Why my mind switched from Maxpider car floor mats to 3M’s NOMAD

From a long while for many of my cars I had always dreamt of buying the Maxpider KAGU 3D floor mats. They were probably one of the most sensibly designed floor mats beautifully designed with a depth factor to help keep dirty legs contained within the mat area.

Also I believed that these car mats would help keep dust off the rest of the car footwell areas. Priced at about Rs.5000 and now about upto 2000 more, this was perhaps the best fit for any car.

Recently I had been to [**3M car care, HSR Layout**](https://plus.google.com/111780963333936319324/about?gl=in&hl=en) to get my Sunny interior cleaned with 3M special foam for about 2000 bucks a session. During that time, since I knew the service guys well, I casually chanced upon a floor mat roll being sold by 3M guys. I remarked that I am impressed with Maxpider and was looking forward to install it. This is the time some more sensible talk unfolded about 3M’s own car mat brand -the **NOMAD**. They showed me the mat which did not have 3D factor like depth dimension, but however had some other specific design meant to keep dust from flying around once the dust became dry inside the car footwell area.

Having said that, these 3M car mats retailed about 5000 bucks which was a similar price range to Maxpider brand. These mats also had noodle shaped loops over the mat, the speciality of which was to trap the dust from the footwear into the mat in its entirety. This further would not rake up the dust upon using the air conditioning and the finer dust particles thus would not be flying around which is very critical when we consider people with dust allergy traveling in the car.

3M also showed me a video of how these mats trapped dust and how easily the mats can be cleaned by just reversing the mat and tapping hard or gently onto its rear to release all the trapped dust. Furthermore 3M also proved to me that the mats could hold water for about 15-20 minutes in case of liquid spillage so that we can get just enough time to drop it off the car in order to protect other floor areas of the car. They had me sold on the product with this explanation and were generous to provide as much mat area necessary to achieve the stated results. They didn’t skimp on the amount of mat I got.

Further they also advised that the driver side mat would see some wear and tear due to driver’s feet which is always placed at a particular area on the mat. But the benefit was that I could just replace that side of the mat instead of the whole set had I gone with Maxpider brand or any other equivalent which I found sensible again.

Though its hard for me to in principle recommend that this would be the only brand of floor mat you would ever want, I would nevertheless say here that 3M is practical with their research and releases a product into the market only when it does what it says on the tin. Same is the case with their floor mats as well. Seems practical for now, and does a neat job of keeping the flying dust particles in control. When I do not hear anyone sneezing inside the car, I know my decision was right in installing these mats.

If you are interested in these mats check them out at a 3M car care showroom near you.

Why I will never buy a blackberry again ….


Image Source : [NDTV](http://cdn.ndtv.com/tech/images/gadgets/blackberry_z3.jpg)

Everyone knows about Blackberry. No not for the wrong reasons, but right ones. They were Canada’s regining kings in making mobile phones, much like the Finnish Nokia. Their phones always had an aura when you held the product in your hand. It had amazing finishes and the right set of ports to get your business going. One look at the phone and you knew you had just the product you needed to start making your day good.

Their desktop software with the latest Blend made the phone usage experience so much better. Everything is hunky dory about Blackberry. Including their new passport. They had enough time on earth to spring back from the dead. But instead of arising from the dead like the phoenix from the ashes, they have come out of the dead like a half eaten wild buffalo from the jaws of a crocodile.

How many years did blackberry have till now to research on the android and apple onslaught? 2? 4? They knew that their app store was a compelling piece of bullshit, so what did they decide to do? Give away money to their developers in the hope of equalling the google or apple app store? Wrong. They decided to allow android apps to be installed on their platform through some piece of bridging much like cut up pieces of pipes being joined to make on one big one through which water will flow.

I had a chance to purchase the blackberry Z3 just now. When I enquired in the brick and mortar shops, they said they dont sell blackberry. I was not so surprised but still was a bit taken aback that when even Nokia sells, BB doesnt. When I bought the phone, there was reason enough to understand this sentiment. Boot up the phone for the first time, and I can have a coffee, breakfast, bath, lunch, and dinner by the time the phone boots up. Its 2014 and BB didnt understand what customers needed? What the heck did they think they were upto displaying messages like “Please wait, BB is making your phone secure” – Really? Wait – does it mean until I booted it up it wasnt secure? BB, just what the heck were you wanting to convey – I just dont get it at all!

It does not stop there. “Please wait, loading BB 10 features”, “Please wait, loading BB10 customizations”, “Please wait, we are almost done with initializations” – Seriously? Bloody duffers, I am not installing Windows on my laptop, i am trying to boot a phone. But then oh yes, we are suckers to all this so we deserve this and much more. And finally when you think its booted up, and go into hub, you say “Preparing hub” – Can i ask what the heck is there for you to keep preparing everytime I boot up? This is not breakfast or lunch to prepare. And even if you ARE preparing something don’t fucking tell the users that you are upto something like that. Show something nicer on the screen instead. How about “Good morning”, “Did you have your breakfast today”, or something more audacious?

So with a finally “prepared” hub, you click on messages or notifications and what happens? – It takes over 2 seconds to even prepare the next screen to open up? Are you kidding me? And with the 2 years of research in preparing the z3 or whatever other shit, couldnt you guys think of swiping to delete gesture? If every screen were to take so long to open do you think users have so much time just to keep waiting forever? How about showing “Please wait we are preparing to open your message” or “Please wait we are preparing the screen to match your mood” or some other shit while opening that message?

Agree your keyboard is your best thing in hardware. But where is the swipe typing? You think you will launch it only in 2020? And by giving Hinglish keyboard you think you can market the sales of your phones to gullible indian public? You show something and I touch it, what must really happen in your opinion? Yes you must accept my choice not ignore and sit quiet about it. Perhaps you thought you could market a so-so touch screen and get away with that as well?

Talking about screens, you want us to live wide and work wide using your passport? I was extremlely impressed on seeing the passport. But after using the z3, I can only imagine what the passport would be. Irrespective of what patents you hold over it. And pricing it beyond nexus 6, and almost near note 4 and iphone 6 – i am not so sure what you want us to infer from that. Really.

