Troubleshooting torrent network problems with routers

Wondering why the wifi or LAN connection keeps misbehaving and disconnecting on your shiny new router when you try to download torrents or stream high quality movies on your local network? I was facing the same issue with my TP Link W8968 modem cum wifi router that I got recently for my home broadband connection. Some research through Google indicated that this was not specific to my router model, and was likely to be related to torrents overwhelming the NAT tables on the low end routers. This could happen for both the wireless and wired network, as my experiments.

I finally found the solution through 2 different threads that suggested that the NAT and IGMP proxy be disabled on the router. One was for my specific router model:

Please try to disable : 
“Enable Fullcone NAT:” & “Enable IGMP Proxy:” 
under : Network -> WAN Settings -> WAN Service Setup -> Advance option.
Disabling the above option fix my TD-W8968 freezing problem.

The other was in the Apple forums:

*****Disable IGMP Proxy Setting from your router (Verizon Fios, etc) *****

I tried this, and haven’t had any issues for the last 4 days with the torrents downloading comfortably overnight. Earlier, I used to set the torrents to download and find out the next morning that the wireless network had dropped off and the router had stopped responding. So, give it a shot and see if it works. After all, this is a lot less expensive and hassle free compared to replacing your existing router.

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What was the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on a resume/CV?

A great point for any CV: "Times Person of the Year 2006 (shared)"

Answer by Anirudh Wodeyar:

The best thing I've ever seen in a resume was found when I was directed to Bradley Voytek's CV by him mentioning that he lists his Major Failures in it. What I found inside was even more interesting:

Times Person of the Year 2006 (Shared)

So now I'm obviously thinking, WOW! That's such an awesome thing to be able to list on your resume, so what would I do but Google it to see his picture on the magazine, to get this: You — Yes, You — Are TIME's Person of the Year
And I just couldn't help laughing! It was absolutely brilliant 🙂

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What are the best techniques for efficiently running long distance?

For all the marathon runners…

Answer by Gurvinder Singh Gill:

This will be a long answer but if you are a long distance runner, I know, you will endure.

First of all let me clarify one thing: there is no “best” technique for running. Yes, there are some “better” techniques but most of the time, the running techniques are subjective and depend upon your body structure & fitness, running distance, and running surface. So try various techniques and ease into one which you find most comforting.Following information is only for Long Distance Running and out of my own experiences as a Runner.

A good running technique is not only about proper foot landing and body posture. It is as much about how you are breathing and even what you are thinking while running!

Firstly, judge your current running technique on following parameters:

  1. Do you experience joint pains (usually in knees and ankles) especially when you run on hard surfaces like roads etc.?
  2. Do you experience lower back pains after running?
  3. Do you experience shoulder pains during running?
  4. Do you generate excessive noise while taking steps during running?
  5. Do you feel sharp pains in lower left/right side of your abdomen?
  6. Is your breathing erratic and arrhythmic while running?
  7. Does your mind give up even before you have reached your body’s limit?
  8. Or do you match any of the following:

If your answer to any of the above questions is in affirmative, you need to look into your current running technique and take corrective measures.
We will discuss it in three parts:

  1. Physical Techniques
  2. Breathing Techniques
  3. Mind Techniques

Physical Techniques

It can be divided into three basic aspects namely

  1. Foot landing
  2. Body posture
  3. Running rhythm or cadence

1. Foot Landing

  
Many of my friends complain of acute pain in their heels, toes and calves due to running on hard surfaces. This is due to improper foot landing.

The red runner cannot use his front leg to propel himself forward. He’ll have enough momentum to keep going but before the front leg can contribute to forward movement it will first resist forward motion. Moreover hitting the heel first will send jerks up his legs and can result in deterioration of knee, ankle and hip joints. This is the reason for joint pains.
The blue runner’s front leg is landing right under his center of gravity. His forward momentum is unimpeded and as soon as he extends his leg the force will be pushing him forward too. Moreover he is landing on his mid-foot which would greatly reduce chances of joint pains after running on a hard surface.

Look at the foot placement……Perfect!

Over-stride…..Wrong!

Changing the foot landing from Heel first to mid-foot will initially result in stiff calf muscles. So take it slowly to reduce chances of an injury.

2. Body Posture

Another important aspect of good running technique is maintaining a good body posture such that your core remains strong. Your core consists of abdominals, hips and gluteus (Gluteus are muscles of the buttocks).

