Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Simply Sedan - Post 3 - First experience

Story line
"Simply sedan - Post 2 -

"Simply sedan - Post 1 - Research"   http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2014/04/buying-car-post-1-research.html

First experience
It was amazing, even though I had driven car many times before, this was my car. Wow good feeling. After celebration, we fixed Ganesha idol to dashboard, did a mini praying session and started from there. Driving was really easy, never felt like driving diesel car, due to no turbo lag. Amazing !

Performed pooja at Ganesha temple at KSRTC layout, uttarahalli road. It went very well. Then visited sisters place and in-laws's place. Everyone liked it

Initial mods
Seat covers: Got G sports art leather seat covers for 14k in JC road from a known person. Cream and black combination.  It looks good.

Chrome fittings: For handle covers, window garnish, front grille I got chrome fittings.

Handles were compliment with seat covers :). Front grille fitting costed 3600 from snapdeal, but adhesive was not good, window garnish costed 3200, fitted at Konark's Jayanagar.

Auto Cop: Installed autocop security system which uses the stock remote.

Windows 3M film: With 70% visibility.

Under chassis coating and Teflon coating was compliment from showroom.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Simply sedan - Post 2 - Prepare to buy

Story line
Post-1: Simply sedan - Post 1 - Research http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2014/04/buying-car-post-1-research.html

Once Verna has been selected, next tough job was select its color. White is the one which looks amazing this car, fluidic lines appears so good on white. But for some reason both Sowmya and I dint want to buy white. Somehow white feels taxi. Also many white Vernas on road.
Next best on Verna was black or maroon. Grey was ok.

Finally we decided on maroon, looks nice when polished :).

We saw the car on blue Hyundai Gandhi bazaar branch. We just loved it. It was relatively new color on Verna, rare on road

We love SBI. Other than initial delays and hassles, there are no problems. I told I need only in SBI. It's very transparent and I feel secure.

When we approached, they took more than a week to start processing it. It came to me as boon as interim budget was announced at that time. If not delayed, I would have not got 40k benefit.

Ok all set for delivery on 24 Feb 2014. We liked delivery celebration. There was no issues with blue Hyundai.

Simply sedan - Post 1 - Research

Idea of buying new car was there from almost 2 years. The old Santro was almost 7 years and wanted to change. We had done one round of research in 2012 itself. But due to few reasons we didn't continue the plan.

Cars considered for first research
1. Fiat Linea
2. Maruthi SX4
3. Hyundai Verna
4. Ford Fiesta New
5. Tata manza

After a long research of 2 months and rounds and rounds of test drives, we had leant towards Linea and next in the list was SX4.

Reasons: Linea has great build quality, excellent looks according to me. Sowmya loved Verna in terms of looks than Linea. Many features were loaded in that beast.
Cons about Linea was, very less space inside, driving was lil discomfort due to full clutch, and there were no dedicated service centers at that time

Sx4 was our next favorite.
Why? Due to comfort feeling, excellent driving experience. Great road clearance, feels very good inside.
Cons: Old model, very less features

Ford Fiesta was very small. Tata manza, even though it has huge space, Sowmya dint like looks.

Verna, why we left last time: We loved features, build quality, ride experience, but only point was it had horrible road clearance. It used to kiss road almost in all road humps.

What we considered now?
This time short listing of cars were very different.
1. Hyundai Verna
2. Honda city diesel
3. Maruthi Ertiga
4. Toyota Etios
5. Renault Duster

Why no European cars? We were very much into looks the cars, Vento and Rapid were more blonde compared others, so they were in list

Let's see car by car, our view

Duster: Pro: Superb looks, very rugged, nice driving experience
Cons: cheap interiors, doesn't feel like 10lac car

Etios: Pro: Less price
Cons: almost everything else. Feels like taxi, horrible drive experience, no power at all

Ertiga: Pro: Superb utility vehicle, 7 seater for sedan price, very comfortable all sense. Good value for money
Cons: not a sedan ;), won't feel richness, no Bluetooth ;)

City diesel: Pro: Lovely new design (copied fluidic concept from Hyundai, I would say), excellent space management, a.c. duct for rear seat, loaded with features
Cons: New to diesel engine, little expensive, headroom could have been improved, no offers no discounts

Verna: Pro: We had already soft corner, they had improved ground clearance. Sexy looks, loaded with features, feels very posh
Cons: seats could have lil broader, rear seating comfort could have been improved, year end offer was extended and i got free insurance

