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Short Review of the Vu 40″ – 40k16 LED TV
about Views on 04/12/2014 with 1 comment - like it?

I was on the fence about buying a TV since I don’t watch it that much, but during their recent sale, I came across an offer from Snapdeal on Vu TVs that was too good a deal to pass by, so I grabbed the Vu 40″ TV(aka 40k16).

Delivery, Installation & Unboxing

Snapdeal shipped the TV next day, to be delivered by Bluedart – who took a good 10 days to deliver it. The day the TV was originally scheduled to be delivered, I got a call from Vu’s service rep asking me when would be a convenient time for him to come over and setup the TV and give a demo. I mentioned him that the TV isn’t here yet. He then told me to give him a call the TV arrived, and he’d try to come over and set it up.

The first thing you’ll notice about the TV is how light & thin the entire package is. With the whole box, including wall mounting kit and all, I’d estimate it weighed about 13 kilos.

The shipped TV box consisted of (obviously) the TV, table mounting bracket, wall mounting bracket, the remote, pair of AAA batteries for the remote, the usual manuals, cable ties, component and coaxial cables

 

Ports, connectors

Unlike other TVs in the the budget range, the Vu comes with a bevy of connectors. This includes not one, not 2 but 3 HDMI ports and 2 USB ports. In addition to these, the 40k16 also comes with VGA input, composite video input, component Video input, 1 RF input, 1 Headphone out, 1 RCA Video out and even an SPDIF out port.

The HDMI and one of the USB connectors are placed on the side panel; what I liked about the placement was that the ports weren’t on the edge of the panel, but slightly recessed in, so even if you have a fairly large USB stick connected to the ports, it really isn’t visible from the front, while being accessible enough to plug it in straightaway without have to boggle your mind too much.

Vu claims it’s TVs have inbuilt DMP(Digital media players), and test it out, I copied a mp4 video to a USB flash drive and plugged it into the USB port. The TV recognized the file and was able to play it. To make things even better, I was able to pause/rewind/fast forward the video right from the remote control, without having to fiddle into the menus.

Unfortunately, the supported file list is pretty limited – though most video/image/audio files should do file, if you copy a vob file(typically found on DVDs), the 40k16 refuses to even show the file & you can’t view it.

Now it’s important to note that this isn’t a “Smart” TV, which is fine by me because most Smart TVs that I’ve seen are either crippled by crappy UI or poor performance – I sorta made up for this by connecting a Chromecast to the TV.

Video quality

I don’t have a cable or a DTH connection, primarily because I use Chromecast to stream media from my Plex Media Server(on my desktop) over to the TV, and the quality has been pretty awesome. I did find the colours a bit over-saturated out-of-the-box, but toning it down from the menu helped that. Something I also noticed was visible backlight bleed, especially over the upper and lower left corners. Normally, it should be fine, but if you’re watching a media which emphasizes on dark backgrounds with the lights off, this might be annoying.

I’ve also been testing Ogle(which uses Plex for their video delivery) and been generally very happy with the quality of the video – both from Ogle as well as the delivery from the TV. I’ll write about Ogle some other day.

Sound Quality

The sounds quality is what I’d call just fine-mediocre. It’s loud enough to be heard, but just falls flat in terms of response – nonexistent bass, flat treble and mids. Vu recommends that you mount the TV on wall for better experience – I can’t help but think that will lead to muffled sounds.  Overall, it should be OK for normal viewing – just don’t expect Home Theater style effects.

Remote Control

The remote control is fairly well designed, fells solid to hold. The remote has also has some ‘extra’ buttons – when asked the Vu rep about them, he mentioned that the remote control unit is common to all Vu TVs, so some of the buttons are apparently useless to few models. Anyway, I found some of the buttons(especially those related to changing the video source) bit harder to press than others. The volume adjustment/menu navigation buttons were pretty fine.

As mentioned above, the remote also has a nifty feature being able to control the playback of files being played from the USB ports – this is really convenient and saves you a lot of hassle.

Service & Warranty

The 40k16 comes with a 1 year warranty. I asked the service rep as to what should be the steps in case something went wrong. The service rep pointed me to a toll-free number & an email account for support, apparently they will take your complaint via the toll free number/email & assign you a service id within one business day and a rep will come over to check.

I inquired about panel replacement for dead/light up pixels – the rep mentioned the panel will be replaced if there are at least 5 completely bright/dark pixels in alternative arrangement.

(must need to verify with manual)

Pricing and Verdict

The Vu 40″ 40k16 model is priced at a MRP of about  ₹35,000 – and you’ll find it on Flipkart or Snapdeal at about  ₹29000. During the Snapdeals savings day, the 40k16 was available for ₹24,990 and I bought it after doing some research and opinions from folks on twitter – and I should say it’s been a good purchase so far.

