Category Archives: General

Basics of being anonymous

There are endless reasons to be anonymous or to increase your privacy. The most obvious is your personal freedom, do you like it when people watch you as you eat or kiss your girlfriend/wife in your sleeping room ?
It is rarely in your interest that your government, your Internet providers administrators/supporters or your company knows what you are doing online.
What illness are you googling about ? What porn do you watch ? What political party do you favor? Do you search pirated software ? The list is endless and everyone is affected.
There are more reasons to be anonymous. You could register multiple accounts on social networks (facebook, youtube, myspace, gmail, your favorite Internet forum,…) if you were anonymous. This is something a lot of people require once in a while, most get caught doing it because they lack knowledge.

The Internet just looks simple from the user point of view but in reality the protocols used to make this possible are very complex. The Internet was never designed to be a anonymous platform and as it grew the different governments of course had no interest that people could speak anonymously.

Every connection on the Internet has one thing in common: the IP Address. The data sent and received always contains a destination and a source IP Address, no matter what you did (email, surfing, file sharing,listening to a music stream or watching a video). This IP Address can be used to identify you (through the help of your provider, to break into your computer or to deny you access or track your access.
When surfing (using a browser like Firefox, IE or Opera to access HTTP pages) there is more information transmitted than you would ever guess! Your browser sends information about itself, about your operating system, your language and much more information.
This information also tells a lot about your identity and can be used to give you customized text but also against you.

The main factor is your IP Address, it needs to be obfuscated. Next your cookies need to be removed and finally your user agent should be changed.
Changing the IP requires a tool/service called proxy the cookies can be removed through your browser settings and the user-agent is also part of your browser configuration.

A proxy server can be configured in your browser network-connection settings. When using a online proxy your browser will send all data requests to the proxy, the proxy will route it to the destination and send you back the data. This is “transparent” to you as user, the destination will only see the proxy IP Address.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Each and every one of us needs to do our part to make sure that our online lives are kept safe and secure. That’s what National Cyber Security Awareness Month—observed in October 2012—is all about!

We always believed that there are n number of ways in which an event can go wrong. However, there is only one way an event can be successful- the best possible way.
The stage is set, the performers are ready; you are the directors, script writers, spot boys and bla bla characters. Its your day, your event and your life…

Team Matrix welcomes you to the National Cyber Security Awareness Month at SCIT, the college which has been steadily growing in its stronghold in Information Systems and Security.

The even is on 7th of October and will have eminent personalities from the information security domain addressing the various aspects of this mysterious domain.

Please visit SCIT website for more details


Torrents blocked? No more!

Recently all the major torrent download sites have been blocked. This started off with Reliance blocking the torrents and now it seems all the major ISP have blocked the torrents sites. Apart from torrent sites major video sharing sites have been blocked citing piracy as the major reason, I guess these people forgot the way Kolaveri Di raised to international fame in a couple of days.


However where there is a blockade there is a way. First of all lets understand how torrents work.

There is this small torrent file that contains the information about the main file(s) and who all have that file on the internet. The ISPs have blocked the access to the sites that host these torrents not the actual content.

The actual content is still stored on computers of users like us, so once we get hold of the torrent file there is no stopping us.

Following is a sure shot method of accessing the torrent download websites to download torrent, and once you have the torrent file then there is no stopping the download as it runs on the P2P network and the ISP have no control over it.

Download ultrasurf from the above link.

Unzip the files.

Run u.exe.

It will show up as a small yellow lock on the right bottom corner and show up a pop up as shown in the picture.

image image

Once the connectivity is established and there is a green light you are ready to go.

This program launches Internet explorer by default with the proxy settings used by the program.

I recommend using the same IE window and head over to your favorite torrent site.

Download the torrent file.

Fire up the torrent client of your choice and do the rest.

The torrents would be downloading fine. Remember the ISP blocked access to the torrent file not the actual content.

Do let us know of any other ways that you are using.

Control Laptop from Android

There is always a time when you have a party going on and you have a huge list of songs playing and all of a sudden a unknown unwanted track plays up. Now you have to go look for your laptop to skip the track.

How about you just pull out your android phone out of your pocket. Unlock it and skip the song with just a tap and keep partying without going to look for you machine.

Unified remote does just that.

