Nilesh Gonsalves

Oct 212017
 

You must have read here, my adventures with all the electronic trash lying around in my house. Today let’s see how to use cashify mobile app to sell the old gadgets and make cash. You all will get a surprise coupon code for sharing this link to friends on social media.

Do not forget to share the post using the icon bar on the left or below the post, to get the Coupon Code

The tutorial is in form of a slide show which will help you graphically understand how to use Cashify.

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Share using the Share bar below and earn a Coupon code for Cashify. #CleanUpCashOut

Oct 202017
 

The salaried class in India puts a portion of their pay in to the Employee Provident Fund(EPF). The EPF is handled by the Employee Provident fund Organisation(EPFO). An employee does this month after month, till he/she retires. And once they retire, they go through all the hassles while withdrawing the accumulated corpus. The hassles are increased due to the lack of professionalism among the various people involved in these processes. Often we read in the news that there have been delays ranging from a few months to few years in service.

But the EPFO seems to have changed their approached towards the way they need to work in future. There seems to be some apparent movement towards digitization. Though the progress is very slow, if the EPFO doesn’t lose track of their goal, they should achieve it by the time I retire.

KYC

One of the key requirement for any money related transaction in India is to be compliant with the ‘Know Your Customer'(KYC) norms. Any institution dealing with finances or any organisation dealing with goods/services which could pose a threat to national security, is required to have a thorough knowledge and records of their customers/clients. The records which they normally maintain contain identity proof and address proof along with Permanent Account number(PAN) for financial concerns.

EPFO had taken up drive in past to update the KYC for its existing members. New members are not allowed to open accounts without producing the proper KYC prescribed documents. Aadhaar is one of the important KYC document among them. But even then, the process didn’t yield the expected outcome. Most of the times, due to lack of professional approach or due to neglect many details are not entered while creating the PF account. And even after the KYC details are updated in the database, they need to be authorised by the employer. This doesn’t happen in many cases and thus the future processes in PF account get delayed.

Aadhaar for KYC

But now, EPFO has decided to use Aadhaar the way it should be used. They have started the facility of completing eKYC by employees using Aadhaar. Using this method, the employee can do the KYC himself/herself without relying on the employer. The verification for this eKYC is done through central UIDAI servers which contain all the details of the Aadhaar card holders. That’s one less burden for the employer and quick EPF KYC for the employee.

Prerequisites : For linking your Aadhaar to UAN and completing the eKYC you need to have a UAN alloted to you. Also, a phone number should be linked to this UAN for OTP. So here’s how you do it.

  • In the next page that loads, click on “LINK UAN AADHAAR”

  • On the next page, enter your UAN in the box provided. Once you fill in the UAN and click enter, the website will fetch your UAN linked phone number automatically and fill in the space provided. You will see only the last four digits of the phone number. Once the phone number is displayed, click on “GENERATE OTP”.
  • You will receive the OTP on your mobile. Enter the OTP and your Aadhaar number and click on “SUBMIT” button.

  • On the next page, confirm the details that you have entered and click on “PROCEED FOR OTP VERIFICATION”

  • The website will redirect you to E-Governence Service page. Here, select the method of OTP channel you wish to use. It can be either email or phone number, whichever is linked to your Aadhaar. Note that this OTP is for Aadhaar verification. Click on “GENERATE OTP”.

  • You will receive OTP via the channel which you selected. Enter the OTP in the box given and click on “Validate OTP”.

  • Assuming you have done all the steps right, you will receive a confirmation message on the screen. The message will inform that the Aadhaar details have been verified. The update doesn’t happen immediately.

 

Tracking the eKYC status

Once you have done the eKYC, you can track the status anytime using the second option on the eKYC landing page.

See the steps in below graphics.

Hope its Fully Automated

I am a bit worried even though the process seems straight forward. Ideally, e-verification of Aadhaar should have been sufficient to determine ownership. But the status message says it will be updated by the next day. I hope they have not employed someone to view the number on one computer monitor and feed it on another monitor in their internal application. That will be a disaster at multiple levels.

