
Day 10 - Agra
There is nothing quite akin to seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time; I did so in 2007 and can still remember how awestruck, how speechless, I was. But as wonderful as seeing it yourself for the first time is watching someone else see it for himself for the first time. So Whitney, thanks for making this experience more fun than it would’ve had I been by myself. I am now merely warm with rage; most of the incandescence has long since faded away.
Day 11 - Jaipur 
Rajvillas & shopping
Day 12 - Amanbagh - Outside of Jaipur
Amanbagh is one of the most beautiful hotels I have stayed at, ever. It also has my favorite in-room amenity to date: a long wooden stick to wave threateningly at the wild monkeys that roam the property and try to get into the plunge pool.
Day 13 & 14 - Kathmandu
I'm staying at Dwarikas, modeled after a traditional Nepali house and the sort of wood-beamed, pillow-strewn place that looks like it’d be very cozy in the winter. Tomorrow: a flight to Everest. Tonight: back to devouring a plateful of vegetable momos after 11 hours of traveling
Second  Morning flight over Everest
Day 15 - Punakha
Arrived Punakha from Kathmandu and drove four hours from Paro Airport up into the hills and down to Punakha Valley. 
Tomorrow I’m going to go visit Punakha Dzong, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punakha_Dzong) seen here, one of the country’s most important palaces. It’s so quiet here that even as you’re driving, you can actually hear the river beneath you. 
Day 16: Thimphu
Said a very reluctant goodbye to Punakha, and then drove up into the mountains (elevation: 10,000 feet; the air becomes Alpinic) and then down into Thimpu (elevation: a mere 6000 feet). On the way, stopped at Chimi Lakhang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimi_Lhakhang), which is a fertility temple dedicated to a randy medieval monk (the best kind of medieval monk).
Day 17 - Paro
Did a little sightseeing around Thimphu, where I stopped by the Institute of Thirteen Arts and Crafts, which is a school that trains kids in the traditional thirteen arts of Bhutan, including embroidery, painting, wood-carving, etc. It’s a nine-year course, after which the graduates either strike out on their own or join a guild. 
Day 18 - Paro
Today, I climbed Tiger’s Nest, the 17th-century temple complex that clings to a cliff 9,800 feet above the ground. The story goes that Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Bhutan and, Himalayan Buddhists believe, the reincarnation of the Buddha himself, flew to the site on his tiger in the 8th century (as, you know, one does). 
Day 19 - Bangkok
Now South East Asia tour begins, inspired by 
Day 20 - Yangon, Myanmar
After a harrowing time getting out of Tree House (I had to jump onto the passing public ferry so I wouldn’t miss my car waiting on the other side of the river at 5am), met Vassi Koutsaftis (http://www.arclight-pictures.com) from Geographic Expeditions (http://www.geoex.com/), the geniuses who helped plan this trip in the first place (more on the particular genius who planned my trip later) and set off to Yangon. 
Day 21 - Bagan, Myanmar
Toured Bagan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagan), the 20-square-mile 11th century temple complex. There are some real beauties among the 2200 remaining structures (there were originally some 7000, but many have been lost to war, earthquakes, floods, temple robbers, and time), including some with such beautiful, subtle, elegant paintings that you can’t help but feel the shiver of centuries.
Day 23 - Halong Bay, Vietnam
I'm in a new, eight-cabin (unfortunately named) Paradise Luxury Cruises (http://paradisecruises.vn/) boat, and have spent the day doing my four favorite things: swimming, brooding, eating Vietnamese glass noodles with crab.
Day 24 - Hanoi, Vietnam
Drove back from Halong Bay and went to go have a gallery visit with the lovely Suzanne Lecht at her Art Vietnam Gallery (http://artvietnamgallery.com/). In the evening, I wandered the area around the hotel a little. I’m always struck by how beautiful Hanoi is, with its French colonial architecture, and people pedaling by on bikes with baskets stuffed with fresh-baked baguettes, and the little street cafés selling pho where men sit on impossibly tiny stools, smoking and chatting the evening away. 
Day 25 - Siem Reap, Cambodia
One of my favorite things to do in Asia is visit produce and fish markets, and in Hanoi I particularly loved seeing all the bouquets of fresh herbs, which give Vietnamese cuisine its subtle, floral flavors. I also loved seeing one vendor’s basket of fish, which were so fresh that you could still see them gasping for air.
Day 26 - Angor Wat
Angkor Wat too was packed unlike anything I could’ve imagined. I got there at 7 to beat the let’s-watch-the-sun-rise crowd, but by 8:30am or so it was difficult to move in parts, like being in the Vatican museums…but outside. In 99-degree air so thick it felt like you were moving through reheated congee. 
Day 28: Song Saa, Cambodia
Song Saa (http://www.songsaa.com/) private island, off the Cambodian coast. The water here is so salty that you don’t even need to kick; you’re just sort of buoyed along by the waves.
