In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
A 1TB hard disk (HDD) that used to cost less than Rs3000 before Diwali is now selling for Rs5700 and more.
Consumers, especially those who want to buy or upgrade computer and laptop in India have been shocked to discover that floods in Thailand have caused hard disk drive (HDD) prices to skyrocket. Disks that were ranging from Rs1,200 to Rs3,000 for 250 gigabyte (GB) to 1 terabyte (TB) have almost doubled to Rs3,000 to Rs6,000 within past 10 to 15 days.
According to dealers and resellers from Mumbai's famous Lamington Road electronics market, floods in Thailand had affected production of hard disks and more than 50% factories in that country are closed. This has caused a supply shortage and therefore prices for HDDs, except solid-state drives (SSDs), have gone up. SSD prices in Mumbai are stable or gone up by mere Rs100 to Rs200.
However, one more reason behind the sudden spurt in prices of HDD could be a ganging up by some stockists. Almost all the dealers, resellers and suppliers have stocked computer hardware to meet the festival demands during Dussehra and Diwali. However, as seen in past few years, this time also the demand for desktops was lower than that of laptops and therefore some of the dealers or suppliers ended up with stockpiles of computer hardware like HDDs, memory chips, monitors, DVD re-writers (RW) etc. For them the flood in Thailand proved to be a great opportunity to earn some extra (almost double) money, at least for HDDs.
According to information collected from various people related with the computer hardware business, at present, you should buy traditional HDD only if it is necessary and that too of the lower capacity so as not to overstretch your budget. They also said, there is short supply of 20-inch LCD or LED monitors, so instead opt for an 18.5-inch monitor. If your budget permits, then go for 22-inch monitor, but remember the price difference between an 18.5-inch monitor and 22-inch screen would be more than Rs3,000.
Currently, the prices of random access memory (RAM) chips and DVD RW are near the bottom. You can buy a 4GB DDR3 memory chip and 24-X DVD RW for as less as Rs900 to Rs1350, depending on the brand. Therefore, if you want to upgrade RAM of your desktop, this is the time.
Another interesting thing emerged from the interaction is prices of laptops (well...at least some brands) are cheaper than a desktop of the same configuration (except the screen size). For example, a desktop with Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVD RW with 18.5-inches LCD screen comes to around Rs29,000, while a laptop of same configuration with 15.6-inches screen is available for about Rs27,000.
Thailand is one of the major producers and suppliers of HDDs to computer and laptop makers around the world. According to reports, plants of Western Digital (WD), the world's largest HDD producer, and Toshiba and many major HDD component suppliers are flooded. Even non-flooded production plants of HDD makers, like Seagate and Hitachi GST have been affected due to part shortages.
“Although demand for HDDs in the December 2011 calendar quarter was estimated as high as 180 million (M) units, actual production estimates are for 110-120 M HDDs. The difference of 50-60 M units between production and demand has led to price spikes for HDDs in the 20-50% range in the short term.
With production volumes in the March calendar quarter of 2012 constrained to 120-130 M units with demand (including pent up demand from the prior quarter) being much higher, long term prices increases for HDDs in the range of 25% over pre-flood levels appear likely for the near future,” the report said.
However, retailers continue to charge high prices despite adequate supply. Again, boost in production is expected in the coming ‘rabi’ season
After a short surge in the prices of pulses during the festive season, rates have now come down and stabilised in the wholesale market. Despite this, the consumer continues to pay high prices for pulses in the retail market.
Recently, the government hiked the minimum support price (MSP) for select pulses like chana and masur (lentils). Experts say that it will encourage farmers to take up the cultivation of pulses in the rabi season. MSP, for both the pulses, has been fixed at Rs2,800 a quintal, an increase of Rs700 per quintal for chana and Rs550 per quintal for masur as compared to last year’s prices.
Bimal Kothari, vice-president, India Pulses and Grain Association (IPGA), told Moneylife, “Pulses prices have significantly come down. They are flat in the wholesale market. The increment in the MSP and good monsoon are the key factors which will boost the production. We don’t think there is any reason for the prices to increase in the near future.”
He added, “There is an adequate supply of pulses such as yellow peas, tur daal, masur, moong and urad. In fact, around 3 lakh yellow peas were imported from Canada and France at the end of October.”
