Photobucket had recently made a very dick move by disabling all third-party embedded pics unless I pay $399. I've been blogging for 13 years and have 2000+ embedded pics across 650+ blog posts, which are now all unviewable. I'm working on moving my images to a new host, so until then, please do bear with me if you cannot view any images on my older blog posts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chp 559. Rest In Peace Zuala


I’ve been playing this song by Ozzy Osbourne for the umpteenth time since yesterday - "See You On The Other Side". A continuous loop on my playlist. Because yesterday, I got the sad news that my dear friend Zuala is no more.

He breathed his last yesterday after being admitted at New Life Hospital in Aizawl for organ failure three weeks ago. How I prayed he would get better, and sometimes the news I got were reassuring… but yesterday his condition became worse and there was nothing the doctors could do anymore…

Dammit… Bro… :(

Only the good die young they say… No bro… you just can’t leave us like that. :(


The ironic thing about my relationship with Zuala is that, we met online back in the mid 2000. Back then we had this popular Mizo community website called misual.com, and he was one of the most prominent members there, contributing insightful articles, comments and opinion on various issues. We agreed on almost everything and bonded right then. He was known as "zualbonez" in the online world, and that was how everybody knew him as, including me. It was only when we finally got to know each other personally that we realized he was none other than my senior in School at St. Thomas Khidderpore back in the early 90’s. We actually knew each other back when we were kids! His dad Pu Ropianga was even my LG (local guardian) when he was the LO (liaison officer) of Mizoram House, Ballygunj Road during those days.

Small world, we used to say, laughing about how our paths had crossed such a long time ago. The Zuala I knew back in STBS might have been all blurry because that was such a long time ago, and I joined another school in '92. But the Zuala I knew later had been one of permanent friendship. Whenever I visit Delhi due to work, I would always stay over at his place.


[online friends meet-up, 2010. video version - youtube]


In Zuala, I found a lot of similarities. What we liked, what we despised, we shared the same wavelength because we had a similar upbringing. He had this immense passion for cooking, was a great cook, and boy he loved to experiment. We had the same taste of music and spent hours discussing about speed metal and oldschool glam rock. Our late night chats ranged from his experiences in IIMK to management and business related topics to foreign policies and sports to social and political conditions of Mizoram. We always had a lot to talk about... how unfortunate I now have to write all that in past tense.

He even took to blogging for a couple of years. When I read his most recent blog post today, I felt stifled, trying my best to hold back a tear, only to realize that was impossible. His latest post on his blog will certainly move you too; it is perfectly apt for this moment…

"whisper nearby the leaves of the trees
i lean near to overhear what they say.
An angel from the sky is what i hear,
and of me a being from below.
They sing of our union of sky and 'neath."

True indeed bro.. Let the angel from the sky sing of your union today...

I wish I could have spoken to him on the phone one last time, but unfortunately even our friends who went to visit him were not allowed to see him because he was admitted inside the ICU. But I had enough sources who continuously updated me about his condition every day. And yes, it brought a smile upon my face when I read that he still had his sense of humour...


Suddenly, what he joked about is now no longer funny. And all this had been so sudden, I'm still finding it hard to come to my senses. It felt like just yesterday when I would message or call him to let him know I was landing in Delhi, and he would immediately be like "Brooo come stay overrrr" even though I had my own company guesthouse accommodation. The past three years, I was in Delhi a lot of times, making at least 2-3 business trips every month. So, yeah, I was always showing up at his house.

And when both of us were back at his pad, we would be like, "Let's call up Fonzieee" (another dear friend I met through misual.com) and then we would call him up and even if Fonz was too tired or didn't feel like going out, we would keep pestering him until we changed his mind. And then the three of us would go out and paint the town red. How I miss those days.


Zualbonez showed me around Delhi and we met up with other misual.commers like lushaier (Pu Hluna), chemtatrawta (Hriata), violette (Manuni) etc. Oh those memorable dinners and talks we had. Unfortunately, I don't have any good quality pics of those moments to post here. But there were those memorable times when we took out my cousin to Route 04 at CP. Or the time we paid a surprise visit to our friends Toya and band performing at Striker Pub in Gurgaon. He always had the energy to treat a guest well.

What is left now, are not just memories, but his online imprints. Reading his comments on my old blog posts now leaves behind a sad feeling of depression. Reading our old Facebook messages or going through some of his last comments at misual.com definitely is heartwrenching.


