Do not get RBL Bank credit card! They do not know how to deal with fraudulent transactions!

by Yash 0 Comments

My wife has an RBL bank credit card. On 31 August 2017 she got a text message about a transaction of $750 (Rs. 50,243.05) on her card. We had not initiated such transaction. W called the bank immediately and got the card cancelled. We also said we wanted to chargeback the said amount. They informed us that the charge back process can be initiated once the transaction shows up on the card. But we got the card cancelled immediately. They cancelled the old card and issued a new one. We waited for a couple of days and as soon as the transaction showed up on the card we initiated the chargeback process.

I am aware of how chargeback works and how professional banks deal with it because I have had a fraudulent charge on my Citibank card few years back and it went all fine then. We got the first surprise when we were asked to lodge a police complaint about the fraud transaction. In the earlier instance I did not have to file any complaint. We nonetheless filed a complaint and sent a copy to the bank. They gave us a credit for the transaction on 14 September 2017 and we thought it would be the end of it.

Then on 9 November 2017 my wife got a mail from them with the reply from PayPal where the transaction ad taken place and they gave her 7 days to continue the dispute. We did so immediately. We replied saying we still dispute the transaction also sent them a letter via courier. However, they reversed the earlier credit given. Now they want to us pay back the amount pending further investigation. This is not how fraud chargebacks work as far as I know. Even in my earlier case with Citibank, the merchant had contested the chargeback but Citibank had given me time to refute that and the credit was not reversed till my response was received. RBL bank sent another email the next day informing of the same. So we replied to that mail as well. It seemed like by sending us multiple mails they wanted to make us at fault so if we missed replying to any of them the liability would be on us.

We sent couple of mails and a physical letter and received no response from them. On 16 November 2017, my wife sent mails to their head of card services at Headcardservice@rblbank.com and the principal nodal officer of card services at Principalnodalofficercards@rblbank.com. We only got automated email replies.

We wrote to them again on 22 November to which they replied on 26 November asking us to pay the minimum amount due while the investigation is pending. This is ridiculous. The bank is utterly clueless about handling chargebacks. I should not have to pay a single rupee for a transaction that is not done by me. The transaction happened on an international website without OTP verification and we informed the bank of the same even before the charge appeared on the statement.

Calling their customer service number is a futile exercise. It is virtually impossible to talk to a human on their service number. There are long holds, and call gets disconnected often and every time you have to explain the case to a new person and their standard response is to write them an email.

Do not get an RBL credit card. If you have one, better get it cancelled. This bank just does not know how to run a credit card business.

HexaVault Password Manager and Personal Information Locker

Here is my new product – HexaVault. HexaVault is a password manager and a personal information locker. You can safely store your important private information like passwords and logins, bank account and credit card details, passport and other identity documents and more.

HexaVault stores your information using strong encryption on your device.

What kind of information can you store in HexaVault?

– Passwords to websites, apps, computers, servers
– Credit cards, debit cards, ATM and gift cards
– Bank account details, loan and mortgage, insurance details
– Identity documents like passport, national ID, school or employer ID
– Medical prescriptions and records
– Subscriptions and membership details

And everything else that is important to you.

What about security?

– It is stored on your device, not on the Internet
– It encrypted using Advance Encryption Standard and a 256 bit key
– Even if your mobile is lost, the data is virtually impossible to crack

HexaVault is available for iPhone, iPad and devices running Android.

HexaVault is completely free and contains no advertisements.

Optimal Backup Strategy

by Yash 0 Comments

Take backup of your data. Your hard drive will die some day and will take your data along. You might get hit by a virus or malware which will destroy your data. You may lose your computer to theft or other damage.

Keep multiple backups. Online and Offline.

Buy two external hard drives. I recommend Western Digital My Passport. They are good and have built encryption so you can protect entire drive with a password. Install a program called FBackup. It is free. Use it to take backup on these drives. Take this backup manually. On both the drives. You may take the backup daily or weekly, depending upon how frequently you generate new data. FBackup will create exact mirror image of your local file structure on the external drive.