Oct 152017
 

In my previous post, I had detailed about how to lock the biometric access for your Aadhaar data. The process is beneficial to ensure that no one misuses your Aadhaar. But it is quite a cumbersome process to enable/disable the biometric access each time when try to authenticate using biometrics. So UIDAI has provided the facility to lock your biometric access via their mAadhaar mobile application. Here’s how to use it.

Note that you can use mAadhaar for identification and authentication at various services. You need not carry the physical Aadhaar card copy with you.

Installing the App

As always, you should download and install the app through official channels. For android the link is here. The app is developed by UIDAI and currently supports biometric lock/temporary unlock service/Permanently Disable serivce. The UIDAI is also in process of setting up the Teomporary OTP(TOPT) service which will not require you to request for any OTP via sms. The TOPT keeps on changing every 30 seconds.

The app is not available on iOS so iPhone users will have to wait a while till UIDAI releases it.

Install the app using the the link above. Launch the app from your app drawer.

The first thing it will ask you to do is to create a password for logging in to the app. Once you create a strong password, the app will ask you to create a profile by linking your Aadhaar. You can either enter your Aadhaar number in the blank fields of scan the QR code on the Aadhaar card using the Scan QR Code facility. Once you feed in the Aadhaar number, you will get a SMS with OTP to verify your entries. The OTP will be auto entered in the relevant field. Click on “Verify” button to verify your entry.

 

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Once you verify the OTP, your mAadhaar will be available for you to view. But to access the details, each time you will need to enter the password whenever you do any critical action in the app. For example, while you try to check your Aadhaar details or while changing biometric lock status, the app will ask you for password.

       

 

How to Lock Biometric Access

Once you have setup your profile, to lock biometric access, click on the the three vertical dots on the right top corner. A menu will drop down. Click on “Biometric Settings”. The app will go in to the biometric settings screen. Here, select the “Enable Biometric Lock” option. After that, click on the check mark on the top right hand corner. It will prompt that you may still be able to use biometric authentication for few hours. Once you click OK, the app will go to the OTP verification screen will automatically read the OTP if sim in the phone is linked to your Aadhaar. If it doesn’t read automatically, you can enter it from the SMS that you receive. Then click OK. The app will take you back to home screen which will now show on the bottom that the biometric authentication is locked.

Follow the slide show below.

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How to Temporarily Disable Biometric Lock

At times, you may need to use biometric mode of Aadhaar authentication and during such time you will have to unlock biometric access.

For this, login to your profile once again. At he bottom of your profile, you can see the message stating “Biometrics Locked(Click to Unlock)”. Click on the message. The app will ask you to enter the password. Once the correct password is entered, the Biometric Authentication Access will be unlocked for 10 minutes. At the bottom of your profile page, you see a countdown timer showing you the time remaining. The Biometric Authentication access will automatically get locked upon expiry of this time.

Refer below slideshow.

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How to Permanently Disable Biometric Lock

If you want to disable the Biometric Access Lock permanently, follow these steps. Click on the three vertical dots on the right hand top corner and you will go to the Biometric Lock settings. Un-check the “Enable Biometric Lock” option and click on the tick mark on the top right corner. The app will prompt you again that you still may not be able to access Biometric Access feature for few hours. When you click OK, the app will automatically read the SMS received from UIDAI. Click on OK and this will disable Biometric Lock permanently.

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It is advisable to keep your Biometric Authentication access, always locked since mAadhaar has made it easy to unlock it quickly whenever needed.

Oct 082017
 

One of my previous posts introduced you to NPCI and the products and services offered by them. Today we concentrate more on UPI BHIM mobile app and see how we can use it for our daily transactions. The transactions can be money transfer from one party to another or a payment at merchant point of sale terminals.

The older methods

For money transfer, we have been using the NEFT/RTGS and the IMPS services for quite some time. These services require that the remitter knows the beneficiary details. It is quite difficult to remember these details. The remitter has to feed a 15-16 digit account number, IFSC code, Bank Branch details and the correct name of the account holder. Some banks also have set a period of time before which the beneficiary is not activated. So in case of emergency, immediate transfer to a new beneficiary is not possible.

For online payments or at a brick and mortar retails store, we need to either present a card to the merchant or feed in the card or account details on the website. There are chances of misuse of the card details if proper security measures were not in place. The process is also tedious due to multiple levels of authentication.

