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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 5X Review: A good mid-ranger with a Gorgeous Display

In this article, let’s review the Honor 5X, a budget mid range smartphone from Honor. Though, this device is priced as a budget phone, features, design and the user experience give it a feel of a good high end smartphone.

Honor is Huawei’s Smartphone e-brand for digital natives. Honor has been expanding aggressively in global markets, and has successfully launched in 74 global markets, entering the bestselling charts in most of the European countries honor launched. This is also the first Honor phone which is available for the US market at just 199 USD. The Honor 5X was announced early this week in India at a price of 12999 and is available in three colors – gold, silver and grey. The phone will be sold on both Amazon and Flipkart and is available for pre-orders. The sale of Honor 5X will commence starting 1st February midnight.

Alright, Lets look at how this phone performs in these 4 key areas –

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The phone is made from brushed metal alloy that adds to the premium look and feel of this phone; and not many companies offer a metal body in this range as of now. The top and bottom of the phone are made up of plastic. The phone comes with a premium aircraft grade metal that also offers 5 layer heat sinks with copper shielding cover. The phone is neither heavy, nor very thin. Its a good weight in the hands; and doesn’t slip-off easily. The curved back is quite ergonomic and the rear flows very well to the front. There is a LED notification on the top of the phone as well.

The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side which feels vey neat and also offers a good amount of tactile feedback. The buttons also have a textured feel to it making it more comfortable to use.

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The rear of the phone sports the camera and the finger print sensor. The finger print sensor is an impressive feature on this phone (or in any Huawei phone in that matter). The finger print reading is fast (the company says 0.5 seconds to unlock) and also, has worked well all the times for me, 10/10. Kudos to the team. When compared with other phones in this segment, the accuracy is pretty neat.

The emotion UI provides you way more options to further make use of the finger print sensor, than to just unlock your phone. Gestures help you do that. For e.g.: Swiping up on the finger print scanner shows the recently used apps. Swiping down brings in the notifications page to quickly read through and toggle settings. A tap can be configured to take you to back screen or even click a picture while you take a selfie. You can even take a call, or use it like a home button with customisations available.  Here are some of the options, you can set.

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The phone is powered with a Snapdragon 616 processor, an Adreno 405 GPU and a 2GB RAM; thats a bummer. There are 3GB variants available in China. not sure, why they weren’t made available here in India and the US. The phone has a onboard 16GB ROM, expandable upto 128 GB. The performance is slightly sluggish with some screen refreshes when you toggle between the running apps. There is a bit of delay on the load when you launch apps; not a major deal breaker. Probably, it would’ve been better with a better processor and the 3GB RAM; however, must appreciate the Emotion UI for making the OS much user friendly and providing some good sneaks that help in better performance when compared to other phones which are running on a 615/616 processor.

The left side is for the SIM and SD card slots. This phone has 2 seperate slots for a nano SIM & Micro SIM and a Micro SD card. Unlike few other phones which offer Hybrid SIM models, you do not need to sacrifice on a SIM to add up a Micro SD card.

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The Display is very impressive and sharp. I find it to be one of the real good features of the phone. Its a 5.5 inch, IPS Panel display powering a full HD resolution of 1080 * 1920. The quality and the details are neat. Images aren’t over-saturated or too warm/cold. the colours are vibrant and the brightness on the screen is impressive as well. Reading text on the phone is pretty good. I like the fact, it isn’t too sharp giving a realistic clear text.

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The phone has a 3000 MAH battery which offers a good battery life of over a day; It gives me SOT of 6.5 hours which is pretty impressive. With Emotion UI, there are tons of more customisations which you can do, to make your phone even better in terms of battery saving. Thanks to the patents Huawei has on the same.

The Headphone Jack on the top and Micro-USB port and speaker grill towards the bottom. The sound quality on the phone isn’t great when you play music on loud speaker; it gets slightly better with a headset. However, The call quality is very impressive and the volume is good too.!

Software, User Experience:

The Honor 5X is running Android 5.1 out of the box with the customised version, the Emotion UI 3.1. The company has announced that, this phone will get the Marshmallow update with the Emotion UI 4. These days, Every company have their own android skins for their phones. Out of all, my personal favourites have been the Flyme OS, MiUI and Emotion UI. They are not just basic customisations, but give users few features which are actually worth trying. Lets talk about that some other time!

This phone offer Emotion UI 3.1. There are few software features which makes the phone pretty good. My personal favourite is the notifications window. They show a lot more detail on a timeline about the app notifications and your system. Shake to re-align icons is cool as well. Themes would also fancy some people. If something is lacking on the EMUI, its the performance. It definitely needs some improvement.

