Samsung Galaxy J6 Review: Impressive but lacks few things

The Galaxy J6 is an interesting offering in the mid-range segment, but does it have enough to strongly compete with the competition? Read our review to find out. Samsung was once the budget king in the affordable and mid-range smartphone segments. But ever since Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo have entered India and gone aggressive with their offering, Samsung has been facing a tough time. In fact, Xiaomi also managed to topple Samsung from being the top smartphone vendor in India. With the refreshed budget smartphone line-up, Samsung is aiming to take its crown back. The South Korean giant recently launched the Galaxy J6, Galaxy J8, Galaxy A6 and Galaxy A6+ smartphones in India, with prices starting at Rs 13,990, and going all the way up to Rs 25,990. The Samsung Galaxy J6 is offered in two storage variants – 3GB RAM with 32GB storage for Rs 13,990, and 4GB RAM with 64GB storage for Rs 16,490. It competes with the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, Redmi Note 5 Pro, Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Oppo Realme 1, and Honor 9 Lite among others. But does the Galaxy J6 have enough to make for a worthwhile purchase? Let’s find out.

Design and display . The Galaxy J6 is a compact smartphone with a 5.6-inch HD+ display that runs at a resolution of 1480×720 pixels, and an aspect ratio of 18:9. It features a metal frame, the back is made from sturdy plastic, and has a metallic coating too. The frame has smooth curved edges, making it easier to hold. The speaker grille and power/sleep button are on the right, whereas the volume buttons are on the left, along with a one SIM 1 slot, and another slot for SIM 2 and a microSD card.  Coming to display, you get a Super AMOLED screen, which offers punchy color reproduction, making it good for watching videos and movies. The screen is capable of producing deep blacks and bright whites, something that other smartphones in the same price range lack. Smooth Performance . The Galaxy J6 is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 7870 octa-core SoC, which is a 64-bit SoC built on 14nm FinFET process. It has eight Cortex A53 cores with maximum clock speed of 1.6GHz. The chipset is paired with 3GB or 4GB of RAM, depending on the variant you choose. We had the 3GB RAM variant for review, and performance was smooth during most of the usage, even when there were a few apps running in the background. Even the gaming performance while playing casual games such as Subway Surfers and Temple Run 2 was smooth. Slightly graphic-intense games such as Dead Trigger 2 also run smoothly, but some frame drops were noticed when playing PUBG. In fact, the graphics settings were scaled down to low by default, but it did not affect the gameplay in anyway. Even after playing for 20 minutes, the back of the device was only slightly warm, and battery didn’t drop more than five percent, which is good. Surprisingly good battery life. Talking about the overall battery life, the Galaxy J6 comes with a 3,000mAh battery, which is less than Redmi Note 5’s 4,000mAh or Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1’s 5,000mAh battery. However, the Galaxy J6 took me by surprise with a good standby time. My usage included couple hours of streaming on Netflix, casual gaming while commuting, an hour worth music listening via Bluetooth, and a couple of hours web surfing along with three email accounts in sync. The usage also included social networking on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and chatting on WhatsApp. With all of this, I managed to get a screen on time of an impressive four hours and 45 minutes, with the battery lasting through the day. Android Oreo. In the software department, the Galaxy J6 runs Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience UI 9 on top. Samsung has pre-installed some apps such as Voice Recorder, Email, internet, Samsung Health and Samsung Members, all of which can be uninstalled. And of course, you do get Google Apps preinstalled too. Samsung has also included Max app, which brings data saving mode for Wi-Fi and mobile data. It also brings privacy tracking to block trackers, and will connect you using a VPN server, thus ensuring safe browsing. With cashless payments increasing in India, Samsung has also included Samsung Pay Mini feature on the smartphone. It is not like Samsung Pay which uses NFC and MST tech to pay using your credit and debit cards. But the Mini version allows you to add UPI ID and mobile wallets like Paytm, Freecharge and Mobikwik to make payments. And for every usage, you get rewards too, which can then be redeemed. It is an interesting addition, as it does away with the need of installing separate mobile wallet apps. Chat Over Video. How many times have you come across a situation where you were watching a video on YouTube or on the native video app and an SMS or WhatsApp