Monday, July 17, 2017

Stepping Into Personal Finance, Stock Markets and Investing!

Jai and Ashish were sipping a cup of hot coffee on a cool evening watching an IPL match between  Mumbai Indians vs Rising Pune Supergiant. While Jai was cool about the rising of Pune as a Supergiant in this IPL and sipping his coffee along, Ashish was not able to focus on the match due to rising of his personal expenses and pondering over the importance of SIP instead of few sips of coffee.

Both Jai and Ashish are IT Professionals! Jai and Ashish will help us step into the world of personal finance, stock markets and Investing! 

The above fictitious characters are having factual and certain financial scenario. In a world where the prime focus is on spending, there is a lack of financial literacy among many of us where we don't understand the power of savings and investing. Slogans like 'You live only once' motivate us enough to spend on whatever we 'want' and demotivates us to save for what we will be someday actually  'need'. The idea is not to stop spending. This will anyway hamper the economic growth of the country. The idea is to spend but after saving.

Irrespective of what or what we not earn, we should have some basic knowledge about savings, financial planning, budgeting and investing; no matter how much we hate economics. In this article, I would list some basic and some advanced tools of investments. The various tools available for financial planning are the mediums through which we can achieve our monetary goals. First, we need to understand the importance of financial planning and why we need it at all. Second, we understand the importance of saving more than spending (needs versus wants) and last we need to understand few tools of financial planning.

the importance of financial planning and why we need it - In a world where jobs market is volatile, expenses are on the rise with the global and national economy in an uncertain state, it becomes imperative for an individual to focus on managing their finances. Even small ants work day and night and save food so they can face the rainy days. I hope we remember this story from our childhood.

understand the importance of saving more than spending (needs versus wants) - Suppose Jai earns 100 rupees a month so does Ashish. Jai spends 90 rupees a month - eats in lavish restaurants, watches latest movies in multiplexes, goes on a weekend getaways regularly. Ashish spends 10 rupees a month - travels in public transport, eat outs in budget restaurants, keep going out to occasionally. Both of them follows the same routine for 12 months. At the end of the year, Jai saves 120 rupees while Ashish has 1080 rupees as his savings! And the difference is quite significant.

need to understand few tools of financial planning - Both Jai and Ashish now saves 90 rupees a month. At the end of the year, Jai saves 1080 rupees while Ashish saves 1122 rupees. How can both saving same amount but Ashish having more money at the end of the year? Ashish earns 7% more by using a simple tool of investment called as recurring deposits!

So I believe we are now ready for discussing of few common & popular investment tools in a concise way. We will elaborate and focus more on other details and technicalities like their pros and cons, which tool is suited for what purpose in future posts.

  • Bank Accounts  
A bank account is a mandatory tool for managing one's personal finances. A saving account in any bank functional in the country will give you yearly interest of 4% (6% in some select banks) on the amount of money you are saving. A bank account will be the first door that should be knocked for entering into the world of savings and investments.

  • Bank Fixed Deposits (FD) 
  All banks offer their customers a service called fixed deposits in which a customer deposits a sum of money and gets guaranteed rate of interest at the end of the fixed deposit tenure. The bank fixed deposits are the safest tool which will assure fixed returns over invested amount. The rate of interest is volatile in nature with banks increasing/decreasing rates often. Currently, FD interest rates fluctuate between 6%-8% (depending on banks, age group of investor and other misc factors).

  • Bank Recurring Deposits (RD)
Recurring deposits is another variation of a safe investment tool which also offers guaranteed interest rate at specified intervals. You keep depositing a small sum of money each month and earn interest over the money, say, every 3 months. The recurring deposit interest rates are mostly in sync with fixed deposit interest rates. The core of both RD and FD are same from the fundamental point of view but both are still very different when it comes to the purpose of saving.
  • Public Provident Fund (PPF) 
The public provident fund is a safe investment tool supported by the central government. PPF account can be created from any bank. It is irrespective of any bank, PPF account technically is same, no matter through which bank it is opened. Since the public provident fund is backed by the government, the banks only act as the container for the account. PPF offers a fixed rate of interest for long term investment of minimum 15 years. Currently, the rate of interest in PPF is 7.8%.

