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Showing posts from July, 2013

Getting an android app running with Phonegap 3.0 on Windows 8

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With 3.0 version, the installation of phonegap has changed.  You can no longer download the binaries from the website.

As given in the installation page,  you need to first download and install NodeJS.  Then run the commands to install phonegap.

The Usage instructions did not work for me at all though I had Android SDK on my system.   "android" command was not in the PATH.

Why?  That was possibly because I had not downloaded and installed the ADT Bundle.   I already had an Eclipse installation. When I needed to install the Android SDK, I chose the "Use the existing IDE" option, downloaded the installer and ran it.

Now where was the SDK installed?  I located it at C:\Users\me\AppData\Local\Android\android-sdk. I added the tools and platform-tools subfolders of this location to the PATH, after which I could.

Thereafter the usage instructions ran fine.  Now how do I see the app on an emulator?  There are two options - command line using cordova or using Eclipse.

Th…

A tale of two movies

I got to watch two tamil movies in the space of 3 days.  One - Singam 2 - was in the theatre with family, courtesy my friend.   The other at home - Vishwaroopam - the blueray print with English subtitles (I will tell you why this is important).

The whole experience of watching Singam 2 in the theatre itself was something - the first time we were in a theatre with our 2 year 2 month son.  While he slept through the first half, amidst defeaning stunt sounds, he began to walk up and down the aisle in the second half, with another child for company.  I was pretty much hearing than seeing the movie towards the end, holding the theatre door closed with one hand, to prevent him from opening and going out!

Now for the movie.  Singam 2 is a wholesome entertainer.  The movie moves at a fast pace and there is never a dull moment.  It has all the ingredients of the masala movie - romance, sentiment, comedy, stunts... The movie is pretty much all Surya.  Other actors have hardly any role - especi…

CoD vs upfront payment

We predominantly use Flipkart for online purchases.  We  also use eBay once in a while.

We came across BabyOye - perhaps through advertisement.  "Why not try this out ?",  we thought.  Being an unfamiliar e-commerce company, we chose the Cash on Delivery option for our initial purchase.  The product was delivered in a couple of days and we were happy with the service.

Cash on delivery is a pain for multiple reasons.

You need to be at home.  You need to have cash.  You need to have exact change.

The next time, we chose the credit card option.   This time the product took 4-5 days to come.  We switched back to Cash on Delivery and what do you know, it came in 2 days.

So, at least in case of BabyOye, if you want faster delivery, opt for Cash on Delivery!

The OTP experience

Many of the credit card issuing Banks have recently introduced a One Time Password (OTP) for doing internet transactions.  Of the credit cards that I have, in case of HDFC Bank, there is an option to choose between OTP and password and in case of HSBC, there is no choice - it is OTP.

So far, I have been using the password option to do internet transactions.  This morning, I decided to pay my cell phone bill using HSBC.   The payment options came up, and on choosing credit card option, the screen to enter credit details came up fine.  Then I was taken to the HSBC site, which asked me to enter OTP.  I kept checking my cell phone but no password came. I clicked on the option to resend OTP, but that seemed to do nothing.  I clicked on a "Help" link which said my cell phone details must be updated in the Bank records for this to work.   This was not a problem in my case, since I was receiving all other Bank communications on my cell phone.
Frustrated, I use HDFC credit card and …

And I thought I got the best deal

One of our cell phones was the good old Nokia model.  A gift from my father-in-law, it was an advanced model at its time - with dual cameras, video recording and so on.  It had a USB connector and a Nokia software (Ovi suite earlier, Nokia suite now) to sync contents.  It had suffered many a fall but survived.  Of late, it had become a little loose at the edges, but otherwise functioned quite well.
The lure of the smartphone was too much to resist and we decided to buy one.  We decided on a few constraints so that the choice could be narrowed. Budget:  Rs.10k : +/- 10% Hardware:  At least dual core, quad core would be greatCamera: At least 5 M pixel, 8 M pixel would be greatDual camera: Preferred (for skype calls)Screen size:  At least 4 inchesOperating System:  Preferably Android  (iOS was outside budget, Windows was ok)In-built memory: At least 512MB, 1 GB would be greatBattery:  Reasonable (we are not heavy users, so not too worried) Even with these constraints, there were way too …

The runaway maid

Our experience with maids to do our household work has been bad.  I keep telling my wife that it is because we set our expectations too high.   We expect them to do a thorough job of cleaning utensils and floors, and keep things spick and span.  We expect them to come on all days at times of our convenience, not take leave, not ask for pay hikes, not ask for salary advances..

