You can now buy your train tickets from the bKash app

Getting train tickets is often a hassle, usually around holidays. Which is why e-ticketing services are so on demand nowadays. It seems like bKash has taken initiative to provide further convenience to us.

bKash has recently integrated the option the purchase tickets through the app. This comes as the result of an agreement with Bangladesh Railway’s e-ticketing service.

One needs to simply open up the bKash app, click on the tickets icon and select trains. From there one can select routes, date and timing. Find the ticket you need and hit purchase.

This adds much-needed convenience to the life of the average train traveller. It’s safe to say e-ticketing services for the railway were not up to par. But with this, a welcome change can be anticipated.

Save yourself the trip to the local police station. You can now file a GD online

Filing a general diary is usually a very tedious activity. The perceived stigma of the process scares off many people. And as such, a lot of crimes go unreported. But there’s an alternative you should know about.

DMP had introduced a system for filing GD’s online earlier this year. They are now pushing for the public to implement it on a more regular basis. Through this system, you can submit a statement by filling up an online form on this web address: http://gd.police.gov.bd/index

Needless to say, this is a very welcome step. We refrain from filing GDs due to apprehension of the circumstances surrounding the process. Many a person has an unpleasant tale about filing a complaint. This online procedure takes out the personal interaction factor that we’re apprehensive of and provides a far more prompt solution.

Source: DMP Website

It is to be mentioned that as of now, the process only covers lost and found cases. That means you can file an online GD for cases like a lost phone, ID, and other personal accessories and petty theft.

This is more convenient than it sounds; as many organizations such as universities require a GD filed before they replace a lost ID card. Therefore, the online GD system makes this a whole lot simpler.

Google Stadia is a mess. Initial impressions suggest

By now, we all know more or less about Stadia. Google made no secret of its big foray into game streaming. The founder’s editions of the console have reached reviewers recently. So how is the feedback so far?

Not very exciting, we’re afraid.

Read more: Google launching game streaming service “Stadia”

The promise of Stadia

Google hyped up Stadia to the point where it sounded like the future of gaming in general. The cloud-based service promised to change the way we play games. The cloud storage would remove the need to download game content. Click on a hyperlink and just dive into a game of your choosing; without sacrificing any resolution demands.

In the face of all that potential, here’s how the product actually feels like:
It feels like it hasn’t really launched yet.

The delivery

Disclaimer: Stadia works. We’re not trying to say it’s just some sort of scheme that doesn’t. You can play games via the cloud service, without any physical discs or large downloads. It just doesn’t work as it is supposed to.

A lot of the key features promised are not present. One of the biggest prospects that could change how multiplayer works; the ability to join a game that you’ve been watching at the click of a button? It’s not there.

In addition (more like subtraction), Stadia doesn’t have iOS support, no working friend-list, and no games with Stream Connect. And you can’t really buy a Stadia right now.

Hardware problems

The service is supposed to be free(technically). What you can get right now to play a Stadia game is the Stadia Pro; which is only available through the Stadia Premiere Edition Bundle.

There is no other way to access the service other than by Buddy Pass. Which allows a Stadia Pro owner to give you access to try the service. Thing is, this feature isn’t available at launch.

So, in simple terms, you are paying full price to buy a console. This console was going to eliminate the need to own hardware to play games. This console itself is hardware.

How it holds up

This is all to be considered with the information in mind that Stadia the service was always supposed to be free. You would still have to purchase games to play on the service. But you would be able to play them anywhere, on anything. Even a browser.

To be fair, the Stadia does run games smoothly enough.

There are input lags and stutterings, but not to the extent where it becomes a major bother. The games look fine as well.

Right now, you are paying for a console that delivers on none of the big promises it made. You’re better off buying a PC or a different console at the moment.

Conclusion

This isn’t to say Stadia won’t be what it set out to be eventually. The point is it isn’t right now. But Google still “launched” it at full price.

Google Stadia might just end up becoming the future of gaming. But it isn’t at present. So probably you should hold off on this purchase for the time being.

