How I did my first bike trip and how you can do it too!

Gilbert trail, Kasauli

Since long, I’ve been wanting to go to some hill station by bike and spend some time with nature. The freedom that comes going on a bike (as opposed to public transport), and the ease with which a bike makes places accessible is amazing. Not to mention that riding bike on a national highway, as fast as you can, with wind sweeping across you like you’re flying, is an experience of its own kind!

Luckily having some of the bikers (who have gone to places like Laddakh!) around to inspire you helps (thank you Amit and Javed!). So, now it was only about where to go. I threw the question on Quora and got a suggestion to go to Kasauli which made great sense for us.

What are some good hill stations to travel to, for 2 days biking trip from Delhi?

Funnily, before the trip, I was even calculating the chances of successfully coming back home (in one piece!). Eventually, had to let these thoughts go, and all I could do from my side was prepare myself and the bike. I own a 100cc Passion Pro which hardly anyone would suggest to take to the mountains. But since this is all I had, I decided to go ahead. My friend went on his Avenger. So, we were two, starting from Gurgaon and going to Kasauli via Chandigarh (approx. 700 kms return journey). First trip of its kind for both of us.

Here are some ideas which helped us successfully completing this journey:
1. Getting bike serviced.
Can’t emphasize the importance of this point enough. On a long trip, it’s just you and your bike and the better both are ready, the more enjoyable your trip will be.
2. Have rest before starting.
Some people prefer leaving in the evening so as to enjoy the next morning at the destination, but I didn’t think I could have done well enough if I left during the evening and rode in the night. Bike journey is tiring. Having slept overnight back home and leaving early in the morning helped us remain fresh and ride for over 300kms mostly nonstop (We stopped only at Murthal to have breakfast while going, and return journey was non-stop. The only breaks we took were stopping 2-3 times for few seconds to check Google Maps whether we were going in right direction or not). Moreover, you can enjoy the journey itself a lot more when traveling in light. Riding on a sunny day in Winters is delight.
3. Avoid doubling.
Two persons on 1 bike on such a long trip is tiring for both persons and so avoid it as much as possible. Going in a group of n+1 people, where n is the number of bikes should help as you can switch when one gets tired, but I haven’t tried this myself and planning to go this approach in my next trip.
4. Careful on mountain roads
As much as those hilly roads are fun to ride, it’s equally risky as every now and then you’re taking a turn and you’ve no idea what is suddenly coming in front. Plus, on many turns you’d see dust and gravel which could easily make the bike slip. Being extra careful, especially when you’re doing it first time, on these roads helps. Follow traffic signs on mountain roads without failing.

For me, places with serene natural unspoilt beauty are great to sit and relax, and being at such places really refreshes the mind. The Gilbert trail trek (in image at the top of this post, which is a 360 degree panorama taken from Nexus 4) was the place I liked the most in Kasauli. Here are some photos, taken during the trip. Nexus 4 camera isn’t good enough to capture the breathtaking views at their best, but oh well you try to make the best use of what you got. :)

Having successfully done this trip, we plan to go somewhere once every month and hopefully make it to Leh, Laddakh on bike this summer itself!

Why the recent changes on Google Play are great for user acquisition

Some time back, Google Play started recommending apps which are +1d by your friends (inferred from G+ circles).

Now, with the latest update to Play Store Android app (version 4.5.10, that was rolled out to Nexus devices with the 4.2.2 update), things have become even better, for app publishers as well as for end users.

What exactly has changed
If you visit any app page on Play store now, you’d see that the top most reviews are from your friends (followed by other reviews sorted in the order of helpfulness as ranked by Google’s algorithms). Earlier there was no personalization of this kind and the results would appear same for everyone.

What it means for users
For obvious reasons, you can trust reviews from your friends much more than those from strangers which will definitely help making a decision whether or not to install an app. Heck, on looking at the reviews of an app as a user, I could never be sure whether these are genuine reviews or someone is gaming with the Play Store.

