All posts by Vineet

Telegram and WhatsApp

WhatsApp

If I remember correctly I was first introduced to WhatsApp as early as 2012 by one of my IRL friend. It was the thing which was “in” at the time. But it wasn’t that well known. Adoption of WhatsApp spread like wildfire since then, and now in 2018, it’s like everyone who have a smartphone have WhatsApp on their phone. Heck, even the non smartphone, like Symbian have a WhatsApp client now. What started of as a small project in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo, in Mountain View, California, soon grew to be a company worthy to be acquired by the Facebook giant in 2014. The acquisition took just US $19 billion out of Facebook’s pockets, but Zuckerberg knew it was a bargain.

The USP of WhatsApp was it’s simplicity and ad free experience. The founders promised that it will remain ad free for eternity but never promised anything about simplicity. After being bought by Facebook, WhatsApp went numerous changes which traded the simplicity to introduce features like Instagram, which was another social network app company acquired by Facebook in 2012 earlier for mere 1 billion (sounds like a steal in comparison to WhatsApp deal now, isn’t it?).

Telegram

Telegram on the other hand was developed by two Russian brothers, Nikolai and Pavel Durov who had previously founded the Russian social network VK, but had to leave the company after it was taken over by the Mail.ru Group (credit: Wikipedia). From it’s initial release in 2012, it have grown to become a great alternative to WhatsApp and currently is struggling to keep it out of grips of influential like big corporations and government scrutiny.

When I first stumbled on Telegram in October 2015, I confused it with a copy of the app WhatsApp but digging deeper I realized it offered something to the table which WhatsApp couldn’t especially after it’s acquisition by Zuckerburg. I soon began to love Telegram for what it offered and the convenience it bought with it. In those times I use to be a frequent user of IRC and use a channel to communicate most of my online friends. But Telegram changed that. Now I have almost left IRC for Telegram and use it for a lot more reasons then just communication with online friends. I use it as a pastebin, a medium to transfer files, a way to get updates on cryptocurrency and also to chat secretly, if needed.

Difference between WhatsApp and Telegram

I have tired to compare both of the social network app on features and technical factors.

FeatureWhatsappTelegramOpinion
Mechanism for exchanging messagesStore and forwardCloud based (server/client encryption)Messages are stored on server, but highly encrypted. So you can access it even if you lost access to your phone, through a PC. On WhatsApp once a message reaches your phone, you can't fetch it again, in case you change your phone. This could be both good and bad and depends on user preference. Personally I prefer Telegram.
Delete a messageCan delete within 7 minutes of sending a message. Recipient can see you deleted a message.Can delete within 48 hours. Message will be deleted from both you and your recipient's end.Gives user more control over their message. Win for Telegram.
Edit a messageCan't edit.Can edit within 48 hours. User can see that you edited.Gives user more control over their message. Win for Telegram.
Secret ChatNo.Yes. The secret chat uses Client-Client encryption to provide a feature that is very useful. Firstly you can only use secret chat from phone and secondly the messages in the secret chat can be auto deleted after a period of time which we can set. It also uses client-client encryption so nothing is stored on cloud. WhatsApp doesn't allow this feature.

As a bonus, in a secret chat, it would notify you if the recipient takes a screenshot of the screen while you are doing a secret chat.
File TransferMediocre support. There's a limit of just 16 MB on videos. And 100 MB for other kind of files.There's a limit of 1.5 GB and any file can be send.WhatsApp only recently supported sending *any* file (than just media), but its limit of 100 MB makes it less powerful than Telegram. A great win for Telegram.
ThemesNo. Only wallpaper can be changes.Yes. Can be customized a whole lot.There are themes available in market and you can create one too in Telegram. I only use the dark theme, not much customization.
Desktop ClientYes. But the desktop client takes more memory than web interface, and also requires the accessibility of WhatsApp on your phone. Yes. Telegram have a proper desktop client, which can work even if your phone isn't connected to internet. It's because messages are stored on cloud.It's a big win for Telegram. Due to dependency of WhatsApp on phone, it pretty much makes it useless to access WhatsApp in case your phone dies or don't have Internet. Big reason for why I prefer Telegram. It lets me continue from phone or web or desktop client, seamlessly.
Bot supportNo.Yes.Telegram have bot support, which means you can do tasks like use the IMDb bot to search for movie titles right from within the app.
Open sourcePartial. Mostly it's under Facebook's control now.Yes.Telegram is open source in the fact that you can go on github and make a fork to create your own Telegram client.
Bonus featuresNoneMessage to self,
Bloat free,
Self destruct feature
I can use Telegram like a clipboard and also to transfer messages between my phone and PC. It doesn't have stupid social network feature like sharing live updates. Self destruct feature means your account will be auto deleted if you don't access the app for a certain time from a month all the way to a year.

While there are numerous things which are great on Telegram, I haven’t even mentioned that most of the security features were first added on Telegram and later came out with WhatsApp. But the most important thing is the commitment of Telegram founders which are making efforts to make it more secure and not to let big corporate giants controlling them, thereby it promises more security and privacy. For me though, the most important thing is feature and convenience and for that Telegram is perfect. No wonder more and more companies are choosing Telegram for it’s ability to connect to masses.