When all your previous phones were as cool as cucumbers why exactly are the new ones becoming warm all the time, considering that I have not even opened anything that consumes data or gaming sequences? Is this your way of warmly wishing your customers good luck with the phone? Browse the net for sometime and I can make a dosa on your phone. This is the same thing that happened with my nexus 4. It got so unbearably hot that I had to dump it. Thankfully you are stopping short of that. After all some idiotic laurels have to be going to Google isnt it? There are sometimes bigger duffers than you.

The amazon app store shit next. Yes if you allow everything in amazon app store to be installed on your phone, then why the hell are google services not running properly on your phone? Is that because you are not a recognized partner that fulfils some obligations to google for this? Meaning your hardware?

Listen to this for good. Don’t fucking release a compatibility to something if it fucking isnt compatible 100%. Do what it takes to get that to a 100%. Its like giving half cooked meat to your customers at a restaurant and expecting them to say its tasty. Your phone is not android app compatible. At all. Compatibility to me means something else not what you offer. And to most other customers it would mean the same that it meant to me, not you.

Your default “native” apps. Twitter is great. Linked in is faster than android. But what the heck have you done (or not done as the case maybe) to Facebook app? Is that the best you could do? Or did your developers doing that just resign your company? Your app world is a piece of shit. Its an app dustbin. The rest of the apps are in some other world. Not in yours. And they are happy there making money and satisfaction for themselves and the users. Clearly shows how much time you have spent on optimizing the look and feel of your default native apps or what priority you have given to this task. No wonder the operating system looks and feels so different at different places.

You launched a device with just a dual core processor and 1.5 GB RAM. Which everyone believed and understood was enough for the operating system like QNX to run beautifully. But if you yourself think its not enough, then dont wait until your customers have to write reviews like this saying so. What the heck were your QC department doing? Or have you fired all of them by now? Was it some kind of dealing with Foxconn to produce and sell such crap? Whatever it is John, its not gone well with many of your (last set of) customers.

I thought you have learnt your lession with BB10, 10.1 and even 10.2. And then you launch 10.3 with so called flimsy android support and start marketing that as a feature? To win over android fans? Sick guys.

After all this shit, you have the audacity to give a report to the press that Blackberry wont concentrate on making new devices anymore. Really? Oh yes, why will you? You have already self destructed yourself with the Z3, and now maybe passport. Then you are going back to your classic. Next what? Blackberry Visa? With that visa you wont go anywhere much. When you know you have failed dont give a statement to the press on the contrary. It sucks. I am a BB fan, I am also an Apple fan. We know what BB does well but now we also know what it doesnt do well. If you are accepting your mistake also correct it. Dont just make another product which is the same mistake.

You know how people value your phones? They are ready to take the phone for 1/3rd the original price. The dealers in brick and mortar outlets are not willing to even listen to your company name leave alone sell your stuff. And most people don’t even know where your service centers are simply because – you didn’t care enough to let them know. When you have people who respect your company for what you did, your job is to manage that perception for what you do. History repeats they say. But in this case your history is a one off event that does not even qualify to repeat itself.

Better sell yourself off to Apple or Samsung to pack your bags. Because even people like Nokia are back with a bang. To show their passion for what they do. And you are busy making passports to travel with. Now I dont really care whether you launch 10.4 or 11.6 or 20.8. We know the fundamental platform of yours is a failure in terms of implementation and what you could have done with it. And hence I am done with you. Forever, for good.

Bye Bye Blackberry. I did love your desk clock. But for 250$ thats pretty expensive.

Big Basket and the art of shopping groceries easily

From a long time I wanted to try my hand at shopping groceries sitting at the comfort of my home. Just imagine driving your car to a mall, climbing few floors using escalators, pushing around huge carts, with annoying kids tugging at you, and ending up in that serpentine billing queue. The headache you have at the end of the day was expected!

The first time I ever tried grocery shopping was via **Fabmart**, which later went onto become Fabmall under retail, which was then became IndiaPlaza.in after which K Vaitheeswaran considered as the forefathers of online shopping and commerce decide to sell it to Aditya Birla Group which has renamed the brand as More and the legacy goes on.

After nearly about 15 years since then, a formidable shopping experience has begun via BigBasket.com. This website basically ships its supplies from its warehouses in each city sometimes as far as about 40-50 kms from your location or even more. The whole experience of buying from BigBasket involves few important things

* Online shopping experience in terms of product selection and choices
* Payment mechanisms and their ease of use
* Linking the online ordering to actual supply chain management
* Delivery of goods at the soonest possible
* Quality of deliverables
* Discounts and customer retention policies
* Word of mouth promotion due to positive shopping experience

All this of course starts with the page you goto online to shop – http://www.bigbasket.com

The entire website has been designed around one important principle of shopping – enabling customers to see product choices wherever their focus is and without even pointing the mouse elsewhere be able to add/increase quantities of their choices and get it into the shopping cart.

The obvious part of having the ability to filter the search results by different type of categories or pricing is always available here as well. One of the other things which is of importance to the shopper is to have a list of things he regularly shops for which is also preserved on BigBasket. Sometimes as per the recipe I may need a few select ingridients time and again, that is stored as a list and I always have it at my disposal to reorder the items again.

For some items like vegetables which need to be fresh during delivery, BigBasket has hit upon the idea of time slots per day for delivery. Currently they divide the day into four slots when you are most likely okay to have the order delivered. This not only maintains the vegetables fresh, but also provides both you and them an opportunity to upfront agree on when you are fine to have your order delivered.

The rest is of course upto the backend supply chain. I had my order promptly delivered as per stipulated time. Further due to the uneven weight of vegetables, they also say that if the weight increase results in costs going up by more than 5% they will revise the bill, else they will not change the bill which is quite a fair argument.