Keep one drive at home and another at your workplace. Keeping multiple drives at different physical locations is necessary in case one of the location is burgled or is destroyed in fire. External drives will also die someday, so multiple backups is must. A photographer lost lifetime of work when all his backup drives were stolen from his home. Avoid a similar fate.

Apart from offline backups, also keep online backups. Get a paid account of any of the online backup services – IDrive, DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud any of them. Take backup of your most important files on them. Online backup is slow. It took me months to upload my 300GB of photos online, but it is worth it.

Do not keep your external backup media attached to your computer all the time. If your external drive supports encryption, use a password to protect it. Do not carry your backup media in your laptop bag along with you everywhere. If you lose your bag, you lose your computer as well as backup.

Protect yourself against ransomware

by Yash 0 Comments

You might have read about the recent worldwide ransomware attack. Ransomware is a very serious threat. This is a type of malware or virus which encrypts all your files and demands money to decrypt them. If you do not pay within a stipulated period all your files are deleted. The only solution is to either pay or format your computer and lose all your data.

How to protect yourself against ransomware or any kind of virus/malware?

A virus is nothing but an application. It does not execute itself. It needs to be execute by the user. The most common ways a malware gets executed when it is embedded in another type of file. Most common ways to execute malware are macros in Office documents and auto extracting rar files.

If you receive an email from an unknown source which says you have received an invoice or a receipt for a payment with a Word document attachment, DO NOT OPEN it. Delete it immediately. The Word doc is probably containing a macro which will download the malware on your computer and execute it. Similarly, if you get a rar or zip file in attachment, do not open it. Rule of the thumb is if you receive an email from an unknown source with an attachment or a link to download something – DELETE IT. No matter how tempting or threatening it is. The mail may claim to be from your bank, income tax department, CBI, FBI, Trump or Modi. Don’t open it. Just delete it.

Same precaution must be taken while downloading files from Torrents or file sharing websites. If possible avoid it. Do not insert pen drives or external hard drives from your friend’s computer or from a cyber café/stationary shop. Your data is not more important than that movie or MP3 file.

Do not keep writable shared folders on your computer. If one computer on network is affected it will scan the entire network and encrypt all the writable shared folders it can find.

Take regular backups. Keep online and offline backups. Do not keep your physical backup media attached to your computer all the time. Take a backup and detach it. The ransomware also encrypts the data on all the attached /mapped drives it can find. If that happens even your backup is gone. If you keep online backup in Google Docs or Dropbox, it will sync your encrypted files as well so even that data is gone, so keep multiple backups.

If your computer gets infected, the first thing you should do is shut it down. Just pull the power cable. Disconnect it from the network. Disconnect all the connected drives. Start the computer in DOS mode and try to salvage whatever data you can.

There is no cure for ransomware. Prevention is the best option.

The connection between milk and beef

by Yash 0 Comments

Dairy cattle like cows and buffaloes are mammals. Humans are also mammals. Females of mammals produce milk for their offspring for a short period after giving birth.

Other than humans no other adult mammals consume milk, definitely not of another species. Only humans do that. Even in adult humans the ability to digest milk is limited. As many as 60% humans can’t digest milk!

Milk is not our food.

And how do we get milk? Cows and buffaloes are not benevolent. They do not produce milk for us humans. Their milk is for their calves. So we get them to give birth and then separate the newborn from the mother and milk the animal for human consumption.

We give dairy cattle hormones to produce additional milk. Far more than they would produce in nature for their calves. And since they give milk only after giving birth, the cows are impregnated again within 2-3 months of giving birth for the next cycle. So a cow spends pretty much all of its “productive” life as constantly being pregnant. About 5 years. Imagine being pregnant for 5 years!

The farmers and commercial dairy farms that raise these cattle treat them as machines. Machines that take fodder at one end and produce milk at the other. After 4 or 5 pregnancies the milk production starts to decline. The cattle does not remain economically viable for the farmer. What do you do with a machine which is no longer productive?

You sell it.

Who would buy a cow that cannot be milked? Enter slaughterhouses.