Netflix: A Binge Watcher’s Haven and views on Black Mirror, Stranger Things and Rick & Morty

Recently I got access to Netflix (courtesy of one of my friend) and I was propelled towards the sunshine it threw at me. I was caught off guard by the sheer content of Netflix, especially after I had used Amazon’s Prime for quite some time. While I still think Netflix’s subscription plan of Rs 800 per month is a wee too much in Indian context (compared to Rs 999 for Amazon Prime) we can get around that by sharing it with friends. So as of now lets talk about the shows that I watched in a month and my views about it.

Black Mirror:

I happened to start my Netflix affliction with Black Mirror and I was in for a ride. Perfect mixture of Sci Fi, thriller and a bit of horror that this show comes with, some of the episode were just simply crazy. This show is a collection of episodes totally different from each other. While it’s an anthology series, there are theories that they are somehow in a shared “not so far future” universe. The show tries to predict life as it could be, with the evolution of technology. Spoiler Alert, it’s not pretty. The show is dark and almost all episodes ends in a grim way. This show ain’t for the faint of heart and poses more questions then it answers. But it’s painfully beautiful. The Christmas special episode “White Christmas” is a pinnacle of Black Mirror at it’s finest. Needless to say, I would need to pay some of the episodes, a rewatch.

Stranger Things:

I was introduced to this show by my colleague. Yet another Netflix’s original series, the show is a good watch for taking a break from grim shows like Black Mirror, while retaining the thrill that came with it. Without delving into details, the show is a great if you can dig the 1980’s era it portrayed. It might also be nostalgic to you, for the lead characters in the show are 4 little children, best friends playing some of the classic 1980s games like D&D and taking a hike on bikes. While I didn’t play D&D, the friendship between the 4 friends portrays a chemistry, not easy to stop yourself from falling in. Add to it “monsters form the dark”, and things get spicy very quickly.

Rick and Morty:

I had my doubts when I saw first 4 episodes of this show. I started to compare it with Futurama, which I found to be very interesting and became a fan very soon. But the show started to appeal to my senses, once I got use to it. This animated show is about a boy named Morty and his grandfather Rick, who is also a scientist with crazy speech patterns and over excitement issues. Sounds a bit familiar? Back to the Future maybe? Yes. The inspiration of Rick and Morty does seems to be come from BTTF. The similarity between the name Marty and Morty isn’t just a coincidence. Rick and Morty, is a show with very dark humor, difficult to follow if you are not at certain IQ level (to digest all that is offered), and throws you for a spin with every episode. The grand scheme of things in Rick’s universe is everything and nothing at the same time. You tend to feel nothing is of consequence in one episode while the next makes you question reality. Rick and Morty is a show that can make you laugh, gives you an existential crisis, makes you care about its characters, while provide you an underlying story slowly building between episodes. One episode in season 3 especially, made me feel like I watched an entire movie in the span of 20 minutes. So I can safely say that the show did have an impact on me, provided I had to get past the initial few episodes of first season, where it felt quite intimidating.

Here is the list of shows that I have found to be interesting on Netflix (watched and planning to watch), including direct links to them for reference and documentation. Note that the links will only open if you are signed out of Netflix or if you have a working subscription. I have also written my comments on few of them.

Netflix Originals:

The End of the F***ing world

Dark

Sense 8 : It’s from the makers of Matrix. It was bound to be on my list.

Altered Carbon: It’s a Blade Runner-esque styled thriller. Slow in pace in start, but takes you on a ride to solve a murder mystery, thousands of years in the future.

The Mist

The OA

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I loved the movie version of it enough to keep this series based on the movie in my list. As a bonus, the Count Olaf is played by Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother! Whoa!

3%

Travelers : I am simple man. I see Time Travel, I add it to my list.

Marvel’s Daredevil : A blind superhero from DC comics. I need to watch this.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones : The show is very dark (should simply be termed Netflix style). Female with some super abilities and a psychological villain. This show is great.

Erased

Between

Stranger Things : Already explained above.

Gerald’s Game: (movie)

SERIES:

Breaking Bad

The IT Crowd

The 100

The Cosmos

Doctor Who

Under the Dome

Elementary

Darknet

Genius : A friend told me about this show. Couldn’t pass on series based on conflicts between scientists like Edison vs Tesla!

Black Mirror : Already explained above.

Rick and Morty : Already explained above.

Sex: My British Job

12 Monkeys

How the Universe Works : I am a sucker when it comes to things related to Cosmos!

Continuum

Ascension

Helix

Steve Jobs

Video Game Highschool

Genius of the Modern World

Very British Problems

Frequency

Edge of the Universe

It happens only in India

The Code

The most beautiful hands of Delhi

India’s Frontier Trains

India Bike Week

Mumbai Railway

What’s with Indian men

American Experience: War of the Worlds

IT Champions

I would be updating this list with synopses for the shows that I complete watching.

Setting up WordPress on Debian 9.3 x64 on a Virtual Machine on Windows 10

In this article I am documenting the exact steps that one needs to host a wordpress based site on a Debian based virtual machine (VM). I choose debian since that’s one of the preferred distro based on it’s stability and smaller footprint on resources compared to Ubuntu. But you may very well choose Ubuntu, only some steps in below documentation would differ.

