Mission Mangal is disappointing

by Yash

Mission Mangal is a bad joke of a movie. A great movie could have been made about India’s stupendous achievement. But in a typical Bollywoodian fashion, it gets bogged down with unnecessary jingoism, heroism and melodrama. It’s such a shame! While the movie does have some moments that give you goose bumps, overall it’s a collection of scenes of half developed characters with ISRO in the background.
A monumental scientific endeavour like India’s first moon mission would have had its own thrilling moments which could definitely have been used to create the necessary drama for any “underdogs achieve great success” movie. But this movie instead tries to do too many things.

If anyone wants to see how to convert a real event into a great thrilling story – just watch Chernobyl or Sully or Everest. Mission Mangal is a wasted opportunity. How do you create thrill or suspense about a real event, the end result of which you already know? Watch Apollo 13.

I don’t understand why Indian movies shy away from using real characters. They invent every single character and give them emotional back stories. In the quest to add fictional elements to a real world event, our directors can’t resist the temptation of going full fictional to the extent that the real world event just becomes a backdrop. It becomes more like an alternative history movie rather than a movie based on true events. They would rather say at the beginning “this happened in an alternate universe”.

Yes, directors must take creative freedom and add fictional elements, otherwise it would be a documentary. But to what extent you do that is a call that a director has to take.

We went to Mars. On the first attempt. It’s an amazing feat. This movie fails to do justice to that.

Indian cricket has come a long way

by Yash

I just watched an interview of Virat Kohli from World Cup. “We are not looking to entertain; we are looking at winning the game”. That explains a lot. I have watched a few games India has played this world cup. Many of them have been boring. Like a test match. You don’t see too many sixes being hit. But the Indian team is the only team so far that has not lost a game in this world cup.

Indian cricket team has come a long way from where it used to rely on individual performances of a Tendulkar or a Sehwag or a Kumble to win them a game. This is a side that works as a team. It has a definite plan. They have a plan for how to bowl to each opposition player to get them out. They have a plan while batting. Over by over.

Fitness. Virat Kohli runs between wickets at speed of 25 Kmph! I watched another of his video where he mentioned how he maintains a certain diet to be in top condition for the game. Gone are the days of portly cricketers who couldn’t run for their life. This Indian team actually looks like it’s made of professional athletes.

The bench strength of the Indian team is amazing. They lost a top batsman and a top bowler midway through the World Cup due to injuries and it has not made a difference in their performance on the field. This team hunts in a pack. When the batting doesn’t click, bowlers save the day. India has been the best fielding side this World Cup. Who would have thought?!

This Indian cricket team is so unlike other things Indian. There is an intent to win. It has skills and professionalism. They work well together. They plan meticulously and execute it superbly. How did we get here?

I believe the credit has to be given to BCCI and IPL. BCCI is a private business. The players are their products and the games they play is their business. It brings in the moolah. BCCI has invested in players, infrastructure and improved quality of the game. IPL for all its flaws has done wonders to improve the quality of Indian cricket. The increased competition has forced players to give it their best and stay in supreme condition to retain their place in the side.

Right now India are favourites to win the World Cup.

Quitting social media and learning Spanish

by Yash

26 days ago, I deleted social media apps from my phone. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I kept Instagram and WhatsApp but I left all the groups on WhatsApp. Not that I was in many groups to begin with. But I still left whatever groups that I was in except parents’ group for my daughter’s school. That group is limited strictly to school and homework related stuff.

I also started learning Spanish on DuoLingo 26 days ago. The same day I deleted the social media accounts, I downloaded the DuoLingo app.

I came across a book called Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now ironically on Twitter. I had witnessed social media was becoming toxic. I was an avid social media user. I would post multiple times a day on Facebook. I was outspoken in my political beliefs. I would unfollow people whose ideas I did not agree with. I found myself surrounded by like minded people. I was trapped in a bubble. I was hostile towards anyone having a differing point of view. It even affected some of my real-world relationships.

I was contemplating quitting social media. I had reduced my social media sharing a lot and I had become more of a consumer than creator of opinions on social media. Then I watched a TED talk called Quit social media by Dr. Cal Newport.

And I deleted all the social media apps. I did not delete the accounts outright. I would check them on desktop browser occasionally. It was tough initially for a couple of days. The urge to pick up your phone and see what’s new every few minutes is really strong. But it only lasted for a couple of days. The urge to visit Facebook even on browser reduced. And now I visit it may be once or twice a week. That too will reduce soon until the day I finally delete my account.

It’s been good so far.

Adios. Hasta luego.

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

by Yash

My wife and I both have accounts in different banks as I am on the last month of paying back my Moneymatcher za borrowed loan after which we will be opting for joint account. 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. We 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. We had some problems with the bank and credit card interest was high on this bank and we want it be on the lower side. We then discovered SoFi’s credit card interest calculator, and it definitely lowered our interest by a lot. We could have been saving money rather than getting our money stolen.

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. In case you need a loan, this comprehensive post by the va home loans experts at OnQFinancial will give all the answers.

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

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What kind of information can you store in HexaVault?

– Passwords to websites, apps, computers, servers
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– 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

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 any types of files starting with pdf to html from Torrents or file sharing websites. Especially if you are using VPN, then you must be extra careful about the kind of VPN you are using. (Lees op gratisnieuwsgroepen.nl de NordVPN reviews voordat je een aankoop doet) 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. If you happen to get malware on your computer, you can try reboot computer Repairs to help you remove it. 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.