Slaughterhouses buy the unproductive cattle from farmers. Farmers use the money to buy new cattle and the cycle goes on. Slaughterhouses kill the animal and sell the meat and leather. That’s how the industry works.

If you shut down slaughter houses, it breaks the chain. Farmers are now suddenly left with unproductive cattle they cannot sell and can’t afford to feed either. What do they do? There aren’t enough cow shelters to take care of the millions of cattle we have and nobody would be willing to bear the economic cost of feeding all those cows. Farmers will turn to cattle that are still slowed to be slaughtered like buffaloes.

Data shows that as ban on cow slaughter spread through various states of India, milk production from cows declined and that from buffaloes increased. Because farmers could sell buffaloes to slaughterhouses.

Milk and beef are two sides of the same coin. Milk and beef industry are dependent on each other. If you shut down one of them the other will suffer. Simple economics.

Milk production is cruel. It has traumatic effect on the cattle and their offspring. If you really care for cows, you should stop consuming milk. And if you can’t give up milk then you have to allow slaughter as well.

Free Speech

by Yash 0 Comments

Freedom of speech is the right to articulate your opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.

Free speech gives you the right to say whatever you want. However it does not mean people have to listen to it, let alone agree to it.

If you own a communication medium, a platform then you do not necessarily have to give space to anyone who wants to express their opinion.

If you own a newspaper and you refuse to carry my article that does not take away my right to free speech.

But if I write my article on my blog or on a website I own and you ask the government to block the access to my website, that does attack my right to free speech.

In simpler terms, I can print my opinions on a pamphlet and distribute it outside a railway station. That is free speech. If you don’t take the pamphlet, or take it and throw it away or wipe your nose with it, it does not affect my right to free speech.

So I can write a book, give a speech, write a poem, make a movie, draw a cartoon about whatever I want to convey. That is my freedom of expression. You DO NOT HAVE to read it, listen to it or watch it.

However there is a difference between free speech and hate speech. If you espouse hatred through your speeches, you can be prosecuted.

Here are some examples of free speech vs hate speech

I am a proud Hindu – Free speech
All Muslims are terrorists – Hate speech

Kejriwal is an idiot – Free speech
Kejriwal is a traitor, send him to Pakistan – Hate speech

Barkha Dutt is disgusting – Free speech
Someone should rape Barkha – Hate speech

There is no god – Free speech
Let’s burn all the churches – Hate speech

Identifying hate speech is just a matter of plain old commonsense. If you encourage violence through your speech it is hate speech. If you target a person or a group of people based on their race, colour, caste, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or any other criteria and your intention is to cause them harm – it is hate speech.

It’s as simple as that. Everybody is free to say anything as long they don’t intend harm to anyone. You don’t have to listen what they are saying, you don’t have to agree to what they are saying and you don’t have to provide them a platform either.

The business of taking offence

by Yash 0 Comments

We Indians are imbecile, immature, thin-skinned and just plain stupid. We take offence to anything and everything. Getting butt hurt over tiniest of issues is India’s national pastime. In House of Cards the producers can use the names of Republican and Democratic parties and no one bats an eyelid. If a political drama was to be made in India I doubt if anyone will dare use names of BJP and Congress. Here Shahrukh Khan had to drop “barber” from his film’s title, Maharashtrian Brahmins are unhappy with Sairat, Teli ka tel was replaced with Dilli ka tel in the song because the telis had an issue with it! Some or the other group in India has an issue with a movie, a book, a play, a song or some other form of art. And the creators often have to bend to the whims and fancies of such loonies.

Indias are just waiting to get offended. People even take offence to things that didn’t even involve them – like a bunch of celebrities getting together and abusing each other in front of a paying audience! And courts too are too eager to muzzle any voice which hurts the wafer thin sentiments of jobless jerks. Free speech inherently comes with the right to offend. Every joke is offensive. Whenever we laugh, we are making fun of somebody’s illogical actions or somebody’s misfortune. And the remedy to getting offended is very simple! Don’t watch the movie that offends you! Don’t read that blasphemous book! Don’t listen to the hurtful song! Just don’t participate in the activity which rankles your sensitive ass, instead of being an asshole!