When I look back, we pretty much end up having a new maid every six months.  Most of the parting are on amicable terms, where both sides feel it is for the best.  Either it is because the maid is unable to come at a time of our convenience, or because she takes too many leaves.  We have arrived at a compromise on quality of work as well as leaves - I keep telling that things are the same everywhere, including the elite software industry!

We never do a "loss of pay" irrespective of the number of leaves - unlike many others that we have heard of. Again, this is because we want to be considerate - after a…

gnucash and Indian stocks

I have been using gnucash - an open source finance management software to manage my personal finances for several years now.  When I started using it, it was only available on linux.   In fact, it was yet another reason for me to have a linux partition in my personal desktop.  Subsequently, a Windows version was available and I have been using it on my home/office systems.   In fact, there is a Mac version as well which was of use, when I used a Mac.

It is arguably not a simple software to use, especially if you do not have your finance and accounting concepts right.  For all you know, I just use those features that I understand!

Anyway, among various assets that you can add in gnucash is your stocks.  It gives you the current value of the stocks by querying for the data from the internet.  

For the last few days, I have been observing that gnucash has been unable to retrieve this data.  I thought it was some temporary error, especially when the internet is slow or down.  But then …

Income tax efiling

I have always filed my Income Tax returns on my own. Ever since Income Tax department introduced the facility for electronically filing returns, I have been doing the same.

This year was no different.  Having got my Form 16 as well as verified my 26AS, I decided to finish the efiling.  I had downloaded the "utility" excel provided by IT Department a few days back on my office PC.  I had done some edits using Excel 365 installed on it.

I decided to complete the edits and generate the XML on my home laptop.  I opened the excel to find the message

Security warning. Some active content has been disabled.

I clicked on the "Options" to "Enable" the content, only to find the following message:

Can't exit design mode because control 'CmdHelp' cannot be created

My laptop had Office 2007.  It took me a while to figure out how to disable security and enable macros on it.  I changed the settings to allow everything, but the message persisted.

None of t…

The flag waving

I had gone this morning to Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station to receive a relative.  I was well on time and was pleasantly surprised to find the ticket counter open, from where I could buy the platform ticket.

Of course, there was the unpleasant experience too - of a person who barged in from nowhere and  thrust a Rs.5/- in my hand to get another ticket.  This when there was hardly any queue for tickets. The ticket issuer flatly refused to give me the second one!

The train was late and I had the pleasure of watching a couple of passenger trains make their way through the Station.  Each time the train came in, out came a pot-bellied guy in khakhis, holding two flags - a red one and a green one.  He did not wave the flag, but instead waved his hands 5 times to the "Guard" of the train in the back - who did likewise.   As the train began to depart, he waved the green flag 5 times.

What amused me was this ritual in this modern age of electronic signals and sign-boards.  A …

Why are we insensitive

This question came up when I was having coffee with a friend, the other day.

Why are we so insensitive?

What do I mean by insensitive?

Jumping the signalHonking for no reasonRiding without a helmetDriving on the wrong side of the road, blocking oncoming trafficTaking a right turn from the leftmost portion of the road or vice versaParking in no parking area
I can go on... the topic came up when my friend said he was stuck in a traffic jam that was caused when a train going to BEML was trying to cross the NGEF signal.

While the above items are only related to driving on the road, it is not difficult to find such incidents in all walks of our life.

Anyway, my friend had this theory that India was not like this. India had a culture of tolerance, sensitivity and high mutual respect.  So, what went wrong?  It was the British rule which changed this.