message pops up? You either have to minimize the video or split screen to reply. Chat Over Video is a nifty feature developed by Samsung which brings a translucent overlay of keyboard and messaging window, allowing you to continue watching the video, while you reply. Sadly, only WhatsApp and messaging apps are supported when watching videos on native or YouTube app. If you are watching videos on any other app like Netflix or Amazon Prime video, and chatting on Facebook Messenger, Telegram or any other app, you’re out of luck. Samsung says, majority of users watch videos on YouTube and use WhatsApp for messaging, so the feature is developed keeping that audience in mind. Dolby Atmos. This isn’t a new addition, as we have already seen the Dolby Atmos audio enhancement on affordable Lenovo smartphones for over three years now. However, Samsung’s implementation seems a little different. Listening to music is a pleasure on the Galaxy J6, and you can instantly notice the difference by turning off Dolby Atmos. Audio experience is closer to what you get on the Galaxy S9 series. Decent cameras. While on a recent trip, I used the Galaxy J6 to click some photos, and the results were decent. You get 13-megapixel rear camera of aperture f/1.9, and an 8-megapixel front camera of the same aperture. Yes, the camera struggles in low-light and the app needs a bit of fine tuning to make it work smoother, but the quality was on par, at least considering its price tag. The rear camera is able to capture decent colors in day-light, and dynamic range is decent, however, low-light photos struggle a bit. The front camera captures good selfies, while retaining skin tones. It is also able to click selfies with bokeh effects, without needing dual camera setup, and the results were good. Take a look at the sample photos below. You also get AR stickers, which is an interesting addition. Face Unlock. Now, let’s talk about things that are disappointing in the Galaxy J6. The smartphone comes with a fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication, and it works as expected, nothing to complain there. But, like its competitors, Samsung has also included Face Unlock feature, where you can unlock the phone by just looking at it. Yes, your face is the password, but I found it to be painfully slow, and 70 percent times, it didn’t recognize my face. I had to finally unlock using fingerprint sensor. In comparison, the Oppo Realme 1 and Redmi Note 5 offer faster face unlock. Bixby. Samsung introduced its personal assistant with the Galaxy S8, and since then it has improved a lot. Bixby is present on the Galaxy J6, but it only offers the cards interface, where you can see your appointments and reminders, notifications, weather alerts, latest news from Briefing app, and book an Uber cab. Sadly the voice interface is restricted to the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series smartphones. It doesn’t event include translate feature, which is disappointing. In my opinion, Samsung would have been better served skipping Bixby on this smartphone, as Google Assistant is already available. Wi-Fi 2.4GHz band, lack of sensors. At my house, I have a Wi-Fi network with 5GHz modem and I was surprised to see the phone wasn’t able to detect the network. After a couple of days, I figured the problem, and switched the home Wi-Fi to 2.4GHz band, which was when the phone finally connected. Clearly, I wasn’t expecting this. What’s more, the phone even lacks basic sensors. First off, there is no ambient light sensor, so the auto brightness trigger simply doesn’t work. I ended up manually adjusting the brightness every time. Secondly, there is no digital compass or gyroscope, and I had a difficult time when using Google Maps as it was unable to show the direction I was facing. With the competitors offering the same features for less, the Galaxy J6 surely falls short. Verdict: Should you buy the Galaxy J6? Overall, the Galaxy J6 brings the much-needed refresh to the J-series with features like an Infinity Display, super AMOLED screen, Dolby Atmos Audio, Samsung Pay Mini, and Chat Over Video feature. The well optimized Android Oreo OS and surprisingly good battery life are other things that go in favor of the Galaxy J6. The cameras are decent too. However, when you look at the competition, the Galaxy J6 leaves a few things to be desired. The lack of ambient light sensor and gyroscope is a bummer. Also, Samsung could have used a better chipset like the Snapdragon 625 or Snapdragon 636, both of which make for an excellent choice on the competitor smartphones. Face Unlock feature fails most of the times, and is something Samsung needs to fix. If you are looking for a reliable smartphone in the mid-range segment, and if these shortcomings don’t bother you, the Galaxy J6 could be a good option. The offline availability compared to the competition is something that does work in Samsung’s favor.

‘When Morning Comes’