The red runner does not have a strong core. The blue runner has his hips forwards and holds his pelvis level. The force from his legs is transferred efficiently through his hips, pelvis, spine, neck and head.
As you can see from the blue figure, your head, spine and hips must be in line with the point of contact of your foot. That’s why it is advised to run tall and look straight ahead to the horizon. To move forward your body must lean in like giving a kiss.
Moreover your arms’ motion must also be set to the rhythm of your running with your elbows bent approx. at 90 degrees.

3. Running Rhythm

Most of the fledgling long distance runners lack running rhythm.

Your feet should act like natural springs and you should properly extend your hips to propel forward.
Secondly, you should always run in a rhythm with high cadence. It is generally taken as approx. 170-180 steps per minute but may increase or decrease slightly depending upon the length of your legs.

Moreover, it is more energy efficient and easy on your body if you run with small steps (blue) rather than taking longer strides (red) which put undue pressure on your knees and other joints. It is a misconception that longer strides alone can give you more speed.
It is generally seen that people take longer strides during the initial phase of their run when they are more excited & energized and then slowly they ease into a more comforting and enduring small-step run. Many new runners change this rhythm many times during a single run and hence lose a lot of energy in the process.

For a long distance run it is highly important that you maintain a rhythm. Find your natural rhythm and then stick to it.

To sum it up:

Breathing Techniques

While running, we only think about training our body and legs, and ignore training of our lungs.

Keep in mind following points:

  • Breathe through nose

There is lot of misconception regarding this point. Many held belief that breathing should be done through mouth as you can take in more oxygen as well as release more carbon dioxide. In my view, this way of breathing is more appropriate for short distance runs. For long distance runs, you should try to breathe through your nose as much as possible so that your throat and mouth don’t dry up during running. During very long races, excessive mouth-breathing can even lead to cramps.
 

  • Breathe from the Belly

When you are running you should not be breathing from your chest. To get more oxygen into your system, you have to breathe from your belly. Moreover your shoulders move while breathing from chest and such motions tend to tire your shoulder muscles during long distance runs.
 

  • Long and deep breathes

This is again a controversial point. Many believe that it is better to have short and shallow breaths and they feel suffocated and out of rhythm trying long breaths. When changing from short to long breaths, it is commonly seen that runners feel uncomfortable. Treat it as a transitory period.
Long and deep breaths provide much more oxygen to your lungs while running than short shallow breaths. Change!
 

  • Breathe in Rhythm

It is important to breathe in rhythm while you are running. You should inhale and exhale at a consistent rate. One way to check whether you are breathing in rhythm is to count your steps when you are running. Irregular breathing will only reduce your oxygen supply and tire you sooner.

Mind Techniques

The hardest thing during running is that it’s a very long time to concentrate and remain motivated.

When someone forfeits his/her race, more often than not, it is the mind that gives up, not the body!

When I first started running, the biggest hurdle I experienced was to keep my mind in control during long runs. I used to run in the cross country races at my college and was considered one of the best runners. But every time I used to hit the “mid” part of the race, my mind would invariably start playing its tricks. The first question would be “why the f*** are you running?” closely followed by “Would it be too embarrassing if you leave the race in-between?” And then my mind would start suggesting me all embarrassment-free ways of forfeiting the race! Go and intentionally injure your toe with that rock lying at the road side! Entangle your foot with the exposed roots of that tree and then trip & fall! See that vehicle coming…get hit! Leave! Leave! LEAVE! Just f***ing leave the race!
It used to take all my mental strength to keep running.

Mental aspect of running is the toughest part and most rewarding also. As Will Smith as aptly said:
“When you're running, there's a little person that talks to you and says, "Oh! I'm tired. My lung's about to pop. I'm so hurt. There's no way I can possibly continue." You want to quit, Right? That person…if you learn how to defeat that person when you're running, you will learn how to not quit when things get hard in your life.”

That's Right! Never Quit.

The Pain, the exhaustion, the inability, the weakness……they are all in your mind only.

Push yourself to the limits and find out for yourself that there aren’t any limits.

Learn the mind techniques.

Different things work for different people.
Studies show that elite runners tend to stay focused on the run—on things like form, pace, and the way their bodies feel. The rest of us flit around four major thought bubbles: organizing, problem-solving, wandering, and pondering. If such things help you in maintaining your run, well and good, keep it up. But many a times such activities start to affect your running and even your emotions. Look out for the signs and take corrective measures.

