Jul 232017
 

It’s a very common thing to have multiple hard drives in our possession these days. With all the data and media that we have with us, the inbuilt storage in our computers prove insufficient. External HDDs also provide easy portability for the media. But we always face an issue when we want to share our media or even the HDD space with others in our own home or on our internal network. One solution is to attach the HDD to the computer and configure it as a shared drive. But that would require a computer which is running 24×7 so that the drives are available at any given time to anyone. Not an ideal solution.

Another method is to configure a NAS or Network Attached Storage. NAS is basically a storage attached to a network device(typically a server, but can also be a dedicated controller) which is connected to a network and runs 24X7. You do get NAS devices in market but these devices are typically as costly as a single 2TB drive and are normally beneficial for higher speed transfers. The NAS configuration which I plan to discuss here, will give you transfer speeds of about 4-5 mbps over local network and should be suitable for home/home office networks. And we use a versatile computer which has very low footprint in terms of space and power consumption. The Raspberry Pi is one of the best suited computer board for this project.

Before you go further you need:

  • A Pi with Raspbian installed and connected over you local network. Use this tutorial for the same.
  • A powered USB hub sufficient to power your HDDs. Buy here based on number of HDDs you have

Warning : Do not attempt to power up your HDDs via the Raspberry Pi USB ports since the pi can handle only about 2.5 amps of current through it and may burn out in case overloaded.

So let’s get started.

(Note : This guide has been drafted based on my installation experience, which was further assisted by the guides available at howtogeek.com and instructables.com . Any errors during the installation, you can leave me a note or you can check the guides on their websites. Both websites listed different methods and I couldn’t get mine configured using them individually. But I succeeded when I followed both the guides together)

  • Connect your HDDs to the USB hub and connect the Hub to one of the USB ports on the Pi.
  • Open up shell via SSH( or terminal in case you have connected the keyboard/mouse and screen to your Pi)
  • Run the commands sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade to update your Pi installation and repositories.
  • If your HDDs are NTFS format, you will need to run the following command in terminal.

sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g

This will get you Pi ready to understand the ntfs format on your HDDs.

Next step is to identify your drives

  • Type ls –l /dev/disk/by-uuid
  • The output of this command will be similar to below:

clip_image001

  • Here sda1, sdb1, sdc1 denotes the external HDDs. The number will vary as per the HDDs connected by you. We are interested in the 16 digit hexadecimal UUID against each of these. Note down the 16 digit codes and the corresponding HDD identifiers. eg. sda1 – 1C0CA2830CA25812  in the example above.
  • Next run code ls –l /dev/disk/by-label
  • The output will be something like this:

clip_image002

  • As you can see, my labels are Transcend, Storite and WD for sda1, sdb1 and sdc1 respectively. These are the actual labels which you have given to the HDDs. Note these down and match them with the UUID. So in my case it will be sda1 – 1C0CA2830CA25812 – Transcend.
  • Now that we have identified the HDDs, we need to mount these drives. But before that we create a location to mount these drives.
  • Run code sudo mkdir /media/DRIVE_NAME . eg. for my transcend drive, I created directory using sudo mkdir /media/transcend
  • Do this for all the drives that your have connected.
  • Next, mount each drive with the following command for each instance:

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g -o uid=pi,gid=pi /dev/sdxx /media/DRIVE_NAME

  • Where sdxx is sda1, sdb1, sdc1 etc and DRIVE_NAME is the corresponding mount point which you created earlier. So for my transcend drive the command will be:

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g -o uid=pi,gid=pi /dev/sda1 /media/transcend

  • Do this for all the drives.
  • If you have fat32 or ext4 drives, suitably modify the command:
    • ntfs-3g for NTFS drives
    • vfat for FAT32 drives
    • ext4 for ext4 drives
  • The drives should mount everytime we reboot. So we need to add it to startup script.
  • Run sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/backup_fstab
  • Then run sudo nano /etc/fstab
  • Add the following correspondint to each drive

/dev/sda1 /media/transcend auto noatime 0 0

Use the correct drive identified sdxx and the corresponding correct DRIVE_NAME for each HDD.

