Published November 16, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

BMW GS 310 purchase and initial ownership experience

  




After 20 years of driving a car, I decided to get back to biking again. My criteria was clear, easy to sit, easy to use, good height for seating to reduce back pain and reasonable power and torque. I really wanted it to be as lightweight as possible. I am a bit leaner than most heavy weight people so wanted a bike I could push and shove if it came to that on the road.

 

 



 

 

Shortlist & showroom visit

 

A few bikes impressed me. Friend got a Harley and from a long time I was eyeing a Ninja as well. Couple of friends had RE Himalayan and Yamaha FZ so those were under purview as well. In addition BMW caught my fancy for its brand name, looks etc and also the fact it ticked few of the boxes that I had for myself. KTM was a contender too though I felt it was too sporty and too dangerous as it picks up speed way too fast.

 

I preferred the pedals being right below my leg rather than the fact I have to angle forward and keep my legs a bit backward (sporty seating stance). So bikes such as Avenger, or bikes such as Honda CBRs were out of scope because of their extreme cruising or extreme sporty stance. I wanted a relaxed seating and relaxed driving posture. KTM was out because of it being too aggressive for a started like me (although I may have wanted to consider the duke).. That left the RE, Yamaha, and BMW though for some reason I never decided to check out Honda.

 

At the time of making a decision, the Meteor was not out, so wasn’t the Highness. So it was probably an opportunity lost to test out both. When I visited the showroom in early October, there was no test ride as bike was not launched. So tentatively booked it with 20k bucks. Meanwhile a friend had a BS4 GS 310 and I managed to take a test ride and get convinced. The BS6 version then would be only better if not worse. 

 

Booking experience and test ride at showroom

 

Towards the latter half of October, I got to test ride the motorbike and I felt it was a bit top heavy and bottom light. But all ergonomics were spot on and there was no issue anywhere as such. Post the already done booking I worked out some loan formalities for the bike and that process was rather smooth talking to the bankers and coordination with the showroom.

 

Delivery and first ride home

 

Day of delivery was just one month after prebooking but still one of the earliest bikes delivered in Rallye Kayene blue colour. It was a smooth take over of the bike with pending payments done and bank loans disbursed and there was not much fuss around the delivery itself. 

 

However the staff did make some errors with insurance papers (wrong model specified) which led to cancellation of insurance and need to reinsure the vehicle. One another major issue was the registration not done due to RTO gateway payment error. I had to literally take home the bike on a temporary registration (belonging to showroom).

 

 

 

The ride itself was smooth though the bike is revving a bit at idle more than usual. The design caught a lot of eyeballs on the road, with people asking me how much it costed and what was the engine displacement, complimenting the colour, etc. I was pleasantly surprised at the build quality of this bike. I would have preferred a much better engine grunt, but this sounds a bit lame to my liking. Basically there is no announcement or arrival at signals or places where you get the vehicle to stop. So no notice until the big huge frame gives it away.

 

This bike sits tall. I mean really tall. Among a row of bikes, this bike is like easily visible no matter where this is. Filled some fuel on the way and managed to get it home. I literally had to renovate my gates to fit the bike in. This bike weighs close to 170+ kg and needs 3 feet of clear space to enter a ramp and exit. 

 

 

 

Post sales headaches

 

Post sales support has been a bit on the downside with the showroom. As of writing the article my bike is still not registered. It is 15 days now after taking delivery. Other than being apologetic nothing is being done to logically close the case. I am feeling that I will already reach the first service date of November end and still the vehicle won’t be registered. 

 

Showroom argument is “we have created temp regn for you sir, so what is the issue”, my argument is “bike has been delivered, logically close the case”. I think they need some lessons on managing customer expectations, specially when someone is paying so much for a bike.

 

I will write about the driving experience in further threads, but for now I will leave you with one heck of a looker bike!

 

 

 

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Published August 01, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Short review of the Lenovo Smart clock


Introduction

I was not looking what I was doing and plugged in my Alexa power supply into my wooden LED digital clock that I purchased from Singapore for above 50 SGD and the next thing I know is the clock was beeping with screwed up display.




I knew that was the end of it. So there began my search to replace that clock. I checked out many websites in India and came across that the same LED clock including shipping would cost me much more than 50SGD. It was not worth it and I was wondering what to do when I came across the Croma web site which was selling the Lenovo Smart clock at a deep discount of 3999/- down sharply from the MRP of 9999/-


At the time it was launched the thought of someone having to pay 10k for that clock astounded me. So I did not for it at that time. However at 3999/- it was a compelling buy.

