Kushal in 2010

Standard

about meThis following blog post was written by me in 2010 when I was a college student:

Social networking is one of my favorite online activities which includes real-time tweeting. Reading novels and posting reviews on Goodreads is among the other ones. I tried Dancing as well, which is one of my ways of balancing out my adrenaline rush and enjoying the music. And guess what is my profession: Computer Engineer. But I don’t spend all my time in the air-conditioned office, I rather like to go out and do something that makes a difference and I call it an investment in our future. One of these activities is teaching the underprivileged children in the nearby slum area. I seldom miss a chance to volunteer and have worked with various NGOs and societies. I believe in the idea of excellent education for all children which is the vision of Teach for India.

Motorcycling
I love to take risks and that’s why I like stunting. I believe in the quote, “if four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul”. Now you can reckon how much I love my motorbike. I’m d kind of guy who’ll be sneaking out of my bedroom at three o’clock in the morning to look at my bike.

(If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.)

One can key me out as a speedoholic. When I sit on my bike and kick-start it, I get a strange feeling as if I were omnipotent.

(Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.)

Here is a video featuring one of my driving experiences:

Photography

 

In photography, my interest prevails as I keep up my photostream on flickr. Though with the advent of Instagram  I started clicking more pictures by using a smartphone.

I am going to put all about me and my thoughts on this blog, and I hope that you revel reading it.

More : http://about.me/kushalashok

Technical Presentation at Toastmasters ACB9 – Mobike | How stuff works?

Standard

Tonight I delivered a prepared speech at Toastmasters club after several months. It was my 19th (ACB9) Speech as per Toastmasters International education system; project 4 of Technical presentations manual, which provided me 12 minutes of stage time. You can refer to the slides which I used during the presentation, by using this link: Mobike PPT

Also find below the link to white paper which inspired me to choose this topic:

Mobike White Paper 2017

In terms of experience, I got an engaging audience and all of them had used Mobike before. Thus, it was quite easy for me to get their attention. I was worried that I may have included too many technical terms for everyone to understand, but I believe it went well since I got voted as the best prepared speaker. I think the inclusion of a poster from movie “3 idiots” successfully brought back nice memories for everyone.

I also got a nice feedback from my evaluator and she rightly mentioned that I could not summarize the speech to reiterate the key take away since I ran out of time. The agenda of this speech was not to publicize or praise Mobike, but to inspire people to learn and investigate more about the machines they use in their daily lives. To have that curiosity and zeal, to find the answers, and more importantly; to ask questions.

I also got some feedback from the Grammarian on my pronunciation, which reminded me that I still need to work on it. It gave me another reason to continue delivering more speeches at Toastmasters clubs.

P.S.: I used the word of the day (in retrospect) twice, once in my prepared speech and once during table topics.

 

 

Top 3 reasons for buying an iPhone X — “One more thing” at Apple’s September 2017 event

Standard

It’s around 4 AM in Shanghai and I have been up watching Apple’s September event which took place at Steve Jobs Theater, and was streamed live. Though I did enjoy the announcements and demos related to other products like Apple Watch as well, I am writing this post to share with you, my top 3 reasons for buying an iPhone X; despite of it’s high price.

iPhone X

Reason 1: Face ID

I have been reading the rumors and watching Youtube videos that rediculed this feature of the new iPhone X, but I was right to wait for the actual announcement where it got explained in more detail. If there is one thing that Apple has been able to convince the masses about; it’s security. So all those videos of people wearing a mask and making fun of this feature can literally be laughed at, once we read about the underlying technology and the kind of testing that has been performed by the engineers at Apple. Simply put in numbers, it is 20 times more secure than touch ID.

Just last week, one of my acquaintances asked me, “What if I pass out at a bar, and someone uses my thumb to unlock the phone and transfer all my money while I lay unconscious?”. Well, I bet opening the eyes of such a victim would be far more difficult than forcing his or her thumb.

In terms of accessibility, I think Face ID is going to open a whole new avenue for people with disabilities.

Reason 2: Wireless Charging

From removal of the headphone jack, to removal of the home button, Apple has been making things cleaner and getting rid of all the moving parts. From my perspective, a machine with more movable parts is subject to more wear and tear. I like the haptic feedback based home button in iPhone 7, which feels far better than the traditional home button. Now with an all new glass design (the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back. Surgical‑grade stainless steel), iPhone X allows wireless charging which is a game changer for many Apple fans.

