Exchange 2010 – TLS negotiation on Send Connectors

Over the past month of so, I’ve been troubleshooting an issue that I felt I should blog about. What we would notice was that when Exchange receives emails with attachments, it took an awfully long time to forward the email to the smart host. An email with a 1Mb attachment would typically take between 10-15 minutes to be delivered to the external recipient. The issue only occurred when send emails to external domains via the smart host. To make things worse, while the mail with the attachment was processed, all other emails would be queued up.



To figure out exactly where the slowness was occuring, I decided to try a different smart host. We noticed that mail delivery was working perfectly with the new smart host. So my initial theory was that this was a smart host specific issue. After opening a ticket with the vendor, they informed me that they believe its an Exchange issue (surprise surprise!).  They sent me debug logs which showed that Exchange would open up an SMTP connection and just keep it open for 10 minutes before actually send ing the data to the smart host. What puzzled me was why I was not seeing the same behavior with the other smart host. You would think that if it was an Exchange bottleneck, the behavior should not be any different irrespective of the smart host.

So I finally decided to do a packet capture on the Exchange Hub Transport server. To my surprise I noticed that all the SMTP traffic including the MIME traffic was fully encrypted. So I quickly checked the Send connector and Smart host authentication was completely turned off. This really confused me as there are no other obvious settings to turn off TLS authentication. I wanted to rule out the possibility that encryption is the cause for slowness. So I did some research and found this article:


For those who want a summary of the article, Exchange 2010 Hub Transport enables TLS encryption on the Send connectors by default and even if the setting is disabled in EMC, it is not truly disabled. To disable the setting, you need to use powershell and type the following commands:


Get-SendConnector | FL

This will list all the Send Connectors that are configured within the Exchange environment. The next step is to determine the send connector that is being used and look for the IgnoreStartTLS setting. If this setting is set to False (which is true by default), TLS encryption is enabled. This was true in our case. To disable TLS encryption for the send connector, issue the following command:

Set-SendConnector -Identity “Name of Send Connector” -IgnoreStartTLS: $TRUE

After issuing this command, restart the MS Exchange Transport Service. After I did this, mail flow was smooth and mails with very large attachments would take just a few seconds to forward to the smart host.

My conclusion was that there was some issue with TLS encryption between our smarthost and Exchange. We had TLS encryption enabled between Exchange and the second smart host as well and we did not face the same issues. So it seems isolated to the Sonicwall smart host in question.

All in all it was a good feeling to resolve the issue using packet captures. As they say, a packet capture never lies!


Passing the PMP exam in 27 days – The method to my madness

Last couple of months have been excruciatingly painful. After about 2.5 yrs of hibernation, I decided to finally wake up and update my certifications and get some new ones as well. It all started with the process of updating my Citrix certifications, but sometime in July, I realized that the PMP examination is changing by the end of August. So I decided I am going to try to get that out of the way as well (STUPID ME!) So I completed the application (which needs to be approved and in some cases also gets audited) and signed up for the exam (against my wife’s recommendation as she felt I did not have enough time to prepare). Just for the record, I think it was one of the dumbest decisions I made, but since I made it, I had to make sure I passed the exam and not lose face in front of my wife (who by the way is always right when it comes to such things).

So it was August 1st. I had two Citrix exams still pending and the PMP. Not to mention regular work from 8-5 and be on call, the baby, and a million other things. I started looking through the course contents for the exam and it was obvious that this is not like the technical certifications that I am used to where by experience, you can still get through with some preparation. The PMP requires a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of hardwork. There is quite a bit to memorize, there is some math, the questions are very wordy, tricky and confusing. Not to mention the exam is also a test of endurance considering you have to attempt 200 questions . I realized that there is no way in hell I am going to achieve this without a gameplan. In order to have a fair shot at passing this exam, I needed to prepare for the exam in a systematic fashion and make a schedule. Somewhere along the way, I made a decision that if I were to pass the exam with my model, I will blog about it and hopefully help others in the process.

The Material

I primarily relied on one book for the entire preparation (partly because I did not have time to read a gazillion books) – Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition. This book is one of the best exam prep books I have read and has a wealth of information. Even if you do not plan to do the exam, I would recommend every professional who is involved in projects on a regular basis to read this book. There is a lot to gain and I assure you that the way you think about a project lifecycle will change.

