Sunday, July 14, 2019

ChessKid - Learning Chess was never so Easy

If there's one game that can really test your brain and thinking skills, it's a game of Chess. No other game requires so much planning in every move you make, devising your strategy several moves in advance . A simple indoor game , which can be even taught to a kid as small as 4 years,  Chess is not just mere hobby but acts as an exercise for the brain and also raises the kid's IQ.



Be it a problem solving skill, improving memory or keeping the brain active & creative, Chess helps in all-round development of the kid. From the days of playing chess in a physical chessboard in a school or with friends , you can now get to play chess online , either in a computer or a mobile phone quite easily.

ChessKid.com ( owned by the official Ches Chess.com ) is an international website that helps to promote the game of chess especially to kids and have now launched its Indian edition. It is under the mentorship of Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand.

Chess in India

India is definitely one of the top SuperPowers when it comes to a game of Chess , ranking 8th in the number of Chess Grandmasters at a whopping 63 (Grandmaster is the highest title Chess players can get). R.Praggnanandhaa, at just 12 years 10 months became the world's second youngest chess grandmaster, showing there's no minimum age for someone to master this game.
I'm frankly not sure about other countries, but from whatever I've seen  in most Indian schools, the importance given to chess has been pretty high. Right from including it in Games period or conducting chess lessons as a summer camp, chess has always been in the curriculum in some form or the other. So it was just eventual that ChessKid.com decided to launch their Indian version and collaborate with both schools, parents as well as kids to get on to this platform.

Why ChessKid.com?

Unlike other online Chess websites, ChessKid.com is a professional ,scholastic extension of US based Chess.com which has an excess of 28 million users. ChessKid.com works with more than 2000 schools globally , seeking to develop chess talent wherever present.
Other Chess platforms do not really focus on the learnings or a structured approach to the game with tutorials, puzzles and lessons . These sites doesn't allow you to play with other kids of your level and sometimes very complicated to use, atleast for some beginners.


Some of the top features of ChessKid.com include :
  • An environment for kids to learn and play in a safe environment. This means restricted messaging to only a mentor or a parent and not with other kids 
  • The site offers organization feature like a club, live tournaments and usage data as well
  • Practice sessions with the computer/bots and real-time game play with other kids as well
  • Dynamic puzzles for each level that's similar to solving a math/science problem
  • A fully curated curriculum along with video content and lessons with a level progression system, that helps you to track your level and keep moving up the leaderboard.
  • Play anytime during the day with several players across the world and master the chess lessons.

 

Pricing:

ChessKid.com currently works on a Freemium model. 

For the Basic / Free version you get :

  • 5 Puzzles per day
  • Limited Puzzle Duels
  • Bot Levels 1:3
  • Beginner Lessons
  • Limited Videos
  • 30 days Game Archive
  • Free Game play with other kids across the world

For a Gold / Paid version

  • Game play with other kids across the world.
  • Unlimited Puzzles
  • All Bot Chess Levels
  • All Lesson Levels
  • All Videos and Workouts
  • Unlimited Game Archive
Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand , at the launch of ChessKid.com said , that there is no right or wrong method while playing / learning chess. The only way you get better at this game is by playing more. Though most people grew up playing in a physical chess board, the upcoming chess players and even some grandmasters have adapted to the online version of chess , playing in an IPad , mobile phone or a PC. So there's actually no difference playing with a chess board or in a digital screen.

His role in ChessKid.com will be to curate content in the upcoming months and also identify which lessons may work and which wont. One of the top prizes after winning a tournament conducted in ChessKid.com will be an all expense trip (for both parents and kid) to personally meet him.


As someone , who grew up playing chess, I personally recommend my readers to check out www.chesskid.com and enroll your kids in it for a very promising future.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kerala Food Festival in Chennai

My recent trip to Trivandrum, Kerala had me craving for some yummy Kerala food. Barely a week later, I was invited to a special Kerala Food Festival by Regenta Deccan Plaza in Chennai , that's happening till June 30th. This 10 day food festival celerbates the Malabar based cuisine and the speciailities of their cooking .



Prepared by Thrissur based Chef Saraswathy Vishwanath, all dishes are prepared in the authentic way and couldn't have been any better. A grander version of the "Kerala Sadhya" , the menu was pretty elaborate to cover all delicacies. To be very honest, it's one of those rare meals where you actually dont feel full but rather fulfilling. Most of the items, as expected have a base note of either Jackfruit, banana or coconut though it doesn't overpower the actual item's taste.

