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Rainbow Children’s Speciality hospital Bangalore Review

August 8, 2016 Leave a comment

I have divided the review in to two as I had mixed experience. In the first part I will cover the “Birthright” by Rainbow hospitals which is their maternity specific department and in the second part I will review the Post-Natal Babys treatment.

Date of Delivery: 01-01-2016

Date of Admission: 01-01-2016 12 AM

Date of Discharge for Mother: 03-01-2016

Insurance: United Health care Insurance

Delivery Specific Review

Pros

  • Cost. (I opted for a twin sharing room package and generally they dont advertise this package. But I came to know about this package from my wife’s gynaec Dr.Teena Thomas. Not sure why they are not advertising this package.50K INR was the package cost(3 days for c-section, but 5 to 6K additional cost was expected if there are no complication. Final bill came around 59K for me which is surprisingly low as their single room packages starts from 75K and goes till 1 lakh )
  • Good Nursing care. (Nurses in Rainbow hospital were quite helpful and very approachable.)
  • Good quality food for the patient.

Cons

  • Cashless hospitalisation is not available for twin sharing rooms.
  • Twin-sharing rooms are very congested and there are no chairs in twin sharing rooms. Fortunately for us, the other bed was free and hence it was ok. If two patients are there then its quite cramped unlike other traditional hospitals which offer twin/three sharing rooms.
  • Cafeteria doesn’t offer food round the clock, only biscuits/coffee are available post 10:00 PM. Breakfast/Lunch/Snacks/Dinner are served only during stipulated time.
  • No food-items are allowed (Exceptions are biscuits. Fruits are also not allowed). This is quite bad, if you have another elder kid or if the patient always needs a bystander for help as the bystander has to go to cafeteria to have food and hence have to leave the patient unattended.
  • Bathroom doors are very heavy so that its really difficult for a patient who just underwent C-section to open the door.
  • Room windows(glass panels) have small gaps through which cold air comes in the night (specific to winter season), I have complained this twice and they were not able to fix and later we filled the gaps with newspaper.
  • Theres a lot of communication gap between different teams in the hospital. Marketing says one thing and the billing will say another. (few such examples are 1)Marketting said they will process the reimbursement from the hospital side for insurance, but when i checked with billing they said its not possible after a call with the marketing finally billing team agreed to process. 2) When I informed customer feedback team about the food not provided for bystander being a difficulty for me as i have to leave the patient unattended for a while to take food, they said you can make a request and they will allow it, but when I asked the guy who serves food, he said its not possible.

New Born Baby Treatment review

Here I was not that much happy because of the below reasons

  1. The bilirubin count for my baby was on the higher side after delivery, generally in other hospitals, they will start phototherapy immediately if the bilurubin count is above 15. But here since the Paedeatriations follow UK style, they did only for one day and then stopped it next day citing it is fine(it was still above 15). Then they asked us to come daily and do a Bilirubin check. It was a difficult one as daily they will prick the new born baby for blood to do the test and considering my wife underwent C-section it was little difficult to travel. This point may be a +ve for some people as the hospital is not insisting on phototherapy to get money, but considering the tension and commute difficulties we faced for the next few days, I would have preferred doing phototherapy for one more day. Eventually I took my baby to another hospital and did the phototherapy there.
  2. Doctors and one nursing staffs were forcing us to take up the New born blood screening even though we said we dont want to do it.

Concluding Remarks

Despite hearing lot of negative feedback in social media, I went ahead with rainbow due to three main reasons.

  1. Doctor: The gynecologist(Dr. Teena Thomas) we were consulting was ready to do the delivery here even though she doesn’t practice here. Infact she was the one who told me that Rainbow has this 50K package, otherwise I was not at all considering this. A big thanks to her as she helped us multiple times with the hospital.(Again she helped for the phototherapy to be done in another hospital)
  2. Proximity: I stay very near to Rainbow hospital. Its just 2km away from my home. So its one of the biggest motivator
  3. Cost: I don’t think that I can get a better nursing care and facilities for 60K in and around Outer ring road bangalore.(Narayana Whitefield do have a package like this, but their rooms and facilities are no match for rainbow’s as rainbow is more modern and new)

For delivery I will definitely recommend this place considering you cant get better nursing care and facilities for this price. But for paedeatrics department, I wouldn’t recommend it as it caused lot of tension for us due to multiple visits to the hospital even after discharge (This is just my personal opinion as I prefer my elder sons pediatrician(Dr. Rani Davis) than the ones in rainbow as we felt she is good very good in handling babies/kids and we are more comfortable and confident in her).

Categories: General, Health/Healthcare

Configuring external DVD drive on Xbian/Raspberry Pi

April 22, 2014 3 comments

As mentioned in my earlier posts, raspberry Pi when combined with Xbian or Raspbmc forms a great and affordable HTPC. I was in the market to look for a cheap DVD player as my panasonic BD player doesnt support Divx formats. Then this idea came to mind that why not buy a external USB dvd drive and hook it up to raspberry Pi. Did some googling and found that lot of people are using it that way. So finalized on a cheap DVD drive and tried configuring it on Xbian. But as it turned out this was not straight forward so thought of sharing the “How to” which I found after googling a lot. Since this time I had two SD cards lying around I tried both Xbian and Raspbmc and turned out that on Raspbmc it was easier to get it working. So I will share the method on both the OS.

Hardware Info

1. Raspbberry Pi

2. Powered USB Hub (Optional)

3. External USB dvd drive (I used Buffalo MediaStation 8x Portable CD/DVD Writer)

Pros of Buffalo Drive

* LED indication to say if it requires more power

* Comes with a Y USB cable (which seperates Power and Data USB cable)

Note: My USB hub was not able to power up the DVD drive, hence I connected the power USB cable to a Nexus 7 Power adapter.

