A widescreen voice-controlled home theatre for less than 400$?

Here is how I set up a voice-controlled Cinema experience, without any ads, for less than 400 dollars.

Before we start, there are certain prerequisites which I assume most people have at their home anyway:

Electricity, Wifi, A wall to project on and a smartphone.

If you are ready with the above, let’s start

First of all, get a Google Home Mini,

Image result for Google Home MiniI like it here. This should not cost you more than 60 $. There are other products available, like Amazon Alexa etc, but I personally prefer the Google home.

Next, I recommend you buy a projector.

Image result for projector

You can get good ones at unbelievable prices here. You can get good ones for less than 150 $. But if you already have a TV which can take HDMI input, then you could still continue to use that, but to experience true theatre, you know that size does matter!

Now to connect the two the best option is the Google Chromecast.

Image result for Google chrome cast.There are several options to buy it from, like the Google store or Flipkart, to name a few. Cost? less than 70 $! Ofcourse there are other options out there, but they may not work easily with the Google Home. 

So now we have the vital components ready, and we have spent hardly 280$. What do you do with the rest of the money you may well ask since I gave you a budget of 400 $.

Well, we will come to that!

But first things first…

So how do we set up this home theatre?

It is really simple.

Just two steps! Yeah, that’s right!

Step 1: Welcoming Mini to your home: Install the Google Home app on your phone, connect to the home wifi network, power on the Google Home Mini and add it to your Google Home app.  Here is help on how to do it. Give the mini a name.

Step 2: Setting up Chromecast on your projector:

Then set up Chromecast, which is also very easy to do.

For setting it up, power it on after you connect it to the HDMI port of the Projector, or TV, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Your Google Home app will help you to link all three together.

Now comes the extra bits: You can take a Netflix account or Amazon Prime.  Netflix will cost around 20$ per month. Amazon prime costs around 14 $ per year! The advantage here is that Netflix plays directly by voice on to the cast via Google Home. Just say, Ok Google, play Sherlock from Netflix and viola!

Of course, if you want to cast from your mobile device to the projector you do not even need the Google Mini, but that is not what your smartphone would ideally be doing for hours together!

Another vital bit of hardware you would now need are good speakers. Projectors have audio out which you can connect to your home theatre sound system, or to a good portable speaker.

Image result for Bose SoundLink Color II

I find the Bose SoundLink Color II  to produce extremely good audio.

It costs around a 100$ but that completes the 400$ target as I promised!

Image result for home projector set up

Here is to happy viewing! Do pass the popcorn 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness tracking

As a Medical Doctor who loves to stay healthy, I have  been exercising fairly regularly, or so I thought! To objectively document my moves I did try out four different wearable devices that were supposed to help give me the data I needed, [mainly my heart rate and the number of steps I walked]. Imagine my surprise when all of them turned our to be almost useless!

Heart rate tracking has to be 24 X 7 for it to be of any real use to a medical professional or even anybody who is seriously interested in monitoring their health. And most of the devices that claim to track your heart beat do so only when asked to or when you press a button! That probably explains their cheap prices too. Anything cheaper than 3000 Indian rupees or around 40 US $ most likely will be a waste of your money if you are looking for serious round the clock fitness tracking at the time of writing this.

So I did some serious research on the best wearable device for me and honed in on the one you see in this picture below!

 

 

This is a device that fits the bill perfectly for me.

Here are the plus points after over a week of constant use:

It is super comfortable to wear, so that you hardly notice it is there on your wrist.

It is water proof and shower proof

The charge easily lasts a week.

The heart rate monitoring works 24X7 and is very accurate

The app is also easy to use and gives quite detailed analysis of your day and week.

It even tells me how many stairs I have climbed and descended.

It tells me the amount and quality of my sleep.

It reminds me to move with a vibratory alert  if it detects that I have been sitting at one place for too long.

You can set your personal goals and see how you have performed daily and weekly etc.

You can even link to other apps that monitor your dietary intake.

Here are some of my reports as it looks on my phone app:

Screenshot_20180722-233150Screenshot_20180723-223556

 

I am glad to see that my results are quite good for my age! Bit at the same time I used to think that I exercise enough and take enough steps but this device was like a reality check! I realised that on the days I miss my club I was really not exercising or walking enough!

Screenshot_20180723-223624This shows that for most of the days in the past week I barely reached my own goals for steps taken! Point taken!

Thank you Garmin for this device, the Vivo HR and I would highly recommend it for anyone out there who would like to keep track of their health and activities. By the way they have a HR + which has GPS too, but as I did not need GPS tracking for my exercise I selected the HR.

