IRCTC generates a daily business of Rs.50 Crore! Wait, where's the Login page?

IRCTC a.k.a. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd, is an widely popular, useful, convenient portal for booking train tickets in India. Along with these, I'd like to add the adjectives, painful, frustrating, unreliable and pathetic(Agree?). If you don't agree with this, please click the link - IRCTC and let me know if you where able to login(or even see the login page!)

Yeah, yeah, I had a terrible week with the web portal, trying to book Tatkal tickets a very very important occasion. And 3 times, 3 days, I was left with nothing but a login screen(once in a while). I might be writing this out of pure frustration, I hope I make some sense(If no, please correct me, leave a comment!)

So I went out to dig in some information about this business enterprise. Here are my points

  • An average of 4.7 lakh train tickets are booked in a day(Source :  Forbes)
  • Rs.10(minimum amount) is levied on each of these tickets. I believe this exclusively goes to IRCTC. That mounts to a profit of Rs. 47 lakh(minimum) a DAY?
  • As per this article - We are sensitive to users' pain from congestion on IRCTC website, 8 lakh users login between 8 to 8.15 am. That post was back in 2012. This could be probably tripled by now, and the traffic bursts would come in two slots(normal and tatkal opening). Note that these pages have third party ads and Adsense(I think?). This could be a huge revenue, definitely in terms of millions of Rupees.(and that's every day)
  • As an update to statistics - IRCTC Stats. It indicates around 26 million hits a month. You do the math. And to further solidify how huge this is, the Alexa rank of the site is 451 - Alexa IRCTC. To those who don't know, Alexa is a huge database that ranks sites based on their popularity. The list is lead by the familiar sites Google, Facebook etc.

Top 10 Free Android Games that will keep you occupied for a long time

I've tried out a lot of games on my Xperia P for the past two years. Here is my list of the Top 10 Android games(Free). Please note that this is my personal opinion, do leave your list in the comments!

  1. Candy Crush Saga - I've heard a lot about this game, especially in Facebook with all that invites to play the game. But for some reason, I felt the game wouldn't be of my liking. But then, one of my friend plotted an interest of this game in me. I installed it, and Ta-Da, turned out to be my favorite game so far. This is almost a never ending game, and every level plays differently every time. It's fun, and simple, and engaging!
    What's the game about?
    Classic group three or more similar candies to break them and keep progressing. There are different types of missions you need to complete and progress through the levels(which are almost indefinite!). 
  2. Temple Run 2 - Now this is a classic game which requires no introduction. The first installation - Temple Run 1 set the trend for such a themed game. Simple, fun, engaging and never ending. There are tons of similar games around, Subway Surfers and Despicable Me: Minion Rush are similar fun games you have to try
    What's the game about?
    Run, Run and RUN! Just make sure your character doesn't fall of the ledges, or hit any road blocks. It's a simple swipe on different directions to make your character run through the levels

10 Simple Tips to Improve Battery Life of your Android Phone

I own an Xperia P, and anyone who owns it knows how bad the battery is. It's equipped with a 1305 mAh battery, which is way below par for the otherwise awesome phone. I've done my fair amount of research for the past two years, and here are my observations. I've sorted it according to the ease of applying the tip and the effect of the tip(Eg: 1 --> Is easy and most effective).

  1. Greenify - Without any doubt, I'll put this app on the top of my list. Greenify lets you select the apps installed in your phone, and hibernate them in a single click. This has a huge huge impact on the battery. Apps like Facebook leech the battery at a very high rate. By greenifying the app, you put it into hibernate mode, this means that until you manually open the app, it'll be sleeping. Make sure you don't greenify apps like Whatsapp(which will make it sleep, and thus stop receiving messages unless you manually open it)
  2. 2G/3G - Atleast on my phone, using a 3G network was a very costly affair(in terms of battery). By this I do not mean of using data connection. When your data is not on, you can simply switch to 2G network. You can find the settings at Settings ->Mobile Networks->Preferred Network Type. On some phones it will be GSM(2G)/WCDMA(3G)
  3. Switch off Auto-Sync/Auto-Update apps - I personally do not find the need for auto syncing contacts, calendar, photos(major impact on battery), regularly. These can be done manually at some intervals. Also unchecking the "Auto-Update apps" in Play store settings will help improve the battery life

Google Camera and Chrome Remote Desktop for Android

Google recently launched a couple of useful apps for Android - Chrome Remote Desktop and Google Camera. I just tried them both

  • Google Camera - brings in some useful features
              -- Photo Sphere
              -- Panorama
              -- Lens Blur
    The photo sphere allows you to take 360 degree pics, which does look interesting, but I didn't like it much. This mode makes you take atleast a couple of dozen photos(you have to keep a dot in the screen aligned), and finally stitches it into a big sphere.