It is based on a client server model, where the machine runs the server and the android phone runs the client.

It can connect over WIFI as well as bluetooth.

Install the application on the phone.

Install the server on the computer.

And connect.

After that you can select the type of remote you want from the plethora of options available.

I prefer the media control one.



Android as Bluetooth Keyboard for PS3

I’m sure that all those who own a PS3 have sometime or the other tried to browse the internet on the PS3. The browser is a pain and specially when you have to login to sited using the on screen keyboard and type by the six axis controller.

There is a easy way out if you own an android phone. The following steps mention how to get this done.

I have a Xperia Neo V

This needs a rooted phone, so please google the method to root your phone and proceed with this.

Start PS3

Goto Accesories setting

Pair a New device and Pair it with your android phone.

Now move to the phone, goto Google Play store and download Blueputdroid

Run the application

If all goes well it will show up PS3 with its MAC address on the screen.

Tap it to connect. The symbol on the right turns blue when active.

Once connected it gives options of several types of layouts.

I am most comfortable with the track pad on the top and keyboard in the lower half.

It also has the option for six axis controller.

Now it is all set.

Enjoy typing on the PS3 with your android phone.

Entertainment Setup Updated

I had an entertainment setup and of late I have bought some more gadgets to make it better. The below snapshot has the overview of how it has been wired up.

Currently I have a 22 inch HD TV

5.1 Speakers with DVD player


Two notebooks Alienware M11x and Dell XPS M1210

Two Android phones Galaxy 3 and Xperia Neo V

A Samsung Tablet

Seagate Goflex Home NAS, connected to wifi router over LAN and WD My Book Essentials 1 TB plugged into the USB port of the NAS dock.

The speakers are connected to the PS3 via optical cable for Dolby 5.1 and to the TV for 2 channel Aux input.

The PS3 is connected to the TV via HDMI and TV set top box is connected to the video in on the TV.

The NAS can natively download torrents and also runs a media server. The torrents can be controlled remotely via a SSH tunnel between my Android phone and the NAS. This feature is still buggy and I would need to get a new router to get this fixed.

My XPS runs PS3 media server and can stream all the content on the XPS. That makes two media server in total.

When needed I plug in my M11x to the TV and play the games on the TV via a wireless Keyboard and mouse.

This has been my setup, I might have missed out on some details, do let me know what do you think about this.


Parenting To Raise Financially Smart Children

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffet

This quotation, it made me think that this is what children that were taught to be financially smart turned out as adults. This next made me feel that it was just not important to send children to school to learn how to count and write, but as parents to teach them about the value of certain aspects in life. With consumerism overtaking the economy even in developing countries of the world like India, many youngsters are having easy accessibility to credit cards and EMI’s, making our children realize the difference between a real want and need would make them financially smart for a lifetime.

Hence smart parents should assume a vital role to render useful lessons of financial management to their children. Smart parents would not only render useful finance lessons, but would also be a prominent example and take effective feedback by making their children a partner in their financial decisions.

Let’s look at how we can make parenting to raise children, who are financially smart, an interesting and enjoyable experience.

Have a look at these aspects in inculcating learning about personal finance:

  • Simple living: My grandfather has always been a part of my learning principles of smart financial management and I respect him for what he always told us as children, “Simple living and high thinking are the essence of life. We should be able to live with minimum wants if we wish to have an umbrella over us for a lifetime.” He was a standing example or what he preached, making me feel we could make our children lead better lives if we rendered these lessons to our children and practiced it ourselves to set an example.
  • Setting Financial Priorities: Setting priorities in our children such as ‘having basic necessities of life like food, clothing, and shelter were more essential than fancy and fashionable articles’ would surely help. The habits built at the cradle carry on to the death bed. This applies in educating our children about the clear demarcation between wants versus needs.

Setting up financial priorities in children could start off with teaching them budgeting that is appropriate to their age. Inculcating the habit of budgeting in our children would start off with working together with them and making a child friendly budget. Young children are very happy to have budgets prepared with bright colors, graphs and other visuals. A joint effort would make them feel a part of it and be ready to cooperate and learn.