In her powerful debut novel, ‘When Morning Comes’, Arushi Raina brings alive the social, political and interpersonal turmoil of the 1976 Soweto Uprising in South Africa .On this day in 1976, about 20,000 school students in Johannesburg’s Soweto township marched in protest against the oppressive education policies imposed by the apartheid government. Long before the era of the internet and smartphones, the rally took months of clandestine planning. Lives and allegiances were tested, the police raided gatherings of black people, opening fire on them as they demanded the repeal of Afrikaans-only school curricula, and people disappeared without a trace. In her powerful debut novel, When Morning Comes, Arushi Raina brings alive the social, political and interpersonal turmoil of the Soweto Uprising. Published a couple of years ago in the US, the book comes to India courtesy Duckbill as part of its Not Our War series. Following Rukhsana Khan’s Wanting Mor, set in war-torn Afghanistan, and Carolyn Marsden’s The White Zone, set in contemporary Iraq, When Morning Comes is a rich addition. Told through the voices of four characters—a white South African boy (Jack), a black girl (Zanele), a tsotsi or thug (Thabo) and an Indian girl (Meena)—Raina’s story combines historical fidelity with social realism. The momentum keeps the reader on tenterhooks, the arc of the plot shifting with almost every page. But somewhere along the breathless sequence of conspiracies, intrigues, betrayals and vendetta, one begins to decipher the gentler nuances of an improbable affection between Jack and Zanele. The contrast between Jack’s life of unthinking privilege and the daily struggle of Zanele’s family to subsist (her mother is a maid working for Jack’s parents and her father has gone missing mysteriously) is etched out in piercing episodes. Initially depicted as callow, Jack’s transformation into an outcast is achieved in delicate stages. Zanele, fiery and reckless, leaves her mark in her moments of vulnerability. Writing largely for a young-adult readership, Raina maintains a fine balance between fact and fiction. If the four-way splicing of her narrative keeps the reader on their toes, the emotional core of the story—the insecurities, jealousies, anger and frustrations of a generation—demand a deeper moral investment. Raina paints her characters, especially Zanele, with fine strokes. Her authorial insights are offered lightly, usually in a throwaway remark or a sideways reference. In her ability to pace the story like a thriller, yet add psychological depth, Raina proves herself to be a writer of distinctive promise.

OnePlus 6 – Review

One Plus is fairly a new company in the smartphone industry but it seems like an old player given its growing popularity in the market. Just few hours ago, OnePlus raised the curtains over its new flagship smartphone OnePlus 6. The all-new OnePlus 6 is technically the company’s eighth smartphone and aims to challenge some of the big names in the premium smartphone segment. To get the basics first, OnePlus 6 got launched globally at an event in London on May 16 and will be launched in the Indian market at an event in Mumbai scheduled for 3 pm today. The smartphone comes in three colour options — Mirror Black, Midnight Black and Silk White. Alongside with these, there’s also a special Marvel Avengers Limited Edition. We have been using the Mirror Blackvariant of the device. At first glance, OnePlus 6 appears just like its predecessor OnePlus 5T. However, on a closer look one can notice several changes. The overall essence is that of a typical OnePlus handset. Other than that you have an elliptical-shaped fingerprint sensor at the back, new position for the dual rear cameras, change in position of the alert slider to the right (finally!) and of course, the notch on the display (slight cutout on the display). It is yet to be seen how many apps support this notch but at least during the in brief time we had with the device, we did see OnePlus’ own apps not shying away from covering the notch most of the times.  What’s also interesting is the arrival of the glass back panel, something OnePlus is doing for the first time and seems to have done it in a right way. The Mirror Black variant we are using, is the most glossy variant you can get. Although Midnight Black and Silk White versions also have glass back panels, they are designed in a way that they hide the smudges and fingerprints, something users may like. What they won’t like is that despite having a glass back, which improves signal reception, the smartphone lacks wireless charging tech. The OnePlus 6 sticks with its Dash Charging technology. As expected, the smartphone runs Android 8.1 Oreo-based OxygenOS 5.1.2 out of the box and supports Android P beta as well. So you can use all the Oreo goodies in this device along with some new features OxygenOS brings onboard. There’s no major overhaul on the UI front except for some subtle changes. These are visible when you move the alert slider or when you use screen gestures. There are some new gestures that aim to make it easier for you to access the Home Screen faster using screen swipes. You can turn it on from the Settings app and get rid of the on-screen navigation buttons. The gaming mode has also been improved and so has the connectivity speed support. You will also find a new way to search for apps in the app drawer.

But then everything depends on how familiar they become and how fast. Talking about ‘fast’, OnePlus claims it has worked on its UI to make app opening animations and other such changes snappier than before. For end users this won’t matter as it’s just a matter of microseconds. But nonetheless, it makes OnePlus 6 sound good. We are still in the process of testing the UI and the processing speed of the device so we won’t jump to conclusion yet. At 16MP and 20MP, OnePlus 6 keeps the rear camera count same as in OnePlus 5T but the Sony IMX sensors it uses have been upgraded to Sony IMX519 and Sony IM376K. The aperture also stays the same at f/1.7 for the primary camera. As mentioned by the company co-founder Carl Pei at the time of the launch, the ‘flagship killer’ has slow-motion video recording but at 480fps tops instead of 960fps which is seen in other flagships these days. But it has also got the ability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps, while others stay at 30fps.

