Thursday, July 30, 2015

Flipkart & Amazon to launch CET like counselling to sell smartphones

This is a satire and not real news.

eNidhi India has learnt that not content with repeated flash sales, major e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart have decided to organize a counselling session to decide who gets to buy what mobile. This counselling session will be modeled based on CET (Common Entrance Test)- a systematic mechanism used in Karnataka to assign engineering seats to aspiring students.

Below is how it would work:
Step 1: Write Entrance Exam
Under the new process, those aspiring to buy yet to be launched mobiles which are always in short supply than demand, need to take up an online exam, in which they need to answer questions such as
- What is your monthly income?
- How desperate are you to buy this new phone
- How many selfies would you be posting online on day 1 if you get the phone?
- What are the last six phones you've used?
- After how many months/weeks you plan to come back to us to buy another smartphone?

Step 2: System assigned ranking
Based on prospective buyer's answer, system will assign a ranking to each buyer.
Step 3 Counselling

  • On a pre-defined day, wannable buyers should visit the counselling centre with cash and a smartphone(to keep updating their progress)
  • Flipkart and Amazon officials, along with representatives from phone makers like OnePlusOne, Xiomi etc will be calling in the buyers one by one based on rank and buyers will have to select a model from available options
  • A large display board will indicate which model how many pieces are left out
  • Once a buyer is assigned a particular phone, he/she should publish a mandatory selfie with large size cardboard display of new phone, make full payment and go home.
  • New phone will be delivered to the buyer through sellers' logistics partner.
  • In case a heavy rock is delivered instead of smartphone, buyer should repeat the process from Step 1

Note Post inspired by a status update of Nivedith G Image used is also taken from the same update

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Early morning/Late evening attractions in Singapore

Assume you’re in Singapore on work- Monday to Friday. You don’t have a weekend to spare. Either because you want to go back to your family or your company doesn’t like you staying a day more than necessary, you’re taking Friday night flight back home. Because most of the attractions open by 9/10 AM and close by 5/6PM, they can’t be visited unless you get a weekend or you take off.  So what can you explore in Singapore during week days, out of office hours? Assuming you can get up early and visit some places before going to office (say 6 to 10AM) and you’ve some time to go around after office  hours before hitting bed (6PM to 10PM), I am listing a set of attractions in Singapore that can be explored early morning or late evening.

Early morning explorations in Singapore
1. Gardens by the bay – Opens at 5.00 AM (except tree top, cloud forest and flower domes which open only by 9 AM and close by 9PM) and closes only at 2 AM. You can’t go up the supertrees that early but you can explore rest of the Gardens by the bay. May be come back in evening again- check last part of the post.
2. Fort canning centre used to be HQ of British Army in Singapore, now houses a dance theatre. Located near Clarkey Quay/North Bridge road, Fort canning centre is a vast garden worth exploring along with your early morning walk/jog. Very close to raffles and other business districts. 
3. Merlion- Open 24 by 7, stop by whenever you’re free. Take good look at Fullerton Hotel

4. Labrador Nature Reserve: Located off Alexandra road, Labrador nature reserve is a nice forest to explore. I have a detailed post on Labrador Nature Reserve here. It is an open for all campus with no entry fees. Large trees, artefacts from world war times and a park that has waterfront on a side makes this Labrador Nature reserve a good place to visit. It is not pegged as one of the tourist attractions, so crowd will be very minimal here. You can enjoy some quality time with nature.
5. St Andrew's Cathedral at city hall: Right above City Hall MRT station, this church is one of the oldest in Singapore. Take a walk around, click some good pictures and meditate for a while.

6. Mustafa centre- open 24 by seven… Go there early morning- crowd will be less compared to evening and you can shop at convenience. There’re lots of Indian restaurants nearby, so your breakfast is also taken care of. It will be cheaper to buy here than at Changi airport- read my comparison

7. Kinetic Rain at Changi airport- In most probability, your flight will be in/out of T2 or T3 at Changi. So you are likely to miss T1 attractions. Take MRT to Changi airport. In T1, you can spend some time viewing the Kinetic rain. It is located before immigration area, so you don’t really need a ticket to watch Kinetic rain. Details here
Late evening attractions in Singapore
1. River cruise from Clarke Quay: There’re different kind of cruises to suite your taste and budget. Dinner cruise, bar cruise, basic no frills cruise etc. There’re several boarding and alighting point all along the route. You can pick the one that suits your needs (for example if you’re already at Merlion you can board at Fullerton Square and go back to say Clarke Quay, from where you can take an MRT to your hotel

2. Reverse Bungee jump at Clarkey Quay: Used to cost SGD 40 in 2012. Not sure of current rate. Open till late night. You will be made to sit in a capsule and will be shot into the air at full force. Then enjoy some up n down swings before coming down. Go with a friend or go without any objects- nothing is allowed on you while you take the ride (no wallets, phones, bags etc are allowed inside).