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Camera

The camera is powered with a 13MP sensor, a f2.0 aperture which does allow a lot of light and a Dual LED flash to use in low-light conditions. In outdoors, the camera performs very well and is quick. The quality of pictures is pretty neat and the details are sharp with colors being good as well. Thankfully, the software doesn’t over-sharp the images and hence, images feel realistic. Emotion UI also offers a great camera software which gives you options for smart selfies, food mode etc.

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Here are some samples pictures I clicked. will upload few more as I use the phone. 

The phone doesn’t come with an optical image stabiliser built in. You can shoot a 1080p video on this phone. The video processing on the phone can be better, but is certainly good enough for a mid range smartphone.

The slo-mo and time-lapse features are also there. Here is a sample time-lapse video, I shot early this morning. Not the best, and certainly not the worse either. One point worth mentioning is that, when I used this camera for a longer time to shoot this time-lapse video, it didn’t warm the phone – Thats a very neat behaviour.

The follow-focus on the videos is a pretty good addition. The front camera performance is decent and does take some good pictures; and if you’re a selfie lover, there are tons of more options to play around.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

With a brushed metal, premium design and a gorgeous display its impressive. Talking about value for money, At USD 199 USD, its definitely worth considering the phone in the US. With devices like LeEco Le1S, CoolPad Note 3 and Mi Redmi Note 3 in India, I would’ve preferred, if Honor had priced the phone a little more aggressive. Today in the market, There are few other devices in this range which offers better specs; however, its not just about the specs at times. Its more on the user experience. I personally love how the honor phones offer a good user experience with its Emotion UI; and of course the accurate finger print scanner which doubles with great gesture controls. I believe, software updates with Honor aren’t going to be an issue either.

I would’ve loved had Honor brought in the 3GB variant model in India and the U.S. Not sure, if they have plans to bring it in as a limited edition phone at some point this year.

Summing up, This phone offers a good design, beautiful display and most importantly, finger print scanner which is accurate and does a lot more things than just unlocking your phone.

Do let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 2 – A Great Android Phone; Definitely not a Flagship Killer!

Hello people; I am back with a review after a long time. I have the all new OnePlus 2 with me in this article. Well, to be honest, It’s too late to review this phone. I’m sure, you would’ve come across quite a few takes. If you would still like to read a detailed review, I recommend you read this well written article on TechPP

This piece would primarily focus on my thoughts of  the “Yay” and “Nay”s of the OnePlus 2. There are few things I love about this phone. The hardware is beautiful. It feels fantastic in hand; the weight is nice and well balanced. The elements used definitely feels good. I personally love the alert slider button which changes the notification options. This is a very nifty example of a software driven hardware implementation. Here are some of the pictures of the device itself.

Camera Picture Samples: As you see in the pictures below, most of them were shot in the Auto Mode. However, you can still see the exposure settings being calculated so well. The details are very neat and so are the colour saturation. The DOF (Depth of Field) feels very neat and simple; most importantly, realistic.

Should I upgrade? – This totally depends on what device are you using? If you are already on a OnePlus One, I do not see a reason for you to upgrade, unless you need a finger print protection to your phone or a Dual SIM. If you are in the market looking to buy an Android phone under 25000 INR, this is the best phone you can buy today*. *conditions apply, if you manage to get an invite!

Hey Team @ OnePlus, here are my thoughts and feedback on the OnePlus 2 –

Yay’s:

    1. The VR Launch was by far the best creative launches, I have ever attended or seen. Kudos to the team to for have planned such a great event and its brilliant execution.
    2. I like the weight of the device; it isn’t light, but feels so comfortable and yet nice feel of a premium phone in hand.
    3. I love the alert slider button; that’s one of the best little features I love about the OnePlus 2. Great thought and attention to detail. Taking about buttons, the feel is very good and the buttons definitely feel premium.
    4. The sandstone texture is an instant connect with OnePlus; most of them can just close their eyes and will be able to guess your brand with just a feel.
    5. The Touch ID is super responsive and fast.
    6. I like the fact, you sticked with the 1080p screen and not the QHD; works good on an everyday phone, plus saves up on battery!
    7. The camera is too good; the DOF is very pleasing on eyes and it doesn’t look too fake.