Rasheed Kidwai  Ballot

BOOK REVIEW – Rasheed Kidwai  Ballot

Ten Episodes that have shaped India’s Democracy is a fascinating kaleidoscope of India’s democratic experience and experiment over the past seven decades. This short book is a must read for all those who are interested in discerning as to how this chaotic, anarchic land of a million mutinies is also a democratic continuum ever since its liberation from British imperialism. It may be interesting to note that in the decade succeeding the end of the World War-II in 1945, of all the nations that threw of the yoke of colonialism across large parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, India is perhaps the only country that never ever went under military rule or one-party authoritarian over lordship. Even in the post-Independence period, there were many naysayers and doomsday theorists who repeatedly predicted that India, after a bloodstained Partition, would never ever be able to hold together. It would implode into 10 or 20 other pieces. These prophecies got further amplified when the Constitution of India, adopted on November 26, 1949, cast in concrete that the principle of universal adult suffrage would be the guiding beacon of our electoral system. In a country that was 70 per cent illiterate, as the author rightly points out quoting the First Election Commissioner of India Sukumar Sen, it was a momentous “act of faith”. In the introduction to the book, Rasheed sketches some very interesting vignettes that even I, who has been a political activist for over three decades now, was oblivious of. For example, he narrates that before the first general elections in 1952 when the enumerators were going across the length and breadth of the country enrolling voters, most of the women electorate were being enrolled as wife of A, mother of B, sister of C etc. This was because of deeply-entrenched social taboos that forbade women to be identified by their first or maiden name. The author points out that the Election Commission put an end to this practice but as a consequence 2.8 million of the 80 million women voters could not exercise their franchise. Orthodoxy and obscurantism were far more important than the right to vote! It would be remiss not to mention that in many “evolved” democracies of the world, women won the right to vote after an extremely hard and arduous struggle. It was much like women in Saudi Arabia agitating for the right to drive in today’s day and age. Rasheed also brings out something that most would be blissfully unaware of and that is in the first and second general elections in 1952 and 1957 there were as many ballot boxes as there were candidates. The election symbol of each candidate was painted on the ballot box for easy identification. This process was discontinued in 1962. Then there is this interesting titbit about ballot boxes that a Parsi, Pirojsha Godrej’s company was tasked to manufacture in Vikhroli, a suburb of Bombay (now Mumbai). They had to churn out on an average 15,000 steel ballot boxes every day. A news report of that time quotes a Godrej spokesperson as saying that if the nine-inch long boxes — 2.8 million in all were stacked on top of each other, it would have been quite like putting a couple of Mt Everest’s on top of each other. These illustrations are only from the introductory chapter of the book. There are several such attention-grabbing gold nuggets of trivia scattered across the pages of the book. Rasheed has attempted to look at Indian democracy through the prism of personalities — from Nehru to a bit of Sardar Patel all the way down to Narendra Modi encompassing Mayawati and even Bal Thackeray. It is here that Rasheed has hit upon the most obvious unarticulated truth of South Asia, perhaps without realising so. The truth is that the social ethos of this part of the world are deeply feudal — we as a people are primarily idol worshippers, something which each invader, usurper, looter, freebooter, plunderer and eventual occupier very quickly discerned. That is why the story of Indian democracy is unfortunately the story of a few personalities — self-elevated a few notches and then placed on a pedestal and worshipped by the fawning masses. This, primarily, is the reason that from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Indian democracy is underpinned by the most ossified structures that are closed, opaque, incestuous and self-perpetuating in their disposition. However, in its anxiety to be a quickie, the book ends up being a little cavalier towards some of the more institutional paradoxes of the past 70 years that have come to bedevil our democracy today — the decline and increasing irrelevance of the parliamentary and legislative institutions, the eventual end result of an electoral exercise and the non-existence of a separation of roles between the executive and the legislature that is supposed to exercise oversight on it. And the crisis in the judicial system whereby the doctrine of checks and balances, the sina-qua-non of a vibrant democratic order stands upended for over 25 years now. However, in the ultimate analysis, if democracy is about the life and times of a few leaders then Rasheed has done a sterling job in telling the tale of their rise and, in some cases, their political and even physical demise. For both the initiated and the uninitiated, the apolitical and the overly political, the book has something.
