Tring Tring Tring

That is the familiar sound of a phone ring. All the 90s kids would know ūüėõ Actually not just the 90s kids. Anybody who has heard EDM music and wondered what it is, would know. Nowadays we have these fancy smartphones in which you can load fancier ringtones like “Pardesi pardesi jaana nahi” and “Baabuji zara dheere chalo”.

The latest entry to this is the iPhone X. Some people point out that it is pronounced “ten” and not X. It costs the same amount as what at once Ratan Tata promised to give us a car. If I am paying that much for a phone I can call it X,Y,Z whatever. Hell, I should also get an option to rename Siri to Ramu kaka for that kind of money. ¬†It supposedly has a glass front and back. So now when you drop your phone and break the glass, you can not only hear your heart break to a thousand pieces with amazing clarity, you can also see reflection of you crying on both the sides. And if your imagination is any good you will also hear “Sheesha ho ya dil ho toot jaata hai..” play in the background.

Our phones these days are not just communication devices, they have a wealth of information – our contacts, personal photos, to do lists, notes with bank account numbers, emails, digital wallets, bank apps and what not. So now if we lose our phones, we just don’t lose our phone we lose all that data. And if this reaches the wrong hands we also run the risk of id theft, misuse of our personal data and possibly money from our bank accounts and digital wallets. I know the pain of losing a phone having lost it once and another one just drained in a bucket of water and committed suicide! Blue whale was not even a thing back then! I still mourn both the devices and the data in those devices all the more.

I went to the Koramangala police station and told them I lost the phone in front the police station. They said that road comes under the Adugodi police station! Like the road in front of the police station. Our police require a separate post altogether. There isn’t enough space to talk about them here. I had this option on my Samsung phone where on changing the SIM, my chosen contacts would get a message. ¬†So as soon as the new owner changed the SIM we got a message and we called. Of course he was in no mood to give the phone back and the fact that my phone had reached from Bangalore to interiors of Andhra Pradesh made it even more difficult to recover.

A friend of mine who bought an expensive Samsung Galaxy also bought insurance for her phone. So at least  money wise she is covered. And when she lost her phone she claimed for the insurance. It was rejected because she had kept the phone in the back pocket of her denims in a market area which constitutes as reckless behaviour. This is the same company who advertisement shows a girl leaving her phone at a restaurant while out with her friends as the case for buying an insurance. Now apart from her phone money my friend also lost the money she paid for the insurance.

Another friend of mine lost his phone while he was boarding a bus at the Anand Rao circle in Bangalore. And not a city bus but a VRL bus where the seats are reserved in advance and only relevant people are getting in. Or so you think. He was speaking on the phone while boarding the bus and the next moment he is speaking into nothing and his hands are empty. By the time it sinks in, the phone is probably half a kilometer away.

Well why am I telling you all this? Losing your phone is easy but we can still do a few things to avoid the grief.

  • Don’t keep your phone in your back pocket! For that matter even your wallet or anything important. It is way easier for a pickpocketer.
  • Avoid talking on your phone while walking at the busy junctions or even on empty roads or while boarding a bus or when you have other things as well in your hand. Basically anywhere where it is easy for another person to flick it from your hand.
  • When you are sitting in a cafe, airport or anywhere with the phone on the desk or the table, keep an eye on the phone or even better keep it in your pocket/purse/bag.
  • If you are going to the washroom, keep your phone in the bag instead of keeping it on the counter. Much lesser chance of somebody else taking it or you forgetting it there.
  • Store some ICE(In Case of Emergency) numbers in your phone, which will not only help in times of an emergency but also in case of loss. If it reaches a good person he/she knows how to get in touch with you. In case you did not know your ICE contacts can be called even when your phone is locked. That’s how it can be used in an emergency. Screenshot below in case you don’t have them on your phone yet. Please do this for your own good and for the family who loves you. If you are the kind who only Jesus can love and nobody else, then it’s okay.
  • If at all, you do lose your phone you can still do a few things to ensure your data is safe. I know iPhone erases the data after some wrong password retries. Not sure of the details. If some iPhone user is reading this please comment on the details.
  • If you are an android user, there are many apps most of which are freemium apps. Checkout the Google Play Store. You can use the Android feature even if you don’t have any apps. This helps you track your phone or delete all the data if required. Go to Settings -> Lock screen and security -> Device administrator -> Find my device and activate it. Refer screenshot.
  • In short stay alert stay safe and keep reading my blog ūüôā
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Striking Gold

Gold-coinLife has its ups and downs but once in a while you get an offer that you just cannot refuse. You strike Gold! In my case quite literally. I was having lunch with my folks on a peaceful Sunday afternoon and I got a call on my mobile. The speaker said, he is from a remote part of Rajasthan and while digging some ruins for archaeological purposes they found gold. A good number of kilos. I don’t remember the exact number now. This was about a 5-6 years ago. But it was a good number. And now he had to give it to the government which is as per the law. So he proposed a solution, he could sell me the gold at almost half the market rates. I transfer the money and he ships the gold to my house.

