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Friday, October 31, 2014

My Quikr Experience and iPad buy


It all began with BlogAdda … like so many other things in my life this year. J

I read about the Quikr initiative on BlogAdda's blog and after some 'quick' consideration, decided to participate. Not that I was planning to buy something from Quikr, but the activity gave me the idea of picking up a second hand tablet for home use – wife, mom, dad – etc could use it for viewing photos or video chat while I am away from home for work etc. So, I filled the form and nominated myself for the Quikr experience. Once I received the confirmation email, I put down my search parameters in place; even before opening Quikr.

1. Want to buy a second hand 'working' tablet

2. Budget – 5000 to 8000 – since the utility of this tablet will be very limited, did not want to spend too much on it

3. Explore Kindle Fire – dunno why but Kindle Fire has fascinated me. I already had the plain vanilla earliest version kindle for reading and wanted to explore their tablet but not ready to buy it off-the-virtual-shelf yet. So this opportunity gave me hope on this front too.

So I sat one fine weekend with Quikr in mind and went to Quikr.com for the ancient 'classified' experience. Come to think of it, classified columns have been around for ages. A site like Quikr simple creates an online platform for posting your 'classified ad'. What makes it better than the simple classified is the additional features they can offer (and it is all for FREE). You can add photos to your ad and add as much details as possible without worrying about the 'cost'. As a prospective buyer, Quikr does a good job at adding value to the simple classified.

Search is at the core and then comes the 'filtering' of the search results to show the most relevant ones. Search should help me narrow down my choices so that I don't have to write to or contact hundreds of emails or phone-calls or whatsapp messages to the sellers. I only reach out to the ones that meet my requirement.

Well, let's come back to my Quikr experience.

The home page of Quikr is pretty simple in design offering you a search box at the top and a listing of the categories in which items are being transacted. I tinkered around with a couple of categories and then finally used the search bar at the top. There was one point at which it asked me to filter or set my location so that sitting here in Mumbai, I don't have to face the onslaught of search results from across India.

Here are a couple of links … these are kind of step by step pages that I saw after filtering …

http://mumbai.quikr.com/Tablets/w18238047                                                         Listing of all tablets

http://mumbai.quikr.com/Amazon/Tablets/w18238047?l=Brand_name                 Selected Amazon

http://www.quikr.com/kindle-fire-all/kindle-fire/z0?sx=true                                    All over the country

http://mumbai.quikr.com/kindle-fire-all/kindle-fire/x31                                          Mumbai only

The last page is where I was focused on Kindle Fire in Mumbai !! Here are some screenshots showing the search results ...


 





 
 
Looking at my 3 parameters and giving priority to Number 3; I directly searched for 'Kindle Fire'. It showed the search results which I sorted in the order of their price and realized that in the 5K to 7K range, there were some real good tablets for sale.

After opening a lot of these offerings in different tabs, I zeroed in on several of them and started writing one liner emails to the sellers about their final price, how long have they used the tablet and general condition along with technical details like which model and how long does it last on single charge?

There is this interesting feature for 'Save Ad' so that I don't have to keep track of the items and links while I search for other options.

Out of the many emails I sent through 'Quikr'; I got a couple of responses and after exchanging a couple of emails, I struck a deal for the Kindle Fire HDX at a very good price. The entire discussion happened online through email and interestingly, we both found out from each other that while we exchanged those emails, I was on a business trip in Kuwait and he was in Bahrain. We realized this only when we started talking handover place and time.

 

I asked my brother to meet the seller and collect the tablet and pay for it. Both the seller and buyer were happy. From the seller's point of view, he posted the ad on 14th October and I had already sent him the email on 18th and by 21st the product in his hand was to be replaced by hard cash - wonderful for him. Similarly, I got the product at my home from search to use in 4 days flat ,,, and that too at a bargain price J So this makes Quikr a very effective tool !!

This was a fantastic deal for me and I was extremely pleased with myself and thanked my star for making me part of the BlogAdda and Quikr activity.

