Redmi Note 4 – 4 GB RAM, 64 GB ROM Launched @ Rs. 12,999

After the grand success of its Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi has launched its much awaited Redmi Note 4 here in India today just a while back from now. It will be available in three versions – 4 GB – 64 GB for Rs. 12,999, 3 GB – 32 GB for Rs. 10,999 and 3 GB – 32 GB for Rs. 9,999 and three colours – Gold, Space Grey and Matte Black. While it has got launched today, it will be placed on sale starting January 23 at 12 pm exclusively on Flipkart and, and it seems no pre-registration would be required to buy it.

While Redmi Note 3 was priced at Rs. 11,999 for its 3 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM version, Xiaomi has decided to offer Redmi Note 4 at an even more attractive price of Rs. 10,999 for the same 3 GB – 32 GB model. That is something to cheer about for its prospective buyers.

Xiaomi has also decided to launch its new 4 GB – 64 GB version here in India and it will be priced at Rs. 12,999, while the base model of 2 GB – 32 GB will continue to be priced at Rs. 9,999. As these new models go on for sale starting next week, it seems Xiaomi has already stopped selling Redmi Note 3 through all its existing channels. However, its smaller versions – Redmi Note 3S and Redmi Note 3S Prime continue to be available at Rs. 6,999 and Rs. 8,999 respectively.

14nm Snapdragon 625 processor – Redmi Note 4 is equipped with 2 GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, with 14nm FinFET technology. This processor is said to be more efficient than its earlier version of Snapdragon 650 processor, 28nm FinFET.

Adreno 506 GPU – The smartphone would come equipped with Adreno 506 GPU for graphics, as compared to Adreno 510 GPU Redmi Note 3 had.

5.5-Inch Full HD Display – As far as display is concerned, Redmi Note 4 has a 5.5-inch (13.9 cm) full HD display (1920×1080 pixels) with 2.5D arc glass design. This is the first time Xiaomi will have full 2.5D curved glass on the front.

4100 mAH Battery – 4050 mAH battery was one of the reasons behind the success of Redmi Note 3 and Xiaomi seems to be in no mood to disappoint its users on this front. Redmi Note 4 will carry 4,100 mAH battery and as per Xiaomi, its performance would be 25% better as compared to its predecessor.

13 MP Camera – The smartphone will have 13 megapixel primary camera and 5 megapixel front camera. The rear camera uses Sony CMOS sensor with 1.12 micron pixel size for better low-light performance. It also supports PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), has a dual-tone LED flash and f/2.0 aperture.

Dual-Sim Slot – Like earlier, Redmi Note 4 will have a hybrid dual-SIM slot (micro + nano/microSD). Memory is also expandable to the extent of 128 GB with microSD slot included. But, as earlier you will be able to use either microSD card or your second sim.

Android Marshmallow and MIUI 8.0 – The smartphone will work on Android Marshmallow operating system along with the company’s own MIUI 8.0.

4G VoLTE Support – Redmi Note 4 will come with 4G LTE connectivity along with support for VoLTE (Voice over LTE). So, you will be able to use it with your Reliance Jio sim as well.

Fingerprint, Infrared Sensors – Like its predecessor, Redmi Note 4 will also have fingerprint sensor at the back and infrared sensor at the top of the handset.

Speakers at Bottom – Redmi Note 4 will carry its dual speakers at the bottom, rather than at the back its predecessor had. I think this is a good change they have made as it helps to hear your phone ringing if you are sitting in some other room.

Dimensions & Weight – Redmi Note 4 has some minor changes to its dimensions and weight as compared to Redmi Note 3. As against 150 X 76 X 8.65 mm, Redmi Note 4 will measure 151 X 76 X 8.35 mm and weigh just a gram more at 165 grams.

January 23 Launch on Flipkart & at 12 PM

Since its July 2014 debut here in India, Xiaomi has been successful in creating a huge demand for almost all of its smartphones. As the phone is all set to go on sale on Flipkart and Mi India’s own site from January 23, it is a given that the sale will not last even more than a few seconds before the phone gets out of stock. But, in the long run, will it be able to give Xiaomi the success it has tasted with Redmi Note 3? Let’s wait and watch.