India has been invaded by various people for generations.  But most of them stayed on and became part of the country and the culture.  Britain…

On the road with cows

These days I encounter a traffic jam of a different kind commuting from my home to office and back.  It is likely a combination of the route and the time that I commute - I find cows on the road.
They are in all shapes and colors - white, black, brown and shades in between - and in sizes - small and large.  They wander happily on the road, moving from one place to another- looking for food, taking a walk or generally doing nothing.  They munch upon what is available on the road - of which there is no shortage.
Often they are in groups, which means the road is pretty much blocked until they decide to split.  At other times, a calf tries to find its mother or vice-versa.  It is also not unusual to find some of them doing "it" or trying to, in the midst of all the commotion on the street.
What are cows doing in the City?  Shouldn't they be in some nice farm on the outskirts or in nearby villages? Evidently there are families earning their livelihood selling milk from these…

Met office and weather predictions

The media has been discussing the fact that the Met office had warned of "heavy to very heavy rains" in Uttarkhand and warned against "Char Dham yatra".  
I find this very amusing.  I have grown up to the "met office" forecasts of "heavy to very heavy rains" in the Met office report in Doordarshan and All India Radio news.  If we were to analyse the "forecast" against the actuals, I would not be surprised if it were only about 50% accurate.  This is the same success that one has, if one were to predict if the toss of a coin would result in "heads" or "tails".
I have nothing against Met office. I am sure they have competent people who work with the data available.  
In US, I have seen weather reports on the hotel desks.  They say "rains in the evening" or "windy morning" and you can be sure that it is.  And this is not for the state or the city, but for that particular town - a highly localised w…

Dead iPhone

We have been so used to restarting our cell phones that it did not occur to me that this could be a challenge in case of iPhone.

I used to restart my previous Samsung Galaxy Ace android phone pretty much every alternate day - either because the phone hung or it was slow, courtesy the various apps that run on it.    The non-smart Nokia phone that we have got is even easier to restart - and it does restart in a few seconds.   Very often we take out the battery and replace it to get the phone going.

So I reach home yesterday from work and find my iPhone dead.  Pressing the Home button or the Power key did nothing.  Could it be that it had no charge?   I doubted it, since I had put it to charge earlier in the day.

The first thing that came to us was, let us open the phone, take out the battery, put it back ad restart.  So, I opened the protective case of the iPhone to see a clean back and side, with no place anywhere to put my finger in and pull!   Looks like Apple didn't want me to …

Opening a safe deposit locker in SBI

A new branch of SBI opened near my home.  Like other Banks, this one had safe deposit lockers. My wife made a visit to the Branch to enquire about availability of locker.

She was told that the lockers were available but one needed to open a fixed deposit of Rs.5 lakhs to get a small locker and a large amount to get a larger locker.

Me and my wife both have a Savings Bank account with SBI.  We even have a fixed deposit.  This did not apparently matter.

An aunt of ours works in SBI and we told her this.  She was deputed to this branch for a couple of days when the regular manager was on leave.

She helped us do the necessary formalities which helped us initiate transfer of our existing account to this branch and get us a locker.  She did request us to place a fixed deposit, just so that the regular Bank manager would be happy.

We were really lucky.  The regular Manager was pretty unhappy that a locker was issued without "sufficient" fixed deposit being made.  It was evident t…

Banks and SMS charges

Many Banks, including nationalized Banks like SBI have started levying charges for SMS service from June.  Considering Banks have pushed customers to avail of this service in the name of security, this is blatantly unfair.  The charge in case of SBI is Rs.15/- per quarter.   There are others that charges Rs.10/- to Rs.25/- per month.
As it is, there is the annual Debit card charges availed by most Banks.  This again was thrust upon customers. 
First there was the ATM card.  Then came the ATM-cum-debit card.  There are very few Banks which only have ATM cards.  Be as it may be, why should there be an annual charge for it?  Unlike credit cards which expire after a few years and are reissued, I have not seen debit cards being reissued.   To add insult to injury, there is a service tax on the amount - what a service sir ji!  
Talking about ways that Banks make money, here are a few that SBI uses.  I came to know of this when I decided to transfer my account to a new SBI Branch that opene…