Most of the info below is taken from http://forum.stmlabs.com/showthread.php?tid=7623

Configuration in Raspbmc.

Configuration in raspbmc was simple. Just download the PlayDVD addon zip file from the below link and install the add on through the XBMC menu (System->Addon->Install from Zip file). Once done go to XBMC->System->Addon->Programs->PlayDVD->select install). This takes some time as it has to download some additional packages from net.

Download link: http://forum.stmlabs.com/attachment.php?aid=527

Once installed automatically the PLay CD button will come when you insert the DVD.

 

Configuration in Xbian

Configuring on Xbian is not straight forward as some how the addon python script was not working on xbian (There are ways to fix it, but I thought the manual process is easier as in Xbian the DVD drive was not getting automounted due to permission issues.
1. Get Required Programs
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y bzip2 make mplayer curl lsdvd

2. Compile libdvdcss
wget http://www.videolan.org/pub/libdvdcss/1.2.13/libdvdcss-1.2.13.tar.bz2
tar -xvjf libdvdcss-1.2.13.tar.bz2
cd libdvdcss-1.2.13
./configure
make
sudo make install
cp /usr/local/lib/libdvdcss* /lib
sudo apt-get -y -f install

3. Setup Filesystem
sudo mkdir /media/LARGEFILES
sudo mkfifo /media/LARGEFILES/dvd.mpg
sudo chmod o+w /media/LARGEFILES/dvd.mpg

4. Add xbian user to cdrom group.
sudo usermod -a -G cdrom xbian

5. Add the below entry to the /etc/fstab file (assumption is the dvd drive is detected as /dev/sr0)
/dev/sr0        /media/LARGEFILES               auto                    noauto,ro,user  0 0

6. Once done just reboot or do mount -a. Now the play CD option will be available on XBMC

Categories: Audio/Video

Configuring Raspberry Pi as a HTPC/Music Source

July 31, 2013 5 comments

This post is a continuation from by previous post My Audio Video Setup. This post describes how to configure Raspberry Pi (A credit card sized ARM based board/miniPC) for HTPC and music usage.

Disclaimer: Whatever info I have put here is based on numerous webpages/forums which I referred  for setting it up. So all the credits go to them(www.forum.xbmc.org, http://www.audiohobby.com http://www.lifehacker.com, http://www.raspberrypi.org, http://www.xbian.org etc are the major sites which helped me).

As a prelude, would like to say that I am extremely happy to have bought raspberry pi and I dont regret it as for my purpose its more than enough. Quoting from the user vertigo in the xbmc forums one of the post which clearly explains the pros and cons of it, than me trying to rephrase it

I see a lot of people have trouble assessing whether or not a Rasberry Pi is a viable platform to run XBMC on. Let me try to help and summarize what it can and cant do.

Contrary to what you sometimes read, the Pi can indeed decode 1080p30 high-profile (ie, bluray) stutter free. It will even do 3D. But there are some caveats you should be aware off:

– if your media uses VC1 or Mpeg2 as opposed to h.264, divx, etc, then you need to purchase a license to enable hardware accelerated decoding of these codecs. Prices are €1.45 and €2.89 respectively. http://www.raspberrypi.com/license-keys/

– the Pi is not always fast enough to decode DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3) to stereo on the fly, but it has no problems passing through these codecs over HDMI to a DTS or AC3 decoder/receiver. If you have an HDMI receiver (or TV) that allows these audio codecs, you will be fine (the work is done by the AVR decoder). If you dont have that hardware, there isnt too much point in using a DTS track, so if possible, you should select a stereo or AAC track instead. Most DTS/AC3 media will have such an audio track. If your source only has DTS audio, and you dont have a DTS capable receiver, you may have a problem.

*update: I actually tested this with my own library. I dont have straight bluray rips, so the highest bitrate I saw was short bursts around ~30Mbps (h264 1080p23.9 + DTS), and my Pi had no problem playing it while decoding the DTS signal, at least when playing it back from a local drive. While playing the same file over the LAN, the Pi did stutter during the high bitrate peaks. One might think its a bandwith issue (100Mbit), but the Pi can serve the same files to my x86 machines, and they wont stutter. In short: it appears to be a problem when playing big files with DTS over the LAN. Local files from a USB drive seem to be fine, though it may not do full rips with DTS decoding, it may not work with some video formats, its widely reported the Pi struggles decoding DTS, but Ive not been able to reproduce this with local files. YMMV.

If you read somewhere that Pi will stutter playing back 1080p, its almost certainly because the user was unaware of one of the above restrictions. It has given the Pi a reputation it doesnt deserve IMHO. When used properly, 1080p playback is utterly smooth, and I would even say it looks better than on my x86 machine.

One more little known feature of the Pi that deserves highlighting, is its built-in HDMI CEC capability. Unlike any x86 videocard Im aware off, the Pi can send and receive HDMI CEC commands. This allow you to use the remote of another HDMI CEC compliant machine, like TV or AVR to control XBMC. On x86 you can achieve the same only buy purchasing a Pulse-Eight adapter kit. HDMI CEC is also known as Easylink, Vierra Link, BRAVIA Sync, Anynet+, etc.

That said, there are a few other aspects of the Pi that may steer you away from it:

– The Pi has no SPDIF out.
If you can not use HDMI audio, the only other option is analog stereo. As an alternative, you can buy a HDMI splitter that splits audio and video and gives you HDMI video and SPDIF audio (example: http://www.amazon.com/ViewHD-Premium-Aud…o+toslink) , but such a device will cost about the same as the Pi and be about as big. The combination is still rather cheap and small, but no longer as impressively so as the Pi alone.

