Categories
Technology

Wi-Fi Coverage blues? Show your Home Wi-Fi who’s the boss!

When was the last time you were sat in that corner of your bedroom and felt like Wi-Fi was another name for devil? I did one day, and then another day and another day!! One day though I had enough. After multiple rounds of research, a few failed experiments I found a setup that works brilliantly well. Thankfully before the coronavirus crisis. Let me share with you a few tips that helped me.

Seriously consider upgrading to “Mesh Wi-Fi”

This consists of a main router and an ad-hoc number of satellite nodes as needed. These form a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password. When your device goes from one room to another, it effectively “roams” from one node to another thereby giving you hassle free coverage even in a very large area (3 Nodes typically cover about 4000 Square-feet). You need to plug in the main router into your modem, and other nodes wirelessly communicate with it and with each other. Setup is easy, and when done properly they work brilliantly. To sum up, Say goodbye to Wi-Fi Blind-Spots around your house! Ps. see my post on how my new flagship Android is better in network regard.

Mesh Wi-Fi
Many Brands and budgets to choose from! A simple setup usually is enough though!

Do your own research before buying, however they are an easy find on Amazon – sample links are provided below. These are expensive, but worth every penny. I would recommend a basic setup – it suffices for most needs we have from working to streaming.

·       TP Link – TP-Link Deco M4 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

·       Tenda – Click here

Tips for better stability of your home Wi-Fi

a.       For compact houses, consider investing in a dual band router and keep all streaming devices / smart TV etc. on a 5Ghz network (faster but less reach) whereas use 2.4Ghz (slower but more reach) for mobile phones, laptops etc. 

b.       If you have a lot of IOT / smart devices e.g. Smart Switches, Alexa, etc.

consider having a third 2.4 GHz dedicated router. This additional network can be configured to work alongside your router. As a result, you will need to re-configure to ensure no interference. For Bigger houses, I would definitely recommend Mesh Wi-Fi!

c.       I am not a big fan of range extenders – they work but in my experience are inconsistent and patchy, they might work for you though!

d. For advanced users, Wi-Fi analyzer utilities can help you detect interference from other Wi-Fi networks. Above all, it can resolve any channel conflicts etc. In addition, 2.4 GHz networks are fairly crowded in an apartment complex. Similarly, overlaps sometimes reduce speed as too many networks may be using the same Wi-Fi Channel.

Wi-Fi Analyzer
Wi-Fi Analyser is one app that it will allow to understand the state of Wi-Fi interference

e. Wi-Fi routers are susceptible to interference from certain kinds of devices. Therefore, we must keep them away from Microwave ovens, Bluetooth Devices, Baby Monitors, Fridge, etc. In addition, keep standalone routers in the center of your house, and in an open area – do not hide them in a bookshelf or a cupboard

f.        If you have DIY fever this weekend, you can also make DIY reflectors to tweak Wi-Fi Coverage / Leakage – sometimes all you may need is an Aluminum foil read more here

Bonus Tip

To sum up, if you are interested in setting up without digging up your walls, or have a smaller budget, you can buy a class of devices called as Powerline adapters. For instance, it will allow you to send data over your electric lines (don’t worry it’s very safe) one “plug-in” near your router, and one or more “plug-out” in the desired room. As a result, you can connect seamlessly using Ethernet or Wi-Fi over fairly large distances.

a.       Powerline Wi-Fi adapter with Ethernet port – Link here

In addition, I also want to mention, that this is my personal experience and not a promotion.

Categories
Experiences

Inexpensive ways to keep kids Busy

It’s been over 2 and a half months, and the chirping of little kids has been eerily quiet in our gated community. Last week, my 3 year old son asked me, “Daddy, when will Conora-virus go? When will the playground be open?” and I had nothing but a sigh and an unsure “soon, Anik, soon…” to mutter. Sad, right? Don’t let the occasional memory of playground or his friends fool you though. Anik has been having a gala time since the Lockdown began and he’s been a very happy child. We will give him full credit for that. Let me share with you some inexpensive ways to keep kids busy. My spouse and I have facilitated a few playing and learning experiences for him that we would like to share.

Cardboard + imagination = unlimited fun as an inexpensive way to keep kids busy.

Weekends? no! They are craft days!!We ask Anik – What would you like to “make” today and the answers are as imaginative as they can be. Spaceship, Speedboat, A Car City, A Booster Rocket. Some spare things in the house, and a bit of stationary and we sit with him and craft our way to some really cool #makercraft. This is one of the great inexpensive ways to keep kids busy. Patience is key, so is participation – for sticking, colouring, marking and all kinds of stuff the kid may enjoy. We usually start with a plan on a whiteboard and then keep iterating our way. I will let the pictures do the talking. We hope Anik learns creativity, patience, and the love for building.

Pre-schoolers make great little chefs!

The entire world has been baking during the coronavirus pandemic and we are no exception. This surely is a proven way to keep your kid engaged. Helps Anik learn textures, tastes, dexterity, and again, making. This is another inexpensive ways to keep kids busy. We have gone a step further and given him some common ingredients and let his imagination take over. We have as a result, Grape and Potato wafer canapés, Apple Pie Made up of Apple and Coarse Sugar, and many other creative recipes you will not even find in a Michelin star restaurant. Take a look at some of these!!