    Panorama is a standard feature, nothing more to it

    Lens Blur is interesting. Some of the latest high end phones(Nokia and Xperia) have pitched in this feature earlier, and I was excited to get that on my Xperia P. With a couple of tries, I got an idea what it could do. Haven't spend much time on it though. For starters, this is what it can do

My Playstation Plus experience

A Playstation was a huge dream for me. About 7 years ago, my Dad bought me a brand new Playstation 2. But unfortunately, the gig got outdated with the arrival of Playstation 3. Late in 2012, I made that dream come true, there I had a brand new Playstation 3 Ultra Slim. Along with it I got Uncharted: Drake's Deception and Grand Tourismo  5 free. Later on I owned Fifa 13 and Grand Theft Auto 5. But these games are very very expensive, and then I subscribed to Playstation plus.
 So what is Playstation Plus? It's a subscription based service which gives you lots of online services and games free. Named as Instant Game Collection, Sony gives away atleast 1-2 games awesome games(on PS3). For Rs. 2950 a year, this is a great deal. Here is the my experience of the IGCs since Dec, 2013(I'll keep updating this, and I do not play all games). All these are completely my personal opinion, it might not be the same as yours.
  • DmC : Devil May Cry : This was the first one I tried. I did some research on the game before the download completed, and the reviews were mixed(especially with the history). The game looked brilliant to start with, with pretty decent graphics and smooth gameplay. I played this for quite sometime. With a combo of superpowers and guns, it looked fun. But as the game progressed, the whole sequence became repetitive. It was like start - kill 10 guys - go to the next section - start over. Yes there was a wide variety of superpower, and the storyline was good too, but this repetitive sequence just made me hate the game. I eventually deleted this

    Pros     :  Cool graphics, smooth gameplay
    Cons    :  Too repetitive
    Rating :  4.5/10
  • Remember Me : The presentation of this game looked wonderful and futuristic. Nilin, the female protagonist starts the game with her memory partially stripped. The quest to know who she is follows. The gameplay involves shooting plus combo actions(no superpowers, just kick and punch). There are varieties of kicks and punches though, and you can make a lot of combos and special stuff with them. The game looked really interesting to begin with, but somewhere the same repetitiveness caught me again. There were some interesting things, and the story line was interesting too, but the gameplay was way too much repetitive and the action was a bit more boring than DmC. Remember Me had the same result as DmC for me.

    Pros     :  Nice concept(tweaking into memory and modifying it, kind of inception), nice presentation
    Cons    :  Too repetitive, and the combos become boring after sometime
    Rating :  4.0/10

Get the most out of a Sony Xperia P

 Xperia P was one of the most impressive smartphones by Sony in 2012. I personally felt it way better than it's big brother Xperia S. The only thing that bothered me all the way was it's battery backup. With a mere capacity of 1305mAh and a non-removable battery, it was difficult to survive more than a day with it. Using a 3G network was a luxury this phone could not afford. However, it was a great phone that suited my purpose which were

  • Aesthetic looks(the transparent strip embedded with buttons)
  • Handles most of the games
  • Brilliant screen(with auto brightness which is missed in Xperia S)
  • Decent camera(not really great though)
  • Solid build(not much damages, apart from scratches after almost 2 years)
  • NFC, WiFi hotspots, Bluetooth, OTG and all those features cramped into the device
  • And... updates(which started to disappoint recently)
Although the phone was shipped with Android 2.3(Gingerbread), I did not have to wait long before getting a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich. It was a good update, with the look and feel adding to the aesthetics of the phone. And the down the road came the Jelly bean update too, which kind of refreshed the longevity of using the phone to me. But with that did come a few irritating bugs too, the ones which bothered me a lot are
  • Battery draining was off the chart, the phone barely survived 8 hours
  • Call logs got really laggy(know issue apparently). A factory reset did not resolve this, trying third party apps wasn't quite the experience
  • And the fact that I wouldn't get to taste KitKat on Xperia P
To get myself distracted from these, I starter using other launchers. The Windows 8 launcher entertained me for sometime, then I moved on to other popular launchers like GoLauncher, Nova Launcher etc. But these never lasted, I was back to the stock experience in a while.

So the inner geek in me pushed me for more, and the thoughts of rooting/unlocking/custom rom began roaming in my brain. But I was a tad bit reluctant on getting into the flow for some reason. But then one day, I decided to get in, and the post that guided me was this - Techglen

Let me summarize what, how and why I did stuff on my phone