So overall: if you’re looking for a great budget TV, I’d definitely recommend the Vu 40k16.

Pros

  • Excellent pricing
  • Great form factor
  • Good video quality
  • Lot of connectors

Cons

  • Visible backlight bleed, especially with dark background
  • Meh sound quality

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On to a new life
about Life on 24/12/2013 with 3 comments - like it?

I had originally wanted to publish this back in late August when I shifted from Borg Cube to Borg Cube Grande.. ie, my new home.. but #lazybhat happened and I never got around to finishing that.

Since shifting to Bangalore, I’d been staying in a tiny 1BHK house in Murugeshpalya, off Old Airport Road. Back then, I’d chosen this place mainly for it’s proximity to my workplace – at about 4.4km, it takes me an average of 15 minutes to a maximum of 30 minutes to reach office. With 335E plying in copious amounts, heading to office or to Majestic to head back home was quite easy too. 2 years in, I decided to to move to a bigger place, so that things are all set when the inevitable #cpgweds happens.

[Read more →]

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Hellforge: my desktop after a long time
about Computing on 01/08/2013 with 4 comments - like it?

Had this post drafted long, long ago – just publishing today.

I’ve been tinkering with computers for well over 15 years now – and since 2007 I’ve been using laptops almost exclusively – prime reason being space(or the lack of it) since I moved away from my home, to a new city. Staying in a PG meant there was no space.

Since the past year and half I’ve been in Bangalore, staying in a rented house and though wanted to own a desktop, there wasn’t a decent justification to get it, especially since my laptop, HP Envy 14 was coping well. Till November, my Envy’s main system fan died and my laptop was running on GPU fan – which meant running any application would result in temperatures shooting to 80-90 – could barely run a game for 10-15 minutes.

In mid Jan I finally decided to get a new desktop than fix my laptop. Anyway, after doing some research and settling on a budget(which was stretched by over 6k) here’s what I got: (disclaimer: Flipkart affiliate links follow)

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ICICI’s Useless Buy 1, Get 1 offer with BookMyShow & their other farcial offers
about Life on 13/06/2013 with 72 comments - like it?

I have an ICICI Bank Coral Credit card. Part of the ‘perks’ that the card provides is something which is enticing to all:

Buy one ticket and get the other ticket free, any day of the week, at www.bookmyshow.com. You can book upto 2 complimentary tickets in a month on a first come first serve basis.

Very nice! so I had tried to book tickets using this offer. I think I’ve succeeded maybe once. Off late, trying to book tickets using this offer has been an exercise in frustration. Every time, I ended up getting an error message:

Sorry, we can`t proceed with the booking for this offer since the Total Number of Tickets for Today has been exhausted OR You may have applied it to an ongoing transaction which is not yet cancelled. Please try again after 20 mins.

Since these offers have long ass weasel word terms & conditions, I tried to check to see if my transaction meets the conditions.

  • Valid credit card for the offer – ICICI Coral Card: Check
  • You can book up to 2 complimentary tickets in a month: Check, not booked any thing for the month
  • Ticket price less than 250: Check
  • Valid only for users coming directly to the BookMyShow Website and not via individual cinema sites: Check
  • The offer cannot be combined with any offer / discounts / promotions at the theaters: Check
  • The number of free tickets available daily are limited and customers can avail this offer on a First Come First Serve basis: Hello, what’s this?

Limited tickets? So what’s the count and when does it get cleared? I sent an email to BookMyShow Helpdesk:

I have a ICICI Bank Coral credit card which entitles me to the buy 1 get 1 free offer. I’ve been trying to use this offer for several previous bookings & without any success. I tried applying the offer for today’s Man of Steel booking, only to get the error message

Sorry, we can`t proceed with the booking for this offer since the Total Number of Tickets for Today has been exhausted OR You may have applied it to an ongoing transaction which is not yet cancelled. Please try again after 20 mins. For any queries please write to us at [email protected] (-4011)
Why am I getting this error? Some facts
– I have not used the offer this month, so I should be entitled to the free tickets.
– The booking is directly from your site
– The ticket price is Rs 250

So, BookMyShow Customer Care replies back to me: (hat tip for the quick response):

With reference to your mail, the quota of tickets available every day under the mentioned offer is limited and hence, the offer is not available for redemption once the quota of free tickets is exhausted for a particular day. Also, any revisions/decisions regarding the quota of tickets is at the sole discretion of the bank. The free tickets quota is renewed every midnight at 12 o’clock and hence, you are requested to kindly avail the offer when the quota is refreshed again at 12 AM.

