Moving from iOS to Android…



Every 6 months I’ll go through the motions of proclaiming that I’m dumping iOS in favor of Android. I’ll complain about how the pricing delta between a top Android phone and the latest hotness from Apple is increasing. Then, I’ll write down a list of things I use on my iPhone and try and map it to the Android ecosystem.

4 years ago is the first time I said I was going to dump iOS and shack up with Android. Back then when I made my list, Apple supposedly had the perfect ecosystem where everything worked in harmony whereas Android was like your crazy cousin that lived in a trailer park – scary. But over the years Android got its act together and now is on par with the Apple ecosystem…yes, hell has frozen over for this die hard Apple fanboi.

It might seem scary when moving to a different platform but today it’s very easy. There are really 4 things to think about when moving from iOS to Android and vice versa:

  1. Data – email, address book, calendars, reminders, photos, videos, etc…
  2. Apps – Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, etc..
  3. Cloud Service – Your data is getting backed up to a cloud service (you are doing this right?)
  4. Content Streaming – More and more people want to stream content from their phone to a TV

Everyone knows about number 1 and 2.  But, most people fail to backup their data and then complain when their phone dies or gets stolen, there really is no excuse except you are stupid. Content streaming was a deal breaker for me but with the introduction of the Nexus Player a complete Android ecosystem is now in place. Most people won’t or don’t care about streaming but as we take more pictures and videos it’s much easier to view the content on a big screen.

Does this all seem a bit too much? Don’t worry, I created a PDF guide that shows what things you need to consider when jumping from one platform to another. Instead of me making that list every 6 months, I just decided to create the PDF and share it with everyone as my Christmas gift to you!

So, when will I actually move over to Android? I’m hoping 2015 brings a slew of slick phones from the Android ecosystem. I’ve got my eyes on Obi Mobiles, which is the company started by ex-Apple CEO John Sculley. The rumor mill suggests they are working on some phone designs that can compete head to head with the iPhone.

Happy Holidays!

Download the PDF guide

Datsun No-Go Fiasco


datsun-goA couple of weeks ago the Global New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) tested the Maruti-Suzuki Swift and Datsun Go (owned by Nissan), two cars which are sold in India. Most countries have their own automotive standards board like the US has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), India has the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). NCAP is an initiative by the United Nations to make cars and roads safer around the world. NCAP usually has stricter norms in countries where big companies can push around the government officials…kinda like India.

So what were the results of the frontal impact tests for the Maruti-Suzuki Swift and Datsun Go? They deemed both cars unfit for Indian roads and sent a letter to the CEO of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, stating he has no business selling a car that is so unsafe and should immediately stop producing the car.

The outrage in India was pretty much…not there. As expected a spokesperson from SIAM had a quote to justify the abysmal results:

Every country has its own safety requirements. Our cars are meeting safety norms set by the government. The protocol followed by Global NCAP was not designed for India and tests must be conducted based on the conditions here.

Of course, the cars tested were both without airbags and I’m willing to bet those are the most popular variants of those cars. The reality is most people will place money above their own safety in an effort to save money. And that’s the crux of the issue where SIAM is stuck, consumers don’t want to pay for expensive safety features and car manufacturers are just giving consumers what they want. But at some point the government needs to make some hard choices and enforce that ALL cars have a minimum set of safety features. If all cars go up in price by Rs. 30,000 (USD 500) then so be it, at least people will not die needlessly.

The crash reports for both cars are below:

The PDF of the Maruti-Suzuki Swift results.
The PDF of the Datsun Go results.

YouTube clip of the Datsun Go impact test:

Modi’s Government Transparency Plan


attendanceWhen Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, was campaigning for the top job in India he talked about the need for more government transparency. Like many, I figured this was true to a certain extent but really more about campaign politics to get more people on his side and more votes. However, a couple weeks ago the Modi government launched – a dashboard to see government employees attendance records. I guess the idea is that if government employees work for the public, then the public should be able to track if those employees are actually going to the office.

That’s a hugh step forward for government transparency, currently it’s not available for every Indian government employee but I’m assuming over time it will encompass them all. However, just because they show up doesn’t mean they are actually doing any real work. So, as more and more services go online I’m sure the system will also be able to track their efficiency as well.

The Indian government loves using paper for everything because they probably hate trees. Actually, the real reason is because when things get heated with a particular government scam, the government officials involved cam throw up their hands and say “the files have been lost.” However, by using computers like the rest of the world you can start to track the progress of the work being done and as a by-product you can have multiple backups of those “files” – crazy right?

The attendance system is just the first piece of the puzzle and I think it’s a step in the right direction.



My Quantified Diet Project


quantified-dietThe holidays are almost upon us and soon people will start to gorge on food. Then they’ll start a new years resolution to try and lose all that excess weight…it’s a vicious cycle and I’ve been there. For the past 2 months I’ve been running an experiment that is strictly based on numbers – I’ve been tracking EVERYTHING that that goes into my body (food) or gets burned (exercise). This experiment is part of a bigger movement called the quantified self – which is using technology to track all the various numbers and bring some science to the idea of losing weight.