Furthermore, as soon as I paid for my order, I got a call from an executive who confirmed my order and double confirmed by when it would be available. Its reassuring when someone calls you and lets you know that things are fine. This is not an absolute must but quite useful sometimes when you are unsure what you ordered or whether you ordered all the items you needed. I did not have an opportunity to change or cancel my order but then I guess due to the time slot thing, it must be quite possible to do this easily.

BigBasket ensures that customers are happy from the start until the products are delivered to your doorstep. To take it one step further each time you place your order they share a PIN number with you using which you can rate the delivery when it happens without the person who delivers coming to know of your opinion. Small steps like this will help organizations to improve on a continual basis slowly but steadily.

My recommendation about BigBasket is that I get a feeling of complete control on their website, their customer service is outstanding, and useful details are shared all along the way (including an SMS on my phone) to let me know how they are doing on my order. Last but not least, I am happy with the products ordered and delivered. I will likely shop with them many more times.

The only flipside of the experience if I must quote that is sometimes some products are not available with them and just like any other grocery store I must come back later. They must have a way of understanding what customers are looking for with what they search for. If they do the analysis on the search terms, it will give them more data to keep their inventory stocked adequately.

Happy Shopping!

Norpro the chopper with a truly big mouth

Source : [Amazon USA Website](http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/415YHInf5uL.jpg)

I am a fan of kitchen tools (using gadgets or appliances here would be wrong terminology). Each time I visit the home centre I always make it a point to keep myself updated about what the latest in kitchen tools are. However I still feel India needs to catch up with the west on introducing some great tools.

In the context of this dialogue, I happened to look out for vegetable choppers on shopping sites such as amazon USA for pointers to what is the best currently selling there. After a lot of debate on multiple choppers, I made up my mind to order the Norpro Vegetable chopper. Advertised as quite a heavy duty chopper – manual of course – I was pretty impressed with a stream of positive reviews on this tool.

An unlucky friend of mine (people who bring you things from usa are always unlucky for finding you and your job for them are they not?) agreed to carry this for me from there. Priced at a little over 25$ this sounded a nice tool to invest on for my kitchen. I have used multiple ways to get my veggies chopped and have never ever really felt good at the end result each time. The point here is to have one set of uniformly chopped veggie set which was great to look at and eat as well when cooked.


The Norpro chopper is a solid piece of hardware. Its build is very very solid, and thanks to its vacuum suction below the base, it sits tight on any kitchen platform. Real tight. Doesnt budge an inch even. It has two different blade sets which give different level of chop sizes for veggies. Now remember one thing – irrespective of the type of chopper you use, the basic rule of the kitchen is that you must cut your big veggies into few smaller pieces first instead of trying to stuff that huge potato, tomato or cabbage even into such tools. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And the end result wont be to your liking.

The Norpro is simple to use. Lift the lid, place the coarsely cut veggies on the blade and slam the lid down. Yes you heard me right, just slam the lid down. Absolute bliss. Carrots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes – fantastically cut and all evenly done. You cant ask for more. I mean how much more longer are you going to cry with that onion each day? With Norpro, it makes the onion cry instead in few seconds. Stainless steel blades ensure no rust atleast for the amount of time I have managed to use it. There is also a comb to clean up if things get stuck inside the blades. If you have a force tap, even this is not needed.


No post is complete without showing you the end result for such an experience is it not? Take a look yourself and judge the result.
If you have a little over 1000 rupees, and you need a veggie cutter, and want it to have a big mouth like you or me, go for Norpro. You wont be disappointed. Cutting vegetables has never been so easy or so much fun.

Holding the iPhone 6 in my hand for the first time

Today I had the chance to experience the iPhone 6 as my friend had come home with the phone. I had [posted earlier](http://chowchowbath.com/2014/11/02/iphone-6-and-6-plus-first-impressions/) about the first look of iPhone 6 and 6 plus with my opinions on which one I would suggest to buy.

I would let the picture do all the talking on how the iPhone 6 feels in my hand. For those who wish to know I have a sufficiently large hand with long fingers. The iPhone 6 feels a bit narrow than my LG G2 but only by a maximum of about 1/2 inch or so w.r.t screen. The bezel of the iPhone does not feel all that odd.

What makes all the difference though is the thickness of the iPhone compared to any other phone. Personally after toying around with the iPhone 6 and LG G2, I still feel the latter is a little bit more meatier when it comes to size and weight. It feels just about right for holding it properly compared to iPhone. But where the iPhone scores is about how thin it gets on your palm. Its absolutely gorgeous and much like the new generation of iPods if I were to give a close match. I did initially have apprehensions that the screen might be too small to read fonts on. And it kind of feels that way. But somehow if you are not the types who will be reading too much on the phone, then it is bearable for some temporary work.

Personally I feel long hours of reading on iPhone would mean strain to your eyes for sure, but then that is why safari also has Reader mode, where the fonts are enlarged so people can read more easily. That should compensate for the otherwise lousy scale of fonts on safari. If you do not appreciate slippery phones, then you will surely not appreciate the iPhone 6 as well. Its slippery as an eel and you are more liable to drop it than any other phone that you have known.

The rear is not any more beautiful in silver than would have been in space gray for example. And the antenna patterns etched onto the rear makes this iPhone more worse in terms of looks compared to previous versions. The whole backside is so slippery that the first thing you need to do is to buy yourself a super thin matte finish case for the iPhone unless you want to break it.

So after working with the iPhone 6 would I recommend it to you? Over any other android phone? If you are looking at thin phones, go no further, you will not be disappointed with this one. Absolutely gorgeous to hold and does not feel like any of the bulky phones at all. If you do not intend to use a case, god save you as you would most definitely keep letting the phone fall down even if its not of your own will 🙂

The android ecosystem along with hardware is so fragmented that its really difficult to unify that anymore in my opinion. This is however where iOS scores well. The newer refresh of iOS is uniform across Mac, iPad and iPhone and each and every native app looks and feels new and refreshed to use and enjoy. The fonts, the sizes, the colors look great on screen as compared to user interfaces such as the LG G2. This level of refinement is an absolute joy to people who use it and Apple really have done well. Given the fact that all these apps run so well with just 1GB RAM but exploiting the processor and co-processor instead, Apple is managing to sell the iPhone 6 and 6+ in large quantities.

