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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Xiaomi Mi Band v/s Micromax Yu Fit Band - Comparison & Review

Having used 2 Xiaomi Mi Bands - from Flipkart
&
then managed to get a Micromax Yu Fit Band - from the very first sale.

Here is an extremely to the point comparison / review between the two.

*I am on my 4th day of using the Yu Fit band. I used the Mi Band for 20 days - each of them conked off within 7 to 10 days and Flipkart replaced it once, the second time they were nice enough to refund my money and I purchased the Yu Fit.


Advantage Yu Fit - or in most cases - Disadvantage of Mi Band
  1. Band is softer. Better feel and comfort. The Mi Band got really dirty to use by the end of the week. The Yu Fit band just feels much better to use and clasp on.
  2. Display is a lovely addition. Actually useful. It does double up as a watch if nothing else. Which is nice. I don't need to wear my Timex Ironman on some basic runs. When it vibrates - I actually know what it's trying to say, whether it's an alarm, a msg, a call, a warning - with the Mi Band - you had to look at your phone. Would it be too much to ask them to display the number when alerting of an incoming call? ;)
  3. Accuracy is better than the Mi Band. The Mi Band would count ALL my hand movements as steps and I would end up achieving my 'goal' within half a day. The Mi Band does count some hand movements - but essentially I end up meeting the same goal almost at the end of the day. In the same circumstances. Definitely real time accuracy is better.
  4. The healthify me app is actually the first of its kind that I am using. Calorie counting for Indian food. It is actually this app that makes the band what it is. I really wish it was better merged with the Yu Fit app. It does get irritating to switch between the apps. Essentially you just have a few settings in the Yu Fit app - the rest is all in Healthify app. The calorie counting bit is really nice. Pure fitness freaks - it's a dream come true! The app is smooth. Fluid. Plenty of settings, swipes and a LOT of info pumped in neatly. It get's better by day as it gets customized to your needs. I have NOT used the pro version yet.
  5. Some additional gimmicks thrown in for good measure. e.g. Capture pics & video from the phone, using the band. So essentially for this - you HAVE to go and launch it on your phone. It there could be some gesture or pattern on the band that would do it - it would be much better. The SOS function is brilliant too. Nifty tool, if you ask me. But it does get launched VERY easily.



Disadvantage Yu also translates to Advantage Mi :
  1. Battery life. The screen obviously makes a difference here. Mi band lasted more than 45 days on a single charge. The Yu Fit band will barely make it 10. 10 is not so bad, but with the OLED display I definitely expected more. The OLED dispaly does look very flimsy and cheap at some angles. But it's quite robust.
  2. Sleep cycle. It was brilliantly tracked and displayed with the Mi Band. The deep sleep bit, the lgith sleep auto detection and subsequent wake up alarm, the ability to edit my sleep time (example - I left the band lying around since 22:30, but actually went to sleep wearing it at 23:45, the next day I could change the time manually to eliminate the 'deep sleep' from 22:30 to 23:45. Not so with the Yu Fit band. They want to me to define a SET time zone during which it will detect the sleep - EVERYday! That just does not happen! Unless you are in the army, right? Also the Yu Fit does not give as much importance to this sleep feature as the Mi Band did. Some software kinks, can easily be sorted or enabled with an update - if they try. (Healthify Me - that's for you)
  3. Rotation. Right hand or left hand detection. And screen orientation. Sorely missed in Yu Fit band. Makes the button awkward to wear on right hand and prone to accidental presses. While this was given as a 'setting' in the Mi Band - where you could choose what hand you would wear it in. The Yu Fit band should DEFINITELY have it - and rotate the screen according to the option chose such that the 'button' is on the inner (medial side, medically speaking) side of your body - which would make it less awkward to press when wearing it on your right hand, and also less prone to accidental presses.
  4. Bluetooth detection. This seems to be a bit of an issue with the Micromax Yu Fit band. For starters, even after pairing it does not show up in the 'bluetooth devices menu' - even when paired. Which makes it impossible to use as a 'trusted device' to unlock. 1 simple feature lost. Secondly, the band just keeps loosing connection with the phone every now and then - and then starts warning you - with full volume alarms on your phone! (can be turned off in the settings, thankfully) but definitely needs a software tweak.
  5. Vibration on the Yu Fit band is not as strong as the Mi Band. Tried multiple times. This was immensely useful as the wake up alarm, which incidentally was much better in the Mi Band (read #2 in this list) and the Mi Band allowed multiple alarms, while the Yu Fit band allows only one!
Overall, even if you remove the 'Healthify Me app' from the picture - just as fitness bands - at the same price - Rs. 999 - the Micromax Yu Fit Band is definitely a much better choice than the Xiaomi Mi Band.
The app - makes it practically functional and complete.