Verdict went in favour of Verna, booked the vehicle on 30 Jan 2014.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

XBMC project - Post 6 - Installing NAS

Story Board:
Post 1http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/installing-home-media-centre-dyi-xbmc.html
Post 2http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-what-you-need.html
Post 3http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-post-3-operating-systems.html
Post 4http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-post-4-installing-openelec.html
Post 5http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-post-5-updating-to-latest.html

Make or Buy decision :)

The latest on my XBMC project is that, I added NAS to my landscape. After a lof research, I decided to buy Iomega IX2-200 as my NAS. Initially I thought of building my own NAS using an old PC and installing FreeNAS on it. May be I did not have enough enthusiasm or din't get right hardware, I dropped the idea and went for a ready made NAS. I bought used NAS (IX2) from eBay. Actually it was not used, the box seal was just open, everything was intact. Seller could not sell as new as seal was opened. Seller was from Bangalore, I went to his shop in SP road and checked the box, tested and bought it for RS 10,500. More over he gave the bill as of current date so that I get company warranty for 2 years from purchase date. MRP of new box was RS 19,000. It was a good deal for me 

Upgrading firmware
This is the first thing I did. The box import date was Apr 2013. As it was pretty old, I wanted to upgrade to latest firmware. Downloaded from Lenovo, Iomega site and uploaded to NAS and upgraded. It upgraded without any glitch. 

Using NAS
It was pretty straight forward. Almost plug n play :).. Created users/ admin users etc and started using web interface. All was well :)

My Initial feeling
Slowwwwwwwwwww file transfer. I get 1-2 mb/s using SMB file transfer. FTP was better 10-15 mb/s.
Otherwise it is just fine.

Backed up my old 1 TB HDD, my phone, my laptop. Everything took almost 2 days.

Integrating with XBMC
Added my NAS as source in XBMC and it could stream audio, video and pictures without any issues.. No issues with streaming media files

Monday, July 29, 2013

XBMC project - Post 5 - updating to latest version

Story Board:
Post 1http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/installing-home-media-centre-dyi-xbmc.html
Post 2http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-what-you-need.html
Post 3: http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-post-3-operating-systems.html
Post 4: http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-post-4-installing-openelec.html

This is what I did to install 3.1.2. You can follow these steps for even downgrading.

1. Follow steps in http://squirrelhosting.co.uk/hosting-blog/hosting-blog-info.php?id=9 
Get 3.0.6 img file and install

Later get official 3.1.2 (or any other latest version) kernel, system md5 files from http://openelec.tv/get-openelec/download/viewcategory/10-raspberry-pi-builds

Then, follow link below to update to highest version

Thursday, July 18, 2013

XBMC project - Post 4 - Installing OpenELEC

Story Board:

What you need
1.  Pi
2. SD card
3. Computer
4. USB drive, optional but recommended for better performance
If you are using Linux based system use following link for instruction
If you are using windows machine to install  follow the instructions in link below
(this method is tested and works fine)
To simplify, I skipped formatting and partition step. I used normal windows format. Just make sure that you select FAT32.I used suggested win32 disk imager to write image file to SD card

Once completed you can boot raspberry pi with SD card. I have tried at this stage. All feature works without any problem with functionality, however screen navigation and add on experience are not that great. A lot of lag. Follow the instruction in below link to move "/storage" partition to USB drive, which boosts the performance drastically.

Follow the instruction mentioned in below link to get the /storage into USB drive. Only deviation I did was to create a bootable GPARTED CD drive and boot from it to move the partition.

Assuming that you have LAN router, cable, HDMI TV, a USB Keyboard, another computer which is on the same LAN.

1. Install OpenELEC on SD card as explained above. 
2. Format USB Drive - FAT32
3. Insert SD Card, USB Drive both into Raspberry pi
4. Connect USB Keyboard
5. Connect HDMI Cable to TV
6. Connect power adapter to pi and turn it on

Above steps were derived from link below

Next Post:
Upgrading to 3.1.2
Installing wireless adapter

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

XBMC Project - Post 3 - Operating Systems for Raspberry pi

Story Board:

  1. Post 1: http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/installing-home-media-centre-dyi-xbmc.html
  2. Post 2: http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/xbmc-project-what-you-need.html

Before you go ahead with the installation let's see how to connect things together

Connecting Pi to TV and other gadgets is as simple as plugging in power adapter to your laptop.