This article deals with following technologies:

  1. Windows 10: The host operating system
  2. Oracle VirtualBox: The Virtual Machine software
  3. Debian 9.3 x64: The distro which we will install on the VM
  4. nginx: The web server
  5. mariadb: MySQL database solutions
  6. php: The package which installs on Debian automatically as a dependency
  7. phpMyAdmin: Administration tool for MariaDB

Continue reading Setting up WordPress on Debian 9.3 x64 on a Virtual Machine on Windows 10

Amazon Prime Video: Update after 9 months of subscription

I subscribed to Amazon Prime on December 2016 with the free trial. Paid Rs 500 for an year from Feb 2017, and ever since enjoying it. Prime has been my goto almost every night for a dose of entertainment. I have watched so much content in the last 9 months that I think I can now separate the wheat from the chaff and suggest shows better.

I will start with a small review of the shows that I completed and then will add the shows which I intend to watch next. I will go alphabetically:

Brothers Conflict is an anime series about a girl who moves in with his 13 step brothers, each having a unique personality. The story then progresses where every one is trying to get a piece of her affection. This was a weird show and I am glad it doesn’t have a second season. I have seen good animes, and this was not one of them. I wouldn’t recommend.

Censorship In The Future is a 5 min short and is a great mock of how censorship would look like in future if it’s going to continue at the current pace. And it’s hilarious at best. Must watch!

Extant (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller): a mystery thriller about a female astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. I admit this show isn’t that bad. I enjoyed the show with it’s alien abduction and sci fi elements. An AI robot reminded of David from the Steven Spielberg’s movie AI. It isn’t the best show on planets, but it’s worth for it’s story arc and thematic elements.

Kommune presents The Storytellers:  (Drama: Plays/Performance, World Cinema: Indian): Remember the good old days of sitting around a campfire sharing stories? The Storytellers is a modern day take on that. At a time when interactions primarily take place across screens, The Storytellers encourages people to look up and connect with one another by sharing their personal life experiences face to face, without inhibitions and with honesty. I watched all stories featured on the show. I liked every bit of it. These were under 10 min six stories that were nice to hear. Must watch!

Le Mans: If it hadn’t for Prime, I probably would have not discovered that a race happens in France that stretches for 24 hours straight and is a true test for endurance and efficiency. This show was a breath of fresh air for sports and absolutely loves every minute of it. Watching how the drivers and there crew battle to finish the race (and not just coming in top 3), was an enchanting experience. If you are thrill seeker and love speed, this documentary is a Must Watch!

Mr. Robot (Crime, Drama, Thriller): Follows Elliot, a young programmer working as a cyber-security engineer by day, and a vigilante hacker by night. I have watched the show before it came on Prime. But haven’t got a rerun of it on Prime. The 1st episode I watched didn’t have any censorship on it. This show is ab absolutely must watch if you haven’t already.

People of Earth (Comedy): Damn, this show was good. There aren’t much shows that blend comedy with Sci Fi with such finesse. The main character of the show is mundane yet so likable. This is also a much watch on this list.

Person of InterestJim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line), Michael Emerson (Lost) and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow) team up in this thought-provoking crime action drama from The Dark Knight’s Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions (Fringe, Lost, Alias). Set in New York City, this procedural centers on an ex-CIA agent, presumed dead, who partners with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes. This show was not originally on my list. But then I started watching it trusting the IMDb rating of 8.5. I was glad I did that, cause right now I have just finished season 3 and god damn, it just goes on keeping interesting. A super computer (maybe sentient, we don’t know) helps a group of people saving lives, the show takes you on a ride. It keeps you on the edge and never makes a moment dull. The show moves too fast for it’s own advantage, cause we get to see so many angles to the premise. Just when you think you had enough, it punches your gut and makes you realize, the story have just started! The mid of season seems like season finale and you can’t stop binge watching the next season after one ends. I could write so much about the show. Despite this show being too much violent for my taste I still love it. This show is an emotional coaster of emotions and views. Absolutely must watch.

Scorpion: Scorpion is based on the true story of Walter O’Brien, an eccentric genius with the world’s fourth-highest I.Q. and the creator of a company of brilliant misfits who use their mental muscle to defend the planet against complex high-tech threats of the modern age. Another show that was added after I made the initial list, I had already watched the first season of this earlier last year. So I knew what I was getting into. This show about a few people with high IQ, is inspired from a self proclaimed genius Walter O’Brien. I can’t say anything about the real Walter, but this show is an ingenious attempt to entertain, as well as inspiring students to take up science. This show also have a side that attempts to show how difficult is for people with high IQ (Intelligent Quotient) to maintain their EQ (Emotional Quotient) levels. I loved the show to the very end of season 3. Must watch for sure.

