Living for Today

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Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Ferrari

It was all planned that Sergio Marchionne would retire in April 2019, and then become Vice Chairman of Ferrari. What a cushy way to retire.

Who is Sergio? He’s the guy that saved thousands of jobs in Italy and North America as the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and saved both companies from going bankrupt. Sergio was brought in to fix Fiat in 2004 and turned it around and made it profitable. Then he decided to work his magic on Detroit based Chrysler, which was on the verge of bankruptcy during the financial crisis of 2008. He bought Chrysler in 2009 and by 2014 he merged the profitable Chrysler with Fiat and renamed the company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

Along the way, he also became the Chairman and CEO of Ferrari since Fiat owned a stake in the legendary sports car company. Ferrari makes under 10,000 cars a year so the idea was to oversee this “small car company” during his retirement. That never happened. Unexpectedly, he died from complications due to a should surgery over the weekend, he was 66 years old.

When I heard the news, I was stunned. Not because I personally knew Sergio but I had been watching and reading about him in the press as he turned around Chrysler. Then taking the reins at Ferrari which led to an IPO on the NYSE for Ferrari, their ticker symbol is RACE (haha, nice touch). It makes you pause and realize it’s good to plan for the future, but you absolutely have to live for today.

Floor Mats and Ferraris

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Ferrari 250 GTO

This past week the most money ever paid for a car took place, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO was reportedly sold for between $70 to $80 million. Yes, that is millions. Since the sale did not take place through an auction house the amount is just an estimate. When I heard the amount paid, I was dumbstruck…but that was only half the story.

I grew up reading every car magazine I could get my hands on – Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track and Automobile Magazine. Since my dad was a big believer in public libraries I had to goto the local Carnegie Public Library to drool over those magazines. I would read them front to back and back to front, one company that always advertised was WeatherTech for their floor mats and their ads always struck me as odd. I always wondered who in the hell would buy those overpriced floor mats. I mean come on, floor mats…who really gives a fuck.

Uhh…apparently a lot of people care about having high quality floor mats. David MacNeil of WeatherTech is the guy that bought the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO.

Behind the Podcast: The Gear

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Samson Meteor Mic on the left and the Shure MV5 on the right, the complete setup.

When I tell people I have a podcast, there are a couple responses I get:
1. Wow, that’s cool. What’s a podcast?
2. How does that happen?

The “that” usually refers to the entire process of recording, editing, hosting and listening. The good news is that this blog post will talk about all the technical details of running a podcast show. I know I spent a shit load of time Googling and watching YouTube clips on starting a podcast. So this should save you some time, let’s do this…

Topic
Pick something you love, not just like but love. If you love something, it will be very apparent in the conversation. If I had to do a podcast on international taxation, I would probably kill myself.

USB Mics
I really wanted portable USB mics because most of my guests and including me would not travel to a studio to record a podcast. The mic that everyone talks about on YouTube is the Blue Yeti mic, it’s great but it was a bit heavy at around 19.4 oz (550 grams). Since I would need two of them (one for me and another for the guest), that would be 1100 grams. Instead, I opted for the Shure MV5 (5.6 oz., 160 grams) and the Samson Meteor Mic (9.3 oz., 264 grams). These two mics are very good at capturing sound and for the price can’t be beat. Listen to my podcast and you can judge yourself.

USB Hub
I have a 12″ MacBook which is the lightest laptop at 920 grams that you can buy on the market today. The downside is that it has a single USB Type-C connector. Which means with 2 USB mics I need a Type-C hub, luckily Amazon has one under their AmazonBasics line for Rs. 1099.

At this point you must be thinking, damn this guy is only concerned about the weight of everything. And there is a good reason, I have a slight shoulder issue so the lighter the better for me.

Software
Once the mics are connected to the hub which is connected to the MacBook you need some software to capture and edit the audio. The technical name of this software is called the digital audio workstation (DAW). On the Mac there are 3 main competitors to choose from and I used all three – Apple’s GarageBand, Audacity (open source, meaning free!) and Adobe’s Audition.