What it means for app publishers
If you’re actually building something good and not something malicious, I believe this change will really help a lot. Earlier since the ranking of reviews used to be same for everyone, it wasn’t easy for to decide whether this app is good enough or not. Now, assuming that the app is great and there are a great number of good positive reviews it will help a lot. Main problem earlier was that even after having a huge number of positive reviews, some 1 star reviews, for some reason decided by Google to be “most helpful” end up appearing on top which just kills it. Being a bootstrapped startup, you’re on tight budget, you somehow get users to discover your app, and thanks to these “most helpful” reviews your user acquisition efforts go waste. Heck, you don’t even know whether those reviews are even genuine or not! With the new change, expect things to improve.

So what should app devs do?
Request users to +1 your app, and to review your app (Be careful and not be over intrusive, too much of everything is bad right?)

By rating apps, users can now directly help their friends and family make better decision when downloading apps. Wouldn’t you want your friends to know that you already use the app which they just discovered and you love it!?

Love/Hate the changes? Would like to share your opinion? Drop it below.

Please drive carefully!

Today morning, while going to office on my bike, I met a small accident and it was my fault. Me, and my friend who was sitting behind, were lucky on so many levels, that I am hoping I would be able to walk properly by tomorrow and the friend was able to continue to office today itself after some nursing help. The way we fell far apart from each other and from the bike, I don’t want to imagine what could have been the other outcomes.

Just requesting everyone around to drive more carefully and responsibly. “More” because until something happens, everyone assumes that he drives carefully. Drive carefully, if not for yourself then atleast for those who care about you, who love you.

My favorite inspirational movie quotes

Every once in a while, you come across a movie which inspire you a lot or forces you, do some self-introspection. I have collected here some such quotes which have deep meaning, and which I like a lot. Even though, the quotes have no information about the context, but if you’ve seen the movie I’m sure you’ll get the context. Do post some other good inspirational movie quote off the top of your head, in comments below. I’ll keep adding more as and when I watch a new movie or re-watch an old one and come across a dialogue worth it.

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Milestone 1.0 reached – a quick diary entry

Wow, looking at the date of my last blog post, I realize it really has been long time for me posting anything at all. So, much happened during this time – completion of B.Tech, startup explorations in the following weeks, joining a startup (yep!), convocation at the new campus of my college institute, Mussorie trip with startup friends, those fun Sundays with cousins, and the list goes on…

Anyways the purpose of this blog entry is just making a note of today’s small achievement which I have been waiting desperately for sometime! I promise I will keep it short :)

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An attempt to build a Cloud based Mobile Data Backup System

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Wishing a very Happy New Year to everyone, and to all you pirates out there, may this new year bring new adventures in your life and prove to be a great one for you, your team and your venture(s)! :)

In this post, I wanted to share something which I have been working on as part of my BTP (B.Tech Project) at IIIT-D. Basically it’s a mobile data backup system, to make the process of backup and restoration of mobile data, extremely easy.

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What happens behind those walls during the 54 hours in a Startup Weekend!!!

Last weekend, “Startup weekend” – a popular startup event was back at Delhi and when I heard about it, I decided to attend it! Though even getting a ticket was not so easy for me, as when I was registering, (Student) tickets which were available when I visited the website, were sold out by the time I reached the payment page! Thanks to Pankaj (the lead organizer of the event in India), I found someone who had purchased a ticket but was out of station so he couldn’t come. And so I got my ticket… ticket… to… Startup Weekend!!!

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Why I chose working with a startup and why I loved my work here…

I’m so excited in writing my first blog but hey, considering that it’s my first blog post ever, I’d like to see comments/suggestions from you! :)

Most of us (atleast those who follow Techcrunch, YC news (aka HN), etc.) have been hearing about the startup buzz-word becoming so popular in recent years.
Now, it has been more than 2 months since I joined Mobikwik team as an intern and the internship is almost over, so, I thought I would share my first hand experience of working with a startup so far.

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