– The Pi currently has no support for HD audio (TrueHD and DTS-HD/MA), even in passthrough. This is a software issue that might be resolved in the future, but for now, playing a DTS-HD stream will result in a DTS signal on your AVR, and playing TrueHD will probably yield nothing or noise.

– While its GPU and videodecode capabilities are respectable, the CPU of the Pi is slow.
There is no way to sugarcoat it. The CPU is an ARM11 based design, which puts it roughly in the performance ballpark of the iPhone 3G (not 3GS) or HTC Legend. In PC terms, roughly a Pentium 2 – 300 Mhz for those of you old enough to remember. This CPU is considerably slower than the better known ARM Cortex A8 cores found in Samsung Galaxy S1 or iPhone 3GS, and far slower than all the cheap Cortex A9 based android devices you can buy today. Oh and incomparable to even the slowest celeron on the market. You do notice this slowness. Not while playing video, but while using the XBMC GUI, its not quite as buttery smooth and responsive as x86 media centers. If you use simple skins like confluence or Quartz, IMO its completely acceptable, and far from frustrating; but dont expect miracles. If in doubt, I would advice you to watch some video’s on youtube and see if it lives up to your expectations. Here is one I just uploaded myself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bi9wh0d7vjo

(note that the white screen corruption is mostly solved now)

– The network interface is 100T.
Even using USB to Ethernet adapters, you will still be limited to 100T. It wont do gigabit ethernet.

– It uses Linux
Yeah, it does, but that doesnt mean you have to know anything about Linux. Think of your (smart) tv or AV receiver; it probably runs on Linux too, but its not like you need to use a command line interface or edit text files in VI to use it Smile. Same with openelec. It turns your Pi (or x86 box for that matter), in to a real consumer appliance and almost completely hides the fact there is an OS underneath XBMC. But for those that do know Linux, there is still SSH thank God Smile

– Its not much good as a general purpose PC
XBMC linux distro’s are stripped down to the bone. You wont even find a browser. If you intend to use your HTPC for other tasks besides XBMC, like internet, social media, gaming, etc, you want to look elsewhere. Sure, you can dualboot openelec with some more general purpose linux distro for the Pi, but if you can figure that out and think thats an acceptable solution, then you are far more of a geek than me, and not likely to be reading anything in this post you didnt know already.

– The hardware is old, almost obsolete, why not buy a much faster android device?
In the near future, and for XBMC users, the Pi will almost certainly be obsoleted by far more capable hardware (typically designed for Android). Some of them already hardly cost more than the Pi today, while giving you goodies like dual core A9 chips and more adequate IO. Thing is, the Pi is (probably) fast enough, while having the advantage of being very popular among 1+ milion geeks for almost a year now, and as a result, it has a pretty mature software stack. Android devices arent there yet. Im sure they will eventually, so if the time comes to switch to Xios or some other Android device, at least know that thanks to its GPIO interface there are a million other uses for your Pi. Like serving as the brains of a home made pinball machine, a quadcopter, coffee machine, or whatever else you can come up with Smile.

If none of the above issues are show stoppers for you, the Pi will offer you a ridiculously small, cheap ($35-$50 if you count codecs, case, etc) , power efficient (~3,5W!) and surprisingly capable media center.

Original Thread link is http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=152339&highlight=raspberry+pi

Some people always ask, why do you want raspberry Pi/XBMC if you have a smart TV which can do most of the things. The quick answer to that is XbMC on raspberry pi can do much more things than a smartTV, some of which are

  • Scraper: XBMC has some built-in scrapers which can automatically search the contents of the media and autodownload information related to it from popula sites like IMDB etc. What it means if you select a movie, it will say a brief plot of the movie, its IMDB rating etc.
  • Subtitle download: Downloading subtitles for a movie is very easy in XBMC using the subtitle add on.
  • Automated torrent downloads: Using XBMC add-ons like couchpottato, sickbeard,headphones and transmission torrent client you can automate the process of movie/TVshows/Music downloads. [This is one of the biggest advantage]. In couchpotatto  you can mention what movies are you looking for and the quality of the movie file (HD,DVDRip,Blueray rip etc], couchpotatto will look into popular torrentsites/NZB sites for the movie of your choice and automatically download the movie using the transmission bittorrent client, the movie.

So much said about the Pi and XBMC. Now lets move to the OS which I want to load in the Pi. Following were the options for me

  • Xbian : Based on Raspbian and have a good support community. Currently in Beta.
  • OpenElec: Already successful in other platforms (x86) and gives an appliance feel to the XBMC.
  • Raspbmc: One of the first distro’s that came up when Pi was out. Only disadvantage is its not that stable compared to the others and only one single developer behind this,

I choose Xbian primarily based on the reviews as it was slightly faster than other distro’s.

Pre-requisites

  • Raspberry Pi
  • SD Card (I used a 16GB Class-10 Transcend Card)
  • USB DAC (Optional, you can use the onboard sound if you are ok with the sound quality)
  • An HDMI TV which supports HDMI CEC (Braviasync, LG Simplink, VierraConnect etc)
  • A laptop/Desktop PC with a SD Card reader
  • An android phone/tablet/ipad/iphone
  • External hard disk which has all the movies/music.
  • LAN Connectivity to Pi through a wireless router/any other means.

Installing Xbian

Since already the Xbian installation wiki is there I dont think I have to explain it here. Refer the below link for the Xbian Installation wiki.

  1. Installing Xbian
  2. Configuring Xbian

XBMC User guide

If you are new to xbmc refer the XBMC quick start Wiki.

