Call recording for Android Phones (OnePlus 3)

If you are a journalist, you probably can’t live without call recording on your phone. Most Chinese Android phones come with call recording built in. But some phones these days (especially the costlier variants), don’t have it by default, because it is illegal in some countries to record calls.

I recently bought a OnePlus 3 and was horrified when I found that it can’t record calls. I’d been on a Xiaomi Mi 4i, which did the job perfectly fine. So I started trying out apps and finally settled on a brilliant call recording app called Boldbeast recorder. It is free to use.

The Boldbeast recorder has a slightly old school user interface and such but it does the job well. I just got off a call with my colleague and finished testing the app. The sound quality is also brilliant. No trouble. I also tried ACR Call Recorder and it didn’t work for me.

Pro tip: When you call someone on their mobile phone, it is reasonable to expect, that the conversation is between you and the person on the other line. That means it is a private conversation. But if you intend to use the recording, say publish a podcast, it is good practice to inform the person on the other line.




Whatsapp for Web is a Great Instant Messaging tool for Newsrooms But..

If you are looking to use a secure instant messenger for your newsroom activities or talking to a very sensitive source, you should try Telegram or a messaging service that has encryption.

Then there is Slack, which newsrooms can use to collaborate. One of the drawbacks of Slack that I’d pointed out earlier is that it’s not a great mobile experience.

This is where Whatsapp for web which was launched earlier today kills it. For average newsroom chatter, Whatsapp has already become one of the most used tool.

Whatsapp for desktop takes it to the next level. It’s fast, easy and comes with the simplicity of Whatsapp. Opening links that are shared in the newsroom far too often and reading them on a web browser will be a dream come true for me. And imagine the power of ctrl+c & ctrl+v!

It doesn’t work on iOS or browsers other than Chrome, so we are talking about a large number of users left out. It is not going to work for a truly heterogenous team yet.

What else could go wrong? Spam.

Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion Media Wants to Build a WordPress Killer, Quintype

Last year, many Indian new media startups raised funding. And two big names in the industry– Shekhar Gupta of The Indian Express and Raghav Bahl, founder of Network 18– announced new ventures.

Bahl launched Quintillion Media, a digital media company. His mobile first news service TheQuint has been written about. The lesser known product is Quintype. The company is calling it the digital publishing platform from the future.

Amit Rathore, Ritu Kapur & Raghav Bahl

Amit Rathore, Ritu Kapur & Raghav Bahl

From what we know, it is going to be a cloud based content management system. Their pitch?

Digital publishing has been stuck in the dark ages. The most commonly used platforms today are WordPress and its cousins, which are over 10 years old, and are essentially a patchwork of blogging tools and plugins. It’s time for a new digital publishing platform.

Taking on WordPress are we? And that ‘patch work,’  is called community. Moving on.

Amit Rathore, a valley based serial entrepreneur will be the CEO & product guy at Quintype.

He specializes in applying big data, predictive analytics, and machine learning to various domains.

In a blog post, Rathore gives us a glimpse of what it is going to be like.

It eliminates the need for using external project management services such as Google Docs, Basecamp, and Excel. It eliminates external chat services such as Hipchat, Slack, Telegram, and Google Chat. And not to mention, it eliminates Microsoft Word (the horror!) as an editor, and replaces it with the most beautiful content creation experience you’ve ever seen.

It will target “not trivial” digital media organisations.

As someone who has worked at a digital media organisation, and closely associated with yet another digital media product in the works, I can say that WordPress is going to be one hell of a platform to beat. It will also be hard to beat messaging services for the newsroom and entrenched analytics products like Google Analytics and Chartbeat.

Also, there was this product called Betaout that was launched based on a similar hypothesis to take over end to end workflow of a digital newsroom. It was built on top of WordPress and took care of the workflow. There were some kinks but it could be made to work. But they seem to have pivoted to an e-commerce marketing software. Wonder what went wrong there?

It is one thing if  it’s going to be a product that will be used by TheQuint and other digital media products Quintillion Media launches (like their own CMS), but to get other digital publishers to use it will be quite the other. Coming from a team with great pedigree, Quintype holds a lot of promise.

Now You Can IM Securely With Sources, Even if You Are a Tech Challenged Journo

You would think it takes a true blue geek to hide from blanket government surveillance. But that’s not necessarily the case.

If you are a journalist looking for basic protection for your sources, there are a few tools out there.

And of course I don’t need to tell you how important it is to protect your sources. Do not risk surveillance.

There are a whole lot of desktop tools and methods you can find online. Dan Meredith has a great post on securing your browser, file transfer etc. I’m going to talk about some of my favorite mobile IM apps for secure communications.

Image: Telegram

Image: Telegram

First in the list is Telegram. Lot of journalists have already started using it. The beauty of Telegram is its secret chat feature.  For those who don’t know already, Telegram is a free instant messenger. Messages you send are encrypted and can also self destruct. 

The folks at Whispersystems also have a couple of great products. The RedPhone gives you end-to-end encryption for calls. And TextSecure encrypts your text and chat messages. Both are built on Open Source, so you can inspect the code for backdoors nad security flaws. I haven’t tried this myself, but it comes highly recommended.