Search instead for BOOK REVIEW – Rasheed Kidwai’s Ballot Ten Episodes that have shaped India’s Democracy is a fascinating kaleidoscope of India’s democratic experience and experiment over the past seven decades. This short book is a must read for all those who are interested in discerning as to how this chaotic, anarchic land of a million mutinies is also a democratic continuum ever since its liberation from British imperialism. It may be interesting to note that in the decade succeeding the end of the World War-II in 1945, of all the nations that threw of the yoke of colonialism across large parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, India is perhaps the only country that never ever went under military rule or one-party authoritarian overlordship. Even in the post-Independence period, there were many naysayers and doomsday theorists who repeatedly predicted that India, after a bloodstained Partition, would never ever be able to hold together. It would implode into 10 or 20 other pieces. These prophecies got further amplified when the Constitution of India, adopted on November 26, 1949, cast in concrete that the principle of universal adult suffrage would be the guiding beacon of our electoral system. In a country that was 70 per cent illiterate, as the author rightly points out quoting the First Election Commissioner of India Sukumar Sen, it was a momentous “act of faith”. In the introduction to the book, Rasheed sketches some very interesting vignettes that even I, who has been a political activist for over three decades now, was oblivious of. For example, he narrates that before the first general elections in 1952 when the enumerators were going across the length and breadth of the country enrolling voters, most of the women electorate were being enrolled as wife of A, mother of B, sister of C etc. This was because of deeply-entrenched social taboos that forbade women to be identified by their first or maiden name. The author points out that the Election Commission put an end to this practice but as a consequence 2.8 million of the 80 million women voters could not exercise their franchise. Orthodoxy and obscurantism were far more important than the right to vote! It would be remiss not to mention that in many “evolved” democracies of the world, women won the right to vote after an extremely hard and arduous struggle. It was much like women in Saudi Arabia agitating for the right to drive in today’s day and age. Rasheed also brings out something that most would be blissfully unaware of and that is in the first and second general elections in 1952 and 1957 there were as many ballot boxes as there were candidates. The election symbol of each candidate was painted on the ballot box for easy identification. This process was discontinued in 1962. Then there is this interesting titbit about ballot boxes that a Parsi, Pirojsha Godrej’s company was tasked to manufacture in Vikhroli, a suburb of Bombay (now Mumbai). They had to churn out on an average 15,000 steel ballot boxes every day. A news report of that time quotes a Godrej spokesperson as saying that if the nine-inch long boxes — 2.8 million in all were stacked on top of each other, it would have been quite like putting a couple of Mt Everest’s on top of each other. These illustrations are only from the introductory chapter of the book. There are several such attention-grabbing gold nuggets of trivia scattered across the pages of the book. Rasheed has attempted to look at Indian democracy through the prism of personalities — from Nehru to a bit of Sardar Patel all the way down to Narendra Modi encompassing Mayawati and even Bal Thackeray. It is here that Rasheed has hit upon the most obvious unarticulated truth of South Asia, perhaps without realising so. The truth is that the social ethos of this part of the world are deeply feudal — we as a people are primarily idol worshippers, something which each invader, usurper, looter, freebooter, plunderer and eventual occupier very quickly discerned. That is why the story of Indian democracy is unfortunately the story of a few personalities — self-elevated a few notches and then placed on a pedestal and worshipped by the fawning masses. This, primarily, is the reason that from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Indian democracy is underpinned by the most ossified structures that are closed, opaque, incestuous and self-perpetuating in their disposition. However, in its anxiety to be a quickie, the book ends up being a little cavalier towards some of the more institutional paradoxes of the past 70 years that have come to bedevil our democracy today — the decline and increasing irrelevance of the parliamentary and legislative institutions, the eventual end result of an electoral exercise and the non-existence of a separation of roles between the executive and the legislature that is supposed to exercise oversight on it. And the crisis in the judicial system whereby the doctrine of checks and balances, the sina-qua-non of a vibrant democratic order stands upended for over 25 years now. However, in the ultimate analysis, if democracy is about the life and times of a few leaders then Rasheed has done a sterling job in telling the tale of their rise and, in some cases, their political and even physical demise. For both the initiated and the uninitiated, the apolitical and the overly political, the book has something.

