Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Reading. Virtually.

Don't know if anyone noticed, but had made the blog private because had grown sick of feeling like shooting myself in the morning all too often after another stupid post written late the previous night. Yep, am not happy right now, but it has been a recurring element of my life, and will probably continue to be.

On the other hand, a road trip to Surat last weekend to conduct a quiz made me extremely happy. If only there was more money in conducting quizzes.

Didn't get back to blogging because of another reason. I have found something else to do, which keeps me tied up after work and on weekends.

On an impulse, a few weeks back, I bought the iPad. The iPad 2 to be precise. Like my fairly expensive, and quite apprehensive, purchase of an iPod video during my internship in 2007, I haven't regretted it for one moment.

I am an information junkie. I want to read as much as I can, I want to know as much there is to know about stuff around me as I can. It's a different story that I can hardly retain about a tenth of it. But I love reading. And iPad is a boon for anyone who does.

Two of my most favorite apps on iPad (with the exception of the Angry Birds game of course) are Instapaper and Zinio.

Instapaper helps you save online articles for reading later. It works seamlessly across your laptop browser and the tablet, and is ideal for those 'longform' articles that you keep coming across but never get the time to read. Have already discovered one of my favorite writers through this app - Atul Gawande, a US doctor of Indian origin, who writes for The New Yorker (which I discovered truly for the first time through the iPad also - it's a brilliant brilliant journal), and very incisively on complex issues like the American health care system or solitary confinement in prisons.

Instapaper also helped me find this site called Longform.org that picks out some amazing articles daily for you to read. The range includes a piece written by the inimitable Pauline Kael on Citizen Kane to an article on the unavoidable Amanda Knox to the phenomenon called Sasha Grey to a very objective story of the downfall of Mel Gibson by Peter Biskind, whose books on Hollywood I am a big fan of.

Zinio claims to be the largest magazine store in the world. And certainly looks like it. I have bought magazines from the US, the UK and India on it and browsed through some more from France, Brazil and other assorted places. I love magazines. And so, browsing through Zinio is to me, to use a cliche, what a 5 year old must feel like in a candy store.

And, of course, there's the Kindle app. Which is a fairly ordinary app. It does its job well. No frills. But the massive collection of books that Amazon has just kills you, figuratively.

And the one-click purchase kills you in more literal (and financial) terms. I used to curse Flipkart for their easy check-out of the shopping cart. But it's no wonder that the Bansal duo learned their craft at Amazon. Because the Amazon store doesn't give you a chance. One click and the book is on my iPad. And a few more dollars have disappeared from my bank account.

A malfunctioning mouse can turn your purse lighter by a few bucks in a few seconds. And in the age of a falling rupee, it is not a happy condition.

But I am still some time away from staring at bankruptcy. And more books (and articles) than I can read in my lifetime.

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