tech


My most memorable selfie

Much as I don’t like this word “selfie” and prefer the original and very elegant word used by photographers – “self portrait”, no one can deny that it has become second nature to millennials and many others alike. At the same time, sometimes when one is alone and there’s no one to capture a particular moment, the “self portrait” tool on phones, or the “selfie” comes most handy!

Since this post is about my most memorable selfie, there’s one that captures one of the most thrilling moments of my life. As we all know, India and Pakistan share a border at many locations. Wagah border at Amritsar is one such location and there is much fanfare at the beating retreat everyday over there. There is a high level of security as well, understandably. I’m a partition grandchild. Both sets of my grandparents migrated from Punjab’s portion in Pakistan, much like almost all Delhites’. In May 1947 my paternal grandfather had got a brand new Haveli constructed that they had to leave in a tearing hurry in August 1947. My maternal grandparents had a similar fate. As a result, even though we share a bitter sweet relationship with our neighbouring country, I have always wanted to visit Pakistan and retrace the steps of my grandparents. I don’t know if THAT is possible at all, but I always wanted to be as close to it as possible and took the second best thing – visiting the borders of our country.

 

So a few months back I visited Wagah border at Amritsar. Of course once there, one realises borders are merely a man made construct for our own consumption. Humans are more tied down with this social construct and relatively animals and birds cross them freely! I could see stray dogs and birds cross from India to Pakistan and vice versa, throughout the time I was there. But of course us humans have no such luck!

Then came a point, when through special permission I could get to a specific portion of the wagah border where there’s absolutely nothing except for a short fence. Both Indian and Pakistani rangers stand side by side protecting it and patrolling this area. Beyond this all one can see is greenery and wheat farms. It’s the complete opposite of the heavy gates just a few metres away. 

Much to my excitement a Pakistani ranger was standing right there within touching distance! Of course I didn’t try to touch him, but I could just not believe that if I stretched my arm, it would be in Pakistani air space!

 

 

It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life! And Without much ado I quickly captured a selfie with the Pakistani ranger in the frame! However I had used my trusted old ipad3 for this selfie and Sadly as you can see I would have liked to capture my full face as well as more of the border, the beautiful wheat farms, the green lawns & lovely lillies on the Pakistan side. And well, some birds flying across both countries would have been “sone par suhaga”. I think if I had had a good selfie camera phone like Mobiistar with its dual selfie camera that captures a 120° wide-angle shot, I may have had some shot at my desired image! However I was and will always be very excited that at least I got to capture one of the most thrilling moments of my life. Of course, if possible I would love to revisit this location with a better selfie experience phone and capture many more shots at this location with a lot more in view.

 

Which is your most memorable selfie? Do share in comments.

 

This post was written as part of an activity on Indiblogger.in

 

 



The 55″ HOM Ultra HD Smart TV

Around 2.5 years back, I FINALLY upgraded from a yesteryear CRT TV to a high tech state of the art Ultra HD 4K Smart TV with android. That was quite a jump right? Needless to say my content viewing *completely* changed after that and well that was the idea as well. But such TV’s don’t come for anything less than 35K-40K. So what does one do if one wants to upgrade, get a better viewing experience, be able to speak to one’s TV, queue the latest music/movies/series on demand and not spend a bombshell doing that?

Enter :

The 55″ HOM Smart TV

HOM, introduces the 55” Smart LED 4K TV which promises to change your TV watching experience! This is the 1st TV in India to enter the market at the lowest price, making this a must have for every home. HOM provides an immersive experience for their viewers with a wide range of content available at the click of a button – Movies, music, sports, games, online content — whatever you’re watching, whatever the source.

First let’s imagine a 55inch TV to begin with. It’s going to cover a decent portion of any wall and is capable of transporting one to a “movie environment”. Now for the salient features:, it has the following:
  • 4K HD Display
  • Android 4.4
  • 1 GB RAM
  • HD Display
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • RJ45 (Ethernet)
  • 3 HDMI Port
  • 1 VGA Port
  • 2 USB Port
  • 1 Video Input
  • Smart Remote
  • Weather Update
The features are quite exciting. With an Android Smart TV with Miracast Technology, the sky is the limit to watching content. One can easily mirror one’s android phone on to the TV WITHOUT any cables! After this whatever you can watch on the phone becomes watchable on TV as well! Be it your images, videos or well just whatsapp! And if one combines a voice assistant to this setup , then all you need to do is speak what your heart desires and your TV will play it seamlessly! The TV’s have Inbuilt apps which keep tv watchers entertained (games), active, informed (live updates every 30 mins) and fit (fat burn program).

