Showing posts from 2011

Kolaveri and nonsensical lyrics

Javed Akhtar tweeted that Kolaveri Di is an insult to sensibility.  But then the other day, I was listening to the greatest hits of Kishore Kumar.  The lyrics of one of the song goes - C A T Cat - cat mane billi.  This is from the 1958 movie Dilli ka Thug.  There are three lyricists for the movie, including Majrooh Sultan Puri - not sure which one penned this lyric.  How would Mr.Akhtar classify this song?

I wrote about reusable lyrics that we see in today's movies and referred to nonsensical lyrics in Amma is amma.  

Nonsensical lyrics are here to stay and there are complete songs made out of a collection of nonsensical ones.  Read the lyrics of O Maha Ziya from Thamizh Padam.

Live pause and watching ads free tv programs

"Oh oh, the baby is crying"

"Just pause the program.  I will watch once I attend to him".

"What!  pausing a tv program!  What are you talking about?  It is not a DVD."

"No, it is better than DVD."

"Perhaps you should explain."

These days, many of us use a Set Top Box (STB) to view TV programs.   There are two (popular) types of STBs - cable and satellite.  In satellite STBs (which is also called DTH broadcast), we have a small dish which receives signals, which then passes through the STB and gets into the TV.  In cable STBs, the signals come via cable.

In the good old days of Doordarshan, we needed to have an antenna to watch TV programs.  This was because the broadcast was terrestrial and the signals came to the TV by means of this antenna.  Then came the era of cable TV, where cable operators downloaded contents via large dishes and sent by means of cables.

The older TVs restricted the number of channels that you could watch.  Also…

Me first me first

Yesterday we had gone to a friend's kids' birthday party in our apartment party hall.  It was 7.30 PM.  The party was on in full swing - there were people of all ages.  There was someone with a mike running some contests.  Children were running around.  There were many carrying their younger ones on their shoulder.

There was a food counter along one side in the small open area outside the hall.  We were late and there were people who had already had or were having food.  There was small queue before the food counter and I appended myself to the end.  As I stood for the queue to move, a lady came forward before me and picked up about three plates.  The polite guy that I am, I did not mind it. 

I picked up some food and moved on to an adjacent area, where dosas were getting freshly made.  A couple of people were waiting.  As the dosas got ready, from out of nowhere a few people moved to the front and managed to get the dosas onto their plates.  The lady I referred to, got a dosa…

Sonar and jacoco

I am a fan (and regular user) of Sonar, a platform to manage code quality.  The 2.12 release of Sonar, which happened yesterday, introduced a bunch of new features including Java 7 support and the availability of Jacoco into Sonar core. 

Though I had come across Jacoco earlier, I had ignored it.  I decided to look at what is Jacoco and why do we need yet another code coverage tool.  Their Mission page details the origin of the tool and the people behind it. 

I have been a regular user of Cobertura for command-line/maven based code coverage, and Eclemma for IDE-based.  I was curious to know if there was a jacoco maven plugin and to my delight, there indeed was one.

The usage instructions could have been better for I struggled to figure out the command to run to do the coverage analysis.  There are two goals, which are relevant jacoco:prepare-agent and jacoco:report

Merely including the plugin definition in the pom and running mvn jacoco:report gives an error.
[ERROR] Unable to re…

Rentfree postpaid - yet another gimmick

The last few days, I have been subjected to the advertisement of the newly launched Rent Free PostPaid cell phone plan from Tata Docomo in the radio.  Sounds too to be true, right?

It was, till I saw a banner ad, in a traffic jam.  As usual an asterix (*) symbol and a fine print at the bottom - rent free when the usage charges exceed Rs.500/-.  No such mention is made in the ad, of course, though even the most gullible person would think there must be a catch.

A look at the plan (applicable only in select states) reveals that it is still an attractive plan (even without the rent-free).  Evidently, mobile operators are waging war with each other to retain their existing customers and migrate other customers to them.

Revolution 2020 - nothing new

The new BestSeller from Chetan Bhagat, Revolution 2020 made for time-pass reading during my Cochin trip a few days back.  300 odd pages - 5 hours. 

The story revolves around 3 childhood classmates - Gopal, Raghav and Aarti.  Raghav is the studious one and Gopal the happy-go-lucky one.  The book traces their life and times in the holiest of Indian cities - Varanasi.   While one gets into a reputed College and tries to carve out a career based on his interest, the other tries in vain to get an Engineering admision, despite attending coaching classes at Kota, the breeding ground for future IIT-ians.  Throughout this, there is Aarti, who dreams of being an air-hostess.