Household chores + role play can turn pre-schoolers into happy little helpers.

Want to load your dishwasher? This is one of the great inexpensive ways to keep kids busy. You should ask your kid for help, Anik calls it a dishwashing Robot and he loves to help. Our cleaner bot is his robot friend too, he calls it Eva (from the Pixar movie Wall-e). Anik also loves on days to clean up and show us his superpowers! This doesn’t always work but when it does it’s great!

Your house spaces and furniture are your best friends!!

A bean bag, a hydraulic bed, sofa, simple mattress, can turn into amazing physical activities for kids. Balcony / Terrace can turn into yoga spaces. You don’t have to do a lot, just don’t interfere with creativity. This is one of the most amazing inexpensive ways to keep kids busy. There is a big safety issue here, so please exercise common sense. We turn our hydraulic bed into a slide, sofa with a bean bag turns into a bird’s nest, a mattress can turn into a ski slope. My kid for instance has conceived a fun pretend swimming pool – a bedsheet surrounded by pillows and a house ladder as a diving board, and there is pretend splashing too, and we have to be there with him. I’m sure all of us can relate to jumping on the bed, but with Anik we have taken it to a whole new level. We have also brought in aspects of simulation for instance we have built a car city replete with school, hospital, garage, emergency services, roads and everything!! Anik had blast building and playing.

Technology is a means to an end – it is NOT one of the inexpensive ways to keep kids busy.

Tech does NOT mean screens. Screens are okay, I am not averse to a couple hours of screen time a day, but it surely is passive and doesn’t engender or utilise creative ability at all. We try to harness tech to keep the kid engaged and curious, this could be simply be , communicating with his friends, or helping me repair a tap, or teaching how to replace batteries in toys, and then come the science experiments. For instance at 3 although not with a lot of expectations, me and Anik have created a DC generator prototype that generates electricity from another fan and a propeller wind mill. We have also created a water pumping station using siphon action. Anik’s grandfather has designed an aeroplane shuttle system based on a rope and a few straws. It’s brilliant. You can also experiment with Augmented reality fairly easily. Finally Lego! Lego is not tech but isn’t it? Using building blocks to create fascinating things… for me there is no better definition of tech.

I don’t pretend to be a super parent. These are humble efforts that are purely born out of necessity. Who knows, they might even inspire some parents and kids!!

Can you relate? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories
Opinions

Anything but new normal – Coronavirus Pandemic

Make no mistake, this is turning out to be the greatest challenge of our generation or perhaps for many generations. What has hit us is not a one off event, it is a volley! The pandemic will be followed by a Series of crises. It is going to be anything but new normal. As a result I think we need a new strategy to deal with this incredible challenge, one that allows us to anticipate, prepare & adapt to this whole new world. Hang on, what whole new world?

The world is changing in profound ways we don’t understand yet

anything but new normal
We are at the precipice of cascading changes that will literally change everything

The world economy is already in a recession. Shortages of food are expected, especially in the lower income countries. The ripple effect of coronavirus on public health infrastructure is going to inevitably mean more suffering and death. As a result, many cities will suddenly find big companies moving their employees to “cloud”. Twitter, Facebook, and Shopify have already announced permanent work from home as an option. Some have announced they will become 100% remote.

What are the implications?

What happens to real estate? rentals in places like San Francisco? Also, why can’t companies like Shopify then hire a fully remote talented engineer in Manila? Or Dhaka? How will this change the Job Market? Will Bay Area remain lucrative? what about Bangalore? Will Harvard, and Stanford be the same they used to be? Will we as a generation accrue same amount of education debt? What about retail to e-commerce shift? Shift from television to streaming? What about shift towards cashless? Cryptocurrency? Remote education? Rest assured, many have already become mainstream and are here to stay. Everything is on hyper-drive. In conclusion, it is mind numbing and we won’t be able to stop it or slow it down!!

Prepare for anything but new normal

Many governments around the world fumbled, jumbled and simply didn’t get their head around what was coming. Many touted this just as a flu, others said we will acquire “herd immunity”, some were debating until it was too late. This is not the criticism of the governments, they have a tough job balancing precaution with overreaction. However, it underscores the nature of the challenge. It is completely unpredictable. Although some have done better than others, and there are lessons to be learnt. The unpredictability stems from the pandemic itself, for instance, it cannot be predicted whether therapeutics / vaccine will arrive in a month or in a year or in a few years. Although most of us have an optimism bias, it is a dangerous proposition if it does not prepare us for what is coming.

Anything but new normal presents opportunities as well

WHO’s chief scientist recently painted a bleak picture suggesting it will be 4-5 years before the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. We cannot assume that people in charge, or governments necessarily know what they are doing. You need to be in charge. Do what feels right, don’t let anyone tell you that they know better. The more original solutions and meaningful actions the more our chances of coming out stronger as a community. Especially, the younger generation has a massive responsibility to figure out what is wrong and fix it and also build a better future. If someone has an issue with how you are doing something, then let them do it their way and you let history decide who did it better. Remember, all crises come with great opportunities.