The Last Ship: Navy Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) and his crew must find a cure after a pandemic wipes out billions of people worldwide. Scientist Rachel Scott is assigned to the U.S.S. Nathan James to investigate the cause of the rapidly spreading virus. Chandler and his crew may be humanity’s last hope in the wake of a worldwide catastrophe. Again a show that was not in my original list but which have become a must watch. This show isn’t science fiction (although does deal with an apocalyptic world). The show seems a propaganda for endorsing Navy for US, but grows on to be much more than that. The story is good. The action scenes on par, and the execution just phenomenal. The navy captain Tom Chandler is like a super hero in the series and for good reasons. This series is quite a different kind of action show, since it’s basically about war on ocean, something new from all the hoards of crime series out there.

The Man in the High Castle (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller): A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war. This show is phenomenal. It’s like an alternate reality where Germany have won the war and along with Japan rule US. The attention to detail is breathtaking, story just epic and execution worthy of Oscar. The show have a bit of sci fi element that I wouldn’t want to spoil. The show deserves every bit of appreciation. It’s the series like this which makes me believe that Hollywood creates entire world!

The Tick: In a world where superheroes have been real for decades, an accountant with mental health issues and zero powers comes to suspect his city is owned by a global super villain long-thought dead. This new show as Amazon original is a comedy superhero that doesn’t take itself seriously. The show was good to watch, but didn’t leave any lasting impressions. It’s not on my must watch list.

To watch list:

I have these shows yet to watch. Some are from the original post and some are new:

Dexter: (Crime, Drama, Mystery): When blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan is not out solving murders, he spends his time as a serial killer who eliminates those who do bad things. I initially watched a couple of episodes and thought the show might be censored. So stopped watching. But it seems the show isn’t censored after all. I might resume watching it soon.

Dexter’s Laboratory: This cartoon show was a riot in my childhood days. It was a perfect example of how cool the cartoon shows of late 90’s were! There are tons of episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory and alas the Prime contains only a handful of it. The season 1 of Dexter’s Laboratory on Prime starts from someone mid of actual season 2 and ends with somewhat mid of season 3. I would love to see all episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory but I am not hopeful of it.

Elementary (Crime, Drama, Mystery): A modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with the detective now living in New York City. I just never got around to start watching this.

Fringe (Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi): An FBI agent is forced to work with an institutionalized scientist and his son in order to rationalize a brewing storm of unexplained phenomena. I started watching this series, but it couldn’t hold my interest. The story seemed too convenient. It has a rating of 8.4 on IMDb. I may pick this up later.

Fullmetal Alchemist (Anime): On one fateful night, Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse losing his entire body in an alchemy experiment gone awry. From this point, Edward’s only concern is finding a way to return his brother to his body. He soon finds himself in the service of the government as a State Alchemist. It is here the amazing story of the youngest State Alchemist in history begins. Haven’t got around to start watching this. Maybe soon.

Startup (Crime, Thriller): Nick Capelli emerges from prison into a world where his once strong mafia family has eroded, leaving him with no direction, but an uncontrollable need to try to recreate his past criminal life. In the modern world where the mafia doesn’t command respect like it used to, this series takes a look at what it would take for a modern crime organization to rise today. Haven’t picked up the show.

The New Archie’s: An updated version of the animated version of the classic comic book series. I have read a comic of Archie. That’s what I know it from. I would like to watch this one season animated Archie.

The World’s War (Documentary, History): British historian David Olusoga, along with other historians, narrates the story of millions of Indian, African and Asian troops who fought and died alongside French and British troops to help win the war against Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

V (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller): Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) stars in this reimagining of the hit miniseries from Scott Peters, creator of The 4400. “Visitors” appear in every major city in the world, promoting a message of peace … but could they be a threat to our existence? I would probably start watching this soon.

Wolverine and the X-Men (Animation, Action, Adventure ): The story picks up one year after the attack on Xavier Institute that caused the disbanding of X-Men and the mysterious disappearance of Professor X and Jean Grey. Wolverine must reunite his team to find out what happened that fateful night. Their position as mutants doesn’t make things any easier as the MRD (Mutant Response Division) is hunting down and exterminating them.

As for Movies, I have watched only quite a few movies on Amazon in the last 9 months. Some of them are:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Found the movie absolutely slow and boring. But a few must have liked it. Or it was a very dark movie that I was not prepared for.

Befikre: I wasn’t prepared for this mindless garbage too. The film that I was better not watching.

Hindi Medium: Absolutely gem of a film. Irfan does a great job again with this really great film that is a must watch. The song by those children on stage absolutely blew me away. I had watched this film on theater and I will watch it again anytime!

SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out Of Water: Well, I wanted to watch the film since I love SpongeBob the original animated series. I must say movie was a roller coaster ride too.

There are a lot movies in my backlog now, then when I started with Prime. Almost all of below movies have been added in the last 9 months:

Deepwater Horizon
La La Land
Sully
Parched
The Walk
Titli
Poorna

Plus following are the movies that is on my watchlist since long:

Mr. X in Bombay (1964): Shobha’s dad who is a scientist gets into a difficult situation after an experiment he was conducting goes wrong and kills his employee Manohar.
Indian Sci Fi movie from way back. I can’t miss to watch this.