Ultimately, the story is about who gets the girl, but to keep the readers happy (as well as increase page count), the book dwelves into India's education system, and how it is corrupt at all levels - from the setting up of an Engineering College to getting companies in for Campus placement.  It also pokes fun at the Ko…

Braving Bangalore traffic

f you are like me and commute during peak traffic hours in a two wheeler through the busiest roads of Bangalore to reach your office, then you may want to make it a wee bit pleasurable by listening to Radio One

I am usually in the road for 30-40 minutes between 8.15 to 9.30 AM. It is MJ Prithvi, who anchors the program during this time.   He usually gives a word for people to form sentences and picks a winner from amongs the most whacky ones.  The most hilarious ones in recent times has been the one using the word "baby" (coinciding with the birth of Aishwarya's baby).  The winning line was "What you call an instant baby?  Abhi baby".

This is followed by a segment "Prithvi ko hindi kyon nahi athi" (Why does Prithvi not know Hindi).  Here listeners can send in Hindi words with their meanings and Prithvi forms sentences using the words - usually hilarious ones.

Once this is through, there is also a Birthday Bakra (Goat), where Prithvi calls an unsusp…

On cell phone data plans

Until recently, I did not have a Data Plan for my cell phone connection.  Having acquired a Smartphone recently, I thought it is time to take one. Vodafone is my provider and I went to their website to get details of their postpaid data plans.

The first thing which stuck me was, how confusing the information related to data plan is.

For one, I saw three links in their home page - Downloads and More, Online Anywhere and 3G world.  So which do I visit?  Hovering the mouse over each link revealed a host of other links. 

I did not find a single link for GPRS or Data Plan.  As for 3G, it was slightly better, I saw two categories Mobile Internet and Mobile Broadband.

Among the links that I visited was Vodafone Mobile Connect. This one seemed to be what I needed since it talked about browsing the internet directly through the phone.  However, it also talked about  plugging your  phone into your PC or laptop and start browsing which I was not interested in.

It listed some plan charges, wh…

Meru to the rescue

If you are like me, who arrive in Bangalore by train on mornings, you would have experienced the auto menace.  They are akin to street dogs, who flock around you, barking.  In this case, the auto drivers swarm around you, begging you to board their vehicle.  Not out of consideration for you, but to fleece you with their exorbitant rates.  Meters mean nothing here - they know you have no other options.

We pay Rs.150/- or so for a 5 km ride from K R Puram to our place and it was that which came to my mind when we boarded the train to Bangalore.  This time it was going to be tougher - we had quite some luggage and a six-month baby as well.  We had three of our close relatives coming with us as well - two adults and a three year old.  They stayed close to our place.

A thought struck us as the train departed - why not call Meru Cabs?  We have used its services a few times - to go to the Airport or Railway Station.   They charge Rs.50/- extra if we call and book their service, but not if w…

Amma is amma

Sounds confusing?   Looks crazy?  Not if you are like me, taking the Old Airport Road and Inner Ring Road.   Large posters of a smiling caped Amma adorn both sides of the Roads tied to lamp posts and other available structures.  The words Amma is Amma run top to bottom.  You and I know amma cannot be anyone else - but then perhaps certain sections of the population need this emphasised.

Reminds me of the lyrics of a hit Tamil song Ajakku nna Ajakkuthan Kumukkunna kumukkutha. [See more here]   Ajakku cannot be anything else but ajakku; similarly amma.

Anyway, on one hand we have an accused coming to Bangalore to go to a court to be questioned and we have sycophant supporters wasting money on her cut-outs.   And here I am trying not to take a printout of an e-ticket thereby saving a small branch of a tree from being cut.

Beer for Petrol

After yet another petrol price hike, it appears that a litre of petrol and a bottle of beer costs the same.  What if we fueled our vehicles with beer instead of petrol?  Notwithstanding technical issues, it could lead to interesting situations.

You are on a long drive and you are thirsty.  Who needs fuel more - you or the car?  You could attribute petrol-theft from vehicles to economic disparity and financial need, but beer-theft from vehicle?  That could be attributed to thirst. Beer pump owners would have a tough time containing spiriting away of the spirits.

The possibilities are aplenty, save one - drinking petrol instead of beer.