Wishing you the best of health!

 

Passion meets Purpose

Whatever you are passionate about, you do. If you enjoy cave diving, it becomes your passion. You enjoy travel, it becomes your passion.

You talk about it, think about it, plan on how to do it….you understand it, tight?

What about purpose? People are born with an inbuilt need to find purpose in their lives. The eternal question that we all ask ourselves, why am I here in the first place?

And we all instinctively realise that true purpose is tied to something outside ourselves, to something greater that our self.

Why do I say that? Read on to find out.

A wise man said: Blessed are you, if you find your passion and your purpose meeting together, aligning and building up one another.

There are some professions where this happens more than others.

For example, those who are passionate about healing and find themselves in healthcare. They find purpose i their lives daily. How blessed are they indeed.

But you may ask, what about cave diving? What purpose would it serve?

Recently a few boys got trapped in a cave in Thailand and the whole world was watching how the rescue operations were underway. It was very risky. The cave was submerged, underground and the boys were hundreds of meters away from the accessible entrances.

The world’s best cave diver had this to say after the rescue mission

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Passion and Purpose. I hope you are passionate about your purpose in life. God bless!

 

 

 

When a 7 year old homeschooler publishes a book….

This is an account of a seven year old boy and his journey of writing and ultimately publishing a book, sent to me by his mother.

So …
When our son said he wants to write a book, we were like – OK go ahead!
At that time we didn’t really think that he will really be so serious about it…
 
The process started with him asking me to buy a big giant sketch book for him … and then he started putting down his thoughts on scribble pad and then asking me for spellings and then writing in extremely good n neat handwriting on the sketch book… every thought was accompanied with a drawing/sketch
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The process begins

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Neatly written notes

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Writer at work

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The universe

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A dinosaur

and then after a month he told me – Aai, the book is ready!
This happened last year in December!
 
and then I said that’s wonderful … and to tell you all frankly … we kinda forgot about it … as in never really thought we will publish it.
 
Then he heard about my books getting published and launched and he came up to me and asked – why can’t we publish his book …
 
Then the actual work started …
 
And voilà !
We introduced him to the world of Amazon Self Publishing and he himself carried out the entire operations of Amazon Self Publishing and Published it!!!
 
Obviously there was constant guidance from us but to do this entire process by himself with so much of perseverance and enthusiasm … made us really proud!
 
I don’t know how good or bad the book is! I don’t know if it is worth making into a book!
 
I just know that if a 7 year old actually thinks on this line it is commendable.
I just know that if such a 7 year old gets the required guidance and support then he is more confident to do better things in life!
 
Look at this book as a simple piece of creativity and a lot of hard work and passion!!! And then go ahead on Kindle and purchase that e-version …
 
If you require a print copy by coming weekend it should be available…
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Thank you once again for such a wonderful support and thanks a ton for showering so much love!
 
 
#Swashikshan
 
I found this account very fascinating, and hats off to young Agastya on this wonderful adventure. Of course the age of the earth is a hugely debatable issue. I personally lean towards a much more realistic age than what is popularly propagated.
Never the less, there is no denying the fact that if a seven year old homeschooler can publish a book, the sky is truly the limit for them. 

Block chain and Medicine

As a Medical Doctor I ask myself what are some potential uses of blockchains in healthcare?

Okay, so for those who must be wondering,

What is a blockchain?

home

In general a blockchain is defined as a distributed system which records and stores transaction records.

Blockchain more specifically is defined as “…a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger.”

Blockchain is also similar to a database which stores information, however the main difference is that the data is located in a network of personal computers called nodes where there is no central entity such as a government or bank controlling the data.

How can blockchain be used in healthcare?

  • Drug Traceability where each transaction between drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists and patients can be tracked to verify and secure drug product information important for tackling issues such as counterfeit drugs.
  • Improvement and authentication of health records and protocols on record sharing.
  • Smart contracts where certain rule-based methods are created for patient data access. Here, permissions can be granted to selected health organisations.
  • Clinical trials where altering or modifying data from clinical trials fraudulently can be eradicated.
  • Precision medicine where patients, researchers and providers can collaborate to develop individualised care.
  • Genomics research via access to genetic data secured on blockchain
  • Electronic health records (EHRs) 
  • Nationwide interoperability
blockchain2

The future of Total Person Care

As a medical Doctor who is also interested in Total person care and treating each individual as equal and worthy of dignity and respect, blockchain technology gives me the technological possibility of actually implementing my values in practice.