  • Goal Oriented:                       My observation of financially smart adults made me understand that they believed in saving for a goal. So we need to involve our older children by involving them in budgeting for costlier possessions like car, a house, new furniture or probably saving for a sound education or marriage. It is true that even younger children need to be encouraged to save for small fancy needs like probably going for a movie, an evening having pizza or that remote control toy or Barbie doll. Their achievement would give them a sense of fulfillment that could make them feel motivated and focused to save for bigger goals.
  • Rewards: Motivation has always been the keyword to progress, so praise and rewards could also make a great impact on children learning and implementing financially smart objectives.  In addition teaching our children of how to survive and earn would help. So suggesting alternative ways to earn, like helping in the cleaning of the car, helping younger siblings with homework, running errands like shopping for essential or helping in small household chores in an age appropriate manner would surely help.
  • Banking: “Putting your savings in the bank would help you earn more money to meet your financial goals,” is what most financially smart parents would have instilled in their children right from childhood.  A savings bank account started with parents being a guardian would help overlook their children’s spending habits and guide them.
  • Financial Learning: In addition instilling a habit of reading articles and reviews on finance have helped many financially smart children to save for their future once they started earning.

Stocks, shares and other financially appreciating instruments are best taught to older children, with involving them in real life examples of your investments helping a lot.  Next is to introduce them to credit cards and loans. When they should be taken and when they should be avoided need to be taught well in advance.

Experience makes principles of smart financial planning more deep. So allowing our children to borrow money from us and repay it back with/without interest makes them realize the impact of loans.

Lastly do realize that each child is made in a different way with different spending and savings traits. Identifying each child’s financial habits early in life would help us to guide them tactfully without being imposing on them. I have known of children who have learnt better by their falls in financial decisions, so just rest assured that experience sometimes renders the best lessons for a healthy financial life.

(The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

Buying Term Life Insurance

Buying insurance for protection and wealth creation has always been a very complicated task involving careful analyzes. The analysis involves the amount of coverage, reason for coverage and the term/time that the cover is required. Term policies taken for a specified period of time like 5, 10, 15, 20, or even 30 years helps to look after family’s financial commitments like education and marriage of our children and the day to day expenses for a reasonable standard of living.

Term insurance policies that resemble motor/house insurance are not subject to the law of indemnity as damage due to human life cannot be measured. Taken for a specified period when financial obligations have to be met, no money is generally paid back if death does not occur in the period.

A bird’s eye view of term insurance policies would tell you:

  • Term policies are cheaper as they cover only the risk of death happening within a specified period. In addition the premium charged depending on the age of the person insured and time of coverage required with medical examination being compulsory in most of the cases.
  • With very competitive premium rates being the present scenario of the insurance sector, it is found that most companies encourage insurers to take a much higher coverage for extended period of time even up to 35 years or 65 years of age. This accounts for popularity of these policies for people with long term financial commitments.
  • Term life policies can be bought very easily either online or through life advisors that market and service these policies. You would benefit buying term insurance policies online as this does away with the expenses of agents/life advisors commission. This accounts for discount in premium.
  • In addition a check of the insurer’s ‘claim settlement’ ratio or the percentage of claims settled by the insurer of the total received would help, with this available on the IRDA website.
  • Once death occurs and claim is to be settled this is done in a lump-sum to the nominees or beneficiaries. This depends on the terms of the policy that the insured has taken, with the settlement free of tax payments.
  • Term plans suit young earning members with dependents, with the low premium allowing them with additional funds to invest in lucrative    equity-linked savings schemes that provide tax breaks

Deciding different factors about term life insurance:

Term insurance serves as the best life cover for large amounts and extended terms to meet your family’s financial commitments if you are not there. Insurance experts suggest about 12 times your annual income added to your total liability less investment in various assets.

  • It is important to note that liabilities include loans taken for house/ personal/ vehicles/and other obligations.
  • You should also consider amounts required for the education and marriage of your children, healthcare needs for your spouse and dependents and other amounts that would be required to maintain a reasonable lifestyle.
  • Term life insurance policies are mainly meant for earning members of the family, whose financial commitments have to be meant on his/her death. It is however not meant for the young, unmarried working people that have no dependents or financial commitments.
  • Term plans are best taken for amounts that consider not only the present financial needs, but also inflation, increase in salaries and lifestyle needs. The premium could rise with age and with increase in the amount of insurance taken and with riders/ additional benefits like personal accident insurance and critical illness coverage.