  • Equities (Stocks) 
Equities popularly known as shares/stock market is a complex investment method in which an investor purchases a few shares of a company at a given price. Over a period of time when the company grows, the value of stocks also grows. Suppose Jai bought 10 shares of XYZ company at the unit price of Rs. 100, his invested Rs. 1000 becomes Rs. 1500 when the share price of XYZ company reaches 15 rupees per share. This can happen in 6 hours, 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years. It may not happen at all and his invested Rs. 1000 can become Rs. 500 if the company shows negative growth and per share price now drops to Rs. 5 from Rs. 10. Investing in Equities directly requires a thorough knowledge of share market as the volatility is very fluctuating in nature. The rate of interest can vary from negative to positive.

  • Mutual Funds (MFs) 
Mutual funds are also part of stock markets but it has better volatility and low fluctuation. When you invest in a mutual fund, you basically still invest in stock market albeit in a different way. For a basic example, understand a mutual fund as a set of stocks of 10 companies instead of 1. When you invest 1000 rupees in a mutual fund, your money is divided and invested across shares of all 10 companies. The core benefit of a mutual fund is that if 3 companies show negative growth, 5 companies show positive growth and other two companies shows a flat growth over a period of time, then the negative growth of 3 companies even outs by the positive growth of 5 companies and does not let reduce your investment. Mutual fund investments do not require an advanced level of knowledge when compared to equities. Due to average out of the invested amount, the rate of interest is mostly positive in the range of 10%-20% or even more depending on the mutual fund.

In future articles, we will discuss in detail on each of the above-listed tools of personal finance and how to invest properly to make the best use of these instruments. There are various other investment tools as well other than the above five that we will discuss at a later date. 

Thanks for reading. Think and Grow Rich! 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus – To Infinity and Beyond!

Foreword - When you think of a smartphone what comes into your mind? a typical 5" something screen, a couple of gigs of ram, enough storage, a camera to capture your pictures. What else you dream of a smartphone as a smartphone is your immediate companion. The phone which we are talking about speaks about Infinity where imaginations are boundless.

Samsung Galaxy S8 + is a device which breaks the shackles and take a step further in taking the smartphone evolution in an altogether different way. It leads perfectly and shows the future of smartphones. It enlightens the path of smartphone industry on how smartphones should be made in coming times. It becomes the leader of the future.

Coming from abstract point of view to practicality, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is one heck of a phone. It is a device which makes you realise how beautifully a phone can be crafted. In an all glass body, shining edges, brilliant screen and form factor, Samsung Galaxy S8 + is a dream come true for any smartphone buyer.

Overview – The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has been launched in India in May 2017 at a price tag of Rs. 63,990. The flagship from Samsung is powered by Exynos 8895 Octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz) processor, 4 GB RAM, Mali-G71 MP20 GPU, 64 GB internal memory + Expandable SD Card support upto 256 GB, Hybrid Dual SIM, 13 MP f/1.7, 26mm, phase detection autofocuses primary camera, 8 MP, f/1.7, autofocus secondary selfie camera, 6.2 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen and Android 7.0 Nougat OS.

Screen & Build Quality

Samsung Galaxy S8 plus is a device which screams build quality. In an all glass body, it is a delight to hold this beautiful phone. The infinity screen takes your breath away and forces you to keep your eyes glued at the 6.2 inches Super AMOLED capacitive multi touchscreen having 440 x 2960 pixels and 529 ppi pixel density. That’s quite rich. An interesting thing to note about this phone is its screen-to-body ratio of 84%. With no boundaries to the screen, we have a huge screen size in a compact form. The design team would have really worked hard to evolve this design to stand apart from the regular old-fashioned screen setups.

The overall build quality is simply fantastic. Body is glossy so it will be finger print and smudge magnet and the user has to do lot of hard work in maintaining the phone. If you are planning to use Samsung Clear View cover with this phone, then it will solve half of your problem in maintaining the phone. The clear view cover is must to have accessory for this device. The screen offers amazing quality and rich colours across photos and videos. Watching any photo or video on this screen is a visual treat! The Galaxy S8 plus is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It has 3D Touch for home button and an Always-on display which surprisingly is very gentle on the battery life.

