Micromax Ignite LPQ61408W – First hand review of slim and light laptop

I have been an ardent ‘collector’ of laptops. If you dont know what i mean, my friends and kin will tell you more about it.

I was looking for a light and slim laptop, since the older ones were taking toll on my back while travelling. While i was waiting for a good second hand deal on Macbook Air, or perhaps the much touted Xiaomi laptop, i found another great alternative at much lesser price too.

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I found a very interesting model by Micromax (not the first name you would think for laptops). Have been very happy with their Television for about 2 years, thought it was worth taking a risk with a good configuration and inexpensive laptop. My decision was further reinforced by my Gadget expert students on facebook where i posted my query.

The basic configuration of Intel Quad core processor (N3700), 4GB RAM and a whopping 1TB hard disk was a great bundle. Add to it a HD screen of 14 inches, makes it adequate for my main purpose of a bit of coding, browsing and Office Suite applications.

Strange that the weight and dimensions of the laptop are not mentioned on flipkart as well as the company website. However a tweet to the company revealed that the weight is 1.4kg (half of my earlier laptop) and thickness at its widest is about 2.1 cms.

For a budget price of RS. 18990, the laptop includes pre-installed Windows 10 Home edition. Makes for a great bargain

Initial Performance
The Micromax Ignite gave impressive performance with its quick boot-up and setup. The fully charged battery indeed worked for about 6 hours on about 30% screen brightness which is visibly bright enough.

The reviews mention about heating issues. Though i encountered the device heating up particularly on the left side, it was within expected limits of any laptop.  Another negative point was slow charging, with the laptop taking upto 2 hours for a full charge. In my opinion, slow charging is not all that bad since that would help prolong battery life.

On its day 1, where i showed it to my colleagues at a College where i teach, i have had many of them wowed and wanting to purchase.

At Rs. 18990, its quite a deal and steal.

If you would like to buy it here’s the link”
Micromax Ignite Pentium Quad Core – (4 GB/1 TB HDD/Windows 10) LPQ61408W LPQ61 Notebook

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Aaj Jaane Ki Zid na Karo

I fell in love with this song when i first heard it via Shankar Tucker‘s arrangement. His coveted Shruti Box album has many more great curated gems..

Lyrics of the song can be found Here – Lyrics of Aaj jane ki zid na karo (thank you Manjusha)

Here’s Aaj Jane ki zid na karo from his album

——— The song drove me to look for other versions Here are some:

Habib Wali Muhammad (1974)

By Farida Khannum (Old recording)

Farida Khannum on Coke Studio (Epic)

And the Awesome A R Rahman unplugged.. adding his signature.

The same song, not very different tune passing through different artists bringing out a new flavour and ultimately keeping its music and lyric timeless!!

 

Happy listening!

A new beginning

I had my WordPress.com account for a very long time. I blogged sparingly on nagpai.blogspot.com – my blogger site and nothing at all on the WordPress.com site. Most of my energies were devoted to my community site – RadioIdli.net, and subsequently towards building a good list of client websites using self-hosted WordPress.

Off-late i have been totally allured by the “Work With Us” clarion of Automattic – a company i deeply admire. A company that gave WordPress – where i devote a lot of my professional time and derive a great deal of my livelihood. I can imagine, getting an assignment, or for that matter even an “audition” with Automattic is going to be tough (only 440 Automatticians in this big world, and many more queued up).

However, i thought to myself, i can still be a part of them by doing something i should’ve done long back – participate on support forums. Out of gratitude and for the joy of helping users of this lovely ecosystem.. may it be queries pertaining to self hosted WordPress.org or WordPress.com. I first hesitated wondering if i was techie enough to even place my first reply on the forum, however on logging in i found that most of the queries could be sorted out by one of my key survival strengths – Search.

Most queries i came across required someone to help the user with a good search with right answers. Though users could do the search on their own, i was surprised to find quite a few of them preferred to raise a query on the forum – maybe, just maybe they find it difficult to articulate the right set of keywords. I don’t know, but without delving into it i started picking queries i could answer. Some of them got resolved and the smiles and Thank You’s really made my day. (even forgot when i sent my resume to Automattic)

So far i have had the fun of being on WordPress.com Support forum, and the WooCommerce support forum. Both places i am really loving being a part of the community, and conversing with friends from different parts of the world! Hope to write more about my journey on the forums!

WordPress CMS and Website Building

It’s my fourth year as a self-employed consultant in the digital marketing, enjoying my passion towards serving SME and Non profit segment with solutions to get them online and set up their own medium.