In addition to the book, I had some cheat sheets with formulas and key theories (points that are  hard to remember) and a lot of mock questions. PM FastTrack is something you should consider as far as mock questions go. I probably attempted around 3500 questions in 27 days.

The Strategy

The basis of my gameplan was to have milestones for each day to keep monitoring my progress and adjust the schedule accordingly  and also a checkpoint to decide whether I should carry through with this exam or not. My goal for each day was to do a minimum of 100 mock questions, revise my cheat sheets, complete one module of Rita’s book and review questions at the back of the chapter and make condensed notes for the chapter.  I decided that my checkpoint was going to be Aug 22nd, which is when I would decide if I was going ahead with the exam or cancelling it. The way I would decided was based on my mock test scores. If by that point, I was scoring 70% or higher, I felt I had a good chance of passing the test and would go through with it. If not, I would cancel it. I also wanted to develop my schedule such that I had one week to revise. I only wanted to review my condensed notes, mock questions and cheat sheets the last week.

The Execution

Believe me when I tell you that it looks easy when you develop the schedule, but actually executing this schedule was one of the hardest things I have done. My wife had to make a lot of sacrifices to make this work and I hardly got to see my baby. Without their support, there is no chance in hell I could have done this. My preparation would start around 7:40am in the train, when I would try to do 50 mock questions. I would typically find time to do another 30-50 during the day and another 50 on my way back from work on the train. I would get home, and try to sit to study by 8:30pm, finish one module, including notes. (typically 2.5 hrs) and do the questions related to that module. So overall, I would do around 150 questions a day. After having done the test, I feel that the mock tests helped me a great deal in training my brain to see through all the clutter and filter out only the relevant information. I also felt that the notes that I made helped me immensely the last week of preparation and I would urge everyone who takes this test to do the same. Prior to August 6th, my studying was more ad-hoc, reviewing PMP forums on the internet, doing mock tests, watching training videos etc.

My Tips for the Exam

So this section is a summary of the lessons learned (a project close process in PMI language, and since this is the project close process in my PMP ordeal, I decided to use this term):

  • Spend plenty of time doing mock tests. I would recommend doing 50-100 questions every day. Do not do questions just from one chapter. Try to attempt all knowledge areas. By the time you sit for the exam, you should have attempted at least 2000 questions.
  • Try to read Rita’s book at least twice before attempting the exam.
  • Make condensed notes for each of the chapters. Try to focus on just the points while making the notes and not wordy explanations as the whole idea of the notes is revision prior to the exam and trying to recollect the details in your head.
  • Review key concepts that you find hard to remember on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Spend most time on the Execution and Monitoring and Controlling phases  as that is where a majority of the questions come from.
  • Dont get too paranoid over the Earned Value Analysis calculations. They are actually quite simple and hardly 6 questions show up in the exam.
  • MEMORIZE the inputs and outputs to each of the processes. I found this very hard to do.
  • Have a process in place for your preparation and try to make a schedule. Please allow plenty of time for revision. I would recommend at least a week.
  • I attempted the exam after a full day of work (from 5 to 9:30pm). I would strongly recommend that you attempt the exam with a clear head, first thing in the morning if possible.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I would not recommend trying to attempt the PMP in 27 days. The amount of prep time totally depends on your experience, but I think you need a minimum of 2 months to have a good chance of passing. With that said, if you have no choice but to attempt the exam the way I did, the above strategy should help 🙂 Regardless of how long you take to prepare, I hope this post provides some general guidelines and helps you when you take the exam. Good luck!
PS: I have some notes that I prepared for this exam. I would be happy to share it with anyone who’s interested. Please leave a comment with your email address and I’ll shoot it over to you.

Praise The Lord! – A tribute to KK James by George P Kuruvilla

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It was a Friday morning.

Although I do not remember the exact date, it was in May 2005 that I received a call early in the morning. I had just returned late during the night before  from  a business trip abroad and was  initially a bit reluctant to pick up the phone. Yet, I thought I will answer the phone  and request the caller to call me later.

“Praise the Lord!”, said the caller before introducing himself as K.K.James  from  Bahrain. The voice was so warm and friendly that I did not feel  like asking him to call me  later! Instead, the call lasted  over one and a half hours or so and in the end, I realized I had developed a close bond with James.

