Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Enabling Free SSL Certificate for Blogs

There is always a difference of opinion among website owners , whether Google's Blogger is better or a Wordpress based blog. This is primarily in terms of SEO, traffic , User Interface , appearance and utility and flexibility perspective.

Google's Blogger offers free hosting, which is a serious deal breaker for many small time bloggers and also a simple easy to interface layout to host your blog. Along with it comes a set of a limited blog templates, adaptability for HTML/Javascript codes and also easy integration of  Google Ads or other Ad Networls.

Wordpress offers a premium suite of apps for almost everything from beautiful themes,statistics trackers to ads to sharing buttons to SEO plugins or to even insert a small widget on the sides. For a free .wordpress.com blog, you won't have access to any plugin or a premium theme. However if buy a third party hosting and domain (or even buy from wordpress.com itself), it allows you to customize the blog in any way possible. Some premium themes cost as much as 20-40$, altough you do have a stack of nice free themes offered by WP itself. SSL Certificate should also be bought separately through your domain provider

I manage two websites , this Marketing website through Blogger platform and my travel website through WordPress. This is primarily for experimentation, testing and option to try out different things with my content. From my evaluation, the Wordpress site has marginally edged out in terms of SEO, quality of traffic and growth rate. Although the content in both sites are vastly different, the travel related content may have played a minor role in the traffic boost.

Advantages of HTTPS (SSL Certificate)

So amidst this battle between Google's Blogger and Wordpress platform, you'd wonder, why would I need to get a HTTPS for my website ?

The answer is pretty simple. The core ranking , indexing and search happens through the master of Internet, Google. A few years ago, Google had publicly stated that if two websites with similar type of content is being indexed, the website with the HTTPS layer will be pushed up to the top in search results than the other.

More importantly, a user while browing through your site feels safe after seeing the green lock symbol in the address bar.  He now knows that information is being transmitted or received in an encrypted method without any middle layer interference or hack.

This is also why it's mandatory for a "HTTPS" certification for any website dealing with payments or critical / confidential information. Only with it , you can accept "Debit" or "Credit card" information to be accepted from your customers.

How to get a HTTPS certificate in Blogger.com

As said earlier, this is a new "Free" option that Google has provided for all its users. It's super simple to enable it and it gets enabled in a matter of hours

Just login to blogger.com , click on settings -> Basic -> Under HTTPS Availability , click Yes
HTTPS Redirect : You might want to enable this option if you require a mandatory redirect of all website requests to the HTTPS version only.

Minor Downside of HTTPS :  

Suppose you have a blog template filled with a lot of javascripts for other widgets (Like an Amazon ad), it'll thrown up an issue called "Mixed content error". This is because the HTTPS cannot securely transmit these scripts and hence doesn't allow to display the content in the blog. So it's ideal to remove any extra scripts that may prove to be an obstacle.

HTTPS for a Wordpress Site 

For a Wordpress based site, you have to buy one separately either through your domain registrar (Like Godaddy/Namecheap/BigRock) or go for a CDN (Content Delivery Network) company like Cloudflare (best in the business)

So once your site is active and up & running, purchase a SSL certificate from the "security" section in the above domain selling sites. It costs anywhere between 250-600 Rs/ Year for a very basic plan. Once you buy it, you will be given new "nameservers" . You have to copy these IP addresses, go to domain settings in your hosting site and update with the new details.

Free SSL from Cloudflare:

If you can't afford or not require a strongly encrypted advance SSL certificate, you can also choose the free version from Cloudflare site : https://www.cloudflare.com/ssl/

Sunday, December 17, 2017

SmartOmi Wireless Earbuds & Music Awards Giveaway

Being an ardent music lover, I've been on the lookout for a quality pair of wireless and bluetooth earphones , for quite a while now. All the products I've used so far has either worn out pretty quickly or stopped working after a couple of months. In the event I need to opt in for a high quality branded earphones, the price seems to exceed a 100$ mark (6000 INR +) .  Even a pair of the  recently launched Apple Wireless Earpods costly roughly 188 $ , which is significantly higher than my budget of 50$ .
smartomi wireless earbuds

My weekend browing led me to a discovery of a new "Electronics & Music" website called Smartomi. A relatively new site foraying into the area of bluetooth and wireless earphones. Most of the devices in the site range roughly from 17$ to 50$ and definitely resembles one of those high premium products.