 


Prepared like a homemade meal, almost devoid of any masala or spices, this pure vegetarian Kerala food was an absolute delight to a vegetarian foodie like me . Right from the punpkin soup to the Banana chips, the Chakka Kuru pradhaman , Aviyal and Mambazha chakka pachadi, I might probably rave about this all day long.


I got somehow managed to got hold of the full menu from the Manager and its as follows

Starters: 
  • Parippu Vada, Ulli Vada, Kozhukatta, Chips Varieties, Ela Ada, Unniyappam, Vazhaipoo Cutlet, Undanpori, Ethakka Appam,  Koon Kurumulaku, Upperi
 

 

 Main Course :
  • Avial, Thoran, Olan, Kaalan, Kootu Kari, Mezhukkuperatti, Idichakka thoran,Kaaya tholi thoran, Pachadi, Erissery, Pulissery, Sambar, Rasam,  Kichadi, Theeyal, Kadala Curry,  Chammanthi,  Puttu varieties, Noolappam,  Appam, Malabar Barotta, Mambazha Dosai, Jackfruit rind biriyani, Kappa, Mulaku Chammanthi, Mambazha chakka pachadi,  Pappadum
 


 

Desserts :
Payasam Pradhman, Chakka Kuru pradhaman, Nendram pazha pradhaman, Jackfruit Basundhi, Injipuli Pickles.

 



Regenta Central Deccan Plaza is located in Royapettah , Chennai near RK Salai. The Kerala food festival as mentioned above is till June 30th of 2019 for both lunch and dinner and priced at 888 Nett (inclusive of all taxes) . I would strongly recommend to try this meal once and you might probably feel as if you made an actual visit to Kerala.

Olives Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

MediaTek Technology Diaries - 5G Rollout in India

MediaTek , one of the largest semiconductor company hosted the second edition of the MediaTek Technology diaries, in Chennai. The discussion revolved around the growing presence of MediaTek in everyday life as well as the upcoming launch of 5G in India and how prepared India was to it. The Technology diary session was essentially to make technology more accessible and understandable to the consumer.




MediaTek Technology Diaries

The event was presided by Mr. Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India and Mr. Anuj Sidharth, Deputy Director, Marketing & Communications, Mediatek India, who talked about Mediatek rolling out their 5G SoC's (System on a Chip) for the first wave of 5G devices (which may be introduced in India by mid 2020's).


With Mediatek's 5G enabled chipset phones being introduced, the era of superfast connectivity and advanced user experiences can soon be a reality. The country has plagued by network drops, poor connectivity, slow internet speeds ( despite being on 4G) and the promise of 5G is to make such issues a thing of the past.

Mediatek is not just for mobile phone processors. It's also present across smart devices, smart-home solutions, Voice Assistant Devices (VAD) and automotive solutions.
Yes, even the quite popular Amazon Alexa has a Mediatek chip built inside it

Brands powered by Mediatek

Some of the common brands that uses a Mediatek processor or a chip includes : Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, Realme, Infinix, LG, Paytm, KENT CamEye, Amazon and Mantra among others.

 

Now for the techy stuff :  The upcoming integrated 5G chipset with the MediaTek Helio M70 5G modem built in packs world-leading technology into its compact design. It includes ARM’s newest Cortex-A77 CPU, Mali-G77 GPU and MediaTek’s most advanced AI processing unit (APU) to meet the power and performance and the demands of 5G to deliver super-fast connectivity and extreme user experiences.

A short background on MediaTek Inc:

They world’s 4th largest global fabless semiconductor company and powers more than 1.5 billion devices a year. They power nearly 1 of every 3 mobile phones and present in 20% of homes globally.
The most recent Oppo F11 Pro , a smartphone with a 48mp camera with a 80% larger sensor that could capture bigger pictures in exceptional detail was actually powered by Mediatek Helio P70.
When it comes to non mobile devices, the Amazon Fire TV, Fire HD8 and HD10 tablets is also powered by none other MediaTek.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Conquering the Guinness World Record - A Towering Feat by Preethi

A couple of months back, Preethi , one of India's biggest Kitchen Appliances company  managed to pull off an one-of-a-kind Guinness World Record in Chennai. The World record was for building a 41.8 ft cupcake tower (18,818 cupcakes to be exact) with the help of their popular mixer grinder, Preethi Zodiac. Along with a Master Chef Plus Jar to prepare the cupcake batter, Preethi Zodiac managed to dish out all those 18K cupcakes in record time . With the help of employees, support staffs and collaborating with Food Consulate, Preethi has managed to pull off this great feat which no other brand has attempted to do.