How online quizzes steal your data and why you should be concerned

Most people love to talk about themselves. Even the emo edgy ones among us occasionally feel the need to inform others of their edgy state of being. Social media in its entirety is based on people’s vanity projects. And one of the largest providers of that vanity is online quizzes. Because we all like to know which brand of toilet paper we are. And there is not much wrong with that. But what if the cost of finding out your designated light-sabre at Hogwarts is your personal information turned into packets of data?

Facebook’s data breach through quizzes

We’re all familiar with the tendency of companies to use data from our internet usage into targeted marketing strategies. Whether the perceived convenience of such practices holds up against ethical code is a different issue. But the discretion with which these tactics collect information that one might not want to share is often frightening.

Just this March, news broke of stolen data collection through Facebook quizzes. While users took a quiz, a browser extension was auto-installed on their computer. This extension siphoned personal data like name, gender and profile picture. And then it resulted in targeted ads that looked like the average Facebook ad. Facebook even filed a lawsuit over this.

Read more: Understanding cybersecurity in a more connected Bangladesh

How you compromise yourself and why it matters

This goes to show just how vulnerable our security is on the internet. Seemingly harmless activities give away information you don’t even know is important. Even less discreet methods; questions on quizzes like “What is your name/gender/etc” can go a long way in compromising your personal safety. The result might seemingly be just targeted ads, which many don’t even mind.

But data like that may result in companies easily being able to categorize your personality index and even subliminal suggestive advertising to make you purchase things you don’t even want. Think about it, did you really ever think you needed those exercise equipment you bought online before you did?

Read more: How your money is at risk and what to do about it

Steps you can take

Knowing about how data is stolen can go a long way in preventing it. Always try to notice what extensions, add-ons or login information any online page asks for. Don’t give out sensitive information or even basic information about yourself. And please try to take these quizzes less often. You can do without knowing what type of onion you are today.

How your money is at risk and what to do about it

Let’s start with a small tale. I watched a guy get scammed on the bus the other day. He got a call from some guy claiming to be a Bkash representative. In a few minutes, he handed over his account details. I tried to stop him as soon as I got wind of what was happening, but it was already too late, and he had handed over his pin number. We can safely assume what followed. 

To many of us, remote transactions are still very hazy. In general, we prefer to exchange via cash. This is in no small part due to the lack of safety over the remote channels available to us; in addition to general inconvenience. Bkash scams are everyday things now. And even if they weren’t, the process of maintaining a Bkash account feels tedious to me. Load up an online wallet with money, pay some money every time you do it. Our banks have made huge strides in making transactions more liquid, but there is still room for improvement. With relatively new technology on the horizon which provides many of the answers we’re looking for; let’s take a look at blockchain

Blockchain, how it works

Simply put, blockchain is a chain of blocks that contain and communicate information. Although its implementation is relatively new, its roots can be traced back to 1991; when it was primarily used as digital timestamps. In 2009, the foundation for use of blockchain as it is today was laid, as it contributed to the creation of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It should be noted that once some data has been recorded in a blockchain, it is nearly impossible to alter. A very simple example of the information in a block would be the basics of a transaction: sender, receiver and amount. Any changes in the block can be traced by changes in its hash; a hash being a sort of digital fingerprint. What this means is a blockchain cannot be created or edited without informing everyone on its related p2p network. This essentially makes blockchain one of the most secure modes of technology.

A more secure future for your bucks?

When you think about it, the money you have remotely; like in bank accounts and mobile wallets, works because it connects to you. Without your identity attached to it, the money belongs to no one. And in that way, your money is under threat via your identity. Blockchain technology ensures your money, your identity and your transaction details are secure. Intermediaries like banks or companies like bkash keep track of your transactions and your money.

Blockchain moves to cut out the middleman and keep your money assigned to you.

In many ways, blockchain currencies are the better option for ownership of money. And with blockchain phones and other technologies on the rise, it may be time to take a look. 

Read more: World’s first Blockchain phone is here. And you can buy it in Bangladesh

This article was intended to remind the readers of the risks and inconveniences of traditional bookkeeping and transaction procedures. In addition, we took a simplified look at blockchain as a possible solution. Stay tuned for more as we explore more on cryptocurrency, blockchain and try to decode the technology behind them in an upcoming series.

