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Showing posts from February, 2014

The Amazon experience

I wanted to get a tablet for my parents.  I had been eyeing Lenovo Idea Tab A3000 for a while since it had good specs and good reviews.

What part of the specs were relevant to me?
a) 3G / data support without external device:  my parents did not have wi-fi and I did not want another device to be connected for this.
b) Processor - quad core processor - decent speed
c) Memory - 16GB memory (about 13GB available) - good to store a lot of pictures and songs
d) Price - < Rs.15k

I monitored the prices in the internet for a while and could see it vary daily in different ecommerce sites, but never dropping below Rs.13k.   But one day, I saw it at Rs.12,999/- in Amazon.in.  I had never shopped in amazon before (preferring FlipKart and eBay), and thought this was a good opportunity to try it out.

Amazon already had my profile (since I had registered previously in amazon.com).  To my surprise, they had my credit card details (I had specified this as part of EC2 registration).

I placed the …

The Macbook purchase experience

A colleague of mine wanted to get a Macbook.  He has been having this urge for a while now, but finally succumbed to it, deciding to use his annual bonus money for it.

The iPlanet showroom in Indira Nagar was the nearest place for it and we went over it from office.

After a lengthy comparison of various models, features and stuff, involving a friendly salesman (whom we knew earlier since we have made a few other prior Mac purchases), we narrowed in on a 13" retina model with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD.  (In India, you only have specified variations of the configurations unlike US, where you can apparently customize)

Anyway, that particular model was out of stock.  The salesman called us a day later once the model was available and we went over again.

We wanted to avail the EMI offer provided by Bajaj Finance.  The total amount is divided into 9 - 3 of which needed to paid upfront and the remaining 6 to be paid in 6 equal installments over 6 months.  I had bought a Macbook for my comp…

As the train arrives

My parents were arriving by a train which reached K R Puram around 3.45 AM.   I had kept the alarm for 3.15 AM, but was up earlier.

The car ride to K R Puram (a 5 km distance via Kaggadasspura Level Crossing) took 15 minutes.  I was surprised to see a car entering the Parking area of the station - I thought people would park on the road, it being early in the morning.  That driver inspired me to park my car inside as well.  Of course, the road around the Station was filled with autos, with drivers hanging around to blackmail arriving passengers.

Chennai-Mysore Express pulled up to Platform 4 - a newly renovated platform that adjoins the "back entrance" of K R Puram.  Back entrance is a misnomer since that is the frequented entrance to the Station.  I have never seen a train stop at Platform 1 and have never had a reason to go to that platform.  Perhaps it is there for legacy reasons.

The Reservation Center was closed and there was no open counter for platform ticket.  I loo…

Book review - Planning for Big Data

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Planning for Big Data - A CIO's Handbook to the Changing Data Landscape (Published by OReilly and Released in March 2012) is more a collection of articles (more than a book) by Edd Dumbill.

It starts with an Introductory chapter on who should read the book and why. There are then two chapters on big data - what it is, what are its attributes, how do they come, how are they used and the challenges with them.

The book then talks about Apache Hadoop, the flagship big data framework. It then looks at how enterprise vendors have used Hadoop - taking  EMC, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle as examples. It also devotes sections to exclusive big data vendors like Cloudera and Hortonworks.

There is a separate chapter on Microsoft's plan for big data.

Another chapter deals with the challenges of keeping big data in the cloud and talks about the leading cloud players of big data - Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Data Marketplace comes next, which is an interesting concept in itself. It is followed…

Recent experience with buildr

I have a pet project that I occasionally fiddle with.  When I started it (a few years back), it was to learn some of the spring framework features.  Subsequently, out of my interest, I also got the project building with various build tools.

These days, I do two things with the project.:
Upgrade dependencies and ensure it is working with the latest versions of the dependencies.Ensure it is building with the latest versions of the build tools - maven, gradle and buildr. Having set the context, let me now narrate my experiences getting the project building with the latest version of buildr.

It has been a while since I played with buildr.  These days, it is mostly ant, occasionally maven, and recently, gradle (courtesy Google - through Android Studio).