Most importantly - the Xiaomi Mi Band - does actually conk off within a few days of usage!
Disastrous! What happens once my 30 day window period with Flipkart is over?

Fingers crossed, on the quality of the Micromax Yu Fit Band.

They are both quite sturdy in their build (the sensors) and waterproof (well tested).

Both seem to be sourced completely from our next door neighbours, yet the Micromax Yu Fit band is a significantly better product that ultimately does benefit our own health and country wealth (and you thought you won't see that factor being mentioned here, like it is with almost every post on this blog - Be Indian, Buy Indian). ;)

Tried to keep the points limited to 5.
Feel free to ask any queries in the comments section and I shall do my best to reply to them.

You can also A.S.K. (Always Seek Knowledge) at ... www.KnowledgeJunction.in



Saturday, April 18, 2015

World Homeopathy Summit - Global Homeopathy Foundation - A report


World Homeopathy Summit - Global Homeopathy Foundation - A report (objective)
http://www.globalhomeopathyfoundation.com/

Trying to summarize day 1 (11th April 2015):

One of the few conferences where there was no unnecessary in your face advertising or forceful ego kissing

Basically, lot of speakers including some microbiologists. Physicists from Brazil, USA and Italy as well as plenty of CCRH & Research oriented Indian speakers like Dr. Praful Barvalia. & some from IIT Bombay too

The point tried to convey was :
Proving existence of Nano particles and even Quantum Dots on Transmission Electron Microscopy as well as Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy.

Especially metals like Aurum, Cooper, Arsenic and some vegetable elements like NaCl and Carbon on Carbo Veg - for potencies up to 50M at 500 nanometer magnification and even 10micro meter magnification.

Also some other scientific tests done in different countries.
Randomized Double blind placebo control trials and their results.

Difficulties faced while doing such experiments.
Caution to be maintained.

Where Shang whose article in Lancet was there, went wrong.

Discovery of newer molecules.
Tracking white light of molecules with laser assisted technology and how the graph differed for each potency.



Global Homeopathy Foundation
World Homeopathy Summit

Day 2 - 12th April.

The ripples created by day 1 - soon assumed the proportion of a storm, just as day 2 began.

The 3 main questions:
1. Does Homeopathy work
2. How does Homeopathy work
3. Where does Homeopathy work

Partly answered on day 1 - when all of us went into awe & shock to see Nano particles & Quantum dots of medicines like Aurum Met & Cuprum Met at 1M, 10M & even 50 CM potencies.

So what was day 2 like.

Day 2 - was revolutionary!

The 2nd session of the day was met with a STANDING Ovation. The only one in both the days. Well-deserved.
For the man, a living legend - Dr. A. R. Khuda Baksh.
Every Homeopath must read about the FANTASTIC and extensive research done by him. He has MANY MANY papers published.
He has been fighting our battle.
In-vivo and in-vitro experiments - all WITHIN the boundaries of humanity - PROVING that Homeopathy works and where it works.
He answered some really critical questions.
MUST go through his re-search papers.

Then few more speakers, few more experiments.
e.g Injecting the left paw of mice with RA factor - measuring their inflammation, pain threshold and then -
showing that Mag. Phos acts better to give relief than Diclofenac, TNF-Alpha & Capscisin

Another researcher from Brazil who enlightened us about the many regular researches being conducted on mice in Brazil and Italy - as a joint exercise.

Another highlight of the day was Dr. G. D. Jindal and his team from BARC, Mumbai - who showed us how they used machines to monitor blood flow at thigh, knee & ankle,
as well as heart rate - after administering different drugs in different potencies.
There was a lot of technicality involved - but after having tested 23000+ readings they showed what the readings of Sulphur would look like - and that the medicines they ordered from Fr. Muller's - Sulphur 30 & Sulphur 1M showed consisten readings - but Sulphur 200 did not.
They started looking into more detail and realized that some potencies were not "correct" - as in they realized that in many drugs - sometimes the stock that they received was not 'upto the mark'.
Interesting indeed - they say they need more research to ascertain it. But - there might be some way to determine the potency and drug of a liquid - kind of find out the remedy just from the dilution.

The surprise package of the day was Dr. Upama - a Zoologist - who had no idea of Homeopathy - but had was researching with mice and malaria.
While she was conducting trials with Quinine, Artemisinine - she came across the Cinchona and Homeopathy.
& she proved that Cinchona and Chelidonium were far more effective in treating Malaria - than Falcigo DS.
Including quicker and significant decrease in Liver enzyme levels.

The ONLY Homeopath to come up on stage in both the days was Dr. Tapas Kundu - who was recenty featured in the newspapers for his research - treating Haemophilia with Homeopathy and giving a reduction in cost of treatment by almost 85% compared to Allopathic medicines.
Giving better results. Live monitoring and cessation of blood flow within 15 minutes - wit clot formation.
(this was reminiscent of the usual Homeopathy seminars we usually attend) - and was met with enthusiastic response.