Saving Private Ryan (Action, Drama, War): Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Sarbjit (Biography, Drama, History): Biopic of Sarabjit Singh, a farmer residing at Bhikiwind, Punjab, near the Indo-Pak border, crossed the border after having a couple of drinks. However, he was mistaken to be an Indian spy and was sentenced to capital punishment.

I had no idea, this list would grow so big, but Amazon Prime have been really great till now!

Upgrading my Gaming PC with a Solid State Drive (SSD)

It took me years to catch up to the PC Master race when I first started upgrading my PC around 4 years ago. With the recent upgrade to RX 480 GPU my PC stepped into an uncharted territory. But there was still a final piece of puzzle that wasn’t in it’s place but which had the potential to make my PCMR journey to it’s final conclusion. Combine this with the fact that India was about to see a revolution in terms of economy with the new implementation of taxation, that is GST (Goods and Services Tax), I had to act fast. So I finally decided to bite the bullet and finally buy the last piece of the puzzle, an SSD!

I did my research on the forums. I studied the technologies provided by different companies, benchmarks and various kinds of SSD that was available. I studied the price to performance metrics, and price per GB of disk. I watched various youtube videos on YT, including the all too popular channel Linus Tech Tips. All that R&D pointed to me a very clear choice: Samsung Evo 850 250 GB.

Brand Model Capacity (GB) Price Price per GB Link
Samsung 750 EVO 120 4499 37 Link
Samsung 750 EVO 250 7499 30 Link
Samsung 850 EVO 250 7600 30 Link
WD Green 120 3999 33 Link
WD Green 240 6151 26 Link
WD Blue 250 6700 27 Link
Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 3949 33 Link
Kingston SSDNow UV400 240 6499 27 Link
Kingston SSDNow V300 120 4149 35 Link
Kingston SSDNow V300 240 9179 38 Link
Kingston SSDNow A400 120 4200 35 Link
Kingston SSDNow A400 240 6499 27 Link
Crucial MX300 275 7150 26 Link
Damn, it’s deceiving simplicity!

Continue reading Upgrading my Gaming PC with a Solid State Drive (SSD)

Year 2016 at a Glance: An year of experiences

So Year 2016 proved to be a year I saw snow peaks for the first time in my life, went to a road trip, ascended to PC Master race and also went on to be a gamer, full throttle. This article is an account of things that shaped the year 2016 for me and the places I traveled to.

Rocket League became Life!

Right of the bat in Jan 2016, I was introduced to this game that was about to take my life by storm. I have wrote about Rocket League earlier. The most played game I played was Burnout Paradise which clocked around 137 hours. But as the year ended I reached a bit shy of 1000 hours playing this mother of a game. This game is the single most constant thing that happened to me in the year 2016. This was the game I looked out to play almost every night after I returned from a busy day at work. This was the game that taught me competing. This was the game with a steep learning curve, that made the wins deserving and the losses feel bad. It’s easy to get carried away, but I can’t ignore my experience of around 1000 hours that I poured in this game. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this game ignited the real gamer out of me.

Ascension to PC Master Race with Radeon RX 480 GPU

During the end of year, when I was completely hooked into Rocket League, I realize the one thing that was holding my experience of the game was that I didn’t have a dedicated GPU to handle the video graphic processing that my PC wanted to do. At this time, AMD came up with its new series of Radeon Graphics chips known as Polaris using the new 14 nm FinFET manufacturing process. It blew Nvidia’s technology and gave it a solid competition. It was here that I finally decided to spend my Amazon’s $90 credit to use and ordered the MSI’s rendition of RX 480 which I fall in love when I saw it the first time. I have wrote about my ascension in this blog. With this new GPU, I could now also play games like Quantum Break, with its time bending premise sure got me dazzled when I first played it.

Amazon’s Prime Video Streaming service:

In December, I came to know about the Amazon’s prime video service, which they launched for India. At an introductory offer of Rs 500 for a year I was lured in to try that. First month was even free. I wrote about Amazon Prime in this post and started with the series “Man in High Castle” and boy did it blew me away. What if Russian had won the world war 2 was an interesting premise and with the hint of Sci Fi, this easily got me hooked. It was a great way to end the year.

Tweasure Hunt in March:

On the evening of 11th Marc, when my friend Ankur told me about an activity being happening on weekend in Hauz Khas village, named “Tweasure Hunt”, sponsored by “So Delhi”. On 12th March, we convinced my former colleague Nasir (with whom I went to a trip to Kasauli last year) and Ankur’s friend Rahul to be a part of. What went on 12th of March was a trip I can’t really forget. The name of “Tweasure” hunt isn’t a typo since it was aptly named due to the fact that Twitter and Instagram was involved in the hunt and to score points. Running around in the market of Hauz Khas village, the four of us went on a trip to explore restaurants and shops and to try to complete activities for most scores. You can read more about the Tweasure Hunt in this blog and watch a video, where sadly we didn’t appear despite the fact that we were interviewed at the end of the day. :'(

Manali Trip in May

Then in May, Me, Ankur and Nasir decided to team up again for a trip to Manali. I just wanted to experience one thing that I didn’t do in my sane life before. That was to experience snow fall in first person. Was my dream going to be true? We had the weekends to find out. So out we went on the Manali trip via an AC bus booked by Nasir on a Friday night, and reached Manali the morning of Saturday. That day we booked a room in a hotel, wandered Manali and the market. The Mall road was a pretty busy street where we got to see a lot of crowd from all over India and even outside India. On this day we also went to Beas river, crossing a park.