RHA MA650 review: The RHA MA650 is a good buy for those who need music on the move without the hassle of wires.

British audio company RHA has been making steady inroads into the Indian market by offering great audio quality and good design. I tried out their MA750 neckband earphones recently and now have my hands on the RHA MA650, another neckband model, but with a more affordable price tag. RHA MA650 review In terms of design and feel, the MA650 is very similar to its more expensive cousin. There is a soft rubber feel neck band with heavier tips that house the controls as well as the cords that connect the earphones. On the right is the power button, which also helps initiate Bluetooth pairing with a long press. The cord here has a mic unit with volume controls as well a middle button that lets you take a call or summon the virtual assistant on your phone with a long press. The earphones are housed in aerospace grade aluminum casing that gives a lot of confidence and ensure the driver is at good place for offering you the best sound output. One grouse with the design is the fact that the cables are all around your face and it does look a bit awkward at times. The rubber finish on the MA650 makes it ideal for those listen to music while working out or when commuting. The material is best for sweaty environs like in India and the entire device is water-resistant anyway. The metal tips are magnetic and stick to each other when they are hanging down your neck. The box also comes with a handful of tip options so that you can pick the one that is best for you. The audio quality of RHA devices in not something you really need to write much about. My experience with the MA750 was really good and the MA650 did not disappoint either. The custom 380.1 driver is very versatile and offers a good range. I really enjoyed listening to one of my favourite songs, Azhalinte Azhangalil, which offers a good range of vocal and instruments that puts most earphones to test. This is best for those who like to listen to more vocal-based numbers. I did feel the music getting a bit tinny at times, but this was sorted after I changed the silicone tip to something that fit better. The aerophonic design of the earphones need the perfect tips to ensure you get your music right. The call quality is good, though it gets some getting used to figuring that the button for this is on the cord and not in the neckband. The battery lasts about a full day with calls and music if you choose to use it so. Otherwise, you will need to just charge it once a week. But remember, this needs a USB Type-C cable to charge, so you will need to carry one with you all the time if case your phone doesn’t use one already. Priced at Rs 7,999 and available on headphonezone.in, the RHA MA650 is a good buy for those who need music on the move without the hassle of wires. There is competition though in the form of the Sennheiser CX 7.00BT which offers a better audio profile at a slightly higher price.

RHA MA650 price in India: Rs 7,999

Book review: As White as Snow

LUMIKKI ANDERSSON is just a tourist in Prague taking a well-deserved break away from her family and the past. She is alone, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But her tranquillity is shattered when she is approached by a young woman, Lenka, who claims she is Lumikki’s long-lost half-sister. Intrigued, and a little suspicious that it could very well be the truth given the secrets her family has been harbouring, Lumikki gets drawn into the scheme of things. Her suspicions are further fuelled when Lenka’s presence and revelations cause her to have dreams of another girl in her life. She wants to know more, but discovers that Lenka is living in a strange environment. Soon, she finds herself on the run from an assassin, and she is determined to fight for her life – and possibly her sister’s too. This happens to be the second book in Finnish author Salla Simukka’s Nordic crime series The Snow White Trilogy that delivers action and hard-hitting chills. The first book is As Red as Blood. As the book draws to an end, there are still unresolved questions, and you know you’ll have to read the third and final instalment, As Black as Ebony, to find the answers. Overall, the book is an intriguing read.

