Apps that mean business

Travelling for work? Download these apps to keep you on track

Are you the incessant air-mile collector like George Clooney in the 2009 Hollywood film Up In The Air? The kind of business traveller who’s more at home at airports across the world rather than back at home? If yes, these apps might help you reduce your stress and get some more work done on the go.


Want to chat and video chat on the go with your team? Head to HipChat, a group chat platform for teams. Other than allowing voice and video chats in groups, it also lets you screen-share, share files through a simple drag-and-drop interface and share code and ideas with your teams. You can have a one-to-one with a co-worker from the team at any point. If there’s a meeting on HipChat that you weren’t able to attend, you can see the chat history and continue conversations right where you left them. All communication through HipChat is encrypted so it’s safe for meetings. The best part? It runs on almost every platform.; free on iTunes, Google Play, Linux, Windows, Mac and the Web. In-app (or additional) purchase of the video-calling service costs $2 (or around Rs.120) a month


Mynd is a smart calendar which manages your time efficiently. Updated in July, the app syncs your existing calendars and then uses its adaptive machine learning to help you like a virtual assistant, getting smarter with every choice you make. The aim is to save you time, manage your goals, prepare you for meetings and get you from point A to B. You can dial-in to conference calls with one click; the calendar also coordinates a group’s meeting by proposing multiple meeting times. Every morning it will warn you of how long it will take you to reach work. It also syncs with your LinkedIn account and automatically discovers and displays information about the people you’re going to meet.; free on iPhone


Want someone to make an itinerary for you? Head to WorldMate. All you have to do is forward your flight and hotel confirmation emails to and the app converts it into an itinerary. Once your itinerary is made, the app will send flight alerts and if it perceives you’re going to miss it, WorldMate sends details of alternative flights to the same destination. You can share the itinerary, add more to the schedule and get a map view of your travels. Updated in July, the app also recommends hotels based on your past trips and personal preferences. The best feature is its LinkedIn integration, which alerts you if any of your colleagues are nearby for an impromptu meeting or dinner.; free on Google Play, iTunes and Windows Phone


Meant for managers who don’t want to keep decisions pending while they’re travelling, DocuSign lets you sign documents electronically and send them in just minutes to your team. Built on digital transaction management technology, which is a category of secure cloud-based software to digitally manage business transactions, DocuSign electronic signatures are valid and legally binding across the world…


First published in For complete article, click below

Articles written in March

An app for a hobby

Write more, sing a better song, take a spectacular photograph or sketch something quickly. Take your hobby to the next level with these aids


VSCO Cam 3.0


Started by a group of people who love taking pictures, VSCO Cam comes with delightful features and its tools give you manual control over the picture. “I love their presets and find the feature of turning on the flashlight and taking a picture, instead of one-blink flash, really, really useful,” says Naina Redhu, a visual storyteller and photographer based in New Delhi.

The tools provide precision, including fine-tuning, exposure, temperature, contrast, fade and vignette. Once you have tinkered with the image, the app shows you the original and the final.

For quickies, it also has preset packs. Once done, you can share it easily on multiple social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In February, the VSCO Cam app released a new version, fully integrating itself to the VSCO Grid, a free photo publishing platform that has become the ‘it’ place for photographers.

VSCO Cam 3.0, free on Google play and iTunes; in-app purchases, or additional features, Rs.55 onwards.


645 Pro Mk II


Released in June, 645 Pro’s new version is a perfect app to convert your iPhone into a manual camera. The features include real-time ISO, shutter-speed readings, focus, exposure control, real-time GPS data and a choice of histograms. The interface can be customized and you can configure the Shutter Release button to behave the way you want it to. This new version allows you to give an old-style, film-look output and save completely unprocessed image data at the highest quality possible. “With 645 I can shoot TIFF or RAW files from my iPhone which are raw and have higher resolution than a JPEG,” says Aneesh Bhasin, a photographer based in Mumbai. “I have managed to shoot a major professional assignment (for a book) with just my iPhone and this app.”

The app also comes with wow features like Film Modes, inspired by classic film stock from the 1960s, which can be edited, personalized and saved unprocessed to process later on your desktop.