But as my cousin said... let's remember the happy times, the times when he was happy. I am really going to miss Zuala, my friend, my brother. This is one blog post where I cannot find enough words to express how I feel. Today they are burying my friend in Mizoram. And being thousands of miles away makes it even more harder for me to find closure.

Rest In Peace my brother. I'll see you on the other side.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chp 558. College graduation throwback


So there’s this blog friend of mine Vered whom I’ve known for quite some time. We even met at the third Mizo Bloggers Meet I attended back in Mizoram two years ago. Yeah she’s the one who did that crazy dance in the middle of the misty Durtlang road after our dinner meet-up.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is that recently I’ve been seeing a lot of her farewell and pre-graduation photo updates on my Facebook timeline. So apparently, she’s going to graduate from college this year, completing her BA LLB (Hons).

A big congratulation to her.

Now as a friend, I am really happy for her. But as an old fart who graduated from college more than a decade ago, I just couldn’t help thinking about the vast contrast between how people of today’s generation are graduating compared to our generation.

Back during our college days, be it graduation photos or farewell photos or any photos taken with our college friends, we had this thingie called “the roll film” that we had to take to a “Photo studio” and they would in turn take hours or days to develop the photos. But for these youngsters, it’s just a matter of seconds to see if their front facing camera had captured the perfect graduation selfie or not, otherwise they would just take another one. Sighhh…

[Image source: Danielle Vitarbo]

I know a lot of older generation peeps would agree with me, talking about how people had no cell phones during their college days as well. I guess I belong to a generation caught in between. When it comes to my generation, we had mobile phones to some extent. But it would be an understatement to compare them to the smartphones that we have today.

During my first year Engineering college, maybe 1% of my batch had mobile phones. Second year college didn’t see much improvement either. Those were the days when incoming calls were still charged and mobile handsets were the size of… ironically, some of today’s latest mobile phones! Funny how we went from small smaller smallest to big bigger biggest in terms of screen size... maybe this pic will cheer you up :)


When the cell phone boom happened around the year 2002 and service providers started providing free calls within the same network in order to compete with other networks (you gotta love capitalism and competitive free market for that), everybody started owning a cell phone. Soon, the queue at the local STD/PCO booth slowly started becoming shorter and shorter…

But of course during those days, having a mobile phone that could take photos as well was unheard of. In fact our main concern back then was whether our cell phone was capable of having a Monophonic or Polyphonic ringtone! Seriously.

I was in final year of college when Samsung N625 – “the phone don't ring but sings” was released. That was the marketing tagline of one of the first Polyphonic ringtone phones in the market. I bought that phone. And yeah that phone definitely had a snob value back then :)


Today's youth have come a long way from that. Mobile phones not only have super high-def photo and video image capturing abilities, but they also have complete access to the internet. A lot of college youngsters today are already on different job portals and professional networking sites or researching potential employers and comparing salaries & perks between different companies right from their handsets.

Applying for the mandatory final semester internship too is just a matter of seconds for the engineering student of today. I remember how much we had to travel and physically approach different companies for internship those days. And we had to carry our résumé in a 3½ floppy disk or take a print-out. Today, everything can be done through the cloud. Such a wonderful time to live in, if one can take advantage of all the technology around.

Back during my days, there weren't any job portals like naukri.com, MonsterIndia, TimesJobs etc, so college placement time was the only time we could sit for job interviews. To look up on a company or job profile required going to a dingy old Cyber Café that charged by the hour, and waiting for an empty cabin usually took a lot of time because those were the only places hormone-raging college couples could use to make-out. And worse was the fact that most of the computers had Internet Explorer as their default browser. Only a few systems had Netscape Navigator, which was far preferred by the vast majority.

So those were some of the many struggles we had to face during our college days. I can't help but think how my life would have turned out if we had such advantages back then. Because one of the reasons why many of us are in the wrong line of work or why we climb so slowly up the corporate ladder is because we've been uninformed (of course hard work, dedication and talent are pretty much required too, but when I look back at my life, I think I could have at least cut down a couple of months or even years in my career, all because I wasn't informed enough).

When you're uninformed about the number of career opportunities or different job options available in the market, people tend to make the mistake of accepting the first job offer they get after college, because many fear they may not get another offer again. Such hasty decision prevents people from analyzing if that is the right path for them or not in the long run. And then once that hole is dug, very few tend to crawl out. All that could have been avoided had we been more informed and aware of our industry.