The conference went on for long beyond 6 pm and I could not stay back since I had some other commitments.
So I missed out on the last discussion.

But otherwise quite interesting, motivating, inspiring also (so many NON-homeopaths - scientists - working FOR our science - except us).

Let's see what GHF does now. Seems to be a good start.
Aude Sapere.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why Tata ....

Recently I have been questioned by 4 important people in my life - about this question - 
"Why continue buying Tata cars and risk it or gamble it, why continue putting so much blind faith and trust in Tata cars and products, why invest so much time on Tata?"

It reached it's pinnacle of discussion recently after test driving the fabulous Tata Zest and why not go for the more reliable and trustworthy Maruti cars.

Because those people matter a lot to me and are significantly influential in all my decisions of life - it made me re-think and re-list for myself to answer the question Why Tata?

General discussion about Maruti v/s Tata ... and why Tata.

A very important question-

There is no doubt that Maruti is the NO. 1 passenger vehicle manufacturer in India.
Strong market share between 40 to 50%
& definitely the largest portfolio, with maximum variety - a car for every need and every pocket. 100% reliable too. Maybe even better than Toyota ;)

They have had a few flops too - A star, Grand Vitara, Kizashi - who doesn't ?

Yet - the question - why go for Tata. 

Primarily - yes Tata has it's faults.
Reliability is a question, yes - some things crop up every 6 to 8 months and like any Tata product the 2nd version is best.

But that is DEFINITELY changing at every level

Buying ANY Tata product - is not a decision based on the product, it is based on the company philosophy and policy. 
It is not so much about the products(s) - any of them - as the manufacturer / seller.

1. Why the reliability issues in Tata cars - because of too many vendors - too many manufacturers manufacturing the same part - hence quality is not controlled. Why so many vendors? - Because when Tata made the 1st indigenous car - Indica - it set up along with a 1000 crore+ plant - a HUGE number of parts and component manufacturers and vendors - so that it is ALL made in India rather than importing parts. Thereby - making more revenue and industrial strength for India as a country and enabling EXPORTS. 
All these people, who stood by Ratan Tata for that project - and invested in setting up these industries - he never betrayed them or left them halfway. That is why - till date they were ALL active. Recently after he retired. there was a change in management - and yet - they did not kick out the old loyal vendors. They just re-organized the entire parts system such that 1 part is now manufactured by only 1 or at the most 2 vendors and each one of them is now answerable for it, accountable for it and is penalized if found faulty. Thus it becomes more easy to locate the origin of the fault and rectify it.
EVERY company has faulty parts. Even Six Sigma certified companies like Motorola and Toyota are suffering serious quality issues. MAJOR recalls by Toyota and Honda in last 5 years. VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group) has had massive DSG gearbox failures all over the world, including India costing 85000 Rs. to the customer to repair. Recent times even Mercs in India are not spared and more the localization (read built / made / assembled in India) more the faults and quality decline.

Even PM Narendra Modi is urging the manufacturers to bring up Indian manufacturing pace and quality. Today when we look upto and applaud Micromax, Tata has been following that model and doing better at it since decades.

Which brings me to ORGANIC growth.

2. Any company can offer rich benefits upfront as a gamble to make a foray into a segment or make a splash (read stunts like Xiaomi) and then later recover costs or make profits in spares, service in long term. That's always the Korean way (Hyundai and Samsung)
The Indian market is a tricky one - even giants like Toyota publicly bowed out of the small car segment. VAG failed at achieving their targets and after their initial spurt (again Indian herd mentality hype) are now languishing at the bottom end of the sales charts with lacklustre portfolios.
Honda too had it's slump - for a good 2 years and more - but it fought back with Amaze. Similarly, Tata had a slump - complacence, mismanagement, global bands swayed off fickle minded Indians - whatever the reason - it is now fighting back with Zest. Look at the 'fight back' - 2 companies - same scenario - Tata is putting up a MUCH better fight.

Organic growth  - is like an old jungle saying "When the Lion feeds, the jungle feasts" they never eat alone.
Organic growth - ensures that all around you and in association with you grow as well as you give back and make it sustainable in the long term.

Today, year after year, decade after decade - Tata Sons - in ALL their avatars - have set standards of organic growth.
ANY Tata employee will tell you - we are not employees. We are family. 
Take any example - be it the Second Career Internship Training Programme for Women or the Okra tribal community that has been spun into a global art form, while preserving the fishing village.

Any Tata company is ranked amongst the top 5 companies that preserve ecology and have minimal carbon footprint or deleterious effects on the environment around them.
Their re-use policies, filtration plants are some of the best globally.