Adapt and build a community for what you believe in

We need to adapt to the changing landscape. Many small private label retailers and some big fashion brands are now partnering with Amazon to keep going. Some of my dear friends have completely changed their area of expertise and adopted to upcoming technologies such as Cloud, AIML among others. I have seen a massive push in areas such as group buying, where farmers sell their produce direct to the consumer – cheaper prices, fresher produce, and elimination of middlemen. No big tech involved, whatsapp and google sheets do the job just fine for these pandemic entrepreneurs. Many of our team have joined up with academia, and friends to help governments make policy decisions. All of these are heroes in my opinion.

Passion economy has become very big as well!

Passion economy is about celebrating individuality and sharing it with the world, and in return getting paid handsomely for it. As per the linked article, the top writer on the paid newsletter platform substack makes US $ 500,000 a year from reader subscriptions. All of us have hidden teachers, cooks, music tutors in us, and we too can make an opportunity from it. Turn to YouTube and start a v-log, open that Shopify storefront you always wanted to sell Socks, write a blog, create a private label on Amazon, start a podcast, help someone with parenting, pick up someone when they are feeling low, or help a stranger who needs a job. Do something you are passionate about, and who knows you may have the next million subscribers.

anything but new normal
Source – Social Media Credits Unknown

Good luck on your journey, it is going to be unique and challenging, but I promise you it will be worth it. After all we are in anything but new normal.

Categories
Opinions

It’s time to build – Reflections on Marc Andreessen’s clarion

It’s time to build. Marc needs no introduction!! He is the co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser. He is also the co-founder of Netscape. In addition, he is the co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. Marc makes a hard-hitting point about our pervasive failure to build. COVID-19 crisis has literally revealed all our weaknesses. This is aptly personified by the quote below by James Lane Allen.

“Crisis Doesn’t Build Character, It Reveals It”. 

This has been exposed by the Coronavirus crisis. We have failed to build so many things. Including but not limited to medicines, vaccines, ICU Beds, ventilators, masks, and PPE! This is not to say we lack the capacity to build or innovate. However, we knew about bat-borne coronaviruses for a long time. Because, we were caught un-prepared. In Marc’s words, “it is failure of action, and specifically our widespread inability to build”.

it's time to build during coronavirus pandemic
Failure of action and inability to build is leading to catastrophic consequences

Effective governments have managed to “flatten the curve”. Containment, tracing, and lockdown have enabled this. Ineffective governments and their health systems have struggled. I find this argument flawed. I believe the real issue is over complication of decisions. This may be putting in place too many processes. This is exasperated by legal landscape, middlemen etc. Our failure to build and scale the health system has resulted in chaos. As a result, loss of life. Perhaps some of these failures could be explained using Chaos Theory. Edward Lorenz and his definition of chaos seems quite relevant now!

“When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future”.

According to Marc, this is not because of lack of money. It is because of lack of desire to build. We have tried to optimize everything without regard for second & third order effects. For instance, by outsourcing manufacturing just because labor is cheap. As a result, there is now a quantum shift of “build” expertise to offshore locations and worse strategic reliance on them. “Short Term” Investor focus exasperates this. Marc argues that this is why we haven’t seen flying cars, massive delivery drone fleets, or Hyperloop mass adopted yet.

While the essay is America centric, I can imagine that this has crucial bearings on developing economies as well. Take India for instance, we shouldn’t just aspire to become the “services” provider for the world. We should take urgent steps to improve our manufacturing prowess and reduce reliance on foreign manufacturing. Marc goes on to say that we also see major discrimination when it comes to building and scaling up in a few sectors. These include – Education, Healthcare, Housing and Infrastructure.

On one hand, this has resulted in escalating price curves for these sectors. While, on the other, while availability of smartphones and consumer tech becomes more affordable than ever. Again, this is not only applicable to America, but developing economies such as India as well. In our generation, we have seen incredible escalation in price curves of Education, Healthcare, and Housing. It is clear that we are heading for a ticking bomb.

There is a need for 10x improvements across sectors. One reason why, it’s time to build.

We need to scale up our high quality education. Also, we need to use 10x improvements in Online learning to educate every remaining soul in India. We need to unleash telemedicine and last mile delivery services to massively scale up and improve our healthcare system. Through public private partnerships we need to build new cities to reduce strain on our metropolitan areas and also control spiralling housing prices.

Finally, Marc makes a passionate appeal to stop obsessing over whose model of building is better. Instead, start holding left and right both accountable for results. Upon reflection, in a place like India this is of paramount importance. See Twitter on any given day, you will likely see trending topics downplaying or up-playing the ruling government. Whether you are a Prime Minister Modi fan or not, we need to support him. Please do not get polarised by social media. Instead, focus in your own capacity for nation building.

it's time to build and come together
It’s time to come together

Finally, a crisis demands us to come together, sacrifice, and resolve. As Marc says, building is hard but our forefathers did it. We can too. If now is not the time to start a “build movement” I don’t know when is?

Thank you Mark for your seminal call to arms. I will surely be building!!