However that’s just the cake. The icing on top is the fact that this TV is now available in India for under INR 30k! The HOM TV’s would very soon be available at mobile phone stores apart from just regular TV stores. May be that’s why their slogan very aptly says “HOM: Har Family ka member, Mobile se sasta TV”. So if you are planning to upgrade your TV, then instead of waiting for diwali sales, you can quickly headover to http://www.homindia.in/ .

Here are some images that highlight the TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The TV’s come with a 365 days replacement guarantee (with T&C).

Note : This post was written for an initiative on Indiblogger.


Fight demonetisation woes with AxisPay UPI app

These days everyone is going through a tough time receiving money or sending money, thanks to the Vaahiyaat demonetisation rules imposed on us. Why vaahiyaat, is stuff for another post. However, till the time the instant removal of 86% of our cash flow is dealt with slowly and painfully, we can surely ease the pains we go through every day to pay for various services and goods.

Going Cashless can be done in many ways. Apart from paying through credit or debit cards and mobile wallets, one such option is UPI apps. UPI stands for Unified Payments Interface , a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund transfers & merchant payments – all into one. This system was launched by NPCI (National payments corporation of India) in April’16. Now all banks have started sharing their particular UPI enabled apps from August’16 onwards.

In this post, I will share some details about the Axis Bank UPI app, called AxisPay that I had the pleasure of using and experiencing lately. Axis bank was one of the earlier banks to come out with their app. It is very simple to use. Instant payments can be made vis this app, by using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA). One does not need to remember beneficiary details like account number, IFSC etc. Just Send money or Ask for money using a Virtual Payment Address. 

Here’s a very quick 20 second intro of what all Axis Bank’s Axis pay UPI app can do

And here’s how to do it.

 

 

As you can make out, the steps are really simple. No matter which bank account you have, using this app, you can send payments directly to any other bank account holder as long as they are using any UPI app (similar to withdrawing cash from any ATM irrespective of bank account). So here are the steps.

  1. Download the Axis Pay app from Google Play Store (iOS version coming out soon)
  2. Select your preferred bank account
  3. Create a unique ID (example – yourname@axisbank)
  4. Verify your account & set a PIN

 

To send money:

  • Select your & receiver’s unique ID
  • Enter amount
  • Send money by entering PIN

To receive money:

  • Select your & sender’s unique ID
  • Enter amount
  • Receive money when sender approves transaction on his app

The best thing about making payments through the Axis Pay UPI app is that the money doesn’t go to a wallet with an additional step (and some charges) to transfer it into your bank account. It also uses two factor authentication, keeping it absolutely secure. As compared to NEFT, RTGS etc, this mode of money transfer is instant and can be done 24X7X365 without any fees to use your own money. One app can be used to make payments to anyone anywhere, as long as they are using any UPI app. You don’t even need an axis bank account to be able to use the Axis bank UPI app. Besides, there’s no need to remember or fumble around for bank account numbers and IFSC codes. You can even pay merchants & even do online shopping using this app. In fact, Freecharge has partnered with Axis Bank to launch UPI enabled payment on its Android app!

So go ahead and download Axis Pay UPI app to make your life easier!

 

 


Hostgator is Post-Traitor

Here’s why you should never use hostgator’s services. They are post-traitors. They lose mail data. And then you can never get it back. In short – they can not be relied upon for hosting your data, which is precisely what their job is.

I have been using Hostgator since 4 years now for my professional photography domain www.priyankasachar.com. I started with the US servers after which my account was shifted to India servers following their expansion into India just a month after I signed up.

Since then, my experience with HG has been a living hell! Their India team is the most unprofessional team I have EVER seen for ANY service, full of incompetent duds who know nothing, pass personal comments and now they have gone and lost 6 MONTHS OF MY MAIL DATA with the following solution – “Now it can not be retrieved”.

I have raised issues several times with hostgator in the last 4 years of my painful journey and have even received calls from their US branch thanks to the unprofessional behaviour of their India support staff. I thought that with time, things will improve with the India operation because they might just be having teething troubles. However I was being impractically hopeful! Their team was AS PATHETIC 4 years back as it is TODAY.