645 Pro Mk II, Rs.220 on iTunes.

Read the complete article here.



Snooze away

World Sleep Day went by on Friday and if you still haven’t figured out the best way to nod your way to dreamland, here are some apps and gadgets that can help


Facebook and Twitter got you addicted to notifications; smartphones have been termed sleep killers; and then there is the addiction to late-night TV. According to a 2012 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, light from the smartphone’s LED screen is responsible for convincing your brain that it’s daytime, turning you into a sleepless zombie. The same gadget, however, can sing you a lullaby, be a sleep doctor, even remind you when you need to nod off. We have compiled a list of apps and gadgets that can help you catch some Zzzs.

Sleep Genius

Having trouble sleeping? Sleep Genius uses neurosensory algorithms that were first used to zonk out astronauts in space who couldn’t sleep because they were weightless and couldn’t lie down. The app produces vibrations that simulate a rocking motion like a cradle for your brain. The “noise” it creates has a calming effect and slows heart rate and breathing, creating a lull perfect for deep sleep. It also makes sure that your alarm wakes you up with gentle soothing sounds rather than a sudden blast of noise. Plus, if you want to sneak in a nap, it lets you take an average 30-minute one (you can also set your own time).

Sleep Genius, free on iTunes


Developed by scientists who have 20 years’ experience in dealing with insomniacs, this app analyses why you can’t sleep. While you sleep, it uses data from a heart-rate monitor, along with your iPhone’s microphone, to monitor the quality of your sleep and analyse what may be disturbing you at night (barking dogs, snoring partners, it reveals all). During the day, it shoots questionnaires at you, including asking for information about your lifestyle, napping and stress habits. Finally, after five nights, using algorithms developed at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, US, the app sifts through the data and sends a personalized report on how to improve dozing time.

Read the complete article here.


Songs of travels

Found a perfect picture to go along with this poem I first scribbled on my Facebook wall somewhere.


My hair’s not right

My skin breaks out

I am tanned, darkened, spotted and sore

My muscles ache, my lips are torn

My back hurts and my stomach growls

But my shoes are dirty

And they can sing you new songs.




May you, me and everyone

#travel always.


(The chappals belong to me and a wandering pal of mine.)

Great gadgets for the traveller

Whether it’s a computer-in-a-wristband, a fleece jacket with 23 pockets or a sound system that uses solar panels, these gadgets can add that extra zing




This nifty device can work wonders for travellers who have to go without Internet’s cloud services and miss the computer back home. StormFly is a handy computer-in-a-wristband which comes with storage space and a bootable open-source OS based on Linux. All you need to do is find a system (most PCs and Macs should work) and plug in StormFly in its USB port. The device will show all your application programs and files. When you are finished using it, simply plug it off and shut down the computer. There will be no file leftovers in the computer you used. Since it’s encrypted, the stored data can’t be accessed by anyone else if you lose the bracelet—a beautiful orange-colour wristband. StormFly also offers cloud back-up of your wrist-computer. The product was successfully funded by crowdsourcing website Kickstarter recently and will start shipping in April.

$59* (around Rs.3,200) at

CamelBak All Clear


This 750ml water bottle not only stores drinking water but also zaps all bacteria using UV technology, powered with a USB cable connected to your laptop. An extra pre-filter ($15) will make sure that all the flotsam and sediments are caught and trapped and you get clean, healthy drinking water on the go. The smart bottle will tell you when the water is ready to drink with an LCD display on the cap.

$99 at

Oakley Airwave

Track your descent analytics, incoming calls or text messages as you ski down a slope. The Oakley Airwave is a statistics-full ski-goggle with sensors, including an accelerometer, barometer, GPS, Bluetooth and gyro. As you slope it downwards, the goggle displays all kinds of statistics, including altitude and temperature, on the right-hand side corner of your vision, somewhat like the Terminator all those years back. If you don’t feel futuristic enough, get back online after your descent and see a detailed, second-by-second analysis of your course. The gadget visor comes with Oakley’s promise of moisture-wicking, anti-fog technology, triple-layer polar fleece foam for comfort and glasses that filter out the ultraviolet rays.