  • Run in groups whenever possible, especially with some people who are better than you at running.
  • Do not stay in your fantasy world for the full duration of your run. Check in with your body every few minutes.
  • Every time you run a familiar route, mark your progress with landmarks. These can act as your cheering sections and lift up your spirit while running.
  • But sometimes environmental cues can be limiting and can trigger muscle memory and mental memory, recalling how you felt the last time you ran this course. If you are unable to shake such feelings, try changing the running course periodically.
  • Re-frame your run in your own way. Recently I read somewhere about a technique used by a marathon runner.

    “When I run, I think of the distance as a lifetime. During the first few miles, I pretend I'm an infant just learning how to walk. During the next stage, I imagine I'm an adolescent, running wild. When I hit the mid phase, which is sometimes incredibly tough, I think, I'm having a midlife crisis. And when I hit the last miles, I think, why am I feeling so bad? It's because I'm too old! Even at that point, I don't think about the race being over. It's still too early. I only let the final distance enter my mind when the end is in view.”

    Think of your own way of interpreting your run. Be creative. It will help to keep your mind occupied.

  • And most importantly,

On top of all this, you need to keep in mind your nutrition and water requirements too.

My own way of fighting the mind demons is a little peculiar! I set my targets before running, sometimes in kilometers but mostly as checkpoints or landmarks. And then there is only one rule, DO NOT STOP before reaching that particular checkpoint, no matter what. And to keep my mind focused, I keep on repeating one thing to me:

Just Kidding!!

That will be all for now. I hope, I have not missed something important. Correct me if any.
-Adios

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What are some mind-blowing facts about Hinduism?

Very interesting…

Answer by Harish Aditham:

  1. The most mind boggling thing about Hinduism is the fact that atheism is a part of Hinduism.
    Religions are classified according to their beliefs in God: Atheism – no God, Monotheism – One God, Polytheism – Many Gods. While most of the popular religions fall into one of the three categories mentioned above, Hinduism is the only religion which can be accurately, yet not fully described individually, by all these terms: Hinduism is Atheist at the same time as it is Polytheist at the same time as it is Monotheist, as well as henotheistic, i.e. belief in one major God with other subsidiary Gods "worshippable" too! Oh, and Hinduism can also be considered "monist" i.e. the belief that all the seemingly disparate elements in this universe can be reduced to one single unity. So there you have it: Hinduism is perhaps the only religion in the world to which all kinds of epithets such as above apply, and yet fall short of suitably encompassing its definition! That's what a living history of 4000 years does to a religion I suppose!

    There are a sect called Cārvāka (Wiki it!), who simply put "don't care whether God exists or not". They are indifferent to the phenomenon! Among the extremely well evolved ancient Hindu philosophical schools of thought (almost to the point of fatigue), there are two more philosophical schools of thought, namely Mimamsa and Samkhya which likewise maintain a healthy tradition of philosophical skepticism albeit not going as far as terming themselves atheists like the Charvakas. This was not a one-off thing!!

    A healthy argumentative tradition has been the defining point of Hinduism even from its early days, when its prime scripture, the Rig Veda was written.

    Look at this hymn on the origin of creation:
                           Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it?
                           Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
                           The Gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
                           Who then knows whence it has arisen?
                           Whence this creation has arisen
                           – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not –
                           the One who looks down on it,
                           in the highest heaven, only He knows
                           or perhaps even He does not know.
                                                 – Nasadiya Shloka, Rig Veda c.1700 – 1100 BC

    Pause for a moment and consider this: in this day and age, when "blasphemy" is taking lives by the hundreds everyday, a religion incorporated atheism and a healthy tradition of scepticism in ancient days itself, making it a part of its ethos and tolerating it ever since!

  2. Among the world's great religions, Hinduism is the only mainstream religion which promotes gender equality in their "Gods" (if not in the followers).
    Hinduism has perfectly complementary female counterparts to almost all of their male Gods (with the exception of "celibate" Gods male and female), and infact Hinduism proclaims the Holy Trinity of Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) acquired their present powers at the expense of the Supreme Mother Goddess who pervades the cosmos with her energy. Entire cults exist in Hinduism who focus on worshipping the esoteric female energy, almost to the point of neglecting other Gods. (Wiki: Shaktism)
  3. Hinduism is the most popular non-proselytizing religion which has survived inspite of it, to this day withstanding onslaughts from other missionaries.
    Except Hinduism and Judaism, all of the other major religions of the world carry out active missionary work. Hinduism inherently accepts that there is no "One Truth", there are many truths in this Universe, each as true as the next. A popular Hindu line of thought runs thus: "Just like many rivers reach the ocean, there are many ways to reach God". For how could a religion with such a vast diversity in its own traditions purport to uphold "one true way"?