The Metro Ride on Rajyotsava Day

1st of November was a state holiday - Rajyotsava - State Formation Day.  I thought it is as good a day as any to check out Namma Metro - the newly functional Metro train service in Bangalore.

I stay in Basava Nagar. I debated if I should take the Feeder bus service, which comes upto Vignan Nagar about 1.5 km away, but decided against it for two reasons - I still needed to drive upto this place and I was not sure about the frequency of the Feeder service.

It was overcast as I took my two wheeler and set off to Byappanahalli. I was not sure about the Parking facilities and thought two-wheeler parking was easier.  It is a fairly long drive to the Metro Station, especially since I had to take a longer route thanks to road divider.  Those coming from Big Bazaar side cannot take a right onto Metro Station thanks to the divider. I did pass three Metro Feeder buses - two on Suranjan Das Road. 

It was around 10.45 AM. The Metro Station did have fairly big parking facility - both for two and f…

Rappelling in Ramnagar

It was time for our bi-annual team outing.  The last time we had gone to Club Cabana.  We wanted it to be different this time - a little more adventurous.  We enquired at a few places and finally decided on a trek in Ramnagar along with rappelling.  An organization called Thrillophilia took care of organizing the trip  - they arranged the transport, booked the resort and had their Tour Manager accompany us from office, as well as had their staff take care of the trekking and rappelling.

We started from office at 7.45 AM on Fri, 14th Oct, 45 minutes later than planned.  This meant, we hit peak hour traffic en route our destination.  To compound it, we decided to go through the city (BTM, Banashankari) rather than take the Hosur Road/Nice Road. This was to allow us to pick up our colleagues.  It was close to 10 when we reached Club Magnolia, Bidadi.  We had breakfast and then proceeded to Ramnagar, 25km and 25 minutes away. 

Our bus stopped near a cluster of rocky hills. We armed ours…

Upgrading to Oneiric Ocelot

It was the morning of Sunday, 16th October.  I had switched on my desktop to do some torrent downloads.  I use Ubuntu 11.04 - Natty Nawhal - on my desktop and Transmission Torrent client.

The Update Manager popped up.  This is akin to Windows Update and keeps the system updated with the latest software releases.  But this time there was something different.  "There is an upgrade to your Operating System", said the message with an "Upgrade" button next to it.  Ubuntu 11.10 - Oneiric Oncelot - was here! 

It was the first time, I was going to do an upgrade of Ubuntu - that too online and I was a bit skeptical after my Android escapades.  But the urge was too much to ignore and I clicked "Upgrade".

I got a warning message that my hardware was a little too old for the new version of the OS and I may face issues.  I decided to ignore it, since with 11.04, I ended up getting Gnome Desktop in place of Unity.  I felt, it would just continue the same way.

The upg…

BSNL woes - yet again

Not again!  Yeah, time I created a separate tag for BSNL, considering the number of times [123] I end up writing about them.

It was Saturday (8 Oct).  BSNL broadband had stopped working.   The landline was working though.  A couple of restarts of the modem did not help.  Time to dial 1504.  Surprise of surprise - I did not hear any music and advertisements and got connected to a customer support personnel immediately.

He asked the usual questions - my phone number (as if he did not have it - after all, this is a toll-free number which can only be dialed from your BSNL fixed line), modem model, operating system that I use (how does that matter) and my cell number.

Here we go, I thought - now I will be asked go through each screen of the model web interface, re-enter information, reboot modem...  But that was not to be.

"Our support engineer will call you in your cell number after some time".

This was on Saturday evening and I am yet to hear from any one.

The weekend passed …

How to train your dragon

I happened to get the Blueray print of the movie, How to train your dragon from a relatives place the other day.  I had heard of the movie, but had not got a chance to see it.

Courtesy, my WD TV Live Plus, I could play the movie from the hard disk to TV. 

It is an animation movie - released as 3D in theatres.  Of course, what I saw was the 2D print.

It is the story of a young Viking, in whose village, killing dragons is a national pastime (and possibly a necessity).  He is part of a young group, getting trained on how to handle various types of dragons.   His father, the village chieftain is disappointed that his son is not showing the flair that he should. 

Hiccup, as our hero is interestingly called fortuitously captures the dreaded Night Fury dragon, but does not have the heart to kill it.  He sets in free.  He names it Toothless since the first time the dragon opens its mouth, he does not see any tooth.  He learns dragon behavior from Toothless and applies it in his training. 