A practical way of generating strong and unique passwords

A few days ago OneMint was attacked, and embarrassingly enough someone or some machine had simply guessed my password. I now know that this wouldn’t be too hard as it would have taken a desktop PC just 3 days to figure out my password.

I have been on a mission to change my passwords since then but there are two challenges in this. You can come up and remember one strong and unique password, but it is very hard to come up and remember 20 unique ones. I say twenty because that’s the number of passwords I need for my accounts that have some financial aspect to it. If you include all of my passwords, I’m sure it would go over a 150.

The other method is to have some sort of a formula in your head to generate a unique password but my struggle so far had been that it wasn’t unique enough, or strong enough or universally acceptable enough.

I’ve overcome all of these and I have been using my current way quite successfully for the past two or three weeks, and if you currently have passwords that can be guessed within days by a desktop PC, I strongly recommend going through this post, and seeing if this method or a variation works for you.

Step 1: Setup a base formula, which means that there should be some combination of special characters, words and numbers that will always be in your passwords. For instance, you can say that all your passwords will start with “%” and end with “ghoda9873*”

Step 2: Use the name of the website in your password but with some replacements. For instance, you could say that if the website is two words like SBI India, you will only consider the first word, so SBI would be part of your password. Then you could say that “I” would always be “1” in your passwords. In this way you can make certain replacements, and come up with a unique password. In our example, a password for would be “%SB1ghoda9873*” which would take a desktop PC 2 billion years to crack!

If you use this formula a few times, and customize it to the way you’re used to thinking then you will be able to setup new passwords quite easily for all your accounts. This has the obvious drawback where if a person comes to know a couple of your passwords, they can guess the rest quite easily but it still beats having a simple one anyway.

How to skip rows in an Excel formula?

There is nothing more frustrating in MS Excel and Google Spreadsheets than their inability to recognize a pattern in referenced cells.

For example, if you type 1, 3, 5 and 7 in four cells and then drag them down, Excel knows that the next in series is 9, 11, and 13 etc.

However, if you type =B2, =B4, =B6 and =B8 in four cells and then drag them down, Excel does not know that the next in line should be =B10, =B12, =B14 and so on.


excel skip rows when referencing


Even Google Spreadsheet doesn’t do this and I don’t know if this is a feature or a bug but I’m leaning towards a bug, as I’ve felt the need for this many many times, and although there are workarounds to do this I haven’t seen any really easy ways to do it until recently.

After breaking my head on the Offset function for a few hours today I started searching for a new solution to do this and stumbled upon this neat find and replace trick to skip rows while using them in a formula.

What you do is instead of typing =B2, =B4, =B6 and =B8 in four cells and then dragging them down, type something like $B2, $B4, $B6 and then drag it down. Excel will correctly populate the series for you now.

After that all you have to do is select your cells and find and replace the dollar sign with the equal sign to convert the cells into a formula and voila — you have the correctly referenced cells.

Find and Replace


This is one of the most useful Excel tricks that I’ve ever come across, and I’m really amazed at the simplicity and the effectiveness of this. Anyone who has tried to do this using round about ways will realize how much time this will save, and how useful this is becase there are just countless times that you need to skip rows while using them in an Excel or a Google Spreadsheet formula.

Ola and Uber: Win – Win For Everyone

I’m a fairly heavy user of Ola Cabs and Uber; I really like their service, and often feel that they are currently under pricing and making a loss to gain a lead on each other in the taxi aggregator business.

This is a very interesting business where Ola or Uber don’t own taxis on their own, but partner with other individuals who own taxis and register with them.

You can hail a taxi using their app, and the taxi drivers logged into the app get a request that they can accept and come and get you. You can load the Ola app with money using your credit card so you don’t have the hassle of using cash to pay the driver. Uber allows you to link the account to Paytm and avoids the hassle.