Nay’s:

  • The OnePlus One had a great packaging; the OnePlus 2 looks too plain jane.
  • I think, we should talk more about experience than specs; To be honest, Android is still not really rich to leverage great hardware. I cannot see a visible difference between a 3GB RAM and a 4GB RAM device. Unless you wanna show the strengths with Benchmark scores.
  • I am not able to understand the idea behind giving a removable back, just for the SIMs? I mean, you had a great way of putting things together in the OnePlus One. The flap feels too thin much like how Samsung did it years ago. With the flap’s locking mechanism in-place, I am not sure, how many iterations will it live it up.
  • I’m surprised, how every mobile company has mastered the art of Depth of Field. There should be more research and focus on providing better low light capabilities; and if possible more realistic Slo-Mos. I think, there is still a long way to improve on these two areas. I still love my Slo-Mos on my iPhone.
  • The camera app needs refinement; It isn’t easy to toggle between different camera modes. Also, you could give the user an option to have a transparent shutter button which would show a 16:9 on the screen than just 4:3. I am not sure, if there was a mode to do that; bcos, the UI was very sluggish to even look for it.
  • The Touch ID – This touchscreen has a design of a button; most of the times, you end up pressing than touch. Not sure, again why the design was made to standout if it had to be just a touch; it could’ve been a plain simple glass slab, than a button design.
  • The USB Type C is good; certainly feels special, but I still cannot understand why we need it at this moment. Because, other than using it both the sides, I don’t see any other major advantage listed or supported.
  • Fast Charging is a key, especially when we use our phones so much these days.
  • NFC is not something I really miss; but then, it wouldn’t have hurt if the OP2 had it. Honestly, I don’t see any major implementation of Android Pay in the market as of now, wonder when that would change.
  • The phone does heat up a bit; though its quite common in smartphone these days, it would be great to implement a special juice on Oxygen which would tweak the hardware when a heavy intense game or app is loaded.
  • I would’ve loved to see a 128GB model as well. I save a lot of photographs and music on my device. With loading over 80% of the data on the phone, the device starts to feel sluggish in performance. I use a iPhone 128GB model, it almost adapted so well to my needs; with still quite a space left and is super responsive.
  • With using 4G LTE on one of the SIMs, I see that the battery doesn’t last as much as it used to on the OnePlus One. Not sure why.
  • The Oxygen OS needs a lot of refinements as well.
  • Hype; by hype, I mean the Invites. I am sure, there would’ve been a realistic forecast about the expectations people would have of this device. If you didn’t, you should seriously consider hiring someone who is good at forecasting and numbers. Making people run around for invites might sound cool, but then, as a premium buyer, I would love something which is there for my perusal and not hunt for the same. There isn’t an attitude here; but as a genuine buyer, who respects and values your brand, I deserve to get some respect in return.
  • Please do something to the Android Ecosystem. I’m sure, you guys have an authority to bring in a change; drive some interesting things with partnering other companies. There are very few apps which are aesthetically great and good to use on Android. However, many out there are just crappy and lack quality with too many ads and pop-ups. The percentage of Great apps (free or paid) on an iPhone is way too large when compared to Android.

Summing up, did it impress me like the OnePlus One? I so wish, if it had. OnePlus 2 is undoubtedly the best smartphone one can buy under 25000 INR. Is it a flagship killer? Probably, No. There are few more areas which needs attention and I am sure/hope the company is working on the same. Of-course, they know the business better than what I do!

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Featured How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Learning

How to keep your Passwords and Online Accounts Safe?

Internet has provided us with some amazing ways to do our day-to-day tasks better; sharing content and even getting in touch with friends have never been so awesome. As easy as it sounds, it is equally vulnerable to attacks. Most hackers either take control of your account for malicious activity or are just mere stalkers. I did hear about a couple of stalking cases from my friends recently and that’s when I thought of writing this piece. I even had a discussion with my friends online and they shared few commonly used methods in this regard.

Here are some of the best practices. The first tip is a very obvious one; using a strong password.

1. How to Keep Passwords Safe:

  • A strong password is generally referred to a key which has over 14 characters with at least 1 special character and numbers. There are online tools which can help you with suggesting some passwords. Random and Secure Passwords to name a few.

  • Do not use consecutive letters or numbers. For eg: abcd, 9876 etc.
  • Do not reuse old passwords; change your password regularly, at-least once in three months.
  • Do not use your family members name, the place you work, Anniversary and Birthday dates as passwords which is commonly known to others.
  • Do substitute numbers, symbols, and misspellings for letters or words in an easy-to-remember phrase. Passphrase as some would refer. Again, partial substitution is a good idea. For example, One Step Closer can be One$tepCl0sEr.
  • Do not use long words, quotations or phrases in your password; anyone around your desk or the key logging tools can always track the possibilities.
  • Do not use the same password for all your email accounts.
  • Do not write down your passwords on a paper near your desk; or even as a saved note on your Phone.
  • Do not sharing password information on Emails and Instant Messengers etc.