Maven is stable with very little happening.  Gradle is being continuously enhanced and is one of the most active build tools. (A different story - building an android project with each gradle upgrade)

I don't recall my system configura…

Signature mismatch and fingerprint

The Bank Account Opening form of a colleague of mine was rejected three times.  All the three times for the same reason - signature mismatch.  The application form needed signatures in three or four places and my colleague could not get the signatures to match!  (And before you get any wrong thoughts - he was sober) He has submitted his application the fourth time. Let us see how that goes!

But the whole exercise made me think.

Now that many of us have aadhaar cards and the Government has a lot of our biometric information available, is it not time to integrate these into the Banking system?

Take Bank accounts, for instance.  Given an aadhaar card number and say, a fingerprint or two, Banks should be able to pull out relevant information and use it in account opening or any other place where verification is required. (It is a different story that just linking aadhaar to a Bank account involves some effort today)

Previously fingerprints (or thumb impressions) were considered a sign of…

The Mystery of the Broken Tailgate Glass

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It was a Saturday morning.  Our door bell rang. It was the person who dusted/cleaned the car in our apartment.

"The tailgate glass of your car is broken", said he.

We went to our Parking and there it was - the glass was broken.  Some of the broken pieces were on the ground, some inside the car.  Some were still left in the frame.

Our car is parked adjacent to a tall compound wall. The height of the wall would have made it difficult for even a large stone to hit and make an impact on the glass.  There were no stone or sharp pieces either inside the glass or nearabouts.  The glass had not broken so much that a person could have gone inside and removed the incriminating evidence, if any.

We called the Office Manager of the Apartment, who in turn, called the Security.

He said, "The guy who does the ironing, heard a sound as he was leaving.  It was the sound of breaking glass. I called your home"

Indeed, someone had called around 11.30 PM or so in the intercom. It was…

When gas leaks

A couple of days back, our LPG cylinder got over.  Since we have a second cylinder, we opened it up to connect that to the regulator.  After connecting, when we switched on the regulator, we could hear a hissing sound - the sound of gas escaping.

We tried this a couple of times - there was no mistake.  There was a leak.

There are three numbers for gas leaks printed on the LPG receipt - a land line and two cell numbers.  We dialed one of the cell numbers.  The recipient, in turn, gave us another number.  That number rang but no one picked up.

After a few minutes, we tried the number again.  This time it was picked up. The receiver noted down the details and said someone will come in a couple of hours.

This was around 7 AM.

The person from Indane (or was it IOC) came around 10.30 AM.  Even before coming, we asked him, if we would get a replacement cylinder. He said that that would not be required as he suspected the washer of the cylinder was bad.

After the person came home, he examin…

Watching Gravity in 3D

I got another set of BookMyShow vouchers courtesy my credit card issuing Bank.  After a brief discussion with friends, I decided that this time we would watch Gravity in 3D.  You must remember that watching a movie with a 2.5 year old boy is no child's play!
BookMyShow booking sucked.  They had not incorporated my previous feedback of allowing multiple Winpin coupons to be specified for a single booking.  This meant, I had to book two tickets separately praying while booking the first one that one of the adjacent seats remained free for me to book the second.   Though the ticket cost is Rs.228/- or so (including the Rs.28/- for internet, convenience and stuff) and my coupon was Rs.250/-, I still needed to pay Rs.28/- by card since it looks like the coupon only covers ticket cost and not the other charges.   This meant, I had Rs.50/- left over of the two coupons, but I see no way of using it, especially since I can't combine them for a Rs.100/- ticket (if there is such a ticke…

Renewing my PPF account

I have a PPF account with SBI which I had started on 26th December 1998.  (You will ask me, why does the date matter - but therein lies the purpose of this blog  The tenure of a PPF account is 15 years after which it can be withdrawn or renewed for a further period of 5 years.

I went to the Vibuthipura Branch of SBI (where I have my PPF account) on 1st Jan 2014 with the intent to renew the account.  (By simple mathematics, my account had completed 15 years on 26th December 2013).

The Manager was on leave.  The officer-in-charge thought a bit, looked around and said "We don't have the form for renewal.  Why don't you give us a request letter?"

I borrowed a paper, wrote a request and gave it to the staff.  She asked me to specify my cell number so that she can contact, if required.

Subsequently, I googled around and found that one needed to fill a specific form to seek extension of PPF account.  If it is SBI, it is this form, while in case of Post Office, it is this