So whether you buy the iPhone 6 or the 6+, you are not going to make a mistake. And stop comparing feature to feature with other android phones for the money you pay. If money is such a sensitive thing to you, please look at cheaper options and leave Apple alone. Else you are in for a treat with the iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 and 6 plus first impressions at Imagine store, Forum mall, Koramangala

I had a chance to visit the apple store for the second time today to try my luck at getting my hands on with the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus to be able to provide my opinions through this blog.

Image source : [Apple India website](http://apple.co.in)

To my luck, I visited Imagine store at the Forum mall in Koramangala and found these two phones there. So without much ado, here are some thoughts about the iPhone.

Apple had launched the iPhone a month ago with great fanfare in the USA and the subsequent India launch turned out to be a damp squib with delays in the phone being available. Its november now and the phone has finally hit the showrooms. With the HSR Layout iCentre not having the iPhone 6 or 6 plus I was forced to just understand the dimensions only by seeing the phone cases which was a practical joke.

However today finally my eyes could feast on Apple’s next marvel of engineering.

The iPhone 6 looks like an elongated and thinned down version of the iPhone 5s. Its just not as fat, but pretty narrow in terms of width. So if you are comparing it to the Samsung Note or the LG G2 or G3, no – its not going to match at all. The latter are more wider enabling us to see more text at a single glance.

Coming to the iPhone 6 plus, one look at it and you feel that its too big to use as a phone. And there is no surprise why the mind thinks like that. Now many people have said to me both in reviews and in person that the 6 plus feels like an iPad in dimension. I beg to differ on this opinion. The 6 Plus is huge, bit longer than Galaxy note, but about similar width.

One of the things about the new iPhone is its thickness. If its selling like crazy this is because of how thin it is. I personally felt the Xaiomi Mi3 and the iPhone are of similar thickness, the latter being slightly more thinner. But then the Oomph factor still remains. Apple has managed to still retain the Oomph factor even in 2014 with their latest offering.

Coming to colors its an individual and subjective choice. I personally favor the space gray over white or gold. Frankly due to its thickness the gold color does not quite cut it for the iPhone 6 much unlike how it looked on the iPhone 5S.

Finally some things about the pricing. Many people have commented that one could easily buy a bike and a normal Android phone for the price of Apple. Yes true. So if that is what you want, please go and buy it. And you can drive the bike when you want and speak on the Android phone at other times. Now I have seen many phones with 2GB ram, 3GB ram, and other blah blah. With Apple iPhone 6 plus the new A8 processor still manages to play every game without stutter and other graphics intensive apps manage to run with just 1GB of RAM. This only means the money you are paying is not for RAM. its for the 64 bit processor architecture and the phone’s ability to handle application usage elegantly.

The pricing is prohibitive. But as apple says you are getting a computer at that price packed into the phone. We can go on endlessly debating that galaxy note is better or some other phone is thinner, or Chinese phones are cheaper. All said and done, Apple manages to hold its fort this time with attributes like better processor, thinner form factor and wider acceptibility among people once again.

So what is going to be my choice or suggestion – the iPhone 6 or 6 plus? Well personally for me its anyday the iPhone 6 plus. It was confusing at first, but after five minutes of handling both, the iPhone 6 plus blew me away. Its large, yet thin. Its elegant with sharp screen, colors and font rendering. I can see a lot more than before, and the applications are tailored to show me more and look better. Yes it is large if not necessarily thick so keeping it in the pockets (shirt or pant) is going to mean it has the susceptibility to bend if pressurized. There have been reports of iPhones bending for few people, and Samsung taking this opportunity to take a dig at Apple saying their phones only bend for the worthy enough. But any sales gimmicks aside, I am already a fan of the iPhone 6 plus for its humongous screen and the usability experience. Your choice maybe same or different from mine for valid reasons which include size, thickness, cost, and so on. Happy Choosing!

When no amount of planning makes any sense …..

I wanted to write this article for a long time but there were too many things in my way blocking me from making this article available on the blog. Pretty much things that correlate to the topic in question – planning.

After a month’s worth of planning to go to a trip to the Arabian sea front, and after booking relevant train tickets, and air tickets after much thought it was the day for us to leave Bangalore. The unusual rains that wrekced the city in the last two days did not bode so well with my thought process and it had left me pretty spooked about the trip itself.

I had a Taxi for (un)Sure booking at 5:30pm on the 26th of september. Being a Friday and peak hour, I decided that the booking at this time was perfect enough to reach the railway station in 2 hours from then, a reasonable assumption these days for people traveling in Bangalore. It was about 14-15 kilometers and by any means 2 hours is sufficient time for me to reach the station by 7:30pm for an 8pm train. Or so I thought.

After having a bitter experience with Taxi For sure in chennai, I assumed that the problem with that service is limited to only Chennai and Bangalore would be perfect. My worst fears came true when I call the company and enquire about the whereabouts of my cab. The reply not only astounded me, but also permanently erased any sort of existing respect for Taxi for Sure that I still had – “Your taxi may take 20 mins more to arrive sir, you need to wait while we check out and inform them”.

My immediate question to them was “How do you guarantee to me that after 20 minutes I would not get the same response saying that the cab is delayed again by 20 minutes?” for which as expected of an immature player in the industry came the answer “Not sure” – yeah – “Taxi Unsure”.

My mind raced ahead to do the math and I knew I was not doing good to reach the station on time. This is when I decided to try out Uber through an app I had installed just the previous day. After giving my credit card details as required by the company. I did not get a Uber Black, so went ahead with Uber X. After a few minutes I got a confirmation that an Etios was on its way to my house. Pretty neat. Really.

Luck does play the fool with you sometimes and that Thursday night was no expception in my case. I took a route which was not the best, and ended up in a 2 hour traffic jam. Every single traffic light was red. Every minute I moved about few inches. Viveknagar road was jammed due to Infant Jesus Church rush, Richmond Circle was perpetually jammed in a sea of vehicles. I got a bit luckier on the KG Road stretch and reached the station at 7:40pm. 20 minutes for the train to go. Should be able to make it, I thought.