Uber is a San Francisco based company which was recently valued at over $40 billion dollars and Ola is a home grown company based out of Mumbai  which is estimated to have a staggering valuation of over $2.5 billion (Rs. 15,000 crores). This valuation is very recent as it just took funding of about $400 million a couple of weeks ago.

Although the latest round of funding gives them a very high valuation; that they were doing so well is nothing new because this is not the first time they have gotten funding, and earlier this year they had reported that they are doing about 200,000 rides per day.  

So, the company is doing well (as least in terms of valuation), it’s a good service for customers, but I often wondered how the taxi drivers fared?

On a recent trip to Delhi, I used Taxi For Sure, which is a similar service, and has been recently acquired by Ola Cabs, and the man driving the taxi told me that he was actually the owner of a fleet of cars but his drivers made more money than him on a regular basis due to the salaries Ola and Uber pay.

I didn’t really take him seriously but this article today in the ET about Ola Drivers protesting a pay cut caught my attention due to that conversation. Apparently, Ola has an agreement of paying Rs. 38,000 per month to hatchback drivers, and Rs. 46,000 per month to sedan drivers, but they want to cut that by Rs. 8,000 and increase the working hours for the sedan drivers. The drivers are protesting and rightly so because this was not in their contracts and no company should be allowed to change the rules like this.

I don’t know the details of the contract but I certainly hope that the company doesn’t get away with any high handedness like this. It will be a shame if that happens because this is a great service for everyone involved, and it is very heart warming to see that a start up has created such great livelihood opportunities for so many people who till only a few years ago could have never dreamed of owning their own small business.

Net Neutrality in India

Ever since Airtel launched the ‘Airtel Zero‘ program, there has been a lot of anger against this program by netizens, and the anger is not going unnoticed either. In fact, Flipkart which was one of the partners of the Airtel Zero program not only pulled out of it day before yesterday but said that they will take steps in the future to align themselves with the cause and support Net Neutrality.

If you are not following this issue closely and have largely been following this on the surface you probably think Airtel Zero is a very sinister program, and may be surprised to hear what it actually does.

Airtel Zero is a pack that gives you free data access to certain apps that have a tie up with Airtel. For instance, if Flipkart, Facebook and Twitter were to get into a tie up with Airtel under Airtel Zero – you could potentially get access to these three apps for free. Airtel would charge the apps in order to make the money it is forgoing by letting you use these apps for free.

That piece of info might surprise you because this actually sounds like a good thing for the consumer, and while you thought about the issue you were perhaps imagining some China type controls on Indian internet.

Then, what’s the problem? Why are people up in arms and want to pay more money to Airtel for their data plan?

The problem is that companies like Airtel who connect you to the last mile of the internet have control over what you can see on the internet, and at what speeds, and they have the ability to slow down a particular site in favor of others. While Airtel has very clearly stated that it has no intentions of slowing down other sites, the fear is that it will eventually come to that.

Net Neutrality was debated very hotly towards the end of last year in the US and the key reason for that was the internet service providers there were very close to getting their ways on controlling speeds, and that is a very dangerous thing.

At that time, there was a lot of online agitation against making such changes and I wondered if such a thing could be replicated in India. Therefore I’m very glad to see that Indians have been able to rally together and get corporate and government attention to this cause when the situation is even not that alarming.

Even Mark Zuckerburg had to pay attention and post his thoughts about which sort of violates net neutrality, but I think is generally a good thing for the people who use it.

This issue becomes complicated to discuss intelligently because the phrase itself can mean many things, and when you paint it all as negative it does injustice to some of the more positive things that fall under it such as

I think the way to look at Net Neutrality is to keep in mind the underlying spirit of the concept which is that on the internet everyone big or small is the same. You should have access to OneMint the same way that you have access to Economic Times or Moneycontrol. The smaller players shouldn’t be disadvantaged by larger players with deep pockets, and in the case of Airtel Zero that was going to happen because only companies with deep pockets would have been able to strike a deal with them and allow access to their apps for free. I personally feel  does no harm to smaller players as far as I can make out and enables people with little resources to access some parts of the internet, and that to me poses no threat to anyone and doesn’t violate net neutrality. I know this position is vehemently opposed by others, but I don’t buy into that myself.