Well, Alls well that ends well but when it doesn't end which it should, all you can say is 'Picture abhi baaki hain mere dost" …

So here is what happened, (kahani main twist / twist in the tale) – Just before the exchange, the seller wrote to me saying that a student had contacted him and was desperate for the Kindle Fire. The seller felt that his need was 'greater' than mine and so he wanted to give the product to him rather than me.

I was crestfallen and it was like a lightning bolt out of the blue … well that's overly dramatic but almost true. I told him that I appreciate his thought process and I might have done the same. I agreed that the student's need was probably greater than mine (he is non-earning person while I am earning and can afford to buy a new one too).

So I was back to square one. !!

And I looked at the other responses for my kindle. Nothing looked quite attractive. So I started looking for other tablets but realized that in the 5K to 10K range, it was not worth buying a second hand tablet for limited use when a new one would come in similar price range or by extending it to 15K/

So that was when it struck me … the iPad idea. How about looking for an old iPad in the low price range. We have had a Samsung and a Blackberry tablet in the house but never an iPad and I was also reminded of an iPad cover that I had purchased in 2010-2011 in anticipation of buying an iPad (which never happened). So I decided to pick up an iPad for the cover lying at home.

So, once again, I started the search with iPad as keyword and then sorting on price.

http://mumbai.quikr.com/ipad-all/ipad/x31?sx=true – This was the link which listed all the iPads available

Turned out that there were many first generation iPads being sold for less than 15K … some were less than 10K too and those were the ones I sent out emails to. Got a couple of responses and finally zeroed in one.




Struck the deal and asked my brother to contact the seller on phone and fix up a meeting time. Did not want another 'student twist' to the iPad story. While interacting with the seller on whatsapp (after exchanging emails), I asked for some pics of the iPad too. The condition looked good in the photos at least.

My bro went and met the seller, tested the iPad a bit and was satisfied with the condition of the tablet. It had very few scratches etc indicating careful usage. The iPad was exchanged for 6000 bucks and I think it was a fair deal. Even in this case, the individual had posted the ad on 19th oct and he managed to get cash by 23rd ... pretty much within 5 days. Not bad !!


I asked him to send me some pics and he sent me not only the pics of the iPad but also of my entire family using the iPad (himself, my wife, my parents and even my 5 month old daughter). Those pictures made the entire exercise worthwhile - Priceless. Here are some of those pics.

 










     

So that was my Quikr experience which has left me with 2 things:

1. An iPad in my house (more specifically – 1st generation iPad for 6000 bucks)

2. A slightly greater confidence on an online classified platform like Quikr. I think I will use it again. (This time I have a portable hard-disk in mind and maybe even a cycle for my daughter or maybe even Books too … I realize that my list is going long and my wife and my mom will not like this … hehe)

 

Also, while I have my appreciation and praise for the Quikr team, here is some feedback too (on things that hindered or spoiled my experience)

1. I can see a list of all the ads to which I have sent an enquiry. I can see the products page but cant see the message that I had sent. This needs some working on to make it more user friendly.

2. There is definitely scope of improvement on Search front. While, there are some filters but this needs a bit of tightening and fine-tuning. The search within search needs to be strengthened.

3. A unique thing I noticed when I searched for iPhone was that the search results also showed a host of 'korean' iPhones … I was not interested in these 'copies' and they only became a nuisance for me. When people post ads, there should be a category or a radio button to indicate this. Also, not sure how feasible, but the Quikr team might consider putting in some effort for cleaning up their listings using some manual effort as well as algorithms.

4. Search filters sometimes did not work … most commonly, they kept returning non-image results even when filtered out. I think some users have put in some fake/blank images to circumvent the filter so Quikr should consider some algorithmic check on this too.  

Random Trivia – the ipad I bought did not have a picture in the ad. So while having a picture in the ad is good, don't disregard the ones without 
     

Well, with the bouquets and brickbats both done with, let me end this post with the link to the latest Quikr Ad/Promotion video by the now famous AIB gang (All India Bakchod – If you haven't heard about them till now, go to their YouTube channel and Subscribe to it right away. I am big FAN and you will like it too).