Great deal, right? Except I am not a gold enthusiast and more importantly I could tell this was a scam, so I refused. The guy asked me to reconsider. He persisted and also lamented for I was letting go of such a fantastic opportunity.

Then I got talking to my Dad and it indeed was a scam! A thumb-rule that you can apply here, If something sounds too good to be true then it most probably is!! This is just one instance. There are many variations of this call. I plan to write a serious of these posts with the details of scams I have come across or have friends who have come across these instances.

Why is it that people fall for these scams? Well that one is easy. Easy money!! Easy money and the lure of a windfall. This one comes with an additional incentive of being able to screw the Government; Sone pe Suhaga(pun intended!). Irresistible package.

Now how to deal with these people:

Do NOT engage with them. I thought I am the smart one and just wanted to see how the caller responds so I did ask him a few questions on how he got my number, how is it that no one else knows about him finding the gold and the likes. He had an answer for all of them. He had anticipated these questions and had the answers handy. In hindsight, I should have just cut the call. Do not get into a conversation with these people. Just hang up.

Do NOT share any personal information whatsoever. And that includes even your name. It is not a big deal to find a bunch of phone numbers and the corresponding names. Especially not in our country with such lax regard for data privacy both by the Government and the individuals. So even if the caller is able to identify you and rattle off a few details of yours from some list do not fall for it.

Report scam. Actually I haven’t tried this one yet. If you get in touch with the police they should be able to direct you to the cyber crime cell. Registering for DND(Do Not Disturb) ¬†to 1909 is something I have tried and works to a certain extent. You can also call 1909 which is toll free number and is a service offered by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India). If you are a frequent recipient of scam/spam calls and messages, there is also an android app “India against spam” which is an award winning app. Not sure if the other OSes have this app. Let me know in the comments if any of you are aware. This helps report the call/message with a single tap.

Last and the most important of all: Be skeptical, be aware of things happening around you and question people before you buy into anything. And remember there is no such thing as a easy money. Anything that you get easily gets squandered easily too. This cliched gyaan makes sense. Think about it!

Watan Mera India

This time I am not apologizing for staying away for so long coz frankly I have done the disappearing act so many times that I am sure people wouldn’t take me seriously anymore. Well there are so many things to say and I have not just been busy but a lot more confused and thoughts so scattered that I couldn’t come up with any sensible post.

Let me wish you guys a very Happy Indian Independence Day before starting off. The day not only makes me think about the Indian history and its struggle for freedom but also about how lucky I am to be born in a free country. Not just that it is self ruled but also because in this country I have the freedom to voice my opinion. I am proud of its diverse culture, rich history, strong values and its growing economy. And of course I am proud of the fact that India is emerging as the knowledge hub of the world.

Just about the same time I was reading “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman and I happen to realise how unlucky we have been in a lot of terms. That doesn’t make me any less proud of my country but a sad realisation dawns upon me that we as a country have much more potential than our current achievements. And even sadder that we have benefitted other countries and helped them march ahead when our own mother land was crawling. I couldn’t help appreciate the way Thomas Friedman has put it in his book

“America got to be the second buyer of India’s brainpower! If you were a smart, educated Indian, the only way you could fulfill your potential was by leaving the country and, ideally, going to America, where some twenty-five thousand graduates of India’s top engineering schools have settled since 1953, greatly enriching America’s knowledge pool thanks to their education, which was subsidized by Indian taxpayers”.[wrt the IITs] .

We have been watering plants in somebody else’s garden and making them beautiful when plants in our own garden wilted and died. How sad!!! Getting freedom and no more being a colonised country was a giant leap in our history but later we only seemed to have proceeded by taking some baby steps, basking in the past glory and believing that we are a great country just because of our rich cultural heritage. The then current India being dominated by politics and corruption, which still is the case to a great extent. We have had some highs in between all this chaos like the Green revolution, the 1983 world cup and few others.¬† Corruption is a way of life here and politics couldn’t get murkier. I wonder how have we managed to still survive as a country.

But thanks to the technology today the world has now recognised that we are not just a country of snake charmers( though a lot of people would like to believe so). The potential of our country is widely recognised. For a change our size and diversity are working to our advantage. The IT not just brought us closer to the world but boosted our economy multifold. But it worth remembering that we still are to a large extent, the backoffice of the world. It is time we moved up the value chain. It is time we leverage the human talent pool that we have. Given the population we can develop many more Tendulkars, Ambanis, Aishwaryas, Kalams….. All we need to is create more opportunities and collaborate towards a better India.