Step 1: The first thing I had to figure out is how much I weigh and how overweight I was. The standard that most clinicians use is the body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet index, which is a measure of my mass and height. You can use this calculator to find your BMI. Now you have your BMI number and number of pounds/kilos you are overweight by. (My BMI was 26.6, which puts me in the overweight category)

Step 2: Next, I needed to figure out how many calories my body typically needs which is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This calculator can help (another one – calorie intake and BMI). I’ve found that the online calculators have a wide variance, so you’ll have to average it out or just pick one and go with it. (My calorie consumption is around 2,400 per day).

Step 3:  Figure out your target BMI. People will take drugs to lower their cholesterol number so they can be in the healthy range but for some reason people just don’t care about the BMI. For me it was not only about losing weight but also getting into the healthy range of the BMI index. I decided to shoot for 23.5. That works out to about 173 lbs. which means I have a goal to shed 23 lbs.

Step 4: How many pounds do you want to lose per week? It’s easy to say I want to lose a pound a week but when you look at it mathematically it’s not so easy. As a rule of thumb, 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So to lose 1 pound you would need to cut 500 calories per day either from your diet or increase your exercise. For me to lose 1 pound a week, I needed cut my calories to around 2,200 and also ran 20 minutes a day…everyday.

Step 5: Track your calories and exercise. For calories I used the MyFitnessPal app, it’s got a massive database of food that you can select from to track your calories consumed. Since I run, I used the Nike+ running app and then would add the calories burned into MyFitnessPal.

Implementing the above system, I was very surprised of the preliminary results. I was able to drop about 15 lbs. in 10 weeks which is more than I expected. As always, your mileage will vary and the real test will be for me to sustain this level of heightened awareness and determination in the long run.

[Nov 10, 2014 – 3 month update]

  • Started at 89 kg (195.8 lbs)
  • Now at 80.9 kg (177.98 lbs)
  • Shed 8.1 kg (17.82 lbs)
  • 1 sugar packet = 1 suger cube = 4 grams of sugar = 16 calories (a 20 oz bottle of Coke has 65 grams of sugar or about 16 sugar packets)
  • Ran 20 minutes a day (87 out of 90 days)
  • I’ve come to realize 80% of the weight loss was from reducing my calorie intake and the other 20% was from physical activity

[Dec 10, 2014 – 4 month update]

  • Now at 79.0 kg (173.8 lbs)
  • Shed 10.0 kg (22.0 lbs)
  • Ran 20 minutes a day (118 out of 122 days)
  • portion control, portion control, portion control…did I mention portion control?

Tata Motors Revival?


Tata_zestTata Motors up until last week had been under flying under the radar while they rebuild their company. For many years, the cars that Tata Motors produced were about as exciting as watching paint dry and hence were mainly sold to taxi fleets. Then in early 2008, Tata Motors revealed to the world what was billed as the cheapest car ever made – Tata Nano. Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata unveiled the car and said instead of riding on a bike with 4 people, consumers could instead ride in a car. Two things derailed their plans which the Nano has never recovered from.

The first thing is people don’t necessarily like others to know they bought “the cheapest thing” not a very aspirational way to show the world you have upgraded from a bike to the cheapest possible car. But, what really hurt sales was when several of the cars would spontaneously turn into an instant barbecue grill. What was more surprising was the response from a Tata group company – nothing. They blamed the consumers and said their cars were fine. Ouch, I’m no PR specialist but that just seems like the dumbest possible way to handle the situation.

After that fiasco, Tata Motors got their act together and hired an outsider to run the show. They found Karl Slym who was previously heading up the Indian operations for General Motors. Karl was supposed to clean up the mess and get Tata Motors back on track. Although he was juggling many balls, in the press he talked at great length about streamlining and optimizing the number of vendors they buy parts from. I dropped an email to Karl and mentioned:

I hope design is a priority as well or you will end up streamlining the process to deliver cars more efficiently that only a mother could love.

His response:



It appeared Tata Motors was back on track to streamlining the operations, building cars people would actually buy and making sure the dealers were happy again. Then tragedy struck, in early 2014 Karl committed suicide.

However in his absence Tata Motors seems to have moved past that tragedy and starting to see the fruits of Karl’s labor. The first car out of the newly revamped Tata stable is the Zest. It’s a compact sedan that is going after Maruti’s main market. From the looks of it, the Zest could be a massive success that the Tata group is looking for. It’s the first car in this price segment to have an automatic transmission paired with a diesel engine.

So what’s next for Tata? In the coming months they will launch the Tata Bolt which is their new hatchback that will compete squarely with the Maruti Swift and the Hyundai i10/i20.

I’ve never liked the cars from Tata Motors but that view is changing as Tata is improving their product line. If the Zest and Bolt are big commercial successes then I can see Tata Motors moving up the pricing curve and introduce products to complete against the Honda City. I’m sure this time around Tata Motors will not lose sight of the goal and do whatever it take to make consumers happy.

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