We have startup India, clean up India. It’s time we also get Grow up India.

Nexus 6P

by Yash 0 Comments

Nexus6p

It’s time for a new phone and it is Nexus 6P. After Nexus S and Nexus 5 this is my third Nexus. It’s bigger and better. Got a 32 GB version in silver. I really wanted to get the gold one but it was disappearing from everywhere (today it is back in stock on Flipkart) and at 40K it was more than I was willing to pay.

Specs are stellar, phone is gorgeous, the fingerprint sensor is blazing fast, camera seems to be fine, screen is super sharp owing to the Quad HD display. Got it for Rs. 33,480 after 7% discount from ebay. Not a bad deal I reckon.

Nexus all the way.

Kids prefer logical explanations

by Yash 0 Comments

When my 4 year old daughter demands something which I think she does not need, she acts like a typical child. Being stubborn. If i refuse her without giving a reason when will continue her demand, but if I give her a logical explanation she will stop.

One day at a mall she asked for one of those air filled plastic balloons which come in various shapes and sizes. The balloons are sold on the road side for 20-30 rupees, in the mall it’s 150. She asked and I said no. She kept at it, so I explained it to her – look this uncle here will take a lot more money from us for this balloon. The same balloon can be bought outside of this mall for far less money. We can actually buy 5 of these from there. She understood. She has never asked for the balloon at the mall since then. Whenever we pass the balloon shop in the mall, she reminds us that we have to buy it from the vendor outside.

She clearly understood that the balloon sold in the mall wasn’t worth it. If I had just said no without explaining why I am saying no she wouldn’t. I hope it would have also instilled a little sense of value of money in her tiny brain.

IMG_1806
Last week me and Yaashi went to watch The Jungle Book. My wife had gone to attend a seminar.

Yaashi (while we were leaving): “Let’s pickup mom as well”
Me: “We can’t. She’s at the office.”
Yaashi: “Why is mom at office today? It’s Saturday!”
Me: “Well, she had some work”

Her office is on the way to the cinema hall, as son as we passed it Yaashi said, “Stop, let’s pick up mom”
Me: “Mom is not here, she is at another office”
Yaashi: “So let’s go there”
Me: “We can’t go there.”
Yaashi: “Why?”
Me: “Mom has gone to attend a seminar on international taxation, if we go there we will not understand anything”
Yaashi: “OK”

That was it. We went for the movie and enjoyed it. I am sure Yaashi had no clue where and why did her mom go, but she surely got some idea that whatever it was, it was clearly not for me and her.

So I think kids demand logical explanation. Why can’t I wear this dress today? Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why should I share my food/toys? Why I should not hit other kids? Why should I not waste food. If you try to be dictatorial with them – they won’t listen! They’ll rebel. If you tell them the reason – it doesn’t matter if they are too young to grasp it fully – they will understand.

What has been your experience with your kids?

The problem with prayer

by Yash 0 Comments

Assumption 1: Some god/gods exists and he created the universe.
Assumption 2: That god is omnipotent. He can do anything.
Assumption 3: That god is omniscient. He knows everything – past, present and future.

So a god created humans and he knows what each of them is going to do. So if a human kills another human, god knew it all beforehand. Since the god is all powerful it must that’s how he wanted things to go. So essentially we humans are just characters acting according to a script – for god’s entertainment presumably. So what’s the point of praying? If everything is predefined, how is your praying going to change it? And you think the god will just change the script because you request him to do so? And since god is omniscient he ought to know you were going to pray for it. Well then it means the act of prayer itself is scripted! So the god puts you in a tight situation, makes you pray to himself and then bails you out – all according to a well crafted plan.

Looks like this god dude was getting bored, so he created a world full of creates who would endlessly go on praising and praying to him – just to massage his ego! Classic example of a narcissist psychopath who likes to surround himself with an army of sycophants.

So if you believe assumption 1 above to be true, just think of what and whom you are praying to.