Adding Media to the Xbian

Connect the External USB hard disk to one of the free USB ports in the Pi. Note that if you are having a hard disk of 1 TB/more capacity its recommended to connect it via  a powered USB hub as raspberry pi wont be able to give enough power to bring up the harddisk.

Notes: At the time of this writing, Xbian latest version was 1.1 beta and that somehow dont automatically show the USB hardisk in the XBMC menu. You have to go and manually add the folder from /media/. Hopefully this will be fixed in subsequent versions. For adding the folder in the XBMC (Refer http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Quick_Start_Guide#Adding_videos_to_the_library )

Now enjoy the movie collection.

Custom Remote key mapping for LG TVs

Even though the HDMI CEC great for basic navigation and playback functionality, I noticed that there was no remote button for the right click/Conterxt menu in USB. This is a higly required one if you want to play lot of videos at once by adding it to play list or if you want to do some scrapper functionality(More of scrapper functionality can be found in the quick start guide). Xbmc uses a file called remote.xml which stores the keybindings for remotes and forunately I was able to get a keymap.xml file created for LG tv’s in one of the forums (I think its stmlabs forum). So thought of sharing the XML file here so that people having LG HDMI TV can make use of that. Currently as per the keymap file, the context menu is assigned to the fastforward button in the LG remote.Download the remote.xml and keep it in the folder ‘/home/xbian/.xbmc/userdata/keymaps/’

Get the remote.xml from this link

Some Commonly required shortcurts

To get XBMC ContextMenu Press the FastForward button when in Menu’s

To get the OSD (On screen Display) Press the FastForward button when playing a movie

To Fastforward  Video, Press the right Arrow Key (this will skip slowly)

To FastForward a video but want to skip more portions then Press the UP Arrow key.

Installing Couchpotato/Sickbeard/headphones Add-ons for Xbian

Before starting with the installation, I will briefly touchup what these tools will do

Courtesy: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=120406

  • Sickbeard (For TV shows): This is a web application that automatically downloads your favourite/wanted TV shows as soon as it is available on torrent sites. As soon as a Show is aired, Sickbeard searches the torrent search sites and downloads the episodes which matches your desired video quality.
  • Couchpotato (For Movies):  This is almost the exact same type of service as Sickbeard, but this works with Movies. You put movies in your Wanted list and Couchpotato checks for releases in your desired quality and with the meta data, subs, trailers and so on, that you have asked for.
  • Headphones (For Music): This is yet another web application, but this one takes care of Music Artists and Albums. You scan your library or add new artists, and Headphones keeps a lookout for new albums of your favorite artists.
  • Transmission:  Its a light weight bit-torrent client.

There are two ways for installing

  1. Follow the steps in http://www.xbian.org/2013/01/a-one-in-all-download-package/
  2. Do it manually (Courtesy: http://forum.xbian.org/thread-196.html)

Manual Installation

SSH to the pi and issue the following commands

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbian-package-transmission
sudo apt-get install xbian-package-headphones
sudo apt-get install xbian-package-couchpotato
sudo apt-get install xbian-package-sickbeard

Once the installation is done, Managing it is easy. Open a web browser on your laptop/tablet/minipc and enter the below

Transmission: http://x.x.x.x:9091/
SABnzbd: http://x.x.x.x:9092/
Headphones: http://x.x.x.x:9093/
Sickbeard: http://x.x.x.x:9094/
Couchpotato: http://x.x.x.x:9095/

where x.x.x.x is the xbian IP.
Default username and password is xbian and raspberry respectively.

Setting up the same Pi which has Xbian as a Music player

The same Pi can be used as a audio source/music player by installing the following packages.

  • Music Player Daemon (MPD) : This is a small program which acts as a music player server and can be controlled via a client
  • Music Player Client (MPC) : MPC is a music player client which can connect to a MPD server and allow users to play,skip, add playlist etc. MPC can be installed on the Xbian itself, but then you need a ssh access to the Xbian shell and control via CLI which is difficult. So for that we use the below tool.
  • MpDroid: Its a Music Player client for android/iphone/ipad/tablets. It has a good GUI and can be controlled from the phone or tablet. I personally use a 1st generation Nexus 7 for the same.

P.S: You may ask why I cant use XBMC itself for playing back audio. There are three reasons for that

  1. XBMC on Raspberry Pi as of now doesn’t support audio engine, so from XBMC you can’t direct the audio output to a external USB DAC.
  2. Due to the point 1 only option left is to play the audio through HDMI, but for that to happen my TV has to be turned on when ever I want to listen to audio.

Another alternative option is to use the analogue audio out in the Pi for both Audio and video. But that’s not a good quality one(Still I think its ok kind of thing for most of the people). But if you are specific to sound quality then MPD is the way to go.

Installing MPD on Xbian/Pi

Before installing MPD we need to install alsa-base and alsa-utils package. Issue the below command to install them

xbian$ sudo apt-get install alsa-base alsa-utils

Since already a great blog is there for the MPD installation and configuring it for a USB DAC. Please refer the audiohobby blog. Here is the link.

Note: In the audiohobby.com link, it hasn’t mentioned how to get which is the DAC device which we are having. It assumes its hw:0,0 . This can vary if you have the DAC connected to a USB hub. So below command will help you find that

xbian:~$ sudo aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 1: Device [Schiit USB Audio Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
xbian:~$

So in My case also its hw0:0. What we need look is device and the subdevice numbers.