  • Restart the Pi using sudo reboot
  • Next step is to install samba.
  • Run sudo apt-get samba samba-common-bin
  • Once installed, backup the samba configuration file before proceeding:

sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/backup_smb.conf

  • Run sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf
  • In the configuration file that opens up, ensure that the workgroup is your local workgroup for your network. Ideally its WORKGROUP for windows. Modify it if you are using something else.
  • In the Authentication section, enter security = user  to enable verification
  • Now scroll to the bottom of the file and add your drives as follows:

clip_image003

  • Here valid user = @pi is the username I selected. You may select anything you want eg. valid users = @josh .
  • You may also choose to share specific folders inside the HDD instead of the entire HDD. Modify path if that is the case. The read only attribute specifies the modification rights and the no flag specifies that the users on network can read as well as write to the shared drive/folder.
  • Save using ctrl+X, say yes and hit enter.
  • Run sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart
  • Add user to give access to the shared drive
    • sudo useradd josh -m -G users
    • sudo passwd josh
  • You will be prompted to enter a password twice.
  • Next enter the command sudo smbpasswd –a josh
  • Create password on prompt
  • Restart samba using sudo service smbd restart
  • The HDDs should be visible to you on other computers on your network. You can configure it as a network drive. You will need to specify username and password once for access.

Next time, we will see how to configure DLNA server on your Pi to share the media files to your DLNA compliant devices.

Jul 162017
 

If you follow tech world, you must surely have come across the name “Raspberry Pi” which has been making waves in its field for about 5 years. I had provided a basic insight regarding credit card sized(and thumbnail sized) computers in my previous post. These tiny boards cost from  about 5$ to well over 100$, each with its own specialties. And they are the favorites of the geeks for small tasks, dedicated application or plain hobby projects.

But its not just the geeks who have the competence to use them. A common person like any of us can pick one up and configure with a little bit of research(nothing anyone can’t handle. Some basic configurations are straight forward.) You can use it as a simple linux based computer, a media server, a network attached storage controller, create a magic mirror, an interactive AI and pretty much anything you may want with a bit of advance tutorials.

The aim of my todays blog is to guide you through the installation of Raspbian and create a backup image of the setup. The back up will help you to copy the sd card in an image format which can be overwritten anytime you feel that the OS is not behaving well. I will also explain how to setup your pi to be used via a remote computer, thus dispensing the need to connect it to a monitor, mouse or keyboard. We shall set it up so that the pi is on static IP and easily accessible via shell or via VNC.

Note that the Raspbian OS is based on Debian distribution of Linux, so even though you get a GUI, be prepared to try out command line for advance configurations. They are fun to learn and not very difficult to remember(or to google for that matter)

What you need

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 with a 2.5 A 5V power supply(micro usb pin)– buy it here and here
  • A 16GB – 32GB micro SD Class 10 card – better a 32 GB version if you plan to setup more number of applications – buy it here
  • A keyboard/mouse/monitor(HDMI TV will do) for initial setup
  • NOOBS – download here (NOOBS is a “New out of Box Software”, a minimal intervention installer with OS packages built in)

Whenever you plan to buy a case for the pi, consider possibility of adding a fan and GPIO headers. Also consider that you may need to remove the micro SD card time and again in case you are using another card for another project. Make sure that the SD card is readily accessible.

Install Raspbian

Before you try to install raspbian on to your sd card, you will need to format in to Fat32 file system. You can use SDformatter for the purpose. Once the SC card is formatted, extract the downloaded NOOBS image in to the root of the SD card.

The installation method below gives the installations of only Raspbian OS with PIXEL desktop. You should be able to install and use any other OS listed within the list, once you are a little familiar with how it works.

  • Insert the card in to you pi in the card slot.
  • Connect the HDMI cable, keyboard and mouse to the pi.
  • Connect the power source.
  • The pi will start automatically. You will be taken to the list of available/downloadable OSes. Select Raspbian jessie with full desktop.

clip_image001

  • On the top left hand corner, you will find a icon shaped like a hdd. It is your install button. Click on the button to install Raspbian.
  • Go have a cup of tea cause it takes 15-20 minutes to install. Yes, no further intervention necessary.
  • When you come back from your short break, you will be greeted with a message saying that OS is installed. Click ok. The system will reboot.

That completes the installation part. Once the system reboots, it will take you to the PIXEL desktop. It is essentially similar to windows desktop with the taskbar and menu docked to the top. But don’t let the appearances fool you. The core on which it is built is rock solid, highly customizable and very secure.