Undeniably, my journey wouldn’t have been successful but for the love and support of the open Source WordPress content management system and its vast community.

Most of my skills in the digital marketing space is completely self taught, and experiment thanks to my pet project – Radio Idli . The site began first on blogger, and then it was moved to a self-hosted WordPress based platform thanks to push and initiative of my friend Krishnanand “Sankalp” Nayak.

During the transition, i got acquainted with the bare basics of managing domains, shared hosting, cpanel and eventually installing and building a complete WordPress CMS based website. While still at my day-job,  Sankalp and i got an opportunity to voluntarily revamp the website of Vishwa Konkani Kendra. Its been revamped again by my consultancy –  CoreGray with lots of support from the Vishwa Konkani Team headed by Gurudutt Baliga !

Over a period of time, we jointly did few websites for community run non-profits. All these projects gave me hands-on and on-the-job training of WordPress. The WordPress Documentation and Support forums were my meccas of learning, they continue to remain!

Today its great to see that i am a part of a community of professionals thriving on WordPress as a trusted platform. Together we are seeing a day here where 1 out of every 4 websites on the Net is made using WordPress CMS!

Exit 14 – Enter 15 – Eventful New Year

Reading “eventful” in the title did you guess that i was out there enjoying a Sunburn DJ, or doing Thumbs-up with the head of Country Club watching Katrina and likes gyrate at many RPMs??  ..Bad guess.

I was wanting to be badly out of the Mumbai, (a feeling not limited just to new year’s day) though the celebrations at home were equally buzzing. I am a believer of Hakuna Matata – enjoy the day, hence i will not be able to wrench my frail memory to recall what happened in all of 2014. But here are some fun things that happened on New Year’s turn over the last 24 hours that i thought i should note.

1. Navya turns one and so do Varsha n i.

Navya, princess of the Pai household, er. Royalty, turned one! and so did Varsha the Mother, (Wilma, Marge, Varsha gets to take her pick) and Nagesh the Papa (Fred, Homer, the latter my all-time favourite). Her B’day as per Hindu Calendar was celebrated few days ago in a traditional way with lighting of lamps :). Few family members, no loud music, good food.  Amidst the fireworks din at midnight my princess slept through calmly. Was tempted to wake her up to celebrate, and was promptly warned against by the one year old Maa…. baap re!

Varsha and I continue to wonder at the cuteness that came from us, and whether we find her so just because she is our baby.

2. Yummy Flash Evening Biryani

Just when the evening chill began to catch-up. Spices took over me and Varsha agreed to make her first Egg biriyani with my assistance. The quest began with purchasing eggs undercover from a secret source (a paanwallah), since non veg (incl eggs) can get as contraband as meth in the part of the city i live in.

We reviewed about three-four different recipes online and then settled for the Quick Weekday Egg Biriyani by MyJhola, which won over Sanjeev Kapoor and NDTV for its speed, which could catch up with the mice running in our tummy.

3. Rat-a-tat start to 2015

Speaking of mice.. well the New year at the household rang hard for the Rodent.. literally. at 4.30AM, with percussion of few utensil clangs and broomy thuds, i heard my mom knock and whisper… “He’s here.. in the kitchen”..  With the Exterminator Extreme.. my father in the kitchen, i was as scared to get a broom blow or two as much as the rodent. Through a doorcrack i got briefed on the coordinates of the intruder, in the far corner. After emptying the space item by item, we found that Mr. Squeak did a Houdini, .. poof.. only to be rediscovered on the shelf above. i stepped outside, only to re-enter and see the intruder take different positions.. top of the tubelight, on the gas pipe, etc.

Finally Thud! came the deathblow, which came after open window amnesty granted to the rodent failed. The first new year resolution is to keep adequate Rat biscuit cakes in the balcony and all trails.

As you can see above, like an interesting movie, my new year had family drama, food and celebration, Action and gore, and nice memories!

Happy 2015!.