Now the remaining things are

  • Install the MPDROID on the android phone/tablet/iphone/ipad (This I hope most of the people knows)
  • Configure the MPDROID to connect to the Xbian IP
    Go to settings in MPDRoid–>Connection Settings->Add the server IP. Put the Port number as default.
  • Start Playing and enjoy

Controlling MPD using USB MCE remote

One of the problems with my above setup was that, you always need a tablet/smart phone/PC to play, pause or stop songs, which I felt is not good. So I decided to connect my unused Windows MCE (Media center Edition) remote to my PI to control the music play back.

Now you may ask why you need an MCE remote for the same when pi supports CEC, the reason is HDMI CEC works only when the TV is on and for music playback i dont want to turn on the TV, So I used the old MCE remote. I got the steps from the below sites and the credits goes to the owners of that thread/site

Xbian thread

XBMC Forum Thread

For Xbian I have summarized the steps below

“get rid of Lirc. Remove it from the default services.
install ir-keytables (apt-get install ir-keytables)
copy the appropriate keytable to /etc/rc_keytables
modify the keytable as you need – it creates keyboard events, so you can tailor your remote to the keys expected by xbmc.
add the command “ir-keytable -c -w /etc/rc_keytables/<your keytable>

And that’s it. It is simple, it survives reboots. It doe NOT require changing the lirc keyboard.xml”

Tips ‘N’ Tricks for Customizing Xbian

Note: All the below tweaks are collected from xbian forums and the credit goes to the original poster.

Changing the Xbian Boot Logo: 

The steps to change splash logo are very simple and require no system edit / changes (simply no hacking).

1) Logo and supplemental graphics is under /usr/bin/splash.images as jpg files
2) change logo.jpg, start splash you will see result immediately
3) if ok, just run “sudo xbian-update-initramfs”

Workaround:  check /boot/initramfs.gz.old, if is still in tact. rename it to /boot/initramfs.gz and try to boot.

Miscellaneous performance tweaks

– disable “Show RSS news feeds” in Settings>Appearance>Skin
– disable “Download actor thumbnails when adding to library” in Settings>Videos>Library
– disable “Extract thumbnail and video information” in Settings>Videos>File lists

MySQL-database:

File: /etc/mysql/my.cnf
– use the ip adres instead of server name
– disable “use dns lookup” in mysql settings

Categories: Audio/Video, General

My Audio Video Setup

July 26, 2013 7 comments

In this post I wanted to showcase my audio video setup and the reason why I chose those components. I hope it may help people looking to setup a decent htpc/audio system.

As a disclaimer I am neither an audiophile nor an expert in this area. I got introduced to all these equipments through multiple forums and websites and thought of sharing my experience.

My requirements

  • Wanted to have a decent audio system which is equally good for music and Movies.
  • Not interested in multichannel speaker systems as I don’t want to run cables across my living room.
  • Wanted to have a audio system which can take inputs from multiple audio sources and can switch between those inputs easily using a remote.
  • Wanted to have a single remote to control all the devices as I don’t like a pile of remotes and don’t want to look around for the right remote when in need.
  • Power consumption has to be low or devices should have some facility to turn off if not in use.
  • Wanted to have HTPC (Home Theater PC) kind of device: Should support the great application called XBMC which gives a Menu based GUI which can be easily controlled using a remote and the addons which comes along with it.
  • Wanted to stream Videos from my Android tablet to the TV so that I can watch it in the big screen.
  • Wanted to redirect the audio of cable TV/Settopbox to the amplifier.
  • Wanted a Decent CD/DVD/BD Player.
  • Wanted a Turntable?Grampahone player as I had some old records.