2. Social Accounts:

  • If you use your Gmail address to sign-in to your Facebook Account, use unique passwords for the same. Your Gmail account and Facebook’s password doesn’t need to be the same.
  • Similar to emails, do not have the same password for all your social accounts.
  • Having a base password mixed with a prefix or suffix created using the name of each website can be a good idea too. So, for example, Facebook, the password is H!Th3r3Face. For Google, H!Th3r3Goog.
  • If you have synced your email / Facebook accounts with your Phone, try enabling a passcode/pattern/finger print for your device.
  • It is very easy to impersonate your profile these days. A hacker, generally takes the relevant details from your profile and your display pictures and create a new profile with your exact name. These fake profiles further send out friend requests to all your contacts claiming that, your old account was hacked and this would be your new profile. In such a scenario, it would be great idea to talk to your friend over phone, before you confirm the friend request.
  • If you abandon an old email address associated with any of your social accounts like Facebook, Apple ID, Dropbox etc. Be sure to update them with your current email address.

3. Two-Factor Authentications and OTPs

Two-Step Verification adds an extra layer of security to your online Account, drastically reducing the chances of having the personal information in your account getting stolen. To break into an account with 2-Step Verification, a hacker would not only have to know your username and password, they’d also have to get a hold of your phone.This can be a turn off to many people considering that, some of the providers send you a code via SMS, and you will need to wait for the SMS code before you log-in.

Google also introduced an USB Security Key; one does not need to look or wait for codes on the phone and then re-type it; rather he/she can simply insert the Security Key into computer’s USB port when asked.

However, Google’s 2 Factor authentication doesn’t need a SMS too; you can use their mobile app for the secondary token. It is quite similar to those RSA token generatorsDo find the detailed steps for Google Accounts.

Apple has introduced this option for the iCloud users as well. In order to set up the two-factor authentication on Apple’s cloud storage service, users must login to the Apple ID account, click on “Password and Security” and find “Two-step verification.” Once activated, a unique four-digit verification code is sent to the registered mobile number via SMS or Find My iPhone. The unique code will be asked every time there is suspicious account activity, like login from an unfamiliar device. This way, unauthorized access to the accounts can be blocked.

Facebook calls it code generator; Once you login, you can then get to the security settings and enable this feature. As a review, you can also check on the logic notifications, and trusted browsers to verify if those are the machines/connections you used in the past.

Read these official notes from LinkedIn and Twitter for detailed steps. Enabling an OTP before making a fund-transfer or payment is considered safe in online banking; Most of the banks do this by default now.

4. Email Attacks:

  • Phishing scams – Do not click on links in suspicious email messages, and never provide personal information on any websites. Think before you click or download anything. Some deals may be too good to be true; for eg: A free Airline ticket or a 100,000,000 GBP lottery price.
  • Manage your subscriptions; clicking on the ‘Unsubscribe” option in the spam mail is usually a bad idea. As most email providers these days do not send back “read-receipts”, hackers/spammers send you email from mailing list and wait for you to unsubscribe to confirm that its an email id “in use”. It’s best to just mark them as spam and leave it. You can also create some smart filters which moves emails like these straight to archives or deleted items.
  • Always have a secondary email configured for password-reset instructions. Preferably, a secret email address which you haven’t shared in public forums.
  • For a password reset request, choose security questions and answers that cannot be easily guessed by someone else. For eg: Do not choose a question like, what is your favorite color? and even if you end up choosing this question, Answer does not need to be black or blue always. You can even answer as weird as a cow or an elephant. But yea, do remember what you enter.

5. Keep your browser and other apps up-to-date.

  • Generally companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Apple and few others release software updates and hotfixes and make it available to the end-users for download. These may not be just for new features but also to fix newly identified vulnerabilities with the software. Always make a point to run an up-to-date browser. Ensure your Java and Flash Player are updated to the latest available versions. Likewise, do not ignore OTA (On the Air) software updates on your smart-phone as well. Do update them.
  • As much as possible, do not auto-save your passwords on your browsers.
  • I personally do not recommend a password saving programs as well. However, if you still want to try these softwares, 1password can be a good option. 
  • If you are installing any 3rd party applications to access Facebook or Emails, understand the level of access these applications have on your phones. Well, Mobile and Cloud Security are totally new areas, let us look at them later.
  • When using a public computer, always sign out when your session is complete to prevent other people from accessing your account.
  • Use incognito / Private Browser window while accessing your bank accounts.

