Hosting outage

Today, there was a long outage of my site, looks like Manas Hosting is best described by keywords cheap and unreliable. I will have to let everyone know about their poor service and not fall into trap of their Google ads.  There were lots of database errors off late and they couldn’t answer most of my tech queries. 

First Hartal after I resumed blogging

Today, 27-10-07 we are celebrating hartal. By we, I mean people of Palghat, Malapuram, Calicut, Wynad, Kannur and Kasargod. This time its initiated by Muslim League. The party that is the opposition to the state government and which is part of the coalition in the Central Government. The reason for the Hartal – protest against Airport authority and central Govt. for ignoring Calicut airport, against delayed flights and what not. The ignorance and partiality against Calicut Airport is a known fact. Calicut Airport and its passengers have been the cash cow for Air India, Indian Airlines aka Indian through Gulf Malayalees since the Airport was started. They have ensured that no other major international air line  will operate and steal its profits. Delayed flights, abused passengers both by airline authorities and customs is something that happens on a daily basis.

The question is how to act and not react to such problems. To be honest, many a time I too have felt like giving a bang when the airport authorities gave stupid reasons for delayed flights. But doing so wouldn’t solve the problem. This hartal is just going to put the malabar area of Kerala one more day behind. ( Oh! on a side note, I enjoy it 🙂 I can sit and write peacefully about this without any disturbance. I enjoy this silence..)

I was just thinking of a way to react and just thought about Gandhiji. May be the passengers and everybody interested should decide a month of boycotting Calicut Airport let there be a total loss for the airport and airlines for a month. Ideally it should be July August time where the maximum milking takes place, that’s the time when the Mallu’s in Gulf return after vacation. I know there would be lots of inconvenience, but that should be borne by those interested. May be those in the gulf should not take the vacation to Kerala. I think that kind of action by the masses would be more effective than these dump hartals which are clearly politically motivated. For this to happen, there has to be a long term plan, a great leader to initiate the action plan. Anybody’s willing to volunteer ?

Please do post in your opinion using the comment form below..

BSNL GPRS configuration

 

Yesterday I happened to go to Calicut BSNL office. I had an issue with my mobile connection where call forwarding didn’t work. I tried changing the mobile and trying various options, but no luck. Called customer care and they asked to do the usual stuff, turn off the mobile, remove SIM, blah blah. Its really difficult to convey the message that you are technically competent and don’t want to try stupidities ordered by them.

The best part of yesterdays’ trip was that I had a friend, who solved my problem. He made a call and they admitted there was a problem with my no. and after 2 minutes, said it was solved and it just worked. While I was sitting at my friend’s office, I found somebody sitting behind me trying to get GPRS working. Being one of the first customers of BSNL’s GPRS I knew the solution, except for the fact the laptop to be configured was in Vista.

So here’s the important information that you need to know for configuring GPRS on laptop,desktop for BSNL post paid connection.

  1. Install and ensure the modem driver for your mobile is installed.
    (Once everything is done, you’ll find an additional COM port in ports of device manage and a mobile under modems)
  2. Create a dial up connection entry,
    Username : Mobilenumber (don’t put a 0 before the number)
    Password : Mobilenumber (don’t put a 0 before the number)
    Dialup Number: *99#
    UPDATE: No username or password required
    In the properties of the new connection entry, ensure that the modem selected is the newly created modem.
  3. (If you try to connect with these two steps, the connection will progress till authentication. After that you’ll get a PPP link error. The next step is important to prevent that)
  4. Go to device manager select modems, and right click for options of the mobile modem. Click on Advanced and add this to the extra initialization settings.
    AT+CGDCONT=,”IP”,”bsnlsouth”
    UPDATE: replace the above with AT+CGDCONT=,”IP”,”gprssouth.cellone.in”
    UPDATE:2013 replace the above with AT+CGDCONT=,”IP”,”bsnlnet”
    Click OK
  5. That’s it, now connect using the new connection and you should be able to browse the net and do whatever.

Side Note : BSNL officially has not acknowledged that it supports EDGE, but it supports EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)) on select towers, mainly in big towns and cities. The speed is dependent on the network traffic and can have high speed, when the network is not busy. The problem is there’s no way in most mobiles to differentiate between normal GPRS (speed less than 44kbps) and EDGE (can be as high as 236Kbps).
Go in for the unlimited plan if

1) Your area has EDGE.
2) You are using Internet from a laptop or desktop.

Feel free to ask and comment on your success or failure with the above steps.

Working on a community site

For the past many days, I’ve been primarily working on nothing but Drupal and JAL. The site http://jal.sunish.net is the net result. Lots of work is still pending. I used many modules, found the backup module doesn’t work with my host. That reminds me, Manas Hosting seems to have many problems. Their support is lousy. Lots of database problems and looks like they are over selling. Still on php 4  and MySQL 4.
I used the paypal and donation module and that required couple of edits, to change the donation request. Once everything’s over I think I’ll list all the modules that I used and its pros and cons. Discovered and reported a bug in the FAQ module where certain options in categories results in sprintf bug.

I don’t know how many more days will be required befores the whole site is complete.

The Birth of a New WordPress Blog and My First thoughts on WordPress and Drupal

After hours,days,weeks and months of thinking, I finally installed WordPress for blogging and Drupal for the rest of it. I know its not an uncommon scenario, but everything with WordPress seems to be easier.

Let me list the already known facts of why WordPress is better for blogging with an out of the box WordPress install.

Yes, both Drupal and WordPress require you to create a new database and have its login information. So what’s the difference, Drupal being a complicated monster show’s its complication and power with a long installation doc. Drupal supports other databases than Mysql but MySQL seems to be the database that has most support.

Why I chose to blog with WordPress instead of Drupal?

  1. No need to learn about taxonomy, categories and tags to use it from the beginning. With Drupal you got to learn and configure the taxonomy module to get started. 
  2. Uploading images, to blog posts is automatic and very easy with WordPress whether you use an offline blog upload tool like WLW or even with the built in web editor of tiny MCE. Something, that’s not possible with a default Drupal installation. 
  3. Windows Live Writer(WLW), an offline blog publisher works seamlessly with WordPress. No tweaking necessary to get categories working with WordPress, but Drupal has lots of problems in getting categories and tags to work with WLW.
  4. WordPress import from other blogging tools work so well and you have options to import from almost any platform. I was able to import easily from www.blogspot.com .  The import options don’t require any plugins to be installed in WordPress. Drupal requires external modules to be installed and your options are limited for a direct import. You need to convert to a particular file format, export and then import.
  5. WordPress gets you going on a fast start with less power, but more ease of use. Drupal with more power and flexibility is more complex, with a not so intuitive user interface.

This is my first blog post with WLW on to my WordPress blog and Drupal site..

Excel Rounding Bug and its solution

For many days I was working on a software for automating the daily accounts of our theatre. The software I developed will generate a QIF file that can be imported to Microsoft Money. I used excel automation within delphi to do the printing of DCR (Daily Collection Report). A copy of the DCR is provided to the film distributor. Since quite a lot calculation is involved and the printing has to be formatted I chose excel. It was then that I found that the printed values after the decimal point was not tallying with the Reps report. I knew its’s well known rounding error, but didn’t know its solution. After some googling I found this link http://www.cpearson.com/excel/rounding.htm where a detailed explanation is given. Eventhough the page is a bit dated the solution still works. Just go to Tools,Options and in the Calculation tab you got to check the option of Precision as displayed. Problem solved. Looks like the setting is saved on the open workbook.