Giving every one access to the internet is important and protecting the interests of a one person startup and getting them the same rights as a million dollar corporation is what this is about in my mind, and what needs to be protected.

Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule – How to Add it to Google Calendar

Cricket World Cup 2015 has started with a big bang for India. India have beaten its biggest sporting rival Pakistan by 76 runs. It seems that Pakistan cricket team require some kind of commando training before they can even think of beating India in a World Cup match.

It also seems that Virat Kohli has fallen in love with Adelaide Oval. After scoring centuries in each of the innings of the first test against Australia, Kohli smashed one more century here yesterday against Pakistan and most importantly, it was a match winning century.

But, I was more impressed with the innings Suresh Raina played. He provided the much required momentum to the Indian innings and scored 74 runs off 56 balls. This Indian win has sent temperatures soaring among Indian cricket fans and now we all are waiting for India’s next league match, and the most crucial one, against South Africa.

After the match got over, I wanted to check the World Cup schedule and also save the dates of some of its crucial matches. As I was not sure about the date and the day of India’s next match, I quickly searched for it on Google and reached ICC’s World Cup 2015 App on my mobile. It was great to find India’s next match against South Africa to be on Sunday, I mean the coming Sunday, February 22. So, I hope we have a Super Sunday this time as well!

I found ICC’s World Cup App quite helpful and that’s why I decided to write a post on it. It has a feature through which you can add World Cup fixtures to your Google Calendar. So, all those cricket fans who want to remain updated with who is playing who during this cricket cup and want to add World Cup’s schedule to their Google Calendar, here is the step-by-step process, followed by the schedule itself.

Step 1: To have the World Cup schedule on your device, you first need to have your Google account set up on your device. You need to go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Moreover, you also need to make your default calendar to be Google. Just scroll down to the bottom on the same Mail, Contacts, Calendars page and see which calendar is selected as your ‘Default Calendar’.

Step 2: Download Cricket World Cup 2015 app for iOS or for Android and then launch it.

Step 3: Just tap on Fixtures, which will show you the complete schedule of the matches.

Step 4: Now tap on the calendar icon at the bottom of any fixture. Then tap on ‘Add all fixtures.’

Step 5: All the fixtures will get added to your Google Calendar and it will give you a reminder as well half an hour before a match starts.

There is one more way by which you can add the schedule to your Google calendar. Click on the Google Calendar in your Gmail. Go to My Calendars > Settings > Browse Interesting Calendars > Sports > Cricket > International Cricket Council – ICC and subscribe to the teams whose fixtures you want to add to your calendar. It will add all their matches to your calendar.

So, having World Cup 2015 schedule added to your Google Calendar will keep you updated with your favorite matches and hopefully you will not miss the day’s action on the field.

Schedule of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015



Also, which team do you think is going to win the World Cup this time around? I am putting my bets on South Africa as I think they have the most balanced side with De Villiers, Amla, Du Plessis, Miller, Steyn and Morkel, all ready to fire with their guns. If not South Africa, I think it would be Australia as they too have an extremely talented batting side with Maxwell, Smith, Finch, Warner and Johnson in form and they have the benefit of playing under their home conditions also.

But, whichever team wins, it has always been a fun watching Cricket getting played in Australia and New Zealand. I truly love it! 🙂

Systems versus Goals: There’s an app for that

I had reviewed  “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” written by Dilbert creator Scott Adams a few months ago, and one of the key ideas in that book was working towards a system and not a goal.

Here’s a small snippet from my review to briefly explain the idea:

System versus Goals

One of his key ideas is that people shouldn’t have goals but instead rely on a system to achieve success. An example of a difference between a goal and a system is that a goal can be losing 25 kilos by the end of the year while a system can be getting into a routine of exercising 15 minutes every day.

For me a good example is the difference between having a target in terms of subscribers – say 15,000 OneMint subscribers by the end of the year or a system where I say I will set aside an hour for blogging every day.