Summary:

Your online experience totally depends on how secure your accounts are. For many of us, businesses run on Internet and compromising them will result in a huge impact. Hopefully, this article has helped you with some inputs. Always remember to report when your account is hacked; not just to your friends but most importantly to your service providers like Google, Facebook, Banks etc. They can further block your account before it can be accessed by anyone else. Of Course, the most obvious thing remains, Do not share your password with anyone..!

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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft Smartphones

Nokia Lumia 930 Review: The Best Windows Phone available

Windows Phone is going to be 4 years old now; and it could never take a stand and showcase a device running a platform which can compete with the best Android or an iOS device. This has definitely affected their market share; and of-course, impacted the Brand Nokia. The Nokia Lumia 1020 had a fantastic camera and the Lumia 910 introduced a good design. However, there was something really missing. I was even dreaming of running Android on the Nokia Lumia 1020. The Nokia Lumia 930 seems to be a fantastic phone that stands up in competition with other flag-ships in the league. With a high hardware specifications, great still camera and a brilliant design, this is definitely worth looking at.

Hardware, Battery and Design

The Lumia 930 has a 2.2 Quadcore processor with a 2GB RAM under the hood. This really helps to make Windows Phone really fast. With a snapdragon 800 series, loading apps and switching between them is pretty smooth. The front of the phone is a one-glass surface; the metal frame is stunning and the polycarbonate rear shell adds a soft touch and feel to the device. The polycarbonate material (variants) is available in Neon Green, Orange, Black and White colours.

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The buttons on the right hand side are easy to reach and its good to see a shutter button on the phone. Having a button always gives you a good control; and of course, the quick access to clicking pictures even when the phone is locked.

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The metal chassis and the slightly rounded corner edges gives a nice premium feel to the phone.

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I would’ve just wished an easy way to take the sim tray out. The phone is quite chunky; but Yes. I love my phones to take some space. I do not really like those thin fabric phones which you often use it with a fear of breaking them. The base model of this phone also comes with a 32GB of disk storage and that’s impressive.

battery-usage-248x300The Lumia 930 has a 2420 mAh battery. Windows Phones are always light on the battery; most of the phones stay a good day long. But with a quad-core CPU and a full HD screen on board, the Lumia 930 is a more power hungry device. That doesn’t mean its going to last just for 4 hours. It would pretty much take you through your day with just one full charge. If you are having any battery issues, charge your phone in cycles (100 to 0 and then 0 to 100). Do that for few days and your battery will slowly start to bed and give you much better battery performance. Also, try to use the charger which came along with your phone. That would help.

I now charge my phone once in two days with a normal usage (Here is a sample of my battery utilisation; check the screenshot towards your right). The phone also has a wireless charging built in; and thats fantastic.

Basically, this is one of the best constructed phones in the market today; In this department, I rate this phone a good 9 out of 10.

Display and Screen:

The Lumia 930 has a brilliant screen. It’s a 5 inch, full HD 1080 x 1920 AMOLED Screen. The pixel density is 441 ppi. It’s the brightest screen, which Nokia has ever produced. It’s sharp and renders the images smoothly. It produces some vibrant colours as well.

The Nokia Clear Black technology is a boon. I haven’t come across a phone that handles blacks and contrasts so well. This really helps text reading to be so crisp. The AMOLED screen helps with great colour reproduction and images look fantastic and colourful. Some may find it a little over-saturated; however, the Lumia 930 offers a great viewing angles as well. The key benefit of the OLED technology is when the portion of the screen is black, the LEDs are basically turned off giving you rich viewing experience and of course saves your battery as well.

I have always been a fan of display screens on the Nokia devices. This definitely makes it the best looking Windows Phone ever made. On the Display, I rate this phone a good 8 out of 10.

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Camera and Pictures:

The camera is the best feature of this phone. It produces some fantastic sharp images. The sensor and the technology is a winner when you compare it with any of the other players in this range. The Lumia 930 has a 20 MP Pureview Camera built in, with optical image stabilizer and 4 directional microphones, which supports a 5.1 Dolby surround sound. It’s the first device in the market to do that.

The gradients and colors are pretty good as well. Shooting in low light doesn’t result in too much noise. You can of course, record a 1080p video as well. The sensor on the Lumia 930 is same as the one on the 1520. It may not be in the same league as the 41MP Lumia 1020, but it does take some great pictures. The camera is quick and gives you some manual controls to customise the shutter speeds and focus.