Thereafter, we used to  exchange telephone calls more frequently and it had become a daily routine especially after Vineeth and  Roshan  got married. I got to know James and his family  at close quarters during the period that followed, the turn of events  from the time  their darling daughter Jamie  took ill which eventually  turned out to be leukaemia, the long stays in CMC Hospital, Vellore and  RCC Trivandrum that brought them face to face with the misery and suffering of the unfortunate , the meditation and prayer sessions including retreat sessions at Potta  Retreat Center, the final moments when  they bade farewell to dear Jamie holding her in his arms………….and how they dedicated the rest of their lives in the service of the dear Lord, working  much of their off-duty time among hospital patients, the poor and the needy, irrespective  of  religion, caste or creed doing selfless service  and sacrifice in terms of time, effort and money! Many friends of mine in Bahrain have spoken volumes about the selfless service  rendered by James and  Jessie to the needy, the sick and the  suffering, and those in distress.

In fact, James  explained to me how the pain and suffering that they personally experienced when their dear daughter  was ailing, (and eventually left this world) brought them close to Christ and how this cast a burden on them towards bringing people to Christ before they need Him without the need for having to pay a heavy price for that! ’”Am  I my brother’s keeper ?”, Cain retorted to God when He asked him “Where’s your  brother Abel?”.  James and Jessie believed that they had a duty of care and concern  for the less fortunate, the sick and the suffering, the un-employed and the under-employed, those who had lost their jobs/visas, those who were bereaved…..the list is endless! All their efforts during the last over 10 years of James and his family  were towards reaching  out succour to the suffering and wiping the tears of the distressed! It was their daily routine to spend at least  6 hours on a typical working day, after office hours ,to visit hospitals and homes, extending support and solace to the sick and the suffering, Even during the days that he spent as an inpatient in Sree Chitra Institute, I remember the painstaking efforts that James took towards extending financial support for facilitating heart-surgery for his fellow inpatient.

The tremendous amount of energy  and enthusiasm that flowed from a compassionate heart driven by a concern for people and winning more souls for His kingdom seems to be the real reason for James’ fast paced life towards the last 10 years of his life. Alongside his humanitarian work, James and his family got  closely involved in the  ‘Thursday Prayer Fellowship’, an inter-denominational Prayer Group in Bahrain which  James led from the front over  the last several  years with cent percent commitment , control and prayerful  co-operation and co-ordination. I had the privilege of attending their weekly worship  during May 2010 when I visited Bahrain (along with Latha, my wife) to call on ailing James. I was deeply touched by the love and affection poured on James by its members  when he joined the worship, leading it  despite his physical  weakness.We also remember James, during one of his earlier trips to Dubai, responding to  a prayer request by a chidless couple (for many years ) living in Dubai, rushing to meet them and interceding with the Lord for them. Thank God,  James could get the good news from them before his demise, that they had a child, a gift from the Lord! I have had then personal experience of his conducting  on to me the spiritual energy while praying for my ailment, touching me on my head. James had an empathizing mind and a compassionate heart that made him identify with the person who he was praying for, and interceding with the Heavenly Father.

During the last few days that James spent in Kerala in Ernakulam and  Chettikulangara, despite the decline that he has been passing through and probably looking to and listening to the reaction of onlookers, he never displayed any negative emotions , on the contrary ,re-affirming his faith muttering the words ‘Trust in the Lord’ with a gentle smile on his face.

18 July,2010. That was a Sunday. As we were getting ready  to go to Church, the sad news reached us. The words that immediately came to my mind were ‘Praise the Lord!’! For, James had fulfilled his mission in this world  worthy of his calling and was being re-called to His kingdom by the  Almighty to shoulder higher responsibility.

‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and  not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’

2 Timothy Ch.4 vs 7|8

As we were pondering as to why this happened to a  person like James, God consoled us with the following verses from Isaiah Ch.57 vs 1|2 reading asunder:

‘The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.’

Looking back a year after dear James left this world for his Heavenly abode, he is  fondly remembered in his absence, just as  he is sadly missed in this world! ’PRAISE THE LORD’,  those words still reverberate in my ears!