What You Know About Startups Is Wrong, book review: Puncturing the myths

What You Know About Startups Is Wrong, book review: Puncturing the myths

VC and serial entrepreneur KP Reddy offers advice, anecdotes and common sense in this useful, if somewhat discursive, book. Can anyone be an entrepreneur and create a successful startup? If your best idea is bed sheets you stick on with Velcro, or renting your dog out to lonely strangers, probably not. In fact, says Atlanta-based venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur KP Reddy, even with the right idea most people are doing startups wrong. If you’re annoyed by VCs spouting off about how you can’t expect to succeed without living on instant noodles and ‘crunching’ 80 hours a week, this somewhat rambling book of advice and anecdotes will be a welcome change. In What You Know About Startups Is Wrong, Reddy pushes back on the startup myth that real commitment means overwork and no time off. It’s certainly refreshing to hear someone maintain that your startup is not your child, and that you shouldn’t put it ahead of your life and your family. “We’ve decided collectively as a culture that startups equal pain”…”Startup culture glorifies struggle and tenacity,” says Reddy. Maybe it would be better to make a realistic evaluation of your opportunities and progress, because one of the first lessons any founder should learn is when to quit. After passing out in a low blood sugar diabetic crash on a plane, and realising that hanging on to his failing startup at all costs after the dotcom crash had cost him so many personal and professional relationships, Reddy accepted that the way he thought startups had to work wasn’t just bad for his health: it was also bad for the company, because he was too stressed to make good management decisions. Instead, he says, founders need to be well rounded, take time to stop and think, and even work on side projects for money as long as you’re clear about how everything you do — including answering emails and taking meetings — contributes to your goal. A lot of this is self-awareness. Don’t be so caught up in the idea of being an entrepreneur that you’re still learning less than an intern after struggling to get your business off the ground for five years. Be realistic about how good the clothes-making robots you’re building actually are: if they can only make flat things like sheets rather than complicated garments like jeans, say so: you’re just as likely to impress people with your honesty as you are to lose orders you wouldn’t be able to fulfil anyway, and you won’t stress out your staff by having them work weekends on technology that isn’t advanced enough for what you want to do. Startup culture Reddy tackles some of the problems of startup culture, including inexperienced founders making unreasonable demands of employees, sexual harassment, and the problems of having all your company events revolve around alcohol. Culture, he points out, shouldn’t mean cults. It’s good to see these thorny issues tackled, and Reddy takes a very practical tone that will have readers nodding their heads in agreement rather than muttering about political correctness. Culture is about how everyone in the company treats one another, he says, suggesting that your sick leave policy is as important as whether people are passing around inappropriate photos of their sexual conquests at work. But implying that the causes are as simple as inexperienced leaders wanting to have things their own way, or to shake off the shackles of over-restrictive HR departments, misses many of the systemic issues that need to be tackled. Reddy is right to say that having a party culture is a failure by company leaders, but it’s too simplistic to suggest that you can simply change a ‘frat house’ culture to one of acceptance. Similarly, Reddy is clear on the importance of being a leader that people can trust enough to open up to, but rather thin on how to achieve that — although there are some horror stories from his past of what not to do. His description of millennials is sincere but phrases like ‘the participation-trophy generation’ sound almost like a parody, when it’s actually an attempt to celebrate having real conversations rather than making smalltalk, and allowing people bring their authentic selves to work. There’s some useful advice on hiring and managing people who expect to be communicated with as peers, and who need leaders to show how the company is working on things they care about personally. Again, it’s refreshing to hear the view that if an employee can’t cope with a task then maybe it’s the company’s fault for letting them get in over their head, and not being encouraged to ask for help. There are other useful nuggets scattered through this slim but discursive volume (which would benefit from better organisation): don’t pitch investors between October and January (they’re busy or away); don’t have your quarter end over Christmas; do your sums on the impact of the pay cut you’ll take by leaving a corporate job for a startup; look for people who say they’ll do whatever it takes, but also ask for guidance on things they haven’t done before (a combination he calls attitude and aptitude); and if you let employees work from home one day every week make it Wednesday rather than Friday in case it turns into a three-day weekend. Much of this is common sense and shouldn’t be worth documenting — but it clearly is. What You Know About Startups Is Wrong is an easy read that’s more useful than exciting, and it’s a welcome change to see some of the unrealistic gloss taken off the startup mirage. But when it comes to implementing Reddy’s advice, expect to need more help than this book provides.

Google Home review

Google Home review –

battle lines between behemoths like Apple, Google, Amazon are perennially drawn. It’s just that the battleground keeps on changing. In the last few months, the tech giants have been upping the ante in the smart speaker category. Artificially intelligent voice assistants – Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri – are the trusted lieutenants to win the smart speaker war.

While Amazon has had a head start with its Echo range of speakers, Google officially landed in India earlier this month with its Google Home and Google Home mini devices. With a bigger, popular and more powerful ecosystem, Google Home certainly has a slight edge over the Amazon Echo. But is a smart speaker a necessity at the moment or is it a gadget to up your cool quotient? We used the Google Home for a considerable amount of time to find out the answer. Here’s our review of the smart speaker:

Design

While many of you might be aware, smart speakers are still in a nascent stage and there would be a few who don’t know what exactly is Google Home and what it does. Simply put, Google Home is Wi-Fi connected, voice-controlled smart speaker that is powered by artificial intelligence (AI). It is perfectly capable of playing music, answering your queries and even control other devices at home.
Now that we’ve got the brief description out of the way, let’s get to the finer details, like design, for instance. Google Home has a peculiar design, it looks like a vase that has a rounded look to it. The top looks like someone slashed it abruptly yet the peculiarity works as it is a good-looking device.

The top of the home is touch sensitive and comes with LED lights which blink in “Google” colours every time you say a command. You can tap on it to pause music or slide your fingers to adjust the volume. The touch is responsive at all times and works extremely well. At the bottom, you will find three speakers that produce reasonably good output (more on it later). The bottom also has a fabric cover which can be changed as Google offers different colours and material. The review unit had a white and grey colour scheme and looked very appealing. The LED lights are a really nice touch.

