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Sathya Srinivasan RSS Feed (Edison, NJ United States)
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Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
by E. M. Collingham
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.56
61 used & new from $4.32

13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A misinformed journey into Indian cuisine with a Western bias, August 20, 2011
When I saw this book, I was pretty intrigued and thought I would find an interesting read into my culinary background. However, as I read along, I was heavily disappointed and at times taken aback by the gross oversimplification and glossed over half-truths that were scattered throughout the book.

The book's fundamental premise is that the Indian food and flavors as experienced by many through Indian restaurants throughout the world is really not 'authentic' and was really introduced by various tribes that invaded India starting from the 16th century - from the Persians to the British. The premise is first of many half, quarter or even less truths in the book.

If the premise is taken as is - that is - the Indian food that one normally consumes, is not authentic, then it is true. Most of the items sold in Indian restaurants (authentic or otherwise) is primarily from North India - which in turn, was heavily influenced by Mughals over 300 years. Does that mean that "all" Indian food is authentic? Absolutely not. It is similar to saying that "General Tsao's chicken" is an American invention and hence all Chinese food was introduced by USA! It reminds me of a recent episode when a Chinese colleague of mine came to USA, tasted Chinese food at a famous restaurant and declared that this was in no way "Chinese".

Fundamentally, any cuisine taken out of its country of origin would not be authentic - in most cases, it is modified to suit the taste of the target audience. Moreover, the flavors and freshness of the ingredients are not truly reflected in other places. The author seems oblivious to this point or has conveniently chosen to ignore it.

Another giveaway of the half-truths is the selective inclusion of the items considered for the book - almost every dish is either a Mughal influenced dish or a British influenced dish. This reminds me of another famous (although fictitious) Britisher's statement - "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has facts. Inevitably one tends to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts".

In essence, the author seems to have decided that Indian food was made by Mughals and Britishers and then has gone ahead to pick and choose the dishes that satisfy this theory, and hence concluded that all dishes in India were introduced/influenced by Mughals and British. The basis of the argument seems to be that all Indian restaurants in Britain offer these dishes and hence these dishes must be the only primary Indian dishes!

This reverse logic reverberates throughout the book and sadly drowns some of the interesting tidbits that are found along the way. In addition, the author also seems to have a penchant to select phrases from historic Indian accounts (mainly by British authors) that portray India in general as a barbaric, uncivilized, and uncouth country that had no idea of manners before they were invaded by more civilized folk. While I can understand this sentiment by a Victorian historian of the past, to be recanted by an author of this day and age who should have a much better and broader perception of the true facts is very saddening.

The author has also chosen to specifically focus on the non-vegetarian dishes of a country that has a vast vegetarian history. Examples quoted of kings eating rat meat and frogs tend to depict a bizarre 1% scenario into a 99% common practice. This is akin to someone watching "Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom" and then concluding that all Indians are cannibals.

A more appropriate title of this book (although not as catch) could have been "Indian food from a British perspective" or "British perceptions of Indian food", as that is what the book truly is - a biased opinion and not really an authoritative historic account of anything.

I wish the author had the sensibility to due a true research on such an interesting topic than to rely on biased viewpoints of a specific segment of the world and then generalize it as the truth. The book may be a good read for a layman Westerner who wants to know where Chicken Vindaloo came from, but it is far portraying the intricacies and varieties of Indian Cuisine.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2012 11:54 AM PDT


LG 55LE5400 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV with Internet Applications
LG 55LE5400 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV with Internet Applications

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great picture quality, acceptable sound, good features, July 6, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bought the TV a few weeks back from Amazon and have been impressed with the quality so far. I did reasonable research before buying this TV to replace an old 27" TV that I had for almost 11 years and wanted something that had good features.

I compared the LG with Samsung 6500 series TV at a local store and did not notice any significant difference between the two. Compared to a bunch of TVs next to this one, the brightness seemed a bit high (relatively less dark), but nothing concerning.

I ordered the TV through Amazon for a decent price and the service was good (Ceva). They delivered to the second floor but I had to setup the TV myself (no installation and check-up like a full-fledged white-glove service). It was not difficult but needs 2 people at least.

The picture quality is sharp and clear and the sports action (football) was quite good. The audio lacks punch, as can be expected from a 10w speaker. However, I wish they included better speakers by default. Also had to purchase a wi-fi adapter separately. Again, would've been nice if it were included with the system (hence 1 star less). That said, it is no different from its competitors.

The biggest reason I went for the LG compared to Samsung was the price (around $500 less for the same features) and the matte finish. The matte finish makes a huge difference if you are going to keep the TV in a well-lit room. In the store, I could see all the lights in the back reflected off the Samsung, while it was hardly noticeable in the LG. Same at home with large windows.

So far, I have not noticed any weird issues as mentioned in the other posts. The picture quality is good and the brightness, contrast, and colors are more than adequate for an average TV user.

If you are in the market for a 55" TV and if you have a bright room, this is definitely worth a consideration.