The round raspberry on top left gets the things started for you. Navigate around to get a feel. The other important icons which you would be using time and again are:

  • The blue globe near the raspberry, which is essentially the web browser.
  • The folder icon, which is used to navigate the file system
  • The black window, which I guess you know from your windows days, the console or the terminal

Navigate around the icons, they wont kill the system for now.

clip_image002

Let’s change the default password

Ok, first thing’s first. We secure out pi before we connect it to network. Click on the terminal icon. The terminal, as below, will open up.

clip_image003

Here, the “pi” is the current user and raspberrypi is the hostname. Let’s change the password. Type the following code in front of the prompt:

passwd

You will be prompted to enter the current password. The factory default password for user pi is raspberry. Enter the password and you will be asked to type in the new password, two times. Enter it twice and the password will be changed.

clip_image004

Let’s setup static IP

Setting up a static Ip to your pi makes it easy to access it from another machine

  • Open terminal and type in sudo nano /etc/dhcpcd.conf
  • Here sudo mean you are telling the system to do something as a superuser. Something similar to run as administrator in windows.
  • nano is a text editor for terminal. another text editor available for GUI is leafpad. So when you are logged into desktop, you can type in sudo leafpad…… instead of sudo nano….. But it is a good practice to use nano since, once we switch off the GUI, console is all that you have until you switch it back on again. You will be able to use only the arrow keys and enter button in nano.
  • dhcpcd.conf is the configuration file for the network and etc is the directory where it is stored
  • scroll down to the bottom of the file that opens up and type in the following code:

interface eth0

static ip_address=192.168.1.95/24

static routers=192.168.1.1

static domain_name_servers=192.168.1.1

interface wlan0

static ip_address=192.168.1.96/24

static routers=192.168.1.1

static domain_name_servers=192.168.1.1

In the above code:

  • you can use either wlan0 or eth0 or both, depending on what kind of connectivity you plan. wlan0 is for wifi and eth0 is for wired connection.
  • static ip can be of your choice based on your network configuration (eg. some networks are configures 192.168.0.xxx). Make sure to keep the number /24 in the settings.
  • static router specifies the router to which the pi is to be connected. My router ip is 192.168.1.1
  • similarly static domain name servers can be as per your network configuration. My home network devices get their DNS from my router so I have entered my router address.’’

 

  • Press ctrl + S to save the settings.
  • Press ctrl + X to close the editor.

You can now connect to the home wifi, of ethernet, or both. The up and down arrow on your top right hand side of desktop will help you join a wifi network.

Once connected to internet, it would be a good practice to update your system before you go further.

Open the terminal and type in sudo apt-get update. Once this command is executed, use sudo apt-get upgrade. It is a good practice to use this two commands before installing any new software on your pi. They are used to update any packages which are installed on your pi and which have been updated ever since you installed. Fresh OS installations normally have some major updates available.

Let’s do away with that monitor, keyboard and mouse(Optional if you are comfortable running the show remotely via terminal. But that’s what these board is all about….accepting the challenge)

So now that you have changed password and set up static IP, let’s go a bit deep and dispense away that monitor. Only of course if you have a computer or a laptop from where you can control it. Remember, though the pi can be used as a regular desktop computer, it will run only may be one or two applications together because it simple lacks the resources needed for heavy multitasking. It is best suited for headless apps and servers, similar to ones which I have listed out in the beginning.

Open the terminal and type in sudo raspi-config

  • This will open the configuration tools for raspberry pi. Thins this as a BIOS for your PC with more configurations.

clip_image005

  • Use the arrow keys and enter button to select Interfacing Options.
  • Select SSH and enable it. Next Select VNC and enable it. Selection is by pressing enter and arrow keys.

clip_image006

  • Select Back.
  • Select Boot Options
  • Select Desktop/CLI
  • Select B2 Console auto login.

clip_image007

  • Select finish and reboot.
  • Move over to your regular use PC.
  • Download and install a SSH client like putty. Run Putty on your pc.
  • Enter the IP address in the hostname field, enter a recognizable name in saved session field and click save

clip_image008

  • Now double click on your saved session and a terminal window should open up asking you to enter username. Enter pi.
  • Next enter the password which you have set.
  • This will take you to console from where you can control your pi.

clip_image009

Since you have configured only console login via configuration tools, you can access only via putty(SSH). If you configure to boot in desktop mode via configuration tools, you can use VNC to login to desktop too. You will need to download VCN on your computer to do that. Try it out, its easy. If in doubt, just leave a query. You can always go back to desktop login by using sudo raspi-config.

Let’s backup

Let’s try the easy way to backup today.

