Gear that improves on what was and changes what might be

Gear that improves on what was and changes what might be

Consider these new products for savvy travelers. (Handout)

hape-shifting innovations put a twist on the familiar in this gear roundup.

Picture perfect

The quality of photos from a smartphone is so good that many travelers leave their clunky camera gear at home. To give you even more photographic flexibility, Pixter has introduced a pack of four compact specialty lenses that clip onto any smartphone.

The Pixter Pro Pack includes a wide-angle lens; a 238-degree super fisheye lens; a 10X macro lens; and a telephoto lens. The lenses come in a padded travel case and have front and back lens caps.

Cost, info: Pixter Pro Pack lists for $154.90 (lenses are about $55 apiece a la carte).

Twofer toy

Pillow Pets

Taking a buddy along can make children happier and when that pal is a plush companion that morphs from a toy into a pillow, you’ll please and placate your child.

Pillow Pets are chenille-stuffed animals (also some cute cars) that widen and flatten into a pillow with the release of a cinch strap. Sizes average 12- to 16-inches-square when fully open. All are machine washable.

Pillow Pets also come as zippered sweatshirts. Bunch up the garment for a nice, fat cushion or use just the padded hood part as a pillow and wrap the rest around your child for an extra-warm hug with pockets.

Cost, info: Pillow Pets run $20 to $25; animal-head hoodies cost about $20.

This bag does tricks

Eagle Creek

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is just a trick; pulling a backpack out of a wheel-aboard bag? That’s magic.

That’s what the wizards at Eagle Creek Luggage have conjured with the new Morphus International Wheeled Carry-On. With a quick unzip, what had been a single 20½-by-13¾-by-9-inch roller bag separates into a backpack and a wheeled bag, offering about double the space you started with.

Both are made with polyurethane-coated polyester and have top- and side-padded grab handles, double lockable zippers and reinforced seams.

The wheeled bag has thick, treaded wheels; a hinged kickstand keeps the bag upright. The soft backpack has zip-away padded interior sleeves that can accommodate a 15-inch laptop and a tablet, as a well as a nifty built-in cord winder, a key fob and padded pouches for fragile electronics.

The backpack’s two trolley straps can slide over the wheeled bag’s telescoping pull handle. Zipped back together, the bag can be wheeled, or carried using the pack’s back straps.

All this abracadabra isn’t cheap, but it’s a class act, even without the wand.

Cost, info: Morphus International Wheeled Carry-On costs $329.

A bag that suits


Is anything as yummy as curling up in your tent inside a toasty sleeping bag on a chilly night camping? Is anything as awful as having to get out of that warm sleeping bag to go out into the elements?

No problem if you have the new SelkBag Wearable Sleeping Bag, designed to keep you comfy in and out of the tent.

It looks like a giant snowsuit, but lets you be much more mobile. It has zip-off booties, big kangaroo-style pockets and flaps at the wrists that let you quickly free your hands.

It’s made of ripstop nylon and polyester with hollow fiber polyester insulation, and its insulated adjustable hood extends from a high thermal collar.

The zip-off booties let you substitute your own shoes when you are active, and the booties’ reinforced nylon soles and lateral grips for traction make them tough enough for a stroll.

The bag comes in a range of colors and patterns, including Star Wars-themed designs, in adult and children’s sizes.

One quibble: The SelkBag is not equipped with a drop seat so you must wriggle out of the bottoms when nature calls. A fix is in the works.

Cost, info: SelkBag Wearable Sleeping Bag in adult sizes costs about $170 for the Original (warmest) model; a lighter, less-insulated model costs $99. Children’s SelkBags cost $69 to $89.


Reliance JioMoney Could Well Be a Disruptor, but Not Just Yet

Reliance JioMoney Could Well Be a Disruptor, but Not Just YetReliance JioMoney Could Well Be a Disruptor, but Not Just Yet


  • JioMoney is Reliance Jio’s digital wallet
  • You can use it to recharge your accounts or pay offline
  • Login issues plagued our usage over the whole week

Reliance Jio wants to empower 10 million merchants to make digital transactions. The JioMoney appwas supposed to roll out to merchants last week, while Jio users have of course been using it for recharges and P2P payments for a lot longer, ever since the test rollout started almost a year ago now.

At the announcement for Jio Money earlier this month, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani talked about how every Indian now has a digital money wallet linked to their bank account. He spoke about Aadhaar based micro-ATMs at Jio’s eKYC enabled stores. Ambani laid out a massive vision for JioMoney, one that could well disrupt the rapid development we’re seeing in the fintech world.

The ground reality is a little different though – we’ve been using the JioMoney app for a week now – or trying to anyway – and our finding is that much like JioCinema and JioMusic, the JioMoney experience is very much a work in progress at this point.

Both of those apps have been tweaked since we reviewed them, and some of the early problems have been resolved, while a few others still remain. A re-branding also involved a rethink of the UX, which was very welcome. Conceivably, it’s possible that Reliance Jio will put JioMoney through the same kind of process as well, because as of now on day one, or rather week one, there’s no doubt that this kind of re-imagining is required.

jio in app jio_in_app

First up, let’s talk about something basic – logging in. To log in, enter your Jio number and password, and then verify your date of birth. This worked a couple of times, and did not work on many other occasions. In short, simply logging in to JioMoney to start using the app is a frustrating challenge, as there are frequent “Error processing request” messages, which is not helped by the fact that – as a genuinely welcome security measure – you can only attempt to verify your account a set number of times per hour.