After the launch of Apple earpods, Wireless Earbuds seems to be the in-thing. People now prefer to buy this type of earphones , as earlier compared to the long wired ones, where most of the time you spent in untangling the cords.

My Favourite pick from SmartOmi 

smartomi wireless earbuds

SmartOmi also has their own version of Wireless Earbuds and it's called Q5 True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds. It costs 40$, though you can get it a discounted price with the coupon codes mentioned here (Coupon Code : MERXMS35  to get it at just 25.98$ with free shipping).

Be it enjoying some quality music while running or a handsfree multifunction earphones while driving, the wireless earbuds can be a great savior .

Another interesting use of the earbuds is the sharing between two people. Unlike wired earphones which cant be shared comfortably between two people, the individual wireless earbuds solves the problem quite easily.

Music Award Giveaway

So I just got to know that Smartomi is running a giveaway / contest where they are giving out Amazon Gift cards to true music lovers. All you gotta do to win one is pretty simple.

Login to Smartomi site and vote for your favourite music album from the list published. You'll immediately get a 20$ discount code post the vote.

At the end of the campaign, one participant who has voted for the album with the maximum no of votes gets to win the Amazon card for the album. In addition, 3 of the participants will win headphones after they share the vote on their Facebook. Contest ends on 24th , so you may wanna hurry up.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cold Stone Creamery - Redefining An Icecream Experience

Whenever we mention the word desserts after a meal, it was pretty much restricted to Vanilla , Strawberry, Pista and Chocolate. We also had the occassional range of cakes kept in star hotel buffets.
But times have changed drastically now. So much so, that desserts are no longer an optional item towards the end of the meal but rather even a primary meal in some cases. They now constitute more than 40+ flavors from every possible variety of fruit and sweets. Be it cinnamon, cheesecake, red velvet or even bluberries, you get to have an ice cream in that flavor. The recent launch of the Cold Stone Creamery has certainly added more flavors to that list.

coldstone creamery chennai india

The last three years has seen a tremendous growth in the introduction of "Premium" dessert and ice cream stand alone places in the metros. Ice creams, in particular had seen the emergence of a new variety called "Cold Stone" ice creams. In no time, cold stone ice creams (Primarily introduced in the US) seemed to be the talk of the town and had a major fan following.

coldstone creamery chennai india

Tablez Group, a subsidiary of the famous LuLu group in the Middle East had tied up with the super famous "Cold Stone Creamery" in the US to launch their first outlet in our very own Chennai in India. Their next launch in the city will be the famous "Toys R Us" and I'm already waiting for it :)
Cold Stone creamery is currently operating in 27 countries in over 1500 locations.

The Ice-Cream Making Experience

Unlike normal ice creams which comes in pre-packaged cups and cones, Cold stone creamery allows you to fully customize your ice cream right from the flavor till the final toppings and the type of sauce you wanted to be added. You can of course do your own type of mix-in to experiment with the flavors, called "Create your Own".

But I'd strongly suggest to go with the pre-tested recommended "Signature Creations" that would definitely delight your tastebuds far better.

signature creations coldstone creamery india

Once you are done with the flavor and topping selection, you can get to see a mini juggling of the scoop of ice creams. It is then beaten pretty strongly  in a frozen granite stone slab. These toppings inclue different variety of nuts, candies and even fruits depending on your taste.

toppings coldstone creamery india

My Recommendation

Having been invited to launch of the cold stone creamery store in Phoenix MarketCity, Chennai, I got to try two of their flavours including "Cheesecake Icecream" and "Apple Pie Cold Stone" ice cream. Without a doubt, I was extremely impressed with the Cheesecake coldstone ice cream whcih came with a combination of cheesecake pie crust, Strawberry and Blueberry and a bit of chocolate sauce. A fair assesment of taste would be to declare, that it's definitely one of the best ice creams I've had in recent times.

cheesecake icecream coldstone creamery india

In addition to this signature creation menu, you can also get out their soon to be launched "Ice Cream cup cakes" and "Ice cream Cookie Sandwich". Cold Stone Creamery Ice creams starts from 145 INR for the small size and upto 275 for the large signature versions and located in Phoenix MarketCity in Chennai, India.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

jClub Shopping - Site Review

I've always been on the lookout for new e-commerce sites that could offer something exciting and interesting to offer, than the standard run of the mill large market places. The new shopping sites always has something unique up their sleeve and you can pretty much be assured of better , personalized service than going through rounds of automated customer service options.