After visiting manufacturing hubs like Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen, I am pretty sure that other companies would soon be manufacturing products like AirPower Mats to help Apple users charge their devices wirelessly (probably before the actual 2018 launch of mats by Apple).

Reason 3: A11 Bionic Chip

To put it in simple terms, other than being faster and smarter while still providing slightly better battery life, this new chip would allow you to make use of features like machine learning (Face ID is one of it’s implementation), augmented reality (enjoy many AR games like Pokemon Go), animoji and real depth selfies (the new true depth camera along with A11 Bionic chip can analyze more than 50 of your muscle movements and create impressive photo effects)

These are my top 3 reasons, what are yours? Please do share them via comments.

P.S.- Say hello to the future 🙂

You can also checkout the Hands-on video by engadget:

Why freelancing is lucrative for developers?

Standard

If you are an experienced developer or any individual who have access to Youtube / MOOCs and strong willpower to learn, this post is for you.

I have been working as a software developer since I graduated from college and it has been 5 years now. I did some freelancing during college days but it did not involve any serious engagements like signing the NDA or any other contract. Now that I have worked at one of the largest IT companies in India, I am looking at freelancing with quite a different perspective. It is no longer considered a hobby which helps me earn some pocket money. If done right, I can earn much more than my salary as a full-time employee. (no kidding)

I am writing this post to help us understand why freelancing is lucrative for developers and I would like to start with some simple figures. At most of the software companies, when you join as a full-time employee you agree to get paid a fixed amount every month, irrespective of the number of projects you complete. Now every resource / developer is having a billing rate that is sometimes shared with the client while estimating. If you can learn your billing rate and multiply it by the number of hours you have put in, you will realise that you have been swindled. But that is not entirely true since your employer is taking a risk for you and providing you security. Even if the project fails due to some reason, you still get your monthly salary.

Now that we have a fair idea in terms of numbers, lets dive in. If you can manage the projects on your own and have enough skills to develop a product based on client requirements, freelancing would indeed by quite lucrative. Following are a few pros and cons.

Pros:

  1. Get paid for your work genuinely as per the market standard and your skillset.
  2. Have complete right over your work.
  3. No time to be spent on transport. (Some of us get hustled in the subway)
  4. Can spend more time with family and plan trips on any day of the week.
  5. Have liberty to make important decisions and learn from your mistakes.
  6. Your advice and expertise is valued.
  7. Your income is not dependent on your appraisal but only on your work.
  8. You still get to improve interpersonal skills by communicating directly with your clients.
  9. You earn a reputation in the market and you are an asset to your clients.
  10. You can work on the technologies that you like.

Cons:

  1. You have to have enough work in pipeline to earn minimum wages.
  2. You can not afford to make too many mistakes.
  3. You need to plan everything in advance and be ready for worst case scenarios.

Recently I found a perfect solution to having enough work in pipeline. Even though there are many freelancing portals online, they do not have the required screening system in place to make it authentic. I strongly suggest Toptal to all the potential freelancers reading this post. It has a well defined interview process which helps in ensuring that your expertise level is as per your claims. This not only helps the clients but also the freelancers, since they can now focus on the right set of clients while getting rid of the noise.

I am sure you have come across those ads which claim that you can become a billionaire while working from home using internet, well you can make it possible on your own. I hope this post has answered the question fairly.

If you are interested in mobile application development, keep reading:

I have developed enough mobile applications from scratch to have the required confidence when someone asks me if his/her new app idea can actually be developed as a product. Well there are thousands of apps in the market and mobile apps have become more important in our lives than brushing our teeth daily. If you perform a quick search online, or even attend a meet-up or social gathering, you will learn that almost everyone has got multiple ideas for developing an app. Now some of these ideas might be good while some could be trivial, but if you have the right skills to create an app, any of these apps could become successful.

I have keen interest in iOS applications and I like to follow WWDC as well as popular blogs like raywenderlich. Even the app with simplest solution can gain a lot of customers if it is intuitive and bug free. In David Murphy’s words, the future of mobile is the future of online. That is why, I have specific interest in joining the Mobile App Programmers Network.

