Google fi after one month

One month went seamlessly with Google fi. I did not find any difference compared to my previous Virgin Mobile service.

I am still getting used to the massive Nexus 6 phone. I am also unable to find a good car mount for nexus 6. Those that claim to support nexus 6 at had reviewers claiming otherwise. If you use your phone in the car mount a lot then think before getting into Google fi. You might be better off waiting for the next phone that works with Google fi which must be smaller.

The battery life is still amazing. I can get nearly two days out of one charge. Charging time is also much faster than my old Galaxy S3.

With Google fi charging data as you use I am finding myself thinking about the data charge every time I take out my phone where there is no wi-fi. Previously I never thought about that.

New month’s charge starts with crediting of the charge for the data you did not use. For example, if you had paid for 1GB in the first month and you used only 500 MB, then you get credit for $5. So your new monthly payment would be $25. ($20 base + $10 – $5).

Toyota Camry 2012 wiper inserts

For some reason, parts store at Toyota dealerships do not seem to carry Camry wiper inserts. They sell only the entire blades and each one costs $21. It is ridiculous to replace the entire blade when only the inserts worn out every few years. I looked online and found from a forum that Toyota does make parts available just for the inserts. Some sites and even at it was mentioned that it might not be known widely that these wiper insert parts fit Toyota Camry 2012. So I noted down the parts number and went back to the dealership. They took one look at the part number gave the same answer that only the blades are available and not the inserts.

The part numbers are 85214-06100 for passenger side and 85214-0T050 for the driver side. You can buy them at with the links below. I bought both of them for a total of $20 which is half the price of replacing the entire blades. They are working great and the difference with my old wiper inserts and these are night and day. Replacing them takes less than 10 minutes. Just search for some youtube videos for replacing the inserts.

Toyota Camry 2012 Driver side wiper insert
Toyota Camry 2012 Passenger side wiper insert

According to Amazon page these are supposed to fit 1995-2014 Avalon, 1983-2014 Camry and 2007-2014 Camry Hybrid. A new Camry model was released in 2011. Since I could use these inserts in Camry 2012, these inserts should fit 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. I am not sure about 2015 since there were some changes in the 2015 model.

Disclaimer: The above links contain my affiliate code. Non affiliate links are below. You may want to check it with a mechanic before doing it yourself.
Driver side
Passenger side

Google Fi after 2 days

I switched from Virgin Mobile to Google Fi. Here is my experience after 2 days of switching.

I signed up for Google Fi and ordered the Nexus 6 as soon as I received the invitation email. The phone came after 5 days of order. I opted to pay monthly for the phone. They charged just the sales tax for the phone and shipped it. Sales tax for the full price is charged even though you are paying monthly for the phone. Monthly fees for the cell phone service is not charged at this time. This starts after you activate the phone.

I chose $10 for the data. For a monthly service charge of $30 there is a tax of $3.90. Total charge per month including phone price comes to about $54. This is in MA. I am sure it will go down next month since I have not used more than 500MB per month on Virgin Mobile.

Signing up process
You need account number to transfer your number from one operator to another. You cannot get this through email. You need to call them to get it. Check the page for how to get this number. Your phone number is not your account number. I got my Virgin Mobile account number the next day after I signed up. You can enter this information online on your Google Fi account. You also would loose your google voice number unless you ported that number as your new number. This was not an issue for me as I rarely used my google voice number.

Once the phone arrived I charged it and then switched it on. The phone guided through the Android initial setup process and then Fi activation. The previous operator account numbers automatically showed up since I had entered them online. The phone setup process continues while the number transfer happens. My transfer happened within minutes. This was nice as I was doing the activation on the last day of the service month at Virgin Mobile. I did not have to pay for another month just to wait for the transfer. After the process was completed internet and sms worked fine immediately.

But both incoming and outgoing calls did not work. Outgoing calls after a few rings gave the message, “the number you dialed is incorrect”. Surprisingly google Fi project has live 24/7 customer service. You can use live chat or call. I went to the online chat for help. It started instantly with no wait time. The support representative made me try several settings like turning off wi-fi, toggle airplane mode, factory reset etc. Nothing worked. After about 2 hours they finally said they will escalate to higher levels. Next day morning an email from support came with a set of steps to try out which basically involved removing sim card clearing data for apps fi and messenger and restarting the phone. After that, calls went through fine and I could received phone calls. I had not tried any calls before trying their steps. I am not sure whether their steps fixed it or the calls had just started working. Virgin mobile also disabled my account after number transfer and I was officially on Google Fi.

I had no issues with call quality so far. Everything is working seamlessly and I did not find any difference compared to my previous service.