Camera, Buttons & Call/Audio Quality

The Samsung Galaxy S8 plus borrows the primary camera from the S7 with no practical changes to the hardware. Though the camera’s software is optimised for much better low light photography. It has a 12 MP Primary camera, aperture of f/1.7, 26mm autofocus lens with face detection, Optical Image Stabiliser, LED flash. Galaxy S8 plus main camera has 1/2.5" sensor, 1.4 ┬Ám pixel size, geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama modes and various other features like bixby vision. The primary camera records video of 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps along with HDR, dual-video recording facility.

The secondary front camera is an altogether a new hardware in Samsung S8. It is a brilliant selfie camera with amazing picture quality. Front camera is 8 MP, aperture of f/1.7 with autofocus, I t record videos of 1440p@30fps. Offers dual video call & Auto HDR mode as well. Picture quality wise there are no complain from both of the camera’s and it will be fair to say the cameras on S8 is the best camera available on any smartphone at this point of time. The low light selfie quality is exceptional. The front camera also has a virtual flash technique that enhances the image using artificial flash and produces good quality picture.

In total, there are three buttons on the Samsung Galaxy S8 plus. The usual power button on the right-hand side of the phone and a volume up/down button & Bixby (more on that in next section) on the left-hand side of the device. The buttons are of premium quality and should outlast a normal smartphone life. On the back side of the phone we have heart rate and stress monitor sensor, Primary camera along with flash, finger print sensor just besides the camera. The fingerprint sensor could have been placed at a better position instead of next to primary camera because of the chances of smudging of the camera lens by mistake every time you try to unlock the phone. However, with time, you get used to the position of the finger print sensor. Call quality is fantastic. S8 has a single speaker but it is quite loud and one can hear notification/ringtone even in a crowded place. S8 + has 3.5mm audio jack and comes with AKG push in type earphones that have market value of over Rs. 6,000 and offers brilliant audio quality!  S8 is NFC enabled phone. It has Type-C 1.0 reversible connector USB 3.1 port for charging/data transfer.

OS/Performance and Battery

The Samsung Galaxy S8 + is powered by Octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz) Exynos 8895 processor coupled with Mali-G71 MP20 GPU. In other markets, S8 is sports an Octa-core (4x2.35 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo) Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 540 GPU. Both of these processing units are flagships and at par when it comes to performance. With 4GB RAM, Samsung S8 plus handles any kind of load without a sweat! The phone doesn’t get warm as well under power use. Samsung Galaxy S8 plus has 64 GB internal storage with SD card support in hybrid mode. S8 is now also available with 6GB RAM and 128 GB internal memory storage, but in my opinion, 6GB and 128 GB is bit overkill as 6GB RAM will hardly be utilised by the OS in present times and even in near future.

Samsung Galaxy S8 plus is a feature rich phone with lots of sensors on board including Iris scanner, fingerprint accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate sensor. The finger print sensor is fast and unlocks the phone in a glimpse. The iris scanner works fine. Samsung Galaxy S8 plus comes with Samsung’s inhouse Artificial intelligence based assistant called Bixby. Well currently Bixby can’t speak unlike Siri. Bixby button allows you to switch the assistant in a second and it shows content and applications according to user’s usage pattern and interest. Bixby vision on Camera app allows you to click pictures of an object and search on the web straightaway without even knowing object’s name. Bixby converts images to text names and text to images. Bixby made its debut on S8 but has lot of scope of improvement.  I will not be surprised if most people don’t us Bixby at all!

Samsung Galaxy S8 plus has Android 7.0 Nougat OS along with TouchWiz UI. Unlike Samsung’s earlier phones, Touchwiz UI is now more refined and user friendly. Probably the first time I am liking TouchWiz UI in any Samsung phone. Samsung regularly provides important system updates on the phone for security and related enhancement patches. Overall OS performance is fluidic and cutting across the apps and screens is butter smooth. The S8 + has a Non-removable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery which provides 24 hours of battery life under moderate usage throughout the day. The adaptive charger fully charges the phone in less than 90 minutes from 0 to 100! Samsung S8 plus is also powered by Samsung Pay -Visa, MasterCard certified. It is also IP68 certified that means the phone is water proof over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes! Samsung S8 plus comes in following colours - Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue and Maple Gold.