Right after shifting to India servers, they lost a lot of my professional mail data (of 2 weeks) in June 2011 because their servers marked my mail account as a “demo account” for some stupid reason. This caused me huge losses not just in terms of the overseas opportunities I lost, but also in terms of my repute. All my clients considered ME unprofessional because I wasn’t responding to their mails, instead it was HG that was unprofessional by dropping mails and I had no idea that mails were getting dropped! Now HG has lost 6 WHOLE months of my mail data and the previous incident of June 2011 seems minor in comparison because at least then, I was able to retrieve mails from the server & get back to those who had tried contacting me and pick up pieces of my reputation somewhat, bit by bit. Currently they say that “Nothing can be done about the data loss”!! How pathetic is this organisation that loses professional data (unheard of) – the very data they are supposed to be hosting and then their employees have the gall to say that nothing can be done about it!

For the purpose of this post, I will look past the various issues I’ve faced over the years including loss of mails in June 2011, difficulties faced during account transfer to India, hosted images not showing on the site, the site being too slow, various downtimes, global outages over the years, unavailability of SSH multiple times, Google adwords credit NEVER given till date, harassment at the time of renewal for 3 years in 2012, unprofessional behaviour by Indian staff, unavailability of their tech support senior people during all this time, etc – and – get to what all I have faced just THIS year.

1. On 11 Jan’15 I realised that my site had been down on 10th and decided to upgrade the wordpress software & plugins to the latest versions. I kept trying to upgrade and I kept getting server timeouts and other errors. I thought it was something to do with my internet service provider. Little did I know that it was HG all this while! I couldn’t even access it via SSH or FTP! Ultimately when I contacted HG – following are the issues I faced:

a) NO contact information available on their website. Raising support ticket fetched no response. Live chat was offline even though the website screams 24/7/365 support!! What a rubbish claim. No contact number mentioned for support requests – only for billing and abuse. Their Toll free number wasn’t mentioned anywhere AT ALL. I was ironically, fortunate enough that my past miseries with HG had made me store their toll free number in my phone and I used it after I got no response whatsoever from even their twitter handle!! Why do they even have twitter presence when the duds maintaining it get back to people AFTER THREE DAYS!! This is how pathetic HG’s accessibility is – to even get heard at the basic level.
b) I managed to call the toll free number which after great difficulty and very long holding times, connected me to someone who put me on hold and then the call was disconnected! And this wasn’t the only time this happened for me to think that it was an exception! I talked to 5 different people mostly because the tollfree number just disconnected multiple times! I must say that the technical support staff is MOST incompetent EVER. They do not know even the basics of what they are talking about.
Firstly, my website’s ports had just been blocked out of the blue – with no notification or email or sms or anything at all! With the amount of marketing spam these guys send, could they not have autogenerated an email which alerted me to the issue? The customer instead has to DISCOVER the issue first – time does not matter here, then bang her head against incompetent tech support staff and THEN get to the point where the issue is disclosed to begin with! I was told that there was some malware on my site which is why my site’s ports had been blocked!
Here’s what I found on running a 3rd party check on my site:

Which means that HG has some beyond imagination parameters based on which malware is detected! Whatever it was – was NOT SO life threatening that my entire site had to be blocked due to some reason and that too WITHOUT NOTIFYING ME!!
c) Ultimately I had to tell their staff to at least fix SSH access which was previously working, so that I could at least upload files I wanted, into my hosting account and fix the malware issue. Even that had been disabled. Sadly their tech support staff was absolutely unaware of what I meant. One had no idea of how to enable the port used for SSH. The other told me to use putty instead! This was in spite of my sharing screenshots of the SSH command issued on terminal (In Mac OS). When I told her that I am on Mac OS and that putty was only for windows she started arguing with me! Instead of putty on Mac OS, one needs to run the SSH command from the terminal (app in Mac OS). Ultimately she consulted someone senior and came to the same conclusion that terminal has to be used. and FINALLY she managed to enable the port. It took me ALL day to get this mess sorted.
d) With every passing issue, I managed to unearth newer ones! this just shows how PATHETIC their tech support staff is and how unimportant PROCESSES are to hostgator! Now that my site was supposedly infected with malware which was mind you, NOT detected by any other malware detection software in the world, except for the one on HG, I was supposed to run a malware check through cpanel each time after changes, to see if the malware had been finally removed or not. In order to do this, I had to login to cpanel. I logged in only to realise to my horror that the credentials I had been using for years did not work – AGAIN NO NOTIFICATION for any resetting of the same had been sent.
e) I finally got my password for cpanel reset (do i need to add how difficult that was?) and then realised that “change password” option was NOT in cpanel at all! I AGAIN called their pathetic tech support staff and landed with another dud, who now told me that the very round about way of resetting one’s cpanel password, was NOW through the billing account! SERIOUSLY? AGAIN, so much marketing spam and these guys could not deem it fit to send ONE mail that mattered? One informing their customers that NOW they have to go through this roundabout way for changing the cpanel password?!! And to think that I wasted so much time trying to figure our where the hell that option went! I was told that this was for our own security and benefit. Well could the dumb unprofessional hacks i.e. HG’s tech support staff not think of sending a mass mail informing everyone about this so called benefit? If they are doing such a great service to their customers, why not brag about it? Refer to the numerous amount of marketing spam comment again.
f) Finally, i managed to change my password for the billing portal, then accessed it, changed the password for my cpanel, then accessed THAT and finally fixed the problem on my website which if you ask me – WAS NOT THERE TO BEGIN WITH. Also, their tech support staff was very very rude to me in this time frame and this one particular person was constantly muttering an exasperated “oh god!” under her breath. When I mentioned that the tollfree no was still NOT listed on their website she said “if you can google it what is the problem?”.. Their staff seems to have been trained to find faults with their customers rather than fix their issues! Appalling! I fixed my issues and thought that was the end of it but the next day my passwords did not work YET AGAIN and I had to reset them YET AGAIN. However this time I knew the elaborate process – no thanks to tech support staff. Why could these people not have sent ONE mail about how this worked now?!! Priorities much? What will I do with all the crappy marketing mails if I am already an unfortunate customer of theirs? What matters more to existing customers is what my data is going through at their hands! and needless to say that even the marketing spam is useless because all deals apply ONLY to new accounts and not existing ones! So why even send the stuff to existing accounts? Why the laxity in sending mails that matter? And How dense and rude does the support staff have to be in each call? Not to mention the average holding time of at least 20 minutes if you call them.
2. I had thought that HG would at least learn *something* from all this mess that they had created but I was so SO wrong! Also, I was dealing with a knee injury and consequent surgery + physiotherapy in this timeframe, so I let these incidents go without reporting them officially, even though I had been urged to do so by HG US twitter handle. On 27th May one of my clients alerted me that she had sent me some mails, some days back. which I never received and I fired up my mail client and realised that I had not been receiving ANY MAILS since the last 6 months+ ! I have put a forwarder on my mail id hosted by HG and even though the forwarder was working fine there were no mails received from the time period of 8th Dec 2014 to 27th May 2015 on my mail server in question!

a) I called up HG immediately and (after being on hold in 4 different calls due to their pathetic tollfree service, finally connected and) spoke to a tech support person, who pretty much like previous encounters with their unprofessional staff started blaming ME for not having reported this issue earlier! Excuse me but how is the onus of this on the customer? Then she went on to ask me WHAT I was doing in the past 6 months and if this was a professional id , I should have been checking it more frequently! Flabbergasted at this personal investigation, I even asked her what business she had asking me such personal questions! Seriously, do these guys not record ANY calls? Do these people not train staff on mere basics?
b)  I had dislocated my kneecap in december, fractured it, ruptured one of my ligaments as well, and had to undergo surgery followed by intense physiotherapy to fix these issues and was bedridden for quite some time. This summed up my time from all these lost months. So excuse me, the customer, for not being able to live up to the high standards that HG has for everyone except the quality of their hosting, processes or their support staff. I had placed my faith in HG and thought that if I make whatever changes I have been asked to, post server migration, at least the rest would function fine and wouldn’t need my intervention, especially if I have other things to deal with (surgery and post-op rehabilitation). Clearly that faith was wrongly placed. Once the tech support person, got to know the reason for my absence, she was quite apologetic but she wasn’t sure about retrieval of mails.
c) Since 27th May, several people have written to me in context of this support request and the ONLY answer they have repeatedly given to me in these 2 whole months, is that the mails can not be retrieved because that server has been shutdown. SO? how does that concern me? They should have retrieved mails from backups. How to fix this issue is the tech support staff’s problem! The mails have NOT EVEN BEEN BOUNCING. My clients told me that the mails have been sent and yet I did NOT get them. They did not get any mailer daemons. So they have gone SOMEWHERE. The last time this happened in 2011, the duration was 2 weeks and the mails had been retrieved. This time the duration is MORE THAN 6 MONTHS!! And their staff says “Nothing can be done”. Well who the hell is responsible for this mess?
d) At the time of their server migration on 8 december 2014, the mail that was sent to all customers did NOT mention that mail settings had to be changed! Yet this is what ultimately had to be done to even get my mail to start working again! This is what was sent. No mention of mail anywhere.