3. Singapore flyer – Opens till late night. Last ride is at about 10PM. Book your slot for an evening ride, which lasts 30 minutes. Get great view of the city. Read detailed post here.

4. Marina Bay Sands Laser show: Happens at specific internals in the night- check my detailed post here with photos and timings. You just have to be in a spot which has clear view of Marina Bay Sands and you can enjoy the laser show for free. 

5. Marina Bay sands Skypark Observation deck: Observation deck is open till 11PM. You can go there in the evening, buy ticket (SGD 23) and go to top. Spectacular night view of the city, Singapore flyer and Gardens by the Bay can be had from here. Take MRT to Bayfront station from where MBS tower 3 (at the basement of which ticket counter for sky park is located) is walkable

6. Casino at Marina Bay Sands basement: If you’re game for gambling, try your luck at MBS Basement. Do carry your passport. But be advised that Casinos are well designed to ensure that house wins majority of the time. Customers winning more than what they spend is very rare scenario. Don’t bet all you have, spend only a small amount which you’re comfortable to lose in worst case.

7. Have a Spin in a Ferrari: Read detailed post here. For Rs 15000, you can take a Ferrari or Lambo for a spin for 15 minutes. Open till 9/10PM. Note that you will be driving on normal roads amidst other cars, so you can’t push the cars to their speed limits, but still experience the luxury car in those precious minutes. More pics and details in this post
8. Night Safari: One of the most popular activities for tourists in Singapore- every hotel will have information on this. Free shuttle also might be available from some hotels. Just have a word with your hotel front desk and plan your visit. Usually you may have to leave by 6PM. (Update: After visiting the night safari, I feel this is most over-hyped and poorly managed attraction in Singapore- Read more here So caution advised)

9. Alive Museum: Alive museum in Suntec Mall is open till 10 PM. Takes about 1.5 hours to explore various creative 3D  imagery against which you can pose and get interesting pictures clicked. Full details and pictures here. SGD 25 per person is the entry fee, last entry by 9.00PM. Be sure to watch the fountain of wealth in-front of Suntec city and also check out the Ferrari ride here.
10. Personal shopping at Tang Mall. Unlike other malls, Tang Mall inside Suntec mall has a unique provision where you can have an entire room for yourself and your companions, to try out all the new stuff you’re looking to buy.

11. Cloud Forest and Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay: You need to buy tickets by 8 PM and enter before 8.30 PM as these close by 9PM. Details on Cloud Forest Dome here

12. National Gallery Singapore- is open till 7 PM on most days and 10 PM on Friday, Saturday and eve of National holidays. Entry to the building is free, you need to buy ticket if you wish to enter the galleries. Read more here

Above list is based on my personal observation and experience during last 3 visits. There could be few more. Did I miss anything? Are there some other attractions worth visiting that can be checked out before 9AM or after 6PM? Do share your thoughts.

Similar: Early morning/Late evening destinations in Chennai

Getting used to Genx Tata Nano Easyshift AMT

I had a chance to drive around Bengaluru in the new Nano AMT. This was different from two other Nano events I had attended this year- Indiblogger meet at Pune prior to Nano launch and TheChosenOnes event at Ahmedabad.
This time got the car from Tata’s regional office in Blr with the intention of experiencing it in detail and write about it.

As I drove around the AMT in Bangalore city traffic, noticed a few things a Nano AMT owners/drivers should be aware of- particularly in uphill conditions.

If you’ve been using manual transmission all along and just moved to convenience of automatic, below are a few things you should be aware of, before taking Nano AMT for the first ride.