    What is amazing is the fact that despite having been exposed to proselytizing religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Islam at various points in time, Hinduism remained undaunted. A unique feature is the way these religions and their traditions are absorbed into mainstream Hinduism. Buddha became one of the God pantheon, a syncretic "Hindu-Islam" religious way such as Hindus praying at Sufi shrines evolved, Gods with Muslim origins such as "Kad – Bibi" in South India came to be worshipped. Why, Lord Venkateshwara (the God with the richest temple, or religious place of worship in any religion, in the world), himself is said to have a Muslim wife: Bibi Nanchari!

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Why did the Tesla Model S get the highest safety score ever from the NHTSA?

Imagine where things could have been had electric vehicles not been hampered by the oil propaganda…

Answer by Marc Hoag:

Because during the roof crush test, the crushing machine exploded at around 4 Gs of force before the roof failed.

That, and it nailed 5 stars in every single test, and numerically, actually exceeded a perfect 5.0.

If you're asking why it did so well, i.e., what about its construction allowed it to do so well, I can only speak to the frontal crash test and roll-over test:

Frontal test: The lack of an engine allowed exceptional space for a crumple zone, effectively allowing the Model S to dissipate frontal crash energy over a far greater distance and time — i.e., greater impulse — than any other internal combustion engine vehicle.

Roll-over test: the extreme lower center of gravity caused by the massive battery packs meant that the car could not be flipped using conventional testing means. That alone was a big deal, as the car had to be flipped using unorthodox testing methods. Suffice to say, if the roof survived 4 Gs of crushing force as mentioned above, it could certainly handle its own weight when being flipped.

Tesla S … the greatest car … in the world? It's certainly seeming that way. Let's see if Clarkson finally agrees.

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What is it like to live in space?

Answer by Garrett Reisman:

At first it's just weird.

All kinds of things are happening to your body.  Your vestibular system is all messed up – your inner ear isn't working at all and it's sending garbage signals to your brain.  Your heart, which is used to pumping against gravity to do its most important job, delivering oxygenated blood to your brain, is now pumping too much and your head gets all puffed-up.  (I woke up in the middle of my first night in orbit and wondered why I was standing on my head for a few seconds, until I realized, no – I was just in space.)  When you close your eyes to go to sleep, you see lightning flashes inside your eyeballs.

And you have a hard time just moving around.  The first day is filled with apologies as you inevitably kick or elbow your crewmates as you thrash around like a fish out of water.

But eventually you get the hang of it, and for those of us who were lucky enough to do long-duration missions, about a month into flight you finally really get used to it.  Then you wake up in the morning, float out of your sleeping bag, shoot across the space station like superman and turn a few somersaults on the way to the galley for breakfast.

Now you are a real spaceman!

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Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant

Giant all right, and weighs just 7.2 pounds. The Wenger Giant Knife includes 87 implements for almost any situation:

  • 2.5-inch 60% serrated locking blade
  • Nail file
  • Nail cleaner
  • Corkscrew
  • Adjustable pliers with wire crimper and cutter
  • Removable screwdriver bit adapter
  • 2.5-inch blade for Official World Scout Knife
  • Spring-loaded, locking needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
  • Removable screwdiver bit holder
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit 0 Phillips head screwdriver bit 1
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit 2
  • Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5mm x 3.5mm
  • Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6mm x 4.0mm
  • Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0mm x 6.5mm
  • Magnetized recessed bit holder
  • Double-cut wood saw with ruler
  • Chain rivet setter
  • Removable 5mm
  • Allen wrench
  • Screwdriver for slotted and Phillips head screws
  • Removable tool for adjusting spokes
  • 10mm Hexagonal key for nuts
  • Removable 4mm curved allen wrench with Phillips head screwdriver
  • Patented locking screwdriver
  • Universal wrench
  • 2.4-inch springless scissors with serrated self-sharpening design
  • 1.65-inch clip point utility blade
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • 2.5-inch clip-point blade
  • Club face cleaner
  • 2.4-inch round tip blade
  • Patented locking screwdriver
  • Cap lifter
  • Can opener
  • Shoe spike wrench
  • Divot repair tool
  • 4mm Allen wrench
  • 2.5-inch blade
  • Fine metal file with precision screwdriver
  • Double-cut wood saw with ruler
  • Cupped cigar cutter with double honed edges
  • 12/20-gauge choke tube tool
  • Watch case back opening tool
  • Snap shackle
  • Mineral crystal magnifier
  • Compass
  • Straight edge, ruler (in./cm)
  • Telescopic pointer
  • Fish scaler
  • Hook dis-gorger
  • Line guide
  • Shortix laboratory key
  • Micro tool holder
  • Micro tool adapter
  • Micro scraper, straight
  • Micro scraper,curved
  • Laser pointer with 300-foot range
  • Metal file
  • Metal saw
  • Flashlight
  • Micro tool holder
  • Phillips head screwdriver 1.5mm
  • Screwdriver 1.2mm
  • Screwdriver .8mm
  • Fine fork for watch spring bars
  • Reamer
  • Pin punch 1.2mm
  • Pin pinch .8mm
  • Round needle file
  • Removable tool holder with expandable receptacle
  • Removable tool holder
  • Special self-centering screwdriver for gunsights
  • Flat Phillips head screwdriver
  • Chisel-point reamer
  • Mineral crystal magnifier
  • Small ruler
  • Extension tool
  • Sping-loaded, locking flat nose needle-nose pliers
  • Removable screwdriver bit holder
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit 0
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit 1
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit 2
  • Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5mm x 3.5mm
  • Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6mm x 4.0mm
  • Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0mm x 6.5mm
  • Magnetized recessed bit holder
  • Tire tread gauge
  • Fiber optic tool holder
  • Can opener
  • Patented locking screwdriver
  • Cap lifter
  • Wire stripper
  • Reamer
  • Awl
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Key ring

Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant – Amazon.com.

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

Very interesting maps, quite a few US centric tough

TwistedSifter

 

If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.

Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.

If you enjoy this collection of maps, the Sifter highly recommends the r/MapPorn sub reddit. You should also check out ChartsBin.com. There were also fantastic posts on Business Insider and Bored Panda earlier this year that are worth checking out. Enjoy!

 

1. Where Google Street View is Available

map-of-the-world-where-google-street-view-is-available

Map by Google

 

 

2. Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System

map-of-countires-that-use-metric-system-vs-imperial

View original post 740 more words

Nokia Lumia 720 – One Month Usage Review

I recently ported my Reliance CDMA connection to Airtel GSM, and this called for a change of handsets. I was using a Samsung Galaxy Pop CDMA with Reliance, along with a Galaxy S III as my primary internet device. My requirements for the new phone were quite simple:

  1. Good battery life since this was to be my primary phone for voice – the Galaxy Pop used to serve me for 2-3 days (without a mobile data connection though)
  2. Price around Rs 15,000
  3. Smooth and reliable performance

Given the above constraints, Windows Phones seemed to be the way to go, and also give me some platform diversity. There were 3 options – the Lumia 520 (Rs 9500), 620 (Rs 13,000) and 720 (Rs 17,000) which have the same internals (CPU+GPU) thus having similar user experiences. I was pretty tempted by the 520’s price, but the lower quality screen, lack of compass (really important for navigation) and smaller battery was a downer. The 620 was pretty compact with a good screen and within budget, but the small battery was again a downer. The Lumia 720 was above budget, but its huge 2000 mAh battery with a well received camera, display and compact design clinched the deal in the end.

That’s enough of background, so let’s jump to the main review.

Specs, Design and Build

Yes, I got the red version (there’s also the cyan, yellow, white and black) which has a matte finish. It’s a unibody polycarbonate construction, so no removable battery but the thickness is pretty low. Wireless charging is also supported through special cases (not yet available in India at the time of writing).

The build seems to be quite robust as I had an inadvertent drop test from my pocket on a wet footpath in Mumbai within a week of purchase. It landed on the bottom right corner and ended up screen down – definitely not the kind of experience you’d want with a brand new phone. Thankfully, I got away with just a chipped corner as visible in the picture below. Looks like the Gorilla Glass 2 works.