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Another year passes by…

Tomorrow, I turn 31. Decided to write mainly because I want Gaby to read this someday and know that the past year was the most special of my life so far thanks to her! Cant thank God enough for bringing her into our lives and for all the joy that she’s brought Roshan and I. The time spent with her has made me reevaluate my priorities and get a better understanding of what really matters in 🙂 Now I look forward to a life ahead, loving and caring for her and the rest of my family and being loved! I look forward to watching her sit up, crawl, walk, talk, her hugs and kisses, her first day in school, all her stories when I get back from work, her teenage tantrums, her first pay check (and my share of it), her wedding day, my grandchildren.. I hope God keeps Roshan and I alive long enough to watch her carve her way through life..

Roshan Was On Air!

Many of you dont know that my wife sings as well. Three of her songs were recently featured on  a Pakistani Radio show, The SMS Show hosted by RJ Hasib Anwar. It was a pleasant surprise to us as the songs were featured on her Dad’s Birthday. He passed away last year and hence was a fitting tribute to him. I was informed by the RJ that they received rave reviews on her covers. The CEO of a UK based Radio show, Splash Radio was one of the listeners and he will be featuring her songs on Wednesday on Splash Radio. I want to take this opportunity to thank Hasib for featuring her songs and for promoting new talent!  I am very proud of her and hope this motivates her to sing more often. Below are the recordings from the show:

Dont Know Why – (Norah Jones Cover)

Here With Me (Dido Cover)

Angel (Sarah Mclachlan Cover)

Life as a Dad – My thoughts two weeks into it..

Till about a year back, I could never imagine myself being a father. I was never good with kids. In fact they scared me most of the time. At the same time, I always wanted to have my own child. The thought of  watching a child grow that had had our physical, mental and emotional characteristics always fascinated me.  As Roshan went through the pregnancy period, I dont think it quite hit me that I was going to be a dad. Roshan had a belly and and a never ending appetite, but other than life seemed the same. It was a tumultuous year and maybe that was part of the reason why I did not give the whole fatherhood thingy a lot of thought. I think I really came to grips with it when we started getting the baby’s room ready and went for a class. I was beginning to understand the change that was about to hit us. But even then, I never expected it to be how it turned out.

We decided to name our daughter Gabriella. We went through a lot of names before falling in love with this name. We loved the meaning (God is my might/strength) and also the significance of the name during the Christmas season (Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she would conceive and bear a child named Jesus)

Gaby was born on 12/29/10 at 6:54pm. I was in the Operating Theater with Roshan when the C section was performed. As cliched as it sounds, her first cry really melted our hearts. I have never felt what I felt at that moment. A little later, the doc allowed me to go see Gaby. I could not believe this was she was my own flesh and blood. She was tiny but already had her distinctive features and character. I could see similarities from both Roshan and myself. It was just an amazing feeling. I was so busy looking at her and clicking her pics that the doc had to remind me that my wife was laying there waiting to hear from me about lil Gaby 🙂 Then at the recovery room, I held Gaby for the first time. Even though to that point, I had no clue how to really hold a baby,  I instinctively held her correctly and she felt at home. Its amazing how we think we dont know something and when the time comes, God prepares us for that moment.

Its been 17 days since Gaby was born and the time spent with her has been filled with so many emotions that its hard to describe.. I still haven’t gotten over the awe factor. Everytime Roshan and I look at her, we feel so abundantly blessed and our hearts are filled with joy. Life has been all about the little one. We’ve traded movies, TV, music, singing etc for diaper changing, burping, feeding, bathing and the likes. I thought I would hate changing diapers and all the other responsibilities, but now I look forward to it. Roshan and I sometimes fight over who gets to do it 🙂 We thought we would be teaching Gaby stuff, but from the day she was born, shes been teaching us things. I have a whole new perspective to life and what really matters at the end of the day. Through Gaby, I learned how deep parents love for their child is and that nothing else quite measures up to that unconditional love. I feel so abundantly blessed.

I am glad I had these two weeks with Roshan and Gaby watching Gaby’s every move. I am excited to see what life has in store for the three of us and look forward to showering our child with love (and spankings when she deserves it) and in turn being loved by her.

