Eat Pray Nepal Blog: 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A rant against Google Chrome - a bloated web browser in 2016

I was a regular user of the internet and have used Google Chrome as my main web browser for the last five or six years. But over the years I have noticed I have gotten tired of the sluggishness and the constant background updates. 
Chrome leads market share in December 2016

Chrome with tiny market share in 2009

Background updates
Yes Google Chrome web browser updates itself in the background without your knowledge and you cannot stop it. There are many so called work-arounds designed to stop Chrome from auto-updating but the reality is none of these methods work. I have tried using various methods such as updating the Chromes registry entry to stop it from updating to implementing a firewall rule to stop Google Update as well as actually deleting the actual Update file. Despite all these measures I was not able to stop it. Somehow it finds a way to update.

These updates are good from an IT security perspective but Chrome itself has become really big and bloated over the years.

Google Spying on users ?
All web browsing done on Chrome is reported to Google and your surfing records are stored. Some people think Google might be spying on people, but I think it may mostly be used to see peoples browsing habits and probably not for any nefarious purposes.

Limited Data 
These auto updates are worse for people in developing countries such as Nepal with limited internet bandwidth. The consumer internet in Nepal is slow by modern standards and is not unlimited bandwidth which could result in extra unwanted data consumption.

Its time to move on to other web browsers if you are concerned about having privacy choices and not being forced into updates.

I will write another post next time on some alternatives such as Firefox, Opera, Chromium and others.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ratna Park - Kathmandu's version of New York's Central Park

View from middle

Ratna Park has gone a huge renovation as of last year. It is now much cleaner and worth visiting than in the past. Also in the past it used to be a free park while now there is an entry fee. It is quite reasonable price of Rs 20 if I remember right for locals. I only paid the fee to use their bathroom. After that I checked out the park. You can see some people enjoying the modest quietness and privacy of the park. It is hard to find anything like this in middle of Kathmandu unless you go to the Garden of Dreams in Thamel.

People sitting down enjoying the sun and talking

Pond in the middle of Ratnapark

The sign reads "It is prohibited to enter the Pond"

I didnt see any fish

Overall Ratna Park is a big upgrade the past and old version. However it is still not really a place to hangout with your friends or family. And definitely not a place to go for a swim in the pond. Would you enter the pond pictured above ? Leave your comments below.

Rating: 7 / 10

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nepal's first Social Network site is Neprican

The Neprican has been released on the internet and the android market. It is focused on young men and women from Nepal to connect with all over the world. 

I tried out from my computer and also tested their app from my Google Nexus 5p phone. I found the website responsive and the experience was consistent on both the web and app. 
According to the creators of Neprican, their free social network service is aimed to make it easy to find Nepalis for news sharing, finding new friends, finding new jobs, college and more.

When you login from the computer and sign up, it shows a three-bar icon on the upper left corner of the app accesses the main menu, which includes options such as Profile, Pictures, Friends, Messages, People Nearby and Groups. You can post status updates on your profile, search for other users by name. I found it easy to connect with some other current users that are living nearby by using the ‘People Nearby’ feature. The groups feature was also useful in having a private discussions.

I spoke with Katrina Shrestha, a grade 12 student from St Mary's School in Jawalakhel, Kathmandu. According to Katrina, she says the app has helped her connect with other students in ISA and learn about the college admission process and scholarship opportunities. She is planning to apply for college in Minnesota in the next year where she is hoping to qualify for In-State reduced tuition at Mankato State University.

In conclusion my overall impression of the Neprican website and app is very positive. The Neprican app has a clean UI and user friendly. 

Rating: 10 / 10


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pranks jokes and social experiments in Nepal

Currently in the USA there is a big phenomenon and popularity of these so called "Internet Pranksters". People such as Vitaly, Roman Atwood, FooseyTube and others have gotten huge rich producing videos where they appear to play jokes on the average person in public. Following that trend of pranksters, others have started similar youtube channels and pranks in India.

Now Nepali pranksters have gotten in the act of producing "prank" videos themselves. There at least five major so called "Pranksters" now producing videos in Nepal. Each of their has gotten about 200,000 to 400,000 views on average, which is quite a respectable amount of views.

Click here to see this video for yourself of the top five best Nepali pranks in 2015 - 2016.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Smart Driving Licenses to reduce fraud and illegal activity

Nepal has now started issuing its so called "Smart Driving License". The  (DOTM) Department of Transport Management has been bringing its long-planned smart driving license and will eventually replace all paper driving licenses currently in use.
The latest issued driving licenses are very similar to bank ATM cards. They have in them an electronic chip which stores driver’s name, address, vehicle information and others.The DOTM has also moved all the old driving license data to a digital platform.

According to news reports, the department plans to complete replacing the technology enabled licence within three to five years. Till date, the DoTM has issued around 2 million driving licences, out of which around 1.5 million are estimated to be active. 

The introduction of the so called "Smart License" is said to reduce mismanagement among DOTM employees and other issues related to fake driving licenses. 

The DoTM initiative is part of the Information and Communication Technology Development Project signed by the government and the ADB in 2008. The $25-million grant project envisions helping the government promote economic and social development and reduce poverty by making ICT more accessible. While the data recorded on the smart driving licences will be accessible to all the transport offices across the country, linkages will be made available to the traffic police, police and insurance agencies, among others, so that they can get complete information about the driver.