The Oxford Student Union has a Bangladeshi president. Meet Anisha Faruk

First of all, I feel weird about this; rejoicing in the success of a person we share little more than ethnicity with. It feels like we’re claiming some credit where none is due. It’s all her, people. She did it because she’s good. Her success is hers.

Anisha Faruk aka Padma; a lady of Bangladeshi origin, has been elected the president of the student union of Oxford University. Her father is Bangladesh Army major Faruk Ahmed(retired).

Padma is completing her undergraduate program as a historian.

She previously occupied the co-chair position of the Oxford University Labour Club. And she was the editor-in-chief of The Oxford Student, the largest student journal of the University. So she’s no stranger to great responsibility and respect.

Ms Anisha beat tough competition from independent candidate Ivy Manning and Ellie Milne-Brown; who represented the reputed Aspire panel. This was a historic election with a 20.3 per cent participation rate. Ms Anisha promoted diversity as the primary strong point of her panel.

With this, the trend of the continued success of our compatriot overseas continues. We can only hope to match and exceed the success our peers are enjoying. And we hope to leave a blazing trail of achievements by Bangladeshis across the world.

5 relatively underrated musicians you should try

Music is a soothing aspect of almost everyone’s life. It can be anything one needs at any point in time. A safe haven, a serene escape or a blazing motivator; these are just a few of the things music can be to a person. Discovering music new to one is often one of the greater joys a person can feel at a particular moment. Due to the busy life most of us lead, the magic of discovering music is lost to many. To help you find new music that can speak to your soul, here’s a few recent musicians/bands that might have flown under your radar. 

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Eida

Suggested Tracks: Nightdriver, What it means

Eida can no longer be considered underrated. They are a local band, consisting of a few university students with a great collective (and individual) sense of humour; evident by the name. Their music, in simple terms, is akin to modern dream-pop and retro wave with influences from 1975, Gorillaz and even The Strokes.

But from a more curious perspective, Eida’s music is much more. This group of talented musicians are not afraid to experiment and wouldn’t limit themselves to any specific genre. Their tracks invoke a very melancholic mood, and it is well worth giving them a try.

Chitropot

Suggested Tracks: Shondha Hole

Another local group. I found these guys off a random YouTube autoplay. Their music closely resembles fusion, in that they use a curious combination of instruments. But again, you shouldn’t fit things in a box. Very simplistic tone, vocal performance and the sheer emotion make them worth checking out.

Mitski

Suggested: Be the Cowboy (Yes, the entire album)

An American singer-songwriter, Mitski emphasizes creativity and experimentation in her work. Be The Cowboy is her 5th and latest album; she self-released the first two. This album received critical acclaim upon release and sets itself apart from contemporary pop music and music in general. The artist has designed the album with very short tracks, but each track invokes emotion and tries to get a point across. I suggest taking some time with this album, it is truly spectacular.

Oblique

Suggested track: Krishnopokkho, Bhondo

Not much introduction is needed for local Rock band Oblique, after the success of Aloron last year. They have been around since 2007 and are known for their use of unconventional, thought inducing and emotional lyrics. Rumour is that they are about to release a new single. So go ahead and check out their work.

Courtney Barnett

Suggested Track: Need a little time, Sunday Roast

The Australian singer-songwriter has a very loyal following. Her lyrics are embedded with witty humour and delivered with a dry, deadpan singing style. The combination is usually hilarious, emotional and curious at the same time. The best way to describe the emotion her music invokes would be; it encourages you to get to know the singer better. It enforces the need to delve deeper into her work, and that is possibly the best thing any music can do for its creator. Try out her recent album “Tell me how you really feel”, and please do.

Most of the time the reason for detachment to enjoying music is a rut.

All you might need is a little help with getting out of the said rut and finding the joy in music again. So take these musicians as a start to discovering music and musicians again, and let us know about the less known musicians you enjoy.

Oppo A9 2020: Beast of a phone with 8GB RAM and 5000 mAh battery

Earlier this year, OPPO introduced OPPO A7 with a decent 4320mAh battery and Oppo A9; both of which gained immense popularity within a short period of time.