When it comes to Tata Motors - 72% of the components used in their cars are RECYCLABLE or Bio-degradable. Most other companies have it around 45 to 55%

Let's talk contribution to society - every business is done for profit. And nobody out there does any kind of business without the intention to profit. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) - by law is to be 2% of your net profit.
Yet for DECADES - Tata group has been spending 50 to 60% of their net profit on CSR.
And yes, they are STILL making a profit - year after year. If that's not good business, then what is?
Think of them in relation to Wayne Enterprises - the Bruce Wayne and Batman for the Indian subcontinent.
Making money by day - silently spending 100s of crores for the country and betterment of society - not just mankind but every possible living organism.
I agree - that alone - cannot be a reason just to go out and buy a product ... wait isn't that what we do at charitable auctions or other such charitable gala?
Spend money to buy a product, probably not worth it's price - because we know the money is going to be used for a good cause?
I think of EVERY Tata product in the same light.

When it comes to country - Tata's are known for NOT breaking laws, NOT giving in to corruption and bribes. They have refused to start companies when asked for bribes and shelved projects when it was not in complete synergy with the growth of the nation.
Any error by any employee or official of the company - is met with a public apology and at NO point is the customer ever made to loose money, biggest example is that of Tata Finance disaster.

New ideas, new concepts - always demand guts and risk. So far Tata Motors is a PIONEERING organization. Not once, not twice - umpteen times it has brought about revolutionary, market changing, path breaking products / concepts / strategies. Sierra, Estate (1st station wagon), Indica, Sumo, Safari (1st SUV), Indigo CS (created the class of compact sedan) and the world wide acclaimed - NANO. A feat no other company has ever been able to replicate despite big companies like Bajaj & Renault tying up.

Tata Motors has failed at ONE thing - CONSTANTLY. Marketing. They never believed in selling their products, but the Indian mind set is such that jo dikhta hai woh bikta hai'  and people would pay double for the glamour, ads, brand ambassador or just brand premium (this is the same philosophy that Xiaomi has sought to break through by pricing the phone at it's 'cost price')
But they are improving there too.

3.  Now coming to actual products -

There's a saying amongst petrol heads (automobile enthusiasts or car lovers)
"If you park it and don't look back at it ... it means you bought the wrong car"

Money can buy you anything today... almost anything.
Is it not assumed that the primary purpose of money is to buy you happiness?

Well, for me, atleast - not a SINGLE Maruti product 'excites' me. None of them are desirable or have any outstanding quality that would make me feel nice in driving them everyday.
None of them have that 'x' factor that would make me smile everytime I sit in one (barring the Gypsy)

Don't get me wrong - they are good products. Solid. But ordinary. Run of the mill. Standard. As common as the next one.
Doesn't mean I go for a Renault Pulse or a Chevrolet Sail U-Va just so I feel exclusive or different (the point is not to stick out like a sore thumb or make a fool of myself).

I can't fault Maruti - except for a lacklustre equipment list and uninspiring designs.
When I buy a car - it is usually a integral part of my life for atleast half a decade! During which I would not want to feel left out everytime I take a peek at the dashboard of the car next to me at a traffic signal and then look at the poor excuse of a dashboard / equipment list in my car. Why crib and feel inferior for 5 years!
Safety - also is usually reserved only for the Zxi variants of most Maruti cars, which are significantly expensive.
When Tata offers an upgraded comprehensive equipment list in it's top end - you definitely don't feel the pinch for a good 3 to 4 years.
Example - Manza in 2011 at 8.8 Lakhs - ABS + Airbag + speed sensor door auto lock + audio controlled phone and music system on steering + bluetooth with multiple pairing - back then most cars in that segment did not have steering mounted controls.
The only other car comparable in rear space is Sunny. Nissan Sunny - even today at 9.6 lakhs does not offer ABS & Airbags. Steering mounted ONLY audio - not bluetooth.

And let's not even discuss spares - example the front bumper of Nissan and Renault are the SAME. Yet it costs 6500 for Renault and 8300 for Nissan !

Forget reliability for a moment - and think accidents that happen anytime in Mumbai. Scratches. Stones falling, Bikers, Pot holes - anything you can think of - can happen.
Don't say 'IF' - that's precisely how the insurance industry works ;)

Let's talk practical experience
Manza - electronically operated outer mirror with company painted matching shade - 1500 Rs.
Company manufactured toughened factory tinted window glass - 1100 Rs.
Nano - AC vent 95 Rs.
Manza brake & clutch pedals - 34 Rs.
Nano - Axle - 1500 Rs.

