Showing posts from June, 2012

Passport application experiences

A few days back I wrote about Passport Seva Portal woes.    Here I want to share my experiences for the benefit of others.

How to get an online appointment for Passport Seva Kendra

Login to the portal at 5.45 PM (or even earlier if you are idle)Navigate the various links and click on "Manage appointments"Choose the Seva Kendra of your choice, enter the Capcha.You will get a message saying appointments will start at 6 PM.Continue doing this once a minute as the clock ticks.  This is to ensure that your session does not time outEnsure you are clicking on it at exactly 6 PM.  You will probably see a Timout or similar error. Simply reload the page.  If you are lucky, you will suddenly see a bunch of entries in the screen - appointment slots of 45 minutes duration.  I lost 5 seconds of precious time since I had never seen this screen earlier.  Just click on one of the links - do not spend time looking for a convenient slot based on your office, traffic, etc. Beggars can't be c…

Worst Government websites...

This Times of India article on 8 'worst' Indian government websites made interesting reading.  I have had the pleasure (if one may call it) of using the Top 3 entrants there, which are
irctc - for train bookingbsnl - the source of all my landline woespassport - recent necessity  I am not surprised that they figure in this list, having written about all of them at various points of time.  What makes these sites suck?

Is it because they are developed by Indian IT companies?  (I believe TCS maintains the first and the third - not sure about the second)    This can't be true since these companies do services for most organizations.

I believe it is because the above companies have not engaged professionals to do their user interface based on usability analysis.   As Government organizations, they have probably refined some high-level requirements, invited bidders and given the project to the selected bidder.   Perhaps, the bidder himself has decided on the user interface based …

Joining date in next century

Imagine a Fresher out of college with a job offer in Infosys seeing this moneycontrol link.  (Screenshot below in case the news item is corrected) The news goes like this...

Infosys is delaying taking on board some of its planned 28,000 new recruits until mid-2103, underlining the slowdown faced by India's No 2 software services company, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Despite increasing life expectancy, it is doubtful if he/she would want to wait to take up the offer.  Who knows what is beyond 2012, forget a century later!

The road rules - Part 1

In this series of write-ups, I write about the tips and tricks when being on Indian roads. I use Bangalore as reference considering this is where I get constant experience.  This one is for and about pedestrians.

God forbid if you need to walk to reach your destination - work, shop or any other.  Tread with caution - literally.  Indian roads are not designed with pedestrians in mind. Most of the roads - especially where people need to walk (shopping and office areas) do not have footpaths.  If they do, they are occupied by vendors, beggars or garbage.  Since footpaths are usually concerte slabs covering stormwater drains, I am referring here to those rare areas which are covered.  You do get to see occasional stretch of unhabited footpath. I see one when I drive through a road connecting Old Airport Road to Outer Ring Road. Both sides of the road are covered by uninhabited Government property. In other words, the footpath is used by none.  Then again, if you happen to be in high traf…

Credit card experiences - tips and tricks

How many credit cards should YOU own?  This rediff write-up prompted to look at my own experience.

I got a credit card the same year that I started working.  That was a Visa card from the same Bank that I had my salary account.  Those were the days before debit cards were popular.  There were ATM cards which could not be used for credit purchases. Citibank had come up with a Suvidha account with a card, which was probably one of the earliest such card.

I used the Bank's Credit Card drop box in their ATM or other drop box facility to make the payments before the due date.  I always paid the entire amount being very particular not to be charged late-payment fee or interest on outstanding balance.

After a few months, I did a standing instruction with the Bank so that on the due date, the due amount got debited from my Bank account.  I no longer needed to track the payment date.  Of course, I diligently went through the Credit card statements. I even preserved the charge-slip so that …

Bleeding edge of technology

Living on the bleeding edge of technology is exciting but can sometimes give you worries.

I run the continuous integration software jenkins in our group to build some of our components.  I had configured it to run 6-7 jobs.  I manually kept it upgraded to the latest and the greatest version each time it was released. I never faced any issue with the upgrades.

jenkins-1.467 came out and as usual I did the upgrade with not a care in the world.  Imagine my shock when I came this morning and found missing jobs in the jenins page?

I logged in and tried to see what could be wrong.  I could not find anything. I checked the jenkins installation and work folders and found that the all the job folders existed.

Something was indeed amiss.  Two jobs were missing and both were jobs which triggered sonar analysis.  I googled for jenkins upgrade to 1.467  and there it was - [JIRA] (JENKINS-14036) Sonar jobs not appering after upgrade.  This in turn led to Jenkins Sonar Plugin incompatible with lates…

How to find your BSNL landline bill online

As detailed in my earlier write-up, BSNL has upgraded its portal services.   There is now a separate portal for selfcare (whatever that means) and another to pay bills.   
One would think that the portal to pay the bills would be the place to view/download them as well.  That is wishful thinking.
After multiple trial and error attempts, I finally found out where the landline bills are available online for viewing.    Follow the steps outlined below.
1. Register in the BSNL self care portal if you have not. 2. Login 3. You will see two tabs Home and Service 4. Click on Service 5. You will find a bunch of links with some description.  Choose Check My Bills. (See image below)

6. This will take you to My Billing Details 7. Click on the Billing Account Number 8. You will find a list of Bills 9. Choose the bill from May 2012.  (Other links give error since the previous bills are not available in the portal)
If you want to pay the bills online, register in the other portal and pay the bill …

Yet another BSNL rant

I have resisted myself from making yet another write-up on BSNL.  But how long can I?  Things have now come to a state that I now wonder if BSNL itself knows what is happening.

It all started when Bengaluru Telephone District migrated to a new IT platform called CDR-Based Billing platform  - in their continuous endeavour to server their customers better (paraphrasing from their email dated 22nd April).

For about two weeks during this migration - their complaint system was inaccessible - both web-based and IVRS-based.  Calling the direct Exchange numbers listed in their website resulted in such hilarious responses as "We are migrating to a new system and hence cannot take your complaint".

Bottom-line was about three weeks outage in April and a similar one in May. Perhaps the digging around our apartment (a case for another write-up) was a possible root cause. But I understand that the phone was working for some people in the apartment and not others.  This seems to indicate…

Passport Seva Portal woes

The last time I had passport business was more than five year back when I renewed my passport.  That time, I had to visit Passport office (located then, off M. G. Road) in person, after taking an appointment online.

It was time to renew my wife's passport. I visited the Passport Seva portal to get the sordid details on how to go about doing this.

I was happy to see a downloadable form which could be filled and uploaded after registering at the site.  This was an editable pdf (which even allowed data to be saved).  The pdf did validation to ensure mandatory fields were filled and then generated an xml file to be uploaded.

I was quite impressed.  Having filled the form, the next step was to become a registered user and upload the form.

Registering was easy and I could login. Imagine my surprise when each screen forced me to enter a captcha code.  I can understand the need for capcha for unauthenticated access, but after logging in, imagine each subsequent screeing requesting for ca…