Considering the affection from the users, the manufacturer has decided to launch the OPPO A9 ‘2020’ in Bangladesh. It comes with substantial upgrades in processing capability, camera performance; and increased power capability by adding a monstrous 5000mAh battery. In addition, the New ‘2020’ version incorporates 8GB RAM to ensure smooth multitasking experience for heavy-duty usage.

The RAM, why it makes a difference

Regarding the 8GB RAM, Mr Damon Yang, Managing Director of OPPO Bangladesh says, “OPPO has always prioritize on user experience with OPPO devices. This is an era of creative minds. With a gigantic 8GB RAM, gaming and content creation will be smoother; while ensuring a better outcome in terms of multi-tasking.”

Operating system tends to force close some of the background apps in smartphones that have smaller RAM. Multi-tasking, high-intensity gaming, photo and video processing becomes challenging for smartphones that come with smaller RAM. With an 8GB RAM, photo processing will be faster than ever before. Video rendering will be faster for creative users who use a smartphone as a tool for content creation. But most importantly, higher RAM ensures smoother performance for games that come with high definition graphics.

The powerhouse battery

Oppo A9 "2020" with 8GB RAM and 5000 mAh battery 2

The Oppo A9 2020 comes with a powerful battery that can back the need of demanding smartphone gaming. Games like PUBG drain batteries very fast. However, with VOOC flash charging and a 5000mAh battery, the concern for battery backup is minimal. A single charge may last for more than 2 days for a moderate user. For heavy users, it will survive a full day.

For outdoor content creator and travellers, power back-up really becomes an issue; since they are bound to be detached from any power source during their work time. So, the new OPPO A9 2020 would relieve frequent travellers from the predicament of running out of power.

The Oppo A9 ‘2020’ will hit the market by mid-September 2019. It will be available in official OPPO stores and other channels as well.

Kajkey.com: Making money from your laptop

The issues are common: an event is coming up and there are so many details to manage or you just started a business with a great idea but need certain specialized skills to handle small technical tasks. Small business owners need one-off web-based content for a marketing campaign. Many entrepreneurs, organizers and companies do not have extensive teams of designers and developers.  Hiring freelancers can be the cheapest, quickest and high-quality solution to get the job done.

But how? Acquiring a suitable freelancer, usually on a time constraint becomes daunting. Even if you do find someone, their work ethic, efficiency and eventual product might not be up to par. 

The perspective from the other side of the table– freelancers may be very good at their job, highly skilled but can still find difficulty finding work. Most freelancers are not already established or reputed. Occasional “Hiring” posts on social media, and messages to acquaintances are not one’s best bet at finding work. Experience and skills do not equate to fulfilling tasks and realistic wages and commissions.

The core dilemma lies in this disconnect between employer and employee; the lack of a proper marketplace. 

The Kajkey marketplace

Sabbir Ahmed and Ahsan Ahmed, came together to develop KajKey.com, an online local freelance marketplace. KajKey is positioning itself as the one-stop solution for both freelancers and employers.

Graphic designers, webpage and app developers, digital marketers and freelancers of other expertise can sign up for free and build their profiles. Employers can post their projects and receive immediate responses from interested freelancers. It is as of now the most efficient way to link up between employer and freelancer in Bangladesh. One the link is established, freelancers are able to make additional income and refine their skills.

Currently, active freelancers are earning anywhere between 30,000 BDT and BDT 100,000 per month from working via Kajkey.com

Tested concept, made for Bangladesh

KajKey eliminates the noise between employers and employees, building a smooth and efficient bridge from project conception to realization. A significant leverage of the platform is in that it is entirely in Bangla. This was intended to remove the language barrier a lot of people face.

The Bangla targeted approach provides a necessary foundation to properly discuss needs and expectations. It also helps to operate on a localized context and conduct transactions with local payment solutions.  Therefore, the platform has gained traction, with more than 50,000 users registered on the platform and availing opportunities on a regular basis.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

KajKey also offers a very simplified and efficient method of job finding and posting. Freelancers need to build their accounts and update it with details of their experience and portfolios of previous projects. Employers need only to post their projects with the title, budget, goals and related details. Freelancers will then bid on the project.  The process leads to a direct discussion between employee and employer regarding a project, providing for a satisfactory solution for both parties. 