Would I start afresh if I had the luxury of such information at my fingertips back then? Today it is no longer a risk to start your own business venture. You have AngelList and other places where you can easily pitch to investors and VCs. You have hundreds of Start-Up accelerators and incubator programs. You have many crowd-funding sites to display your project proposal and convince others to believe in your product. And you can get information about almost anything now. The Google search of my days wasn't as powerful and efficient as it is today. Forget searching, today you have many reputed portals where you can ask questions about anything, and experts from different walks of life will answer your query and clear your doubt. You don't even need a LinkedIn profile to network with other professionals, Facebook can pretty much achieve that. The options are endless for the youth of today.

So yeah, maybe I would.

I would do things differently, which would have different outcomes.

But then again, it's a matter of "what if", so it's just a hypothetical question. It doesn't necessarily guarantee a better future.

And who knows, maybe these same batch of students who are graduating today would be bitching about the next decade's batch of graduates, calling them fortunate for being surrounded with new technologies that we don't have today, after all, technology is forever changing and improving. Maybe in the future, students can easily clone their bodies so they can attend multiple lectures and increase their learning and experience faster. Or an option to insert nano chips into their brain cells where an AI will take over their body during exam time. So many possibilities.

For now, I guess those are just the few thoughts that entered my mind when I saw those graduation photos. And you know what really grinds my gear? The fact that I don't have a single photograph of MY graduation!!!! Aaarrghhh. I don't have any photos of me going on stage proudly to collect my BE Computer Science degree from the Vice Chancellor, or any photos of me with my classmates in our graduation gown (it was yellow, and ugly) all because of the stupid roll film cameras. By the time the films were developed, everybody had already vacated our college hostels and left for their respective hometowns, so there was nobody I could get a copy from. Frack you roll film.

Maybe in the future, some of the next generation college graduates will build a time machine as a college project and go back to my Convocation and take a photo of me! :)

Until then, cheers.






Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chp 557. OnePlus One CM12 Android Lollipop update crash [RESOLVED]


As some of you may know, I got my OnePlus One phone long before it became available for Indian consumers on amazon.in or other e-com websites. In a way, I am a OnePlus One hipster - I had it before it was cool :P

A very close friend of mine bought one of the early batches of OnePlus One phones which was released abroad, through ebay, way back in October 2014. He paid almost twice the cost of the phone because of the obvious reasons.

I bought the phone from him in November, and even though it was technically a "third hand" phone, I didn't care because I was the envy of every nerd and geek in my circle of friends :)

Finally, OnePlus One was officially launched in India a month later, and even though it was still an "invitation only", more and more people started owning one. The unique invitation codes too stopped being as precious as they used to be, and one could easily get an invite code for free if they knew the right people to ask.

Owning a OnePlus One before most people did was cool, but the downside to it was that I had an outdated version. When my friends started buying OPOs, their version of the phone came with Android 4.4.4 and their phone model was listed as "A0001". My OPO was stuck at 4.4.2 and my model number was just "One".

And as the months rolled by, they kept receiving OTA updates to their CyanogenMod almost every week.

I didn't. Not even once.

No matter how many times I clicked on "Check For Update" on my System Update, it just kept telling me I had the latest version and there was no update available for me. Such a load of bull.

Now you may ask me why I simply didn't flash a ROM or install my own custom ROMs or do a lot of fancy geeky stuff that are possible. Well I have my reasons for sticking on to the original factory build model  -

1. I am not very good at this stuff. You might have read about my ordeal when I manually upgraded my Samsung Galaxy S from Android 2.1 to 2.3.3 and ended up soft-bricking the phone! If it wasn't for the help of my friend Chhanga, that would have been the end of my phone that day.

2. And more importantly, I'm in the mobile games development business. It is important for me to test our games and put them under different limitations. For that I need to have a basic phone with no alterations that most other people would be having, otherwise it wouldn't make sense if I pimp my phone and the games I'm testing work on it, but it doesn't work on other phones.

And so that is how I had to live my life every day - having a phone that was becoming outdated day by day. Around two weeks ago, my colleagues who also bought OPO phones started receiving updates to Android Lollipop! That was like rubbing salt to my injury :(

But last night, something wonderful happened. Something magical.

I got an OTA notification that there was FINALLY an update for my OnePlus One version!




The moment I reached office this morning, I switched on the WiFi and clicked the update command. I was drooling with excitement.




So I got the XNPH22Q update, and right after that, it sent me another OTA notification for an XNPH22R incremental which would provide performance improvements and security enhancements for my device. I said Hell yeah.




So there it was, the XNPH22R update.




After that, I got an update notification yet again, this time it was the XNPH25R incremental which would address improvements for NFC and gyroscope behaviour.