$599.95 at

Scottevest Fleece 7.0

The Fleece 7.0 is a warm, fashionable fleece jacket which comes with a whopping 23 different pockets for all kinds of electronic gadgets. There is the Quick Draw pocket, which allows you to access your smartphone on the go through a see-through fabric in the side pocket, so you don’t even need to take the phone out. Another trick addition is a hidden pocket for a tablet, a pocket for eyeglasses made of a soft cloth, and a zippered pocket for travel documents. Then there are pockets for a bottle, camera and pen. In case you forget what is where, there’s a map of every pocket. Aren’t you already wishing it was cold enough to wear this?

$160 at



Taking the rage of live action cameras a step further, the Contour+2 is a cylindrical-shaped camera that lets you record up to 120FPS videos in four different modes, including 1080p HD. It comes with a handy on-record switch, a 270-degree rotating lens, a laser beam to show you the direction of the camera, a waterproof case and a huge variety of mounts. If that’s not enough, it ensures that you record all the statistics, whether you are rafting or in the sky, with a built-in Bluetooth and a GPS receiver which can track speed, elevation and distance. Connect it to a smartphone to adjust camera settings and to preview your shot. Since the audio jack is external, expect good voice quality too.

$399.99 at

BioLite CampStove

There’s nothing like hot soup on a camping night out. Replace the tiresome work of making your own campfire with a swanky orange-coloured BioLite CampStove. The stove comes with low fire output in less than a kilogram of weight and uses the twigs you collect, instead of gas or petroleum, to cook. While the food’s cooking, the stove can also recharge your phone, light and other USB-chargeable devices.

$129.95 at


Eton Rugged Rukus

Rukus is a Bluetooth sound system meant to be taken outdoors with you. It uses solar panels to power the speakers, and to charge a lithium battery so you can use it indoors too…

Read the complete article at Livemint.

My toothbrush travels




My toothbrush,

It travels


When no one has their eyes open

Or are listlessly staring

At the slow moving

Ceiling fan.


When all are lost

In their own private

Heavens or sometimes hells.


That is when my toothbrush

Slings its bag

On its bristly shoulder

And sneaks away


Into the dark lanes

Of unknown names.


It never speaks of it

Where it went

Or what it did.

It never lies too,

It just smells.


Of beds slept in by strangers

And roses dipped in honey

Sweat dripping from armpits

Or a nose that is runny.


That is how I know.

That it sometimes goes

For when we touch

And make love

When its bristles tickle my teeth

Sometimes I smell

The dampness of the beach.



© 2011, Shweta Taneja

Pic credit: @Maf1967

Notes from Road Trip 2011

Just a short photoblog on a trip which cannot be explained in words which limit one’s sense of experiences. Me and husband travelled across the hinterland of Maharashtra and N.Karnataka during the 26 January week this year and here’s what we learnt and unlearnt

We reached Pune from Bangalore, a total of 850kms in 13 hours flat taking three short breaks. All thanks to NH4, part of the butter smooth quadrilateral road (Quad) which connects Bangalore to Mumbai. Though the scenery is a bit boring (shrubbery for most part), the wind mill farms in the middle near Chitradurga more than make up for it. I didn’t know that a single wing of a windmill is longer than an airplane’s wing! It made me wonder why we don’t use more of wind and solar energy in this vast country of ours.

Amidst work days, we spend the evenings gallivanting across Pune and exploring it’s great street food culture. The thriving energy that one sees in this city is something which I haven’t seen yet anywhere else. The weather’s like Bangalore, the crowd of chattering students bring in a pure brightness to the atmosphere which work-stricken IT crowd can never bring in with all their ‘hobbies’. What I liked best was the street food—Misal Pao, Dabeli and those sumptuous street sandwiches (which also include a chocolate sandwich!), cut fruits aesthetically given to you @ Rs 10 per plate. Street innovations are part and parcel of both Mumbai and Pune and something that make both these cities special. Really loved the Irani chai @ Café Goodluck. Must visit for the mood if nothing else.


We spend a day walking around Shanivar Wada which was miss able and the Kelkar museum–a surprise in its cleanliness and detailed descriptions which I havent seen in many museums in the country. What I also enjoyed is seeing 18-19th century household items in a museum. With so much history, museums in India usually don’t go beyond 17th century (less than 500 years old? Don’t even call it heritage). The most interesting was reading the history of paan making and all the tools (yes, tools) to make them.