With the advent of UPI and BHIM, all this has changed. Online money transfer and payments have never been simpler.

What is UPI

I have explained about UPI in my previous post. But in short, UPI(Unified Payment Interface) helps the financial organisations and clearences houses to use a simpler method for identifying remitter and payee. All it requires is for you to login to BHIM APP create a VPA(virtual Payment Address). This VPA is unique to a user and is in format XXXXX@UPI. Eg. if your phone number linked to a bank account which you choose to register with BHIM is 1234567890, then the VPA can be 1234567890@UPI. If you choose to set it on the basis of name, it can be yourname@UPI or your.name@UPI etc. It’s your choice on the basis of availability.

Note that the prerequisites for using BHIM app are a bank account with phone number linked.

Getting Started

The first thing you will need to do is download the BHIM app. Make sure that you download it from google play store or apple app store. Do not use any other app which you may get via any file sharing site. It could be fake. The link are here for Google Play store and here for Apple itunes store.

Once downloaded, launch the app using the app icon in you app drawer and follow the below slide-show in sequence to set up BHIM.

  • First you will need to verify your mobile number. For a multi-sim device, select the sim which you wish to register with BHIM. This should be the phone number which is linked to you account.
  • Setup a 4 digit pin to access the app. Note that this app doesn’t work on rooted devices.
  • Select the bank which you want to link. The app will display the accounts registered with the bank and linked to the phone number. Select the account you wish to link with BHIM.
  • Setup a 6 digit UPI pin using your debit cards details . You will use this pin for authorising any transaction you wish to carry out.

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Using BHIM

Home Screen

Once setup you can launch BHIM app. You should enter the 4 digit pin which you have set to login to the app. You will be presented with the screen as below.

The various option available on the home screen are as follows:

Clicking the bell icon will display any notification like transfer status, money transfer requests etc.

Send button is used to transfer money to a beneficiary

Request button is used to send a money transfer request to a remitter.

Scan & Pay option is used to use the mobile camera to scan a QR code for payment.

Under the the My Information section:

Transactions list out all the successful and failed transactions and their details

Profile gives the details of your profile including your UPI ID

Bank Account list out the bank accounts linked to BHIM. It gives you option to set default account for UPI transactions.

My Beneficiaries list out the beneficiaries added by you. In case you have installed the app fresh, you will have to add beneficiary using this section.

Adding Beneficiary

To add a beneficiary, click on My beneficiaries. If you have not yet setup beneficiary address, the page will be blank with an option to Add UPI ID.

  • Click on it and on the next screen, enter the UPI Id provided by the beneficiary. It could be in the format XXXXXXX@UPI or XXXXXXXX@hdfcbank etc. The XXXXXXX stand for the combination of alpha numeric id.
  • Click on Verify.
  • The app will verify the UPI ID and provide more details of the payee if the verification succeeds.
  • If the details are correct, click on Add Beneficiary.
  • The My Beneficiaries screen will list the newly added beneficiary.

Click through the slide show below for graphical representation.

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Sending Money

To send money to a beneficiary, click on Send button in the home screen.

  • Select the beneficiary to whom you want to send money.
  • Enter the amount and remarks(if any)
  • Click on Confirm in the confirm to pay screen.
  • Enter you 6 digit UPI PIN for the transaction.
  • The last two slides show a successful transaction and the view of the beneficiary Transactions screen.

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Requesting Money Transfer

Your friend owes you some money but you find it embarrassing to ask him. Well no need to ask anymore. Just send a request with remarks and he will get the hint.

To request money, click on Request button on the home screen.

  • Select the UPI ID from whom you want to request money transfer.
  • Enter the amount and any remarks in the next page.
  • Click on Request.
  • The other party will get a notification in the BHIM app.
  • He/She can then decide to approve the request or deny it.
  • If the other party approves, the money will be transferred to your account and you will get a notification. The transfer will be visible in your as will as the other party’s transaction list.

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Scan & Pay

This is a novel method of making payments. You must have seen that a lot of merchants have a sticker near their point of sale counter with a square containing a graphical code. It is called as QR code or a Quick Response Code. BHIM app also gives the facility to pay by scanning a QR code. This QR code contains UPI ID and other details, including the amount to be transferred in many cases. You can download your own QR code which will be visible in the Profile section.