Unboxing

I made a short video on unboxing this clock. It was a fairly simple unboxing and took very minimal time and less fussy as well. Take a look for yourself.



Salient points about the gadget

The following are worth mentioning about the gadget

  • Quite some decent amounts of clock faces
  • pretty amazing brightness levels almost doubling up the clock as a night lamp for your room
  • Good readable main clock face font
  • Amazing loudness of volume for announcements and google replies
  • Main controls such as brightness, volume etc are neatly placed on the slide up menu on the clock
  • Other widgets such as alarms, weather etc are accessible by swiping left or right
  • Textured cloth finish with volume buttons on top of the clock
  • Triangular shape makes it sit on the desk without an issue
  • Other buttons such as mute, power cable input etc are neatly placed at the rear and are accessible without even seeing them, mute button being a slider is easy to operate
  • Hardware seems rock solid in the hand as well as throughout the operation
  • Since it connects to WiFi, even after a power cycle, it picks up the current time from the network without a fuss unlike other digital LED clocks
  • Integration with devices to cast to, is commendable
  • USB connectivity at the rear

CONS: There are really no points I can take to nitpick on this product. I really do not have much to say on the negatives of the product. In fact in my opinion there are really no negatives. Had it been sold for the original price of 10000 it would have been a huge negative, but that is also not the case now.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Smart Clock is a great buy at 3999/-, the hardware is slick and fuss free, the display is amazing and so is the sound. It does sound a bit tinny since it is not a bass machine like say the HomePod and rightly so. This is not a device built for music but still gives you listening pleasure if you wish to play music.

For what it has to offer, it is pretty accurate and integrates google tech very well inside what is a right dimension of hardware. The Lenovo Clock is a hardware that would get you to actually use it more than say a Google Home Device. Its understanding of Indian English accent is commendable as well considering how far Google has come with this.

So what are you waiting for, let me know in the comments below if you liked the review and if you are going to get yourself one of these.

Until my next post, Stay safe!

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Published July 13, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

WAHL wired hair clipper - is it a good buy?



So finally I did it. The opportunity came across. COVID. I could not and did not want to go for a haircut to a salon outside due the risks. The only other option was me to have a haircut at home itself. And for my kids as well.

I had a Philips beard trimmer which was unsuitable to cut hair on the head. In fact it is even a wrong tool to use to do that. I had seen a lot of these hair trimmers in the salons that I was interested to see what they were using. And then it came through. I made an Amazon purchase for the WAHL corded clipper.

So was it a good purchase? Read on to find out as I will share interesting snippets about this product.

Features of the product

In short its a corded hair clipper. Period. But with a difference.

  • Very powerful and consistent motor
  • Adjustable blade with a mechanical handle
  • Chrome plated rust proof blades
  • Comes with four attachments for different hair lengths

Talking points

The clipper is heavy. If you do not hold it properly it can give you wrist pain. It is seriously heavy in a good way. It feels solid in the hand. The motor is powerful. Really powerful. You can feel it when you switch it on. Perfect build for the price.

The hair lengths attachments help you adjust how much of hair length you want to clip. It take a bit of getting used to.

Here is a video review of the product unboxing


Utilitarian aspect

This is the real thing about this product. Can you actually use it at home. I used it at home and this is what I found out, read on.

  • You need the person to sit on a bar stool preferably for you to stand upright while trimming hair. If you are bending forward and downward to where the subject is, its not a great position
  • There are tactical ways of running the trimmer on the hair, if you don’t keep the angle right, you are going to snip right upto the scalp. It takes a lot of getting used to get this right
  • You take the longest measurable attachment, move from bottom to top, then the next one move from bottom upto 3/4th of the top, then the next one from bottom upto 1/2 the top and the last one bottom upto 1/4 the top. This is the pattern to leave longer hair at top while having the shortest hair at bottom
  • For the top of the head its best to use comb, your hand and scissors. Weave your hand along the top hair, raise it up and snip a quantum that pops way out of your fingers, keep repeating this until there is no more hair that pops up beyond your hand depth when placed on the top of the head. This is by far the easiest thing to do as its a natural step
  • For all the attachments provided you still need the comb and scissors method too, and its not totally avoidable.
  • There is no magic formula to use this machine. Everything comes by experience. We need to use different mechanisms to get the haircut done.
  • There are other aspects such as lots of hair sticking onto body or falling on the floor at home which needs to be taken care of. We need a good apron preferably satin onto which hair does not stick. Again experience plays the part to find out what suits best
  • For the hair that needs to be completely removed such as edges, we can use beard trimmer without any attachments, but carefully
  • If you are using any of this on children, utmost care is to be taken to accommodate the fact children however old they are will move their head beyond a point as they begin to get frustrated. For an inexperienced user who gives the haircut this process can go on until 45 minutes to an hour and still result in imperfection.
  • There is no way to learn this without humans as that method is expensive requires dealing with wigs to practice, etc