  • Download win32 disk imager and install on your computer.
  • Shut down the raspberry pi, remove the card and insert it in your computer(via SD card reader)
  • Run win32 diskimager.
  • Select the device to backup(our sd card).
  • Select a backup location on your computer and give a file name (eg, raspbianbackup.img)
  • Click on Read

clip_image010

  • The backup will automatically be created at the specified location.
  • Next time, the setup on you pi doesn’t work as it should, run this program again and select this image we have created. Click write instead of read this time, to overwrite on the card.

In case you have any doubts or anything very clear or seems to be wrong, kindly leave a comment. In the next tutorial I plan to explain setting up a NAS server, a DLNA server and an always on bit torrent box.

Till then!!

Feb 272017
 

Picking it up from Moto G4 line of smartphones, Lenovo has expanded its portfolio of the moto lineup with the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus. (Do not mistake moto with Motorola. Motorola no longer manufactures smartphones.) In my previous post, it was highlighted how Lenovo had departed from the Moto design tradition while creating the G series. Let’s see how they fare this time around.

                                          motorola-moto-g5-r1                                  motorola-moto-g5-plus-1

                                                                Moto G5                                                                            Moto G5 Plus

(Image source gsmarena.com)

The Moto G5 comes in two variants. The Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus. Here are the specifications:

Model

Moto G5

Moto G5 Plus

Screen Size

5”

5.2”

Screen Resolution

1080X1920 (~65.4% screen-to-body ratio)

1080X1920 (~67.1% screen-to-body ratio)

Screen Protection

Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Corning Gorilla Glass 3

OS

Android OS, v7.0 (Nougat)

Android OS, v7.0 (Nougat)

Chipset

Qualcomm MSM8937 Snapdragon 430

Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625

Processor

Octa-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53

Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53

GPU

Adreno 505

Adreno 506

RAM

2/3 GB RAM

2/4 GB RAM; 3 GB RAM

Internal Storage

16/32 GB

32/64 GB; 32 GB

External Storage

microSD, up to 256 GB

microSD, up to 256 GB

Connectivity

Dual SIM/Single SIM  2G, 3G, 4G LTE

Dual SIM 2G, 3G, 4G LTE

Camera Primary

13 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, LED flash

12 MP, f/1.7, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash

Camera Secondary

5 MP, f/2.2

5 MP, f/2.2

Video

1080p@30fps

2160p@30fps (USA)/ 1080p@30fps (EMEA)

Additional Connectivity

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
NFC not mentioned
FM Radio
microUSB v2.0, USB Host

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
NFC Yes (market dependent)
FM Radio
microUSB v2.0, USB Host

Sensors

Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

Battery Backup

Non-removable Li-Ion 2800 mAh battery

Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery

Weight

145 g

155 g

(Data Source : gsmarena.com)

Lets check out what’s expected out of the phone.

Screen Size : The G5 seems to have brought back some sanity in at least one department, the screen size. They have brought it down from the monstrous 5.5” in Moto G4 Plus(uncomfortable to handle) to 5.2” in Moto G5 Plus, which is very sweet of them. The G5 meanwhile shares the same size (5”) as it predecessor.

Resolution : Keeping the resolution at 1080 X 1920 ensures that the user gets best of both worlds, i,e. the battery as well as the viewing pleasure. The screen shall not be as demanding on the processing unit as the bumped up resolutions tend to be. The body to screen ratio is just above 65 and 67 for G5 and G5 Plus respectively, which hints at some wasted real estate. The fingerprint sensor on the front panel is the culprit.

Processing Power : The 600 series of snapdragon processors from Qualcomm are known to be the midrange processor which have the right balance of efficiency and power, required by a mid range user.The 625 processor used in G5 Plus is known to be a efficient upgrade over 617 in Moto G4 Plus. But the more efficient 650 would have been better choice, given that it was launched about a year back and should have been the natural choice based on it s efficiency results. The G5 plus meanwhile downgrade from its predecessor in terms of processor. The G4 had the snapdragon 617 at its heart while the G5 has been relegated snapdragon 430. Though a disappointment for users, it must surely be a business decision. The pricing of G5 may naturally be in a more budget friendly range. The graphics are handled by Adreno 506 and 505 for G5 Plus and G5 respectively.

OS : Both the phones are scheduled to come out with Nougat 7.0. That’s not as great as it would have been because 7.1.1 is already running on many devices across manufacturers and custom ROMS. It’s a shame that Lenovo has moved away from Motorola tradition of plain vanilla android experience and baking lots of proprietary apps in tp the ROM due to which future updates are either delayed or done away with altogether.