 

Also, head to Quikr.com to find what you are looking for … (except a life partner and Nirvana and eternal happiness of course)
FYI - This blog post is part of the Quikr.com activity by BlogAdda.com

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: www.MarryAGhost.com by Abhimanyu Jha

 

 

Book: www.MarryAGhost.com

Author: Abhimanyu Jha

No. of Pages: 250

Genre: Fiction

Publisher:  Shrishti Publications

 

|| spoiler alert ||
Not really a spoiler spoiler but but I might reveal things in the review that might act as a spoiler. In fact, it may postively discourage you from reading this book.  
Let me tell you one thing … the last 3 words of the book spoilt my reading experience of the book; so much so – I deducted a star just because of that. The book was indeed a nice read and I almost gave it 3 stars while reading it … but the 3 words at the end of the book literally pissed me off and the result is one star off the review.

It was a well written book and i wish the author did not climax the book the way he did. It is never a good feeling to leave a book unfinished ... and the author managed to give me that feeling in spite of reading till the last page.

On the brighter side, I actually enjoyed reading the book. It was enjoyable to read the interaction of the lovely beautiful ghost and the living man ... and how they gradually fell for each other ... knowing very well, that it was not the right or logical thing to do. But then love is blind … although in this case, the earlier invisible girl gradually becomes visible to the guy because of his love and belief in her. She is actually in search of her own 'Hrithik' but slowly begins to fall for the one guy who is helping her in the search.

The story is sort of like the Ajay-Kajol starrer "Pyar to Hona Hi Tha" where Ajay helps Kajol get his boy-friend back ... only for Kajol to realise she has fallen for Ajay instead.

The book was predictable in that sense but still written in a manner one could enjoy. I loved reading the conversations both of them would have. Their own frustrations and teasing each other; it almost gets mushy-mushy at some point.   

There is a small but interesting cast of characters who seem to have their own secrets and mysteries which I presume will come out and be reveled in sequel(s).

If only the author had 'completed' the book and not left it hanging with "To Be Continued" at the end. That was seriously the worst part of the book. The author managed to almost negate the entire joy of reading that book by those 3 magical words. I hated the author for doing that to me … for wasting my time that went into reading 250 pages. I will be tempted to check his book's last page first the next time around.

I don't mind reading trilogies – but there is a logical closure to each book and you are not just left hanging in the middle of no-where. I wish I had not known about this (incompleteness) – I would not have picked it up for review. I would have rather preferred to read the books together.

I hate to wait for the next Matthew Reilly book in the 7-6-5 series of Captain Jack West Jr. I hated to wait for the individual episodes of Shiva Trilogy. On the other end, it was OK to wait for the next harry potter story since each one had a start and end of its own and you were not left hanging.

So all in all, it was indeed a good book though I can't bring myself to recommend it to you at this stage. Let the sequel come out. Let the trilogy / series end and then pick all of them up together.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 3.0 / 5

Writing Style: 4.0 / 5

Characters:     4.0 / 5

Story / Plot:     4.0 / 5

Climax:            0.0 / 5

Overall:           2.0 / 5   

Note – The low overall rating is because of the 'zero' I give to the climax. The book is good otherwise.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Entangled Lives – Chapter 23 - #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging

We are Team #PotliwaleBaba who are playing the #GameOfBlogs initiated by BlogAdda.com to #CelebrateBlogging. An exciting murder-mystery-thriller is in the making …

 

Let me first share the links to all previous chapters (read them if you haven't read them already)

Chapters - #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18 | #19 | #20 | #21 | #22    

Now you can move on to Chapter 23 in this blog-post … you will find the link to the next Chapter (#24) at the end of the chapter below.

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To say Java was irritated would be an understatement. The light at the end of the tunnel had uncharacteristically turned out to be a dud. Ahuja, who came to him saying he had seen a murder, had given him hope. An eyewitness is always a breakthrough for a case, and this seemingly complicated case was in dire need of one.

The entire conversation with him had been a roller-coaster of some sort, or more precisely like an anti-gravity drop ride in the amusement, where they raise your hopes to a great height and make you experience a free-fall. Only difference was that, there you are protected by the ride's safety mechanism. Here, he fell flat on the ground, face down, his hopes crashing, and shattering into a thousand pieces.