10 months without blogging

Standard

I have never been a regular blogger but I did write diary entries from time to time and the whole experience of documenting my thoughts has been wonderful. Other than making the memories permanent, it also serves as a way of sharing my knowledge and experiences. The only reason Google is able to answer most of our queries is because somewhere, someone wrote about the solution online and Google team is smart enough to make that answer reach you.

This is the reason I am writing a blog post after more than 10 months now and the first topic that came to my mind was applying PAN card and Aadhar card for Bhutanese as foreigners in India. I am not sure if people will be getting this as a result when someone searches for “How to get a PAN card in India” but at least if a Bhutanese citizen if making a specific search like “PAN card for Bhutanese”, he or she might stumble upon this post and it shall fulfill my purpose.

The only thing that is lacking in my blog is discipline. If I can follow a schedule and write posts regularly, I am sure I will be happy about it and maybe even proud to be owning a blog which narrates my story beautifully.

Procrastination

How to get PAN card and Aadhar card for a Bhutanese Foreigner in India?

Standard

As an Indian citizen, getting a PAN card can be the most hassle free process you would ever encounter with Indian Government. But this post has been written to help foreigners.

At the time of writing, the UTI website provides a separate option for applying PAN card for foreigners. You can check the list of documents required as well as the guidelines for application. In most cases, foreigners would like to use their Passport as their proof of identity and there are different options mentioned for providing proof of residence in India. Since Bhutanese citizens do not require a residence permit or a VISA to enter India, the most efficient way of getting a reliable address proof is opening a bank account, preferably with a government owned (State bank of India) or state-owned bank (Punjab National Bank).

Following are the things you need for generating your proof of residence via bank:

  1. A friend or relative who already has an account in the bank and is ready to be your reference.
  2. A rent agreement made between you and your landlord or any other document accepted by the bank as proof of address.
  3. You may also need to affix your photograph on the passbook and get it stamped by the bank.

Once you have your bank account functional, make sure you keep it active by making some transactions and then use the copy of your passbook as proof of residence.

Now that you have your proof of residence and identity, there should be no problem in getting yourself a PAN card or Aadhar card. You can check the UIDAI website for getting more details about Aadhar enrolment. Also, note that some of the enrollment centers may not be listed online and it is better to ask around in your locality if there are any centers nearby.

I understand that writing a post after simply going through the rule book does not work as a great advice most of the times. But this post has been written after personally following the whole process and getting the desired results. If you find that some of these steps could be skipped or there is a better way of getting the PAN and Aadhar card in India as a foreigner, please do share your findings via comments.

P.S.: You don’t need to open a bank account for getting Aadhar card since rent agreement is accepted as proof of address, but it is always better to have an account handy for future purposes.

Disclaimer: This post has been written based on personal experience and beliefs and may not be treated as a solution or proven theory. Please do your own research before taking any action that invites doubt.

The way forward for technology: Drones and Automation

Standard

Automation has been a field of interest since many years now. From automated emails to cars, we as humans have achieved a lot and have been using these technologies for getting things done faster and more accurately. But what else are we looking at? How are we going to move forward? In this article I will be mentioning the missing links by taking an example of Drones.
Drones are available online for as low as 4000 INR and many individuals have started showing interest in them. But is it legal to fly a drone anywhere you like? Can we feel safe while these machines are hovering above our head? Let’s answer these questions one by one.
With the advent of technology, we can now control drones with our iPhones or iPods and it does not require a lot of practice and patience to get the flying skills. But many people don’t realize that they can face serious legal charges if they end up flying in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if we are ok with the fines, we have to understand that machines are not perfect and things can go wrong with them. So the answer to the first question is no, it is not legal to fly drones anywhere you like.
In terms of hurting people, drones can be considered as flying lawn mowers. Also, since they allow us to record and stream videos they can be a serious threat to privacy. Thus, as of today it is difficult for us to feel safe with drones.
So how are we going to move forward? Every new technology has got its drawbacks and can always be exploited in a negative way. But this does not mean that we should stop inventing. Companies like Google and Amazon have already started exploring the options for using drones to deliver mails and packages. I am sure you must have heard about the 30 minutes Pizza delivery service. The future services might get anything within a certain weight limit, delivered to your door stop within 30 minutes. This has already been tested by Amazon and they are excited to launch Amazon Prime Air which may look like science fiction, but it’s real. These drones will be flying under 400 feet and will make use of sense and avoid technology which comes with intense automation to ensure safety.