I look forward to more developments in the field of Blockchain in healthcare. God bless.

Evolving controversy

Evolution theory. It has been a subject close to my heart for many years. Why is it controversial now?

For starters, recently [first week of Jan 2018] in India Union minister Satya Pal Singh , who is the minister of state for human resource development had stoked a controversy saying that our ancestors have nowhere mentioned that they saw an ape turning into a man, thereby casting doubts on Darwin’s evolution theory.

In January 2018, he stuck to his claim that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution of man is “not scientific” and called for an international debate on the issue to decide if it merits a place in school textbooks.

Blaming the media for fuelling a controversy over his statement, Singh said the issue calls for debate and not controversy. “In the last 100 years, many evidences have come out against the theory, in favour hardly anybody. It is not my statement. So many world scientists have said it,” Singh, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, said.

I felt this is  good time to try to clear the murky atmosphere of Evolution.

What do I mean by evolution? It may be totally different from what you understand, so let me explain by defining it as I understand.

Evolution is a change in the characteristics of a living being over generations. 

Sounds simple, right?

The problem starts when people start assuming or rather over estimating the degree of change that this simple process can bring about.

For example, let us look at the dog.

Dog breeds

If you call this evolution, fine. I would agree. Dogs have been selectively bred by intelligent human beings to give them desired characteristics over hundreds of years.

But look at this picture

animalsEvolution

Creative Imagination

The above picture is what I call stretching your imagination 🙂

It is okay to think that dogs can evolve, but to think a dog can evolve into a cat? It just shows how ignorant these people are about the complexities of life and especially about genetics.

Let me explain in simple terms:

There are millions of species of living beings on earth [and the numbers are fast declining every day]

Each species is unique and cannot breed or produce viable offspring when mated with another, no matter how similar looking.

I believe that an intelligent being, popularly called God, created species and defined them some time in the past.

He also gave the creatures he created the ability to adapt and survive in this physical world that we inhabit. This is again a testimony to his wisdom, his ability to see beyond time and space, into the future, where he knew that we humans would be altering the world due to our greed and mindless consumption.

This ability to adapt and survive is being stretched beyond its designed parameters and hence we see species getting extinct these days.

However many species do adapt and survive, some better than others. For example pests like flies, cockroaches and mosquitoes seem to thrive in these conditions.

But there is a limit to how much a species can adapt or change, and that is written in its DNA by the one who made it in the first place.

The problem with us humans is that we like to think we are gods. That we can decide what is true. That we can simply issue a statement and it will change the facts:

For example, the United States National Academy of Sciences states:

Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.

— National Academy of Sciences, Science, Evolution, and Creationism[24]

The confusion caused by the definition of Evolution adds to this. If you go by the simple definition that I gave earlier of dogs, it is nothing but adaptation. If you try to go by the definition proposed by some over-imaginative “scientists”, it would mean something like the Creative Imagination picture I posted.

That, dear reader, is what mainly causes the controversy. The degree of change considered possible by this process of ‘Evolution’.

And of course among other things the refusal to consider that there even exists a loving and intelligent being who could have created you and me and the entire universe.

The God who created you and me so wonderfully, has also given you free will to choose absolutely anything. You can decide what or whom to believe. Ultimately it is a matter of the heart.

I do not want to give you enough scientific reasons to make you realize the fallacies of the 2nd picture, but I want to plant a seed of a desire to find out for yourself what is true. Because in that way the faith you find would be truly yours.

 

 

 

 

 

Unplugging to connect

I had to do something drastic to connect back to my teenage son. Guess what?

He is in the tenth grade now and for the past few months I have been watching him spend hours…well not studying as in from his textbooks, but watching you tube videos or playing mine craft.

So this week finally I had to step in to help him achieve his own goals for this academic, to clear the tenth grade. Remember, a family is there to help support one another!

The first step was to get him to explain to me and understand what he wanted to actually get done.

For that I asked him to make a timetable for the week. He wrote that and we put it up on a big sheet in his room.

Then I gave him three days to see what he was actually able to do on his own. The wifi and internet remained on during this time.

What I observed was that he was simply unable to control the amount of time he spent on the net either on you tube or his mobile or on the desktop or laptop playing games.

So after three days I had to sit with him and make him understand in very simple terms what was happening.

Such is the power of these activities that the child is unable to recognize and tries to justify by saying that he has finished his assigned duties.

So we had to go for the complete solution. Just unplug the modem and keep it away in a secure place, and take the smart phone from him.

This has worked wonders!

We have our son back again!

Do share your experiences with your teenage kids 🙂