If you are looking at a handy phone, which takes best pictures, you should read no further. This is the best phone you can buy (The only other option would be the Lumia 1020, if you like the design and the rear bulkiness). In this department, I would rate it a 10 out of 10.

Here are some of the sample pictures and videos clicked with the Lumia 930.

Software, User Experience:

The Nokia Lumia 930 is powered with the Windows Phone 8.1. The OS has become even more personal and now allows customization on the start screen and the tiles. You can now change the background of these tiles and also resize them.

You have a new action center built in which gives you all the notifications and also access to toggle some settings. Its not as great as the Android notifications; but yes, these are something to do with the software and can get better on time. There is a battery saver app, Data Sense and Storage Sense to help you see what is exactly going on under the hood.

The Microsoft applications works the best. The built in IE browser is neat. Most of the websites load faster without missing any elements. I personally love how my office emails works with this platform. The Outlook integration is fantastic and even the LDAP search of directories work a charm. The Office, SharePoint and Lync applications work really smooth and gives a great user experience. I like the Bing Health and Fitness App as well.

shape-keyboard-168x300Windows Phone also introduces Word Flow with shape writing; similar to the Swipe keyboards on Android which works really slick. The prediction of words are top-notch and its really fast. This holds the Guiness Record for the speed typing on a keyboard. Looks like this record is broken now.

Nokia MixRadio is another fantastic app which I love. Its a big relief for some of us here in India, where Pandora, Spotify or even Google Music doesn’t work officially. The Nokia Here Apps and Drive works great; especially with offline capabilities.

With the Nokia Cyan upgrade, you can now get an interesting camera experience with options like living images in the Gallery that is something like a motion image or GIFs. The Creative Studio also gives some great options for editing pictures or post process them. The Story teller is cool as well. It basically weaves a video of all the media, which you have. For example, Think of it as a good summary video made from your pictures and videos which you took at a recent vacation. Pretty cool indeed.

One of the top features would be Cortana as well. It surprisingly works great with contextual reminders, responds to questions and helps you with most of the commonly used tasks. I am still a fan of Google Now and its cards, maps integration and most importantly the support for English (Indian diction). Let’s be kind, this would definitely grow over time and get better. Cortana currently works only in the US> If you are outside US and want to enable the same on your phone, follow these steps to activate the same.

Sadly, these are the most cool features of this platform. The OS needs to evolve; and the apps need to take a huge leap. If you are a user, who accesses emails on phone, with some occasional Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, this phone would work great. Things have to really evolve w.r.t games and other 3rd party applications. In this department, I would rate it a 6 out of 10.

 

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

There are very few phones which you fall instantly in love with. Lumia 930 is definitely one of them. Its undoubtedly, one of the best designed windows phone ever made with a beautiful display and a fantastic camera.

There were few reports of this phone getting over-heated. I faced this issue as well. However, on regular charges and discharge, this issue seems to have disappeared.  The inclusion of wireless charging is a fantastic option. If you have used a Windows Phone before, you will find the OS more familiar. On one hands its great, because it provides a consistent User Experience; but on the other hand, nothing has changed in 4 years in the platform and it isn’t as intuitive as the competition. By competition, I mean the Android. The transition it took from Cupcake to KitKat is phenomenal. iOS has been the same for years as well; that’s a different story, lets talk about it sometime later.

When you edit or post proces the image from the phone, you work on the JPG version and not the RAW DNG file. There could’ve been some better options to edit the higher resolution pictures in the phone itself.

OneNote and office integration with OneDrive is a great productivity feature. You can pretty much start writing a document at office with your laptop and  continue to edit the same on the go with your phone. OneNote can also help you to take some quick notes (Text and Voice) and reminder items. The design and build quality are top notch. However, it still needs refinements on the software side. As mentioned earlier, the built in apps and office are fantastic, but rest need a huge leap of improvements. Microsoft really needs to rectify this quickly. There is still a lot more work which needs to be done, if the Lumia range of phones want to give some serious run to other flag-ship phones.

If you are in the market looking to buy a Windows Phone or any smartphone which provides you with great camera options,  this is the best one for you.!

Update: Nokia Lumia 930 is priced at Rs. 38,649 in India and will go on sale starting October 15th.

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Enterprise Tech Featured

Best Practices to Move your Applications to Cloud

In this previous article, we had a quick overview on the different cloud service models and how it eases your challenges w.r.t administration. Now, let me ask you a simple question, can every software or workloads be moved to Cloud? The answer will definitely be a NO.