Java smiled ironically as he caught the snatches of the song playing on the radio of the pan-wala nearby - "Is dil ke tukde hazaar hue, koi yahan gira, koi vahan gira" (My heart breaks into a thousand pieces, some fell here, some fell there).

His investigation and the revelations of the kitten-on-tree story along with letter found during the search of Cyrus's apartment had given him one strong lead. Ahuja turned out to be nothing but a waste of time.

But Ahuja's chance remark about his name gave Java something to work on. Java meaning Coffee reminded Java of the cafe story by Jenny where she met Mrs. Dutta by chance and came home (to the crime scene) with her. He now had one more thread to unravel - that girl, Jenny. Java did not like her. His team had done a background check and the results were not encouraging at all. He first had to check her story of being at the Dutta residence 'by chance'.

"The 'by chance' of Mr. Virus has turned out to be such an elaborate and well planned scheme, that I no longer want to trust another 'by chance' in the story," thought Java bitterly. "Jenny looks like a hippie with an attitude, and one can never trust hippies."

"So let's start at the beginning of her story – the café round the corner where she met Mrs. Dutta by chance". With these thoughts in mind, Java gunned his motorcycle towards the café.

The café seemed empty with only a couple sitting in a corner, both busy typing away on their smart-phones, and a man occupying another corner typing away on his laptop. Java looked in the direction of the café owner who came running to him.

They took seat at one of the tables, and the café owner signaled the staff behind the counter "Get today's special for Saab". Java did not say anything. One of the perks while investigating cafes, restaurants and five star hotels was the sampling of their best offerings … for free.

He pinned the café owner a stern look and simply kept two photographs on the table – Mrs. Dutta and Jenny. The café owner looked at the photographs and then at Java with a question in his eyes. Java did not say anything. He knew silence worked better than direct questions to start a conversation and bring the confidence of a person down. Once that happened, the information flowed.

The café owner, puzzled by Java's silence, had a million thoughts running through his head. He knew both of them and was now wondering what they had done. Were they part of some gang or terrorist organization and had used the wifi of his café to send threat emails. Java's silence was scary so he simply said, choosing his words with care in spite of his nervousness, "Yes. I recognize them. Mrs. Dutta has been a regular to our café for several years now while that other girl has been frequenting our café for the past few weeks almost on a daily basis."

Java smiled. He knew his silence had worked. He pulled Jenny's photo towards himself and turned it upside down. He then pushed Tara's photo towards the café owner. No words, only action. He wanted to see how far he could go without saying a single word. The devil inside him said "Well done, my boy!"

The café owner looked at the rearrangement of the photographs and took the cue from Tara's photo being pushed towards him. "Mrs. Dutta lives close by. She has been coming to our café regularly for the past several years. She comes mostly during weekends and sometimes in the late evenings too. She almost always comes here with her laptop and phone and is constantly working using them. I feel that this café is like a second office for her. She always occupies that corner table near the glass window, and if someone is occupying that, she will either wait for it to be cleared or go back without entering the café; and in a rare case, request the guests occupying the table to move to another one, even offering to pay their bills. Her order was never fixed. She liked to experiment and has tried all the different items we have on our menu and when in a particularly good mood, she would talk to the barista and ask him to concoct a special one for her. Sipping on it, she would continue to work on her laptop and talking on her phone. The work consuming her time here."

Java was intrigued by the cafe owner as he talked about Mrs. Dutta staring into infinity. He cleared his throat and brought the café owner out of his reverie. The café owner continued.

"Sometimes, she comes without both the gadgets and stares outside sipping on her bitter espresso. I have instructed the staff to not disturb her or present the bill to her on those days, even if she absent mindedly leaves without paying. I think those are very stressful days for her and the stress does not seem to be work related. She is a regular here, and we could clear the bill during the next visit. I did not want to disturb a special and regular customer. Well, that's all that I can say about her. We have never had trouble from her, and she has been a very good customer. May I ask, if you don't mind, why are you investigating about her?"