Quotas for tickets? Book at midnight? What is this, IRCTC? I asked them what’s the quota amount:

Thanks for the info. What is the count of the free tickets that are allocated?

to which I get this reply

The quota for the mentioned offer is undisclosed by the bank which can be availed on a first come first serve basis.

So, for all the brand-whoring spanking partnerships, they amount of tickets is undisclosed? They can set the quota to zero or may be single digits & these wouldn’t know.

Learning: If you’re enticed by this offer, don’t bother. The offer is as useless as the free flight ticket offer that I got as part of the same credit card, which upon trying to redeem n number of times, I was told that the route in question cannot be booked under the offer.

What a fucking farce.

(ps: I’ve asked ICICI for the ticket quota count about half hour ago, waiting for their reply..)


 

Update:

From below comments, ICICI has clarified that the quota is 100 tickets for Debit cards & 200 tickets for credit card.

BookMyShow has updated it’s Terms & Conditions to mention this(thanks, Fishy!)

 

  • Free tickets will be offered under the Offer for each day in four blocks, starting at 10am, 12pm, 3pm & 5pm until stocks last.
  • The number of free tickets available monthly are limited and customers can avail this offer on a First Come First Serve basis for the month.

Read more: http://in.bookmyshow.com/static/icici-debit-card-movie-ticket-offers/#ixzz3C8WYIZU0

Now, that’s much better in terms of communication. Is it worth? Well, I’ll leave that up to you.

 

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Closing the chapter
about Life on 27/03/2013 with 13 comments - like it?

About a week ago, round about this time, my Mum called me up and and told me a piece of news which I would never in my wildest nightmares would have imagined, would happen to me.

[Read more →]

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Slides from my talk on “Password Management & You” at #bcb13
about Computing on 03/03/2013 with 1 comment - like it?

I’ve been going to Barcamp Bangalore since quite a while now, and it was only at last time’s Barcamp Bangalore that I actually gave a techlash session on Automated backup. This time, I decided to give a general session with focus on how & why people people should improve their passwords & password management skills. Embedded below are my slides.

And the very next day after my talk, Evernote gets compromised & has issued a password reset. You still believe in bad password practices? Wake up, smell the coffee. Improve your passwords. Use Lastpass(disclaimer: referral link; if you signup using this, both you & me get a month of free LastPass premium. If you rather not want to use the referral link – head straight to their site).

Update: To download the slides – click on the Settings gear & select the format of your choice. If you’re having problems, here’s the link to the presentation. Open it, then click on File menu → Download as and select the format of your choice.

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A look back at 2012
about Life on 01/01/2013 with 2 comments - like it?

Last year, I’d written a 2011 year in review, thought that was a nice way to recap the year. Continuing the same trend, here’s how 2012 went by

Gadgets /Software bought/acquired/reviewed

So, that’s about it for 2012, I guess. Happy New Year all & here’s wishing the upcoming year is as awesome as it was last year.

 

Contacting Bank of America from India via phone without International outgoing using Collect Call
about Events on 28/11/2012 with 6 comments - like it?

If you’re ever stuck in a situation where you need to contact Bank of America from here in India, but don’t have International outgoing available, here’s a quick tip:

  • Check out AT&T’s Direct Access Dialing Code for India(at the time of writing this, it’s 000117)
  • You’ll reach an Operator. Tell him/her the number you want to Dial. This should be 602.597.2395 for Bank of America. Will be different for others.
  • You’ll be prompted to Enter Calling Card number. Skip entering anything
  • You’ll be asked if you want to initiate a Collect Call. Say yes.
  • Done.

This should work with any organization which uses AT&T and accepts Collect Call, but I haven’t tried with others. I’m writing here because I want to document this for my future use.

This will come in real handy especially in situations where BoA detects Irregular/Fraudulent card activity and wants you to verify the transaction by dialling in – but you have no way of reaching out to an International number. Have your card number & other details ready

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The case of the expanding, exploding iPhone 3GS battery
about Mobiles on 07/10/2012 with 12 comments - like it?

Way back in March, I got a bit tired of iOS and jumped the ship back to Android, purchased a Samsung LOLSUNG Galaxy S2 as my main phone. I won’t get into iOS v/s Android debate now, suffice to say I prefer Android to what it lets me do with the device. Anyhow, I didn’t want to give up on the 3GS – it’s a nice device and always a good idea to have a backup handset. As days passed by however, I more or less stopped using the 3GS.

Till couple of days ago – I wanted to try out of iOS 6 and some iOS apps to review. I had removed the abomination that is iTunes long ago and had no intention to install it again to do the iOS 5 -> 6 upgrade. Since Apple now offers an OTA upgrade, I went by that, taking well over 12 hours to complete the OTA download (the first OTA download failed after God knows when, second attempt was successful).