Amazon prime air drone picture
When cars were first invented, people had so many objections. The suggestions which were made were mostly bizarre, like every car should have a man walking in front with a red flag. And these debates did not stop until the government decided that cars are good for the society and we should have more of them. That is when roads were constructed and traffic rules got defined. Same should be the case with drones or any other invention that is useful for the mankind. So, let’s collaborate and find the right balance for future.

My first expert

Standard

This post is dedicated to my Mom and today being the Mother’s day I talked to her patiently and tried to understand her concerns after a long time. I left my home after completing 10th grade and started living in a hostel while preparing for JEE. I will always remember that I used to fail whenever I tried to lie to her. For instance, when I was out with my friends playing counter strike at Reliance WebWorld, no matter how much I tried she would instantly know that I am lying about my whereabouts. After many such failures, I simply stopped trying because I had learnt that there is no way around it. Thus, I started speaking out the truth. Not to my mother, but my father instead. I know that this must be quite opposite to what most people do, but for me convincing my father has always been easier.

My mother has been an expert teacher for me literally. She not only helped me learn that the letter B comes after the letter A in English alphabet, but she also straightened me and guided me whenever I made the wrong choices. And she did all of this while managing the house and completing all the chores. Now that I think of it, if I had to cook food, teach children in school for 6 hours, keep the house clean and manage clothes for everyone, I would hardly have any energy left. But even today she manages all of that on her own.
While watching the India’s got talent show on television yesterday, I was again reminded of the ways in which my mother took care of multiple tasks at once. As the anchor talked about Goddess Durga and her multiple capabilities, I was recalling all the tasks that my mother have been completing since so many years without any fail. No wonder our mothers are able to take care of us while managing their own job and the complete household.

Another experience that refreshed some memories of mine was watching the movie Piku. I never thought that emotions could be so well related to motion. The movie simply portrayed the common yet complex situations we face with our families and successfully puts across the importance of relationships. Especially the relationships that we share with our older generation. No matter how open minded or educated they are, there is always a gap that we need to bridge. I have certainly learned a lot from this movie and I am sure that these learning will help me in future. Now that I am working as a Senior Systems Engineer and hardly have time to sit idle and meditate, I think there is certainly a need for increasing my threshold of patience and this movie has helped me get one step closer to that goal.

Following is a picture of me with my mother. This one was clicked by my father when I got back from school:

mom and me

Also, do have a look at the Godrej Expert.

How to book an Uber cab from your browser?

Standard

I was trying to book a cab from my mobile app while using Vodafone 2G and realized that things were going very slow, that is when I realized that I should try it from my computer which was connected to a LAN.

Following are the steps with screenshots which will help you book an UBER cab quickly:

STEP 1: Go to https://m.uber.com/

Login page uber mobile

 

STEP 2: Enter your Uber credentials and tap on Done button (top right corner; refer previous screenshot)

NEW USERS: Make sure you claim your free ride by signing up through this link and using the promo code: “UBERKUSHALASHOK“.

Quick Tip: If you sign up from Uber mobile app, you can use your PAYTM wallet for authentication instead of providing any credit card details.

App Available at: Google Play StoreApple App Store and Windows App Store.

Download app

STEP 3: Click on the the PICKUP LOCATION text circled in the screenshot below to be able to search your pick up location.

How to pick up a location

 

STEP 4: Type in the location details in the search box and choose the desired option from the dropdown.

Choose location

STEP 5: Use the slider available at the bottom to choose the kind of cab you need and then click on “Set Pickup Location”

Set pickup location

 

STEP 6: Make sure that the pick up location is correct and the use credits option is checked or un-checked as per your requirement and then click on “Request pickup here XXXX” button.

NOTE: Make sure that you do this only when you are ready for the cab. If you try to cancel your request after 5 mins, you will have to pay some amount. Also, if you keep the driver waiting you will be charged accordingly.

Request an uber

STEP 7: (OPTIONAL) In case you need to cancel a request, this screenshot will help you find the option quickly. The option is available at the bottom right corner on clicking which you will get a menu. Select “Cancel Trip” to cancel your request.

cancel uber request