Rangla Punjab Koramangala - avoid

It was time for yet another lunch out.  This has become a regular feature with our office caterer dishing out fares of deteriorating quality.

The plan was to go to Mast Kalandar so that we could have a good and quick lunch and be back for our meetings.  On the way, we saw Rangla Punjab.   "Let us check this out.  We go to Mast Kalandar always", said a friend.

We saw a flight of stairs leading upto First Floor.  The place was quiet.  Should we go up further?  We saw a waiter.  "Please come in, sir."  He lead us to the restaurant.  We were the only people there.  We stood hesitating,  wondering if we should ditch the place and go to our usual. 

"Oh, what the hell. Let us eat here".

The waiter came over. 
"How long will you take?"
"15-20 minutes"

We gave some orders - both starters and main courses included.  And waited. And waited.  It took about 20 minutes for the starters to arrive.  That was after the waiter came and said one of our …

Gingerbread on Galaxy Ace

Ever since I bought Galaxy Ace, I always had the nagging feeling that I was not on Gingerbread, the newer Android version for cell phones.  Ace came with Froyo.  I had seen links stating Ace could be upgraded to Gingerbread - most of them unofficially.

Then came the firmware upgrade in Kies, the official Samsung Windows application to talk to Ace (and other phones).  I had installed Kies on my laptop as soon as I got the cell phone.  That was Kies 2.0.2.  Recently, there was the Kies 2.0.3 release.  I updated Kies to it, but did not see any firmware upgrade coming in.

I installed the same on my desktop and lo, there it was - a firmware upgrade for Ace.  Gingerbread was here. 

The very fact that the firmware upgrade was detected in one installation and not another must have alerted me that something was wrong. I found a bunch of links [1 | 2 | 3 ] describing how people had used Kies to upgrade their Ace to Gingerbread.  Each blog had a bunch of comments at the end - most of them about …

Websites and cleartext passwords

The other day, I received an email from my company insurance provider's third-party administrator, asking me to review and update my dependant details. 

No issues with the email, but for one detail.  It contained not just my login, but my password (in cleartext) as well.  What this indicated is, my password was being stored in cleartext in their system/database or whatever. 

This website is arguably not an important one, since it allowed just registration and printing of e-cards, but that does not rule out someone doing some mischief like updating/deleting data using my credentials.

The more harmful issue is if you use the same password for your Banking or other more critical websites.  A malafide person can use this information to gain access to your account in these sites.

Interestingly the website of this TPA used https/SSL for protection.  The purpose of this is defeated if the site sends cleartext password in emails!

Perhaps websites should publish the information if they a…

IT (Dept) is amazing!

I have been filing e-returns through the official Income Tax website even since it was introduced 3-4 years back.   This year I did it on 2nd July and sent across the signed  ITR-V by post a couple of days later.  I received an email on 18th July acknowledging the receipt of my hard copy.

Imagine my surprise when I saw an email from IT Department on 2nd September, intimating me that they had processed the IT returns and my refund was being credited through ECS.   Exactly 2 months since my online submission.  In 3-4 days, my Bank Account reflected the Refund credit.

This is an amazing turnaround time for a Department, which is notorious for not giving refunds.  Was it the online submission which speeded up the return processing?  If so, perhaps it is an incentive for people, who have returns, to file it online.

Beyond Bullet Points

Many of us make presentations or attend presentations as part of our work.  How many of us can claim to have made a presentation which wowed the audience?   Or for that matter, come away from a presentation with the feeling that your day was made?  I would argue, very few.  Which is the reason why, a book like Beyond Bullet Points 3rd Edition by Cliff Atkinson (Microsoft Press; 352 pages)  is a necessary read.

The fact that the book is in its 3rd edition, by itself indicates the popularity of the book and the author.  To top it up, when the back cover mentions how a lawyer who used the book won a verdict of USD 253 million, it does make one take notice.

The author uses Microsoft Powerpoint as the tool to explain how to create not good, but great presentations.  Now presentations are not as much to do with the tool, as with having a systematic approach towards the topic.  The author explains how to plan the presentation and then put it into the tool.  He believes the first five slides…

The Final Hour

I got the chance to review the book The Final Hour by Andrew Klavan.  It is pitched as the Last Homelanders Novel.

I had not read any of the other Homelanders novels.  In fact, I had not read any of the author's work.  But the synopsis looked interesting enough.  Interestingly, this was the first book that I read entirely on my Samsung Galaxy Ace using Aldiko eBook Reader.