Day 29 & 30- Chiang Rai, Thailand
3am wakeup call to 4am boat launch to 4:30am arrival at the dock to 3.5-hour drive to Phnom Penh airport to 2-hour delay to 1-hour flight to Bangkok to 1-hour delay to 2-hour flight to Chiang Rai to 90-minute drive to Four Seasons Tented Camp. Phew. Now enters the phase of the trip where two things start happening: the flights get longer, and each has a connection; and the rainy season begins in Southeast Asia. It rained yesterday in Cambodia, and it’s raining now in Thailand; I think I’m literally staying one day ahead of torrential downpours.
Next day - Got on an elephant named Yuki and rode her inexpertly around the grounds. The Four Seasons (http://www.fourseasons.com/goldentriangle/) gives you a chambray mahout outfit to wear, and that, coupled with the straw conical hat they also had us wear, was not A Good Look for me. In fact, I looked like I should’ve been planting rice in a field somewhere nearby.
Day 31 & 32 - Chaing Mai, Thailand
Before I checked into my hotel, I swung by Soi Nimmanhaemin Road, the little side street that connects with Nimmanhaemin Road, one of the main drags, and which—five years ago—was filled with some delicious little boutiques. Well, it still is, albeit new delicious little boutiques, including Wit’s Collection (http://www.witscollection.net) and, in a sure sign that Chairman Mao has made the complete transition from despot to decoration, a place called Koland dedicated to Communist-era kitsch.
Next day - Toodled around Chiang Mai—a city I love just as much today as I did five years ago—in the jam-thick heat. Good god, it’s hot—my host yesterday guessed it was 102 degrees. Even the good, hardy, heat-resistant people of CM seem to be wilting.
Day 34 - Ubud, Bali
Walked through the famous rice paddies of Ubud. Anyone who’s been here recently for the first time can attest to the annoying reaction you get from old Asia hands when you tell them you’re coming to Bali: “Oh, Bali? Oh, that place has been DESTROYED (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0879870/). It’s sooo overdeveloped. 
Day 36 - Beijing, China
Yesterday was one of the longest and most traumatic travel days of this trip. Left the hotel in Bali at 5:45am on 5/3; arrived my hotel in Beijing at 2am on 5/4. In the middle, there was lots of drama in the skies.
Day 37 - Xian, China
Visited the terracotta warriors of Xian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terracotta_Army), which are every bit as spectacular as you’d imagine, and astonishingly sophisticated—especially considering they’re 2200 years old. The warriors guard the tomb of the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, who was, like all brilliant emperors, a megalomaniac. On one hand, he unified China and standardized the written language, currency, and measurement system. 
Day 39 - Shangai, China
Today I took a tour through Shanghai’s Jewish history with guide Dvir Bar-Gal: utterly fascinating, and made me think of Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans (http://www.amazon.com/When-We-Were-Orphans-Novel/dp/0375724400). One of modern Shanghai’s greatest figures was a descendant of David Sassoon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sassoon)—he of Mumbai’s Sassoon Docks, remember?—a member of the small group of Baghdadi Jews who helped give the city its current shape, texture, look, and feel. 
Day 40 & 41 - Tokyo, Japan
 I always think of Japan as the perfect soft landing into Asia for people who’ve never been to the continent before—it’s at once completely distinct and utterly reliable, wholly its own, strange, fascinating creature and yet perfectly safe, clean, and admirably efficient. 
Next day - We went to Ota Market (http://www.shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/english/market/ota.html), the city’s fruit wholesaler, where Shinji bought me these bright-as-tomatoes strawberries. 
Day 42 - Koyasan
Sacred mountain and the holy site for Shingon Buddhists, one of Japan’s thirteen Buddhist sects.
Day 44 - Kyoto
Today's highlight was a visit to Saihoji (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saih%C5%8D-ji) or the moss temple. You have to apply in writing to get into this temple, and before you actually enter the grounds, you must copy a sutra: the Heart Sutra, in fact, known in Japan as “Makahannya Haramita Shingyo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccy708RQ1DA),” after which my parents pretentiously named me.
Day 47 - Singapore
Today I toured old Singapore, specifically, Chinatown. I loved the Buddha's Tooth Relic Temple (http://www.btrts.org.sg/), which was like taking a look into the sort of present-day Mahayana Buddhism that might still be practiced in China if China were more religious.
Had lunch at the excellent True Blue restaurant, which specializes in Peranakan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan) cuisine. The Peranakan culture was born in the 14th century, when Chinese immigrants began marrying local women; over the years, they developed their own customs, including their own dress and their own food, which weds the spices of Hokkien Chinese with the sugar-and-coconut sweetness of Malay food. 