Pros:
- Excellent picture quality
- Standard set of Internet applications (Netflix, Picasa, YouTube, Vudu)
- Reasonable number of options to tweak
- Matte finish is great for a brightly lit room with large windows
- DLNA support works flawlessly to stream music from computer to the TV (haven't tried video yet)
- Input and Output ports are sufficient for most scenarios
- Very thin (around 1")
- Aesthetically pleasing

Cons:
- Speaker quality is average. A home theater system is strongly recommended for better quality
- Remote control is average. It's clunky to type using the remote
- Internet Widgets are slow, but functional. Not too many widgets. Removing widgets is not intuitive.
- Additional wi-fi adapter required for wireless Internet connectivity. Costs around $50-$80


Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics
Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics
by Robert Gilmore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.60
69 used & new from $3.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A friendly introduction to the complex world of Quantum Mechanics, June 10, 2010
I had read this book a couple of years back during one of my 'interest bursts' in Quantum Mechanics and felt compelled to write a review about the book after seeing the less than expected stars.

As an Engineer by background, I am reasonably comfortable with maths and science. While Physics was not necessarily my favorite subject in school, my interest increased significantly after reading books by Feynman and others that made the subject more approachable. However, I had trouble in grasping the fundamental concepts of Quantum Mechanics even after reading some excellent books, probably due to its inherent abstract nature.

However, this book changed things. The overlay of the Alice in Wonderland on top of intricacies of quantum mechanics made it a lot better read and helped me create a mental picture that was otherwise hazy. I think the use of Alice in Wonderland itself is an excellent choice, given the wacky qualities of the story which fits perfectly with the equally wacky nature of Quantum Mechanics.

The author has made the complex issues in Quantum Mechanics a lot more memorable by equating it to Alice's characters and what they do.

This book is intended to explain the concepts of Quantum Mechanics to a lay reader - be he well-versed in Physics or not. To this effect, the book meets the needs completely. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Quantum Mechanics, Physics, or simply in how things work.


Panasonic DECT 6.0-Series 3-Handset Cordless Phone System with Answering System (KX-TG1033S)
Panasonic DECT 6.0-Series 3-Handset Cordless Phone System with Answering System (KX-TG1033S)
8 used & new from $56.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Good phone with great sound quality, April 9, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this phone as a replacement for a Motorola phone that I already had. My previous phone worked well for almost 3 years. Lately, the battery life went really low (would last for an hour at most) and even changing the batteries did not help and so I started looking out for a new phone.

I honed in on the Panasonic as I needed at least 2 extension sets and the reviews looked good on Amazon. I have been using this phone for the last few weeks and I am quite happy.

The phone setup was a breeze and it took little less than 10 minutes to get everything set up. I haven't explored all the options within the phone, but at this point, all systems are up and running. The sound quality is excellent and the battery lasts for a long time. I use the phone in "speaker" mode for conference calls and the battery did not even flinch after using it for a 3-hour marathon call.

The phone is very light and the soft buttons are nice to use. It has most of the standard features you can expect from a cordless. It also comes with a wall hanger option, but I have not used it so far.

The answering phone is adequate. One minor gripe is that it does not show the number of messages, but that is something that is also mentioned in the feature list for the phone. I have a number of other electronic gadgets and there seems to be little or no interference with microwave, routers, or the like.

In all, this is a great purchase for the price.


JBuds J3 Micro Atomic In-Ear Earbuds Style Headphones with Travel Case (Jet Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
JBuds J3 Micro Atomic In-Ear Earbuds Style Headphones with Travel Case (Jet Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent earphones for a great price, April 9, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's been a few months since I bought this product and I am extremely happy with it. I was in the market for an earphone/headphone that I wanted to use with my Blackberry. Since I travel quite frequently, I wanted a comfortable, noise-canceling headset.

I already have a Sony and Kensington noise-canceling phones. While they are great, I was not fully impressed with the sound quality. Then I tried the Bose QC 15, their latest product and tried it in different places (including airplanes) and while the sound quality was noticeably better than the other two, the noise cancellation was only marginally better and the price difference between the two did not justify it and hence I returned it as well.

While looking for other options, I stumbled across JBuds in Amazon. I was a little worried about the relative lack of brand popularity, but what caught my attention was the relatively high positive reviews and the company's efforts to address negative reviews (even though the response is canned, at least they made an attempt). Since the price was reasonable, I decided to give it a try. I also decided over the other phone with an in-built microphone mainly because this came with a case and I had to buy the case separately for the other one - more on that later.

Once I got the headset, I followed the manufacturer advice and ran the 'test music' from their website for around 8 - 10 hours (overnight). Since then, I have used the headset on the plane, on the train, at work, at home, and walking outside. The headset has performed remarkably well in all situations. The noise-isolation (not cancellation) is very effective and blocks out a significant amount of noise, almost as close as the noise-cancellation phones (including Bose which is 10 times pricier).

The default ear buds were a little large for my ears. They did not sit comfortably on my ears and also did not block external noise effectively. Thankfully, it comes with 3 different sizes and the next smaller size fit my ears perfectly. I would strongly suggest that you try the different buds and find the one that fits you best, as that makes a big difference.

