2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 410 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Ubuntu Basics #00

Its been close to a year and I have completely phased out the use of Windows Operating System. I’ve come across some of the utilities (and some customizations) that I use in day-to-day operations that may interest people who are new to Ubuntu.

<Terminal shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+T>

1. Downloading videos(from YouTube, facebook etc):

It so happens that some times I am forced to download some videos on youtube due to bandwidth issues (I have 512kbps connection, hence the tragday to dayedy) .There are two usual ways in which I download videos.

Terminal method: I use youtube-dl. The interesting part of using youtube-dl is that it can download videos from other websites too. Installation is simple, Head to your terminal and use the following commands:

$sudo apt-get-repository ppa:nilarimograd/webupd8 <This important step got skipped in the video>

$sudo apt-get update

$sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

It’s very simple to use, in the terminal:

$youtube-dl Video_URL_1 Video_URL_2 . . . . Video_URL_n

The only disadvantage of using this service, it’s not that easy to swap between formats and video quality

Online method: This method isn’t operating system dependent. Website like http://www.clipconverter.cc allows users to download videos(from YouTube, Facebook etc) in a desired quality. You also have the option to choose start and end points( If you want to skip advertisements ).

Another such website is www.youtube-mp3.org which allows you to download the mp3 format of songs/podcasts from YouTube if you wish so.

Just make sure that the URL you copy is the Video URL and not a playlist URL with a token.

WARNING: Downloading videos from the mentioned services for personal use may be legal in your locality, but using the downloaded media for commercial uses without the consent of the content creator is not recommended.

2. Downloading links through the terminal

 

There are several advantages of downloading a link through the terminal, one of them being able to resume at a download fail point. This may not work for all links, but there exist a default terminal command to do the same

 

$wget download_URL_1 download_URL_2 . . . . download_URL_n

 

3. A media player to play all the downloaded content

Ubuntu by default comes with Rythmbox and a Video player application. I dislike both of them and stick to VLC player. It handles probably all formats available. Terminal commands to download the same:

$sudo apt-get update
$sudo apt-get install vlc browser-plugin-vlc

Tip: If you ever encounter a file format you are unable to identify/manage, Drag and drop it to your browser. A browser can normally handle any file*.

 

4. Games:

 

There are only 2 games I play natively on my Ubuntu PC, namely Hedgewars and Slime Volley (Both are available in the Ubuntu Software Centre)

I’m not a Gamer hence I don’t play graphic intense games, The last game I remember playing was CS:CZ. Wine is one of the most popular Windows emulator for Ubuntu.

 

5. Unity Tweak tool:

 

The best part of using ubuntu/linux distro is the ability to change anything that you dislike. Be it fonts, Themes, icon packs, or unity shell as of whole can be replaced.

My customization includes Numix theme and the numix-circle icon pack. One can switch back and forth themes and icon pack using Unity tweak tool.

$sudo apt-get update

$sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

Numix theme:

$sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa

$sudo apt-get update

$sudo apt-get install numix-icon-theme numix-icon-theme-circle

There are many, many more options, but this is the specific one I like.

 

5. Personalisation to a new level.

 

By default the main screen comes with Ubuntu Desktop and you can change Ubuntu Desktop to anything. In my case it’s SahRckr El Tornado.

Steps to do the same,

Step 1 : Create a text document and save it with a .po extension, say desktop.po and store it in a known location

Step 2 : Append the following lines to the file desktop.po

msgid “Ubuntu Desktop”

msgstr “Your desired desktop Name”

Step 3 : In the terminal run the following commands:

$cd /usr/share/locale/en/LC_MESSAGES

$sudo msgfmt -o unity.mo path_to_desktop.po

Step 4 : And either log out and back in or just do:

$unity –replace

 

6. Record your screen:

 

I’ve made a video,(Technically my computer has made a video) on all the steps mentioned above, The video will be linked below

The software is called Simple Screen Recorder

Following commands will help you download same:

$sudo add-apt-repository ppa:maarten-baert/simplescreenrecorder

$sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install simplescreenrecorder

This was the first iteration of Ubuntu Basics.

Let me know in the comments section, if you guys want to see me more tools on ubuntu.

A special shout out to Jeevan M.R and Murali Aggithaya for reviewing the content.

 

 

TVS-E Gold Bharat Mechanical Keyboard (PS/2) – First Impressions

If you were to search for the cheapest mechanical keyboard in India, and if you take the hat that says “Don’t buy India-based manufacturer’s peripherals” and look at it with fresh eyes then it may so happen that you’ll end up having a glance at this awesome piece of hardware in the Indian market. Let’s jump into my first impressions on the same.

The part that I’ve skipped here is unboxing. It’s not the most pleasant experience. The only things you’d receive will be:

Not so awesome of a box. The keyboard itself and a warranty card.

Build Quality:

One of the reasons I guess TVS didn’t invest much on packing, could be the quality, boy this thing is built like a tank. The keyboard bears the responsibility to keep the box safe from all the damages that may occur during transit. It’s sturdy, heavier and bigger than mostly all membrane and chiclet style keyboards. So don’t expect it to fit in a small desk or don’t expect it to be portable. There is a bit of flex to it, but come on given the portability and size I’m sure no one is going to use it as a tarpaulin. It’s something that’s going to sit aside and work for years to come(hopefully).