The contest on BlogAdda in collaboration with Pringoo.com has asked us to suggest corrective actions to make our country a better place to live in.

Well my first one is to actually live in India and create opportunities here rather than go searching for them elsewhere.

With the new acts like RTI we can make our public service and government more accountable. Use it.

We already have a lot of rules and checks in place for a harmonious and a fair society. Implement these and implement them in the spirit.

Vote and vote for the right people!!! It’s important that we choose the right people to represent us and run the country.

Be considerate towards the environment. It is no more a luxury, it is the need of the hour.

Say no to corrupt practices (This one is an human element so can’t really be eliminated but that need not become a way of life).

Concentrate on things that matter. A lot of irrelevant things become a matter of National importance and the things needing actual attention get missed out in the process. There is a fatwa if Sania wears a short skirt on the Tennis court but people who kill thier own blood in the name of family honour roam around scot free. ( Wish media acts a little more responsibly than it is currently doing)

There are some things which look too simple to make a difference but it is small things put together that bring about the bigger change.

A Very Happy Independence day once again. Jai Hind!!! ūüôā

Standing on Giant shoulders

“If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of
giants” — Isaac Newton
At no other point of time would these humble words of a genuis mind
be more relevant than now. If the new generation boasts of acheiving
greater heights it is not because we are the most intelligent
generation but simply better equipped than our predecents. All the
acheivements that we have acheived till now are because we don’t
have to reinvent the wheel. It is already there we just have to use
it and build on it.
I realise this everytime I use technology as an aid. And what better
example than a google search. Anything under the sun and even beyond
the sun is available here. For example, if you forget some command,
searching for it wasn’t so easy. You needed to know where to find
it. If it is a book, is it a part of the library, is it available
currently. Or ask some resource person / expert/ peer. Esp. if it is
learning a new technology attend classes for it, travel half the
world to attend conferences or training sessions. Buy related books
and required equipment. Programs written in low level languages and
compilers took long to execute any program. Any error costed lots of
valuable time and money. All this was a costly affair.
Now it is just a matter of seconds. Type anything that might be
relevant to the command and lo! you have the thousands of pages
throughout the world giving you the answer. Visit any forum and you
have all the expertise dished out to you, that too for free. You
don’t have to waste your time and money doing the same mistakes that
somebody has already done. Just a PC and an Internet connection and
you have the world at your disposal. It is difficult to even imagine
a life without these facilities in our life. So if you are getting
things done in a record time. If you are able to produce excellent
results from a project. You also have somebody else to be thanked
other than yourself.

“If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of¬†giants” — Isaac Newton

At no other point of time would these humble words of a genuis mind¬†be more relevant than now. If the new generation boasts of acheiving¬†greater heights it is not because we are the most intelligent¬†generation but simply because we are better equipped than our predecents. All the¬†acheivements that we have acheived till now are because we don’t¬†have to reinvent the wheel. It is already there we just have to use¬†it and build on it.

I realise this everytime I use technology as an aid. And what better¬†example than a google search. Anything under the sun and even beyond¬†the sun is available here. For example, if you forget some command,¬†searching for it wasn’t so easy. You needed to know where to find¬†it. If it is a book, is it a part of the library, is it available¬†currently. Or ask some resource person / expert/ peer. Esp. if it is¬†learning a new technology attend classes for it, travel half the¬†world to attend conferences or training sessions. Buy related books¬†and required equipment. Programs written in low level languages and¬†compilers took long to execute any program. Any error costed lots of¬†valuable time and money. All this was a costly affair.

Now it is just a matter of seconds. Type anything that might be¬†relevant to the command and lo! you have the thousands of pages¬†throughout the world giving you the answer. Visit any forum and you¬†have all the expertise dished out to you, that too for free. You¬†don’t have to waste your time and money doing the same mistakes that¬†somebody has already done. Just a PC and an Internet connection and¬†you have the world at your disposal. It is difficult to even imagine¬†a life without these facilities in our life. So if you are getting¬†things done in a record time. If you are able to produce excellent ¬†results from a project. You also have somebody else to be thanked¬†other than yourself.

This is just one example related to programming world but the same holds for all the other fields. Faster information dissemination, the way we  communicate and the ultra modern ubiquitous technology has enabled the modern day human beings much beyond our imagination and simply changed the way we live. Let us toast the technology and all those who made a better life possible.
This post was a part of my drafts from a long time. Since today is the 40th birthday of the Internet, so I thought this would be the best time to post this . 40 yrs ago on 2nd Sept 1969, the first test packets were exchanged on two computers in University of California. This eventually led to the birth of the Internet and the rest as they say is history.