When you want to make a payment, you will need a code from the beneficiary. The procedure to scan and pay is same as the Send option. The only difference is that instead of selecting the beneficiary from the My Beneficiaries option, you should select the Scan & Pay option. You will have to provide the camera access to BHIM app when prompted. The camera window will open up in BHIM and you can hold it about 5-10 cm from the QR Code provided by the merchant.

The beneficiary may also choose to send you the QR code via email or any other electronic format. You can use the option Pick from Gallery in this case. The app will read the QR Code and fill the beneficiary details accordingly. You will need to follow the same procedure as sending money as detailed earlier.

Note that all the transfers are done from and into your Primary account. You have an option to change primary bank account in the Bank Account list.

Going Digital

With the advent of digital age and better internet penetration, people are using BHIM app more widely and soon you should find its application at many more locations.

In case of queries, do contact me. You can also contact the official twitter handle of UPI and BHIM and they will be more than happy to help you out. The twitter handles are @UPI_NPCI and @NPCI_BHIM.

Oct 072017
 

Wikipedia defines the butterfly effect as the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state[sic]. The 2004 Sci-fi thriller movie of the same title describes The Butterfly Effect using simple theory. When a butterfly flutters its wings in one corner of the world, the ripples are felt in the other corner. Or something similar.

Put in a simpler manner, every different action carried out will lead to a different end result or a different state of transition towards end result. The progress of your life changes based on the actions that you undertake and it will always be different if your actions had been different under same circumstances. There is different set of consequences for every action you take. The consequences will lead to different set of results over the entire period of time and life, beginning the time of action.

How is it that you are reading this?

Have you ever wondered how you reach a certain point in your life and what were the means to this end. Just think, how is it that you are reading this article. If your think backwards in time to all the actions you carried out, you will realise that one particular action lead you to my blog. If you had done something else instead of that, you wouldn’t be reading this.

I had been intending to blog about the butterfly effect since quite some time. More so after and event at our office which reaffirmed my commitment to blog about it. But I wouldn’t find time to do so and kept on pushing it ahead. It was something else that I planned to blog about today, but I couldn’t collect all the details required today due to technical issues. And among list of topics which I have, I was better prepared for this topic. If I had collected the data for that other blog yesterday, I would have been stroking different keys. The butterfly effect wouldn’t have materialized on this blog.

Getting a sense of what this is about?

The event in my office

This small story is quite interesting and which can explain the butterfly effect over centuries.

It so happened that a colleague in my office resigned to take up new challenges in Liberia. As usual, on his final day in the office, we had a farewell get-together. During his farewell speech, he tried to reason his decision with a small story. In short, it goes like this.

There was once a woodcutter, carrying out his job in wood. Around noon time, he got tired from all the work and he decided to take a break. He found a log under the cool shade of a tree and went to sit on it. While just sitting, a caterpillar fell down from the tree and landed on the log. The woodcutter sat on the log and squashed the caterpillar. Soon he realized what had happened and saw that his pants were soiled by the dead caterpillar. He needed to clean them but didn’t have water for that.

In search of water, he went to a nearby farm and knocked on the farmer’s door. A young girl opened the door and attended to his request. The woodcutter fell in love with the farmers daughter. Over a period of time, the woodcutter and the farmers daughter got married and had a baby boy. This boy later went on to become the President of the united States. It is Abraham Lincoln that we are speaking of.

Abraham Lincoln was a well known supporter of the American Colonization Society. This society believed that the freed slaves in America had a better prospects of life in Africa. The settlers in Africa issued a Declaration of Independence and promulgated a constitution which established and independent country. This was the Republic of Liberia.

At this point of time this was just a nice story for all our colleagues in office. But the next sentence by our departing colleague sent out ripples of laughter across the gathering. He said, “If the woodcutter had not sat on the exact same spot where the caterpillar fell down that day, there might have not been any Liberia in existence and I wouldn’t have been leaving this organisation.”