Keep your hands off the gear lever.
If you’re used to driving with one hand on steering and another hand on gear lever, you should change your habit. Keep both hands on steering wheels. Because even when the car is in motion, gear lever can move from A to N at slightest provocation and at times this could be risky (Sudden loss of  power accompanied by driver panic could result in hitting others or getting hit from behind). Some automatics come with a button- you need to press the button and then move the lever. 
Be careful during uphill drive
Nano has a creep function whose purpose is to let the car move forward a bit when the driver lifts leg off brake pedal. However, when on a slope, if forces pulling the car backwards (downhill) is stronger than creep function which tries to push the car forward, there is a risk that Nano will roll backwards. If not noticed and arrested by driver in time, this could mean hitting the vehicle behind. There is no hill hold control. So in an uphill drive, driver should use hand brake or needs to use both legs- one leg on the brake and another on accelerator and by releasing both simultaneously, ensure that car moves only forward and not back. There is no half clutch concept in automatic, so extra caution is needed.

Ensure that right gear is engaged, when you toggle between forward and reverse.
You might move the gear lever to A(Drive forward) or R(Reverse), but unless the digital display in the central console shows A or R, car will NOT be moving forward or Reverse respectively. So please make a habit to check the display and ensure that gear is really engaged as expected. After moving the lever, pressing gas pedal blindly without this confirmation could risk in car moving in opposite direction than intended.
Nano AMT is at par with other affordable automatics and is pretty safe to use. There is also a sticker on the driver door indicating AMT behavior. Just that those who are not using to automatic or those who think automatic transmission will manage everything 100% are likely to take some time till they get used to automatic.  This post is only to prepare prospective owners well for their Nano easy shift experience.
Do read your owners' manual very carefully, particularly the pages related to AMT, to understand it better.

Expect another post on Nano with some more photos and price details

Monday, July 27, 2015

ರಂಗಿತರಂಗ ಸಿನೆಮಾ (Rangi Taranga Kannada movie review)

ಇತ್ತೀಚಿಗೆ ಎಲ್ಲರ ಪ್ರಶಂಸೆ ಗಳಿಸಿ ನಾಡಿನಾದ್ಯಂತ ಹೆಸರು ಮಾಡಿರುವ ರಂಗಿತರಂಗ ಸಿನೆಮಾವನ್ನು ನಾನು ಕುಟುಂಬದವರೊಡನೆ ಮೊನ್ನೆ ಭಾನುವಾರ ಕೋರಮಂಗಲದ ಪಿ ವಿ ಆರ್ ಚಿತ್ರಮಂದಿರದಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿದೆ. ಚಿತ್ರದ ಕೊನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ನನಗೆ ಆಗಿದ್ದು mixed feelings. ಅತ್ತ ಪೂರ್ತಿ ಹೊಗಳಲೂ ಆಗದ, ಇತ್ತ ತೆಗಳಲೂ ಆಗದ ಸಂದಿಗ್ಧ ಪರಿಸ್ತಿತಿ. ಬಹುಷ ನನ್ನ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷೆಯೇ ವಿಪರಿತವಿತ್ತೇನೋ ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ, ಚಿತ್ರದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಾನು ಗಮನಿಸಿದ್ದನ್ನು, ನನಗೆ ಅನಿಸಿದ್ದನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಹೊಗಳುವುದು, ತೆಗಳುವುದು ಅಥವಾ ಉಪೇಕ್ಷಿಸುವುದು ನಿಮಗೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದು.

ಇತ್ತೀಚಿಗೆ ತೆರೆ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮಚ್ಚು ಲಾಂಗು ಭರಿತ ಹೊಡಿ ಮಗ ಬಡಿ ಮಗ ಮಾದರಿಯ ಸಿನೆಮಾಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೋಲಿಸಿದರೆ ರಂಗಿ ತರಂಗ ಸಾವಿರ ಪಾಲು ಮೇಲು. ಹೊಸ ಮಾದರಿಯ ಕತೆ, ಹೊಸ ಮುಖಗಳು, ಉತ್ತಮ ಚಿತ್ರೀಕರಣ ಇವೆಲ್ಲವೂ ಮನಸೆಳೆಯುತ್ತವೆ. ಆದರೆ ಮೂಲತ ಉಡುಪಿ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯವನಾದ ನನಗೆ ಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಇನ್ನಷ್ಟು ಉತ್ತಮಪಡಿಸಬಹುದಿತ್ತು, ಭೂತಾರಾಧನೆ ಬಗ್ಗೆ, ಸ್ಥಳೀಯ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಮಾಹಿತಿ ಕೊಡಬಹುದಿತ್ತು ಎಂದು ಅನಿಸಿತು.

ಕತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡುಬಂದ ನ್ಯೂನತೆಗಳು:
೧. ಆ ಕೆಲಸದ ಹೆಂಗಸು ಕದ್ದ ವಾಚು ಪೈಲ್ವಾನನ (ಗರ್ನಲ್ ಬಾಬು) ಬಳಿ ಹೇಗೆ ಬಂತು ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಯಲಿಲ್ಲ.
೨. ಸಂಧ್ಯಾಳ ಕಾರಿನಲ್ಲಿ continuity ಮಿಸ್ಸಿಂಗ್ ... ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಇನ್ನೋವ, ಮತ್ತೊಮ್ಮು ಪೋಲೋ ಕೊನೆಗೆ ಸ್ವಿಫ್ಟ್ ...
೩. ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಆಡಿ ಕಾರುಗಳು ಅತ್ಯುತ್ತಮ ಸುರಕ್ಷಾ ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನ ಹೊಂದಿರುತ್ತವೆ. ಮಾಮೂಲಿ ಬೈಕಿಗೆ ಅತಿ ಕಡಿಮೆ ವೇಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಡಿಕ್ಕಿ ಹೊಡೆದ ಮಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಕಾರು ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಭಸ್ಮವಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. (ಆಡಿ ಗೆ ಬೆಂಕಿ ಹೊತ್ತಿಕೊಂಡ ಕೆಲವು ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗಳಿವೆ - ಉದಾ ೧ * ಉದಾ ೨ ಆದರೂ ಒಳಗಿದ್ದವರು ಹೊರಗೆ ಬರಲಾರದಷ್ಟು ವೇಗವಾಗಿ ಬೆಂಕಿ ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ನಿರ್ಮಾಪಕರು ಡಾಟ್ಸನ್ ಗೋ ಬಳಸಿದ್ದರೆ ನಾನು ನಂಬುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ  (ಡಾಟ್ಸನ್ ಗೋ ಬಹಳ ದುರ್ಭಲವಾಗಿದೆ).  ಹೆಲ್ಮೆಟ್ ಅಥವಾ ಇನ್ಯಾವುದೇ ಸುರಕ್ಷಾ ದಿರಿಸು ಹಾಕದ ಬೈಕ್ ಚಾಲಕ ಆಡಿಗೆ ಗುದ್ದಿದರೂ  ಏನೂ  ಆಗದೆ ಬದುಕುಳಿಯುತ್ತಾನೆ.
೪. ಲಾಬ್ ರಿಪೋರ್ಟ್ ಒಂದೇ ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಆಸ್ಪತ್ರೆಗೆ ಹೋಗುತ್ತವೆ ಅಥವಾ ರೋಗಿಗಳೇ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅಂಚೆ ಮೂಲಕ ಹೋಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.
೫. ಕಾರು ಅಪಘಾತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸತ್ತ ಇಬ್ಬರ ಕುಟುಂಬದವರು ಸುಮ್ಮನಿರುತ್ತಾರೆಯೇ? ತಮ್ಮ ಮಗಳ ಹೆಸರು ಬೆರೆಯವಳೊಬ್ಬಳು ಬಳಸುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ಅವರಿಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲವೇ?
೬. ಹಳ್ಳಿ ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಗುಡ್ಡದ ಮೇಲಿಂದ ಕೂಗಿದರೆ, ಕಿರುಚಿಕೊಂಡರೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ದೂರ ಕೇಳುತ್ತದೆ? ನೂರಿನ್ನೂರು ಮೀಟರ್ ? ಚಿತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಿಲೋಮೀಟರ್ ಗಟ್ಟಳೆ ಕೇಳಿಸುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂಬಂತೆ ತೋರಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.

ಸಿನೆಮಾದಲ್ಲಿ ೨-೩ ಗಂಟೆ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಕತೆಯೊಂದನ್ನು ಶೂನ್ಯದಿಂದ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿ ಒಂದು ತಾರ್ಕಿಕ ಅಂತ್ಯ ಕಾಣಿಸಬೇಕಾದ ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯತೆ ಇರುವುದರಿಂದ ಕೆಲವು ಲಾಜಿಕ್ ಗೆ ಸಿಗದ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ಅಳವಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾದ ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯತೆ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ ಎನ್ನುವುದನ್ನು ನಾನು ಒಪ್ಪುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಆದರೂ  ಒಂದು ಮಿತಿಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದರೆ ಚೆನ್ನ.

