Showing posts from August, 2011

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.