Nexus 6 phone
I moved to Nexus 6 from Galaxy S3. I was worried about the large size initially. I think I am already used to it now. The phone is very slippery and you definitely need a case to get a better grip. I miss some things which was on S3 but not on Lollipop. Most things I commonly need are better in nexus 6. There is no separate email app for Outlook exchange. You have to use the gmail app for both gmail and exchange mails. The notifications for each mail is separate, but you need to manually switch from one account to another in the same app. Two steps instead of one. In nexus 6 you get more access from lock screen even with phone locked. You get some more details on the kind of messages you received on the lock screen. You also can use camera even if the screen is locked. But you cannot add contacts as emergency contacts accessible from lock screen. This was useful in S3 to quickly call some frequently used numbers. In nexus 6, I also like the ability to adjust volume when phone is locked. I use it a few times during the day and it is convenient to not have to enter the pin just to put the phone in vibrate mode. The battery life is also longer. It nearly comes for 2 days with light use where as S3 came only for a day.

I have not tried using the phone as GPS yet which is where most of my data use for my previous phone came from. I need to find a good car mount first. This phone does not even fit in the cup holder of the car.

The box also came with a simple phone cover for your nexus 6, a power bank and nice in ear headphones.

FIDE World Chess Championship 2013

2013 World chess championship match between Anand and Carlsen is going to start on Nov 9, 2013. Here is some relevant info for the fans to follow the match.

  • The matches start on Nov 9, 2013.
  • There are 12 games with time control 120 mins 40 moves, 60 mins 20 moves, 15 mins for the rest of the game with 30 seconds increment from 61st move.
  • Each day the game starts at 3:00 PM IST which is 5:30 hours ahead of UTC. So UTC time is 9:30 AM. NewYork time is 4:30 AM.
  • After every two games there is a rest day. There is an additional rest day after game 11.
  • If the score is tie after 12 games, there are tiebreakers in the following format.
    • 4 games with 25 mins and 10 seconds increment are played first.
    • If there is still a tie 2 games with 5 mins and 3 seconds increment are played. The 2 game pairs are repeated 5 times or until there is a winner.
    • If there is still a tie one sudden death game with white having 5 mins and black having 4 mins is played. In case of draw black wins.
  • Anand gets black in the first game. In the 7th game Anand will get white.
  • You can watch the games live from

I am a fan of Anand and would love to see him win another championship. Many chess experts have commented that the rating difference is overrated. But the difference is too big to not be noticed.

Now here are the results.

Date Carlsen Anand
Game 1: 09 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 2: 10 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 3: 12 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 4: 13 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 5: 15 Nov 2013 1 0
Game 6: 16 Nov 2013 1 0
Game 7: 18 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 8: 19 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 9: 21 Nov 2013 1 0
Game 10: 22 Nov 2013 1/2 1/2
Game 11: 24 Nov 2013
Game 12: 26 Nov 2013

Carlsen won the match 6.5-3.5.

Installing Ubuntu on HP Envy

I recently got a  HP Envy laptop and installed Ubuntu on it as dual boot along with Windows 8. It was harder to install Ubuntu on this laptop than my previous lenovo G780. This HP laptop did not have a CD drive. So the first step was to prepare an USB drive for installing Ubuntu. That was easy to do. I also created recovery media before trying Ubuntu. This laptop needed about 24GB space in an external drive. Since there was no CD drive, I had to get another 32GB USB flash drive just for recovery media.

I disabled secure boot and changed boot order to boot from USB first in BIOS. With the Ubuntu USB then I chose to try Ubuntu before installing, the screen was stalled at purple screen with dots. After some googling and trying several steps, I found the following steps which worked. I had to edit the boot commands and add “nomodeset” which leaves you in a terminal. After that I had to copy /etc/X11/xorg.conf.failsafe to xorg.conf in the same directory and change vesa to fbdev in that file. After that, running startx brought the graphical desktop. Wi-fi worked some times with the trial run. I decided to go ahead with the install, hoping wi-fi can be fixed later.

Then I started the install process. It stalled on purple screen. Once again I had to use “nomodeset” next to “splash” to continue install. This worked fine and I could go through the install process. Ubuntu did all the things including partitioning the hard drive and finally said, the install is done and it needs to restart. After restart the computer went straight into Windows. There was no grub menu to choose Windows or Ubuntu.

Now began several days of googling to fix this. There were lots of forum posts about the same problem. But most of the existing solutions offered did not work for me.

Some had suggested Easybcd to run from windows and check boot options. Easybcd showed Ubuntu as a valid entry in the boot menu. Forum suggestions like adding another menu entry for Ubuntu from Easybcd added a boot menu, but choosing the option through error about corrupted Windows. I could still boot using live USB and check my hard drive. Another suggestion was to try updating grub from live USB. That suggestion also did not help. Finally I posted on ubuntuforums. I got almost instant help and it was spot-on. The suggestion was to pick Ubuntu from UEFI boot menu. I never knew there was such a boot menu. Found this YouTube video and got to the boot menu which listed Ubuntu as an option. Choosing that produced the grub menu finally.

