FastTAG woes on Mumbai Pune Expressway

Since December 1, 2017, it has been made mandatory for all vehicles sold in India to have a FASTag fitted on the windscreen, either by the manufacturer, or an authorized dealership at the time of sale.
The FASTag is a simple to use, rechargeable tag which enables automatic deduction of tolls at toll plazas across the country. The Tag employs RFID technology and is linked to a prepaid account to facilitate recharge. You can link your FASTag to your PayTM, ICICI or HDFC bank account, but will eventually be bank neutral.
The FASTag is being promoted actively in India by multiple agencies including NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) and the Indian Highways Management company. Currently it is claimed that FASTag is operational at 400 toll plazas in state and national highways. In a bid to increase adoption, the NHAI recently made FASTags available through petrol pumps.
There are obviously multiple benefits of FASTag for a motorist – a faster, more convenient way to pay toll. For the …

When Tech gets counter productive - automated calls

A couple of days ago, I was travelling with a client when he was disturbed by repeated incoming calls from a landline, flashing on his mobile screen. Excusing himself, he picked up the call and after listening for just 3 to 4 seconds, hung up quickly with an expletive (which was unlike him). ‘Its one of those scam automated calls to pay some bill’, he told me, adding ‘they have become such a pain in the neck, I get these calls all the time, now I am going to block this number’, he told me, before resuming our conversation.
Two things struck me about the incident. First of all, he did not even hang on the line long enough to know who was calling him. Secondly, he knew that it was for bill payment (meaning it was a legitimate call by a company that had permission to use his registered phone number), yet he referred to it as a ‘scam call’. Which is not very good for the customer satisfaction rating or the image of the company making these calls. Thinking back, like me, and this client, I a…

Technology from the 90s that we suffered from (and survived)

Sometime last week. I was amused and inspired by a tweet from Twitter User Irwin in which he reminisced about technological marvels of the 90s that he had seen (probably before most other Twitter users were born)

If any of these strike a chord with you, then you have given away your age :)
It inspired me to remember the technology from the 90s, from my college and early working days that I loved, struggled with and I am so thankful that I don't have to deal with them today
So here goes with my list
1) A dialup internet account Lifetimes have gone watching the 'connecting' icon and listening to that whirring sound of the dialler.  Multiple times over, patiently, till it finally connected. We switched providers from VSNL, to Satyam to Nutkracker from Wipro, trying to find the best one. 

Oh, and the bummer is that, initially, every time the phone rang, the internet would disconnect. Thankfully someone figured that out and fixed it.
And let's not even remember that we measured sp…

5 budget MP3 players to replace your iPod Nano

With Apple finally discontinuing the Nano and Shuffle in 2017, three years after killing the iPod Classic, many people felt that the MP3/DAP (Digital Audio Player) era was finally coming to an end. 
The short answer – it’s not true.
Unlike the compact Digital Camera which has died a natural death, bowing to the equivalent (or increasingly, better) cellphone camera, Digital Audio Players have survived the onslaught of smartphones.
They are no longer as cool as the Walkman and Discman were amongst an earlier generation of youngsters, but they are staples amongst a small but passionate community of audiophiles. Even Apple has chosen to retain the iPod Touch in its product lineup, with options of 32GB or 128 GB capacity.
Quite a few friends have pinged me after the demise of Apple’s mid-priced and budget priced DAP offerings, asking for alternatives. Here is a list of products that you can look at, across price points. Do note, that the devices listed here are Nano/Shuffle substitutes. There …

Tips to sell your second hand stuff on OLX and Quikr

I freely admit to acquiring a lot of gadgets that I don't really need, and sometimes don't really use either. If you keep experimenting with new gadget trends, it's bound to be a hit or miss affair. I have several hits (like my Triple-Fi 10 IEMs from Ultimate Ears that are still going strong) and a few misses including several fitness trackers. And of course, upgraditis leads to a lot of old and well-loved gadgets which have been much-used and replaced - and now it's time to find them a nice new home.
Enter OLX and Quikr who claim to be the answer to your prayers when you want to convert the second hand stuff you do not use, into money. 

I have had some experience of selling on both sites, and with a fair degree of success. Success does not only imply selling at the desired price, but also giving my gadgets a good home :)

So here is what I figured

1) For best results, post your ads on both sites
Quikr and OLX work a little differently from each other. Quikr's USP is tha…

Wi-fi Network list not visible in Windows 10 - here is the only fix that worked

Windows 10 users have been plagued with several strange bugs that are baked into Microsoft's newest Operating System. For example, a month ago, video stopped working on my Skype and Google Hangout calls, effectively crippling my business communication.  The camera drivers stopped working after an update and reloading them did not work. Troubleshooting with Dell Support quickly led to the realisation that the problem is software and not hardware based. At that point, Dell Support drops off like a hot potato, not even bothering to give the standard advice to reload Windows 10. I don't blame them for it, they are generally awesome at what they do but solving the Win10 mess is not their problem.
So I did a reset of Windows 10, which is very easy compared to what such a task would entail with earlier versions of the OS (Does anyone remember creating backup discs? Or booting up from a pen drive?) Thankfully those horrible memories are in our past now.
Win 10 boots up in an hour or les…

A foolproof way to improve mileage

A lot of automobile blogs and sites will tell you that your car's fuel efficiency is a composite of many factors including optimum tyre pressure, clean components like air and oil filters, and using a high octane fuel.

I have been deeply unhappy with the average of 10 km per litre that I get from my Hyundai i20 Elite (Petrol). To add insult to injury my Dad got a steady 13 km per litre from his 15 year old Baleno (which has a much bigger more fuel hungry engine) before he finally sold it last year. He has the new Baleno now and averages 18 km per litre with ease.

Dad is a retired automobile engineer and some of his mandates in the past have included designing truck and car engines, the machines that manufacture them, and compressors. So he knows what parameters will make the big difference.

I asked him for tips to improve and after observing my driving he gave me just one piece of advice - to watch the engine RPM (speed). In essence this is what he asked me to do;

1) Upshift the gears…