Traders say that in the coming rabi season, production is expected to go up given the good remunerative prices given to the farmers by the government.
However, people complain of being charged with high prices for pulses from their retailers under the clout of ‘inflation and the general price rise trend’.
“I agree that people are paying high prices on pulses despite record production and continuous supply. There has been considerable difference in the prices in the wholesale and retail market. There is an urgent need to regulate the retail market by the government.”
The Union government has prepared a contingency plan to increase pulses production in the rabi season, through area expansion and productivity enhancement. The plan targets to achieve an additional production of 2.78 million tonnes (MT) during the ensuing rabi season and to offset the loss of the kharif season. For this purpose, an additional amount of Rs80 crore has been allocated under the NFSM (National Food Security Mission)-Pulses programme.
It is essential to check whether a website is secured and verified through valid security certificates so that you will not fall prey to a phishing scam
Moneylife has regularly published articles of fraudulent emails and phishing scams. The Reserve Bank of India (among other statutory bodies and financial institutions) regularly issues notices and advertisements to make the public aware of such scams which can lead to theft of confidential personal data.
Therefore it becomes essential for various e-commerce websites and online banking sites to use security certificates to establish their genuineness. With phishing attacks increasing daily—in number and sophistication—it becomes essential for one to check the authenticity of the website before sharing confidential details.
For a secured website, it is necessary for it to have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). “SSL encrypts the data between the server (where the site is hosted) and the client (the PC from where you are browsing the site) to ensure security of the data transferred. Even if a hacker manages to access the content, the data which he gets would be useless for him because it is encrypted,” said Zeeshan Khan, a software development engineer, at a Noida-based IT consulting company.
He further said, “SSL is mostly used where transactions must be secure like a banking site. Their address will always start with "https://..." and the normal ones are "http://..,” this is one of the easiest ways to judge if a website is secure.
A more advanced version of SSL certification is an Extended Validation SSL (EV SSL) certificate. So what’s the difference? Mr Khan told Moneylife, “The difference between SSL and EV SSL is that the latter has some added security features. If you ever noticed when you access a certain secured site, the address bar of your browser turns green—this signifies it is EV SSL certified. Even if a site is SSL encrypted ("https://..."), it may or may not turn the address bar of the browser green indicating whether or not the site is EV SSL encrypted.” An SSL certificate just validates that the website is secure whereas an EV certificate confirms company information and includes, but is not limited to: company name, domain name, government business registration number and business address. These details can be viewed by clicking the padlock in the address bar of the browser.
EV SSL certificates work with high security Web browsers to clearly identify a website’s organisational identity. EV certificates require that organisations go through a rigorous validation process that meets the Extended Validation guidelines established by the CA/Browser Forum, a voluntary organisation of certification authorities (CAs) and Web browser vendors, to combat these threats. In addition to confirming domain name ownership, the process includes authenticating the authority of the contact person requesting the certificate, verification of the business with government or third-party business registries, and other methods to assure the legal and physical existence of the business.
Therefore EV certificates give the consumer an added level of trust and confidence. But how many e-commerce sites and banking sites actually use EV SSL certificates? Surprisingly, not many. What could be the reason? Mr Khan says, “EV certificates are costlier compared to normal certificates. One would prefer the cheaper version as the task of securing your data is accomplished by both certificates except that EV certificates give the user more confidence that he/she is at the right place and that no one is phishing.” Therefore if you visit an EV-certified secured site, it just shows that the entity has gone a step ahead to enhance customer satisfaction.
WHAT THE COLOUR OF A SECURITY STATUS BAR INDICATES
The colour of the Security Status bar tells you whether the certificate is valid or not, and it displays the level of validation that was performed by the certifying organisation.
The following table describes what the Security Status bar colours mean.
Colour What it means
Red The certificate is out of date, not valid, or has an error.
Yellow The authenticity of the certificate or certification authority that issued it cannot be verified. This might indicate a problem with the certification authority’s website.
White The certificate has normal validation. This means that communication between your browser and the website is encrypted. The certification authority makes no assertion about the business practices of the website.
Green The certificate uses extended validation. This means that communication between your browser and website is encrypted and that the certification authority has confirmed the website is owned or operated by a business that is legally organised under the jurisdiction shown in the certificate and on the Security Status bar. The certification authority makes no assertion about the business practices of the website.
(Box Sourced from Microsoft)