One can't compare the FUN of driving a Nano to the weird shape of the Alto 800 or the Celerio
Can't compare the sofa and hall of Manza to the claustrophobic Dzire

Probably the only 2 products if I were forced to buy from Maruti woulds be Swift or Ertiga.


Another point is the feel - the experience.
As a customer at Maruti - you are another customer of the lakhs that they have. At any of the service centre's there is no escalation response or any special privileges.

ONE trip to a Concorde workshop - and you realize the difference.
One can argue that CCD coffee, free Wifi, Dell Vostro laptops or tablets for the service advisors make no difference.
Maybe not even the pick up drop service, separate drivers lounge etc.
Agreed - but do we not pay MONEY for the 'experience'.

The feel, the thrill, the comfort, the joy, the satisfaction - the experience.
The food at Hotel Central Peninsula and Peninsula will more or less be the same! - Yet the price varies - because the experience varies, the feel varies.

Same applies to the service centre of a car. The workshop. Ideally you would visit once a year per car - minimum. For service.
There are bound to be some other minor issues that crop up in every car - and if you are as fastidious about maintenance as me, then your bulb change, wiper change, 3M treatment and Wurth cleaning, Anti-rust, teflon et.c would all be done at the authorized service center rather than Koliwada or Milan subway.

So minimum 2 trips a year - and in both those trips - the feel, the experience - where you are given importance as a customer, treated with respect, good relations maintained by service advisors, invited for various customer meets and sent for movies and dinners complimentary ... all that ... when you actually paid significantly LESSER money than the competition when you bought their product (even the 'inexpensive' Nano customer like me - where the Nano top end is 1.3 lakhs cheaper than an equally equipped Alto 800) .. all of that DOES matter.

Because THAT is what we always pay for right?

Hasslefree service, tension free, peace of mind (with Gold AMC is unparalleled).

The feel, the experience - that's the difference between countless other hings we spend or splurge upon - from the type of grocery shopping, to the restaurant we choose to eat or the brands we wear.

Do we base our underwear on public perception - as to what people will think if the band shows? No. We base it on our comfort. (if you actually do that ... God bless you).

Similarly - why base any purchase in life based on what someone else will think about it. You buy it with your own hard earned money for your own pleasure, satisfaction and that smile on your face.
If you are not utilizing money to get pleasure - then you are doing it all wrong.

When you sit in a fully equipped Tata car like the Zest, or the spacious sedan like Manza and drive out of their service center - you have that smile, that satisfaction.
Then why would you care about anyone else driving by who wonders why you bought a Tata car - because they will never know.

Because a Tata car - like almost everything Tata - is not about the product. It is about a way of life - known as Tata.

It is most often than not a simple decision of whether you live by your heart or the analysis of your mind.

It's not a common dilemma - because most often that not - once you experience a Tata car first hand - your heart and mind get synced.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Independent Awakening

'The Independent Awakening'

Sorry this is not another joke on the prices or politicians,
Neither is it a piece dedicated to filmi or religious devotions.

Everyone seems to cribbing about all that is wrong,
And eagerly forwarding jokes and making up parody songs.

Convenient to abuse the guys who should actually be flogged,
But what did YOU do about it?
A like on FB, a tweet or +1ed a Blog?

You may not value the freedom you possess,
But 'they' do know how to make you indulge in excess.

You, me, we... The Youth, the majority of this Republic,
These economic parasites have set shop to loot our public

They are deciding how you spend, how you save,
They manipulate and market and make you crave,
You think you are free,
But you are still a slave.

Wake up, past midnight
For the Tryst with Destiny has not been met.

Realize and unleash the Power of YOU
Time for the vows to renew
And for the decade to come to script a story brand new.

Too old fashioned to use a pen,
Use your fingers and click away at your keyboards,
The economic war is on and the cyber war is coming,
Your clear conscience and undeterred will are your sharpest swords.

Come on cyber India, wake up the Youth of India.
Make the move, even a pawn can change the course of play,
Fight the battle not for the 'Kings' but for your own clay,
Not your loyalties but make the crops in the green fields sway,
Make it for all of us a Happy Independence Day!

- Dr. Suraj A. Dhirwani

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014

Greetings,

While most of us were eagerly awaiting this:

Registrations for the Mumbai Marathon 2014 (to be held on 19th January 2014)
are going to begin on :
19th July 2013.

2 days from now.

This is the website: http://www.procamrunning.in/scmm/

While usually I handle the registrations for everyone, the last 2 years,
the organizers have made it extremely tough for 1 person to sit and make that many transactions,
at the same time they have also made it simpler and easier for genuine runners to participate.

FIRST timers (MALES): PLEASE make sure you try ASAP. From 19th morning 10 am. There is NO prediction when the registrations may close.

First time - female participants: No worries, there is always a Women quota and everyone gets through that.