Performance

Google has been actively pitching for an AI-enabled future as the company firmly believes that’s the way to go. However, an Assistant isn’t a new trick that Google has pulled with the Home. The Google Assistant is now a common – though not popular – feature found in several Android smartphones. Unlike smartphones though with the Google Home, you have to rely on the Assistant. She is your best friend and has all the answers, literally and figuratively.

The process of setting up Google is as easy as it gets. In our experience, it was smoother and faster than that of the Amazon Echo. All you need is a smartphone – either an Android or Apple – on which just download the Google Home app. You will have to do some routine stuff to get started and key in some information. Remember that the most valuable currency for Google Home is information. The more information you share, the smarter the speaker becomes. So for instance, you want to know how much time will it take for you to reach work then you need to key in your home address as well as work address. Else, “I am sorry, I don’t have that information” is the reply you will get from Google. Most of us are now deeply entrenched in the Google ecosystem and unless you are overtly paranoid about privacy you won’t have too many problems getting the most out of Google Home.

To wake the Assistant, you just have to say “Hey, Google” or “Ok, Google”. Now, it is a bit taxing to use these commands every time but that’s the deal and one does get used to it. Privacy apart, as a smart speaker it works perfectly well. We tried asking “Hey Google, how do you make Chicken Biryani?” The Assistant will in detail tell you each and every step – including the ingredients you need. Google Home is smart as if you ask, “Ok, Google! Where does the Indian president live?” and it will tell you the address and also give the name of the president without asking. You can ask many such questions and you will get the answers. There are times when you do have to say the words slowly and clearly for Google to understand. But it mostly gets the accent.

Want to have a best Car Dealer, here’s your solution

CarDealerRater.com is India’s only dealer rating website. CarDealerRater.com  tends to make the car buying & car servicing a wonderful affair. The company assist customers to find a car dealer they can trust so that car buying & car servicing turns into a less daunting and more pleasant experience. It is a transparent procedure that will save money and headaches along the way.

CarDealerRater (CDR) is a one shot place that helps customers to know which dealer to choose when they make the most important purchase of their life – car. Customers can visit and search for car dealers and read reviews by other people who already dealt with the dealer.

Everyday, a huge number of car aspirants come to the website to decide the right dealer for car buying and servicing. They also keep the readers updated with all the news and information around the auto industry.

The website also includes reviews of different cars and other educational videos for auto enthusiasts.

1. CDR is the first and only car dealer rating and review site in India.

2.CDR gets 15000 visitors every day.

3.CDR gets approx 100 reviews every day, from across the country.

4.CDR has 5000 Dealers listed with them of all manufacturers across the country.

5.CDR plans to start rating and review of all the unorganized used car dealers as well.
 

 

 

 

Clicktable app offers festive discount on booking

Indian festivals are a joy, bringing family and friends together in celebration. Most people await their favorite festivals eagerly and the culinary specialties that come with each event are a big part of that anticipation. Cliktable app has come up with the festive offer, it is one of the entities of Kent RO. It is an intuitive platform that helps diners avail amazing dining offers at best restaurants in the city. And this time Clickable app announces festive offer starting on this Navratri. With 25% cash back in all app restaurants, Clicktable is undoubtedly going to make it an onset for a true festive experience for all its customers and families who have been eagerly waiting for this period. You will get the benefit by the use of code CLICK25.

Life is more convenient, dining is hassle free, no waiting no queues, just a click and Clicktable does it for you. Table reservation application is the latest trend emerging quickly in India, reason might be the increasing dining options and weekend crowds especially in Metro Cities. However as per the reports and surveys, only 2 out of 10 diners go for table reservation and 6 out of 10 have to face waiting while go for dining on weekends. India boast restaurant and dining places making it one of biggest market for online table reservation system.

Moreover, the platform offers real-time reservation confirmation at many restaurants. The platform has currently been launched in Delhi NCR. There are over 850 restaurants, bars and lounges available on the platform.

About CLICKTABLE

Clicktable, debuts in online restaurant reservation platform in India. Founded in 2015, Clicktable is a Brain Child of Mr. Varun Gupta, is a computer engineer from Purdue University, USA and an MBA from Columbia University, New York. Today clickable is emerging as the one-stop solution for Diners to go one-touch table reservation at their favorite restaurant without any queue and waiting. After the successful launch in Delhi and Bangalore with over 850 restaurant tie-ups now the next destination for Clickable are Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.