On the way into the station (after Uber’s pleasant experience of not asking me to pay the driver anything but charge to my card instead), my wife managed to quickly catch hold of train information which said the train is waiting on platform 5. With four sets of luggage – 2 bags and 2 kids – I rushed up the overbridge (god damnit railway authorities have put up the escalator elsewhere than where it should be) and started walking down platform 5. The clouds had by then gathered in full swing and history was set to repeat.

I saw the train, the train perhaps saw me. We were 20 minutes away from departure. And all hell broke loose just 10 steps between the train and me. There was so much rain and so much of water that any possible thought in the mind turned out to be a bad risk management strategy. The whole platform was gushing with water. The ingenius mind which decided that we would go with as little luggage as possible, put us into a situation where raincoats were not there, umbrellas were scant – basically I had packed a recipe to get me drenched.

My wife decided that we must make a dash and get into the compartment before the train departed whatever the state of our mind and body were and so we did it. Luggage wet, me wet, wife wet, kids wet, everything wet. Thanking god that this was over, I noticed the compartment I was in was S5 and my seat was at S3. So me knowing all too well about the vestibule thanked god again and quickly trotted with kids along two compartments away to get to S3. Found our seats and sat there saying how we managed to win this round of travel planning. A grandpa there exchanged pleasantries with my kids – which kids dont like grandpas? and which grandpa doesnt like kids? – and finally popped me the most important question of my lifetime: “What is your seat number my son ?” – I said its S3, and seat 28. And then he tells me in a composed manner, – “Son, thats not possible, thats my seat, please can you check your ticket again”.

I check my ticket and realize its ES3, not S3. Its then that the evil design of Indian Railways comes to my mind. This Kannur Express is a part Karnataka, part Kerala trains merged together by a couple of general compartments. I understood that ES3 is beyond S8. And I am in S3. The train is on its way and I trudge along with my luggage bumping into each and every passenger and with my wife and kids in tow through vestibules upto S8. It is there that I got another slap on my face. The vestibule connection ended in S8. And I had four more compartments to go to to find my seat. The train was moving, S8 was overflowing with people and rainwater, and there was no vestibule.

After quickly assessing the situation with few people there I understood that the only option was to get out of the train in the next station and make a dash for the right compartment. The next station was Kengeri. A few older folks agreed to help me out and one of them agreed to take my elder son, while my wife comes with the younger one and me with the luggage. Great idea it seemed until I reached Kengeri.

The train was to stop for just 2 minutes, and it was dark outside, it was raining treacherously, the whole platform was full of water puddles, and there were a few hundred people on the platform running to enter the train and a few hundred people like me trying to dash to the other side of the train. The run began.

My elder son was the first to go – or rather to be whisked at the older man’s mercy of speeds and he was flung into the AC compartment ahead at the kerala bound part of the train. While I started running I realized that my body and mind were slowly giving up. My glasses were wet, I was practically blinded. My footwear started slipping. I had two trolley type baggages running on their own behind me as I tugged them and this entire setup was just one step from a royal tumble on the platform. I had no idea where my elder son was and I had a strong belief that the younger son and wife were doing fine behind me.

Finally I found my elder son and threw my luggage forcibly into the AC compartment. My wife had meanwhile gotten into the general compartment by mistake and people directed her to the right place. According to her she almost fell between the train and platform. Somehow she reached the AC compartment as well.

The entire sky had drenched us. I could not distinguish sweat from rain. My entire body was shivering and quaking. My heart was pounding like that was to be the last day of my life. I was almost at the point of collapse. My elder son was disillusioned and disoriented and fully wet. My wife and younger son were not any better either. My younger son was afraid, crying and wet. He was terrified out of his wits. He for the first time understood the fury of the rain. None of us understood what we just went through.

Our stupidity in planning our luggage for the trip and reaching late to the station for reasons beyond our control also meant that we did not have a single bottle of water with us. I was so thirsty, tired, wet and my head was spinning like never before. If there was a stretcher someone offered I would have gladly collapsed into it.

From there we went three more compartments by dragging our wet selves until we found our seat. Our entire compartment was wet and full of water. Luggage could not be kept down on the floor. The toilet water and rain water was mixed up and it was stiking all over.

Every cloud has a silver lining. The only decent idea I had planned was to cook some food and take it with me. And it paid off. That was the only freaking thing I had for the entire train journey. Except for some coffee that came by now and then.

We changed our clothes, and rented some bedsheets and pillows to make the kids warm. My kids were swearing that I must never get them off the train at any cost. Until they saw some sunshine the next morning. My younger son developed a viral fever and did not enjoy much of the trip. At 102 degrees he needed constant care for the remainder of the trip. The airline trip to return to Bangalore was perhaps the best part of the trip. After all this mess we went through.

Lessons will always be learnt. This time too. And here they are for your consumption if you care not to have an experience like me.