  • Insurance contracts being contracts of utmost good faith require revealing of material facts that would influence its acceptance. This could include your existing health conditions, family history and details of other insurance contracts that have been rejected in past.  Undergoing a medical examination if necessary may help reduce chances of claims being rejected in future.
  • Term policies are best taken in blocks and increased or decreased according to need. Reviewing insurance needs every 3 to 5 years is ideal to adjust insurance needs.  Taking insurance in blocks provides for flexibility to discontinue some in case of decreased financial obligations with time.

Finally take care to ensure that you have read and understood all the information to the best of your knowledge and disclosed the correct material facts like age, income and present health status. In addition carefully go through the signed proposal form and policy document and inform the insurance company in case of discrepancies within 15 days of issue of policy.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

6 Financial Planning Misconceptions Demystified

Let’s start the useful exercise:

Financial planning may mean different things for different people. Some assume that they need no financial planning as they have very little finances. Still others believe that once they have invested their savings for future their task is over. In addition some pre-conceived notions that company we work for, pays our medical and hospitalization expenses so we need no reserve, combined with the notion that a life insurance policy takes care of death, disability and accidents.

The need for no financial planning is complemented with the myth especially among the young that their retirement is far away and they could easily plan for it just a few years in advance. To further complement this myth that our ancestors would leave behind estate and property for us to enjoy with a will.

Well dear friends financial planning can never be overlooked as finances invested well today could provide for good financial resources in future. It is true that a person who helps himself succeeds best in having financial stability in life.

Have a look at the myths of financial planning:

  1. “I have life insurance to protect them in case of my death.”

My hearty congratulations for taking up insurance policies to protect your family needs in case of your death. But the question is do you have adequate insurance to look after your family needs for a lifetime. In addition it is worth considering if you have enough to look after your children’s education and marriage needs considering the rate of inflation. Also it is worth considering if your family would be financially secure if they have to repay loans taken by you after your death.

  1. “I just make both ends meet, where is the need to go in for financial planning?”

You may be right, but if I were to tell you that we all need to provide for financial contingencies would you say financial planning is unnecessary? So all of us have to plan to make their hard-earned money to work for them, and this applies more so single income families. Financial planning makes sense not only to repay loans taken but also to get continuous supply of money for our needs.  So we need to have a strict look at our expenses and find ways to minimize them. A small example could be to forego a pack of cigarette a day to save and invest in viable investment scheme.

  1. “My financial planning is done as I have invested in different schemes.”

I appreciate you for taking the first step towards financial sufficiency, however believe me this is just the first step to the 1000 miles towards lifelong financial stability.

All you are investments are really supporting your financial goals or not? Is the schemes in which you have invested is really performing or not? Is the maturity value from the schemes is sufficient to meet the goals or not?

A financial need analysis to cover various short term and long term needs could be best accomplished with a financial expert’s advice on financial planning.

  1. “Youth is to enjoy, retirement is far away. It will look after itself.”

Let us face this myth headlong with analyzing that retirement is not a contingency, but a necessity that is to be provided for right from the time one starts earning. It is advisable and much easier to start saving when young, as savings become difficult with additional expenses.

Saving for retirement starting from youth through retirement plans seems much easier when the amount to be put aside for the corpus is much less every year and it is also possible to save through various investment avenues. Starting to invest for retirement when young gives one the advantages of compounding of savings. This would also help take care of inflationary tendencies.

  1. “I have enough health insurance, and my company gives me coverage too.”

Being covered with health insurance and medical expenses at work is great, but this would not cover all your health expenses. It is always good to take additional coverage and provide for unforeseen contingencies like critical illness that would not only involve expenses on treatment, but also on maintaining the lifestyle of the family till one is ready to go to work.

Being young does not prevent you or any of your family members from getting a critical illness with the present lifestyle. With fresh insurance coverage over the age of 45 being tough it is best to save for this period.

  1. “I do not have to worry as I will inherit from my parents as my children will inherit from me.”

Inheritance has neither been a cake-walk, and a will is very important for inheritance. Financial planning involves the making of a will to avoid disputes between the heirs. Making a will is not about how big your property or estate is, it is more about necessarily making a will about the inheritance.

Financial planning is not just the forte of finance professionals alone, but is judicious and smart planning of finances for a lifetime. Lastly financial planning is not an end but a means to an end of financial stability and security.