One such recent discovery was a site called jClub.com. The site offers some really interesting variety of products for almost everyone. It didnt take long for me to bookmark this site and also review it in my site. Here's a quick look at the things jClub deals in..

jClub Product Categories

  • Electronics 
  • Fashion Clothing for both men & women
  • Accessories
  • Lifestyle products
  • Jewellery
  • Home furnishing products 
  • and something for the pets too.

Why jClub?

The key advantage of the site is that it works directly with suppliers and assures of a high quality merchandise with some great customer experience.The products listed are very unique , very useful and more importantly not easily available in most stores.  The prices listed include a minimum of 50% discount and upto 80% in some cases. If you are in the lookout, you can definitely grab a nice deal especially in the sale period.

My Top 7 from jClub

So I’ve put together my favourite top 7 items from the jClub site, which you should definitely check out.
  • Waterproof Rugged Wireless Bluetooth v4.1 Speaker

          Price : 15.99$ 

  • Wireless Bluetooth Smart Watch with Camera, Fitness Tracker 

          Price : 19.99 $

  • 1080p 12MP Wide-Angle Sport Video Camera with Waterproof Case, Accessories

         Price : 22.99 $

  • Multifunctional Front Passenger Seat Gap Organizer with Cup Holder

         Price : 18.99$

  • Argenti Atelier Men's Racing-Style Chronograph Watch

        Price : 49.99$

  • Wolfgang Puck 1050w 68oz Commercial Blender

         Price : 69.99$

  • Xtreme ActionView POV Sport Camera Video & Audio Recording Sunglasses

Price : 35.99$

The site is based out of United States and currently ships for free within the country . The best part about is that it doesn’t have a minimum amount for shipping. So even if you are ordering for something as low as 10$ it comes with free shipping and free 30 Day Returns all the time

So head out to jclub.com and start Shopping ! Since I signed up earlier, I have got a promocode : HKMURALI ,that gets you a flat 20% discount as well. Just hoping that they start worldwide shipping for folks outside US :)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Iron MasterChef - A battle against deficiencies

As a guy, I got to develop a mini interest in cooking , especially after my recent purchase of an AirFryer. I happened to make my own awesome French Fries and I realized, maybe cooking isn't that tough at all. This was never my forte nor have I made great attempts to make something edible. However, in a recent study about 'the alarming rise of Iron deficiences among people, especially women' got me thinking.  The foods we consume routinely, may primarily lack iron owing to which iron deficiencies occur. So I came up with a super interesting Iron based dish, that may be lapped up by pretty much everyone .

We've come across enough articles about the importance of a balanced meal and its innumerable benefits. The right amount of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, proteins, irons , carbohydrates among others is necessary to have a healthy and more importantly disease free life. However having said that, the awareness to have a balanced meal especially iron is still very low. Most of the times, the meal consists of just rice , sambar(Lentil based veg stew) and some curd along with a fried pappad or a vegetable like potato. Esp for office goers, the consumption of junk and other fat/maida based items is quite high compared to more healthier options like wheat, protein & iron rich foods.

In case of women , the need for iron rich foods in particular is a major requirement. This is because Iron is a major component of Hemoglobin, which in turn is the backbone of Red Blood Cells. The main objective of this hemoglobin is to carry oxygen throughout the body from head to toe, for various functions. Without sufficient iron, the hemoglobin loses the ability to transport oxygen. This results in a state of Iron Deficiency , called Anaemia.

Symptoms of Anemia / Iron Deficiency include : 

Hair-Loss , frequent anxiety, even a feeling of fear without any reason , anger/ frustration/irritability, are some of the common indicators of iron deficiencies, which require immediate attention and some large intake of iron based foods at the earliest.