Those who have participated anytime in the last 2 years:

Be ready with:
  1. Name
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Address
  4. Contact Number
  5. Email
  6. Emergency Contact number + Details
  7. Govt. recognized ID proof : PAN card, Driving License, Passport etc. SCANNED and less than 100 kb in size
  8. Your passport photo : again scanned & less than 100 kb in size
  9. Your last year's TIMING certificate : available on their website to download. 
  10. Payment via Credit card, debit card or netbanking. (They have been steadily hiking up their charges - it was a 954 Rs. last year)
That's all I can recollect from last year's experience. 

I will surely be registering on Friday morning. If any updates I shall definitely post here.

ALL THE BEST !

& let me know if you decide to run.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

For the Car Enthusiast ....

Define - Car Enthusiast -

The guy who kisses his car goodnight everyday,
ensures a thorough 'bath' for all parts
can hear rattles where others can't
cannot go home without taking a 'round' around the car at night
so on and so forth....

To ensure the 'car' stays at it's best and performs at it's optimum and to decrease the chances of it every failing you....


Weekly Car Checklist - Compiled by Dr. Suraj A. Dhirwani

1.        
Weekly Car Checklist - Compiled by Dr. Suraj A. Dhirwani
 
Engine oil
Every week, open the bonnet of the car, pull out the oil dipstick and check the engine oil level. It should be at the maximum marking or slightly below (oil is thicker when the engine is cold). Check the color of the oil. It should not look dirty or burned. Take two drops on your finger tips and feel its consistency. It should not feel too sticky or gooey, but should be fluid and thin. Replace engine oil as per the manufacturers’ recommendations or sooner

2.        
Coolant level
Check the coolant level in your car by opening the top of the reservoir bottle. When the engine is cold, the reservoir bottle should be between the minimum and maximum levels in the bottle. If there’s any leakage in the coolant, you will need to check the rest of cooling system (follow the hoses) to look for wet patches around the joints or on the engine, indicative of a leak. If the coolant level is low, top it up with distilled water or pre-mixed coolant if you have it in stock.

3.        
Windscreen wash fluid
Especially in the rainy season, check the level of water in the windscreen washer reservoir. Top it up with clean water as needed. You can also add a commercially available “windscreen wash fluid concentrate” that costs about Rs. 90 to Rs. 150 a bottle to this, which will clean the windscreen better and remove dirt and grime. Or you could also add a drop of dish-wash liquid to the container, but keep in mind that some dish-wash fluids are corrosive, and can affect the washer motor as well as remove polish from the car’s paint when the water flows on to it.

4.        
Windscreen wipers
Check the condition of the rubber on the windscreen wipers. If it’s frayed or cut, it is time to replace the wipers. Replacing the wipers in time can save expensive replacement costs to the windscreen, because damaged wiper blades can scratch the windscreen. Clean the wiper rubber with a damp soft cloth or sponge to make sure it’s grit free.

5.        
Tyres
Tyres need the most attention. Individually inspect each tyre for signs of wear, any new cuts or tears and embedded foreign objects. Remove pebbles that are stuck in the tyre tread. It would be handy to keep a tyre pressure gauge and/or a portable air compressor with you. Check the tyre pressure and ensure it’s at its optimum. The best time to check pressure is when the tyres are cold as this will give you accurate pressure readings. Fill air if needed.

6.        
Lights
Check all the lights of the car, especially headlights and brake lights to ensure they are working. Have a helper press the brake pedal (with ignition on in some cars) to see if the brake lights work. With the ignition on (but engine not started), shift the gear into reverse and check if the reverse lamps work. Switch on the hazard lights and check if all indicators are functioning. Replace any bulbs that have fused as soon as possible.

7.        
Battery
Check the battery terminals for signs of corrosion or residue. Clean this with warm water and a cloth, but don’t touch it with your bare hands, as it is acidic and can harm your skin. Once a month, you can also open up each of the cell caps on the battery and check the level of electrolyte inside the battery. It should be just above the plates in the battery. Top up with distilled water as needed. In some batteries you can see the level indication on the outside through the translucent casing.
If you have a multi-meter handy, you can also check the charging voltage and standing voltage of the battery. It should read about 12.9 volts when nothing is switched on, and should not exceed 14.1 volts when the engine is just started, settling at about 13.6-13.9 volts.

8.        
Exhaust pipe
Especially with a diesel vehicle you can perform visual exhaust checks. Start the vehicle and let it idle. Observe any smoke emissions from the exhaust. White smoke or black smoke from the exhaust could mean signs of trouble, and it’s better to get the car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

9.        
Bodywork
Check the cars bodywork and paintwork for any scratches or dents that may have appeared during the week. Especially look around bumpers and toward the floor of the car. Look at corners of the fenders for any signs of rusting. If there’s rust, get it attended to immediately. Small scratches in the paint can be polished out, while larger ones may need touching up.