I used GarageBand for 15 minutes and quickly realized it’s great for kids. Then as a true Marwadi (read as – cheap, err value seeker) I looked at the open source Audacity. It was really good but then I got side-tracked and started to use Adobe’s Audition and got hooked. Partly because of the number of tutorials on YouTube for Audition seemed much more. For any issue I faced, I would goto YouTube and there would be 10-15 tutorials on how to solve/fix my problem.

Podcast Hosting Service
Once you create the final .mp3 audio file from your DAW, you will need to upload it to the internet. There are many podcast hosting services but I stuck with the one that has been around the longest – Libsyn.

Podcast Submission
You will need people to find your podcast via the big directories like iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.. This article has the full details on that.

So there you have it, the podcast gear I use to create the Performalux Podcast. Now go on and let the world hear your voice!

My New Podcast – Performalux

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They say the third time’s a charm, well I’m hoping my latest podcast is the one. Podcasting has been gaining a lot of traction over the past 2 years and my first brush with the technology was back in 2010. I launched my first podcast called “Semper Chai” with a buddy, Mike Martin, out of Los Angeles. We did about 3 or 4 episodes and then we retired from the game!

Then I came out of retirement in 2013 and tried podcasting for a second time with a friend from Bombay – Sahil Parikh. We were going to talk about about technology and called the show “The DotMatrix Show” – connecting the dots of business and technology. That also lasted about 3 or 4 episodes and then we stopped.

Throughout all of this I continued to blog and have been for 14 years. I told myself that in 2018 I wanted to try a different media. That meant either video (vlogging) or audio (podcasting). I know all the cool kids are vlogging but I decided to try podcasting and see how that goes first.

My third attempt at a podcast is about performance and luxury or simply known as Performalux. I will be interviewing owners of super cars, car enthusiasts, car dealers and automobile manufacturers. Cars are my passion so this podcast just aligns so well with it.

Without further adieu, below is the first episode of The Performalux Podcast. I interviewed Gautam Madnani of Lamborghini Mumbai.

To subscribe to future episodes, you can use the links below or wherever you get your podcasts from.

iPhone
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-performalux-podcast/id1367228628

Android
Stitcher- https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/performalux/the-performalux-podcast
Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Iyqode7c4qx5lj5idjka44o63hy?t=The_Performalux_Podcast
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1fwmYjec18&list=PL6-pF-IU-94eCTLzGvtMtHjjnAVXhbw9m

My Dad’s Charity Work

Earlier this month was International Women’s Day and an Indian news channel wanted to interview my dad for this charity work. His charity has given many loans to women and hence they wanted to highlight the work he has done to help women.

Once the news clip aired we shared it on YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp and the outpouring of support was amazing. The video is below:

What most people don’t know is that for the past 6 years my dad has slowly been working near his village of Shujalpur, Madhya Pradesh to help people in need. He has helped over 50 families and given out interest free loans of around Rs. 10 lakhs (USD $15,000). The default rate on these loans is something that not even a top banker at ICICI Bank can touch. He has had a single default of $60 because the person passed away before they could pay back the loan back!

My dad tells me it’s not about the money for many people, they need guidance. A simple example is someone wanted to open a small provisions store and so may dad gave them a loan. After a month, my dad went back and asked about the sales. That person didn’t keep track, so my dad said get a diary and write down all the sales. Once this person did this, he could see a pattern emerge and realized what sold and what didn’t.

To most people this would seem standard to track daily sales but for many people that’s not the case. This person was able to figure out that certain days were consistently slow, so he would close the shop and go into town on that day to buy more goods. A clear example of where money helped but the guidance and knowledge was much more useful.

For the past 6 years, my dad has kept a blog describing all the people he has given loans to. The stories are really interesting to read, visit ShantiSeva.org to read more.