Mumbai Metro and Future of Entrepreneural Infrastructure efforts

image source: Live Mint
The much awaited Mumbai Metro was finally flagged off today to the respite of humungous crowds that travel from east to west side of the city (few after an ordeal from far off places like Kalyan and Dombivali).. The endless queues on Bus No. 340. of which i was a part once, should hopefully now find a better and mass transit alternative.
The project has been obviously delayed leaps and bounds with one deadline pointing to another until the eventful today, when there is a war on what should be the ticket price. The joyous celebration has been maligned by leaders making unfound populistic drama, pretending to be crusaders of people’s cause by limiting ticket fares… And then there is this tribe of the new crusaders of ‘Truth” blaming the operating company Reliance and the newly formed Central govt. of crony capitalism.
As a rather fresh entrepreneur, specially the last part is a matter of concern where there is an orchestrated attempt to label successful entrepreneurs as “Chor” or hand in glove greasing the government for myopic sensationalism and political gains. This points to a typical crony-unionistic way of thinking, where an entrepreneur is denied the fruits of the risk he takes. People may argue that a large business house like Reliance may wield strong lobbying powers, unlike a smaller entrepreneur deserving mercy. I find no reasons why the opportunity of building such an empire isn’t open to any others who take armchair pride in pointing fingers at a large and successful entrepreneur (and his company).
Delay – The Culprit
Today, if MMOPL is demanding a rise in fare its because of the costs escalated by delays. If we refer to the specific reasons of delay it has been because of unmapped utilities, delay in land procurement and handover, and perhaps even delay in funding (knowing how the Maharashtra state government kept MMRDA high and dry, because it was the opponent party’s brainchild).
All the reasons for delay, if you may observe, are beyond the scope of the private party, and totally under the obligations of the State Government and the BMC. It would be funny to expect a private entity to bear the burden of these losses. Imagine if you were a share holder in that company, what would be your point of view?
Having said this, will future entrepreneurs have any reasons to get into an ambitious private public partnership with such orchestrated fabrications opposing their efforts?

Fares of the Metro – The debate
There is a big fight between the incumbent state government at the brink of elections, and the Reliance Metro company that runs Mumbai Metro on the issue of fares. While the government, wanting to be seen as people’s crusaders, are wanting the fares to remain at Rs. 9 – Rs. 13. (decided years ago).. Whereas Today the minimum Auto fare is Rs. 15, and the bus fare (non AC) for the same distance is about Rs. 20. MMOPL has demanded the fares to be in the range of Rs. 10 – Rs. 33 (few reports say Rs. 40)
With the overall inflation and escalation of costs, and considering the comparable costs of alternative transport, there is no reason or grounds to deem MMOPL’s demand as unreasonable. (try comparing the State owned AC bus rates with the metro).
Considering the issues above there is a strong case to hear out the woes of the private player rather than make them a scapegoat of electoral politics. Else we will have to imagine a scenario of 10 KM projects that take two generations of mobocracy to build. 
Time for me to step out and take my first ride .. Those who disagree may perhaps make the most of the promotional ticket cost :)..

Camcorder to high res webcam in simple steps – using TV Tuner

A couple of years back i bought a Sony HandyCam and was hoping to use it as a webcam for an annual webcast of  Ganesh festival celebrated at my home. The usual webcams designed for desktop use, are sloppy when it comes to webcasting a larger space. The handycam as a webcam, not only gives us sharper images, but also facility to zoom in and out much better.

Sony had a feature called USB Streaming in its older camcorders (Tape based) that turned it into a high quality webcam in a matter of minutes. Strangely though, Sony has discontinued in all its later releases of Handycams. Much to my disgust, the one i bought fell in that category as well. Even after rigorous search on google there seemed to be no solution.

However the solution came to me in a rather add on feature of a uncommon product. – USB TV Tuner.  Most of us would think that TV Tuner is just for watching TV broadcast on your computer. However, these devices, most of them using the same Connexant driver, also accept composite inputs from DVD players, and hey… Handycams too which give similar output!! Further, the device also shows up as a “webcam” in any of your favorite chat software – Skype, Google Hangout… you name it.

The steps are really very simple:

1. Buy a good USB TV Tuner. I got a Iball ClaroTV from a friend who has some good connections in iBall. Flipkart offers a good price on it.. Here is a link for the same:

Also available on Amazon: http://bit.ly/1dSg4ec

2. Install the drivers as per the manual and the CD provided.
3. Plug in your camcorder (works with any handycam that has an AV output) and connect its AV cable. (the one with red, white and yellow connector)
4. Open your favorite chat program
5. Switch on the camera and put it in recording mode – standby
6. Using the bundled software with the TV Tuner, set the source to “Composite” to ensure that the camcorder input, and not the Antenna is chosen to beam.
6. In the chat program (skype / Google hangout) you will see the default laptop webcam on, if you have it in your machine.
7. Look witihin the programme settings for a dropdown that allows you to change the webcam settings.. you will find a “Connexant ” option or something similar to that indicating your TV tuner card… Select it.
8. You should now be able to see yourself.