Conclusion

The product is solid for its price. It has none of the efficiency issues that we may have with cordless trimmers. It’s a simple product with not much tech complications, but still can get difficult to use as the process is more about skill than anything about the product usage itself.

The other things it will teach you are patience, care, being slow, and getting to know how difficult a barber’s job really is. This is why everyone cannot be a barber. This is not a lawnmower job, it is a hair trimming job. And if the end result is a disaster you not only lose that customer, you will lose other customers also by word of mouth.

With every lost customer, the skill is hard to master. If you liked this review, leave me your comments below!


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Published July 05, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

WWDC - Improvements to OS releases - part 3, Mac OS Big Sur & ARM


In the second of this three part series, I outlined the improvements to WatchOS, Privacy, Smart Home, and Apple TV coming up in iOS14. To conclude in this article we discuss the big daddy of all OSes, Mac OS.


Mac OS Improvements

This time the new operating system is going to be called Big Sur. The focus is on design and power of the OS. Some of the important introductions are as below

User Experience (UX)

  • There is a complete redesign of the user interface and experience meant for rich look and feel, maintaining simplicity and ensuring easy usage and great UX
  • Sidebars and Toolbars are added for most apps
  • Transparent Menu bar which merges with background
  • Soft sliders for controls like volume
  • Control center is now integrated into Big Sur, just like iPhone and its customisable to what you wish to have

Widgets, Messages, Maps & Catalyst

  • Widgets are now available to Big Sur
  • Messages on mac now carries over iPad based updates to memojis and powerful integrations of things like photos, icons, etc directly into messages.
  • MacOS supports all map features discussed previously for iOS 14. On the move though these may not be so useful but just before you leave you can setup a lot of data on your desk and it will all hopefully be there on your phone as well
  • Street level views and look around, points of interest, important locations known to you can now be pinned
  • Catalyst app now available and will support adapting iPhone apps to mac with enabling all the good features of Mac OS with respect to screen size, and lots of other things

Safari browser speed improvements

Big Sur claims that the Safari browser is now 50% faster than Chrome. And we all know that Chrome is going down the drain with its memory hogging functionality. This comes at a time when Microsoft Edge is blazing fast on all platforms. The real competition is now really between Safari and Edge rather than Safari and Chrome

Safari also has improvements to privacy and now will allow users to see how websites are tracking them, using privacy report button. Website passwords have stronger level of encryption within Safari in case of a data breach and Safari is now also allowing developers to port extensions to Safari easily.

The Mac app store will also feature a list of these extensions to find them easily. Being able to give extensions permissions just by the hour or day and giving them specific permissions for specific websites makes Safari very powerful. Safari also has a new look with custom backgrounds, and specific themes.

One of the issues we people have always had is to have multiple tabs open to the point that each tab shows only the icon. It would by then become hard to read and we would not understand which page is on which tab. For this the new browser comes with page preview just by pointing the button at that tab which in my opinion is a great move.

Another feature introduced by Safari also includes the fact that we can now close only tabs to the right or only taps to the left. Safari also comes now with built-in translation where we can translate an entire webpage in real-time contextually while being on the same page. This is especially great if you want to read content written in other languages, but shown in let's say English.

Move to ARM

Perhaps the biggest update in WWDC but still nothing visual is the decision from Apple to move from Intel to ARM. This is by far the most important decision that will let Apple bring about newer tech in near future of at least five years. Every new hardware released hereon will be having ARM chips and it is an exciting time for both Apple and ARM knowing the sophistication of ARMs IPs in terms of performance and the likes.