Sources of Iron

One of the biggest sources of iron, known to all was Spinach, which made extremely popular by our favourite cartoon, Popeye The Sailor.  The comic always showed the immense power of eating spinach on a frequent basis.

Being a staunch vegetarian, I've been more concerned about iron sources in vegetarian foods and vegetables. Some of the top sources of Iron include :

My experimentation with an Unique Iron Rich Recipe

I tried to think of some interesting iron recipe than the usual boring ones. So I decided to spin the Wheel on Iron choosing some random iron based items to make a kickass "cocktail" recipe.

Choose your Main Ingredients  from the Wheel of Iron !

When I tried, my three spins landed me with :

Source : https://img.webmd.boots.com/dtmcms/live/webmd_uk/consumer_assets/site_images/2014_misc/medref_beetroot.jpg


The Beetroot Dates Jam - An Iron Stronghold Recipe

What a coincidence that all three of them (beetroot, Dates, almonds) are super rich in iron and the combination could dish out a super fun delicious recipe : A Beetroot Date Jam ! Here's a simple 4 step cooking recipe that could dish out the jam in no time

For my readers :

So if you also have an unique Iron rich recipe, participate in the Iron Chef contest and you stand a chance to get featured in Femina, the leading women’s magazine, as a Celeb Chef. Top 3 will also win vouchers worth Rs. 20,000 and the next 7 will win vouchers worth Rs. 5,000.

Do check out Livogen Iron Chef for more information about this and also to learn about their wonderful initiative to increase awareness about iron deficiencies in women and importance of iron rich foods in your diet.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Top 5 Mobile Phones of 2017

Just barely a month away from the end of 2017 and we have some exciting launches this year in the mobile industry including the Pixel and iPhone X. Several brands including Honor, Xiaomi,Vivo,OnePlus etc had their share of exciting product launches which caused quite a flutter.The premium phone brands including Samsung,Apple and Google had their own fight at the top respectively with the launch of Samsung S8+, iPhone X & 8 and Google Pixel 2 respectively. All the top 5 mobile phones of 2017 had some interesting features which gave a worthy mention.

Some of the Key Premium Features introduced in were:

  • Wireless Charging
  • Bezel-less Display
  • Fast Charging
  • Gorilla glass 4/5
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Processor
  • Dual Camera with enhanced camera quality 
  • 6GB & 8GB RAM 
  • Water Resistant

So here's a roundup of the Top 5 Mobile Phones of 2017 in India.

#1 Google Pixel 2 

The completely revamped , enhanced and infinitely better version of the Google Pixel, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL has been getting rave reviews ever since its launch event.

  • The exceptional feature of the Pixel 2 was the camera quality and has got the highest ever rating of 98/100 by DXO Mark. (No phone till date has got such a high rating).
  • Additionally the phone is incredibly fast, slightly taller and thinner than the original .
  • It packs in a 4GB RAM  a 64/128GB memory, though it also offers unlimited cloud storage. 
  • The charging is super fast that 15 minutes of charging can give you a battery of 7 hours easily
  • Integration with Google Lens and Google Assistant apps
  • Can even identify the song that plays in the background automatically 
Starting price 61,000 for the Pixel 2 (64GB) and 71,000 Pixel 2 XL

You can buy the Pixel here:

# 2 iPhone X

After a few "not so great" launches in the past , Apple is back to their forte with the iPhone X. The flagship device of Apple, iphone X is also one of the costliest mobile phones in their history, starting at a price of 89,000 INR for the base variant.

Some of the key features include :
  • 5.8 inch Super Retina HD Display
  • 12MP Dual Rear Camera
  • Comes with earpods with lightning connectors
  • A11 Bionic Chip  with motion coprocessor
  • A smart device that instantly responds to your voice , a tap or even a glance of your face 
  • Face ID Unlocking
  • OLED Display
  • A 97/100 rating on DXO Mark, just a point below the Pixel 2
  • Wireless Charging and the most durable glass in a Smartphone
 Subscribe to their notifications and once in stock, get it here.