My Devices

  • Display/TV: LG 32LD650 LCD TV (2010 Model, basic smart tv features, youtube, facebook etc. But I hate searching for videos using the smart tv interface in that model, that’s why I wanted some other device). This TV has 3 HDMI Ports, 1 audio optical digital out, 1 audio co-axial out, 1 3.5mm analogue audio out , 2 AV inputs and 1 VGA connector for connecting computers. It also has a builtin LAN port for smart TV features.
  • Stereo Amplifier: Denon PMA-510AE (45w *2). I got a good deal for this amplifier and hence jumped on it before the offer was over. It has got 1 Phono input for turntables and 4 audio RCA inputs.
  • Stereo Speakers: KEF Q100 Bookshelf Speakers. [Went for it as the India price was less than the International prices. I was eying on its big brother KEFQ300, but demo at the shop convinced me the other way which saved me some money as well
  • Universal/All in one Remote: Logitech Harmony 300i. Up to 4 devices can be controlled using this one. It has a quite extensive database for different kind of remote controlled devices as well as it has a learning mode (If in case your device’s model is not there in the harmony database, then you can make this remote learn its functions by placing the IR Sensors of the device remote and the Harmony remote face to face and then configure the required functions via the software client.)
  • Low Powered XBMC/HTPC device: Raspberry Pi Model B. This is the heart of the Audio video setup. Raspberry Pi runs on very low power and it can be powered using a USB port and hence no need to turn off the device at all. I used an OS called XBIAN which is a debian based distro for raspberry PI which boots in to XBMC directly. I use XBMC only for movies and for audio playpack, I use MPD(media player daemon) which is a server app that can run on any linux (in my case xbian) and I use the MPC client in android called MPDROID(which is installed in my Nexus7) which can be used for selecting/searching/skipping playlists/artists. So for Music I will be using the high quality Schiit DAC and for movies I use the Fiio DAC.
  • Powered USB Hub: Belkin 4 Port Powered USB hub. I bought this for 2 reasons. One being, raspberry pi wont be able to power a 1 TB/2TB USB HDDs if connected to its USB ports. So I needed a USB hub with external power adapter. Another reason is Raspberry pi comes with only 2 ports and I wanted to increase it. All my movies are stored in a Western Digital Passport 1TB USB HDD and that’s connected to this hub
  • USB DAC(Digital to Analogue Converter): Schiit Modi. Pronunciation is as you expected 🙂 ..The reason why I bought this was the Onboard analogue audio  out (3.5 mm Headphone out) in Raspberry pi is of very bad quality (this is what I read from reviews) and hence it cannot be used as a good music player. Since my requirement was to use it as audio and video player, I wanted good sound. So I went for this purely based on the positive reviews.
    For people who are not aware of what a DAC the simple explanation I can think of is as follows. Most of the the motherboards or systems comes with a low quality audio chipset/DAC. This is to reduce the cost of the overall product, so for people who are looking for good quality audio, the workaround is to buy a external good quality DAC and use it. So this DAC will take the digital audio out from the Pi through a USB cable and then converts it to analogue and give it via a RCA Cable (which is the standard Red/Green wire). Now you may ask why can’t we fed digital out directly to amplifier. The reason is most of the integrated amplifiers(including mine) takes only analogue inputs, so there should be some intermediary device which can convert digital audio signal to analogue audio signal.
    Note: Currently XBMC on raspberry Pi as of now doesn’t support audio through DAC’s. So I cannot use this DAC for watching movies. Note that XBMC on a normal PC supports this. This is a limitation only for raspberry pi.
  • Co-axial/Optical DAC : Fiio DAC.For this there are 2 reasons
    1. As mentioned in my requirements I wanted to get the audio of my cable/Set top box through my amplifier. So for that why do I need a DAC? I should have directly connected the analog audio out from my set top box to one of the amplifier inputs. But I couldn’t do that as I needed a back up plan where if my parent come I don’t want them to worry about turning on amp and all these other stuffz to watch TV. So I wanted some way where  both the video and audio connection directly connected to the TV and when I require I can turn on the amp and play it through the amp. For this I had two options, one which doesn’t involve any cost and the other one which involves buying a DAC. First let me explain the method which doesn’t involve any cost, My TV has a 3.5mm headphone out which I can connect to my one of the amplifier inputs. But the problem was that the sound coming from that was not good enough/ I didn’t like it. So i took the second option and I was fortunate to have a TV with Digital Optical audio out. So Bought a optical/Coaxial DAC which will take the Digital optical audio out from my TV and converts it to analogue for the amplifier. This had one clear advantage I just need to sue the amplifiers volume control as when we take digital out, there is no audio processing which is done by the TV.
    2. Second Reason was Raspberry Pi which is my HTPC has a HDMI port which I was using for connecting to TV. For people who doesn’t know, if we use a HDMI port, then it can carry both AUdio and video signals, so we don’t need to run separate cables for audio and video.(Apart from this there are other advantages as well). Using a single HDMI cable we can send both video and audio.And I wanted to watch movies from the raspberry pi and the sound has to come from amplifier. With HDMI alone the sound will come from the TV built in speaker and I didnt want that, So this little device helped me with that.
    Now another argument/option which we can use is to buy a DAC which accepts both USB and optical/coaxial inputs. But good quality ones are very costly and I went for this approach as I wanted good quality in music than in movies. But I am very much happy for this purchase as the sound quality of this DAC is also excellent for the price.
  • Blue-ray Player: Panasonic BD220. I wanted a decent CD player/Blueray/DVD player and this one was available in US for half the Indian price which prompted me to buy this. The decision was completely based on reviews as this was one of the best player which has a good audio chipset(DAC) built in. My friend Vijay Wilson has compared this with a ARCAM CD player costing 50K and he said that this player was a clear winner.
  • Turntable/Gramaphone Player: Audio Technica AT-LP60.The reason for this was as I wanted to get the Nostalgia where I used to listen to the old Malayalam/German/English records which my Father used to play during my childhood days. Unfortunately I destroyed the old Gramaphone player(a german made one) when I started playing with the electronic stuffz. I bought this one also from US for a cheap price as in india the starting price itself is around 9K INR. Also for people who are planning to buy this, this one has a built in phono amp, so you can directly connect it to any amplifier or Home theatre in a box setup which can take an RCA input.
  • Nexus7 Android Tablet:  I use this for browsing as well as as my music player.

Software Tools used

  • Xbian: Debian/Raspbian based OS which runs on raspberry PI. This has got XBMC package installed by default and boots in to XBMC.
  • MPD & MPC : Media player Daemon and media player client for music playback.
  • MPDROID: MPD client for android can used in phones or tablet.
  • YATSE Remote: An android application which is a network based XBMC remote and allows playing videos from tablet to XBMC.

Xbian/XBMC Addons

A Block diagram representation of my audio video setup

My Audio Video Setup

Some Pics of my setup. Its a slideshow, click on the photo to pause or move.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Disadvantages of this setup

  • Very difficult to set it up for a non-technical people.
  • Old people or people who are not familiar with electronic gadgets will have a tough time to use this setup. (Especially the universal remote itself is difficult for people who haven’t heard about it. I always have to educate my parents on how to use it).
  • Too much of cabling and devices involved which some people may not like.
  • Currently all the OS’s which are released for raspberry pi are still undergoing optimizations, so its not very snappy/smooth interface when compared to a normal PC. But being used both I can confidently say that the delay/sluggishness is not that bad.

Advantages of this setup.