Java gave the café owner a sharp look which meant, "Only I ask questions in this conversation, not you". The café owner's expressions told Java that he understood. Java had no intention of answering the question.

He pulled Tara's photo and placed it in his pocket. He turned jenny's photo face side up and pushed it towards the café owner. Before the café owner could begin, the barista arrived and place the 'special' on the table. Java looked at it and smiled. The swirls of chocolate and coffee reminded him of the state of the case in hand … intriguing, mysterious, dark. The whipped cream at the top reminded him of Ahuja – useless, while the few coffee beans scattered on top brought him back to Jenny – dark and mysterious. He picked the tall glass, took a sip, relished the taste, and gave a sharp look to the café owner who once again began his monologue.

"This girl started coming to our café a few weeks back. At first, she would come in anytime during the day and work with her gadgets – the laptop, the phone, and her huge camera. She would usually take the large table close to the coffee machine and the power plug point for her devices. But then this habit changed. She started coming in the evenings and also started taking the same table as Mrs. Dutta. I did not understand her behavior, since, as you can see, that table is smaller and this girl always had trouble juggling her large laptop and big camera on the table. Sitting there, she would be very distracted, constantly looking outside, as if waiting for someone.

Once I saw Mrs. Dutta outside the café and even requested the girl to change table, even before Mrs. Dutta came in. I told her about Mrs. Dutta preference. She refused. Mrs. Dutta did not come in and you know what Saab, the girl left in less than 5 minutes. So ridiculous!

The other Devil inside Java's head exclaimed, "WOAH!!! Java … did you hear THAT???"

Java could not help but smile, with the internal machinery inside his head spinning like crazy; he now pulled out Tara's picture again and kept it next to Jenny's photo in front of the café owner. The café owner, for the first time in the conversation, smiled.

He looked at Java sipping the cold concoction and continued, "Yes, Saab. You are right. They did meet here. Last week, the girl was sitting at that table when Mrs. Dutta arrived. I could see that she was not carrying her laptop and knew something was wrong so I did try and quickly request the girl to move but she did not. I retreated to my seat.
I saw Mrs. Dutta approach the girl and talk to her. They chatted for some time and then after a few minutes, Mrs. Dutta left in a rush. She seemed terribly upset. I wanted to go and confront this girl but even she took off after Mrs. Dutta. I don't know what happened between the two but sadly, none of them have returned to the café ever since. Has anything happened to them? Is that the reason you are investigating them?"

Java was calmly sipping the concoction on the outside while the devils inside celebrated another breakthrough in the case. "See, we were right. There are no coincidences in a murder case. The girl was not there by chance. She was there by deliberate design. She had been waiting for Mrs. Dutta all these days to catch her attention at the café."

Java placed the half-empty, half-filled tall glass on the table and got up. The café owner saw bewildered, not knowing what to do. Java stepped outside and smiled as he heard the devil inside say, "Oh Boy !! This must be a new achievement for you Java. Completing an entire interrogation and getting everything you wanted without saying a single word. WoW !!!"

Java got onto his motorcycle with a sense of satisfaction. He drove towards the police station. He will need to pick up the search warrant for Jenny's current residence, and also take along a lady constable. One never knows how that wild cat Jenny will respond.

As he drove, one song played on loop in his mind, unfortunately sung by the devil inside, with a smile on his face, "Ajeeb daastan hain yeh, kahan shuru … kahan khatam, yeh manzilein hain kaun si, na tum samajh sake na hum" ….

 

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Chapter #24 (To be updated on 5th Oct)

 

"Me and my team are participating in 'Game Of Blogs' at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us."

 

Our Team for the #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging with BlogAdda.com is called "Potliwale Baba" and I got to team up with a superb set of very enthusiastic and diversely talented bloggers -  Hemantkumar JainNirav ThakkerRitu PandeyShameem RizwanaShoumik DeSneha BhattacharjeeSrilakshmi Indrasenan,  Tushar - in simple alphabetic order

 

Enjoying our nail-biting thriller? Share our blogs through FB or Twitter with #CelebrateBlogging #PotliwaleBaba tags and you can also leave your comments on the story on our BlogAdda page here.