The display is 4.3″ with 800 x 480 pixels in line with Android flagships from 2010-11. The black levels are quite good (not AMOLED levels of course), and outdoor visibility has also been pretty good thanks to Nokia’s coatings and polarizing filters. The ~220 ppi resolution is middling, but text is quite legible without much of aliasing. The display is also supposed to support super sensitive touch allowing it to be used with fingernails and through gloves. I have personally turned it off.

The LCD display’s RGB layout under a macro lens (in absence of the Anandtech review with the pic)

The buttons (volume, power & camera) are all placed on the right side of the phone, and I had to get used to the power button placed in the middle. The shutter button protrudes a little more than the other two, possibly due to it being a two-stage button. The micro-SIM tray is on top while the micro-SD card slot is on the left side. Both need to be ejected using a pin (supplied in the box). The micro USB charging slot rounds off the bottom edge.

Camera

My personal experience with the camera has been very good so far, in line with other reviewers. It is a 6.7 MP shooter with an f/1.9 Carl Zeiss lens and LED flash. The dedicated shutter button which doubles as a camera quick launch shortcut is really handy. The colours come out quite saturated, and I seem to prefer the resulting shots from the Lumia 720 to my Galaxy S III, particularly indoors. It also helps that the camera launches quicker on the Lumia 720 than on my year old Galaxy S III. The GSIII does hold a large advantage in the shutter lag and continuous shooting speeds. The Lumia 720 takes a couple of seconds to lock focus and capture the frame which can result in a somewhat different composition.

Shots taken indoors without flash under reasonable lighting conditions turn out really good on the Lumia 720, even better than the GSIII thanks to the large aperture (almost a stop faster). However, under dim light where you require the flash, the GSIII comes out ahead.

The default camera app on Windows Phone is pretty basic, especially when compared to the Android OEM camera apps, but gets the job done. You can always get hold of other apps (lenses as per WP terminology) to expand on the functionality. There’s a nice ProShot app (paid – just Rs 110 though) that gives you full manual control over the camera settings. Higher end Lumias (PureView branded 920 & above) of course get Nokia Pro camera app with the latest update, so this is the app to get for the lower models.

Video output is also pretty decent though it supports only up to 720p video. Then again, I don’t really shoot much video and have a good old DSLR if I want to do serious shooting.

User Experience

It has been almost a month since I got the Lumia 720, and so far the experience has been really good barring a few quirks that I’ll cover in the next section. A little bit of context in terms of my usage of the Lumia 720 – my primary internet device remains the Galaxy S III with its significantly larger screen. Plus, I’m pretty much locked into the Google ecosystem (Gmail, Maps, Keep, Contacts etc) and any platform that is not Android will be unable to give you the best experience (iOS included, though Google is trying its best for that platform while actively ignoring Windows Phone). Microsoft Exchange support is also not the best on Android with experience varying with the OEM in question (I found the HTC interface quite different from Samsung’s).

However, the Lumia is my primary phone for voice calls and SMS, and in this regard, the experience has been very good aided in no small way by the humongous 2000 mAh battery that gives me 2-3 days of service without a hitch (and that is with data services and email sync enabled). I have also configured my office Microsoft Exchange account (mail, calendar, tasks & contacts) on the Lumia and find the experience to be a lot more consistent than when I had it configured on my GSIII.

The interface is really smooth without any stutters that you find in Android handsets in this price range. The 512 MB RAM does make its size felt when you see the “Resuming” screen when launching apps, but once launched most apps have a very uniform experience. The Live Tiles Metro interface is quite handy with the People hub being one of the strong points in organizing and staying in touch with contacts.

The ability of apps to control the lock screen background out of the box is also a nice touch. For example, you can allow the facebook to cycle through your photo albums (you can choose the albums) for the lock screen. Notifications are however almost useless on the Windows Phone platform. The closest it has to a notification centre is the lock screen where you can see unread\new counts for up to 5 apps of your choice along with details for 1 app. Live tile counters also try to solve this issue, but still can’t match up to a dedicated notification centre. This is especially a big downer coming from the rich notification centre experience in Android.

On a positive note, the Lumia 720 came with a 6 month Nokia music subscription and the collection is quite good. The songs are downloaded in the form of 32 kbps MP3 files that can be transferred to a PC. So, if you have an iTunes Match subscription and re-encode the tracks to 80 kbps (minimum for iTunes Match to consider them) or higher, you can get hold of high quality 256 kbps versions for free.