The handycam as a webcam will certainly help you with your own Broadcast channel 🙂

Bharat Bandh.. Minds closed and Faith Lost – An Open letter to BJP and Shiv Seva

Dear BhagwaBandhus ( read BJP Shivsena  – the ground staff, its high bastions and maybe the ivory tower if my voice reaches there due to some miracle)
As an average Mumbaikar, belonging to the increasingly minority category of citizens called open category (medium creamy layer hindu brahmin), i must confess my inclination towards the saffron combine.  
However, the political bandh called today and the media chest-thumping of its “nationwide success” is an act worth condemning as the terror attacks. While the statement may sound strong, abrupt and irresponsible, just think… was the final motive of both dastardly acts not the same – to stop life as usual? 
I must congratulate you all for the “bloodless” ways though, which makes you ineligible for the privilege of Kasabniwas (A more Indian subcontinentized name for Arthur road jail)

 For the common man — really?
Back to the bandh that happened today, a forced political act disguised as protest on behalf of the common man, Can at least one of the BJP Karyakartas or Shiv Sainik, worth his salt explain, How has it helped make life easier?

Going by pure economics, haven’t the mounting losses due to shut business and of course the acts of non-violence (non conventional violence that is) by your workers, contributed to the rising costs… and multiply that… to the rising prices? After all this acts of yours will it be fair to ask for a miracle from the magic sadhus, trishuls and the other saffron delights that we have? Will you be answerable to them and to their Gods, and yes the People?

A dog trying to bite its own tail? 
To all of you, from BJP Shiv Sena, specially whom we voted to the Mumbai Municipality, to save ourselves from the Naturally Corrupt Party – Here is a question:

The Mehengai that you are all protesting against, aren’t you a major contributor to it in the following ways in Mumbai (your majority municipality enacted these immediately upon getting elected) :

1. Increased BEST Bus fare citing Electricity losses –  by as high as 70 – 80% . A ticket from colaba to churchgate, barely 7 kms costs Rs.12!! the ticket cost used to be Rs. 6 not even a year ago… through two hikes the cost has been doubled citing losses in the Electricity business. You have fooled the BEST commuter by making him pay for the Electricity losses . The cost does compensate your unions conducting strikes, and yes the buses you damage during the bandhs.. But hey … who is creating this mehengai?

2. Increase in Electricity Tariff citing Transport losses – This time the tail wags the dog… Your elected municipality fools the Bus commuters, and then the Electricity users, make money from both and jack up prices…

Besides this the latest Tax policies enacted by the Municipal corporation led by you, my dear Bhagwabandhus, is an institutionalized way to extort the already squeezed Mumbaikar.

After all of this do you have any answers? Or is it just yet another Bandh?

The country is shifting its gaze towards alternatives for the next government.. and you are only warning them against voting for you through your actions.

Yours Truly,
A Saffron Loyalist… and changing..


Freedom is like Cadbury’s Bournville – You need to Earn it

Warning – Random Rambles of a Caged Mind – let loose for few minutes

The ad of Cadbury’s Bournville says…

You don’t just buy a Bournville.. you earn it!

Dark exotic chocolate aside, The tagline easily fits the description for something that we seek dearly, and forget usually as we part with our “pound of flesh” to the mean marketplace – The rare flavoured Bournville I am hinting at is what we know as our Freedom.

Yes I wanna break free.. I am sure most of us would immediately go karaoke alongside the memoirs of Freddie Mercury and resonate with the urge to break free.. from what? A world of our own inhibitions? towards what? A world of our own fantasies? As a concept, Freedom gets mysterious upon scratching below the crust of usual perception.


The Harsh Reality – There are two aspects to this – One, we are all born free.. Two, it takes an effort to remain free.  It’s the effort to keep reminding ourselves that nothing binds our imagination and freedom to use it, other than our own inhibitions and fears. Nature has indeed given us fear as a guarding emotion, to ensure that we sustain through her forces of creation and regeneration. However, but for a conscious effort to balance our imagination with this fear, we will never be free! And thats the effort that earns us the Bournville – The exotic flavour of our freedom.

We are and we have always been free…  but to enable us to be immersed in that freedom, we need to put an effort of courage in being a black sheep, of taking the unbeaten path. And over and above, keeping our minds homed in on what we seek from life herself!