The latter is a system whereby I am telling myself that I need to get in the habit of blocking an hour for blogging every day. If I’m not able to finish a post in that time, or I’m not able to answer all comments that is still fine because I was dedicated to the blog for that one hour and what you achieve within the hour will always vary.

This type of thinking is good for motivating me to write because often the idea of finishing a post is a lot more daunting than the idea of spending one hour on blogging.

I think this is a useful way to look at things, and I’m trying this idea out with blogging and a few other things.

I’ve been using the idea of a system since then, and I have about 6 things that I track on a daily basis which include exercising, blogging or more broadly OneMint related activities, reading, and building on a skill etc.

Now psychologically, I feel that the idea of the system is a lot more rewarding, and indeed disciplining because you have these things that you promised yourself you’d do every day, and invariably you end up doing them a lot more than you would have otherwise. Since I’ve been only doing this for a few months, it is hard for me to convincingly say whether it has practically paid off or not, but I feel that it has, and I definitely recommend you try it out as well.

Now, having a system is not enough, you need a way to track how well you’re sticking to your system. The way I track this is by having a spreadsheet on a Google drive where I have listed out these things, and every day I open up that spreadsheet and mark the activities I did that day in green, and the ones I didn’t in red. It requires some discipline and effort to maintain that spreadsheet but the effort easily pays off.

I was quite satisfied with my spreadsheet and was going on about my business till I discovered an app called “Full” last week.

It is built exactly for the thing I’m doing, but ironically it calls system related activities “Goals”. What you do is enter a few goals in the app, type in how many days in a month you want to do those activities, and then every time you perform one of those activities, just do a simple swipe and let the app know.

The app has a dashboard that shows you how you’re progressing in your goals.

I’ve been using this since last week, and it is much much better than updating the spreadsheet because it is so convenient, and it also shows me the dashboard that I didn’t have in my  spreadsheet.

This app is currently available in iOS only, but I’m sure they will come up with an Android version, and if you know of an Android equivalent, please leave a comment, and I’ll update the post.

I think this is 99 cents well spent, and you can give it a try.

Disclosure: The link to the book will take you to Flipkart and if you buy the book from that website I will get a commission. 

I have no affiliation with the app and I don’t stand to gain in any way if you buy the app. 

Twitter Transparency Report

Twitter released a transparency report today much like Google’s transparency report and this describes how governments around the world request Twitter for information on users and also request them to remove content from Twitter’s website.

The US accounts for the bulk of the information requests with 679 out of the total 849 requests that came between January 1st 2012 and June 30th 2012 originating from there.

India also figures in the report but with less than 10 requests, and Twitter didn’t comply with any of these requests.

Twitter says that this could be because of several reasons like the request was too broad, or it didn’t specify a user account, but beyond that they don’t see why they didn’t comply with the request.

India didn’t figure in any requests for removal of information and in fact there were only 5 countries  – France, Greece, Pakistan, Turkey and United Kingdom that sent in requests for removing content.

This is a great report by Twitter because it shows how different governments request data from it and it will be especially interesting to Indians who have seen their government make noises about clamping down social media from time to time.

The number is low right now, and let’s hope that it remains that way always.


Facebook’s 51 million Indian active users and other interesting numbers

Facebook filed the fourth amendment to its S-1 today and I found some really interesting numbers going through it.

I’m sure everyone has read the 901 million and 500 million number which is the number of active Facebook users and the number of mobile users, and at this rate it only looks inevitable that Facebook hits a billion active users in a month or two.

What’s not so widely reported is the breakdown in subscribers by country, and also where the growth in subscribers is coming from, which makes for some interesting reading as well.

Brazil and India Subscribers Grow By More Than 100%

Brazil and India were two countries where Orkut was initially a lot more popular than Facebook, and while I’m sure all of us know that Indians ditched Orkut for Facebook, it looks like Brazil is doing that at an even faster rate.

Brazil had 45 million active Facebook users as on March 31st 2011, and it grew at a scorching pace of 180% from last year. It seems to me that Brazil showed the highest growth among all the bigger countries.