Availability:

It’s available online and offline. It’s available in full size black colour 104 standard key layout format only. The port options you get is either PS/2 or USB (I choose PS/2). Also you have a version of the same that comes with support of multiple Indian languages(not really interested, so I didn’t even look at it). For some reason this keyboard it’s not advertised at all. You should be able to get this keyboard, with in the range of ₹1600-₹2000 depending on your location.

First impressions:

Honestly I was very exited about this keyboard(I would like to use and review even more, feel free to gift me some). I have used many membrane keyboards and this is my first experience of owning a mechanical keyboard. My dad has been using a similar older model for about 10 years now(and he’s really good with it).

Straight of this is not for people who are into ninja style stealth silent mode of typing. So if you in an office/library sort of environment, with many people around, you’re probably going to disturb them with these switches. If you have tested and tried membrane/chiclet keyboards and if you want to significantly improve your typing. Then your first approach to affordable and good mechanical keyboard could be this TVS keyboard.

Switches:

The TVS-e Gold Bharat(PS/2 or USB) keyboard features Cherry MX Blue switches. It’s not mentioned anywhere in the box, or the official product page. I did see a listing online that mentioned these keyboards feature brown switches. But that’s not true.

And how do I know that?

1. Out of cherry MX Black, Blue, Green, Red, Brown switches. Only the blue switches have a distinct(and disturbing for some) click-clack sound as demonstrated below.

2. Photographic evidence:

DSC04281

As the name suggests the Cherry MX Blue switches are literally blue in colour.

According to the literature the Cherry MX blue switches have two distinct points of activations:

BlueClicks: need 45 grams of force. This is about 2mm from the resting position of the key, which is about half way through the base of the keyboard.

Clacks: needs 50 grams of force. This peak force, forces the switch to go all the way down of the keystroke. This one is about 4mm from the resting position of the key. Normally this is the way we “hit” keys like enter, shift and space keys.

So what this mean to you the users? It may require some more force to type. The tactile feedback is really sweet. It gives a pleasant and fatigue free typing for long duration. Not really good for gamers since the key remains activated from half way through to the base. To reset the switch you literally have to get the key back to its resting position, Cherry MX Red switches could be a better option. But you can try this keyboard if you prefer the tactile Cherry MX blue switches.

For a rough comparison between the audio feedback of the chiclet, membrane and the mechanical keyboard you can have a look at this small demonstration:

Compare this keyboard with one of the available options The Steelseries 6Gv2 Gaming keyboard the keys/ key formats is nearly the same, except for n-key rollover and better anti-ghosting. But that keyboard costs triple the cost of this TVS keyboard.

And you won’t be needing n key roll-over unless you type with your hands and heads.

Trade off’s:

1. It’s not silent, can be a bit noisy in office like environments.

2. The backspace key is actually the size of the normal alphabet keys, and may take some time to use to.

3. The Rupee symbol is a part of their proprietary font, it’s not universal.(Kind of obvious)

My recommendation for TVS to improve their mechanical keyboard segment:

1. Better packaging and unboxing experience. I know the keyboards are strong enough, but seriously a better box would help a lot. Also including some accessories like PS/2 to USB adapter and a keycap removal tool would be just too cool. Obviously keeping the price below ₹2500.

2. Even more options! More colours? A 10-key-less model? More options with the switches, at least the Cherry MX red? More colour options for keycaps? USB and Audio pass through ports? Monochrome Backlit keys? N-key roll-over?

3. The flaps that give inclination to the keyboard should have rubber tips.

4. Availability from your own website for the keyboard and the extra accessories that I mentioned above.

I’m going to use this keyboard for 3 months and then post my full review on the quality, performance, typing experience and tell you guys if it really improves the typing experience.

Let me know in the comments section below if you want my version of explanation of the switches or something regarding the keyboard that needs to be covered. There is a Linustechtips’s Techquickie on different types of switches, if you are interested to watch it click here.

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The most annoying part of owning my Motorola Moto G 2014[Bluntly Solved]

I was gifted myself with a Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen in the month of September and I have even blogged my first impressions (if you missed it you can read it over here). This post however concentrated and targeted to India as it has to do with Motorola India, and not Motorola as of whole.

Snack Fact : To those who don't know, Motorola (and other awesome companies like Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Jabra etc.) is operated by Redington India Pvt. Ltd. and  their services are horrible. Most of the service centre (specially the one which ran into) are shameless.
 
When I received my Moto G unit, I was really positive about it. My first impressions post conveys the same message. And believe me, Moto G as a smartphone is really dependable and robust as of whole. I didn't post any review because I was waiting for the Lollipop upgrade that will change how Moto G is used in the current KitKat OS.

So, lets jump straight into the dilemma department of the Motorola Moto G.