Charlie West finds himself in a prison, accused of murdering his close friend Alex Hauser.  A group of Islamic prisoners are out to kill him, while another bunch of hard-core ones save his life.  He had infiltrated the Homelanders group, which is a dreaded terrorist group, plotting against USA.  He has lost his memory thanks to medication, but has begun to get it in bits and pieces.  He realizes that FBI has disowned him and no one believes his innocence or his double life.  The only two people he can rely on are his karate master and the one FBI detective who knows him.

In one of his memory attacks, he remembe…

irctc and printing e-ticket

Three months back, to be precise, exactly 90 days from today, I had booked a train ticket through IRCTC

Two days back, I realized I had not printed the e-ticket yet.  I logged in, well, attempted to login around 10 AM. The browser tried in vain to bring up the page.  I tried multiple times, on different browsers.  Sometimes, I could log in, but could do nothing further.  At other times, I got Service Unavailable.  In short, the website was practically inaccessible.  I tried it later during the day, with the same result.

Ultimately, it was late in the evening (around 10 PM) that I could access it and print the e-ticket.

IRCTC is arguably an extremely busy site and thus will have access issues.  But why should this affect printing a booked ticket?  Shouldn't the later be a breeze since all I want is to print something?

It looks like no usability analysis, whatsoever, has been done around this.  To me, it seems to be a simple matter of providing a separate link, where you specify …

Much ado about cups

It all started with our office deciding to go for paper cups in place of the mugs that they had in the pantry to dispense hot drinks (coffee/tea, etc. - not those hot drinks).  A retrogade decision is what most of us felt.  The mugs went off the shelves and in came the paper cups.

A few of us decided to get our own mugs as an environment-friendly gesture. 

We are privileged to be co-located with a couple of supermarkets.   We went into the first one and went to the cups sections.  There were no dearth of selections - plastic ones, steel ones, odd looking ones, ones with zodiac signs, and so on.  The pros and cons of various options were debated and ultimately we decided to go to the second store.  (Incidently, both stores belong to the same management and are roofed in the same complex). 

The scrutiny and review process was repeated.  In the midst of it, one of us accidently dropped a cup - and the handle broke.  As the store was sparsely populated, the Security guard was quick to arr…

Source code - core dump

Weekend evening rains is as good a reason as any to catch up on movies.   It was the turn of The Source Code this weekend.

If I thought the movie was about the source code in computer programming involving java and C# with some obfuscating coding contest to boot, the reality was far from it.  

The movie starts by presenting a US Army helicopter pilot in the body of a stranger, in a speeding train.  In a few minutes, a bomb blast destroys the train.  The hero then wakes up in a pod and we understand that he had been transported by means of the technology called The Source Code to the train.  He now needs to prevent an even more deadly strike on Chicago by finding the bomber.

The movie moves in break-neck speed as the initial attempts by the hero to trace the bomber falls in vain and the train gets blasted and he returns to the pod.  But then he is the hero after all, and there is a girl who he needs to save as well.  So all is well that ends well, though the viewer is left quite puzzle…

Hypercity and the hype

I have been contemplating buying a new cell-phone and after some analysis, based on requirements and budget, narrowed my choices down to Samsung Galaxy Ace and HTC Wildfire S.  Now the question was getting the best deal for these.  This was when the following ad in Friday Times of India stuck me. This looked like the best deal on these phones currently. 

Off I went to Hypercity yesterday all set for a cell phone purchase.   It was raining (as usual - has Bangalore weather become like London?).   I walked across to the Mobile Phone counter to look at the phones of my interest.  I could not find either of the models.  I then asked the attendant. "We are sold out" was the reply. 

Of course they were!  A closer look at the ad indicates the "conditions that apply" - valid only till stocks last.

So much for the ad and the hype.  It is yet another strategy used by establishments to attact crowd to their shops.   It is not about the item which is advertised, but the rest…

He who never sleeps

"Good morning!  You have one hour to get refreshed, take bath.  Be ready and come down here at 2.30", said the guide boarding our bus.  By 2.30, he meant 2.30 AM.

We were in Tirupati, as part of the APSTDC package tour to have a darshan of Lord Venkateswara.  The facilities in Srinivasam pilgrim amenities center were impressive - clean rooms and toilets, working lift, power and water supply - Sabarimala should learn from here.