Thy Will Be Done – Dr Samuel Krishnamurthy

Appacha (aka Dr Samuel Krishnamurthy) is my Grandfather. He’s been a role model for me through most of my childhood. I’ve learnt a lot from him over the years. I would go sit with him in his hospital and try and observe as much as I can. He converted to Christianity in his 20s and moved to Kerala (after being shut out from his own household). He decided to settle down in Changanacherry, a small town. He did not even know Malayalam back then, but yet decided to practice medicine there. He faced a lot of hardships all through his life, including four different episodes of cancer. Below is a testimonial he wrote a few months back that I wanted to share with you all.

Suffering is an unavoidable part of our lives. There is no exception. Even the only Son of God! How and in what way we face it and in that lies the fact – How far we are dedicated to God’s way. We are all weak – weak in mind and body. And often we break down by the heavy burden of sufferings. Especially when they come in such a way as to crush us. Our response is usually one of the following: (i) “Why such a suffering for me God, a follower of thee”. (ii) “Take away these sufferings from me, if not take my life away as I can no more bear this”. (iii) “All say Thou art a loving God – Is this thy love? “ and we curse God. (iv) I leave all to God – Do as you please. Only a weak human body and spirit can understand the depth and acuity of suffering. So God sent his son, in human form to live in every way like a weak human being like us. He did not fall in the trap of sin. But he had all other qualities and weaknesses of an ordinary man, lived as an ordinary man to show us an example of how in such a weak human frame one can conquer suffering and in what way one should face suffering. It is a universal fact that nobody – none in human history suffered as much pain and shame and isolation like Jesus. He showed us how our faith should withstand pain – to leave all in his hands, cure or no cure. To believe God is good in all his ways. In the book of Daniel Chapter 3, we are given an example of true faith. In it , three youngsters face the great emperor Nebuchadnezzar, who threatened them with death by fire if they did not pay homage to the image set up by him. “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands”. He shouted challenging the true God that the youngsters believed. Their answer was the ideal answer for such a threat to their lives. “He will deliver us out of thy hand O King. We will not serve thy God” We all pray to God when we face disastrous circumstances. That is the right thing to do as he is our only refuge. As the youngsters say “But even if not, thou art my God , not depending upon the Good I received from thee, but whatever I received from thee.” Is our faith strong enough to say the same? Knowing fully well what was awaiting him the next day, Jesus prayed at Gethsemane (As human beings, we all would have prayed) “O my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou will.” He set an example for us – A living example that explains the true significance of “Let thy will be done” Whatever it be, where do we stand on our faith? Only in shouting praises when the wind blows favorably and groan and complain when all goes wrong? Show we not reach the stage of “But even if not, thou art my God” as declared by the youngsters facing sure death by being burnt alive or as our Saviour facing the cross declared “Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wills.” Real faith is complete surrender.

I am a cancer survivor and was attacked with the disease thrice. During the three instances, I was swinging between life and death on numerous occasions. To the great surprise of medical specialists, I was completely cured. During the first episode, the original tumor was at the prostate and there were secondary attack in my bones – medically a hopeless case. The main tumor completely disappeared and the secondary lesions were not to be detected at all. How indescribable! The second attack was on the tongue. I could not eat, drink or speak, and above all, the bad odour would make it difficult even for dear ones to come near me. I am today normal – speaking, drinking, and eating normally. How? The third time was the worst. There was a big red tumor, the size of a tomato detected at the end part of the large intestine, leading to continuous bleeding. More than one foot was cut off, and this time also my life was hanging in balance. Once again I was completely healed. How?

In all these instances, I never lost my faith in Jesus. My loving Lord whose presence I felt all through the ordeal. The specialists surgeons who treated in all these instances had one question to ask me – “How can you be so normal, happy and behaving as though nothing has happened?” My answer was this – “If only you know the ONE whom I know, then you would not have asked this question” God has raised me from nothing. From the day I was driven out of my home and given a peaceful Godly home to live happily, he has promised me his constant presence and a better, much better heavenly home. Then why should I be sad or worried? My only prayer was this – “Let thy will be done.”

Yes, let our faith be so firm, so as to conquer all earthly conditions – happiness or sorrow with the one and only great prayer of our Lord.