THE AFTER SALES SERVICES:

On Dec 3, 2014 it so happened that my phone started sweating while performing simple tasks, like opening system apps like ,Dailer ,Settings. After a while the phone started rebooting multiple times, and finally there came a situation where it got stuck in the initial boot animation. So I tried to troubleshoot myself I tried to boot to the bootloader/fastboot screen to reset the device. But the phone would reboot every time it tried to cross the initial boot animation phase. At the end of the day my phone finally had evolved to a 5 inch Flashlight (without installing any 3rd party application).
It's a common issue in android as of whole. And can be resolved by simply

December 4, 2014 I head to the official Mangalore service centre(They like embarrassing themselves). Initially they said, “Its a Software issue, your device will be ready in an hour. But you'll lose all your data”. I was sure they were going to try to reset the device. I didn't have any high hopes, So I show up after an hour and then they say, “Sir we have to change the PCB(or Motherboard if you prefer), It'll take a week.”

The receipt i received from the collection/service centre
The receipt i received from the collection/service centre
December 10 and December 11, 2014 “Sir part not received”

December 13, 2014 “Sir part not received”

I realised that now it's of no use of calling the service centre so I call the Motorola India's help line number 1800 102 2344. I had *Shower some wisdom, and enlighten me for I walk in the darkness* sort of feeling. So call them up.

December 15,2014 “Sir I've just confirmed from the service centre your device has received the necessary part and your device will be ready soon.”

Next day I call up the service centre,

December 16, 2014 “Sir part not received”

Hence I wage a war of telephonic requests, against Motorola India. *Shower some wisdom, for my faith is slowly fading away* sort of feeling was getting accumulated.

December 16, 2014 “Sir your complaint has been lodged, you will receive a call from a team which will resolve the issue, in 24 hours”

I waited for 24 hours. I don't get any call. Probably Motorola India was too busy counting currency notes.

I decided to approach them again, with *Shower some wisdom, for thy'll loose all patience* sort of feeling.

On December 17,2014 I got some new jokes “Sir there is a shortage of spare parts, we have to order parts from AMERICA. It takes time sir.”

Snack Fact: Motorola sells Moto G XT1064 in the US which is a single sim model. The model sold in India, Moto G XT1068 is a dual sim model.  Also XT1064 received lollipop update on Nov 12, 2014. Where as for the XT1068 : “Sir part not received” Not your turn service centre lady I mean “Sir our team is working on it”

I'm no scientist, but I’m sure a company like Motorola will not stock spare parts of models which are not required in the country. Also I’m sure Motorola doesn’t treat AMERICA as warehouse.

Disclaimer: All quoted statements are actual replies from the mention source. I didn't make it up. That *Showering some wisdom, for I’d dream of being a comedian* sort of issue.

It's understandable that to err is human(unless you are a dabbawaala in Mumbai). But the number of lies, shamelessness, and the level to which Motorola's brand value is degraded by Motorola India(Redington to be precise) needs spotlight. They didn't ever call me back accepting that they could not complete the repair or offer me a replacement phone.

Snack Fact: I still didn't get my phone. December 18, 2014 “Sir part not received”
Update(December 19, 2014): I called up Motorola helpline number, to confirm the status of my phone.
They again said that the required part is received by the service centre.
So I contact the service centre again, “Sir part not received”. But this time I ask them to give me a job sheet number associated to the phone. (Job sheet number: GECMG1400378). *Shower some wisdom, For I am not here to play * sort of feeling started to accumulate. I call up the helpline number and there I come to know that the service centre people didn’t register my device to Motorola. According to that job sheet number, I had submitted my device on December 18, 2014.
Later in the evening I got a call from Motorola saying that they wont be able to contact me till Monday and I had to wait even more.

Update(December 22,2014): I don't receive any call from Motorola helpline number. I myself had to call them in the evening. I got the information that I have to call them the next day. They will explicitly connect me to the so-called RSS(some Resolution) team.

Update(December 23,2014): I call the Motorola helpline number (again). They representative said that the RSS team is unavailable. He said he'll make arrange a call within an hour(Yes. I get to wait, again.)
After an hour: I call the Motorola helpline number(and again). The representative couldn't connect to the RSS team or the service centre. The Irony, He asks me to "Wait" for the part to come. I agree to wait for two hours for them to connect to the service centre.
My argument to this "wait"/"Motorola India" is simple, If you cannot get parts, Why can't you replace the phone? Why do I have to "wait" for them to just move parts around? And of course I realise that, I didn't buy the phone to keep it in the service centre.
After another 2 hours: I get a assurance that I will get my phone on 26 December.

Update(December 25,2014): Recieved a confirmation call from Motorola helpline. Representative said, "You'll get a call soon".

Update (December 26,2014): I was busy with my semester exams so i didn't approach Motorola

Update (December 27,2014): I was given a confirmation that my device is ready. I Finally recieved my Moto G2.
This isn't the first time I had after sales issue in Mangalore. I had similar issues with my HTC One S(same service centre) and Asus Nexus 7 2012(This one was a different saga). Let me know in the comments section if you ever faced similar issues or if you want to know more or if you have *Tell us more Sahil, Bring us more of your wisdom from the future* sort of feeling, feel free to comment.