Meanwhile, driving license applicants will have to give a fingerprint impression, get a passport-size photograph made and place their signature on the license card by visiting the transportation office. The bad news is this means that from now on people will not be able to get their family or friends to even renew licenses on their behalf.

The other bad news with this is the government now has more information to watch you. Drive safe.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

VIANET is the Fastest, affordable, reliable home internet in Nepal

The consumer choices and quality for internet thats available in Kathmandu, Nepal has improved a lot. Whereas in the past this market was dominated by NTC and WLink, nowadays there are a lot of choices such as Vianet, Subisu, Ncell. 
I tried out Subisu's home cable internet and found it was quite good but I didn't get to test it for longer periods of time. I have also tested NTC's adsl and Wimax. NTC service seems to be good in during the morning and afternoon time but during the evenings the slow to a crawl.

This shows the speed to their local servers in Kathmandu
I had the opportunity to try out VIANET for 1 whole month and can say they provide one of the best internet quality with speed. All the setup and cabling is done by them for free during signup. They have a fiber optic network so its the best quality speed you will get compared to ADSL or Wireless services provided by other companies. 

Tests on Browsing websites, Videos, On-line gaming and VOIP communication

I was able to browse all websites with ease. Pages opened fast and were responding well.

Next I went on Youtube and opened up a few videos. Almost all of them load almost immediately and start playing with no to little buffering. I am impressed. Next I logged into my Netflix account (Yes, now netflix is available in Nepal). I tried to play a few TV shows and Movies. The results were quite good. It takes a few seconds after you hit the Play button, but once it loads, the videos from Netflix were streaming at HD quality without stopping to buffer. So that means you could watch even HD quality movies from Netflix. 

To test online gaming, I logged into Steam and downloaded Team Fortress 2, a multi-player realtime first person shooter game. I was able to play the game with no lag. The gameplay was smooth. Very good.

Internet voice and video chats via Viber, Skype seemed to also perform well with little to no disruption. 

VIANET also provide customers with an app where you can monitor how much internet bandwidth you have consumed. My only concern with VIANET is how they measure the data consumed. It seems to be a bit on the high side. I was getting an average of 1 GB daily consumption with just regular internet usage. That cant be possible. However they are quite generous with their packages that even with 1GB per day you would be under their usage limit, so you should be fine. (I need to double check this)

Overall I was pleased with the quality of VIANET's performance.  

Here are the speed test results showing that the performance is good.

Speed while browsing the web for most websites

As you can see from the screenshots, the Download and Upload speeds are quite good. The ping is also around 60 - 100 which is good for real-time online data exchange. 

The pricing starts at Rs 14,820 for 1 year service with 840 GB data of High Speed data (2Mbps) and unlimited Slower internet(512 Kbps). So if you calculated it monthly your cost comes to Rs 1235 per monthly with 70GB data of high speed included monthly. 

Rating 9 / 10 
(I deducted 1 point for them not counting the data usage properly)

Friday, February 26, 2016

CAN Info Tech 2016 review - Lot of good deals on electronics

CAN Info Tech is Nepal's biggest IT and electronics fair. You could probably say CAN Info tech is the CES of Nepal. This years fair was from Jan 29 to Feb 3, 2016. The event was organized by the Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) Federation with an objective to promote IT and provide a common platform for all IT enthusiasts.

Speaking at a press conference in Kathmandu on Tuesday, Biswo Ram Balamai, general secretary of CAN Federation, said that the expo would feature a total of 175 stalls — 49 stalls inside the main hall, three branding pavilions outside, 104 stalls in the truss, 14 stalls in open area, and five food stalls. “All the stalls in the main hall have already been booked. Similarly, more than 90 percent of the stalls under the truss have been booked,” added Balami.

Ticket Prices
Regular: NRs 100 
Student: NRs 50

Discounted Tickets were also available by eSewa but I personally dont know how to use it so I just paid with cash and bought the tickets at the entry gate.

Most of the stalls are selling electronic products such as Laptops, desktops, Phones, tablets, Power Backup invertors, and computer accessories. As compared to last year, this year I noticed there were lot more IT Services companies too. They were offering Training in JAVA, .NET, Android programming, graphic design. Most of the courses are 6 weeks to 12 weeks and cost a total of anywhere from Rs 10,000 and up. I'm talked to a few of the companies about their courses and it seemed like some of these are fairly basic training just enough to get you started in a technology. Its probably a good investment to take one of these if you are in High School and are interested to work in the IT industry after college.
There was even a stall advertizing training to make money in Google Adsense. Not sure what that was about. This one to me seemed a bit like a scam.

eSewa had a huge stall with lot of employees. Seemed like these guys are getting bigger in Kathmandu. Another stall was advertizing their Net Nepal mobile App which allows one to watch TV channels on their phone/tablet while in Nepal.
Lots of small cheap gadgets and electronics such as watches, cameras, portable batteries

People walking near the entrance tunnel

Huawei is gaining market in Nepal

Woman walking by around closing time on the final day

Conclusion - CAN Info tech is a nice way to shop around for gadgets and electronics. There usually are good deals on IT and Internet services.

Rating 9/10