The Butterfly effect

Now that we think of it, it seems more true to the nature of this post. Had the woodcutter decided to take rest a few moments early or later, he wouldn’t have sat on the caterpillar. Consequently Abe Lincoln wouldn’t have been been born and there might not have been present Liberia. Furthermore, if each of the important event that happened during the story, if circumstances had been different, the outcome might would have been different. Let’s say the wood cutter had the water to clean his pants, he wouldn’t have met the young women. Or if the farmer opened the door instead of his daughter? Or if their first born was a girl and not a boy? My colleague might not have had the opportunity to attempt a new venture in his life.

The plot of the novel The Bannerman Effect loosely relies on the Butterfly effect. A team of a once-deadly assassins, which has now retired, is being used by the government to test an experimental computer program. This program predicts the outcome based on certain events triggered by the government. Any event, like assassination of a particular person, triggered by the government will ultimately force others in the network to deduce the next events. These people would trigger further events which would ultimately lead to the goals of the government. The government’s efforts in achieving the expected end results would be minimised. No one would know that the government was involved. The program simulates this effects for each action.

Our lives belongs to the butterfly effect. What do you think is going to happen next? You don’t know. Neither do I. But let me assure you, whatever you are doing now will surely determine what you will do next.

The butterfly continues to flutter, relentlessly.

Oct 022017
 

Ever since I joined the corporate world in 2009, I have come across this tradition of wearing different colored clothes, fixed for each day of Navratri. The people in human resources circulate instruction to wear these colored clothes on those particular days. These are called as the colors of Navratri. I have always assumed that these colors have some religious significance. So I have followed this dress code to be part of the group, for many years. At least when I have the clothes of the particular color.

But when I read a news article today, I was shocked to realize that the colors have no religious significance. Or this is what the news article claims. There is a marketing gimmick linked to it.

The Story behind the nine colors of Navratri

As it turned out, Maharashtra Times, a newspaper published in Maharashtra had low circulation back in 2003. It was considered a masculine newspaper. The editorial team, came up with an idea of wooing women to increase their readership. They decided to play on the assumption that women love to buy and flaunt new clothes. The just needed an occasion.

Maharashtra Times provided them with just that.

Picking up the occasion of Navratri which continues for nine days, they started appealing women on their front page to wear a particular color. They even displayed pictures of successful ladies, dressed in the color of the day. The paper asked the ladies to click a pictures in office and send them in. The newspaper displayed the best photos on a dedicated page.

In time, they added more colors of Navratri, including white which is not worn on auspicious occasions. The women wore it just because the society had accepted this gimmick. Slowly the trend picked up along with the readership of the Maharashtra Times. The trend later became a culture.

It’s not a bad culture at all. Just that people follow it without knowing the truth behind it. The uniformity in colors during these days signify unity in diversity.

For me, I have a weapon to play with in case someone points out why I am not wearing the colors of Navratri. I can just ask a counter question regarding the significance of these colors.

In reality, I do not own pink, green, white. And I think one more color which I forgot.

All that is written above is based on an article which appeared on thequint.com. I take no credits for any research leading to this reveal. Neither do I intend to hurt religious sentiments via my blog. The link to the original article is here.

Sep 252017
 

If you are a iPhone fan, you must be eagerly waiting to get your hands on their new toys, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Traditionally apple has never considered India as their primary market and Indians have received the iPhones, much later than their counterparts in other parts of world, including China.

But this has not been the case in recent times. Apple has started looking at India as a key market and has started launching their products, almost along with the rest of the world.

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You must have read about people flying to countries like singapore to buy the iPhone on launch day. Well, you need not rush for your passports. Wait a couple of days and the iPhone 8 or 8 plus will be at your door steps.

As you can see in the image below, iPhone 8 and 8 plus is up for pre-order on amazon and the deliveries are starting this week. If you pre-order now, you might even get the phone by Sunday. You will be ready to flaunt among your colleagues or friends, first thing on Monday.

The iPhone 8 costs from 64,000 rupees for basic 64 GB model to 77,000 rupees for the Gold 256 GB model

The price of iPhone 8 Plus meanwhile touches 86,000 rupees. To buy iPhone 8 in India, here.

So hurry be the lucky ones and buy the very first sets of iPhone in India.

There is no word on availability of iPhone X in India as yet. It is expected to be priced around 1,05,000 rupees.