Rohtang Pass

The next day we went to where I was suppose to go, “Rohtang Pass”. At around 13k feet, we reached there in a local bus and was astounded to see the peaks of snow covered peaks even before we reached the stop for Rohtang Pass. We had forgotten to rent snow boots and snow protective gear thinking we will be able to get that in the Pass. But we were wrong and no gear was available to rent on top of the mountain. There were no snow sports, or eatable stalls either. We learned that those were removed to make the Pass cleaner. But this disappointment didn’t stop us from making our way to the top of a peak. In our sports shows and no gloves, Ankur and me climbed to the top of a mountain, slowly and steadily. We were holding snow and climbing with our bare hands while taking enough breaks to let it warm. I knew the dangers of Hypothermia and didn’t want to be a victim of the same, hence precautions were necessary. While the excitement was trying to get the best of us, still we manged to safely climb to the top and take amazing pictures.

The 3rd and final day of Manali trip we made our way to Solang Valley, which is popular for various activities like Paragliding. We didn’t actually did paragliding since the price was not worth the 5 min flies they were providing. Yet we enjoyed wandering and posing for weird pictures that will be remembered forever. Overall our trip of Manali was a great trip and a good weekend getaway.

Dhampur Road Trip in October

My friend Ankur decided to celebrate his birthday in his hometown Dhampur, where a Ramayan path was also scheduled. So we went to Dhampur on the weekend on Ankur’s Yamaha FZS v2 bike. This was a road trip one of its kind, since I hadn’t traveled on bike with him for such distance of about 173 km. It was a fun trip. I recorded our journey throughout. We ate in dhabbas and took breaks for photography in between. Ankur’s family welcomed this seemingly alien looking me and I participated in reciting Ramayan’s verses. Together with Ankur we also went to wander the streets of Dhampur and visit temples. I got to eat some famous Dhampur food like, “singade ki kachri” and “moong ki daal“. This trip was such a humbling experience that I am glad I took part in. On our return trip we also made our way to Ganga ghat and we did a ride on a boat.

Road Trip to Dhampur

Dalhousie Team outing in November

This time, as part of the team outing at my workplace we went to the team outing of Dalhousie. Traveling together in a Bus we reached Dalhousie in an overnight. And while we stayed in Snow Valley Resort, we didn’t actually was able to experience snow. The place had a cool temperature though, enough to give chills at night. But that didn’t stop us from taking a stroll in the market in evenings. We visited Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary, which was nothing but a fancy park, no sight of animals at all. We also went to Khajjiar Lake and the sight of it was amazing. It was here that we did horse riding. It was my first time feeling like a rodeo. Riding on a horse’s back wasn’t the most comforting things I did while on the trip. Shopping at Gandhi Chowk Shopping Plaza was also a fun experience. I collected some samples of the taste of Dalhousie like pickles and chutney. Our journey back to Delhi was via train, which if you me at all must know that I loved every bit of it.

Khajjiar Lake

Trip to Nani’s village in early December

The year was about to end with a something unforgettable. The journey to my Nani’s home in a remote village of Bihar. (Nani = My mother’s mother). I took a long leave from my workplace to participate in the marriage ceremony of Alok, my cousin from maternal side in early December. My Nani is one of the coolest person on earth, who is still more active  than me and loves to eat and talk. She was a very active participant in all the marriage ceremonies and put everyone to shame when it comes to get their chores done.

My Nani village – Fish Eye Lens

The marriage ceremony lasted for days, where I got to travel to Patna and back and danced to the beats of Dholak and got to eat delicacies enough to make me reach to ninth cloud. I also payed a visit to Darbhanga with my dad to take care of some personal matters. Together it was an amazing experience that lasted a little too long when our return train got cancelled due to unexpected fog, and we had to book another train which also got delayed by a day. Needless to say, the manager at my workplace wasn’t happy.

In the end, not much changed in my life except that I gave my PC a new breath and got myself new experiences and memories that will a part of me for forever.

Ascension to PC Master Race: 11 years in the making

Its a dream of every PC geek out there to have a PC that they can treat it as their own personal super computer. It took me just south of 11 years to reach from a Pen 3 PC to now a Core i5, RX 480 rig. Two years ago I wrote about how I started working on PC from a Pen 3 PC. I quote here,

It was in my college that my father was able to buy for me a Pen 4 PC in 2005, Internet connection 3 yrs after that, and recently I upgraded to a Core i5 PC after more than 7 yrs.

So here’s a little back story of how I managed to pull off a Core i5 and what experiences lie behind it.

I started with a PC when I was in school that I didn’t own. I owe it to my relative, the PC of which included a configuration of Pen 3, 20 gigs of HDD and a 15″ CRT monitor, on which I use to play Carmageddon Apocalypse and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; and learn to program in C++ by building a program as my hobby. Continue reading Ascension to PC Master Race: 11 years in the making

Amazon Prime In India: My views and a Catalog of Good Content

Important Note: This is not a promotional write up. Amazon’s not paying me to write this.