“No single delivery model meets all needs, but the combination of public, private, and hybrid clouds offer a range of options suitable for many business requirements”

Every application is different; and having a better understanding on what workload can be moved to a Cloud platform is a key to have the right cloud enterprise architecture. These below scenarios will give you an idea on what is a general market trend and patterns which are optimal for Cloud platforms adoption; and when should you move your applications to Cloud.

On/Off Work Pattern: In this scenario, the application only runs at certain times. Jobs which are batch processed fall under this pattern. Over Provisioned capacity is always wasted and the time to market can be cumbersome. For eg: The pdf printer job used by the HR team during the monthly payslip sheet generation is not a usual task but a batch process, e-book publication software which converts books to .PUB formats when a new book is ready for market.

Cloud: on off patterns

Growing Pattern: In this scenario, we can see how some business tend to grow too fast to be able to use regular hosting approach. As the business growth rate is high, one cannot procure and provision hardware fast enough. The successful services needs to grow or scale; keeping up with the growth is a big IT challenge. Example: A simple web application, which has seen great adoption and is being used by everyone in the community. You cannot have a downtime for this application and then scale it up; but need to manage it while the application is live. This is one best scenario when a cloud platform can be adopted.

Cloud Growing Patterns

Predictable Increase: In this scenario, the peak demands periods of a requirement are well known. Peaks due to the periodic increased demands. For eg: A product testing phase, when the utilization can go multiple and be predicted. Or even a Simple Quarterly results announcement website, where the page visits are high at specific periods. For eg: University Websites when results are announced every semester; News portal showcasing the quarterly results etc.

Cloud Predictable Bursting Patterns

Un-Predictable Increase: Scenarios where the bursting cannot be predicted or “situations driving business” fit in this category. Unexpected/unplanned peak in demand; sudden spike impacts performance. For eg: During Disaster Recovery, the number of utilizations of the machines and computer to run the backup job might spike high. Another general example could be, a sudden demand of product and vendors placing orders on the request portal. A Video posted on your website which goes Viral on Social Media etc.

Cloud Unpredictable Bursting Patterns

Summing up, you can look at using cloud Services in these following cases (not just limited to these listed below) –

  • Whenever you have an application with variable load which also has a need to scale massive with high reliability. One best example could online shopping portals during festival seasons or Thanks Giving day.
  • Web-apps with a short lifetime can also be a good candidate for cloud; take an example of a social media campaign your company is planning to do.  It could also be a Contest which you do for Christmas.
  • Sometimes large applications which does not fit well in your own data center, becomes a good option for cloud.
  • If you are planning to run many similar jobs at one single time, running the same on two or more different cloud instances will give you a same result at a much faster pace. Of-course, you also have an option to replicate the same machine configurations across any number of computers (VMs) you want.
  • If your application is going to leverage a variety of data available on the Internet (like Pictures, Tweets etc) then having a public data store option becomes more efficient. In such a scenario, running your software(as a service) from the Cloud makes it even more flexible.
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Best Practices Enterprise Tech Featured Microsoft Tools

Top Ten Tips and Troubleshooting with Process Explorer Tool

Process Explorer tool from SysInternals, will give you a complete overview on what processes are currently running in your PC along with the details on who invoked it and how much system resources it is consuming. This tool will be very essential, if you want to identify which file or directory has a particular program opened. In this article, you will learn 10 best practices and tips which will help to use this tool better.

A process is a container for a set of resources, including one or more threads. A process never consumes a CPU. Its the thread inside the process which consumes the system resources like CPU, Memory etc. Each process at-least has one Thread.  Using this tool, you can also determine which thread of a process is consuming CPU.

Some of the benefits, this Tool gives you are..

  • Displays the Parent/Child Relationships of the Processes
  • Highlighting of different process based on their source and states.
  • Customize Columns to suit specific needs to analyze CPU performance, Threads, etc
  • Tons of Options to play around with..!

Tip 1:Process Explorer Parameters – Create a Startup Shortcut / Desktop Shortcut to this executable (procexp.exe) and add a parameter /t /e to it.

Process Explorer - Parameters

/t makes this executable run minimized and /e will make it run elevated. As most of the times, you want the system processes also.. it makes sense to run the tool elevated.

Process Explorer - System TrayWhen you invoke this shortcut, the Process Explorer will run in the System Tray as shown below. You can just double click to invoke them.