A must-visit is the lavish Agha Khan Palace, which is forgotten by even Pune-ites. It’s the last rest place of Mr Gandhi and the place where his wife and his closest aide took their last breath. It made me see how a great man is made by dedication and love of not-so-known loving friends.

Pune has the best hill views too. Take a short drive and you are suddenly beyond the city, though looks like it will change fast as there are huge amounts of real estate projects working their way skywards around the city. One must-visit is the Corianthan Club, a beer brewery and a damn fun place. Met the owner, who works with passion and dedication, a deadly combination.


There’s not much to do in Aurangabad in terms of places or food. It seems to be a bubble, living in the same space for the last 15 years (or more) years. Take a walk around Paithan Gate, Gul Mandi, Aurangpura and Nirala Bazaar if you feel like getting crowded and need a buzz. We were staying at a homestay where the family saw saas-bahu serials in the evening together. The city is more of a stopover for the next ones and definitely worth it.


they made you wonder. How could someone with relatively rudimentary tools, carved out such beautiful and breathtaking sculptures and monasteries out of solid rock? And then plaster them and paint them exquisitely? All done up around 2000 solid years ago. I mean, really? Was I dreaming? The hardwork, the patience and the focus required for it is something that the multitaskting, multi-clicking generation of us cannot even think about. The place was one of the most beautiful heritage sites I have ever seen. If you want actual information on Ajanta, don’t look here, check out Wikipedia. I will be silenced and just say this: if you havent seen it, you should. It’s something that just cannot be missed. Oh, and the weather is always dry and hot so keep the sunscreen, hat and water closeby.


We had seen Ajanta, so what could better it? Ellora was it. Ajanta which is an earlier period, astounds you by the extent of carving and excavating that people at that time did to create these retreats. Ellora on the other hand, from about 600ACE, astounds you by the sheer size and detailing in temples than can be carved out of a mountain. Kailasa, the largest cave in the group of 34 caves (It’s called Cave 16) astounded me by the sheer size first, then the planned temple area (they didn’t just put rock somewhere, but excavated to finish a temple) and finally by the sculptures created in relief all over the temple. Complete Ramayana, Mahabharata episodes, avatars of Vishnu. Most of all, Shiva in iconography which I hadn’t seen much – killing Mahashisura, Kalabhairava in his wasting away to a skeleton when he’s dancing to destroy, Shiva and Parvati playing dice, getting married. The iconography was more sensual, more in your face than the apologetic ones we see at present. I have already been inspired by what I saw and am doing a comic series on Shiva with a friend!

Cave 29 was again huge and is a must to see the sculptures which have been cut beautifully. In Cave 12, which is an earlier Buddhist temple and has three levels of building excavated into the hill side, we found a group of Buddhist monks from China performing puja in a hall with carved Buddhas. I wonder what made Buddhism end in this country. We even managed a video.


Monks perform puja in a centuries old temple


And while you are visiting Ellora, don’t miss Daulatabad Fort. The fort itself is a marvel, since it was the unconquerable fort and named Daulatabad after the hoard of treasure it had lying somewhere inside. I feel the fort was made by someone who was on the brink (or maybe beyond) of paranoia of an attack from an enemy. Three levels of walls, big iron gates, two walls with dry and water moats – dug about 50 feet below! And if you get past all of that, you get into the Bhool Bhulaiyan, a thin passage which leads inside the fort, made of lightless corridors, meant to confuse the enemy and kill one another. We entered the darkness of the bhool bhulaiyan with a guide (and his reassuring mashaal). I had my hat firmly on my head as I could hear the bats chirping right above me, irritated at the glow of light inside their lair. That’s all that I might have been in danger of. As for the enemies in Medieval times, if they managed to save yourself from seeming exits which go straight into the water moat (with poisonous snakes and hungry crocodiles) you will be attacked by hidden soldiers, get boiling oil poured over you, or even die in the darkness suffocated by poisonous smoke. Sheesh! These guys were ruthless!