Once you actually get into the app, there are all the usual options – the design looks a little clunky right now, but that’s true for all of Jio’s apps during their early days, and like we mentioned earlier, there’s hope that this will eventually change. The app lets you send or request money, pay bills and recharges, pay at a shop, along with a section for coupons, and for giving to charity. The last of these is unusual but that notwithstanding, the offerings are pretty much in line with the industry. You should be able to use the app to pay your Jio bills as well, whenever that comes into effect.

Recharges are a smooth process, with little or no issue as long as you’re able to get into the app. You can recharge other prepaid phone connections, DTH connections, gas payments, and so on. You can transfer money to a bank account using IMPS by using its IFSC code and account number. You can use this to take your money out of Jio as well.

jio barcode jio_barcode

Pay at shop via the Reliance JioMoney app requires you to enter the seller’s phone number or scan a code, after which you enter your mPIN to authorise the transaction. This seems to be a workable way of doing this, but unlike other wallets, whose stickers now emblazon shop after shop, it’s very hard to know where you actually can use JioMoney. Although we were very hopeful that we’d have stories to share about using it in the real world, the sad fact is that all of our transactions – in between many logouts and request processing errors – took place online.

In contrast, we’ve used several other digital wallets throughout the week, to buy everyday items, pay for conveyance, and to grab a bite. A week is too short a time to expect Jio to be massively visible of course, but given Ambani’s pledge of reaching 10 million merchants very soon, it’s going to have to pick up the pace very quickly.


Gujarat Election Insights: Why the fight in north Gujarat will be a tough one for BJP

Supporters wear mask of PM Modi during an election campaign rally in support of BJP candidates, in Sanand. (PTI File Photo)Supporters wear mask of PM Modi during an election campaign rally in support of BJP candidates, in Sanand. (PTI File Photo)
Unlike south and central Gujarat, the story is different in north Gujarat, here the Congress fared better than the BJP in the 2012 assembly elections. Of the 32 seats in the region, the Congress won 17 seats, two more than the BJP.

Can the BJP fare better this time? An analysis of how north Gujarat voted in the 2012 assembly elections coupled with the new political forces in the state throw some insights in what to expect this time round.

2012 Assembly Results: Victory Margins In North Gujarat

north gujarat (1)

First, the Patel factor: Patels are a prominent community in north Gujarat and unlike south and central Gujarat, they have given Hardik Patel and his Patidar agitation unprecedented support. That’s a traditional BJP vote that can be expected to move away.

Next the Thakor vote. Thakors, who comprise of about half the OBC population in the state, are concentrated in north Gujarat. The rise of Alpesh Thakor and his joining hands with the Congress is again expected to influence polling in several north Gujarat districts like Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Kheda, Mehsana, Anand, Patan, Gandhinagar and Aravalli.

How The Thakor’s Voted In North Gujarat In 2012


Third, the Dalit vote. Mehsana is Jignesh Mevani’s home ground – his family originates from Meu village in the district. Further, Mevani, is contesting as an independent from Vadgam, a reserved seat for scheduled castes (SCs), in Banaskantha district, and has open support from Congress. Both the Dalit vote and the OBC vote can be expected to move his way giving a further boost to the Congress in north Gujarat.

The fourth deciding factor will be tribal seats in north Gujarat. It almost entirely voted for the Congress in 2012. Though BJP has been going all out to woo them, this is unlikely that a shift will be able to swing the vote their way.

Finally, unlike 2012, in 2017 there is no Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) to split the votes.

What does this translate to? Expect a prickly battle, but chances are that new alliances may help the Congress strengthen its presence here.

WhatsApp: Deleted Sent Messages Can Still Be Read by Recipients

WhatsApp: Deleted Sent Messages Can Still Be Read by Recipients


  • WhatsApp “Delete for Everyone” can be thwarted
  • The new method requires third-party app, or stock widgets
  • The deleted messages can be accessed via notification log

WhatsApp, one of the most widely used instant messaging apps, rolled out “Delete for Everyone” feature recently. But do deleted messages really disappear from the phone? A new report claims that WhatsApp messages that are deleted are actually still on the device and can be easily accessed.

Spanish Android blog Android Jefe has claimed that deleted messages are present in the notification log of the device. It adds that the recipient can easily access the deleted messages regardless whether it has been deleted from sender’s end. “What we found is that the messages are stored in the notification register of the Android system. So, it’s just a matter of entering that record to see the messages that the other person deleted,” the blog said.

The blog explains that anyone can access deleted WhatsApp messages sent to them via a third-party app named Notification History which can be downloaded via Google Play. After downloading the app, users will have to search the message in the Android notification log. Those users who are using third-party launchers like Nova Launcher it’s even easier. The notification log can be accessed without the need of an additional app. Long press the home screen, then tap on Widgets > Activities > Settings > Notification log. You can then access the system’s notification log. Similarly, on stock Android, a Settings widget can give access to the notification log as well.

Gadgets 360 tried both the Notification History third-party app and the Activities method described above. discovered that the trick worked on an Android device. There are few limitations, however, as the messages that have generated a notification on the device can be retrieved. The notification log only saves the messages on the device until it’s restarted. Once restarted, we noticed that the log was cleared.

The method, however, has a restriction that only the first 100 characters of the deleted message will be visible. The feature is available only for users running Android 7.0 and above. Users can only retrieve text which means any kind of media file cannot be recovered.

This is not the first time that reports of retrieving deleted messages have surfaced. Jonathan Zdziarski, iOS expert, last year has claimed that WhatsApp saved chat logs on the device despite it being archived or deleted.

One of the biggest use cases of the Delete for Everyone feature has been when a user send a message to the wrong chat, or if the message sent contains a mistake. It is the latest feature added to WhatsApp in a long list of features introduced this year, and is biggest change to the chat app since blue ticks aka send receipts.