More income generating features for freelancers

Kajkey.com also just launched their new platform KajKey V2 where freelancers can offer their services as a gig with their own price. Instead of solely applying for employers requests, freelancers can post a gig with a description of offered services, show examples of previous work, evidence of projects completed (total sales number) and of course, the cost of services. If interested users see something they require, they can order services on the gig pages instead of making a post requesting the service. 

Bright prospects

KajKey is swiftly becoming the go-to marketplace for freelancers and event managers. It has been endorsed by many prominent entrepreneurs and investors including– Hussain M Elius from Pathao, Kishwar Hashemee, CEO of Kludio, Ravid Chowdhury from Trucklagbe and RC Ventures, Rayid Isaam Faruq from B2M Games– among other prominent figures have endorsed and welcomed the platform. 

KajKey has eliminated a lot of the problems involved with employing freelancers and folks are recognizing the potential in the venture. It has provided employment opportunities to interested and able individuals and also contributes to decentralizing employment opportunities to remote places outside Dhaka. It is a project with massive potential that if realized, could permanently change how employment in these situations works.

If you find yourself organizing an event or web development project, try out KajKey and your job might just be made easier. Let us know about the experience!

How to build your own mid-range gaming PC

Although laptops and smartphones have taken the forefront in basic computer functions; and consoles are more lucrative than ever to sate gaming needs; something about owning a personal computer offers a satisfaction like no other. And it has many effective aspects as well. For example, laptops often become a trade-off between performance and display/battery life/peripheral aspects. And smartphones are just too smart for dumb people. 

While buying a new pc, it helps if you know about the parts you are paying for as opposed to just paying for something. It provides a distinct personal satisfaction. So for those of us hoping to purchase a personal desktop computer, here’s a brief overview of what to look for. 

Setting priorities and a budget

It is very important to know exactly what you want when buying a PC. The multitude of choices among parts is easy to confuse anyone. While it was true a year ago that consoles are the most efficient medium for gaming; partly due to the absurd price hikes of PC parts like GPU and RAM and even CPUs later; prices have mostly settled now and it is a good time to get a PC for any kind of use. 

It probably goes without saying that if you intend to play games on your PC, you are absolutely going to need an external GPU.

For low-mid end gaming, a budget of 50-60 thousand BDT should do.

Around 70-100 thousand for the mid-high end and at least 150 thousand for ultra-high-end gaming is required. 

Building the core of the system

This is where the magic happens; the PC needs to have good hardware that compliments each other and don’t cause a bottleneck. It’s important to mention that before building a system you need to figure out what kind of monitor you’re going to use. You’ll need to base your most expensive purchase(the GPU) on that. For example, 1080p on 60fps is enough for me. So I use an ASUS VX-229HJ monitor. 

The Motherboard

It’s easy to cheap out on a motherboard without realizing just how much it contributes to your system. Don’t go for cheap nameless brands here. A decent mainboard can keep your system stable for at least half a decade. It is also important to figure out what kind of processor you’re going to use (buy AMD). But most good motherboards have both an AMD and Intel version. Be cautious not to overspend on unnecessary aspects of the motherboard either. Because on a medium budget, you’re probably not going to need 4 GPU slots or 8 Ram slots. Pick a motherboard with a recent BIOS version and sockets that compliment the most recent generation of CPUs. Since I’m more particular towards the AMD build, personal pick here is the MSI B450 Tomahawk. 

Memory and Storage 

16 gigabytes of RAM is soon to be (already is) the industry standard for RAM. Again, don’t cheap out with Twinmos or Adata products; get gaming RAM with high (>3000) bus speed. You won’t regret it. It’s a good idea to dual-channel your RAM instead of buying a single stick, except if you plan on upgrading later. I am not into the RGB lighting thing, but get it if you have an extra 500 to spare. The personal pick is Corsair Vengeance LPX-DDR4 3200 MHz bus width RAM. 