10.    
Interiors
Check that all the seat belts in the car function properly and are easy to attach and remove. Check the sliding mechanism on each of the seats to ensure it locks in properly, as these can be fatal in an accident. Check all the door locks and ensure they lock and open smoothly without jamming. If you car has power windows, roll each window down and up fully a couple of times to ensure they are working fine and there is no obstruction in the window channels.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 JellyBean Upgrade - DIY GUIDE


Dear Samsung Galaxy Note users,

The day we were all eagerly waiting for has finally come.

From November to January to March - delay after delay.
But as of 23rd March 2013, Saturday - the JellyBean update is finally available OTA (Over The Air) and via KIES for all Note (N7000) users in India.

As usual - good news and bad news!

Good news 1st - LOADS of goodies.
  • Faster camera
  • new UI
  • New widgets
  • New homescreen
  • New Notification bar - AWESOME
  • Multi-window
  • smart stay
  • offline voice
  • Google NOW - again nice
  • New notifications - SUPER awesome. Especially Gmail & whatsapp.
  • Project Butter smoothness
  • Loads of new settings and options - must explore completely
  • S Memo - migrating to S Note. Unified app
  • Photo notes - super cool idea
  • Crazy small but numerous changes.
  • Better WiFi signal
  • New Keyboard - bye bye SwiftKey
BAD news.
  • Battery - STANDY by increased - but active usage decreased.
  • If OTA update without format - phone EXTREMELY slow. MUST format and begin with clean slate for optimum performance.

Elaborating on that :

Essentially - if your Note is already fully loaded - this MAJOR upgrade does not apply as smoothly as it should. And it also re-calibrates the battery.

What to do: 

  1. ALL your Contacts - Merge with Google. Contacts > Menu > Merge with Google. So all contacts on the cloud.
  2. Calendar entries - I hope you have been using GooCal & not the phone memory.
  3. Download - SUPER BACKUP app from Play Store - very small.
  4. Backup - APPS
  5. Backup - Calendar
  6. Backup - SMS
  7. Backup - Call logs.
  8. Connect phone to PC via cable.
  9. Open phone memory via default Windows Explorer.
  10. COPY some important folders onto your PC hardisk
  11. Application, Android, DCIM, Documents, Downloads, S Memo, SuperBackup, WhatsApp, Videos.
  12. RE-CHECK - everything backed up?
  13. Disconnect phone from PC.
  14. Re-check all data on PC harddisk.
  15. Remove MMC (Memory card) from phone
  16. Menu > Settings > Backup & Reset > Factory Reset phone - including USB storage.
* The author takes no guarantee for any other addditional loss of data stored by user in different folders. Kindly mark your folders according to your usage and backup on the PC.

Your phone is BACK to day 1 when you opened it.
Begin - enter Google Account info.

THAT's it.
Go to software update.

START update to JellyBean : 474 Mb odd. file.
While it is downloading - keep phone on charging.
UNPLUG - only after 100% charged.
Keep on charging and INSTALL the JellyBean update.

NOW - when the phone starts - for the 1st time after JellyBean update. Battery @ 100%.
Phone blank. Except contacts and email.

RESTORATION.

Transfer data back from PC to phone.
Install SuperBackup from PlayStore.
Restore everything.
Install whatsapp. It will detect previous backup and RESTORE ALL conversations.

Re-install MOST of the apps. Re-enter MOST of your personalized settings. (Also gets you acquainted to the new UI and the numerous new tweaks).

Enjoy.
Insert Memory card when finally convinced that "Alll izz Well".

LAST update for the Note N7000. May get Anroid 4.2.2. (Also JellyBean) - but don't hold your breath.

This much should suffice for now.


P.S. - If you have already updated your phone to JB and finding it slow - then only choice - BACK up all data as instructed. Go to a Samsung service center and tell them it's slow. They will FLASH it with JB rom again and you are back on track.
(Free under warranty, if not 165 Rs. charge)

P.P.S. - Easter egg. Menu > Settings > About Device.  Keep tapping the Android 4.1.2 version number repeatedly. You will get a pic of a nice BIG red jellybean smiling at you.

Touch it - keep it pressed for 5 seconds.... ENJOY what follows next. Feel free to flick around. ;)
Your normal home screen is just 1 BACK tap away.



Disclaimer - Tried both methods on my black Note and on my wife's white Note. Difference is phenomenal! In performance as well as battery life.

A BIG thanks to Rohan Chheda for helping with this compilation with his valuable inputs!

Enjoy!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Android - What is it? Beginner's guide of sorts.

Posting an old compilation by me that has done the rounds of quite a few inboxes.