ಸಿನೆಮಾದಲ್ಲಿ ಭೂತಾರಾಧನೆಯನ್ನು, ತತ್ಸಂಬಂಧಿ ವಿಷಯವನ್ನು ಒಂದು ಭಯ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಸುವ ವಸ್ತುವಾಗಿ ಬಳಸಲಾಗಿದೆಯೇ ಹೊರತು ಅವುಗಳ ಇತಿಹಾಸ ತಿಳಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ವಾಗಲಿ, ವೈಜ್ಯ್ನಾನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಆಗಲೀ ನೆಡೆದಿಲ್ಲ. ಗುಡ್ಡದ ಭೂತ ಧಾರಾವಾಹಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆದರಿಕೆ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಸಲು ಬಳಸುವ ತಂತ್ರವನ್ನು ಬಯಲಿಗೆಳೆಯುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ನೆಡೆದಿತ್ತು.

ಅಬ್ಬರದ ಸಂಗೀತವನ್ನು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಕಡಿಮೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಮೈತ್ರಿ ಸಿನೆಮಾದಂತೆ ಇನ್ನೂ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ನಾಜೂಕಾಗಿ ತೋರಿಸಿಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿರೊದು.

ಹತ್ತು ಹಲವು ಉಪ ಕಥೆಗಳು, ಒಳ ಕಥೆಗಳು ಕೆಲವೊಮ್ಮೆ ಅನಗತ್ಯ ತಲೆಬಿಸಿ ನೀಡಬಹುದು.

ಇಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲಾ ಇದ್ದರೂ ಸಿನೆಮಾ ಮಾಮೂಲಿ ಮಸಾಲೆ ಸಿನೆಮಾಗಳಿಗಿಂತ ಬಹಳ ಭಿನ್ನವಾಗಿರುವುದರಿಂದ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಇಷ್ಟವಾಗಿದೆ. ವಿಶ್ವದಾದ್ಯಂತ ಜಯಭೇರಿ ಭಾರಿಸುತ್ತಿದೆ, ಇತರ ಭಾಷೆಗಳಿಗೂ ರೂಪಾಂತರಗೊಳ್ಳಲಿದೆ. ಹೊಸ ಪ್ರಯೋಗ ನಡೆಸಿ ಯಶಸ್ಸು ಕಂಡ ಚಿತ್ರ ತಂಡಕ್ಕೆ ಶುಭಾಷಯಗಳು 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Few things Indigo can learn from Tigerair.

I had experienced TIgerair for the first time this June and I had three Indigo flights- one every day on 4th, 5th and 6th of July. I also tried Air Costa on 7th. Compared to Tiger Air’s in-flight service I found a set of possible improvements in Indigo’s in flight service.

Indigo is India’s only profitable and very successful airline with close to 40% market share. They don’t need my advise but these simple observations, if factored for improvements, can make a difference to passenger experience, without needing any extra investment (apart from a bit of training/process change may be). 
Serving first to those who have pre-booked their meals.
Tiger air staff came to me, told me that my meal will be served soon after take off and asked me if I want coffee or tea. They noted down my preference and without another word, my meal was served ahead of others. Meal was piping hot and ready to eat. Air Costa also serves pre-booked meals first.

At Indigo, they do not serve on priority to those who have pre-booked their meals. Serving starts from first row and from middle of the  craft. If you happen to be in row 8-15 or 25-30, you need to wait forever for your meals to arrive. It is also likely that your preferred option gets exhausted by the time tray reaches you. Despite paying in advance and communicating our preference, we need to wait and rely on luck to have items of our choice. Going row wise is more efficient if lots of people are pre-booking their meals and staff can’t run around randomly. But my observation on the three flights is that just about 20% of folks pre-book. Few buy onboard and many do not buy anything. Few people even bring their own food into cabin baggage.

The other factor is that most of Indigo’s hot meals- Upma, Bisi bele bath and Biriyani need 8 minute waiting time. It would have been nice if crew can prepare it at their counter and serve ready to eat to the guests. Instead they mix hot water on the go, serve it and ask guests to wait for 8 long minutes before opening and consuming the food. I tried Bisibele bath on one flight and Biriyani on the other- the taste is amazing, but having to wait infront of the box for 8 minutes while everyone else are consuming their food is a tough task.