  • Connect your HDMI cable to Pi and TV
  • Insert SD Card
  • Insert your mobile power adapter to Pi (micro USB) - Make sure that current rating is more than 700mA
  • If you have wireless adapter, plug it in one of the USB ports
  • Plug key board in another USB port for initial setup

And that's it..

Now you have got Pi, you have got power of a computing engine on your palm. Many people use Pi in very different purpose. Most popular flavor is to use it as an XBMC server. This series of posts is to achieve the same. We have many options of OSs to be installed on Pi. Refere http://elinux.org/RPi_Distributions

As our goal is to implement XBMC on Pi, let's concentrate on XBMC distributions. Following are the options . (http://wiki.xbmc.org/?title=Raspberry_Pi/FAQ#Installing_XBMC_on_the_Raspberry_Pi)

  1. Raspbian
  2. OpenELEC
  3. Xbian
I have instaled OpenELEC and recommed strongly. However, OpenELEC works very smoothly when installed on USB Drive instead of SD card. I will write a separate post on it. Advantage of OpenELEC is that, it has been build from the scratch for the purpose of XBMC and only XBMC. Its light, fast and accurate. Visit openelec.tv 

My next post will be on instaling OpenELEC on SD card and then move to USB drive for snappiness. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

XBMC project - Post 2 - What you need

Story Board:

  1. Post 1: http://blog.karthiksunil.com/2013/07/installing-home-media-centre-dyi-xbmc.html

In this post I will try to make a list of things you need to establish full working solution
Goal: To achieve full working xbmc which can be used by even novice, who it's not interested experimenting all these things :), also to stream all your own videos, pictures,  movies and songs from external hard drive wirelessly
1. Raspberry pi circuit: So what is this
Raspberry pi is not edible :). It's a small cute circuit board which gives you the power of full working computer. Following are the Ports/external interfaces available
a. Hdmi output - out goes road monitor, in our case out will be TV
b. 2 USB Ports, almost anything or takes
c. SD card slot, has the bootloader and OS
d. Power slot, you micro USB mobile phone charger is good enough
c. Audio and video out, in case you don't want to use hdmi (in our case these are obsolete)
Cost: I got it for ₹ 2900 plus taxes. I went to JP Nagar in person to buy it, you can visit crazypi.com  or contact Ranganath. Just note that prices are already hiked due to falling rupee value against dollar
2. SD card: you can use an existing one if you already have. Better to user high class one
3. Wireless mini keyboard (optional): This is optional, but very useful and cute enough to not to opt out. Cost ₹1500
4. Wireless adapter: I got d link n300 one for ₹900 again from crazypi.com. Note all wireless adapters are compatible with pi, even tough pi works without this, I strongly recommend to have this, assuming that you have wireless router and have access to internet through it
5. Wireless N router with USB:(Optional)
You need this if you want to stream your own contents from your hard disk wirelessly. This could be an alternative to an expensive NAS. Of course you have certain  draw backs, will  explain in some later posts.
I bought dlink N300 2750u . One of the coolest routers, costed ₹2200 from flipkart. You can have others but make sure that it has USB storage sharing, supports UPnP.
6. Hdmi cable: This is mandatory for media center so better buy it. You get it for around ₹800.
7. Case for pi: There are different case options, I suggest to buy a decent looking one. I bought black case from crazypi.com, it costed aground ₹400.
Total cost of all these gadgets
Pi - ₹ 3100
Wireless adapter - ₹900
hdmi cable - ₹800
SD card - ₹350
Wireless router - ₹2200
Wireless mini keyboard - ₹1500
Case - ₹ 400
Total (including optional devices) ₹9350

My next post will be on choosing OS for your pi

XBMC project - Post 1 - See the end

Today, one of my dreams have come true. I have installed my home media center, with as affordable price as it can be. I am going to write a series of posts regarding it.

XBMC running on my raspberry pi. OpenElec version of Xbmc
Established wifi connection to my pi using d-link wifi adapter n300

I have also established network drive using my new wifi router with USB. All my media can be streamed from my external 1 TB drive.

Create amazing library of my movies using useful scrappers

Using filmi by nature add on, I can stream HD videos online

Using Yatse Android app I can control xbmc
Using Yatse+ plugin I can stream my media directly from phones and tablets

I can start slide show of my old picture archives just by a click

Play my music from anywhere

Play YouTube videos on big screen

You know, its really good feeling. DIY XBMC, is really cool