Android - is a Mobile Operating System by Google which can be installed on any phone (just like Windows can be installed on any PC).

So - while the OS remains the same across ALL phones - what matters is

1. the Hardware - the company manufacturing the phone (HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola, ZTE & what not)
in which primarily 
Bluetooth (2.1 or 3.0), WiFi, GPS etc are more or less standard along with a 3.5mm jack & a micro USB port.
so in addition to that what one must check for is

a. Processor - Higher the better. Preferably above 1 Ghz. A 1 Ghz DUAL core processor is MUCH better than a 1.4 Ghz single core processor. Anything below 800 Mhz is useless (to have a 'future' proof phone that lasts more than a year without becoming a pain)

b. RAM - the inbuilt memory of the phone which directly translates into better multitasking

c. presence of a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) - Only phones above 18k usually have this

d. Chipset - by Qualcomm, Nvidia, Snapdragon are good.

e. Screen Size - All kinds of capacitive touchscreens available with Android from 2.3" to 4.5" (when we talk of phones - tablets begin from 7 to 10.1) Some odd phones/tablets like Dell Streak & Samsung Galaxy Note have 5.0" screen & exorbitant price tags.

f. TYPE of screen: Retina > Super AMOLED > AMOLED > IPS LCD > S-LCD > LCD.


2. SOFTWARE: Yes, they all have Android - but which VERSION.
2.2 = Froyo (totally outdated - avoid)
2.3 = Gingerbread. 2.3.4 & 2.3.5 is the LATEST in Gingerbread. & MUST have if you are buying a NEW phone.
3.0 is Honeycomb - ONLY for tablets
4.0 is IceCream Sandwich (ICS) which is the NEW version launched last month & the UNIFIED version for Tablets & Phones.
Thus - whatever phone you buy. Google provides FREE updates. But the Hardware Manufacturer should have be supported by Google to be able to give you the upgrades.

For e.g. Entire Samsung Galaxy series, Entire LG Optimus series & Entire Sony Xperia series (only phones launched in 2011) are getting the ICS upgrade by April 2012.

So you must check about the Upgrade ability of your phone, since you are buying in 2012 & will easily use it for atleast 18 months. & yes - Upgrades matter a LOT.

Also - some phones - even though they do not get the upgrade officially, can be 'rooted' (akin to jailbroken iphones) and can get the unofficial updates, but this voids your warranty - so you can do this after 1 year warranty is over.

3. Custom Software UI's.
Vanilla stock Android is not present on most phones.
It is customized by individual hardware manufacturers to make it look better - which results in ofcourse performance & RAM loss.
HTC - adds 'Sense'
Samsung adds 'TouchWiz'
Motorola adds 'MotoBlur'
&
Sony adds its 'Xperia Bravia skin'.

Do not get carried away by fancy terms. Each have their advantages & disadvantages.
NONE of them are perfect.
&
you can uninstall it & put on a free pack such as Go Launcher.

APPS - is the crazy 1 million + free downloads which includes all kinds of useful, crucial to insane stuff.
Bigger discussion on that later.
I shall email a list of MUST HAVE apps later.
But MAJORITY of Apps are available FREE on the official Android Market (unlike Apple's iTunes store)

4. GPRS - It is almost essential that to make the best of your Android phone - you should have a GPRS pack on your phone.
By rule GPRS (regular not 3G) are cheaper on prepaid phones than postpaid.
Vodafone, Tata DoCoMo, Reliance, Airtel, Aircel, Idea all have 98 or 99 Rs per month 1Gb or 1.5Gb plans on prepaid.
(& believe me we dont even use 250 Mb from that!)

Postpaid plans differ a lot. Check your own service providers.

Now finally:

Phones:
Please go to GSM Arena : gsmarena.com for the details of any phones that you want or like.

We can discuss in detail about it later.
I am just mentioning FEW Good phones.
Since each 1 will have individual tastes, requirements & budgets.
Some may want a better camera, some may want a better screen.

PLEASE DO NOT BUY A PHONE without ICS now. IceCreamSandwich (v 4.0.3) is the latest Android OS and is a BIG leap over Gingerbread. (v 2.3.5)

  • HTC Desire C (only disadvantage no flash LED) 14.5k
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V or Mini Pro (both have ICS - slightly old phones - available at 12.5k & 11.3k respectively - battery poor but otherwise decent phones)
  • HTC One V (almost perfect phone at 17k)
All the phones you have mentioned run GB and are have some major major flaws.
For e.g. Sony U has only 4 Gb memory & no MMC slot - suicidal. Since Android is all about the apps & you will need atleast 1 Gb dedicated to apps only.

Sorry if I am forgetting any coz the market is quite volatile & changes a lot.
Further details kindly check on gsmarena.com

Whatsapp or sms for any other queries.

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