Consumers, lets kick some ass, Rajini style

Small plug for a good cause. Join hands with super star Rajini to end your consumer woes. If you are a consumer activist, or if you don’t settle for crappy goods and service, take a walk with Rajani sir and kick some lazy ass. Click on this link to give this consumer activism website a try.

(Image courtesy:

Purushothaman from Shoutout team says

Our website is based on Consumer activism, where the consumers can submit complaints against any product or service in India if the were to have any issue with the product or service. Every complaint submitted in our website will be moderated to ensure genuineness.

Have fun fighting the customer care! Once again, here’s how.


Happy birthday Univac I

The first American commercial computer, designed by J Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of ENIAC, turns 61 tomorrow. It used to cost about $ 1 million (~Rs 5.2 cr) each. It could do 1,905 operations per second. Today’s smart phone, say the iPhone 4S which sells for about Rs 45,000 can run about a BILLION operations per second.

(Pic: Univac I. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

According to  the Computer History Museum, it was delivered to the US Census Bureau on March 31, 1951. This was the first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention. 

Although manufactured by Remington Rand, the machine often was mistakenly referred to as the “IBM UNIVAC” Remington Rand eventually sold 46 machines at more than $1 million each .F.O.B. factory $750,000 plus $185,000 for a high speed printer.

Speed:    1,905 operations per second

nput/output:    magnetic tape, unityper, printer

Memory size:    1,000 12-digit words in delay lines

Memory type:    delay lines, magnetic tape

Technology:    serial vacuum tubes, delay lines, magnetic tape

Floor space:    943 cubic feet

From the Computer History Museum

You might also want to read: “Anyone who has ever sold IBM has regretted it”

Book recommendation- iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. Buy from

Why India’s $35 Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

By Prasanto K Roy*
Here we go again. Indian HRD minister Kapil Sibal has “launched” a $35 computer, evidently his “dream project”.
The touch-screen, Linux-based device looks iPad inspired, but we know little about how it works. It emerged from a student project with a bill of material adding up to $47, a price that the minister wants to bring down to $10 “to take forward inclusive education”. It promises browser and PDF reader, wi-fi, 2GB memory, USB, Open Office, and multimedia content viewers and interfaces.
Will it die a quick death within this year, or a painful, government-funded one over the next two? I fear the latter. Project Sakshat even has a busy website so it looks like a project well under way.
The Rs 10,000 PC. The Simputer. The $100 MIT laptop. NetPCs from a host of companies. India’s so-called $10 laptop. How many flops and failures will it take to convince governments (and brave but misled companies) to get these facts of tech, products, and life?
You don’t launch products until you have a product to launch. Else it’s vaporware. The Indian government is building up a good track record of vaporware, from $10 laptops upward. (Apple launches with a million units ready to sell, and midnight queues outside.)
You don’t show prototypes unless they are working ones with running apps, backed by a clear game plan to build up a vendor and apps network, and a clear design, spec (and preferably bill of materials).
It isn’t about the hardware. It’s the application and the apps ecosystem. What will it be used for, and who will make those apps? Where’s the developer community and the roadmap for hundreds of apps, as Apple had when it launched the iPhone and the iPad?
Product design isn’t one-off. It’s an ongoing process, with software updates, improvements, upgrades, and most of all, growing apps support. You can make a working laptop, but it’s no trivial task maintaining it through the life-cycle of the product, ensuring support, firmware and hardware upgrades, and new versions.
Replicating the Nano story is no joke. It takes years, expertise, innovation, hard work and lots of luck (and many patents, as with the Nano) to launch a product at one-tenth the current market price. I don’t know of any examples of such overnight miracles (the Nano arrived after years of work, at about half of the current entry-level product’s price tag.)
You don’t re-invent the wheel. We already have $35 computing devices. We call them mobile phones. They’re capable, connected, always-on, personal, and every second Indian has one. They’re an ideal front-end to information and entertainment, served over voice or SMS or data.
Over the years I’ve been less blunt about cheap-PC efforts. But now I am angry. The government is wasting its efforts and my tax money, and making a laughing stock of Indian technological prowess.
It isn’t the government’s job to create and sell cheap PCs.  If it wants to use ICT for development and education, it can use some of our tax rupeers to build the ecosystem. Create compelling G2C (government to citizen) apps. Shift to education delivered over networks, make e-tax filings mandatory, create citizen services delivered over the internet.
And ramp up tech usage in the government: ensure employees have broadband at home, with reasons to use it—intranets and work-from-home—as well as mobile data and apps. Oh, and it can use the funds and roadmap of the Sakshat project to fund content development for $35 mobile phones—of which there must be 100 million in India.
This isn’t the first “cheap laptop” effort. MIT’s $100 laptop hasn’t taken off yet, though it’s at the $200 level and has a roadmap—including options to fund a subsidy. And maybe Sakshat 2.0 is not a hoax, unlike its predecessor. Yes, you can reach any price with sufficient subsidy. But that is no enduring solution. It may make more sense for India negotiate a rock-bottom price for 10 million of last year’s laptops, and subsidize them down to $35.
*Prasanto K Roy, chief editor of CyberMedia’s ICT publications group, can be found at or