RAM & Storage : The phones come with the usual suspects of internal storage and RAM configurations. 2GB/4GB RAM with 32GB/64GB internal for Moto G5 Plus. It also has a 3GB RAM/32 GB internal variant which must be targeted for specific market.The G5 meanwhile comes in 2GB/3GB RAM with 16GB32GB internal configuration. Pick your choice. Its always better to pick up the highest internal memory configuration. 3 RAM meanwhile is quite sufficient for midrange phone. Go for the highest configuration in case the price difference is negligible.

Both cards support external storage up to 256 GB without a hint of the card slot being shared by second SIM card.

Camera : The Moto G5 Plus receives an upgrade in terms of f-number in that  it has a 12 MP camera sensor with f/1.7, an improvement over f/2.0 in Moto G4 Plus. Though the sensor is a downgrade from 16 MP, the bigger aperture should help in better photographs, especially in low light condition. The Moto G5 meanwhile stays at 13 MP, same as Moto G4. Both phones support 1080p video recording at 30fps.

The Secondary camera in both the phones is 5MP f/2.2, which should impress the selfie-holics. A selfie camera flash in G5 Plus would have been a item of awe, but I assume they have incorporated the selfie flash in the camera software which used the screen brightness as a makeshift flash(which is quite effective)

Connectivity : The usual connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth v4.2 with LE, GPS and GLONASS, NFC in some markets on G5 Plus and FM radio on both phones. The phones also have a micro USB port with USB host interface capability.

Sensors : Fingerprint sensor with support for fingerprint gestures are placed below the screen on front panel. The phone also have gyro sensors, accelerometer and  magnetic compass.

Battery : The 3000 mAh battery on G5 Plus should be able to see you through the day. The G5 meanwhile sports a 2800 mAh battery, which reduces its footprint but can easily take you through the day due to the low powered processor under the hood.

Pricing : Motorola has traditionally maintained the G series within a tight budget consumer group and the G5s shouldn’t be any exceptions. We can expect the G5 Plus to sell somewhere around $225(INR 15000) where as the G5 could retail at $180(INR 12000). The G4s will surely be dropped down in the price bracket and this could be a good time for those who were holding their savings for the “right opportunity”.

Going by history, you can expect Lenovo to tie up with Amazon in India for launching this phones. Watch out this space for more news availability and price.

Aug 162016
 

2000 was the year when I bought my first computer. 550 MHz Intel Pentium processor, 64MB RAM(wow…..back then), 20 GB HDD(another wow…..again back then) along with all the gizmos(read modem, multemedia speakers, cd drive….no not a writer or DVD rom…..just plain cd drive) had cost me(my father actually) about 40,000 rupees. I was quite fascinated by its capabilities(current midrange phones beat it by miles). Technology didn’t stop evolving ever since. While I was sailing at a speed of 13 knots mid of Indian ocean, technology was evolving million times.

Next I bought my first laptop, the Dell XPS M1530 which was a gaming monster(at reduced graphic levels and only few select games which already had their graphic details at the lowest). I was quite happy playing Crysis which played quite well. And NFS of course. Other than that, the Rs 55,000  that I put in the laptop just gave the pleasure of owning such a ‘powerful’ system.

I have matured ever since and currently own a Lenovo B50-70, which I got at a throwaway price and which satisfies my current needs.

But tech world has not stopped evolving. While they continuously strive to design monster machines capable of unearthly things, they have also managed to reduce the size of my first computer to a thumbnail. Meet Omega 2, the tiny computer. I was quite impressed by the specifications of Raspberry Pi 1/2/3, the credit card sized computer with all the required peripherals. But this one goes a step ahead.

This tiny computer is a quarter the size of Raspberry Pi

(Picture Source : techradar.com)

The Rapsberry Pi would beat my first computer in terms of computational power any day, but the Omega 2 matches my first computer and beats everyone else in terms of size. That sheer brilliance of the brains behind these tiny things. The possibilities are endless in this age of ‘Internet of Things’.

 

Raspberry Pi 3

(Picture Source : techradar.com)

And the best part. Omega 2 beats everyone else in terms of price. $5. Forget the usability, I would buy this one just to own a tiny computer and use it to make a doorbell if i wanted. Or a gaming console!!

So what’s next?! An invisible computer?

Jul 232016
 

Reliance is on the verge of launching its 4G services to the general public. Since december 2015, they started their beta tests by allowing selected employees to access the network and later it was extended others on invite basis. But until now, the service was available only on their LYF phones. 