Tip 2: Configuring the Options – Goto Options Menu Item and Select Hide When Minimized and Allow only one instance. This will help you to just minimize the program, even when you click on the X close button. Sometimes, you tend to invoke the shortcut more than once, thinking that the Process Explorer is not running, selecting the Allow only one instance will help you not have multiple entries of Procexp inside the process explorer window.

Process Explorer - Hide When MinimizedTip 3: Configure Symbols – When you invoke any process and go-to the Threads Tab, you will observe a hexadecimal weird address in the Start Address Tab. These will not be helpful for you while troubleshooting. You will need to convert it to a meaninful message and thats where configuring the symbols will be useful.

Process Explorer - Hexa Thread DefinitionsGoto Options Tab, and click on Configure Symbols item.

Process Explorer - Configure Symbols

You will need to install the Windows Debugging Toolkit, so that you can configure the path of the dbghelp.dll file. Also, configure the Symbols path as both local and internet. For more information read here – http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/debugstart.mspx

Process Explorer - Configure Symbol PathsOnce you do this, the hexa-decimal code will be converted to more meaningful message for effective understanding and troubleshooting. You can see in the Start Address column now.

Process Explorer - Meaningful Thread Definitions

Tip 4: Highlighting Colors – Goto Options Menu Item and Select, Configure highlighting. Using this option, you can customize the colors which you would like to assign for certain roles of processes. By default Pink color is associated for processes with one or more – win32 services, Yellow color for processes which uses .NET Framework, Light blue color for processes which are running with the same user account as the process explorer.

Configure Highlighting of ProcessesTip 5: Configure Difference highlighting Duration: Set the Duration to 5 or more seconds. This is an important tip, which will help you distinguish in the difference of the events. The color associations and the process will exist and run for 5 seconds. For example, every process which starts new is associated a green color and every process that stops gets a red. the processes will exist in the Process Explorer for at-least 5 seconds with the same color code, so that you can see them and diagnose the same.

Configuring highlighting DurationTip 6: Verifying Processes – When you double-click on any process it opens the properties dialog; this will give you the complete information of that particular process. Its Parent process, Who invoked it, At what time, What OS version is it (32/64 bit) etc. Just observe that, this executable is not verified no matter it comes from Microsoft Corporation. Verifying the processes will help you to determine whether this process is signed to run on this particular edition of the OS. For example, if your machine performance is sluggish, you might run the verify process and see if any of the executables like antivirus are not suited for your PC.

Analyzing a Process Image

Goto Options Tab and select on Verify Image Signatures. This will start the verification process. Now you click on any column and add a new column for Verified Signer. You will start seeing all the process along with the verified status.

Verified Processes

Tip 7: Process Identification – Sometimes, there could be many processes running on your PC (for example, many instances of a same application), In this case it would be difficult to identify the associated process entry in Process Explorer. Thats where exactly, this magnifier comes to your help. Hold the magnifier button, and that will show you all the other windows executing on your PC. Just drop the magnifier on a window which you wanted to identify and that appropriate process would get high-lighted in the Process Explorer.

Magnifier Process Identifier

Tip 8: DLL/Header View – Selecting a Process, and pressing Cntl+D will show the DLL view in the hidden tab. Cntl + H will show the headers which are currently accessed by the process. This will be helpful to understand the components used by a process. You can also choose to search a dll or a Header using the Search option. For eg: If you ever encountered a failed delete action by your process, searching for ‘delete’ will give you more information on what gets called and which file did your process try to delete. You can hover over any process in Process explorer, this will get you all the win32 services running in it.

Cntl+D for DLL View –

Process Explorer - DLL View

Cntl+H for Header View –

Process Explorer - Headers View

Tip 9: Performance Graphs – Double-clicking the graph in the icon bar, will open the performance graph. The red color showcases the kernel mode and the green signifies the transition of Kernel and User mode. If you are running a multi-core PC, choose to ‘show One Graph per CPU’. This will help you manage tasks and also enables you to take a decision to set affinity for a process to a single CPU. (You can right click on a process, Set Affinity to just any of the CPU)

Set Processor Affinity

System Information - Performance Graph

Tip 10: Configure Columns – In the explorer window, Right click on a column header and add new columns. To identify an executable or a process performance, you need to add Threads, CPU Usage, Context Switch Delta and CPU Cycles Delta. This will help you identify which process has more threads and is consuming high CPU usage. Based upon your analysis, you can choose to terminate it for system performance.

Process Performance

Are you aware of any other worthwhile tip on this tool? If yes, drop in as a comment here and I shall feature it in this article appropriately!

Also read about the other SysInternals Tools here  –