Now I had to make grub appear when I start the laptop and fix Ubuntu stall on purple screen because of video drivers. The UEFI boot menu options in BIOS menu did not show Ubuntu as an option. I did not find a way to make Ubuntu as default to boot. After booting into Ubuntu as a final try I ran boot-repair again as suggested in this askubuntu answer. This finally made grub appear first when I start. Next I booted into Ubuntu recovery option and edited grub config to make nomodeset permanent option when booting. After that I could boot using regular Ubuntu option in grub. Wi-Fi also started working once I pressed F12 key repeatedly which enables/disables wi-fi. Now the laptop is all set and Ubuntu is working perfectly fine.

A really useful command I learned during this process was to connect to wi-fi from command line because the wi-fi menu was disabled in Ubuntu with a message “Wi-Fi disabled by hardware switch”. Running the following commands made wi-fi work.

sudo iwconfig wlan0 essid <Your network name> key <wi-fi password>

sudo dhclient wlan0

Only with these commands I could install and try boot-repair.


Virgin Mobile and changing plans

I recently upgraded my Virgin Mobile from PayLo option to a data plan. I had many questions on how and when to activate a new phone. The answers I got online or customer support were not correct. So here are some facts on what happened when I upgraded.

I upgraded when there was about a week left in the current billing cycle. Online FAQ and customer support told me if I upgrade before the billing cycle, they will charge me that instant and new billing cycle starts from that day. It turned out this was wrong. When I upgraded there was no charge on the day I upgraded. But I got my data plan working and the new phone was active. They charge when the regular billing cycle ends, but at the new charge. The minutes for the new plan starts counting down on the day you activate. So I have one month’s minutes for month plus a week. Minutes also do not roll over in Beyond Talk plans. There was mixed information about this online.

Doing Coursera “Introduction to Data Science” assignment on windows

I am trying out Coursera course “Introduction to Data Science”. I am trying to do the assignments on windows. I could do complete assignment 1 on windows after some setup. Here are some points for anyone else trying to do it in windows. This is twitter sentiment analysis problem. If you use their virtual machine with VMware you do not need anything from here. This is for those who want to run python directly in windows. I am using windows 8. There should not be any difference for other windows platforms.

First install python 2.7.5 using the windows installer. You can get this from After installing, add python to your path. This does not seem to be done by the installer.

Forget about problem 0. You cannot do this. Problem 0 uses twitter API version 1. Twitter does not support this any more. So go directly to problem 1. Download the OAuth 2 library mentioned in problem 1. Extract its contents to any directory. Next you need to install setuptools for python. The easiest way to do this is to download the python script and just run it with python. Next from the directory where you extracted OAuth 2 files, run “python install”. This will install OAuth 2 module for python.

For git support, I had already setup git with instructions from bitbucket. I followed the instructions at for setting up git in windows. With that all I had to do was open “Git Bash” and run “git clone” to get all course assignments. It is also possible to download a zip archive of all the course materials and use it. But an advantage in using git is, some unix commands used in the instructions will just work. For example “head” command is installed with Git. If not you need to install some unix tools for windows to get “head” command. You need this to get the first 20 lines easily. Again an alternative is to just open the output.txt file in a good editor and copy the first 20 lines.

For problem 1, the rest of the instructions in the course page should just work.

Galaxy S III in Virgin Mobile USA

Finally the long awaited Galaxy S III has landed in Virgin Mobile USA. There were several announcements last month, that it will be available from June. I was checking up Virgin Mobile website everyday since June started. First the Galaxy S II went out of stock which was a good sign. Now today suddenly Galaxy S III has appeared.Samsung has this phone available in 6 different colors. Sprint seems to have only 3 colors. Virgin Mobile has only white colored phone now. I hope they get black or blue soon.

Installing Ubuntu on Lenovo G780

I recently installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my Ubuntu G780 laptop which came with Windows 8. It was relatively painless. I downloaded the ISO image and created the CD. Most online articles recommended disabling secure boot from your BIOS. This was easy to do from the BIOS menu. I also had to change BIOS setting to start from CD drive first. This setting does not seem to be saved. It reverted back to its old value once you boot into Windows. Every time I had to try booting from CD I had to change this setting.

After booting from CD the initial menu was garbled. No text was visible. Since I knew the first option was try Ubuntu without installing I just hit enter. Ubuntu booted fine and everything worked. I could use Wi-Fi without problem. So next time I booted the CD, I pressed down arrow once and pressed enter. This is the install option. After that the screen worked fine. Installation was a breeze. Ubuntu worked great. But Windows was gone. I could not boot into Windows.

The error was something about invalid EFI. Googling it pointed to some boot repair commands to run from Ubuntu. Just running those commands added some boot menu options. There are about 10 choices now. I have to choose “Windows UEFI Recovery” to boot into windows. As long as dual boot works I do not mind the name. I am sure with grub I can rename them. But it works and I want to leave it alone for now.