The POS machines on both Delhi Chennai flight and Chennai-Ahmedabad flight of Indigo were not working. I guess they need a revamp to deal with modern chip based and contactless credit cards.

XL seats cost Rs 800 and often remain empty. For many that is 25% of their ticket fare for a few inch more space and without reclining seats (Row 12, 13).

Noticed that Indigo is advertising on paper cups and also announcing specific shops at destination city, in a bid to make some more money. I still see some branding opportunity on coffee cups samosa packs and few other items.

Indigo twitter handled responded well when I mentioned my back to back flights, but gave a customary reply when I asked why can't I get an upgrade or free meals for taking 3 flights in 3 days. This is not a complaint- I understand those who handle twitter account may not be in a position to offer anything. Just saying!

All 3 flights were perfectly on time. So ontime is a wonderful thing.

Experienced one other strange thing on the indigo flight from Chennai to Ahmedabad on 6th July.

  • One air hostess blocks access to passengers to lavatory in the front using the food cart and stands against it
  • Captain comes out of cockpit and goes to toilet
  • One of the other lady air hostess goes inside the cockpit and door is closed
  • Few minutes later captain comes out of loo, goes into cockpit
  • Lady air hostess comes out.
  • Food cart which was blocking the passenger access to lavatory is moved aside.

I am assuming the senior air hostess went inside to give company to co-pilot by keeping an arm on the throttle or something to ensure smooth flight during turbulence- or may be they have a policy not to leave co-pilot alone in the cockpit (influenced by German crash?).

Air Costa offers cheaper meals (Rs 120 for bisibelebath in air costa while Indigo charges Rs 200, Coffee Rs 70 vs Rs 100)
Just a few observations from my side..

Alive Museum, Suntec City Mall, Singapore

Suntec mall is a popular destination in Singapore. Located at heart of the city, Suntec mall houses many promintent corporate offices, a mall (Tang Mall), a good cafeteria and many more attraction.

One of the recent attractions at Suntec mall is the Alive Museum.

Alive museum is akin to the 3D art gallery I had seen atVenezia mall, Hua Hin last year. But I find Alive museum better prepared- it has specific marking advising people from where to take photograph, a sample photograph indicating how to pose and more use of physical substance (like protruding table tennis table) to accompany art work.

Pictures speak thousand words- below are some of the pictures telling you what to expect at Alive Museum Singapore.

Elephant ride- reminds me of Dr Rajkumar in Gandhada Gudi kannada movie.

White water rafting- this idea was much better than the Hua Hin mall one- creates an artificial floor and lets me sit inside the raft.

Photo courtesy- Desi traveler

Dhempe gets nice smooth sexy legs…

Count your final movements

Be a king and get lots of bows! (pic by Desitraveler)
Some more... 

Alive Museum has an entry fee of SGD 25, to be bought at the entrance or on their website. Buying online will save you 10-20%. It is open from 10 AM to 10 PM, last entry by 9 PM. It takes 60-90 minutes to explore the museum, depending on how fast you are and how many selfies you wish to get clicked.

Alive museum is a good place to have fun, particularly for those who are photo savy or if you have young children in the group. Restaurant and rest rooms are available as part of the mall.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Budget smart phone Spice Dream Uno Mi498

While looking for a budget phone earlier this year, Spice Android One Dream Uno came to my attention. Back in March 2015, this phone was priced Rs 5795. Today it costs Rs 3999. At that time, I wasn't sure if I should pick up this lesser known brand of spice, while there were other contenders from Micromax and Samsung in the budget smart phone market. Another thousand more could have got me a Moto E as well. But based on overall positive reviews, I decided to take a chance and ordered Spice Dream Uno Mi 498.
For about a month since it arrived, I didn't use it. Then when I decided to start using it, a major problem arrived- the memory card won't sit properly in its slot and camera won't work. Camera insists that it needs a memory card to operate. No option to set internal memory as default storage for camera. I tried troubleshooting a bit, installed other camera apps, but no luck.