Some of the key points about the hardware evolution are as below

  • 100x improvement in CPU performance
  • Larger GPU and wider memory subsystem for much better graphics performance over the years
  • 1000x faster performance in graphics in ten years
  • 2 billion devices shipped since ten years is a whopping achievement
  • Focus on devices giving highest performance with lowest power consumption
  • Big Sur is be default having native apps built for the new silicon
  • Universal 2 for converting apps to support native silicon or Intel
  • The real deal would be when users use complex apps like photoshop, final cut pro which would seamlessly provide performance most likely at less power consumption, like for example applying filters on 4k preview videos while editing on a project.
  • Rosetta 2 would help in automatically help translate intel based apps to work on new silicon even though the app is not completely refined
  • Gaming is expected to be super smooth for rendering frames
  • Support for virtualisation and support for iPhone and iPad apps to run seamlessly on Mac’s new chips
  • The SoC kit is available as a mac mini for using Big Sur and Xcode so developers can work with to perfect their apps

Conclusion

The developer betas are already available and the iOS 14 release would be officially available by Fall time (September in India). These OS updates are substantial in their own right and have finally caught up with what Android was offering all the while. But in a more sure footed manner.

It is an exciting time for buying Apple products especially with the very performant and less power hungry ARM cores and it is only anyones imagination how many avenues this will open for Apple in future. The only thing left to do is to wait to savour the new iOS14 for now and some great ARM based hardware in the years to come!

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Published July 04, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

WWDC - Improvements to the iOS 14 release - part 2



In my last post we discussed the impact of the new features being launched as part of iOS 14 release which is upcoming. Simultaneous improvements to WatchOS, iPAD OS, MacOS, and TVOS also mean all things get incrementally better than before.

In this second post, let us discuss the remaining things that made up the WWDC announcements.

Watch OS 7




So the Watch Os is undergoing some transformation as well. The things they have introduced are

  • additional complications that developers can provide in their apps
  • Much more detailed level of customisations to watch faces to include specific information
  • Sharing of watch faces - now you can simply share your watch face or add a watch face you see on the net, or even share on social media
  • The map enhancements are now added to watch OS, specifically focussing on cyclists.
  • The watch OS also adds an app called Fitness which now has recording of dance moves very accurately for different variety of dances, which measures accurate calorie burn rate
  • Watch OS also now focusses on tracking sleep better and more importantly preparing for you to go to sleep by dimming screens, showing relevant messages, playing calm music, etc. It also measure sleep activity to monitor what is happening when you sleep.

Note: For India however the cycling data on watch is not going to be so very useful yet. The sleep monitoring assumes you have the watch on, and the phone near you which we Indians are not accustomed to.

Special feature - helping you with your hand washing during COVID times. Apple thought they could use their existing sensors to include this feature where the watch knows the time when you are washing your hand apparently and runs a 20 second timer to ensure you wash enough. During pandemic times such small but important features add to customer delight if not anything else. Again for India, one cannot be really sure how many of us will even be using these watches or wearing them all the time.

Privacy

Apple is making many improvements to privacy of customer data. Customers can now choose what kind of data they want to send back to the servers. Some of the salient points on privacy are as below

  • Most of the data is processed in the phone, with minimal queries to servers, or storage on servers
  • Customer get to decide what data to share with Apple
  • Signing in with Apple Pay is going to get wider reach and going to be provided to older operating system users as an upgrade
  • Location sharing can now be approximate
  • Users will need to give permission to apps when they use mic or camera
  • Safari will now show you what data is being tracked by websites
  • Users will be able to see the information the App will track before they download that app

For us Indians, this is a welcome move to protect privacy of phone users.

Smart Home


The home app is now going to have a uniform standard of being able to identify appliances within home since Apple is now collaborating with many companies to integrate their products into the OS.

Smart notifications like the one that comes up when AirPods are nearby and ready to pair for example will now be shown on iPhone with automatic intelligent automations being suggested by the phone for each device.

Special focus is on some things like

  • lighting systems - adaptive lighting to adjust colour temperature throughout the day
  • Cameras - will now integrate with Apple TV, and users would be able to decide and designate the exact area they want to monitor for movements with ability to use Siri to help you show cameras that you want to see right on your TV

Apple TV

Apple TV gets slightly better with PIP support for handling workout activities while watching your favourite shows, multi user profiles with pausing games where the user left off the previous times, etc.

Apple TV+ also includes Foundation, a visualisation of Issac Asimov’s novels.

In the last part of this article series, let us see what is coming up as part of Mac OS Big Sur.

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