This site had earlier suggested the nomenclature which could be followed by apple for their anniversary phone.

Sep 212017
 

Myth : My House is always free from Pollutants

We always live under the impression that pollution exists everywhere but in our house. It may be because we  take trouble cleaning it thoroughly every alternate week. Or we keep the windows closed all the time. We assume that all our measures are sufficient to keep the germs and harmful pollutants out of your homes.

Reality : Your house may harbor more harmful pollutants than you think

Organic Pollutants

As a matter of fact, the air in the surrounding might be much safer than the air inside your house. Here’s why……

  • Your house is a confined space which restricts air flow due to walls. Rarely do we see a well ventilated house in city. The fear of vehicle emissions entering in our personal space, force us to keep the windows closed too. The result is that the air inside remains stagnant. Time and again when we open the doors, we inadvertently exchange only the surrounding air pockets. So ideally, we are breathing air which has higher contents of our exhaled CO2. If any of our family member suffers from an infection which transfers via air, we inhale that too. This increases our chance of catching the infection.
  • The second source of harmful pollutants are dust-mites. Any asthmatic person will know this terms. These are microscopic organisms which are present in our surrounding, largely in fabric. So a curtain which we have not washed since a long time, or a bed spreads which we do not changed frequently, are the likely places where we find the dust-mites breeding. They feed on dead skin and breed in damp environment. And the source for this is our dead skin which we shed unknowingly every day, and our sweat which is absorbed in the bed spreads. Presence of humidity in air will also help breeding this tiny enemies.
  • Mold is another pollutant in your house. You will normally observe it in damp environment, especially on furniture which is not been used. Are you neglected wiping off the surface of the wooden  cupboard door? Observe carefully and you will find layer of fungus growth. This can start fungal infection on your skin leading to various skin diseases.
Chemical Pollutants

Your house can also contain certain chemical pollutants. Below is a list of few with their source and the effects they have.

  • Acidic Fumes: The cleaning agents which we use in our house, especially the bathroom, normally contain acidic components in various proportions. These chemicals give out acidic fumes when exposed to air. These fumes are harmful to health and can cause nausea, irritation to eyes, inflammation of breathing track etc. If inhaled in large quantity, these can lead to death too.
  • Lead: Lead is the primary culprit of brain damage in growing kids. Low quality paint on toys and walls of our house can contain large amount lead primarily. If we ingest the paint flakes, it can lead to lead poisoning and possible neural damage.
  • Aerosol Sprays: The aerosol sprays contain chemicals like formaldehyde and xylene, which are toxins. The next time you are “freshening up” your room, consider checking the contents. These ingredients are carcinogens and neurotoxins which are harmful to human bodies.

Prevention: Here’s how you safeguard you homes

Organic Pollutants

If you have read carefully, you will notice that the one very important aspect which encourages organic pollutants is presence of damp atmosphere and lack of air circulation. If you ensure that you house remains dry and well ventilates, you have solved half your problems

  • When you wake up in the morning, keep your windows open. Let the sun rays and morning fresh air enter your rooms. Fresh air ventilates the room and carries out the accumulated carbon dioxide and other dust borne microbes. Sunlight removes the humidity from air thus prevents growth of fungus and dust mites. It is also advisable not to fold your bed covers after you wake up. Keep them spread-out shabbily so that they too become dry and prohibit these microbes from breeding. Change the sheets regularly.
  • Along with your floors, also clean your walls, ceiling and wooden furniture once in a while. This will help remove dust which normally settles on flat surface.
  • If you are using air conditioner, clean the filters of the indoor unit. These filters normally accumulate a lot of dust which can be a breeding ground for dust-mites. Carpets and curtains too tend to absorb lot of dust. A powerful vacuum cleaner can do the trick.
Chemical Pollutants
  • Avoid chemical cleaning solvents. Search for herbal solutions for cleaning as far as possible. In case not feasible, use the chemicals only in well ventilated room, if possible, with exhaust fan running.
  • Avoid chemical based aerosols as room fresheners. You can use natural solution like scented candles. Fresh flowers are a very good source of mild fragrances. Keep a vase full of them and change them daily. Just ensure that none of your family members are allergic to pollen.
  • Use good quality paints. Check the contents of the paints. It should not contain harmful toxins like formaldehyde. One such paint is Asian Paints Royale Atmos . This paint contains activated carbon which absorbs bad odors and released mild fragrances. The paint follows strict international and safety standards. The carcinogens content in it is very less. It is also washable. The Royale Atmos helps you get cleaner and fresher air in your homes.