Flipkart's return/refund duration had elapsed, so I couldn't send it back. Then one day I took it to Spice Hotspot store on OMR Chennai. Store guy was bit reluctant to help as I didn't buy the phone at his shop. He still checked the phone, fixed the memory card slot and advised that I should reset to factory setting and try again. I did and camera started working fine.

Since then, for over 4 months now, phone is running without any problem. I am using it as my secondary phone, mostly for calls. As I am not using it for internet, games etc, battery life is pretty good. Can manage more than 2 days before battery dries out.

Android One is a simplified version of Android. So on pressing power button hard, I get only one option to power off. No flight mode, no option to take screenshots.

Compared to MotoE, Spice Dream Uno feels a bit heavy. It gets soft back cover which is smooth and comfortable to hold. Battery can be removed. 5MP main camera is decent and almost at par with MotoE(1st gen) and a bit better than Moto E in night conditions. But neither the camera is easiest to use, nor it comes with lots of controls, but photo quality is decent. Sample indoor photo below.
Because it was sold on flipkart, this Spice fone came with flipkart app pre-installed. If I try to uninstall it would threaten me saying "removing native applications may cause problems".

It does some nautanki when I try to connect it to laptop using USB.

Overall, with new low price of Rs 4000, Spice Dream Uno is a nice pick for an ultra budget smart phone with basic usage, rugged usage and decent battery life.

Last Sunday I went to Spice Hotspot store with an idea of buying another unit for a family member. But they didn't have stock of Android one models. Checked few other models- Octa 524, for which Spice Hotspot store was quoting Rs 8200, whereas online price was Rs 6400. I can understand 5% difference, but 20% premium can't be justified. Also store didn't have any display model for us to get first hand feel. We should buy based on specifications and only on payment they will open the box. If that is the case, why not buy online and try our luck, save some money.

Zenfone 2 * Samsung Galaxy A5 4G

Sunday, July 19, 2015

All new Honda Jazz: An Analysis

This post is little long overdue. I had checked out the all new Honda Jazz earlier this month at Buddh International Circuit. I have written about BIC experience here, Hangout with Honda event here and also about the Radisson Blu where we had stayed, here. But a post dedicated to Jazz was missing. In this post I am trying to review Jazz in little more detail, based on my short drive in BIC and what I have observed.

I had already seen Jazz at Singapore in June. The Singapore edition- shown in this post, gets projector headlamp and DRL next to fog lamp. These are given a miss in India edition. When asked I got a diplomatic answer that after their extensive survey/study of Indian consumers, they didn't find real need to offer the same in India.
Above: India Jazz
Below: Singapore Jazz

Compared to Ciaz automatic I had driven earlier, Jazz's CVT gets a Sports mode, but sans L and 2 mode for extra torque. But then, Jazz gets paddle shift, you can manually downshift if need be. So this isn't really a concern, provided driver is familiar on using paddle shift.

Above:Honda Jazz CVT
Below:Maruti Ciaz Automatic

Below are some pics of outgoing Jazz for comparison. In all departments, All New Jazz is a league ahead. It is bigger in dimension by few mm in all departments, including wheelbase and gets a far more superior design. 
Jazz was a premium hatchback in Honda's stable when it had only city, civic and CRV in India. After Amaze and Brio entered, diesel versions included, Jazz had to take a backseat to free up production lines for Amaze. (Also because Jazz was only available in petrol and was priced way above competition) So for some time Jazz was not to be seen in Honda showrooms. Now Honda is back with all new Jazz, with over 90% localization and a dream earth diesel engine on offer, Jazz has been priced very aggressively to take on the Hyundai i20 elite. New Jazz has been priced between 5.3 lakh to 8.6 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi. (Add roughly 20-25% to that for on road price in your city). (The earlier generation Jazz had a price tag of 6.6 lakhs Ex Show room Delhi). Jazz is available in traditional Honda variants like E, S, V, SV, Vx etc. AT is available in two variants- S and V. (petrol only). E and S variants will be missing airbags. E variant even misses ABS. (E Variant's job is to give an impression that Jazz is very cheap and make people walk into showroom).Comparitively VW gives airbag as standard in all variants of Polo. So if you're not keen on top spec VX variant, then SV variant is the ideal consideration which has critical safety and other features. SV variant will be costing about 2 lakhs more than cheapest advertised E variant. Jazz is priced slightly higher than the corresponding variants of booted Amaze, mainly for premium feel.