From the Volvo bus which transported us from Bangalore, we relocated to an ordinary bus, better suited for Ghat travel.   This embarked on the climb to the top of the hills, but not before being subject to a security check in the checkpost.  At 3.30 AM, we could see about 500 vehicles in queues, being subject to security check. Luckily APSRTC buses had separate queues.

We were to have Sheegra darshan (literally meaning fast darshan) - a darshan, which cost Rs.300/- and was available at specific times on each day.  The guide was efficient and soon we we…


I don't remember when I last saw a black and white movie.  But Casablanca is well worth a watch for lovers of good English movies. 

Set against the backdrop of World War II, the movie portrays the romance between Rick, a Cafe owner in Casablanca and Ilsa.  Casablanca is a city in Morocco, used as a transit point for immigrants to go from France to Lisbon or to US.  Rick and Ilsa had had a period of romance in Paris abruptly broken when Nazis marched in.  Who is Laszlo that Ilsa is married to and why did she romance Rick?

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman play Rick and Lisa. 

The movie won 3 Oscars in 1944 - Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Script/Screenplay and is in #19 in IMDB Top 250.

How are you feeling today?

We have a new item in our office intranet home page - How are you feeling today? There are 5 options - Delighted, Happy, Confused, Sad, Stressed.  We can click on it and we get a confirmation message "Your data is submitted".  Imagine if the reporting manager get periodic updates on the feeling of their team members "Ah, 3 of my team members are sad today." "Oh, this guy has been stressed for 3 consecutive days - time to give him a break." "Hey, why is this person Delighted? - has he got a new job offer?" There could be charts and trends on the data - weekly, monthly, etc. which could help assess team feelings and so on. The next would be for reportees to see their Manager's feeling. "Hey, my Manager is Happy today - time to ask him for leave." "Oh, my Manager is Sad - better fix some bugs and make him happy." This could be extended as follows. People could pick a coloured wrist band when entering, indicating …

Firefox 6 and Search the web

I thought I must have made a mistake when I got results from Bing after a typed some items in the Firefox search bar.  On closer look I saw that there is a new Search the web search engine (in addition to Google, Bing and others).  Looks like this has come in the latest Firefox upgrade.

As this post indicates, it looks like each time the browser is restarted, it defaults to "Search the web" despite Google being the default search engine.

Interestingly, haven't found any documentation on this new feature.  The Search bar page does not list this new search engine at the time of writing this.

Edit:  There is a workaround/solution for this, available from the post I had referred above.

Quoting from it: Go into your Add-ons Manager and disable the Test Pilot extensions. 

Java 7 and maven compiler

Got to install Java 7.   Tried it out on some of our source code.  Worked fine till there was a compilation error.   I use maven and was stuck by this error.

[ERROR] Failed to execute goal org.apache.maven.plugins:maven-compiler-plugin:2.
3.2:compile (default-compile) on project my-app: Compilation failure
[ERROR] \work\my-app\src\main\java\com\mycompany\app\[11,45] error: can
not find symbol
[ERROR] -> [Help 1]I am ok with the error, but which symbol does it fail to find?   Tried the same thing with Java 6.

ERROR] Failed to execute goal org.apache.maven.plugins:maven-compiler-plugin:2.
.2:compile (default-compile) on project my-app: Compilation failure
ERROR] \work\my-app\src\main\java\com\mycompany\app\[11,45] cannot find
ERROR] symbol  : variable Dummy
ERROR] location: class
ERROR] -> [Help 1] I can clearly see which variable is not found.  So what has changed?

Tried javac on the class.  Output with java 7.


SMS auto complaints

As reported by Times of India on Sat, 30th July, an SMS facility has been set up to register complaints related to autos in Bangalore that refuse to come or overcharge.

Here is the link to the Times article. Not sure if the SMS is chargeable (special number) or not.

Ramblings from Chennai trip

Our trip got off to a bad start.  Amidst the confusion on - to lock our shoe box (placed outside our door) or not to lock - we forgot to take our backpack, which housed the not-so-essential items for the trip.  This, we realised when we unloaded the luggage from Easycabs, which we had booked that morning.  (Meru declined our booking saying we are full, please try for some other time.  As if we could change our trip based on their cab availability!).

The cab meter showed Rs.245/- and the driver asked for Rs.330/-
"Why?" asked I
"The meter is faulty", says he.