I always believed Traditional TV to be a very poor medium of entertainment. We want to choose what ‘we’ want to watch and ‘when’ to watch them, instead of letting the TV decide for us. With the pace of modern life, we want greater control on the content and timing.

Thankfully, traditional TV is now officially dead. Before we continue to the rest of the article let us take a moment of silence for the Traditional TV as our parents knew it!

Welcome Amazon Prime Video in India. With all the contents and shortcomings of it (coming below), I think the wishful thinking of a good and legal streaming service isn’t just a wish anymore. The introductory price of the subscription too, Rs 499 for a year comes to around Rs 41 a month, is highly welcoming indeed. Compare it with the most basic plan Netflix provides which is Rs 500 PER MONTH, and you can see why the price provided by Amazon seems surprising.

I have managed to start with the 30 day trial first, just to test the features of this streaming option Amazon Prime is providing. I did hear about some content being censored on Amazon Prime, but I can easily check the length of the video on IMDb, before deciding to add it to my watchlist. So far content wise its a bit of a let down, still I managed to shortlist various good stuff on my watchlist. I certainly hope new content will be added, and also browsing of content would be a bit better in future.

I tried to analyze the content provided under Amazon’s Prime Video. Here’s some from my shortlist. Do note that the genre I like to watch, which will heavily influence my opinion on the content provided by Amazon are: Sci Fi, Action, Thriller, Cyberpunk, Fantasy. I dislike Horror and (only) Drama shows in general.

Note: The direct links to the Amazon Prime website won’t work if you aren’t login to Amazon prime service. I intend to mention IMDb link in future if there’s demand.

Amazon Original Series:

This section contains few shows that I never heard. Some shows which I added under watchlist are following:

Amazon Prime Video is now live in India with aggressive pricing, local content catalog


The Man in the High Castle
(Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller): A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war.

I didn’t add anymore shows from amazon original list, just due to my taste. But worthy mentions in Amazon Original series include, The Grand Tour, Hand of God and Bosch. Do consider that the 4th episode of “The Grand Tour” is highly censored.

TV Shows:

There are many TV shows on Amazon, thought I couldn’t find popular shows like Flash, Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow. But I found these good ones (with description from either Amazon Prime or IMDb:

Extant (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller): a mystery thriller about a female astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. Her experiences lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.

The World’s War (Documentary, History): British historian David Olusoga, along with other historians, narrates the story of millions of Indian, African and Asian troops who fought and died alongside French and British troops to help win the war against Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

Startup (Crime, Thriller): Nick Capelli emerges from prison into a world where his once strong mafia family has eroded, leaving him with no direction, but an uncontrollable need to try to recreate his past criminal life. In the modern world where the mafia doesn’t command respect like it used to, this series takes a look at what it would take for a modern crime organization to rise today. [I JUST ADDED THIS FOR Martin Freeman!]

V (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller): Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) stars in this reimagining of the hit miniseries from Scott Peters, creator of The 4400. “Visitors” appear in every major city in the world, promoting a message of peace … but could they be a threat to our existence?

Britain’s Greatest Generation (Documentary): Documentary series on the generation who fought or lived through World War II.

Fringe (Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi): An FBI agent is forced to work with an institutionalized scientist and his son in order to rationalize a brewing storm of unexplained phenomena.

Best of AIB (Comedy, World Cinema: Indian): Do they need a description?

The Storytellers (Drama: Plays/Performance, World Cinema: Indian): Remember the good old days of sitting around a campfire sharing stories? The Storytellers is a modern day take on that. At a time when interactions primarily take place across screens, The Storytellers encourages people to look up and connect with one another by sharing their personal life experiences face to face, without inhibitions and with honesty.

Fullmetal Alchemist (Anime): On one fateful night, Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse losing his entire body in an alchemy experiment gone awry. From this point, Edward’s only concern is finding a way to return his brother to his body. He soon finds himself in the service of the government as a State Alchemist. It is here the amazing story of the youngest State Alchemist in history begins.

Chi’s Sweet Adventure (Anime, Subbed): Cause, Cats!.

People of Earth (Comedy): In this half-hour comedy about a support group for alien abductees, a skeptical journalist investigates their supposed alien encounters. The more he digs into their oddball claims, however, the more he realizes signs that point to his own alien abduction. The onetime outsider now finds himself part of this eclectic group of misfits, while struggling with the idea of life beyond our world.

Mr. Robot (Crime, Drama, Thriller): Follows Elliot, a young programmer working as a cyber-security engineer by day, and a vigilante hacker by night.
I guess Cyberpunk isn’t a genre anymore, but I was pleasantly surprised to have this show on Amazon prime. Although I am sure there will be censorship in this.

Dexter (Crime, Drama, Mystery): When blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan is not out solving murders, he spends his time as a serial killer who eliminates those who do bad things.

Constantine (Drama, Fantasy, Horror): Seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wicked wit. With the balance of good and evil on the line, Constantine uses his skills to find the supernatural terrors that threaten our world and send them back where they belong.