Last week they launched the service for qualifying Samsung devices. But there is no word yet about the availability of SIM for rest of the population. That seems to have changed by a small backdoor. If you carry out the following procedure in order, you should be able to generate a coupon code to procure a SIM from their service centres.

So here it is:

    • Download the MyJio App from the Android play store
    • Download all other Reliance Jio applications listed in the MyJio App
    • Once all apps are downloaded, switch off the data and WiFi.
    • Close down all the Reliance Jio apps.
    • Switch on Data/WiFi.
    • Start the Reliance MyJio App Portal.
    • Inside you will find MyJio App listed on top. Open it.
    • You will get an option to generate a coupon code. Follow that link to generate a coupon which can be used at the stores listed in the app to get a SIM

      Good luck and happy 4Ging

      Jun 142016
       

      Mobile make OnePlus, which took the world by storm two years back, saw two more iterations of this smartphone last year. Continuing with the technology upgrade, OnePlus is all set to launch tomorrow, 15th June 2016, in its most valued market, India. But we already have the details regarding pricing and few features of their third phone.

      The OnePlus 3 will be sold for 27,999 INR and will be available on Amazon exclusively. But for the first two hours of the launch(1000HRS IST), it shall be sold on their virtual reality platform OnePlus 3 launch : The Loop. The app is currently available on Google playstore for download. The phone shall then be sold on Amazon India and OnePlus website. This is supposed to be a first one of the kind experience of shopping.

      Salient features of OnePlus 3:
      Snapdragon 820 processor
      6GB RAM
      64 GB Internal Memory
      Fingerprint sensor capable of unlocking device in 0.2s
      16MP/8MP camera

      The phone is said to be bundled with lots of goodies for sometime. Keep your fingers crossed and be ready for it as the goodies may get exhausted soon.

      May 182016
       

      We are just fresh out of the freedom251 news and related doubts and political interventions. While freedom251 is yet to be delivered, another firm, this time in Bengaluru, claims to have a smartphone which they will sell for Rs. 99(thats less than 2$). The mobile is named as Namotel Acche Din as reported by the newsgroup publishing the story. The name of the mobile hints to having connections to the PM of India (break up Namotel to Namo+tel, Namo being the acronym used for PM Narendra Modi, and the addendum “Acche Din” was the tagline for BJP election campaign.) It can be said with certain level of confidence that there is no such connection between the PM and this new venture of selling the phone at about Rs. 2900. discount.

      I am not going to list out the overly exaggerated specifications since I personally feel that its impossible to sell a phone with such specification for so cheap. I also caution you all from signing up for such offers/schemes as it is a gamble which will never be won.

      The websites namotel.com and bemybanker.com which can be used for registration and and upfront one time subscription payment of Rs. 199 are not running as of this moment. Whois lookup for namotel.com and bemybanker.com doesn’t shows the the administrator names for these websites are withheld. But surprisingly, the admin details for namotel.in point to one Mr. Madhava Reddy as the owner. A Similar name appears in the news article as being a promoter of the company selling these phones.

      Beware all.

      (Disclaimer : This article is based on the article published in the TOI and as such, the authenticity of the data contained is purely based on the authenticity of the news article. The details of Whois lookup have been personally checked by me. Both the web addresses mentioned in the article were checked and found to be non functional.)

      May 172016
       

      The launch of Moto G4 has been adequately covered on various forums including those which predicted its configurations, design language, pricing etc. The phone, rather phones, were launched today by the new owners of the Moto brand, Lenovo. Some predictions came true, but it seems, Moto G, the budget phone which ruled the android market for three generations, is about to be lost in the crowd. What will remain shall be the name.

      For a change, the phone had a huge bump in its specifications, right from the processors, RAM, camera, screen resolution etc. But there were few shockers too. For a start, the home button, which never was a part of Moto lineage, has arrived. I had shifted from Samsung (Galaxy SII) to Motorola (Moto X Play) and the transition couldn’t have been smoother. The home button was not missed on Moto X Play since android LP and MM were ready for button-less interface. So why the button now? All it might do is increase the non-screen real estate. Having a button in upgraded phone seems like moving back to prehistoric times of kitkat. Anyway that’s not all.