A long winding climb of 450 stairs takes you to a scenic view of the whole fort outer walls which cover the small town around the fort.


Our next stop was Bijapur. The roads we took, NH 211, NH 13, were both bad. Averaged 70kmph, saved ourselves from the potholes and dreamt of NH4. Nothing much to see in the dry, dusty city. The weather was oppressing and already had started to miss Bangalore’s soothing winds and filter coffee. Gol Gumbaz, the largest dome in the world without any supports looked more like an ego construction for a man who was living. It took 30 years to complete and was made by the king himself to be buried in it. It reminded me of the saying: the bigger the tomb, the smaller the XX. Later on got to know that the dome was built by the money he got after he pillaged and destroyed the kingdom of Vijaywara and its amazing cultural heritage. Yup, that’s a king all right. Ibrahim Roza, the symmetrical tomb of another king from the same dynasty atleast looked inspired. It’s symmetry is quite a site.

Bad roads all the way till here. Max average was 60. Potholes in the last 20kms. Walked for three hours around Badami. After the marvels in Ellora, the four cave temples (which are the first Vedic cave temples, as per the ASI board) were a bit of a let down. The sandstone caves are a different effect though. The swirling hypnotic lines of ochre, red, yellow, while and black, which make you slightly blurry but also bring the sculptures alive. Loved the walk from the lake upwards to the Shiva temples. Beware of the monkeys there though, they pounce at anything in your hand, thinking of a camera as biscuits. It was 26th January so saw the tiranga displayed everywhere—at Bijapur Gol Gumbaz as well as the Badami fort bastion.


Last leg of our trip were these two sites around Badami. Aihole is an experiment in temple making where you can find anythnig from symmetry to asymmetrical temples, square, round, pentagon, you imagine it and chances are the architectures there have build it. It was fun to see how someone is given an empty canvas (empty space and lots of rocks in this case) to get creative and figure out the best way to make temples. Which someone did do with Paddatakal which is a world heritage site and beautifully maintained by ASI. Kudos to them, it was a pleasure walk all though. Don’t miss Ravanaphadi @ Aihole though. This excavated cave surprised us with the most beautiful sculpture of Shiva I have ever set my eyes on. It’s the mast of my blog, by the way.

From Badami it was with a sigh of relief that we came back to NH4’s butter smoothness. A beautiful trip and an uneventful travel back home. Sleep and lots of new memories as keeps. Oh and one record? The two of us travelled 2800 kms and didn’t put on music even ones in the car. Opinionated or argumentative, you decide.

Exploring Lepakshi

Recently visited a small temple town – Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh. It’s about 120kms from Bangalore further onwards from the Airport. A mammoth Nandi greets you as soon as the town begins. It’s one of the biggest monolithic Nandi in the world. Other than that, the most thing in this beautiful centuries old temple is the humongous Shivalinga and Sheshnaag which is carved out at one end of a monolith.
Also, I think the king making it was either short of cash or smart. Most of the natural monolithic formations in the area are used either as walls or footpath.
Must see if you are in Bangalore! It’s a beautiful day trip but take your picnic. No nice food places on the way (except for wine makers).

A Word’s Journey

An older poem from my other blog (which I will be deleting most probably!)

A Word’s Journey

She resides
On a quivering, moist lip.

From the broken, beating, dying heart
To the boiling cortex lobe
Through an ignited stimuli,
To the barking voice box.

She came with lightening-speed
Grabbing on-edge, electric nerves
An angry flash from the larynx
Tornado-speed to the brink
Of the quivering, moist lip.

She hung, desperately
Wanting to break free
Fly like a free raven;
Not become an Albatross.

But gripped she was
Against her will,
Plastered to the skin
By a remnant of good sense.

So she tumbled back
Into the empty sinewy depths,
Endless cycles and nothingness
An eternal past tense.

(c) Shweta Taneja, August 2009

Bylanes of Old Agra

Afternoon Siesta
Gutka gluttons
Nights of desire
Shave on streets
Allah for afternoon
Knitting in technicolor
Old-age tenants
Flowing juices
Hostel for pigeons
View from the top
Broken dreams
Colourful starts
In anticipation
Barati’s bane
Where’s the postman?