Ha, so why doesn't he tell this when we started?  He wouldn't, would he?  We would have called up his office and checked.  He knew once we reached the Station, we would have no time for such frivolous things as fight over the rates.  That too - when we realized one of our luggage had not made it past the door. (Or was it placed outside the door and forgotten)?

Rs.330/- changed hands and I felt cheated.

VIP nuisance

I was early to work this morning, for a change.  I had just entered the Airport Road-100 Ft Road Flyover when I saw a couple of cops stopping the traffic on the road.  I was one of the last vehicle to go over the flyover.  Moving ahead on to the Inner Ring Road connecting Indira Nagar to Koramangala, I saw cops lined up on the side of the road.   Vehicles were moving towards Koramangala, but they were few in number.  I suspect vehicles had been stopped on Airport Road as well.

The road was practically empty by the time I reached Ejipura signal, the start of Koramangala.   I saw that the opposite as well as the perpendicular roads in the junction had vehicles piled up.

At the signal, a cop indicated me to pull over and I did.  As if this was not enough, another cop (possibly a senior one) took the keys out of my vehicle and put it in his pocket. 

The VIP convey passed in a few seconds.  I did some googling but could not figure out who it was.

After a minute the flow of traffic resumed…

Of e-books and epub

Recently, I had opted to review a book.  These days the books are made available (especially for review) in electronic format rather than paper copy.  The format used to be invariable pdf, which opened in Adobe Acrobat.

But this last one was available in epub, mobi (and another format I fail to recall), but not pdf.  It appeared that each was popular for specific e-book readers (read tablets like iPad).  Now I am still a desktop/laptop guy.  So the question was, which format of the book do I download and more importantly, what software do I use to open the book.

As usual, Google comes to rescue.  I searched for epub reader.  What do you know - the first and the best match was EPubReader - a free Firefox Add-in.  This allowed opening of epub files without any additional software!  What more can one ask for.

What I liked about epub was the concept of reflowable document.  What this means is, depending on the font that you specify the contents automagically adjust to the screen width.  N…

Nick of Time

Nick of Time [Publisher: Thomas Neilson, Inc., Pages: 336, ISBN: 1595543104]  is a Bug Man novel and a sequel to Ends of the Earth as per the author.  The protagonist of the book is a forensic entomologist, Dr. Nick Polchak. 

Nick is engaged to be married.  A few days before the wedding, he is invited by his close friend to attend a meeting to help solve an old case.  He discovers his friend missing and the trail takes him to the old case.  As he tries to uncovers the case, he also has a few brush-ins with the local cops, one of which is a retired FBI agent.

His fiancee goes in search of him with her dogs. She has her own adventures even as she learns how to use her new iPhone.

The rest of the story is about not just the solving of the old case but the revelation of other things as well.

This is the first book by Tim Downs that I have read.  He has an easy style of writing, which makes for fast reading.  The book also introduced to me the science of forensic entomology, is the applic…

On watching cricket match at work

Imagine sitting before your computer in your air-conditioned office with a 40 inch HD LCD TV next to you, beaming ad-free HD telecast of CWC World Cup semi-finals between India and Pakistan.  Imagine turning your swivel chair only for your eyes to encounter similar televisions all around you.

Imagine walking to the rest room or pantry and encountering a series of televisions with the match on - so that you do not miss a second during the walk.

Imagine that in the instance you were in the restroom a wicket fell. You come back, pause the telecast, rewind a bit and see what happened.

I know it is hard to imagine, but this is not a dream, but exactly what happened yesterday at work.  I currently work for an organization which is into products and services for digital television.

One might argue that nothing beats watching a match live. But watching a match on multiple televisions with colleagues is just as good when it is part of work!  You get to test features of the product you build on…

The Mobile Number Potability Fiasco

In keeping with the liberalization in the Indian telecom sector, we use three telecom providers - BSNL landline-cum-broadband, a Vodafone connection (from Hutch days) and an Airtel GSM connection.

Of the three, we have reconciled to occasional problems with our landline and broadband, considering that we have alternate means of communication.  Using Airtel from our home has been a challenge, with poor signals inside our apartment.  More often than not, we provide fodder to the mosquitoes as we stand in our balcony trying to make conversation.  The recent Saif Ali Khan Airtel ad is arguably the exact experience that we have.

We had desisted from changing providers since this would involve informing and updating contact details in several places - personal, professional and legal.

But then Mobile Number Portability became a reality. We were no longer bonded to a whims and fancies of the provider. 

We also realized that for the kind of usage that we had, Airtel's plans were costlie…