e) Why could an automated mail not be sent for the mail server changes required? Was their tech staff sleeping all this while? What caused this major oversight? In fact I was told by their staff that they had been fixing problems as and when they came in!!! THIS is beyond shocking! As can be seen by the previous examples as well, Hostgator as an organisation, WAITS for their customers to first DISCOVER that there’s an issue, then to discover WHAT ISSUE and THEN they bother to fix it – not without personal comments & incompetence! This is the most unprofessional practice I have ever seen. Not to mention that the likelihood of people discovering problems at a point when nothing can be done, is rather high. And this is not for the first time with HG either. This is after having seen various service providers in the business because I have been maintaining several websites since a decade now! As showcased in the 11 Jan incident, Hostgator has NO processes whatsoever. And this is a wordlclass MNC we are talking about. They just put the onus of all problems on their customers. Even for basics like changes in login details and password resets and mail server changes!
f) Most importantly, WHY is the staff busy making stupid excuses now to justify the data loss which in turn is an unheard of thing! If a server is being phased out , there are backups, there are processes, there is documentation. There is absolutely NOTHING that Hostgator has here.
g) I have been exchanging mails with their idiotic India staff over this issue, since 27 MAY 15 now but to no avail.

The way their staff has been consistently unprofessional and technically incompetent, the way my experience has been over the last 4 years, needless to say I am not going to stick around with hostgator anymore. In this day and age, these guys are inaccessible be it social media channels or other traditional channels put up by them as their forefront. HG india twitter id got back to me after 3 whole days of the whole fiasco on 11 Jan. HG US twitter id however got back to me immediately. Why are the standards not same for both? Why are they even trying to run the HG India twitter id if the people handling it don’t operate as often as the social media world requires them to? Just shut it down. I would in fact, recommend shutting down Hostgator’s ENTIRE India operations because THIS PATHETIC an experience after shelling out so much money is not anyone’s cup of tea. In fact my local hosting service with no multinational operations has proved much better for the rest of my sites. At LEAST they don’t lose my data and then make stupid stories about it.

I would like to hear their Senior management’s comments on this. My hosting with Hostgator expires in 2 days. Knowing how unprofessional they can be, I won’t be surprised if they do nothing for the next 2 days, after which this issue will sort of become a moot point for them. But then there is consumer court for issues like this.
I don’t trust these people anymore. And going by my experience of last 4 years, neither should you. If you have faced any issues with your hosting provider, please share in the comments.



Send twitter DM to non-followers 73

A lot of times I have seen twitter users wondering how to send DM’s (direct messages) to ppl who are not following them. Since I have had the pleasure of explaining it so many times on twitter, I thought I would just write it once and for all and share the link from now on. So here goes.

To send a DM to anyone who’s not following you, just “derive” their URL to create a DM message.
The URL would be http://twitter.com/direct_messages/create/ where you need to replace the with the twitter id. for eg. to send a DM to me, you would use the following link

Hope this makes your twitter communication quick and easy!

UPDATE:

Since twitter has updated its interface since last night, this hack now shows an error message. However it STILL works. Please ignore the error message.

UPDATE 2:

Following this post, twitter.com has suddenly realised some sort of a “loophole”, treated this thing as a “bug” and fixed it as well. Now this hack would not work in any circumstances. You simply can not DM anyone who’s not following you. As a policy or design decision I dont quite agree with it. People can send orkut messages, facebook messages, flickr messages to anyone at all. Why can twitter messages not be enabled? It’s very much required as a feature going by the number of hits this post received in the short time that this hack was working.