      The screen has gone up to 5.5”. Moto G4 used to be the phone for people who wanted handy phone which was useable enough without being crammed for room. A 5.5” Moto G4 leaves a huge gap between the low budget  Moto E lineage and the more premium Moto X. It just doesn’t make any business sense. First of all you create a gap and secondly you pitch your product to compete against another product by you(Moto X Play. Moto X Play may now be forgotten for good since you get better configuration for less). A more sensible strategy would have been launching the second phone with 5.5” and keeping Moto G at 5” – 5-2”(5.2” being the sweetest of them all)

      Moto G4 at Amazon

      That brings us to a third shocker. They launched two Moto G4s. A Moto G4 and a Moto G4 Plus. Both have similar configuration, save for the RAM/Storage combinations. The plus version has the option of 16/32 GB ROM and 3/4 GB RAM, while the version without the plus moniker has 2GB/16 GB capacity. The plus version has an addition of finger print reader, integrated in the home button. What could/should have been done is to create 2 configurations in 5” model without the home button(so have a good screen to body ratio) and 2 configurations in 5.5” model ( which would have justified the “plus” moniker)  and each configuration would in turn deal with the memory capacities for each size. but that didn’t happen. So we have a Moto G which is not 5” anymore and effectively competing with Moto X Play( midrange) and lots of other 5.5” smart phones in the marker, including those by Lenovo. Is Lenovo out to kill its own lineage(K series) or the Moto lineage?

      Speaking in terms of camera, the G4 Plus has a bumped up 16 MP camera. But those are just numbers. I personally like the 8 MP camera on Galaxy SII against my Moto X Play. So wouldn’t claim that the 16 MP upgrade would do much difference.

      If you remember, there was another iteration of Moto G3, the Moto G3 Turbo, which was the first to introduce the Snapdragon 615 processor as against SD 410 in Moto G3 and 2 GB RAM as against 1 GB in G3. Other than that, there was nothing much to speak about.

      And I personally dislike the addendums in name like plus, pro, Turbo etc. They seem to hint a lack of creativity.
      Moto G4 at Amazon

      Brief comparison between the three phones(Moto G3, G4 and G4 Plus):

      Specifications Moto G3 Moto G4 Moto G4 Plus
      Processor SD 410 SD 617 SD 617
      RAM 1/2 GB 2 GB 2/3/4 GB
      Storage 8/16 GB 16/32 GB 16/32/64 GB
      Screen 5” 5.5” 5.5”
      Resolution 72p 1080p 1080p
      Battery 2470 mAH 3000mAH 3000mAH
      Fast Charge No Yes Yes
      Camera 13 MP 13 MP 16 MP
      Android Ver. 5.1.1 6.0.1 6.0.1

      Moto G4 at Amazon

      May 172016
       

      Moto G4 is one of the most anticipated midrange phone for which people have been waiting. With the anticipated killer upgrades like SD617 octacore processor, 3GB RAM, full HD display, you could never ask for more. Today is the day that Lenovo announced the phone and  Amazon India has updated their site stating that they are ready.

      Moto G4 and Moto G4 has been launched. At screen size of 5.5″ and models ranging from 2GB to 4GB, micro SD slot along with 16/32 GB storage this phone is as good as Moto x play. And with fast charging capability, the phone comes at 13500 – 15009 INR.. Quite a steal.

      One shift away from tradition is that the phone is launched in multiple configuration on same day. The G4 plus has a finger print reader which is absent in G4.

      More on it, in some time.

      Sep 212015
       

      For many amongst us, buying a smartphone requires extensive preparations right from building up the budgets to finalising the phone based on our requirements. But the process is not that easy. Well, saving enough for buying may not be difficult but finalising a phone becomes tedious, especially if you were not satisfied with your previous phone. Sometimes the need to buy a new phone may come up suddenly in cases like phone stolen/damaged beyond repairs and extensive research may not be possible. Or simply you may not be a person who is aware of the technicality and always fall for the marketing gimmicks. Whatever be the case, a short guide goes a long way in helping you decide which phone my be the best for you. So here’s one.

      There are number of points which need to be considered while buying a phone but the primary one are just three. Ask yourself, what’s your budget, what’s your usage, and how long you want to be married to it.

      So what’s your budget? The answer to this question is not a simple one as it should be based on the other two questions to follow ie. your usage pattern and how long you want to stick with it. But if you are on a fixed tight budget, there’s no other way to it. Lets take those question first.

