If you’ve been using one of the new-gen smart phones, I am sure you have complains about what battery-sucking monsters these are. Even with moderate use, they just won’t last more than a day. While one could manage by feeding them with power every once in a while, it really becomes tough when you have to travel. Phone calls, emails, social media, music, games and what not. You just can’t do without these (I am not debating whether this is good or bad. Leave that for some other time). And not just smart phones. Portable music players, speakers, console games, tablets. All of these need to be charged more often than you would like.
So is there a solution? Well, I guess there are lots. The gadget world is so full of devices that you can never be without a solution (BTW, every new gadget solves a few problems, but it creates a few as well :)). The market is flooded with power-banks that are portable. You can just get any of them. Depending upon your (and your smart phone’s) appetite for power, these are available in various capacities. So if your phone battery is 2200 mAh, a 2200 mAh power bank is sufficient to charge your phone once. A 4800 mAh power bank would charge it a little over twice.
But if you’re smart, you would not buy ‘just’ a power bank. Just like I did 😉 . My quest for a power bank led me to a wonderful range of devices that provide tons of other features apart from providing power to devices. Introducing the Hame ‘smart’ power banks (there are many other brands as well). It offers the following:
- Â 5200 mAh of solid back-up power.
- Wi-fi Router for wired LAN connections: If you’ve been to hotels where they just provide wired LAN for free (and charge a bomb for Wi-fi) , you know how useful this can be.
- Share your portable 2G/3G connection from dongleÂ over Wifi: I have a Tata Photon Â 3G dongle that works like a charm with this gadget (if you’re thinking why not directly plug into your laptop and use it? Well how about Wi-fi on your smartphone? And what if you want your family/ colleagues to share the connection?)
- Wireless Storage: If you have a DLNA certified media device (most of the LCD/LED TVs are) and want to stream media from a hard drive or pen drive over Wi-Fi, this gadget will not let you down. I’ve tried, and it works like a charm.
I guess there was one more feature that I can’t recall. I’ve used each and every feature I’ve listed above for over 3-4 months now and they all work really well! For the price I paid, the returns are truly remarkable.
To me it is like the electronic Swiss-Knife of the modern day needs! Highly recommended.
More details on the website:
I bought it from eBay, but these are available on all major online retail stores.
Dear Standard Chartered Bank,
You offered me a shining Manhattan Credit Card almost 7 years ago when I was in Bangalore. I was a kid out of my college who was fascinated by plastic money and loved to get them swiped once in a while. Then came Citibank where I had my corporate salary account. I got a complimentary credit card which offered 5 times the limit you offered. But I was a kid. At that time having 2 credit cards in my wallet made me feel even better. Yours was a silver card. And Citibank gave a gold card. I loved both of them.
I stopped using your card after one year. I still use my Citibank credit card which has been upgraded 5 times since I got the first one. Â There’s one very simple reason. Let me explain:
On a given month I have a Rs. 10,000 outstanding on both my credit cards. I only have Rs. 10,000 to spare so I make a partial payment of Rs. 5000 to both (though now I understand I should have actually cleared off one of the two to enjoy a month of revolving credit for free. But that is not the point here.). When I get the bill next month, the interest charged on your card is twice that of the interest charged on the Citibank card. No, your rate of interest is not twice that of Citibank. Your interest calculation policy is deceptive.
Your policy says unless I clear off each penny of my outstanding, you will charge an interest on the total outstanding as of the last bill. So even if I paid Rs. 9999.99 and have an outstanding of Rs. 0.01, you would have charged an interest on the total outstanding i.e. Rs. 10,000. Citibank doesn’t do so. They charged interest only on the partial balance.
I call up your customer care to explain. First the gentleman on the other side doesn’t understand a shit about the interest charging methodologies. And then he says he holds 7 credit cards and all of them charge interest on the entire outstanding even if a partial payment is done. To nail it down he says it is a regulatory norm. I ask him to cancel my card. He says request taken. I follow up a few more times. But I don’t get any confirmation. I cut the card in 4 pieces and throw it out of the window.
For two years, you keep sending me a printed bill with Rs. 13 Cr. in my account. I keep throwing it in the dustbin. You suddenly send me a new shining platinum card. But I am no longer that innocent kid. I cut the card into pieces and throw it out immediately.
From then until now, you keep sending me bills. Two bills. One has a credit of Rs.13 and the other says Rs. o.00. So for the last 3 years, you’ve sent both the bills to be without failing. I did some calculations. If it costs Rs. 2 for the bill and another Rs. 5 for the postage, you have spent Rs. 672 over the last five years. And I have not spent a single penny through your cards in that time. You have already spent more in the bills than the interest I ever paid.
It’s time to stop now. Use the money to buy some sense.
At least stop sending those paper bills and save some trees.
Never yours for life!
Date: 30 June 2011
Time: 10:00 AM.