* Leaving 2 hours early is also not sufficient if you want to reach from outer ring road to majestic station during office peak hours
* Taxi for sure is bullshit – Uber is 100 times better and the costs are similar. I will never ever ever recommend Taxi for Sure to anyone anymore.
* You need umbrellas and raincoats or jackets. Nothing can be assumed about Bangalore rainy seasons.
* You need to read your ticket properly. Read the coach number properly at any cost. Every train is different and it also pays to do some research on the compartment structure at sites such as http://indiamike.com
* Trains from Bangalore city will leave exactly on time. Since they start there. Rain, sun or hell no one cares. Not the railways for sure.
* You need water and biscuits. These are integral part of any god damn luggage.
* Bangalore City railway is the last place you must ever think of boarding. In our case it was inevitable but to board there. Even after 37 years (my age basically) there are still no easy way to get to platforms. Even if there are, they dont work early in the mornings or late at nights. Just because Railways thinks human beings dont use trains during those times.
* The overbridge or underpass are mandatory tortures you need to go through at City station however young or old you are and however enterprising you are.
* Backpacks are better luggage compared to trolley type luggages. Trolley types are better suited for aircraft. Not trains. Not during the rains most definitely.
* Its impossible to run more than 4 compartments at a station where train halts for 2 minutes or less. Even that is practically impossible if the whole platform is wet, if the station name is kengeri and its raining outside like hell. Not a wise move to plan a shift there. Better to wait for Mysore where train halts 20 minutes.
* Floors of compartments are not suitable for placing luggage anymore. During rains it can get extremely wet and stinky and all your non waterproof luggage can take a beating and make everything inside it wet.
* For trains that travel across states the compartment allocation is slightly different and awareness is key.
* Always have enough time planned to look whether your name is on the chart or not before boarding. you will save yourself time and effort.
* Always carry something to eat, you never know what situation you will get into where you need food.
* The preferred mode of transport if you have money is AC coach. not a normal compartment anymore. Since Railways basically do not have a vision of what a train must look like in 2014 or even 2020.
* Pack some food at home. You will thank your stars later.
* No amount of planning is good planning if you end up in a situation like mine. Perhaps the plan itself was a waste. Change the mode of transport if plans are designed to fail.
* If its thursday do not take the viveknagar route lest you get stuck in Infant Jesus traffic like me.
* Never opt for a train in the evening, or during peak hours. Morning trains are better to use since the sun shines and there is practically no rain in Bangalore on such mornings.
* Never take ridiculous risks such as what I took when you have kids. Even if you miss the train its ok, but be together as a family. When its raining outside like hell, mobile phone is the last thing that comes to mind to sync up. Its not worth leaving your family in bits and pieces in this puzzle. I could have lost my wife and younger kid, I could have lost my elder kid, I could have hurt myself falling on the platform, anything could have happened.
* My experience ended fruitfully. Others’ might not. Be aware of this.
* Traveling in a taxi with AC for 2 hours in the road filled with traffic is very very stressful. It confuses the kids and elders, makes them figity, makes them hungry and tired and basically reduces energy levels by the time you reach the desitnation. An open auto rickshaw maybe a better choice if it does not rain.
* God exists.

I hope you learn something from my experience and pass this message along for others to read. Learning from others’ lessons is always better than getting stuck yourself. Not always you will encounter impacts like these, but good planning is meant to save yourself from this. And no one needs to understand or debate how good your plan is. The fact that you have a plan puts you in better shape than others who love to live by the minute.

Good luck in your planning!!

Why Bristol furniture makes a statement with respect to style & function

I was scouting around for computer chairs for my mini SOHO space. We have all been through this phase of life of looking at hundreds of computer tables and chairs only to find after buying that it did not either suit the style quotient we expected or the functionality we wanted. Maintaining such furniture has routinely become a pain in the neck as well.

In these days of do it yourself furniture minus the hassle of a carpenter, things have become a bit more easier, but nevertheless the value for money with regards to materials being used is still a question in everyone’s minds.

I happen to work with an MNC where they have some really tough, reliable and solidly functional office chairs which has made my back feel much better since four to five years now. I happened to google the net for [**Bristol**](http://www.bristol.com.my/Home.aspx), a furniture company from Malaysia which provides these for my office. I also have a nostalic connection with Malaysia since a decade now and hence I was biased even more when I understood this was a Malaysian brand.

Their subsidiary Kleiber Interiors at Domlur along Inner Ring Road in Bangalore are the partners who procure and sell these furniture to corporate houses in bulk. However when I negotiated with them on a single piece of computer chair furniture, they were okay to procure the same for me.

Coming to the chair I bought its called Presa model, and there are a lot of things which are good about it for the given price range. For those scouting around for a chair its quite easy to understand that a decent one costs anywhere between 5000 bucks to 15000 bucks depending on how the design is. The Presa from Bristol is a chair that falls a bit shy of the 10000 bucks mark and is in between this range and offers a good bang for your buck.

Today most chairs come with a V-shaped back which takes care of your lower back region. In Presa this is sturdy and you can be rest assured that you cannot have an unergonomic seating position with this lower back support. There is a netted material made of tough reliable strands that support your back all long upto your shoulder level which goes well in tune with the lower back support.

The seat itself is made of very thick grade foam and is very comfortable and sturdy to sit on. I did find that the foam itself was a bit hard but then that is what brings about a correct seating posture and proper support for your thigh and lower leg. Initially I was thinking whether the seat height would be enough to cover my ergonomic seating position on the table where I am expected to keep both my arms on the desk while typing stuff, and I must say I was impressed. The gas lift does a sufficiently good job of raising the seat level to a decent height more than what you may actually want.

There are two levers on the chair below the seat – one for tilt adjustment, and one for height adjustment which we already spoke about. While one lever moves up or down, the other one moves front or back. Both levers are of high grade quality and precisely control the action of the chair. The tilt functionality is great, and the chair locks up exactly in whichever position you want it to and remains glued there until you unlock again. But nudging your back on the chair you can quickly click unlock the tilt and bring it back to a normal position.

This aside, there are five wheels to the chair which most unfortunately do not have a lock which other common chairs in this cateogory come with. The lock would have prevented a free spin of the chair and in the case of Presa variety, its quite easy for kids to climb onto and unknowingly slide away to crash into a wall or furniture by accident. So if you have kids who are naughty then this is the chair to keep away from them. You could always keep a carpet or something to prevent free slide though and for an adult, this is not very bothersome during normal use. Personally though I would have preferred to have a wheel lock.

In my use so far for a couple of months, I have not found the chair to accumulate an awful load of filth on the wheels like hair, dust, etc. But only time will tell whether it may nor not. That is yet to be seen.

The armrests are too short to my liking and I would have preferred slightly longer ones. These rests have small buttons on the bottom, which would adjust their height as well. Its nicely done and can be appreciated for form and function.

Every bit of cloth, plastic and metal uniquely blends with one another and the whole chair looks professionally built and behaves that way. Frankly speaking Bristol surely puts a few other furniture brands to shame with their design purpose.