Being a popular Kitchen Appliances firm, Preethi has been a household name in most South Indian cities thanks to their innovative & quality products as well as the brand value that's been built over the decades. It's almost impossible to find a home in South India without a "Preethi" mixie , grinder or a Gas Stove. A name that's been synonymous with the word "Guarantee", "Lifetime service" and "Quality", Preethi has truly enjoyed an indomitable position in this segment. So it wasn't quite surprising when I got to know that they attempted something of this magnitude to showcase the true power and resilience of their recent launch, Preethi Zodiac mixer grinder.

Fortunately, I had a chance to interact 1-1 with the Managing Director  of Preethi, Mr.S.Subramanian to find out more about this interesting initiative and the reasons behind doing so. So many insights came out from this meeting and in the end it made absolute sense as to why this was planned & designed in the first place.

The Idea Behind the Guinness Record

Preethi wanted to differentiate themselves in the market and showcase the fact that their ranges of Mixer Grinders was not only meant for south indian items like Idly & Dosa but also can be used for Western & Multi Cuisine dishes. This included cupcakes as well.
As a tribute to 40 years of Preethi being in the industry , they planned to construct a 40ft cupcake tower.



The fact that they held a record for a 500kg, Longest grinding marathon in a mixer grinder category in Asia was also a reason to try attempt a Guinness Record. Nevertheless , their company being a Guiness World Record holder was a huge morale boost to the employees and the dealer networks as well.
Putting themselves out on the world map , with the record reflecting the durability, quality of the product was also a key talking point in their communications.
This also happened to be the PR's field day both in the online as well as offline segment both during the course of the event and post the record with good coverage in print, radio and online sites.

Execution Challenges

Attempting a Guinness Record of this scale and size will always come with it's execution challenges: The whole feat should be covered in a given amount of time, the product should deliver the expected rate of output without any mechanical issues and of course prevent any external challenges cos of building this in mammoth tower in a mall. Having tied up with Food consulate and getting help from their own staffs and ex employees, it probably relieved them of their pressure but yet it could never be easy unless it was actually completed.



In short, they had to get it right the first time itself.

Investing in the Future

 

Even attempting a Guiness World Record can be a major investment for any firm. Building a 40ft tower with 18000 cupcakes, collaborating with Forum Vijaya Mall and managing the work of so many people can be a huge effort . But when you achieve it, you realize it all makes perfect sense.
Going down the road a few years later, you realize this was the perfect long term investment you might have made. An award that's unparalleled , a statement to prove that they actually do what they claim is a dream for every brand.

Guinness Record wasn't their primary goal but rather a means to the end. The end goal, being a brand known for their quality, innovation and service. An investment behind these 3 pillars was rather the primary goal.

A Brand without a Celebrity

I always wondered, why a household brand like Preethi never opted for a celebrity to endorse their brand. Hiring a "Masterchef" winner or a popular actress could have well been their choices but they never opted for any. Mr.S.Subramanian replied that end of the day Brand has to deliver and their only hero was the product. Their second biggest endorsement came from their trade channels, network of dealers etc. Third being the consumers themselves and Preethi enjoyed a very strong word of mouth influence.

Preethi currently exports to several countries including USA, Canada, UK, Middle East and parts of Asia including Singapore.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fancode - A Sports Primer for Dream11

The recent era has witnessed fantasy sports rise in India. It has emerged as a new trend all-together. Dream11, the popular fantasy sports platform has become quite the hit among millions of sports fans across India. With it now being the official partner
of Vivo IPL 2019, many sports enthusiasts have started following it.


What’s more exciting is the new website Fancode by Dream11. For all the sports freak out there, this is one interesting platform where you can gather information related to sports news, updates, how to play tricks, match prediction, etc. It offers information related to Cricket, Football, Kabaddi, NBA and many more games. This information will help you in forming an ideal fantasy team for any upcoming matches. You can use all the sports gyaan provided by Fancode to enter a competition and watch yourself emerge as a winner.

Features of FanCode


A mini sports guide if you might call it, Fancode has quickly grown to become a popular platform for all the key information and statistics related to upcoming matches.

However, a lot of people still require a certain amount of important information when it comes to the players and even a piece of predictive information about the match before they can invest in a competition. To address this concern, Fancode has come up with a new feature for the match prediction. This helps you to decide and make a sound prediction of who has a higher possibility to win the match.