The Samsung Galaxy S8 plus is the best flagship till date and if you are in the market for a flagship phone, look no other than S8 plus. It is a phone that needs to be experienced!

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality *****
Screen *****
Camera *****
Performance *****
Value for Money ****

Overall *****

Specs at a glance

6.2 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen

Exynos 8895 Octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz) processor
Mali-G71 MP20 GPU,
64 GB internal memory with microSD support up to 256 GB
13 MP Primary camera + 8 MP Secondary camera
Network Type
Dual Hybrid SIM, GSM , HSPA, LTE, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 5.0
Non-removable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery
Android 7.0 Nougat OS
159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm
173 grams

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DBTutorial #1 - Setting Up Oracle Database 11G R2 on a Windows Machine

Learning databases begins with doing practical hands on a functional database application software. Database is used across all dimensions of software development and will always remain integral part of any application. In the upcoming series of tutorials that I am writing, we will focus on learning databases from beginner’s point of view. Currently in software industry, Oracle Database is the most widespread used software for deploying database for range of enterprise applications as per client’s needs.   Pre-requisite for learning Oracle Database is basic knowledge about database concepts and SQL queries.

Oracle Database installation is a simple process with easy to understand GUI installer provided with Oracle. In this tutorial, we will talk about setting up Oracle 11G R2 database on a windows machine (Windows 10). The oracle database can be installed on any Virtual machine as well like CentOS using VMWare about which we will cover in next set of tutorial as the steps will be a bit different as comparison to GUI setup of Oracle database. Also please note that this installation is for basic desktop class database setup to maintain simplicity. We will work on in-depth details in upcoming tutorials.

Download the Oracle 11G R2 database installation files from Oracle website. Follow the installation as per the steps described in the screenshots (Click on any screenshot to view larger screen resolution version).
  • Step 1 - Mount the database setup and click on setup

  • Step 2  -  Let Oracle Universal Installer perform required system diagnosis.

  • Step 3 - Oracle setup will launch

  • Step 4 - Enter your email id if you want to receive updates from Oracle. 

  • Step 5 - Select create and configure a database option and click next

  • Step 6 - Select Desktop class option as we want to set up a beginner level database for learning purpose. Server class option is mostly used when installing on Windows Server Operating system for deploying production level database catering to large number of users. 

  • Step 7 - Provide basic parameters like installation location, user id, passwords. Leave the Database edition and character set to default. Note down important parameters like global database name/password details in a separate notepad file for future references. 

  • Step 8 - Oracle universal installer will perform some prerequisite checks and provide summary of setup so far. Click Finish to begin the installation. 

  • Step 9 - Setup will start and will take 10-20 minutes depending upon your machine's hardware capacity. Sit back & relax till the installation finishes.

  • Step 10 - Allow access to JDK if windows firewall prompts a security alert. 

  • Step 11 - The setup will complete and Database configuration assistant will prompt summary of installation. You can use Password Management option to set/change passwords of default users. We will skip this for this point of time.

  • Step 12 - Oracle Database setup is now complete. Close the installer. 

  • Step 13 - Now it's time to check if Oracle Database is up and running or not on our system. We have two ways to do so - one from CMD and another from local host GUI oracle db manager. For CUI, open command prompt and type following command - C:\> set ORACLE_SID=orcl.
  • The oracle SID (System ID) is used to identify the database installed on a system. When we use this command, we instruct our system to work on a particular database. 

  • Step 14 - After setting ORACLE_SID, use following command to connect to SQL*Plus that will allow you to perform basic database administration tasks. 
c:\> sqlplus userid/password as sysdba

Once you are connected to SQL*Plus, use following command to retrieve the name of the database instance you are currently working on.

SQL > select name from v$database;

  • Step 15 - You can also access GUI console for managing your database. The local host URL will be generated at the end of the installation. Simply enter your user id and password. Select your role and connect to database.

  • Step 16 - Upon logging in, you will get the GUI console to administer your database. 

So after performing all these steps, we have confirmed that our database is finally setup and is up and running perfectly. 

In next set of tutorial we will continue further... Thanks for reading guys.