– Dr Samuel Krishnamurthy


As a christian, I’ve been taught that faith is a firm belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. I learned this all through Sunday school. I became a Christian when I was 17 at a prayer meeting. I had some sort of an unexplainable experience that I attribute to God talking to me. I became a believer that day, but through the years, my commitment to Christ wavered and my faith is tested constantly. I doubted why God gave me a low score in Math during my XII board exams and he answered me by sending me to Birla Institute of Tech, Ranchi. Had I got a few marks more in Math, I would have done my undergrad somewhere in Kerala as opposed to one of the best institutes in India, and not ever met my wife. I questioned why he sent me rejection letters from lower ranked schools in the US and fought with God, only to find out later that he had saved the best for last- admission to Columbia University – IVY LEAGUE. This trend has continued all through my life and no matter how many times God has come to my rescue, I still harbor doubts when I face a trial.

I write this today more for myself than for anyone else. I am probably in the middle of the roughest patch of my life so far. My father in law, one of the few REAL Christians I have met, is fighting one of the worst forms of cancer. He dedicated the last 12 years of his life to Christ winning souls for His kingdom. Now he is fighting for his own life. My wife is pregnant and instead of these being her happiest days, tears and sorrow are all I see on her face. My mom in law had to lose her younger daughter at the age of 13 to leukemia and now she is watching her husband slowly drifting away. Needless to say, this has been a real test of my faith. I wondered why God is taking me and my dear family through this. I even quit praying for a while because I was angry with God. But then my father in law opened my eyes. The few times he could talk, all he said was TRUST IN GOD. Even in the middle of all the pain and the knowledge that he has cancer, TRUST IN GOD is what he had to tell us. THAT is true faith – “Firm belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence”, not only during the good days but even when the going gets tough. In spite of his condition he knows that God loves him, is watching over him and only has the best in store for him.

We might not understand why God lets certain things happen in our lives, and in the middle of those trials, its only natural to wonder why God has forsaken us. Perhaps God wants to test our faith or perhaps we love something or someone more than we love Him. Irrespective of what the reason is, we need to have BLIND FAITH and BELIEVE that God has the best in store for us and that our God is a loving God. Tonight as I sit here heavy hearted praying for my father in law and typing this post, I feel reassured more than ever that come what may, God loves my father in law more than any of us loves him and irrespective of what his condition be, God is with him. As much as I want my father in law to be healed and continue to pray fervently to God for the same, I will trust blindly that God has the best in store for him and for all of us, whatever the outcome.

Why do people of faith suffer?

My friends Nithya and Prateek informed me about Ben Larson. He was a seminary student from the US who went to Haiti with his wife and cousin to serve in the Lutheran Church there and died in the earthquake. I really want all of you to check out his music as he was extremely talented. You can find more about Ben Larson here.

I often wonder why people of faith who set out to do good deeds and help always seem to suffer the most. Most of them lead good lives, follow God’s directions and yet suffer. For people who dont share the same religious views, this might seem funny as its only natural to wonder why God would punish his own children. Personally, my family has had to deal with quite a few challenges and have often wondered why God is not listening to our prayers. I still dont have a complete understanding as I dont know the bible nearly as well as I should, but believe that suffering is basically God’s way of testing our faith. When everything is going well, it is easy for us to say that we are Christians and that we believe in God. But when we are tested, how do we react? That is the true test. Do we ridicule God then and forget the countless times he has come to our rescue? We have to keep our faith strong and believe that God always has a purpose for his actions. In my case, I believe that the incidents in my life are merely opportunities for me to witness God’s unfailing love. It really tests me at times, and I dont understand it short term. But when I look back at my life and how things have progressed, I have no doubt that God did everything for a reason. I am sure that there are many right now who are suffering and wondering why God is letting it happen. Dont let your faith be broken. Be strong! In due time, God will reveal to you why he did what he did. BELIEVE that God is in total control of your lfie.

The iPad – Views from a geek who sold his arm to Microsoft and his leg to Apple

As most other geeks out there, I was eagerly awaiting Steve Job’s announcement yesterday about the iPad. My buddy Adam and I were “Working” and following the live blog feed on engadget. As a person who started off his career being a Microsoft cool aid drinker, but then converted to a Mac user, I feel I am in a position to give an unbiased review of the phenomenon that is the iPad as I havent sold my soul to Steve Jobs (yet). So here goes!

1. The Name – First off, the name iPad leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I would have been much happier with iSlate or iTablet or heck iTab. iPad brings some gross thoughts in my head, especially after my buddy Jay showed me this.