With a detailed match preview, analysis of key players who made an impact in the previous matches as well enhancing your sports knowledge, FanCode is a great resource that helps to make an informed decision about the match. The same knowledge can then be applied to form a formidable team to win exciting prizes. Other important features of Fancode include:




  • Live Scores & Match Details

Fancode helps you to keep track of live scores, especially in this key IPL season where you don't want to miss out on the scores at any point of time. Fancode also gives you all the information regarding the venue and time of the match upcoming match.



  • Predicted Playing XI


With so many injured players and their replacements coming into the picture, it gets quite challenging to change your current fantasy team and its strategy. The predicted XI is key to understand what kind of strategy the team is going to adopt. The predicted XI will give you an idea of how the team may opt for a specific set of players than the usual team they play.

  • Match Predictions 

It’s always a tough call when two strong rival teams face against each other. When the stakes are high, the result can go either way and the past performances may have said the same story. Fancode has come up with an interesting match prediction feature. It also gives you detailed point projects that each player may get to score along with his grade. To know more about the match prediction of upcoming matches, click here.

  • Game Previews

All the buzz that’s happening on the match day and the latest news surrounding a
fixture is available on Fancode. Every match has its own dedicated page to get a
glimpse of the upcoming match.

With so many exciting features available at just a click, what are you waiting for? Go
and explore as much as you can on Fancode and enhance your sports knowledge.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

It's a Wonderful Smart Life

A Day in the Life of A Smart Home  

                                                                

Image Source : https://internetofthingswiki.com/internet-of-things-opens-door-to-the-smart-home/1055/

A typical "Monday morning 7 AM"

My digital companion "Google Home"  starts playing some soothing melodies and wakes me up with a nice greeting " Good morning Karthik". I refuse to wake up and instruct it to snooze for 15 mins.
At the stroke of 7.15 AM, I get to hear the same alarm and I wake up with a half-mind, wishing I had 2 more hours to sleep blissfully, though that never seems to be an option.




7.30 AM  :  I glanced at my Garmin Vivo3, a Smart Wearable while I get ready for gymming. The counter shows that I had done only 3000 steps the previous day, out of a possible target of 10,000.

Not even half of what I wanted to cover the previous day and I felt motivated to cross it today.
I swipe right on the small screen and it says I had a 7 hour sleep with only 4 hours of deep sleep.  Again a gentle reminder that I need to increase that by a few more hours.


10 AM : My smartphone springs up an alert on heavy traffic in my "usual route to work". It suggests an alternative route that could avoid any possible delays . I was quite amazed that the smartphone knew all these things
  • what time I left for work,
  • what route I generally take,
  •  how much time it usually takes to go to work, 
  • what is the travel time today and a better alternative route
Naturally , I took the recommended option and reached office just in time, along with my Google Home.I head into my cabin and ask my Digital Assistant "What is on my schedule today"?
Google Home responds with  a list of all the meetings I am supposed to attend .


12PM : I keep my phone in the bag and head for a meeting. A while later, my band starts vibrating gently. I look up to see a notification about an incoming call from a friend. I twist my wrist sideways twice and the call gets declined. I make a mental note to call him later in the evening.

6PM:  I head back home after a long day at work. I need some ambient lighting to get out of the sombre mood. I remember connecting my rooms with the state of the art TP Link Wifi Color LED Smart Lights. A bulb, that can be controlled from a phone app or even through a simple voice command through my Google home .  I speak to my assistant again : " Google, dim my lights and make them yellow in colour". In a flash, my smart living room lights dim by 50% and the bulbs turn yellow , perfectly matching my mood.



8PM : I am too tired to cook anything today. I download Swiggy and order some Fried Noodles from my favourite restaurant.

As I settle down post dinner, I now think why not make it a "NetFlix N Chill" night.




I open the NetFlix app in my Xiaomi 55' 4K Smart TV and start streaming the most popular Black Mirror episode, "BanderSnatch" .



Ironically the episode is about a guy's life , who's narrative can be controlled by the user digitally.



I then realized, that not only am I presented with options in a TV show but it seems so the case in everyday life itself .

A 'Smart' life in a Smart Home , aided by Smart products that helped me
  • count my steps,
  • track my route, 
  • measure my calories, 
  • monitor my sleep, 
  • order my choice of food
  • control my house lighting and sound systems
  • and now even choose an ending of a TV show

Do you know the best part about this ? I never get a No for an answer :)

Well, who knew Mondays can be so exciting?