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Dec 16, 2014

Why create adaptive & response OR why think mobile OR why we create mobile app - Hidden benefit

Lot of has been discussed in last few years on the need of a mobile app for companies. I too work in an organization that deals with customers in digital channels. And we realized not only customers want an mobile app but also adaptive & response site also. Our customers get an online website which is adaptive and response; and a mobile app. Not to mention that we need make site or mobile make adaptive and responsive. But we don't know how much, since there is not limit to user experience and pleasure we can keep on improving.

There was a time when mobile sites were made, but with "Adaptive & Responsive" designs mobile sites became irrelevant, instead a need came to make same desktop site more adaptive and responsive, which means measure the device size and make some adjustments in screen layout & data and provide best suitable user experience. Since device size can be anything like till 5" its smartphone, between 5" & 7" its phablet, and 7" to 10" is tablet, and beyond is laptop or desktop. But these are assumptions we are making and we need not to worry about them, because of latest technologies.

But Question now is Do we need a mobile app over an "Adaptive & Response" UI?
I believe today yes, but don't know about tomorrow.  2014 saw huge number of amazing smartphones. Some are masterpiece. A mobile app gives user convenience of clicking and starting the application, rather than going into browser and typing address. Even if the URL is bookmarked, its better to sit in the home screen of smartphone.
Cost of making a mobile app is much cheaper compared to making whole site adaptive and response.

Indeed we need both. Yes, because we don't read customer's mind always. Same customer can hit website or use a mobile app. But definitely it will be a kill to not provide both options and expect customer to use our Online site using desktop.

It is mentioned on "http://en.webself.net/why-create-a-website.ws"-
"Creating a website is a powerful communication tool. 
A website is a unique way to communicate with the world! Whether you choose to create a website to share your passion for musique, get people to know your business, sell products or any other reason, there are no boundries to what you can do! With a website, a ton of possibilities are open to you!"

But we have moved a lot and you should trust everyone when everyone is saying we need mobile app, we need adaptive & response UI, along with a normal website.

2015
2014 also saw many smartwatch launches. Now this is a challenge. How a mobile app or site will behave on smartwatch. But I think customers will not open website in smartwatch (no matter how much adaptive or responsive it is). And apps will be needed. Highly adaptive, and optimized apps. Not same one as mobile apps. But a more effective and efficient in terms of layout and data.
We got a challenge. But solution is same as we did previously when we were designing mobile apps or while designing adaptive & response UI.  Read more below...

Why create adaptive & response OR why think mobile OR why we create mobile app - Hidden benefit
Yes, there was an hidden benefit. The motivation and limitations of mobile made us think of what all is redundant in our web sites. We decided on what customer really wants. We prioritized the features and our offerings on website, and we displayed in mobile app or mobile UI in same way.
When we thought of mobiles and other smart devices we started to adjust our online website or we created new UI's so that only relevant data is shown. We were working on low memory and low screen sizes and that increased our imagination.  Result was better customer experience and more customer interactions, because now everyone has smartphone and they are not hesitant to contact us using smartphones.

In my experience I also found some mobile apps to be much better than counter part web sites. And these are some of the most popular online companies.
I am putting some examples below how a mobile app is better in displaying the same information than online website, and these are some I visit multiple times a day -
GMail (lets forget Inbox for some time), NBA, G+, Adsense.
On mobile I immediatly get notifications of new mails. I want to check only scores and highlights from NBA (not blogs, pic, etc.). Posts of G+ look much better in mobile. And on adsense i only want my earning report for day or month, etc. In Adsense web site its hard to find earnings for the day (not exactly hard)
(I also rarely use facebook, CNN, Soundcloud, etc. from desktop)




May be after we create website, and then when we create mobile app or Make site adaptive to mobile devices and we will find what all supplementary information and space we gave.
Now lets look at the mobile apps of above -







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