(The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

Do You Do Your Regular Financial Check-ups?

Just start the financial check-up:

Noel Whittaker said, “Life is full of uncertainties. Future investment earnings and interest and inflation rates are not known to anybody. However, I can guarantee you one thing.. those who put an investment program in place will have a lot more money when they come to retire than those who never get around to it”.

This meaningful quotation made me realize that we need to make regular financial check-ups to ensure that we have enough to meet our financial goals in life. Planning for financial goals require taking into consideration the present rates of earnings on investments, future earnings and rate of inflation that would affect our lifestyle and financial goals. It is vital that we all realize that regular reviewing our finances according to our changing dreams, needs and aspirations and making necessary changes would help meet our financial goals.

Marriage and a merger of personal finance:

Marriage could be the first circumstance that calls for reviewing financial needs. Getting married means not just end of bachelorhood/spinsterhood, but additional expenses of managing household and financial needs of one’s spouse. Likewise 2-paypackets calls for necessity to review the fruitful investment of excess income.  I would say that marriage brings along with it future goals like buying a house, planning for children and so on and additional expenses involved in this planning.

Kids and their Future:

The innocent face of kids brings joys to the couple’s life, with the added responsibility to plan for additional finances required for their upbringing, education, medical expenses and marriage. In addition, don’t we as parents feel that we have to leave behind an inheritance that our children would love to treasure?

Health is Wealth:

Regular financial check-ups is required not just after marriage and kids, but God forbid, death, long term sickness and accidents are eventualities that can change everything for a family; these unforeseen contingencies can lead to major turmoil and depletion in finances.

Switching your job or transition to a business:

Regular financial check-ups are also required considering the change of employment or business activity. Regular jobs bring regular income and regular investments, while increases would mean more of investments. Also irregular and cyclical income means saving and investing more in times of high income; as in surgeons, artists, consultants investment and insurance advisors for times of income crisis.

In addition, can anyone of us afford to miss on the effects that inflation plays on our financial planning? Periodic financial check-ups ensure we are self-sufficient in old age. Other factors like windfall gains could also make differences in our finances. So it is very true to say that regular financial check-ups or reviews would help make adjustments in financial plans in the most optimum way.

What do regular financial check-ups give me?

Expecting the Unexpected:

Deepak Chopra aptly said, “Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined”.

It is right that budgeting regularly would help all of us to pin-point where we are overspending and need to economize to fulfill goals. It is true that this would help increase savings for investments. It would be right to say here that regular financial check-ups help to review financial needs and also set up sufficient contingent or emergency fund that come in handy in emergencies; sickness, accident and unemployment. Ideally it should be 3 to 6 months of your family expenses. This would come in handy in case of emergency.

How very true it is that insurance forms an important part of financial planning as it provides for not just financial protection on death, but also for illness and future needs. Constant and regular financial check-ups is necessary here also to provide for increased insurance needs, with planning early in life helping reduce premium costs and refusal for insurance.

Net worth Tracking:

It has been well said by Noel Whittaker, “Becoming wealthy is not a matter of how much you earn, who your parents are, or what you do, it is a matter of managing your money properly”. We would be smart in preparing a balance sheet of our family finances. Like a business balance sheet, this could enlist assets like contingency fund, various investments, interest earnings, pension, provident fund, insurance and other immovable assets we have and also enlist the liabilities like expenditure on children’s education, marriage, medical expenses, retirement expenses and cost of inflation on financial reserves. Constant updating would not only give an idea of your exact financial standing, but would also help to make appropriate financial planning changes.

Other Review Triggers:

v  A special mention needs to be made regarding regular financial check-up with regard to mutual funds; the change of fund manager and other changes in investment portfolio need to be considered.

v  How very true it is that regular financial check-ups help in maintaining excellent financial health. Budgets need to be reviewed every month, with financial consultants advising their clients to review their investments every 3 months and make the necessary changes.

v  There may however not be a need to make changes if the portfolio is as planned, though in certain cases like big change in financial goals or with new guidelines of investment necessary changes may have to be made in the investment plans.

To conclude how very true it is that uncertainty is an important ingredient of life, but managing your money properly could give you the stability and peace of mind to face your financial goals confidently.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at