I would whole heartedly recommend Bristol to anyone who needs it and the sales experience with Kleiber Interiors was a mixed bag. They had indicated to me that it would take upto 6 weeks for delivery so I knew I had to wait. But sometimes my mails could have been answered in a shorter while than usual. This is strictly not a deal breaker though and frankly they guys there were very customer sensitive.

If you want to protect your back for a long time, need a sturdily built office chair, then look no further. Bristol is the place to go to to satisfy your buying urge.

Read this post before buying anything from Printland.in

I Recently attended a training session and when the trainer gave me his business card, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of that card. It was made of thick plastic, with surprisingly good inks used. It was shiny and so professional that it made me genuinely interested to source some for my own self with my details.

These cards were made by **[Plasma Designs UK](http://www.plasmadesign.co.uk/translucent-plastic-cards/#)**, but their costs were very prohibitive for a beggar like me. For a 100 pack of cards they were charging anywhere upwards of USD 199 which was too high for my reputation and business. So my quest naturally turned to Indian online print services that would provide me something similar. I have already ordered many items from **[Zoomin](http://www.zoomin.com)**, and **[PrintVenue](http://printvenue.in)** online but they did not have my kind of need yet. So my attention fell upon a new website **[PRINTLAND](http://printland.in)**.

This website offered me the customization capability that others did not. I could design my own card. This is where my interest in them started and somewhat ended too in a while. Hang on, I’ll tell you why.

The online customization of the business card was fairly straightforward, but adding pictures and aligning them within the card was tricky. The tool always restricted the picture size to a certain limit which was never made aware to me throughout the session. Having said that, a design that I felt was final was saved by me only to realise that the next time I visited the same page, I had to start all over again. This is for reasons unknown to me. If the tool cannot let me save my design, then its worthless as far as I concerned since the website is only going to lose a customer easily. That said, once I used my email id, they did provide me a link to my design which I could get to in a flash. Pretty yesteryear if you ask me.

My order was placed finally on July 1st, for 100 business cards made of plastic for a 1000 bucks (INR just to make matters more complete) and I waited for an email telling me when the delivery would be made and a tracking number for that delivery. July 20th and there is still no sign of that email. Due to my busy schedules I had almost forgotten about this order and by that date I gave a call to the company and asked them whether they remember my order, leave alone deliver it. First they said its already delivered, but when I insisted them on showing me proof, they said its on the way and it will be updated on the website in a day. To track my order I needed to enter order number, my last name, my pincode (maybe my favourite color, the food that I like most, my preferred actcress, my first romantic date I had with my girlfriend and maybe a few other queries as well). Sounds so much like 2005 to me after using Flipkart.

One more call and this time it gets passed onto the design department (which is probably another room in the building?). They tell me that the final design is still waiting for my approval since 20 days. I raise my eyebrows and then they realize the order itself is not taken up yet. After a thorough bashing from my end the supervisor or manager or whoever he is tells me that I would get a tracking number by a day more.

One more day passed and my patience evaporated. This is the mail I sent them :

“*I am very very disappointed by the way your company has handled my order. Since July 1st, its almost one month and you have not even bothered to inform me what is happening to my order. I have spent my hard earned money into your company’s product and this is the kind of service I deserve?*

*I am not satisfied with the way in which your company has handled this transaction and I expect you to deliver my order within one more week or refund my money if you are not able to do so.*

*Please stop giving excuses to me and call me to inform me the tracking number immediately.*”

Pat came the reply with the tracking number and the order was delivered within a day. One day delivery – after 25 days that is of placing the order. I was thrilled that finally there is a company in India that has delivered to me the same quality of product that I could expect from Plasma Designs at 1/10th the price point. One look at the package and I was blown away in all directions on the packaging done to secure it. If you can decode how to open the package below, let me know and you will get ten of my business cards free 🙂

The packaging inside was no better with thermocol all around and nastily arranged, and each business card was wrapped in a plastic cover for itself which I never understood why. The card itself was of pathetic quality and the information was just printed onto the card rather than being embossed on it the way I would have liked it. Another experience, another learning. This would be first and last time with Printland. Thanks Printland, but no thanks.

PrintVenue and Printo are pretty standard in what they offer and there is no reason to be disappointed. My strong recommendation is to stay away from Printland as far as possible as any order that you would make will only be considered after 20 days when you call them for all you know like mine was.

The Mi3 phenomenon – Xiaomi’s value for money android smartphone reviewed in depth

I had sometime in the afternoon today and my son wanted to go on a drive with me. Since almost a couple of weeks I’ve been also trying to secure some time to take a quick look at the Xiaomi Mi3, which is the current rage on Flipkart (for the right reasons) and Facebook (for the wrong reasons). Thanks to [**Subra**](https://www.facebook.com/maya4u) – a close friend of mine, I got an opportunity to play with the phone for a few moments which was highly essential for me to write about the experience. Writing about a phone through perception is one thing, and writing about it after handling it is an entirely different thing.

Having set the context, you can easily get the specs of this android phone anywhere on the net. The notable points about it are

– The price – about 14000
– The configuration
– Snapdragon 800 CPU with Adreno 330 GPU
– 5″ full HD screen, 441 ppi pixel density
– 13 megapixel rear cam with 2.2 and dual LED flash, 2 MP junk front cam
– Wifi direct, dual band wifi (2 & 5 ghz) and WiFi display
– Single normal sim, GSM (non LTE)
– 3000+ mAh battery
– 16GB flash memory for basic version, no extra memory card slot
– Full HD recording
– Multiple sensors
– NFC and Bluetooth 4.0

First off, this is probably the most value for the money you pay. No other phone may currently give you this bang for this buck. Its got a good processor, sufficient RAM, good rear camera, great battery and other features support as well.