# 3 OnePlus 5T

A company that has always fought the big leagues by offering similar specs at 1/3 of the price, OnePlus has also been called the Flagship Killer. Launched barely 6 months later than the OnePlus 5, the phone packs in some excellent features all for a base price of just 33,000 INR.

Some of the key features include :
  • Dual Camera, highly optimized for low light and portrait photography (16+20MP)
  • Dash Charging , a significant feature of One
  • The most advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 6GB/8GB RAM 
  • 128GB Storage


 #4 Samsung S8

Samsung has one of the best comebacks in the century after a major debacle of the Samsung Note 7, which started to bursting into flames. The company faced a major setback, but came back super strongly with the S8.  Still below the 60K mark, the Samsung S8 sports an infinity display (A curved edge with glass display), it delivers everything you need in a super phone. From face recognition to the latest processors, a super sleek 5'8 device, the S8 is a definite buy, if you are looking for a phone in that budget.

Some of the key features include
  • 5.8 Quad HD Display with a 18:5:9 Display Ratio
  • Iris Scanner
  • Gigabit LTE Support
  • 64GB memory
  • Infinity Display
  • 4GB RAM
You can buy the S8 from here

#5 Honor 9i

A surprising entry to this list of top mobiles in 2017, I was visibly stunned and very much impressed with this great device from Honor 9i. Though they have a much advanced phone for 30K, being the Honor 8, the Honor 9i is a much sleeker and cheaper phone at just a 18K price tag. This may not be in most people's list , but having this used extensively in a photography workshop for 2 days, I can say it's easily one of the best phones I've used.
Here are some of the key features:
  • Price point of 18K 
  • 4 Cameras (Dual Cameras in Rear & Front), with ability to shoot in RAW mode
  • Honor's inhouse Kirin processor that can be a good match for the Snapdragon 620
  • 5.9 inch Full HD+ Display
  • 4GB RAM , 64GB Capacity
You can get the mobile here :

Europa Book Review

My choice of books have always been restricted to crime stories, humor and general fiction. When it comes to science fiction, I usually preferred to see them in the big screen and never really gave it a try. Especially the ones involving aliens, spacecrafts, futuristic stories etc.

Some of my favourite movies in this regard includes Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, Star Wars (I – VII), Alien, Gravity, Interstellar among others. The most recent science fiction movie on spaceships that impressed me was Passengers

So when I received a copy of the recently released "Europa" by Hywell Richard Pinto, I was quite intrigued. What will it be like? How does one imagine about the things that will happen 200 years later? What kind of technology would exist that could be integrated in the storyline. 

The story was set in the year 2250, and primarily about a special mission on deep space exploration and the unfortunate incidents that happened inside the spacecraft.

Story in brief (Skip the next two paras if you don’t want to know the plot)

Set in a futuristic timeline, space missions to moons and planets is quite common, possibly in hope of settling there at some point of time. A top secret government organization involved in this space missions has some rogue elements inside that wants to sabotage the mission as well as stealing the information.

The government orders a special search and rescue mission to find some missing crew from a previous missing and also utilize the opportunity to research on the living conditions of the planet. In parallel, a shadowy organization in connection with top politicians wants to gain access into this spacecraft, Silver star and get the samples smuggled.

Meanwhile inside the Silver Star spacecraft, the captain finds himself away barely six months into the 2 year mission, with more than 18 months to go. He’s not alone and finds that there are three other officers who have been “mistakenly” awakened”, if so to be believed. Why did it happen? Was it a medical or a technical mistake? Or was he intentionally given a wrong dosage ? Or Did someone wake him up aboard the ship. As the days goes by, the four of them find one of the crew members murdered and that gets things even more suspicious. Soon after the mission the captain finds himself implicated for the murders and the prime suspect. Can he battle his way forward in the trial and emerge as an innocent victim or is there more to the eye, than what it seems?

The storytelling is crisp, to the point and gets into the story quite quickly. Hywel has managed to deliver a good book , especially as a debut author and certainly has immense potential to delve into this science fiction series even more. With less than 200 pages, the book is a breezy read and tends to avoid lengthy descriptions which comes as a big Plus. I managed to finish it less than two days and would recommend it for a casual read .

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

You can buy the book from here :