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Missing Plane

Seven things Malaysian pilot Zaharie Shah's internet footprint tells us about him

The pilot of the missing Malaysian plane loved noodles, model aircraft and balloons twisted into funny shapes.

For the last couple of days, Malaysian authorities have been searching the homes of the pilot and co-pilot of flight MH370, which vanished mysteriously with 239 people on board on March 8. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Saturday that the plane had been steered far west of its scheduled route, and that the cockpit crew was being investigated for possible motives.

So far, material found in the homes of 27-year-old first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid and 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah has offered nothing conclusive about their possible involvement in a deliberate sabotage of the flight. In fact, many of the postings on the Facebook and YouTube pages of Captain Shah suggest that he was far from being a religious fanatic. If anything, he seems to have veered towards atheism.

Here are some things Zaharie Shah's social media use tells us about his preferences and personality.

1) He did not sympathise with terrorists

The day after bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon last year, Shah posted a video of the event and wrote a message offering his condolences.

2) He watched a lot of debates about atheism

The playlist of Shah's YouTube channel, which he set up in April 2010, has several videos related to atheism and rationalism. In addition to this clip, there's a link to a documentary called The God Delusion featuring the British biologist Richard Dawkins. Shah also subscribed to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason channel.

3) He loved to tinker with home gadgets

Shah posted several videos giving viewers advice on how to get the best out of their domestic devices. In addition to this one about tuning air-conditioners to cut down their electricity consumption, he also dispensed tips about ice makers, window seals and more. He was a big fan of videos posted by a user calling himself CrazyRussianHacker, who helped viewers perform such tasks as cutting a bottle in half with fire and string.

4) He was crazy about aviation

Shah was obsessed with flying even on the ground. As the media has reported, he had a flight simulator at home. He posted pictures of it on his Facebook page and also kept up a stream of updates about the new software packages he bought for it. He also flew radio-controlled model aircraft. This picture is of an outing he took with friends in July 2012 to fly this  plane by a lake. The same month, he and his friends also played with a model helicopter.

 5) He loved to cook and to eat

Shah's Facebook page is filled with images of him whipping up meals and eating them with his family. He seems to have been especially fond of noodle dishes, and his pictures suggest that he experimented with creating his own concoctions.

6) He tried to twist balloons into crazy shapes

Shah watched videos about twisting balloons to make pirate swords, bears, cats and, not surprisingly, helicopters.

 7) He was a strong supporter of Anwar Ibrahim

Shah watched a lot of videos about Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose criticism of the government earned him lengthy jail time on sodomy charges.

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What to look for when buying your first car in India

Hint: It doesn’t have to be a small car.

When it comes to buying their first car, more Indians are making unconventional choices. Indian car buyers in 2016 are looking for an automobile that is a symbol of their aspirations and sets them apart from the herd. Here are a few things you should consider when buying your first car:

Look beyond small cars

According to the JD Power India Escaped Study (2015), the percentage of new-vehicle shoppers who considered a small car reduced by 20% over three years—from 65% to 45%. Buyers are now looking at bigger, affordable cars and luckily for them, there are more choices available. Known as compact sedans, these cars offer the features of a sedan, are larger than hatchbacks and contain a boot. These sedans offer the comfort and features that once only belonged to expensive luxury cars but at a price that’s within the reach of a first-time car buyer.

Design and styling is important but don’t forget utility.

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Image Credit: Volkswagen
Image Credit: Volkswagen

Does it test-drive well?

In 2014, 35% of new-vehicle buyers researched vehicles when they were buying but by 2015, this number had risen to nearly 41% according to the JD Power study. While the internet is the primary source of research in India, the best source of information about a car is always a test drive. Listen to the sales person and read all online reviews, but test every feature to your satisfaction.

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Look for a car that’s spacious and comfortable while being easy to drive or park on our crowded city roads. Compact sedans are perfectly suited for Indian driving conditions. Some of them come with parking assistance and rear view cameras, rain sensors and front fog lights with static cornering that are excellent driving aids. If you plan to use the car for long drives, compact sedans that provide cruise control, a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel and a front centre armrest would be perfect. On road trips with family members who usually pack more than necessary, extra elbow room inside and good boot-space is a blessing.

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Never buy a model that is going to be discontinued because it could result in difficulty finding spare parts. Buying an old model will also affect your resale value later. In 2015, according to the same report, 10% of shoppers considered newly launched car models as against 7% in 2013—a strong indication that newer models are being preferred to old ones.

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Look for a car that is built sturdy and pays extra attention to safety features like Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS), side impact bars and dual front airbags. Safety is also a function of the design and features such as a galvanized steel body add to the strength of the build. It’s important to remember not to make trade-offs on safety for less important features when choosing variants.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Volkswagen and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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