I have since played different types of music and feel that the sound quality is excellent. The base is slightly on the lower side, which probably is more due to my setting than the device itself, as I prefer a balance of base and treble. I have worn the headset continuously for 2 - 3 hours (and at times a little longer) and have not had any major discomfort. It obviously is not as comfortable as an around-the-ear or over-the-ear headset, but it is not uncomfortable either. The volume is also quite loud and it does not leak outside (others near you will barely hear your music, which to me, is a big plus).

I haven't had a chance or need to talk to the customer service yet, so can't comment much there, but it seems they are reasonably responsive.

Another big plus is the case that is provided. It's very small (around 3 inches in diameter) and can house the earphones, extra plugs, and even an airplane socket and is compact enough to put it in your backpack without thinking twice. It keeps the earphone safe and secure. My only gripe is that it was not included with the other phone with the built-in microphone. I am glad I picked this one as the case is great, but it would have been nicer if it were included with the microphone version as well, as I use the earphones with my mobile.

In all, I think this is a great purchase for the price point. I would strongly recommend this to casual users who are on the move or at home. Kudos to the company for delivering a great product!


The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses
The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses
by Jesse Schell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $53.16
74 used & new from $42.62

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential foundation book for designers, October 4, 2009
I bought this book a few weeks ago with the intent of strengthening my skills in game design and programming, especially with an intent towards mobile games. In the first few pages, I was a bit disappointed, as I was hoping for something to get something more immediate in terms of how to program for games, and the book seemed to be a bit more philosophical.

As I started reading further, I realized the folly of my initial thinking and I am glad that I stuck to continue reading the book.

The book is for those who want to understand the philosophy of game design rather than quickly writing a game in some language. The lenses the author talks about are very thought-provoking and are useful even outside the realm of game design. The book essentially gives you the mindset needed for designing games, and in that aspect, is fundamental to any game designer.

If you want to have instant gratification in terms of writing a game right away, there are other books, but at some point in time, you'll find yourself wanting to come back and read this book.


The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
by Bill Watterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $98.64
84 used & new from $68.40

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of American Intellect and Humor!, March 7, 2009
Having born in India and brought up on European classics like Tintin and Asterix, with their subtle yet powerful humor, I was vastly disappointed by the huge dose of Marvel XYZ-Men in the American comics area.

I was very pleasantly surprised however, when I started reading the newspaper comics, starting with Calvin and Hobbes.

What America lost in its main stream 'graphic novel' category, it has more than compensated with its unique 'newspaper comic strip' counterpart, and Calvin and Hobbes is probably the best in that category.

The inane antics of Calvin and the subtle 'daddy-isms' by Calvin's dad has many a times lifted my spirits and left me rolling on the floor laughing!

This is an excellent set that one should have in their shelf. You will find yourself quoting and re-reading this book till you die and then for all your future generations!


Modern Information Retrieval
Modern Information Retrieval
by Ricardo Baeza-Yates
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $0.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent background on Information Retrieval and search concepts, March 7, 2009
I read this book a few years ago when I had to write a custom search engine for my client (Apache Lucene was at its inception then). This book greatly helped me in understanding the science and algorithms behind information retrieval, which eventually helped me finish the project with great success.

The book is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in search technologies. The book is very well written and the concepts explained clearly without deluging the reader with complex science, while still maintaining its detail.


On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.60
212 used & new from $12.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on understanding the science behind cooking, March 7, 2009
This is one of the best written scientific books I have come across. This is a very lengthy tome and is not an easy read. However, true to the tagline, Harold McGee not only explains the aspects of the different ingredients used in cooking, but also gives interesting stories behind the ingredients.

I am still reading this book, 4 months after buying this book, but what I have read has just left me wanting to read more. I have also started following Harold's articles on his website, which I find to be equally interesting as well.

In all, this is a great reference book for any amateur or professional cook, or just someone interested in food!


Sanyo VPC-CG65 6MP MPEG-4 Flash Memory Digital Camcorder (Silver)
Sanyo VPC-CG65 6MP MPEG-4 Flash Memory Digital Camcorder (Silver)
Offered by Wall Street Photo
3 used & new from $176.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good camera/camcorder, great price, March 7, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got this as a gift for my relative during his wedding. It's a great camera/camcorder. It's highly pocketable and takes great pictures as well as movies.

The movies get stored as MOV files (MPEG4), which cam be viewed with Apple QuickTime or a bunch of other players.

While I loved the form factor, it is sometimes a little too small and the buttons are a little tricky if you have a fat thumb. The picture quality however is great and should be perfectly fine for indoor and outdoor home videos.

My only other complaint is that when I pause and resume, the files are stored separately rather than a single file. To my knowledge, I couldn't find a way to merge them together, at least with the software provided with the camera. It might be because I haven't explored the nook and cranny of the software, just that it was at least not obvious.

In all, this is a great product if you want a camera and camcorder in one and want to use it mainly for home videos.


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