With iOS 6 on, I tried out some of the “improvements” that is iOS 6 maps.

I decided to carry out my iOS 6 experiments later on. That’s when the initial set of problems seemed to appear. In the evening, I noticed that the battery had completely drained out. That was quite surprising, since

  1. It was running only on WiFi, there was no SIM card in the phone
  2. From my previous experience, I’ve known the 3GS to last at least 2 days on standby on WiFi, if not more.

I connected the 3GS to the USB cable connected to my laptop, and then observed that the device was stuck on the Apple logo screen.

This morning, I got a whole bunch of responses on twitter, telling me what next to do, and following them I go the familiar “Connect to iTunes” logo. Since I didn’t have iTunes installed, I was pretty much SOL. As much as I didn’t want to install iTunes, I had no option and decided to download iTunes anyway. While iTunes download was under progress, I noticed that the battery had died out again. *Sigh*Proceeded to connect the iPhone to the USB cable and I waited for iTunes download to complete.

About 10 minutes later, the download was completed and I was about to start the install when I heard a loud bang very close to me. Moments later, I realize that the bang came from my iPhone – the battery had swelled to such an extent that the iPhone’s LCD had popped out of it’s casing.

Ok iPhone battery swelled up to such an extent that LCD popped out of the case

My immediate reaction was to disconnect the iPhone from the USB cable, to prevent further charging / damage to the battery. Having done so, the expansion and the accompanying bangs continued to happen

Ok iPhone battery swelled up to such an extent that LCD popped out of the case

Ok iPhone battery swelled up to such an extent that LCD popped out of the case

By now, an hour had passed by since the initial big bang(!) and I decided to go have some breakfast. I moved the iPhone away from my computer, to my hall and kept it in the corner and went for breakfast. Fast forward about half hour later, I see that the battery’s swelled to such an extent that the LCD’s at nearly a 30-35 degree angle to the iPhone base. And the mini bangs were still continuing.

iPhone 3GS after it's battery expansion

Couple of hours later, the situation had stabilized and this is how the phone ended up looking like

iPhone 3GS after it's battery expansion

iPhone 3GS after it's battery expansion

Taking a cursory look at the iPhone, I see that the metallic backplate holding the PCB is bent pretty badly. Not quite sure what to do with this – the phone’s about 2 years old and I doubt Apple India will acknowledge this.

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Reddit’s secret santa and Guinness World Record for most email addresses in To: List
about Life on 06/09/2012 with 7 comments - like it?

Way back in late November/December last year, I took part in reddit’s /r/secretsanta. I found it was pretty cool, to (hopefully) get a random gift based on my barren, lurking reddit account, though a small search would reveal a lot more about me.

Anyway, after Ashwin’s feedback(“my santa didn’t send anything. I was reassigned. second santa also nothing. #foreveralone”) I didn’t expect anything. A month or so later, however, my secret santa confirmed shipment of the gift. And I received it couple of days later.

Sweet! What I didn’t realize, till couple of weeks ago, was that the folks at /r/secretsanta were trying set a Guinness World Record for “the largest online secret santa game” and were successful at that! So that made me a Guinness World Record holder too! Woohoo!

Achievement Unlocked

Soon enough, I put forward an order for my Guinness World Record certificate and things were all set. Or so I thought. Couple of days ago, I received an email from Guinness stating that due to high volume of orders, the shipment would be delayed by another couple of weeks. That was fine, but then the person who sent the email did the biggest goof up ever.

The person put the email address of about 1,072 people in the “To” field. Not even the cc, the frigging “To” field.

Epic Facepalm

Image courtesy http://www.comicvine.com/

 

Here’s how it looked like

Naturally, I wasn’t too pleased

and neither were the reddit folks. Kicker was the contents of the email, with a disclaimer stating:

The contents of this e-mail from Guinness World Records Limited are confidential and intended for the addressee only.

If you are not the intended recipient you must not copy or further distribute this e-mail, and delete this message from your computer system.

Riiight.

Marco Frugatti, SVP Records, however did send an email apologizing the data breach

I am writing to you from the Guinness World Records Management Team regarding our company’s recent breach in relation to email data for a group of our record-holders for Largest online secret Santa game.

I can confirm that this breach was a human error by one of our own staff. Naturally, we take this matter extremely seriously and are conducting a formal investigation to ensure an event like this never happens again. I would like to offer you our unreserved apologies for this situation and any inconvenience it has caused.

However, I fear that this breach will have even more serious repercussions, given how lax people are with passwords. Good thing is that Guinness owned up to the mistake and have confirmed that they have initiated refunds for the payment of certificates. Time will tell who’ll be hit more – Guinness or the individuals in the email. My bet is on the latter.