I have to fly back to Delhi from Mysore. I am taking the 1:15 PM Kingfisher Red flight (thatâ€™s the only one which flies out of Mysore I guess). I come to know of an urgent meeting and I decide to cancel my Mysore-Bangalore ticket. I quickly logon to Cleartrip where I had booked my tickets. It says that I canâ€™t cancel it online within four hours of departure (I think it was 4 hours) and I should visit the airline website. That is acceptable. Though I am not sure what the limitation is. Technology or something else.
I immediately logon to the Kingfisher Red website and look for cancellations.Â Theyâ€™ve managed to hide the link brilliantly. And then I find it! Relieved. But then, lifeâ€™s not so easy. I come to know that I can only cancel the ticket online if I have booked it through the Kingfisher website. So I must contact the Kingfisher customer care. Now that is disgusting.
Nevertheless, I call up the customer care. My brain is popping out now. I have to hurry to the office to attend the meeting. After pressing some 1/2/5/3 and what not, I reach the cancellations section. And then the stupid music starts. Occasionally, the lady talks about some new sectors and some enhanced Kingfisher Red experience. I think she is mentioning about the enhanced cancellation experience I am having. 10 minutes have gone by, and my brain is completely out. I cut-it there and quickly move out of the guest house to take the taxi to the office which was supposed to take me to the airport. I always have time to call-up on my way to the office.
So I am in the taxi now and I dial-in the number again. After pressing some 1/2/5/3 and what not, I reach the cancellations section. The same lady speaks the same shit. I canâ€™t hear it properly which is good, else my brain will again pop out.Â I think I fall asleep. The driver says that the office has come. The call is still on and the lady is still spitting crap. It is 11:00 AM and I rush-in for the meeting. Thereâ€™s no point calling again as cancellation requests are not entertained within two hours from the scheduled departure.
Date: 1 July 2011
Time: 12:45 P.M.
As I am writing this, I am waiting for the same Kingfisher Red flight to take to me Bangalore! I canâ€™t even say I will never fly Kingfisher Red again. That is the only flight which operates out of Mysore for now. Â I donâ€™t know what to say.
Image Courtesy (Amazon)
It isn’t over yet! You may tend to feel that I am biased towards Amazon, but I have to write this. While I was still going gaga over the replacement of my Kindle, I never imagined what more could I expect. To be precise, I was facing this peculiar issue of Kindle getting restarted on it’s own and a faster than normal battery drain. I read on some forums that some people have faced this issue and strangely attribute this to the leather cover for Kindle (non-lighted).
I thought I was in the same boat and decided to call up Amazon customer care again. Â In just about 5 minutes:
- I was refunded the amount for the leather cover.
- And Amazon offered a US$ 25 promo to purchase the lighted cover.
- And Amazon offered to refund the customs and shipping costs incurred to get the new cover Â shipped to India.
- And they proved that they are really building “Earth’s most customer-centric company” as they claim.
The cover is already on its way and will possibly reach India before I am there.
What more could I write!
It has been a while since I have been using ‘the’ Jabra Halo bluetooth stereo headset. I thought to quickly share my experience with it so far:
While the bluetooth communication technology has come a long way, it has to cover some ground yet. It may be perfect for a wireless mouse, keyboard or file transfer (slow though), it warrants an improvement as far as stereo audio streaming is concerned.
Having said this, unless you are an audiophile, the technology will not fail to impress you!
- Seamless pairing with the phone. I have never had issues.
- Can pair simultaneously with two devices. I am frequently connected to my phone as well as the PC simultaneously without any issues. Whenever there’s an incoming call, it takes priority.
- Crisp and clear stereo sound quality. Decent bass.
- The touch sensitive audio control works like a charm. I really like this feature.
- Very comfortable to wear. Stays on unless you are running around.
- Decent backup. I’ve tested it for 6 hours at a stretch and it has not failed. Practically it will deliver good music at medium volume for about 6 hours on a single charge. For me this is sufficient, even if I am travelling.
- Fast charging time (2-2.5 hours)
- The ability to listed to music through the wire makes it double up as a standard stereo headphone. And boy!, you need to listen with the wired option to realize how good these headphones could perform!
- Works well with Skype as well as other voice calls through the PC.
- The noise cancellation microfones works well.
- The grip on the head is good, but could be a little better.
- The inner lining material could be improved.
- Sometimes, I’ve experienced loss of audio streaming for a few seconds during stereo playback. This happens when I am streaming music from my phone. Haven’t faced this on my PC. So possibly this could be an issue with my phone.
- Windows bluetooth connectivity sucks. I frequently face bluetooth service crashes. Again, the Jabra Halo is not to be blamed.
- While the hinged design Â makes it very portable, it feels flimsy. Â Haven’t faced any issues yet, but it does need care.
- If you use Skype, be careful! I used to face frequent bluetooth stack crashes on my PC. It took me long to figure out that Skype also tries to use the bluetooth interface directly along with windows and there’s a conflict which causes it to crash. I am yet to find a workable solution for this, though I haven’t spent enough time.
I guess this Â would be helpful to some people. I am looking forward to the bluetooth 3.0 version to possibly bring the stereo bluetooth experience comparable to the wired options.