Incidentally, e-commerce giant Flipkart has aligned itself to the path of Smart homes & Smart Fitness( #GetFitWithFlipkart ) and launched a series of products. From smart watches that tracks fitness to digital assistants or smart bulbs, a  #SmartHomeRevolution is indeed in progress!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Best Apps for Instagram Photo Editing

2018 has seen a phenomenal rise of Instagram and the emergence of a new breed of "Instagram Influencers". Hence, it's become all the more important to keep yourself updated with  new technologies and apps that can help you deliver better content in these social media pages, to guarantee yourself an extra pair of likes and additional followers.



The same old boring content with Times New Roman font and default filters available is no longer an option if you want to step into the big game. So here's a quick roundup of some of the best apps you can use to transform your images into a whole different level (and on par with a professionally edited image in a PC).

I have classified these apps as Designing, Story/Post Templates for Instagram, Photo Editing and Photo Filters.

Designing

1. Canva
Canva has been around for quite sometime now , but has upgraded itself quite significantly with a lot of formatting features and new templates as well.
Be it creating a new design for Instagram Post, Blog Graphic, Pinterest Image , Whatsapp Story, Business Card or even an Instagram story, you have custom size templates that saves you a lot of trouble attempting to resize as per the format.
Though editing pictures is extremely limited in Canva , you can use previously edited images to fit into a nice design with an attractive banner/quote in a superlative font.


canva app instagram design


2. Adobe Spark Post
Definitely app of the year for me, this beautiful free designing app from Adobe comes as a huge boon for me. Given I have no experience with Adobe Photoshop, Spark Post got me to designing in minutes. With professional and creative templates, you could easily blend in your pictures with the existing templates and come up with some really nice designs. Be it a festival post or a travel post for Instagram or Pinterest, Spark Post is the app for you.


adobe spark post instagram designer

Instagram (Post and Stories designer)


3. Unfold

There has been a major focus on Instagram stories these days and you get more views than your actual Instagram post. So rather than just adding a picture or a text with hashtag, you can rather opt one among the several designs that Unfold has to offer.
(Note. This is a freemium app. The basic designs are free while the other designs are paid).

unfold instagram story designer

 
4.    9Grid

Rather than an individual post, you can try creating beautiful orchestrated grids (splitting a single image into multiple squares ( like  3 rows vs 3 columns matrix or even an image split into 3 pictures across a single row). This enhances the overall Instagram profile too. However one drawback is , the minute you begin implementing grids, all your future posts has to be aligned to a single row . Else the below grid loses its structure and goes jumbled, until the current row is complete.



Photo Editing

5. Adobe Photoshop Fix
Yet another wonderful app from the guys at Adobe, this miniature version of the famous Adobe Photoshop helps you to do minor corrections in your photo in a matter of taps. Be it a glaring tubelight or a red eye or even a sun glare, you can easily "heal"/"smoothen"or "fix" any part of the picture. You can apply any part of the background in the picture to a different area in the same picture as well and of course apply other related filters.
Definitely a must have app , not just for instagram but everywhere else too.



6.Snapseed
Google's own free photoediting app, Snapseed has a lot of advanced features to fine tune an image. The app is easy to use (though I'm yet to test all the features) and a great tool to do corrections like Shadow, Brightness, Contrast, Highlighting, Cropping etc.
There's also a set of limited filters that Snapseed offers which has some predefined customization that can be used



7.Water Mark
Almost everyone has faced the issue of their photos being stolen by others if it's not properly watermarked. After having tried several features, I have felt that Watermark is the easiest to use and you can apply a watermark in less than a minute for a picture


Photo Filters


8. Prisma
Though Prisma was leading when it was launched 2-3 years back, it slowly died down and not used a lot these days. However some of the effects are still very unique ( esp on buildings ) and can be a great app to design your photos in a different way.

9.VSCO
VSCO is one of the most popular apps to apply filters in your pictures. It has more than triple the set of filters that Instagram offers. However most of the filters are paid but it definitely is worth it , given the immense transformation of the image. Definitely recommended for professional photo editors.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vsco.cam

10. VImage
VImage stands for Video + Image. The app allows you to add moving gifs to your images thus giving a video effect. This includes a small fire burning gif, a passing cloud, fire burning among others. Though its paid if you want to remove the watermark.