Thadaaaa... I clicked on that as well and it updated. But I was still on 4.4.2 so I was a little disappointed.




But again, there was another update available. It was the XNPH30O CyanogenMod update which also had the Android 4.4.4 update! Yipeeee!




And so finally, I had the 4.4.4. Better late than never :P My Model number also changed from "One" to "A0001".




Again, the update notification didn't stop! There was another update available, the XNPH33R. This maintenance release provided critical security updates. I clicked on "update" again.




So my CyanogenMod version was XNPH33R.




Again, once that was over, another update was available - the XNPH38R. This update was supposed to include RAW camera support, visual experience for lockscreen, and several performance improvements. Again I clicked "update".




Hello XNPH38R.




Still, the update notification didn't stop! Man I was on a roll! There was yet another update available. The XNPH44S which was suppose to provide critical security updates.




So I just kept going along. Hello XNPH44S.




And the music didn't stop. Another update notification came after this. It was the XNPH05Q, which would add new enhancement features and security fixes.






By now I was no longer surprised when there was still another update notification. It was the same XNPH05Q but this time it was to prepare my device for Cyanogen OS 12.0! Oh My God!!! That was so freaking awesome!




I clicked on update and it was done...




Finally came this, what I had been waiting for! An update to Cyanogen OS 12.0 based on Android Lollipop 5.0. Woohoooooooooooooo!




It took more than an hour to download, and once it was downloaded, it installed, and my phone rebooted.




I was crying tears of joy as my phone booted up... it started installing all the existing apps one by one... suddenly when it was almost done, THIS HAPPENED!




Aaaargghhhhh... no matter how many times I reboot, this keeps coming.




Reporting the error made no changes or resolved my issue...




Is there any way of solving this issue without much complication?

Please advice!

After all the updates I went through today, only for them to end this way had been such an Anti-Climax.

I am a nervous wreck right now.... :(

Help!



UPDATE 1: When my phone is switched on with that error message on top, I can actually receive WhatsApp messages, Facebook messages, SMS and even calls, but I just cannot see them on my screen because of the error pop-up button overlapping the screen. This morning my alarm too actually rang, but the error message is still there on top.



UPDATE 2: So after many discussions with my friends, we finally came to the conclusion that my phone was behaving like this (bootloop) because the newly updated CyanogenMod12 conflicted with some of my existing apps, mainly Gapps (google apps). Now there was a long way to resolve this by installing an Android sdk, TWRP, putting it in fastboot mode, unlocking bootloader, flashing different gapps etc etc. Instead... I said screw it, and did a FACTORY RESET (switch off phone, press volume down + power key until there is a short vibration, release buttons, you'll enter recovery mode, and simply select "wipe data/ factory reset" option), and voila, my phone was working perfectly fine after that :)

I didn't lose much data too... it took some time reinstalling back some of my apps, but hey, my phone is working now and that's all that matters! The Factory Reset didn't delete any of my photos, and I could easily get back my WhatsApp messages from WhatsApp server once I installed a new one. I got back all my contacts from Gmail as well, and most of the games I play (like Trials Frontier etc) I could easily get my game progress back from third party game platforms like uPlay, Google Game Service etc. Long live the cloud!

So that was how this problem was resolved. I am now on CM12 Lollipop and it really feels like a brand new phone, hehehe. Cheers everyone.




Monday, May 04, 2015

Chp 556. AC installation pains


As most of you may know, finding an apartment to rent is a big pain in the ass. Different housing societies have different rules. Some don’t accept tenants because of various reasons ranging from nationality and religion, to their place of origin or eating habits or even their marital status or profession.

Nothing is more frustrating than finding the perfect apartment owned by an awesome landlord, and after all the legal agreement and deposit had been done, the building society president refused to give an NOC (No Objection Certificate) just because you happened to be a bachelor. My colleagues (who moved with me from Mumbai to Pune) experienced just that, and I really feel sorry for them.

I on the other hand, had a lucky run. After looking at more than 20 apartments with my broker, I finally zeroed in on a nice pad located at a prime area on Lane no 6, Koregaon Park. It was a tough decision and I had to weigh in a lot of pros and cons among all the apartments I shortlisted. One of them was right on the banks of a river, with a very good view cum refreshing breeze and a wine shop at the ground floor, while another was fully furnished with internal air conditioning and huge balcony, but I had to consider a lot of other factors, like convenience, and accessibility to autorikshaws since I don’t own a vehicle.