Since I got time to play with only few features, those are the only ones I will talk about here. Most people have always wanted to know whether they can go ahead and buy this phone or not. We have already seen Gionee and their sales pitch and now more Chinese manufacturers are stepping into the fray in India, with Xiaomi being the latest. The market is still expecting OnePlusOne, who is boasting of 4K recording and other such features and it is to be seen what impact with that phone cause in the market. India is not alien to chinese products and the Xiaomi is no exception. People are lapping up this phone so fast that the whole sale on Flipkart was over in a flat 5 seconds. Now this seems more like a PR pitch to me, but whatever said and done, this phone sold out pretty fast, somewhat like Moto G or E. Or even Asus Zenphone.

The phone itself is sleek at about 8mm, and its made of magnesium alloy. Its highly slippery and its highly recommended that you install a case which has a better grip on this phone to avoid breaking it. Its large in size thanks to the five inch display and Xiaomi too seem to have not understood how to use their bezel properly. There is too much of wastage of space on the screen which could have saved a few more millimetres. The screen is sharp and visible in any kind of light thanks to the 441 ppi density. The screen is in the same league of phones of higher cost and brand value thanks to this kind of density. This only goes to show that many manufacturers now have access to these kinds of display technologies and possibilities. I really feel Blackberry could have put in a 13MP rear camera along with a 441 ppi screen on the Z3. They shamelessly decided not to.

The screen is not such a fingerprint magnet after all and that’s a good thing for this phone. I did see some reports suggesting that this phone does catch and retain fingerprints, but I didn’t find it really that way. I did not get time enough to fiddle around with the on screen keyboard but I am assuming that it would provide the usual path input typing (swype), and it would look as good as any other android phone.

I do not want to talk much about the MiUi which is the proprietary version of user interface from Xiaomi, in this blog post but I will nevertheless cover some aspects of it. The UI is definitely progressive and similar to other android UI but a tad more smoother in terms of look and feel. The icons and folders are similar to any other phone but highly customisable. The expectation was that this phone could handle UI transitions pretty well, but it seems to show a tad bit of struggle at times to throw up a screen or two. I did not face problems seeing the screen though at any point of time. The customisability was not substantial enough in my opinion though there maybe umpteen choices available from Xiaomi.

In order to test the GPU I had to do some intense gaming which I could not due to lack of time with the phone. I am sure that with the additional GPU rendering graphics should be a cakewalk for this phone though I expect game loading times to be higher initially. I also found normal apps to load up a bit slowly but thats not considerably slower than any other similar snapdragon 800 phone. The application load times is something that android has not actively worked upon even after so many releases. Irrespective of the fact that people might attribute this to loaded flash disk and all that, apple does a better job with the screen and app load times in my opinion.

Ok, enough said about the screen and icons. Next up camera. I found that the camera started up pretty fast unlike my earlier [**Lenovo K900**](http://www.chowchowbath.com/2014/02/22/the-lenovo-k-900-in-depth-review/), Nexus 4, or even the current LG G2. So full marks here. It is yet to be seen whether the load speeds are still that high when it comes to having a fully loaded flash drive with lots of content and pictures mainly. Again I did not have much time to test different camera modes and options, but I assume that the camera would not come into the greatest of great category like Nokia, but would be pretty similar to the crop of other phones out there in the market. Having said this, I still feel the implementation and optimisation of Android on Moto G is by far the best and fastest for the price point in question.

WiFi dual band, direct are some good options considering that there are lots of televisions supporting these at the moment in India. Less wires, less fuss, more focus on movie playing without these gimmicks. Thats how I would summarise this feature.

With about a 3000 mAH battery, the natural expectation is that the phone will last for intense tasks beyond its normal hours unlike the other set of phones with 2000 mAh like the Gionee who try some gimmicks of constant update interval for apps and go nowhere with actual battery life. Given below are some readings derived earlier on for this phone, see if it impresses you.

Batter charger removed at 8:30am

– 8:30am to 1pm 3G
– 1pm to 11:30pm : Wifi
– 11:30pm to 12:45am (next day) : 3g – battery left is 52%
– 6:45am to 7:45am – phone calls – battery left is 23%
– at 12:30pm phone is at 0% and over and out

started to charge at 2:45pm upto 4:30 = 80%

– multiple games and youtube videos
– by 9pm the batter was at 39%

As for the 16GB flash, the effective usable space was just 11GB as per my friends report, but he has got a usb OTG disk which plugs just fine and he is able to use that on the phone. Still not an excuse for flimsy flash storage considering prices of flash have gone down in recent years. There is a fair bit of heating while charging on this phone. Game play also would likely heat up the phone as is the case with thin form factor aluminium body phones.

I did not get a chance to check the NFC or bluetooth, and video recording so I am unable to comment on that in this post. The rear of the phone is outstanding fit and finish equivalent almost to the HTC one of yesteryear. The phone itself is very thin like the Lenovo K900 which shows engineering prowess.

Finally to end this post there was a huge concern on the phone apparently locking to some Chinese server and sending data via the server to elsewhere. This one point alone for me is a deal breaker to NOT buy this phone. Even though configurations maybe lesser, I still trust Blackberry for such concerns compared to Xiaomi. The VP of Xiaomi has lately [**clarified**](http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/xiaomi-says-its-smartphones-do-not-secretly-upload-photos-text-messages-568279) that the phone latches onto the server in question to download greeting messages and other such MiUi specific information and nothing else.

Meanwhile Xiaomi also stated that the Flipkart sale was closed in a [**flat 5 seconds**](http://zeenews.india.com/business/news/xiaomi-mi3-sold-out-in-5-seconds-flipkart_105005.html) during launch which sounds more like a PR gimmick to me. However what it does not discount is the fact that this phone has a huge fan base (almost 100,000 registrations were done) and many people have given a thumbs up for the value it offers for the price. While in China the company has already gone into launch mode for the new Mi4, the Mi3 sales in India have set the charts on fire. It remains to be seen what OnePlusOne does to market its phone next. Whichever way you look at it there is one company which is slowly hogging the limelight with all these new phone launches – FLIPKART ! 🙂

Keep reading and if you like this post, please provide your comments to make me come up with more articles like these. Remember – a blogger’s work is based on encouragement from readers like you.