  • All the advantages of XBMC and raspberry pi are valid here as well. I am not going to discuss all. The most important one for me is the user interface which XBMC provides, and the subtitle download functionality.
  • Since the raspberry PI consumes very less power, it can be used as a torrent downloader as well as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) apart from the existing Audio & Video functionality.
  • Using Yaste android app, you can send youtube videos/other videos/music to the raspberry pi/XBMC and thus can be viewed in the TV. Also this avoids the typing hassles using remote.
  • Raspberry PI and XBIAN supports HDMI CEC, which means if you have a HDMI CEC TV(LG calls it as simplink, panasonic as Vierra connect and Sony as Bravia sync), you can use the TV remote to control the XBMC.
  • Being an Ipod Nano owner I can say that raspberry Pi + SChiit Dac will any day beat ipod as a audio source and which means u get a decent audio source.
Categories: Audio/Video, General

SBI Home Loan Process Explained in Steps

February 2, 2011 255 comments

Steps Reference Output Document Cost
1.Collecting the Property related Documents:Go to the builder and get all the property related legal documentsI have got Legal opinion and Share of agreement and Sanctioned Site plan from my builder. NA Booking Receipt along with the copy of the cheque. Depends 0
2.Legal Opinion: Go to an Advocate who is in the SBI Panel with the documents in step 1 to get it verified. For the advocate to give the final legal opinion he needs to see the Sales Agreement & Construction Agreement and he needs a photostat copy of it.Normally if its a builder share following documents needs to be collected from the builder :1. Encumbrance certificate till current date (from some 35 years advocate may ask)2. Tax Paid receipt till dateLawyer is going to make you run for multiple documents, so the maximum delay is expected at this step, once this step is done half part is done 🙂 Adinath Narde & revathy AssocaiatesSt Marks Road bangalore (Near to St.Marks Hotel and Bishop cotton girls school) Legal opinion 1500*Has been revised to 3000 (Thanks Rajeevi Shyam for sharing the info)
3. Property Valuation:Once the Legal valuation is done go to a property Valuator who is in the SBI Panel with the sales agreement.He will valuate the property and will give a letter. NA Valuator statement 1500
4. E-stamping: SBI mandatess the Sales agreement and Construction agreement to be estamped/Franked.  Regarding whats the value to which e-stamp ask the concerned bank.Normally for a ongoing construction flat, there will be 2 Agreements a)sales Agreement and b) Construction AgreementIn my case, the bank asked me to e-stamp the Sales agreement for 1 % of the value shown there or for 20,000 which ever is minimum and they asked me to frank the Construction agreement for 200 Ruppees.E-stamping and franking are actually the same, e-stamping is the new technology where as franking is the old one where we stamp it, Franking can be done only at register office where as e-stamping can be done at post offices, Syndicate banks, Selected registrar offices etcNote: Make sure you, your wife and builder sign on the e-stamp which you purchase. Domlur Sub-registrar office (can do both e-stamping and franking) e-stamp and franking on the sales agreement 14,911+200
Remarks: e-stamping mode of payment is via cashFranking if above 1000 need to take a DD in the name of the sub-registrar, locality*Harish mentioned that for FY2013-14, franking value for sale agreement has to be 0.1%. Thanks Harish for the info.
5. Submitting the Application: Once we got the Valuator statement and Legal opinion, now go to the SBI with the filled in application forms along with the required documents for loan application. Also attach the legal opinion and the Valuator statement.Note: Its always good to go for a interiors loan (max up to 3 lkhs) along with the hoam loan which will save you another 7000 rs for the processing fee. For the interiors you need to get a quote from an interior designer and get it valuator sanctioned. For me I went with valuator only SBI Special Home Loan branch, JayanagarInteriors valuation: C S Vyasaraja Application formValuator Statement
6. Waiting period: Now its time for the waiting period. The waiting period may vary person to person. Normally in the special home loan branch, it can be as fast as 3 days. For me unfortunately it took 23 days as there was an audit going on in the bank. periodically call them to make the process much faster. Also make sure they inspect the property if you are in a hurry to get the loan coz unless and until they inspect it, they wont disburse the money. NA Nil Nil
7. Documentation:Once the loan is sanctioned, Bank people will give you a call and now we need to plan for the documentationFor the documentation we need to get the following documents1. 2*400 rupees worth e-stamp1st party: Loan applicant2nd party: SBI

purpose: Housing Loan Agreement

2. Rs.200 worth e-stamp

1st party: Loan applicant

2nd party: SBI

purpose: Housing Loan Agreement

3. Rupees 200 worth e-stamp

1st party: Guarantor

2nd party: SBI

purpose: Housing Loan Agreement

4. All the original documents which you have submitted while applying for the loan.

5. 17 Cheques in favour of SBI. Out of this 5 are for securit and the 12 are for EMI. In my case 3 months I have taken Moratarium (Moratarium is the period for which only the interest will be taken from the borrower, which is commonly termed as pre-EMI)

Loan applicant along with guarantor needs to be present at the bank for the documentation. builder is normally not required, if its a land lord hsare then they have to come