Upgrading The Home Network

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My Updated Home Network

Several months ago we renovated our flat and I decided it was also time to upgrade the home network. Before the renovation, I had a simple Linksys Wi-Fi 1200 router and everything connected via Wi-Fi. It was working but I wanted to add some new devices like a NAS (network-attached storage) box and IP cameras. It was clear the Linksys Wi-Fi 1200 transmitting on the 2.4GHz band (max 300Mbps) was not going to cut it.

I decided NOT to cable the house with Cat6 cable because I thought Wi-FI on 5Ghz would be good enough and fast enough. Uh, big mistake. The wireless speeds were good, however with a wired network I could have put wireless access points and IP cameras anywhere. By running a single ethernet cable to the device it would be connected to the network AND get powered from the LAN switch. Oh well, you live and learn.

I switched out the Linksys Wi-Fi 1200 for a Linksys WRT1900ACS wireless router. The WRT1900ACS is a dual radio router which means you can run 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time. In other routers, if you have a single device connecting at 2.4Ghz then all the devices connecting to the access point have to run at 2.4GHz, which is not ideal. Although I went with a Linksys WRT1900ACS wireless access point, I would suggest looking at eero if your house is over 2,500 sq. ft. since it uses the latest in wireless mesh technology to eliminate dead spots in a large house.

The second addition to my home network was the Synology 218 NAS device. It’s a two bay device and the really big feature is the ability to provide on the fly transcoding of 4K 10-bit H.265 files, the latest video codec standard. I populated the NAS box with a couple of Western Digital 2TB Red Series drives and configured them for Raid 1. Raid 1 mirrors the data on both drives, which means my NAS box has a total capacity of 2 terabytes.

Before buying the Synology I was pretty sure it would be overkill for my needs but after using it for a month or so I have found 3 good uses so far:

  1. Before I was using Apple’s Time Machine to backup my iMac and MacBook to an external hard drive attached to my iMac. Now I have both computers backing up to the NAS box. 
  2. Download torrents directly to the NAS box using the Synology DiskStation Manager software
  3. Stream content to my TVs and phones with on the fly transcoding

What’s next? In the next couple of months I’ll be adding an IP camera to the mix and I’ll be able to stream that video feed to the NAS box as well. I would highly recommend a NAS box to anyone that is serious about having a complete home entertainment center. Granted it’s not something that is plug and play but it’s highly useful as our lives continue to revolve around digital content.

Download the full network diagram.

The Switch to Android

Screenshot_20180112-184127Several months ago, I talked about moving to Android and most of my family and friends were like “whatever, you will never move.” Hell has frozen over, my new daily driver phone is now a OnePlus 5T which runs on Android. I got it as a Christmas present from Santa Claus and so far it’s been great.

In my original blog post I wasn’t clear WHY I was planning to switch to Android. Below are my main reasons:

1. 3rd party keyboards still don’t work smoothly on iOS. It blows my mind that the default iOS keyboard still does not support typing by sliding your finger such as SwiftKey, Gboard, Flesky and Swype to name a few. And it’s even crazier that so many iOS users have no idea what they are missing by swiping instead of typing.

2. The ability to record phone calls. I’ve been in several situations where people agree to certain terms and conditions on a call and then later seemed to have forgotten what they agreed to. In Android it’s down right easy to record calls and share them quickly if required, the app I’ve been using is called Automatic Call Recorder.

3. Truecaller support. Getting SPAM calls is so much worse then SPAM email and that’s where Truecaller can identify callers before you pickup the call. I have tried Truecaller on iOS and it’s wonky, it has a mind of it’s own when it wants to work.

4. Pricing. With the introduction of the iPhone X it’s clear Apple is moving up the pricing curve because people are willing to pay. I don’t blame them but there are several excellent phone brands in the Android ecosystem such as OnePlus that offer great value for money.

Over the past several weeks when taking pictures of friends and family, several of them have commented quite loudly “Oh my god, you did switch.” I very much did…finally.

Above are the screenshots from my new OnePlus 5T and the apps I have loaded.