      Usage :

      If you are a first time mobile buyer then it wont be easy for you to gauge your usage pattern. But the usage patterns observed among regular users of a mobile phone can be taken as a benchmark. These usage patterns can be broadly classified in to four:

      1. Light Usage Phone calls and some amount of music/movies, light gaming, accessing social network/emails, basic photography etc.
      2. Moderate usage Phone calls plus some midrange games, music/movies, social networking, moderate amount of photography and selfies(self photograph taken from front camera) etc.
      3. Heavy Usage Phone calls, Heavy gaming, high end photography, office work, movies/music, multitasking etc.
      4. Extreme Usage Enthusiasts who swear by numbers and tech specs and wouldn’t care if the phone performs as good as its seen on spec sheet(get outta here…you already know your phone . There’s nothing much I can help you with)

      Android Phones, iPhones and windows based phones are suitable for all these usage patterns but iPhones a re insanely priced and windows phones have rocky past to consider them as established phones.

      Along with these considerations you should also consider the battery life. If your life depends on this phone, ensure that you buy a phone with good battery life which can take you through the day while you perform your defined activities. But its very important to find and fit yourself in to one of these broad classification else after you buy the phone you would have bought a 25,000 rupee phone for send whatsapp messages or you would have bought a 5000 rupee phone and would be trying to play urban legend between skipped frames while a very hot device is trying to scald you palms.

      Ideally, the phones as classified above fall in the following price range:

      1. Light Usage Up to 8000 Rupees +/- 1000 rupees(A phone with 4.5 to 5” screen should suffice)
      2. Moderate usage between 8000 –17000 rupees(A phone with 5” screen is suitable, may be extended up to 5.5”.)
      3. Heavy Usage 18000- roughly around 30000 rupees.(recommended 5.5” but may even settle for 5” or 5.2” depending on personal preferences)
      4. Extreme Usage lots of gimmicky features and insanely priced at around 40000 – 80000 rupees and above that in some cases. One batch of say 10000 phones may value equal to the economy of some poor country.

      How long will you stick to this one:

      If trying out new phones every year is in your blood then you should restrict yourself to light or moderate usage phones. If you plan to play high end games on different phones each year, make me your tech advisor with a fixed fee recommendations. That way I too earn some. If you plan to use you phone for a time period of more than 2 years, try to up you budget to be placed in heavy usage category.

      Recommended phones

      There are lots and lots of manufacturers selling phones in India and its easy to be lost in the maze searching for the right on. Rule of thumb, go for a name you have heard before since atleast one year. Also, now that we are almost facing the 4G revolution, keep this criterion as prime.

      Of the above lot, Moto E LTE falls in the maximum value for money catagory.

      Moto G 2015 should give you the maximum value for money. Also we can expect updated for atleast next two iterations of Andriod(Marshmellow and N***?). Zenfone selfie is for selfie addicts and lenovo K3 note should give you a note experience below 10,000 rupees. The Mi pair packs the punch but do not expect support in terms of updates.

      Here’s a table to simplify matters:

      Usage Category

      Actual Usage

      Price Bracket in Indian Rupees

      Recommendations

      Support Commitment

      Light Phone calls and some amount of music/movies, light gaming, accessing social network/emails, basic photography etc up to 8000 Moto E
      Huawei Honor Holly
      Forget it. Moto E might get an upgrade but that’s highly unlikely.
      Moderate Phone calls plus some midrange games, music/movies, social networking, moderate amount of photography and selfies(self photograph taken from front camera) etc. 8000 to 18000 Moto G 2015
      Asus Zenfone 2 Laser
      Asus Zenfone Selfie
      Honor 6
      Lenovo K3 Note
      Mi 4
      Expect atleast one upgrade for all phones. Expect 2 upgrades for Moto G 2015
      Heavy Phone calls, Heavy gaming, high end photography, office work, movies/music, multitasking etc. 18000 to 30000 Moto X Play
      Moto X Style
      OnePlus One
      Moto X2
      Asus Zenfone 2
      Samsung Note 3
      Sure upgrades up to 2 iterations unless there is an inherent problem in the phone.
      Moto X will get the earliest upgrades, followed by OnePlus
      Extreme Out of the world specs. Insane prices Samsung Note 4 & Egde
      Samsung Galaxy S5
      iPhone 6 & 6s
      Xperia Z3
      They might as well send someone to your home to update your phone

       

      This simplified table should be sufficient to help you out with your selection. Its always best to go for the previous generation flagship in case it fits your budget as you can get decent specification at lower price. Eg. You can get Moto G2

      If you have any other doubts or any more recommendations required, do mention in comments or use the “Your Tech Advisor” tab above or click here to contact me.

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