The 8 GB phone storage can run out pretty quickly if you start clicking a lot of photos, videos & downloading music. Good thing that the phone supports up to 64 GB of SD storage (apps can’t be transferred to SD though), though I haven’t popped in one yet.

In terms of apps, some of my most used ones like Whatsapp, Kindle, Foursquare Facebook etc are present. But, the lack of the usual cloud backup apps like Dropbox and Google+ is also a downer, though you can backup photos and videos to SkyDrive.

The browsing experience is also ok, though the absence of alternatives like on Android can get in the way given that many sites don’t play well with Internet Explorer. E.g. Meru cabs presents their desktop site in mobile IE on the Lumia.

Sharing across apps also works quite well (better than iOS) with the ability to easily share photos and videos through apps like Whatsapp, facebook and email.

Maps and navigation is also pretty decent with the ability to download offline map packs for specific states in India. I am a Google Maps user on my GSIII and haven’t spent too much time with HERE maps and drive combo. The Lumia 720 has a built in compass (unlike the 520), and navigation shouldn’t be problem. Traffic information is also available on HERE maps.

I really miss the blocking mode that silences the phone at specified times of the day (typically for the night), and the absence of apps like Llama and Tasker available on Android, possibly due to OS limitations make it impossible to get third party solutions for automating tasks. I use Llama quite extensively on my GSIII to automatically silence my phone in office, during meetings, in movie theatres, switch on wifi at home etc. NFC, though available and supported, is not an option either due to the limited scope of actions. NFC can only be used to launch apps\settings and not automatically toggle them.

Quirks

Pretty all the issues I have had with the phone are due to the OS, i.e. Microsoft, and here they are briefly:

  • Poor Google contacts integration – I have found many phone numbers missing from my contact list that show up nicely on my GSIII.
  • No notification centre – it can get really tough to figure what your phone was buzzing you for.
  • You can’t edit phone number in the dialler – can be a bit of a problem when you are roaming and need to prefix digits before dialling.
  • NFC support is really limited – you can just launch apps\settings but not trigger any actions automatically.
  • Quite a lot of apps are available, but many are not updated regularly.
  • Google actively ignoring the Windows Phone platform – they dropped active sync support, haven’t introduced any official apps (barring search) and are trying their best to prevent Microsoft from creating any substitutes.
  • The dedicated hardware search button is practically useless – I don’t use Bing (the lens is useful though, a la Google Goggles). In fact, even Google dumped the hardware search button in Android long ago.

Conclusion

I am quite happy with the Lumia 720, but that is largely due to the fact that my usage is split between the Galaxy S III and this phone. It would definitely be difficult to get by with the Lumia 720 as my primary phone, but it complements the Android phone perfectly. Why not just stick to the Galaxy S III you say? Battery life for one, and the general degradation in responsiveness of the GSIII over the last one year for another.

Nokia has lost out big in the smartphone race, but it has really introduced compelling choices in the Windows Phone 8 camp. If you are a first time smartphone buyer (no Google contacts baggage, app dependency), the Lumia 720 is a very good choice. In fact, for a new smartphone user with a budget below Rs 20,000, it would be very difficult to beat the Windows Phone triumvirate of the Lumia 520, 620 and 720 (especially the 520 below Rs 10,000) in terms of user experience (smoothness particularly). Then again, I have seen many of my friends and colleagues shy away from Windows Phone to the Android camp due to its radically different user interface. On the high end, Nokia PureView branded Lumia phones (920, 925, 928 and 1020) have the best cameras and the Lumia 1020 is practically a Point & Shoot replacement. So, if you are planning to replace your camera and have an old smartphone (or none at all), the Lumia 1020 is a really compelling choice.

As for Windows Phone, Microsoft really needs to up its game like it has with Windows Blue\8.1, and bring the platform up to speed in terms of must have features (notification centre, browser). Nokia is doing its best to stay in the game and introduce cutting edge features where possible (Lumia 1020), but is slowed down by Microsoft’s slow rate of platform updates.

Now that I’m a Windows Phone user, I can appreciate its merits vis-à-vis Android and iOS, and hope that Microsoft can up the game the way Mozilla did for Firefox in the last couple of years in face of Chrome’s rapid ascent. Microsoft’s iOS 7 moment can’t come too soon.