New Jazz claims record fuel economy of 27.3 kmpl in diesel. Petrol is pegged at 18.7 kmpl. Surprisingly, Automatic gets a higher 19 kmpl rating. Normally automatics get a little less fuel economy compared to manuals. Clearly machines are getting more intelligent by the day.

My drive was little short and was done in a very controlled environment, So I couldn't test fuel economy and various other dynamics of the car. The A pillar tends to create blind spots and driver needs to move his head a bit to get clear visibility of the corner.

Large boot space, 4 way flexible rear seats and lots of storage space make Jazz highly utilitarian.
Jazz Steering wheel also misses some controls compared to Singapore edition
Above: India Jazz steering wheel
Below: Interiors of Singapore Jazz

Meanwhile, IAB reports that Hyundai is cutting on some simple features on Elite i20, Jazz's primary competition, without reducing cost. Be careful. Details here

Jazz's target customer persona is very similar to that of Sameer (Ford Ecosport's user persona, a 31 year aspirational male executive looking to buy a car that can define his identity) and Jazz has to meet multiple expectations world wide.

Previous punchline "Why so serious!" has also been dropped for a simpler "Nothing else is a Jazz"

Overall, Jazz is a nice package- feature rich, priced well and comes with the Honda premium feeling. Let us wish this car all the success.

Watch a video Similar: Honda Amaze Review * Honda City Diesel Review * Honda Mobilio Misleading print ad

Novotel Hotel Ahmedabad from Accor group

We spent a night at Novotel Ahmedabad for the Tata Nano #TheChosenOnes event. While few other bloggers who arrived early/left late could spend more time in the event, I could spent very little time at the hotel. Knowing that lots of bloggers are staying, hotel management also squeezed in a quick bloggers meet as well.

Below are some observations/notes about Novotel Ahmadabad.

Good things:
Unlike the Radison Blu Greater Noida (because of difference in location it may not be right comparison, but since I stayed in these two hotels back to back, can't help but highlight similarity/differences) which I'd checked out previous day, Novotel Ahmadabad is located at nice location. There're malls, shops and eateries within walking distance from Novotel Ahmedabad. So if you feel hotel food expensive, you can simply walk out, have stomach full of good food for 50- 100 Rs. (Dinner Buffet at Novotel costs about Rs 1100)

Novotel reception has a display of current room rents and prices for other services. So you don't have to ask for price, feel embraced that it is too expensive. You can look from a distance and decide your strategy!.

I am told weekend rates are cheaper than week day rates. Weekday best rate was around Rs 8000. (Corporate rates could be lower). Because most of the customers are business travelers they prefer to go back on Friday night, so weekend availability is higher.

Above: Business area at Level 1
Below: Bloggers Meet
Other observations
Corridors didn't have any place to sit or phone to call, unlike Radisson Blu

There're little less than 200 rooms, most of them superior rooms and few types of suits. The cheapest of rooms are branded Superior rooms, to give false impression to guests that they are staying in luxury. (Tactic used in all hotels).

There was no toothpaste in the room- we were told guests seldom needed one. But when they don't bring one, thinking hotel will anyway have it, they will be disappointed. During our bloggers' meet couple of ideas were discussed, but finally it was identified that keeping a display that suggests guests can call house keeping if they need toothpaste was most viable

Compared to Radisson Blu, room size was smaller. Radisson Blu offered a full size writing table, sofa etc, which were not to be seen in Novotel. Doors of bathroom and wardrobe have a unique lock mechanism.

Radisson doesn't supply a copy of newspaper to room. Novotel does.

I couldn't check out the pool at Novotel or any other facilities. Breakfast was nice- lots of vegetarian options.

Novotel is part of Accor group, which also runs Ibis, Formula 1, Mercure, Sofitel and other brands. I asked if it is not difficult to run multiple brands. I was told each of these brands have specific target customers and offers different kind of services. Forumla One is the cheapest, no service offering (similar to Ginger) while Sofitel is on the super luxury side targeting elite of the elite customers. In many cities, you can find Ibis and Novotel next to each other, in same campus. (Chennai and Bangalore for example)

I am told they do profile the guests to capture their requirements and preferences. For repeat guests, staff know what and how they like their things.

On the day of check out, even though we were clearly told that food and beverages will be paid for by Tata motors, we were asked to pay for dinner and coffee. I had to show guest instruction letter and staff took few minutes to run around, check and finally confirm that we needn't pay anything.