Jan 6, 2021

Visited States (US) Map

Figured I would update the list of states visited in the US

Feb 23, 2015

Best Money Transfer Service?

I have lived abroad for many years now, having moved from India to US about 15 years ago. I have had the opportunity and necessity to send and receive money from the US, Germany and India*. On most occasions, I felt ripped off by banks for large fees**. Only recently has the small consumer gotten some relief. A quick opinion based on the value of converted money alone, without looking at the time of transfer, effort etcTRANSFERWISE is the best value service currently!

Blue and Pink red lines indicate the INR lost with XOOM and Money2India based on current transfer fees/fixed rupee exchange rate etc. Green dots at the top form the baseline

The raw conversion numbers were:

USD AmountXOOM (INR)ICICI M2IndiaTransferWise

 All rates were downloaded from respective websites to do the comparison, on Feb 22, 2015.

Starting with State Bank of India's Online GLS system, ICICI's Money2india, TimesMoney's Remit2India, Western Union's Online FX and XOOM's simple to use interface (xoom.com). They have all varied in how much they take away from you, and after learning quickly I have switched out of many of these -

Remit2india was the worst culprit - so I used them only once years ago then stopped.

State Bank of India was quite good with competitive rates but they shut their service down. The system was hard to use with uber complicated password entry systems, One time passwords and other hoops to jump through.
Global Link Service: https://remit.onlinesbi.com/

ICICI's Money2India service was convenient because of the ease of remitting my own NRI account with ICICI. But overall it was a pain, although their rates are ok. http://www.icicibank.com/nri-banking/money_transfer/money2india.page

XOOM was convenient to send Raksha Bandhan gifts to my sister due to their simple to use interface! Their rates leave much to be desired though!

Finally, I think I see the best money transfer service in the horizon. I got a facebook sponsored post recently from TRANSFERWISE and while I normally do not click the ads, I thought their pitch was worth investigating. So I ran the numbers and here is a comparison chart of these three services below.


After adjusting the amounts, from USD 50 to USD 2500 at various slabs, it can be seen that XOOM was the worst service so they formed the baseline. The extra benefit you are able to send in INR to your recipient was plotted against the USD amount.
Two Notes:
* For XOOM, I assume that people are using the US Bank option (and not credit card or debit card or wire) and the fees of 2.99 are incorporated for amounts up to USD 1000. Hence the comparison for 1001 USD is what is presented on the map.
** the Google spreadsheet pertaining to this is available at: Docs
or full link below:

if you find any errors in how I back calculate from ICICI's Fixed Rupee transfer please let me know.

Update: After testing Transferwise for the first time against Xoom, I noticed that it does a lot more time for the money to transact with Transferwise. Xoom is veryyy fast in transferring the money, Transferwise on the other hand has one full week and still the money has not reached the recipient account! (it is the first transaction so I understand some set up and checks etc.)

So overall, I may not be as thrilled with Transferwise, if my goal is to send some money urgently to someone back home. I would probably use Xoom or Western Union for those. But, if  not in a rush, but just a routine payment, then Transferwise still gets my vote! Hope they are able to resolve the timeline issues as time goes on!

*: either for my own expenses or birthday gifts, disaster relief, or just moving my savings or for travel expenses.** wire fees or transaction charges and conversion charges on foreign exchange


XOOM: www. xoom.com

TransferWise: www.transferwise.com

Money2India: http://www.icicibank.com/nri-banking/money_transfer/money2india.page

Disclaimer: Some of the links to the various services are referral or affiliate links and I may end up getting some referral bonuses if conditions are met. However, the data presented on this page and the related spreadsheets are accurate at the time of publishing and show an objective assessment of the fees and money transferred. However, any use/gain/loss of mentioned services is by your own will and information here is provided merely to compare based on my personal experience. If you make any data entry errors, I am not responsible for that.

Aug 19, 2014

Police and the use of Lethal Force in US

These are select posts starting from specific queries on NCJRS and NIJ websites pertaining to use of deadly force in police activity. I wasted some time a few days ago reading random stuff on the internet today. Now you can also waste your time this way:

This paper discusses use of non-lethal device use
https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/237965.pdf (PDF download in new window)

Other areas with information: http://nij.gov/

On a slightly related note here is a research paper that discusses some (SC) assumptions about traffic stops.
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/jbs/Criminal%20Procedure%20in%20American%20Society/OfficersAssaulted.pdf (PDF download in new window)

#ferguson #NMOS14 #Iftheygunnedmedown #moredata

Jun 30, 2014

How to earn $5 starbucks card with little effort

How to earn a $5 Starbucks rewards for little extra effort than to sign up for a Bing Rewards Account.

Microsoft's search engine Bing - which shows beautiful pictures everyday - regularly gives users rewards for using Bing to search the web. One of those rewards is a $ 5 Starbucks gift card that you get for every 500 points you accumulate by searching. You get it for as low as 475 points once you gain Gold status.

Sign is very simple: Visit BING from here and sign for the account, you can even use facebook connect to sign up. After you sign up, set Bing to be default search engine in your browser.

In Internet Explorer, Bing is the default search engine, but you do need to sign up for the Account first.
If you are using Chrome, type chrome://settings/   in the browser address bar.

Towards the middle/bottom of the settings page you can pull down and change the setting for Omnibox search settings. (this is for direct search from the location bar in Chrome).

In Firefox, set your default search box to Bing as well as go and change your Homepage to Bing by clicking on the Settings button (top right corner), then going to Options then Choosing the General tab.

Happy searching and quick earnings to your rewards!!

If you have any additional tips or comments, please mention in the Comments bar below. Thank you.

Apr 8, 2013

Just for fun. All copyrights belong to original owners.
Cute squids off the coast

After feasting on unsuspecting humans!!