SBI Special Home Loan branch, Jayanagar Loan Sanction Letter 1260
Remarks: e-stamp mode of payment is Cash
8. Disbursement:Once we get the Loan Sanction letter go to the builder and get the following documents1. NOC from the builder stating he hasn’t mortgaged this property to any other bank2. Tripartite agreement (e-stamped/Franked for 200 rs) [This is required only if its a ongoing construction.3. Demand Note from the builder[how much money he needs now)Note: Please make sure whatever demand note they makes is matching with the schedule of payment. In my case I have to twice change the demand Note. SBI Special Home Loan branch, Jayanagar DD in favour of builder Demaded Money
9. From now on for further payments we can just send a mail to the manager to please disburse the amount XXX and then ask the bulder to send a boy to the SBI branch with the original demand note and they can collect the DD from the bank directly. We dont have to go to bank anymore.
10. Now its time for registration and the final payment to be made to the builder. here there are some things to be careful.a) Check with the builder two days before registration, how much is the current registration Stamp duty and the same needs to be conveyed to SBI. Instead of paying the registration amount from our pocket, its better to be taken from the Loan account(so the same needs to be paid to the builder from our side), the reason for the above is that it will save us some money interms of DD charges as SBI themselves are taking the DD in the name of registrar, we dont have to pay any DD sur charges.b) If you are doing a, that is getting the DD from SBI loan amount, then you need to send to SBI the receipt for the same amount being paid to the builder (if you have already paid this ignore it)c) Remind the SBI manager regarding the registration and also ask them keep the DD ready before 1 day so that we can take a photostat of the same and give it builder. This is must as the builder needs the DD# and other details in the sale deed 1. DD for Registartion Stamp duty in the name of Sub-registrar2. DD for Mortgage Stamp duty in the name of Sub-registrar: Rs. 43023. DD for Stampduty in the name of Sub-registrat: Rs. 43024. DD for Building insurance in the name of Sub-registrar: Rs.183005. Photostat of the DD for the remaining amount to be given to builder in the name of builder (The original will be given to the builder only at the time of registration by the bank people)

6. SBI Postal mail form which needs to be send after registration saying we have submitted all the registered documents to SBI.

11.Finally its party time and the Registration Day has come. This is the easiest thing, as the builders will arrange everything and we dont have to do anything apart from being present at the registrar office for nearly 4 hrs. Normally, at the end of the registration, you can give a call to the SBI officer and they will personally come and give the DD to the builder, but in my case since they were totally busy, they asked me to come over to the branch and collect the DD and give to the builder. 1. Registered Sale Deed2. Registered Mortgage Deed [Only mandated by SBI, HDFC and other banks dont mandate this]3. Encumbrance Certificate after Sale deed registration [ Once sale deed is registered, the flat will be in your name]4. Encumbrance Certificate after Mortgage deed registration [ After this the flat will be in the name of SBI and your name] once we close the loan, we need to register it back to our nameNote: Everything all the originals need to be submitted to the SBI branch/officer if they come to the registrar office after registration [Make sure you take enough photocopies before you submit the same to SBI].

5. The very next day you need to send a Postal mail to SBI saying you have submitted all the originals to SBI on so and so date.

6. 🙂 🙂

THE END!!!!!!!!!
Categories: General, Home Loan Process

Pros and Cons of Special home Loan branch

February 2, 2011 28 comments

Bank: State bank of India Special Home Financing Branch, Jayanagar, Bangalore

Advantages

  • Very Fast (As per the Chief Manager, Maximum number of days to get a loan Sanctioned is 8 days provided you have submitted all the required documents)
  • Good Personal relationship: Once a Loan application is submitted a Manager is assigned just for you and from now on we will be in touch with the manager
  • They work on Saturdays(till 12 PM) and Sundays(till 3PM) as well (Monday is the holiday for them)

Disadvantages

  • Have to go personally to the Bank multiple times (They say at max 3 times we have to come to the bank..but that actually matters. In my case I have gone there more than 10 times)
Categories: Home Loan Process

SBI Home Loan Check List of Documents

February 1, 2011 47 comments

  • Bank: State bank of India Special Home Financing Branch, Jayanagar, Bangalore (Pros and cons of this branch)
  • Interest rates (As of 1st Jan 2011) : 1 year – 8.5% per annum
    2 & 3rd year – 9.25% per annum

List Of Documents

Applicant Documents

  1. Duly Completed Application form
  2. 3 Passport size photographs
  3. Employee ID card
  4. PAN Card
  5. Passport
  6. Date of birth proof: Birth Certificate/School Leaving Certificate/SSLC Marks card.
  7. Driving License
  8. Proof of Residence: Telephone bill/Electricity Bill/Property tax Receipt/Letter from Employer/Lease or Rent Agreement/Gas Connection
  9. Appointment Letter
  10. Cost to the Company (Latest hike letter will be suffice)
  11. Payslips: Latest 3 months Salary slip
  12. Form 16 for the previous 2 years along with the IT Return duly acknowledged by the IT authorities
  13. Bank statement /Pass book for the last 6 months where salary is credited
  14. Loan Closure Statement: If you have any other Loans sanction letter with full settlement of account till date
  15. Proof of Source of Margin Money (which should be mentioned in the application at the sources of funds and use of funds column)
  16. Proof of Margin Money already paid
  17. Proof of Assets as declared in the application form (eg: photocopies of LIC policies, papers of immovable properties, shares/debentures. you can show gold as asset which doesn’t require any proof)
  18. Marriage Certificate in case of joint borrowing
  19. Highest Qualification Certificate
  20. RC book of Vehicles used
  21. Cost Breakup letter from the builder
  22. E-mail id of HR person for confirmation of employment Status

Property Related Docments

  1. Legal Opinion from an advocate who is a member of SBI Panel
  2. Opinion from a Valuator who is a member of SBI Panel (This is to ascertain that the property which we are planning to buy has a market value which the builder is claiming. Bank will give loan for the minimum of the following min[80% of the value by builder, 80% of the value quoted by Valuator])
  3. Photocopies of Land originals to be kept ready for verification
  4. No Objection letter from the financier in case the builder has availed project loan or a letter from the builder certifying that no loan has been availed
  5. Sales Agreement & Construction Agreement Copy

Guarantors Documents (Guarantor is required only if the construction is going on)

  1. 3 Passport/Stamp size photograph
  2. Employee ID Card
  3. Passport, Voter’s ID Card, PAN Card
  4. Bank Statement/PassBook for the last 6 months where Salary is credited
  5. pay Slips for the last 3 months
  6. 2 years IT Returns and Form 16
  7. Proof Assets as declared in application form
Categories: Home Loan Process