Wolverine and the X-Men (Animation, Action, Adventure ): The story picks up one year after the attack on Xavier Institute that caused the disbanding of X-Men and the mysterious disappearance of Professor X and Jean Grey. Wolverine must reunite his team to find out what happened that fateful night. Their position as mutants doesn’t make things any easier as the MRD (Mutant Response Division) is hunting down and exterminating them.

The Girlfriend Experience (Drama) : Christine Reade is a second year law student and a new intern at a prestigious law firm. Her focus quickly shifts when a classmate introduces her to the world of transactional relationships.
I don’t need to explain why I added this show.

Elementary (Crime, Drama, Mystery): A modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with the detective now living in New York City.

Movies:

I am surprised by the fact that I could shortlist only a few movies from the below list, but it goes on to show that movies catalogue is really small. I have added some worthy mentions below my watchlist.

Amazon Prime Video is now live in India with aggressive pricing, local content catalog

Mr. X in Bombay (1964): Shobha’s dad who is a scientist gets into a difficult situation after an experiment he was conducting goes wrong and kills his employee Manohar.
Indian Sci Fi movie from way back. I can’t miss to watch this.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001): In a future world, humans share aspects of their lives with companion robots called Mechas. But when an advanced prototype robot child named David is programmed to show unconditional love, his human family isn’t prepared for the consequences.
One of my all time favorite from Spielberg. Will watch this again and again until my last breath!

Saving Private Ryan (Action, Drama, War): Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out Of Water (Comedy, Animated): On a mission to save his world, SpongeBob SquarePants is headed to ours for the first time ever! When pirate Burger Beard steals the Krabby Patties recipe, SpongeBob and friends must unleash their inner superheroes in order to defeat a super-villian.

Sarbjit (Biography, Drama, History): Biopic of Sarabjit Singh, a farmer residing at Bhikiwind, Punjab, near the Indo-Pak border, crossed the border after having a couple of drinks. However, he was mistaken to be an Indian spy and was sentenced to capital punishment.

Worthy mentions for movies (which I have already watched): War of the Worlds (2005), The Godfather, Lemony Snicket’s Series Of Unfortunate Events, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, The Dictator, Into The Wild, Watchmen, Finding Neverland, Stardust, Paycheck, World War Z, Minority Report and Star Trek series.

Bonus:

The worst movie I could find on Prime: Journey to the Center of the Earth. Just watch the rating and review on IMDb. I do intend to TRY to watch this.

Conclusion:

I always thought how a Steam like model can be implemented for video industry, and how I would support it if the price is justified. Amazon’s Prime video seems like a good direction to go into and definitely the one streaming service subscribing is required to.

Resurrecting Soft Bricked Moto E

So I had a Moto E that was showing weird issues. Sometimes when it’s rebooted it stucks in bootloop and fails to finish the boot sequence. The home screen just doesn’t appear. I manage to flash a fresh ROM on it and after which it starts to work. I haven’t been able to identify the problem yet, but the turnaround is working good as of now. So I just want to document the process of fixing the soft bricked Moto E:

*** DISCLAIMER ***
Please note that this is just a documentation of the process I followed to fix my Moto E. This is by no means an accurate or official guide to fix your Moto E. If you do mess up your phone trying to follow this documentation, you can't blame me.

The simple procedure for a fresh Moto E is to first unlock the bootloader of Moto E. Which is a simple one time process which includes using the following command in fastboot mode: fastboot oem get_unlock_data. The unlock is complete when you enter a code on Motorola website and they give you a return string to unlock it. The guide is here. Continue reading Resurrecting Soft Bricked Moto E

Commands to Analyze Space through Terminal

This article lists a few ways to analyze the usage space of the hard disk through Terminal.

Space occupied by all folder sorted ascending order:
sudo du -h * | sort -h

The command ‘du’ is used in terminal which stands for disk usage. But the command alone gives listing of all files along with their size. The above command sorts the list, so that the highest space folder appears in bottom of the list. SUDO added since if you want it to run in root folder, normal command won’t have access to system folders.

Space on disk:
df -h

Above command is not path sensitive, which means you can run it from anywhere and also don’t require sudo.

Disk space usage per user:
sudo find . -printf "%u %s\n" | awk '{user[$1]+=$2}; END{ for( i in user) print i " " user[i]}'

Above script (combination of commands) prints disk usage per user and is not path sensitive. The script uses find and awk (extraction command) to give a list of users along with the space they are consuming in bytes.

Viewing first top directories taking space
du --max-depth=1 2> /dev/null | sort -n -r | head -n20

The above command would list top few directories along with their size, sorted in descending order.

Third Party Utility:

On debian, install ncdu by following command:

sudo apt-get install ncdu -s

Once install, you can use the utility ncdu to easily see the size of various folders through a friendly user interface right within Terminal. Here’s the ncdu manual: https://dev.yorhel.nl/ncdu/man
If above command don’t install ncdu try forcing the install by following command:

sudo apt-get install -f -y ncdu

With above command you can pin point the folder which is taking up space in little time. Also note that the sometimes you need to go deeper by using the command, sudo su, to view space of files taken up by say, /var directory.