The apartment I chose had one drawback - it didn’t have an AC. And since it was on the top floor, the harsh Pune summer heat wasn’t kind to it. I managed to sleep only one night in my new apartment… I mean, “sleep” would be an understatement - I was lying awake the entire night while taking a shower for the umpteenth time. The next morning, I moved back into our Company’s guesthouse :D

And so I spent two more weeks at our guesthouse (which had nice AC) while I tried to figure out how to solve the heat situation at my apartment. I finally decided to buy my own AC instead of renting one, and looked up at various e-com sites and also visited a couple of stores like Vijay Sales and Croma.

(Remember I had just moved in to a new apartment, which meant not just the first month rental but also the deposit and brokerage, not to mention the cost of shifting all my stuff from Mumbai to Pune. I was almost on the tip of being broke-ass).

Finally I found the ideal AC from Flipkart - An Onida S123PBL 1 Ton 3 Star split AC. It was available at an offer of Rs. 21990/- on Flipkart with an EMI option. I looked up the price of the same model at various other outlets and they were all in the range of 26k to 30k from other vendors. And the best part was, the Flipkart seller was WS Retail, Flipkart’s unofficial official seller (quora). It took around a week to deliver, and I continued sleeping in the guesthouse till then.


After my new AC was delivered (yay my first ever personally owned AC!), the technicians from Onida came a few hours later to install it. That was when the nightmare began.

Flipkart mentioned that the installation charge would cost around Rs. 1500/- only, plus extra. I was happy because it wasn’t that much. I just didn’t realize the “plus extra” was going to be so high!

Now I’m not pointing fingers at either Flipkart or Onida, but somewhere deep inside my stomach, I have that unpleasant feeling of being screwed over.

As mentioned earlier, that so called 1500 installation charge was only for setting up the split AC and the output unit outside my window. For the “extra charge”, I was bracing myself for, say 500 to 1000 bucks extra at the most. Oh how wrong I was!

First of all, there was the “core drilling” that was required. For that, they went and got some guys who specialized in doing that. A 3 inch diameter hole needed to be drilled through my bedroom wall, and here’s how it was done -





It was already around 10 in the night and I had to keep telling them again and again to keep the noise down. I definitely didn’t want to be kicked out of the building for disturbing my new neighbors. Finally the hole was drilled and that cost me Rs. 2760/- I wasn’t really expecting it to be that expensive!

And then came the wiring.

Apparently my bedroom didn’t have any AC point, so they had to make a new wiring connection from my bedroom to the fuse box situated outside. They gave me two types of wires to choose from, one that cost Rs. 195/- per feet (with 6 months warranty) and Rs. 225/- per feet (with 1 year warranty). They also said I have to put up an ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker) to prevent shock and dangerous voltage, and they gave me the option of choosing one that cost Rs. 1775/- (6 months warranty) and another that cost Rs. 2250/- (1 year warranty). Here is their estimate, in their own handwriting -


The total cost of the wiring came to Rs. 5250/- and ELCB was Rs. 1775/- Man I’ve never spend that much on a few feet of wires in my life.




Yeah that long piece of black wire you see above cost a freaking 5k. Seriously? Finally by midnight, they were able to install the AC correctly with the right connection. It took 12 people in total to set it up. And of course there's poor Ronaldo above, who fell on such bad times after winning both the Ballon d'Or and Ballon d'Floor that he had to moonlight as an AC service guy :)



I paid another 300 bucks for the switchboard (which the Onida guy broke the outer plastic while banging in the plug and they said they’d replace it the next day with no additional cost but till now nobody had contacted me), and so the total amount I spent on an AC installation came to this –

Installation - 1500
Core drilling - 2760
Wiring - 5250
ELCB - 1775
Switch - 300

TOTAL = Rs. 11585/-

Dayyym, that’s more than half the cost of the AC itself!

Yeah, it had been an utter shocker for me. Is this the amount one usually pays for a new AC installation? It’s my first personally owned AC so I really have no idea about it. But I really hope I wasn’t ripped off. Flipkart and Onida are reputed brands and I’m just blindly trusting them, but please do let me know if I was overcharged.

And of course, yes it had been wonderful once the AC was set up. Good sleep and refreshing mornings. I'd give a 5 star rating to the AC model, and for 22k I think it's a really good value for money. But I still can’t fathom if the installation cost was appropriate or not.


I’m not an expert or a person with experience when it comes to this matter, maybe you’ll have a better understanding of this, do let me know if it was worth it.

Cheers.