Recently, I had the chance to travel to Japan to speak and participate in an international conference. Ever heard of Sapporo? Quite honestly, I hadn’t. It’s Japan’s 5th largest city in the northern island of Hokkaido.
There’s a good chance I would never have bothered to find out where it is, if not for the conference. Now that I had to spend a week there, I figured that it would be a good idea to get a travel guide. And so, off I went looking for a travel guide to Japan.
I found two books, both very generously priced at around Rs 1,500. I probably wouldn’t have minded it that much if the book had enough material about Sapporo. Unfortunately, all it had was a measly chapter about the city where I was travelling to and I was left standing with a book where 95 per cent of the information had no practical use to me. It didn’t take me long to put the books back in the bookshelf.
It’s after this experience that I so much appreciate the value of OffBeat Guides, a make-it-yourself, personalised guide book service. The service understands that your main interest is the city you are travelling to. In this case, my only interest was Sapporo in Northern Japan. And in under 10 minutes, I had myself a personalised travel guide to Sapporo.
Let me explain. The website www.offbeatguide.com asks you five basic questions. Your name, the dates of your travel, your city where you live in, your destination city, and if you know, the hotel or friend’s place where you are staying at. It then proceeds to collate date from various resources on the Net, most notably, Wikipedia, WikiTravel, EventFul, Upcoming.org, Flickr and Google Maps.
It then gives me the choice of menus of the different information about the city and I get to choose what I want and what I don’t want. For example, I did not want information about 5-star hotels. So, I unchecked them. But what I definitely wanted to know was the Subway train map and the local bus routes. Likewise, there’s a long laundry list of items I can choose.
Even though all the information is available on the Internet free of charge, there are two distinct advantages that the book provides. One, someone else does the searching for you, saving you time and two, all the information is neatly packaged into a small book making it easy for you to carry along. You can either choose to have the PDF version for about Rs 400 and read it off your laptop or choose to buy the printed book for about Rs 1,000. I prefer choosing the PDF version and taking a printout on my printer. Works better this way.
The beauty of the book is it’s personalisation. Since it knows what dates you are in the city, it only lists important events that take place in the city when you are there. For example, I was told that there is a Beer Garden Festival happening which I made sure to attend.
From my little experience, I’m certain that personalised books are the way that the publishing industry will go in the future.
Photo by b.w.futures
A team of dedicated retired people have turned a few empty plots of land which was misused by the city corporation as a graveyard for broken vehicles, into lovely looking garden. What used to be an eyesore is now a magnet for health conscious people. As part of the garden, they have two Badminton courts, one cemented and the other with grass.
NOTE: These badminton courts are only meant for the residents of the locality. I had made a note earlier about the court’s availability for outsiders but the rules have since changed. If you have come here eagerly looking for a badminton court, sorry to have disappointed you.
Hi everyone. I’ve been in Japan over the last week and will return back to India on August 5th. I’m right now in the city of Sapporo in the Northern Island of Hokkaido, attending the International iCommons Summit 2008 where digital and social technologists from over 64 countries are attending.
As expected blogging on this blog will continue to be sparse. On the other hand, I’ve been shooting a ton of pictures and producing posts and podcasts on the iCommons Summit website.
I’m leaving Sapporo today afternoon to Tokyo and from there head to Yokohoma and Fujisawa.
Life in Japan has been absolutely fascinating. One of these days, I should jot down my experiences.
For those of you trying to reach me, email is the way to go. If it’s absolutely urgent you can reach me at this mobile number +8180 3576 3945.
Quite a few years ago, I met this CEO who had this unbelievably small laptop. After ogling at it for a while, I enquired its price.
|With a tinge of pride, he said its an Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and he paid 1.5 lakhs for it. I gulped and looked at it with even more awe. Ever since, I had a mental note that the smaller the laptop gets, the more expensive it becomes.
That myth got shattered to smithereens when I recently got to look at the ASUS EeePC, a tiny laptop that would smugly sit on your outstretched palm. It weighed less than 1 kg. What really hit me hard was its price. A mere Rs.15,500. It completely changed my perception of small laptops.
The guy at the counter pulled out six pieces with different colors, light green, baby pink, red, navy blue, pearl white and black. My immediate reaction was to pick a green one for my wife and a pink one for my 6-year-old daughter. The minute I realised this impulse buying thought, I knew these small laptops, called ‘Netbooks’ are going to revolutionize the laptop industry.
Netbooks are simple, inexpensive, compact mobile devices that can be used for surfing the Internet, emailing, working on basic office applications, listening to music and even making Skype video phone calls.
In my opinion, these Netbooks are perfect for traveling businesses folks. Let’s face it, we businessmen use our expensive, bulky laptops as a giant word processing surfing machines. Besises they give us shoulder aches from lugging them around.
Really, most of our laptops are over-powered for our use. It’s like using a fire-engine to extinguish cigarettes. These Netbooks’ relative high functionality at low cost is good value for money, especially for small businessmen. What’s more, they are as good looking as those expensive Rs 1 lakh UMPCs. In other words, they’d still impress folks on the other side of the boardroom table.
It’s no wonder that these Netbooks are selling like hot cakes. At the recently concluded Computex exhibition in Taiwan, the Netbooks were all the rage and they hogged the biggest headlines.
Many major computer manufacturers like ASUS, Acer, HP, Dell have come up with their own range of low-cost Netbooks that pack a punch. They feature shock proof Solid State Drives, Super Hybrid Engine Technology, WiFi, Integrated Webcam and the likes. Now, why should you bother? Take storage for example.
These netbooks use SSDs which are not only sturdier than traditional hard drives but produces less heat, much quieter and sucks less power which means more battery life. These new breed of Netbooks will definitely cannibalize the traditional laptop market. This is already rattling the industry and everyone is falling over themselves in reducing prices to stay alive in this cut-throat market.
The cost of the Netbooks currently range from Rs.15,000 to Rs.23,000 and will come down further. One of the main reasons for such low prices is because of low cost chips from Intel, Via, AMD and Nvidia. The growth of these Netbooks are staggering and in a price conscious market like India, the sales will be massive.
The recommended Netbooks are the ASUS EeePC 900, Acer Aspire One and the MSI Wind.
I’m a great fan of Terrace Gardening and I liked what was done on top of this building on Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai. The thick foliage of bamboo acts as an effective visual screen from the hustle and bustle of the traffic below.
I’ve been planning to do a similar thing on top of our apartment terrace. If you know a good horticulturalist who can help guide on the right way to go, please do let me know. Thanks in advance.