India grew at a pretty rapid 107% as well, and had 51 million active users as on March 31st 2012.

Another interesting bit of stat related to this was that while they estimate penetration rate of 60% in India, it’s just 30% – 40% in Brazil.

When you think about that number with respect to the total population in both countries (India at over a billion and Brazil at about 200 million) you realize what a huge difference there is in internet access to the population. From these numbers it seems that out of Brazil’s 200 million population, about a 120 million have internet access, and from India’s 1 billion population, only about 90 million people have internet access.

Perhaps the only consolation is that India is ahead of China in at least the number of Facebook users that it has. Facebook says that it has a total of 0% penetration in China!

50% of Revenues from US and Canada

While the subscribers may have grown rapidly in Brazil and India, the bulk of the money is made in US and Canada. In the first quarter, they generated 50% of their revenues from US and Canada, 31% from Europe, 11% from Asia and 8% from the rest of the world.

They calculate a metric called ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and that’s how much money they generated divided by the number of active users in that period, this number is further broken down into geographies as well, and not surprisingly it shows that the ARPU is much higher in the developed world than it is in emerging markets because advertising rates are higher in the developed markets than they are in developing ones.

The highest ARPU was in US and Canada at $2.86, Europe came second with $1.40, Asia and the ROW were quite below these numbers at 53 cents and 37 cents respectively. The worldwide ARPU was $1.21.

3,539 Full Time Employees and Billion Dollar Revenues

Last year Facebook had revenues of a billion dollars and at the end of this quarter they had 3,539 employees. TCS results were declared today and they clocked revenues of over $10 billion last year, and had over 2 lakh employees. This is an amazing contrast and I think India got really lucky that a sector in the economy emerged that provides large scale employment and in fact Facebook has an office in Hyderabad as well, so a few of those 3,500 odd employees must be in India as well.

These were some numbers that caught my eye reading through the document and I can only imagine India’s share in users, advertisers and employees growing in Facebook in the coming years. Just how much, remains to be seen.

How to unlock a Blackberry in India?

A lot of US carriers subsidize  smartphones and sell them to customers with a contract, and the catch is that the phone can’t be used with another carrier.

In an Indian context, this would be something like Vodafone selling an iPhone for Rs. 10,000 but only if you sign a 2 year contract in which you pay Rs. 3,000 per month for the plan and the phone is locked to Vodafone which means it won’t work if you put a SIM from another carrier like Hutch.

The iPhone is of course the most popular example of this but other phones like Blackberry are also locked to the carrier.

If you’re bringing such a phone to India then unless you get it unlocked from the carrier you won’t be able to use it. The phone will simply not recognize the SIM you put into it.

If you know before hand that you’re going to bring a Blackberry from the US to India, then the best way to unlock is to call your carrier and ask for the unlock code and instructions. They will most likely give you the unlock code, especially if you’ve been using the phone for 3 months or more.

If you forget to do this and get the phone to India, then you will probably not be able to contact the customer support and rely on local means to unlock the phone.

I had to do this recently and was pleasantly surprised to find out that unlocking a Blackberry is very easy and you just need to have the unlock code.

I went to get it done through a store first but they wanted Rs. 800 and that just seemed very high so I returned to research this some more and try to unlock it on my own.

I saw that various sites sell the unlock codes for much more than Rs. 800 so at first it seemed like it may just be better to go back to the store and get it unlocked through them but then I stumbled upon some sellers at eBay and found that they were selling the unlock code for 99 cents.

I tried one seller first and they sent an unlock code that didn’t work. Then I tried another seller, and they sent two unlock codes (one of them the same as the code of the first seller) and this time the unlock worked!

So I was set up with the unlock code for less than $2 and after that it’s fairly easy to unlock it. There are several videos that show you how to do that and here is one that does a great job of explaining it.

The big thing I learned unlocking the Blackberry this way was that it is far easier than unlocking an iPhone and you shouldn’t pay more than 99 cents to buy the unlock code, and the best place to get it from is eBay.