2. Design – Steve Jobs said it best – “Technology meets Liberal Arts”. And just like the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone, the iPad is a beauty in terms of design. I wont go into the details, but it is a sight to behold. I also feel the form factor makes it a great eReader and potentially THE Kindle Killer. The one regret I have though is the lack of a keyboard. A tilt slideout keyboard would have been nice and made it more useful. Granted there is a dock and a keyboard that you can buy (if you are willing to shell out one trillion dollars), but its not quite the same. One of my biggest regrets about the iPhone is the same. I hate to chat/sms or send emails using the iPhone and unfortunately I think the same will be true about the iPad.

3. The User Interface – I think the UI is just a blown up iPod touch on steroids. I love the iPhone/iPod touch OS and hence feel that Apple got it right trying to use the same design for the iPad. Since the infrastructure already exists in the form of the app store with the countless developers hoping to make a buck, I think this was the right move. During his presentation, Steve Jobs showed how a bunch of developers have recoded some of the iPhone apps/games for the iPad and boy was that sweet! Shows the tremendous potential. If you thought 3 billion app downloads was a lot, wait till this puppy is out!

4. Connectivity – The iPad comes with WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity and Bluetooth 2.1. In addition there is the OPTIONAL (yes u heard right … OPTIONAL) 3g connection. Personally, I am very happy that they made 3g optional as it brought down the price of the non 3g iPad to a price I would be willing to pay. Having said that, $130 bucks for 3g connectivity which I bet is some small chip that cost some manufacturer in South East Asia a buck to make seems a little stiff! Not to mention the 30 bucks you have to pay AT&T for unlimited broadband. So in short, am I willing to pay 30 bucks for my iPhone and another 30 bucks for my iPad and the additional $130 for the 3g version of the device?? A BIG NO! Seems stupid to me that someone with an iPhone will actually do it. But the American people might prove me wrong 🙂

5. Storage – This is an area that I (along with almost all my geeky buddies) am disappointed. The iPad comes with a 16GB ($499 – non 3g), 32GB ($599 – non 3g) or 64GB flash drive ($699 – non 3g). There is NO REMOVABLE STORAGE!!!!! Why Apple Why??? This is something I did not like about the iPhone and they have disappointed yet again! Because of the lack of removal storage, I would say that if you plan to buy one, it would be a wise move to get the model with the maximum storage you can afford!

6. Battery Time – The iPad comes with an inbuilt 25 Whr rechargeable lithium polymer battery that based on what Steve Jobs claims holds up to 10 hrs of battery time when in use and about a month of standby. That is pretty phenomenal if you ask me. But like most claims about battery life, I will believe it when I see it! Even if it lives up to 80% of the claim, I would say its pretty darn good.

7. Audio/Video Formats – The iPad supports most of the common formats (MP3, AAC,MP3 VBR, Apple lossless, AIFF, WAV, mp4, m4v, mov etc) and I am particularly happy that it supports MP4 AND M4V. I own a few Apple TVs and my entire movie collection is encoded in M4V. Now I can just create a playlist and drag and drop the movies I want on my IPad (please note how I’ve already assumed that I’m getting one.. wifey are you listening???) to a playlist and just sync. No need to worry about re encoding (as is the case with the iPhone).

8. Display and Performance – We have to wait and see here, but I am sure the iPad wont disappoint in terms of Display. As far as performance goes Apple is introducing their own custom designed 1ghz A4 processor. I don’t know if its just me, but I am sure the processor will rock. Look at everything Apple has made to date. However I am a bit disappointed that applications cant still run in the background just like the iPhone. I hope they fix this soon. I would like to listen to music and maybe play a game or browse the net. I cant do that right now in the coming version from what I understood.

With all that said, am I getting one??? HELL YEAH! Can I live without it? Probably.. If I had to choose between the iPhone and iPad what would I choose? The iPhone without a doubt. Which one do I think is a more revolutionary device? Once again the iPhone without a doubt! I dont see the iPad as a replacement to my netbook/laptop or the iPhone, but more as a entertainment device that I will use in conjunction with my other toys. I will probably use it when I travel as an entertainment source to watch movies, play games etc. I hope my insights were of use to those who read this blog. Do post your feedback. I would love to hear from you all!