For more info check https://www.asianpaints.com/atmos

 

Sep 202017
 

 Games and Us

We all play various games in our life. Right from the childhood, when we used to play outdoor games way back in the 80’s and 90’s to the indoor digital games which we play currently. The games included Cricket, football, Badminton, Chess etc in those days whereas currently all these games are digitized.

Digitization of games has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that we tend to reduce the movement of our body, which normally we associate with these games. But the advantage is that we get to play against the world community as against the local community. This can help us develop our skill in a particular game, much better.

This is mostly true for certain indoor games which require more use of brain than muscle. No one can replace physical sports like football with digitized games and yet maintain the level of physical involvement required. Or may be I am wrong, time will tell.

Here in this post, I will help you learn to play Sudoku. Sudoku is primarily a number game. It involves use of basic math reading, no calculation required. If you know which numbers lie between 1 and 9, you qualify for taking this lesson.

Sudoku primarily appeared in newspapers but programmers have digitized this game. They have also added certain difficulty measures to it, one of them being time constrain. Playing Sudoku under time constrain will help you in improving your logical thought process and keeps your brain active. This also helps reduce the chance Alzheimer. And it’s fun too.

So let’s begin.

Playing Sudoku

 The view

Once you launch Sudoku in your computer or mobile phone, the screen will show a square subdivided in to 9 equal sub-squares. Each of these smaller squares are further subdivided in to 9 equal cells. This 9 X 9 configuration is a standard configuration in any version of Sudoku. Refer picture on left.

You can see few digits entered in cells. Note that the numbers are completely random. But still there exists a logic in their placement. You will understand it once we move ahead.

As you can see, the big outer square is sub divided in to nine smaller sub-squares. I have marked one of them in green. Each of these smaller sub-squares is subdivided in to nine smaller cells. I have marked two of them in red. We must fill up the blank cells to complete the puzzle.

 Game Rules

The rules for the game are pretty simple. All you should do is fill up the empty cells with following constrains in mind:

  • Each sub-square(green) must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition.
  • Also, each vertical column must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition.
  • And each horizontal row must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition.

Straight forward,isn’t it? It is if you follow certain tips and tricks. The level of difficulty you select while launching the game defines this. The difficulty level depends more on which cells are pre-filled with respect to blank cells rather than the number of pre-filled cells. I suggest that a new user should start with easier levels, to get a hang of it.

For the sake of explanation, I have numbered the cells as below. If you use excel, you will be very familiar with this cell address scheme. You may or may not see this numbering scheme in the game depending the developer. We refer to the first row first column as a1, first row second column as a2 and so on up to i9.

Game Play Tips and Tricks

This game is played using the process of elimination. First of all, look up for any sub-square which has the maximum pre-filled digits. You can see in our example above that there quite a few sub-squares. Pick up any one of these sub squares and start counting from 1 to 9 while checking which number is missing.

Playing the Sub-Squares

Let’s say the we are playing with the very first sub-square contained by the cells a1 to c3. We see that the number 1 is missing. There are 5 empty cells in the square a1-c3. But when we take in to consideration the rules, only two cells qualify to accommodate the number 1. These cells are a1 and c1. The cell b2 cannot contain the number 1 because the cell d2 contains the number 1. Similarly a3 cannot contain the number on because the cell g3 contains the number 1. If we place the number 1 in b2 or a3, this would be repetition, which is against the rules.

So now we have the cells a1 and c1 where we can possibly place the number 1. But there is no way at this moment to tell where we should place number 1 without having a conflict in future. So we move forward.

Counting ahead, numbers, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are already present in the sub-square. Number 6 is not present. We can place number 6 in either a1 or a3, but we are not sure even in this case whether there will be future conflict. Same is the case with numbers 7 and 8. Number 9 is already present in the sub-square. So we move forward to analyzing sub-square a4 to c6.

