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Showing posts from 2015

Towers of Death - does radiation from cell phone towers cause cancer?

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My story is about Dr. Nalini Busa, who is the mother of my childhood friend, Purvi. They live in an apartment block in Borivali (West), Mumbai and 5 years ago, the building next door put up multiple cell sites on their terrace. The view from the Busa's spare bedroom looks like this, with no less than 21 antennae mounted at a distance of within 50 feet of their windows. Three rooms, or one entire side of the 7th floor apartment, overlooks these towers. The shots below are taken from different rooms and show how close to the house the site is:






At that time, no one thought too much about it. Then, 2 years ago, Purvi's father was diagnosed with lymphoma. He unfortunately expired last year. This year, her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Though it was detected early, the cancer had spread aggressively in a short time span, necessitating both surgery and chemotherapy. 
As I write a tech blog, Purvi and her mother both requested me to post about this. Here is an interview …

Six things Twitter can do to bring in new users

I was pretty disappointed today to read that Twitter's stock price has fallen below the 2013 IPO price, for the first time. I admit that I am once of those who don't really get Twitter, but the site has a robust base of users who engage regularly and seem to enjoy doing it. What will be crucial for Twitter, going ahead, is to build up a user base in the emerging smartphone/internet markets of SEA, South Asia and Africa. And here, the focus has to be on youth, who still remain the most active social media users.
Here are 5 things that I would do if I were Twitter, to open the doors to new users.
1) Drop the 140 character limit Last week, Twitter formally dropped the 140 character limit for Direct Messages, acknowledging that people trying to connect through the social media service might want to have a slightly lengthier conversation. I would look at relaxing the character limit on Tweets as well. Would that put off existing users? Maybe, maybe not, and the site can still continue…

My first 72 hours with Windows 10

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The pop up comes on my laptop screen “It’s almost time for your update to Windows 10..in 1 hour” and I click to postpone it, as I have done the last 10 times I saw this message. I really want to upgrade from Windows 7 to the new and free version. It’s just that I am apprehensive about many things – what if the update does not go smooth? What if it takes too long? And above all else, will I like it, or will it suck like Windows 8 did?
As an owner of a one year old laptop running Windows 7, I am entitled to a free upgrade, but I have procrastinated for nearly a week.
Finally, 3 nights ago, I just gave up and gave the green signal. The decision was helped by the fact that I had inadvertently downloaded a malware which caused BSOD a couple of times before I managed to disinfect it, and I was feeling a little bored at the prospect of re-installing Win 7. I started the upgrade, then, as I was very tired, I went off to sleep. I woke up to a new sign-in screen.
I have updated or reloaded Operati…

No more writer's block : a DIY Content Creation guide

Today everyone realises the importance of blogging, publishing and sharing information as a means of personal branding. This is important if you are an entrepreneur or consultant with a service to offer, a professional who wants to command appeal in the job market, or a senior business leader projecting his/her expertise to potential clients. 
Everyone knows it is important, but few people do it! And I can understand why. For me, content creation is key to new business development, yet it is the first ball to drop when things get busy for me at work.
In this post, I aim to practically address some of the most common barriers to content creation, and offer DIY workarounds that can help tide over busy periods.
1) I don't have the time to write! This has to be the most common excuse I have heard, especially from senior people with experience, who can potentially share the most valuable content! I understand, but I don't think that this excuse holds. Here are some workarounds for it. A…

How Apple Care sucks as much as any other service experience.

Last week, I had an experience that few people have in their lives - A visit to an Apple service centre, with a dead iPhone. Not mine.  A close friend called me to help when his iPhone 6 did not switch on, after charging. As the phone was within warranty, we were entitled to free service or replacement. 
No Genius Bar in India. We went to the nearest Apple centre at F1 Info Solutions, Dadar (West). Contrary to my expectations, this was not an exclusive Apple franchise, and serviced Asus as well as Apple products. It was interesting to see the subtle caste system that exists in the service set up for the two brands.
The list of Apple Engineers was published with pictures and designations eg. Junior Apple Engineer, Customer Service in charge etc. Asus engineers had no such distinctions.
Apple had a designated customer service rep at reception who was clearly senior and better trained. She also had an iMac while the Asus service rep had a floating laptop that kept disappearing inside with a…

Don't really get Twitter? You're not alone.