For storage, please get an SSD if you haven’t used one before. If you have, you really don’t need to know why. If you haven’t, well, how does less than 20 seconds of boot time and virtually no loading time for games sound? Please, at least for your system drive, get an SSD. The Personal pick is Samsung 960 EVO, with storage capacity according to your needs. For HDD, get the Seagate Barracuda 2TB or 4TB, whichever suits you. 

The Processor

Although Intel has occupied the undisputed peak of CPU producers for as long as can be remembered; this is no longer the case. AMD with their Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 lines have usurped Intel’s throne in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. So much so that Intel has basically admitted that they may need the next two generations just to catch up. A high core count and individual thread performance make AMD Ryzen the undisputed best choice for both gaming and multithreading tasks like rendering and ripping. Again, figure out what you need and don’t overspend. Because if gaming is the primary focus, an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is more than enough to handle anything that comes out for at least two more years. 

The GPU

Arguably the most important and expensive purchase. Nvidia still rules the market of GPUs. And AMD hasn’t really matched them in performance; as much as they’ve competed in price.  While the allure of ray tracing in Nvidia’s newest RTX cards might get to you; it is relevant to mention not many games even support ray tracing yet. And the ones that do aren’t that good anyway, at least for me. So I wouldn’t recommend breaking the bank to get an RTX card; especially since the word on the internet is they aren’t all that stable. 

The resolution of your monitor is going to come into play here. For 1080p gaming on a tight budget, the AMD RX570/RX580 is the way to go, with 4GB and 8GB VRAM versions available. Get higher VRAM if budget allows so. For 1440p and higher, you’re gonna have to go RTX. The 2060 and its super variants are good for 1440p, while 2070 is best for budget-performance at 4k and for VR. Either way, the best card on the market is the 2080, if there was any doubt. Price checks out too. Get RGB on that as well, rub that money on our faces if you will. The Personal pick is the GeForce 1660ti, since it has the turing architecture of the RTX cards without the ray tracing itself; as well as GDDR6 memory. This is the card to go for if you have a slightly higher budget than one for the RX 570. The difference in gaming performance is noticeable, check out some benchmarks online, there’s 8-10 fps difference on each of them. 

It is also extremely important to get a good power supply unit for your GPU. Check out Tomshardware and get any of the Tier 1 or 2 PSUs. Unfortunately, a lot of the good ones aren’t available in Bangladesh; and I got my EVGA SuperNOVA Gold plus from abroad. Only thing I can tell you is to take no chances with this part because it affects the performance of your system in general. 

Casing and peripherals

I am a minimalist when it comes to stuff that doesn’t directly influence performance. Even so, it is important to get a case with good airflow and dust protection; to preserve device health. It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if your dream system ends up getting trashed due to dusting. Disclaimer, stock fans get wrecked by dust. Consider getting an external cooling system if budget allows. But again, don’t go overboard. Most systems don’t need liquid cooling. Surprisingly, most systems also don’t need RGB lighting. Personal pick on the case is Corsair Carbide Spec-05 and an Antec A400 cooling fan. 

A gaming keyboard and mouse aren’t strictly necessary for performance. But peripherals are parts that enhance your experience. You’ll have more fun with a decent mechanical keyboard and a good mouse. However, cheap mechanical keyboards are never a good idea. So go for a Cherry MX blue-switch keyboard. Fair disclaimer, good mechanical keyboards go for 8 thousand BDT at least. Since these aren’t immediately necessary, save up and ease into these purchases.  It is ok to use standard equipment until you can afford better.

Good peripherals will only make the experience better. Not having them won’t take anything away.

Lastly, you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of your new system. So it might be a good idea to get a good chair. You do not need an uber-expensive “gaming” chair. Just something with a decent backrest will do; as chairs without backrest can severely affect the health of your spine. 

Having a desktop provides a source of fulfilment that other systems just can’t match, at least for me. And it’s a given that you won’t ever be satisfied with a laptop or any pre-built computing system once you’ve had an extended taste of a self-built desktop. So go and decide what you want and build your system yourself. I hope this guide will be helpful in your purchasing decisions.