In this, while counting we find that numbers 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 are in same situation as previous sub-square and numbers 2, 3, 6, 7 are already present.

We keep on moving forward among these sub-squares. In sub-square a7-c9 we are able to fill in number 3 at cell b8. This is because it is the only cell which allows the missing 3 to be entered without conflicting with all the already present 3s highlighted in red.

We can keep on analyzing in this way and we come up the final result as below.

Since we have entered few numbered in blank cells in the first iteration, we have to go back and carry out second iteration. Since we have filled up some numbers, they might help us to determine those cells where we not sure previously. We keep on repeating these iterations till we are not able to enter any single number in the entire iteration.

The final matrix after multiple iterations in example above is as below.

Playing the Columns

Since the difficulty level for the puzzle above was easy, we solved this by analyzing the sub-squares. But as the difficulty increases, analyzing the sub-squares alone will not be sufficient and in such case we need to start analyzing using rows or columns method.

Let’s say we tried iterations number of times but were unable to fill up the matrix as below. Then we can go for the next method.

In this case we start analyzing either each row or each column, one by one. Let’s pick up column 1. We again start counting and checking whether the numbers 1 to 9 are present in that column. If any number is absent, we search for the possible cell where we can fill that number. This is done by checking the corresponding row for each cell.

For example, if we want to check if we can fill a missing number, let’s say number 1 in the above case,  in cell a1, we check cells a2- to a9 for the presence of number 1. If number 1 is not present in cells from a2 to a9, then the cell a1 becomes a possible location for number 1. Now we need to check for any other possible locations in column 1 where we can place number 1. If there is only one cell location in column 1 where we can fill the number 1, then we should fill it. If there are more then one possible locations to fill in the missing number 1, we can’t fill it and we should move ahead analyzing the next number.

Once we analyze one column, we analyze the next column in the same way. We can continue this for number of iteration till we either solve the puzzle or we are not able to fill up any number in a single iteration.

Playing the Rows

Once we are not able to fill up any number in a single column iteration but are are left with blank cells, we should start analyzing rows.

Analyzing the rows and filling them ups is same as analyzing the columns as explained above. In this we check the possibility of filling up each cell of the row by cross checking them against the corresponding column. Once done with one row, we mode on to the next row.

Spotting the Numbers

Another method which we can use along with the above three is singling out an individual number and checking their position in the matrix. This method, though similar to analyzing each sub-square, is different from it because in this method, we analyze a particular number. The presence and position of this number in corresponding horizontal and vertical sub-squares determine the position in the sub-square where it is not present.

Let’s take an example of number 5.

You can see that the number 5 appears in each sub-square except in the sub-square a4 to c6. There are four cells empty in a4 to c6. These cells are a4, a6, b5 and b6. Cell a4 abd a6 cannot contain number 5 because cells g5, a8, d6 conflicts. Similarly cell b6 cannot contain number 5 because cell d6 conflicts. So cell b5 is the only cell where we can place number 5.

This analysis can be done starting from number 1 to 9 in sequence.

Mixing it Up

We can even opt for mixing these methods instead of carrying out multiple iteration of each method. For example, we can start with analysis of rows, complete one iteration then move to next method, say column analysis for one iteration and then sub-squares for one iteration and number analysis. Mixing and matching can keep things interesting.

Endgame

So you see, Sudoku is not a difficult game. It just needs few tricks and some practice.

If this article has helped you learn Sudoku, kindly share it across. Leave comments if any help needed.

 

Sep 192017
 

At this very moment, Mumbai and its suburban areas including Thane, Vasai – virar etc are experiencing heavy rains. Naturally people are circulating messages on various Social media with updates on rain and transport conditions.

There seem to be lots of rumors going around. Kindly do not believe in or spread rumors. Stay in touch with disaster management cell on Twitter at their handle @DisasterMgmtMum.

Currently they maintain that there is no forecast of very heavy rain and they have not issued any advisory for schools, offices to remain closed tomorrow.

But I suggest that you step out tomorrow only after checking their Twitter handle. Also keep watch on official news. Stay safe. Keep your mobile battery charged if you are going out. Carry a water bottle for the sake of emergency use. I suggest you also carry along a pack of chocolate, biscuits etc. as a standby measure.

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