Recently, my curiosity was piqued by this admission by the Twitter CFO that the social network has failed to gain a mass base. With 300 million active users, Twitter still reaches only early adopters and tech enthusiasts, according to Anthony Noto, and non-users are still left with the question, "why should I use Twitter?" No one asks why they should use Facebook - rather people feel compelled to give reasons why they do not use it.  When I posted this news item on my own Facebook page, I accompanied it with an admission of my own - that I do not use Twitter as extensively, or as well, as I use Facebook. I was surprised by the number of people who popped up and agreed that they never 'got' Twitter - including a couple of friends with hugely popular blogs. All of us are social media users, and a new medium should not be hard to master. Some of my own friends are expert twitterati, and are more than happy to explain to me how Twitter works and what I should be doing on…

Top Budget Phablets of 2015

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By definition, a phablet is a phone with a screen size that exceeds 5.5 inches. When I bought my Nexus 6, I posted about my change of heart regarding phablets. They definitely make a positive difference to the browsing, typing and viewing experience. Meanwhile, clever engineering and design ensures that they are still not too bulky to fit in your palm or pocket and give you a full day's worth of battery life.

You may want the benefit of a phablet, without spending the Rs. 40,000-plus on a Galaxy Note 4 or similar super-sized phone. Here are some great (and surprisingly cheap) workhorses that won't break the bank, but will give you a good working life.



1) The Google Nexus 6
I freely admit that I have changed my mind over this one, going from being a disappointed naysayer, to a big fan. The Nexus 6 is smooth, fast and problem free. Calls are clear and do not drop, the speakerphone works well. It is a good phone, and a good browsing device. And it falls in the budget list because Fl…

Five disappointments I faced as an owner of Hyundai i20 Elite

You will be hard pressed to find too many complaints about Hyundai i20 Elite. In fact, it's one car that garners overwhelmingly positive feedback from both owners and non-owners. I brought home my own i20 Elite Asta (petrol) a month ago and overall, I am a happy owner. What I'm doing in this post is flagging off little disappointments - things that I did not register when I signed up to buy the car, but realised after I actually started driving it daily.

1. They removed the second charging socket
One of the attractions of the top end Asta variant, was that it gave two charging sockets, like the top-end Ford Titanium Ecosport. In the current i20, they have removed the second charging port, without intimation. Yeah, call it a small thing but I am still a little pissed. 

2. It is under-powered
In 2010, I compared the Ritz and the old version of i20 and decided in favor of the Ritz because it had a better engine. My decision was right then and unfortunately it still is. On paper there…

How I fell in love with the Nexus 6 - Phablets are GOOD!

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I was one of the many people who were publicly disgusted/heart-broken/annoyed when Google announced that the Nexus 6 would be an over-sized 'phablet' (and with a 6 inch screen that made it bigger than the Galaxy Note and the iPhone 6 Plus). I have never been a fan of large sized phones. I tend to believe that a phone should behave (and be sized) like a phone and people who want something more  should pick up a tablet.
Most of Asia disagrees with me. IDC reports that in 2015, phablet volumes will hit 318 million, overtaking portable PCs (tablets+laptops) by a wide margin. This growth is fuelled by emerging markets, where the smartphone is the device of choice for internet connectivity and the large screen of a phablet is considered as an advantage rather than a weakness. And with phablet prices dropping constantly, adoption rates have also picked up.
Coming back to the Nexus 6, I ordered it with some apprehension. But I needed a phone urgently and Flipkart was offering a great ex…

Troubleshooter's Guide - Fixing Automatic Disconnection of Intel Wi-Fi Adapter

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Google for "Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 Disconnection Problem" and you will see a slew of complaints across forums. This wireless adapter came loaded in my Dell Latitude E-Series 5450 machine and caused me a lot of trouble.

Put simply, the wi-fi would disconnect everytime the laptop went into sleep or hibernation mode, and it would not re-connect without running the troubleshooter/re-setting the network adapter.

A call to Dell Support did not prove helpful as they recommended reloading Windows (Thanks Dell!) Luckily I could not apply that solution because I have lost my Win 7 OEM Discs - I need to figure out how to get them replaced, and that's a different story!

Anyway, coming back to the problem at hand, after reading a lot of forums, here is what solved my problem.

1. Open Device Manager from the Search Bar

2. Under Network Adapters, select the Intel Adapter AC 7625

3. Right Click and select Properties

4. The Properties Box contains several tabs. Select the Advanced …

Troubleshooter's Guide - Frequent disconnections in MTNL Broadband

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When I learnt last month that I am eligible for one of MTNL's 8 mbps plans, I upgraded with lots of excitement. But the last 30 days have been a nightmare.

The connection goes down literally every 4-5 minutes, and comes back up on its own after a few minutes. These casual brief disconnections play havoc with the usability of the internet, especially with large downloads. I could literally do nothing on my 8 mbps broadband (yes, I was getting that speed till the modem, despite MTNL's initial apprehension that I could not get it, being more than 1 km away from the exchange).
I did some research and figured out two things
1) I have a noisy line (literally, it makes a lot of noise) 2) The broadband line drops are related to a low SNR/ noise margin. SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) compares the level of the signal with the amount of inteference. A higher value is desirable. A lower SNR means a more unstable line. There is also a relation between line speed and SNR. At a lower speed, the SNR…