I’ve become a father

After  months of wait .. my wife delivered a baby girl on November 29th and I’ve become a father.

I was tensed and curious. Tensed because of the unexpected trip to the hospital due to fluid leakage and because she had chicken pox during pregnancy. Curious to know whether our new born would be a boy or girl.

Got extremely busy for many days and couldn’t blog for quite some time…

Here are some photos of our new family member.

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Feeling so sleepy… 

 

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Deep but calm sleep..

 

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Thoughtful….

Fresh Engineering Graduate Training Topics

I was just thinking of starting a course for Computer Science and Electronics Engineers who have just passed out of College.

The topics that I thought of covering can be split into the following sections, covering what I call the basics.

Basic  Networking / Internet

  • Protocols (TCP/IP, NWLink, NetBios )
  • Application protocols, ports, configuring POP,SMTP,IMAP,NNTP,FTP,
  • Routers,ADSL, dynamic DNS,WIFI
  • Trouble shooting tips, techniques
  • Search Techniques,  Newsgroups search, Torrents
  • Web hosting, blogging, CMS, Adsense, search engine optimization, tools,tips and techniques
  • VPN, Open VPN

PC Trouble Shooting Assembling

  • BIOS – what can be done, basic and advanced techniques.
  • ISA,PCI, PCI Express, AGP and newer bus topology
  • PCMCIA,ExpressCard
  • Various Boot CDs, booting from Flash disk, CDROM
  • Drive imaging techniques, software, nLIte, VLite
  • SysInternals

Telecom

  • Mobile – GSM,CDMA,EDGE,GPRS,Evdo, SMS – PDU/Text formats
  • Land line – ISDN- BRI,PRI, PSTN,PABX,SMDR
  • IP Telephony

Software

  • Various OSes, basic command, shortcut keys etc., Separating DATA from OS, Data Recovery
  • OS differences, versioning
  • Freeware useful Utilities, registry hacks
  • Programing –  Source Control, UI design, Registry, Dotnet, Network programming tricks, techniques, tools(packet sniffers).
  • Virtual Machine Software -VMWare (Snapshots,Serial Ports on VMs) Virtual PC, Live CDS 
  • Sysinternals tools

Electronics

  • Basic electronic circuits
  • Batteries, chargers
  • Microcontrollers – PIC
  • Simulators, Emulators
  • Serial Port, USB, Bluetooth
  • PCB design with Eagle

Will add more as and when required or when I get new ideas. If you are in or around Calicut and needs training on the above topics, please contact me using the contact form of this site.

Trip to Ernakulam

Personal Useless Stuff ; just for twitter 🙂
After a long time I came to Ernakulam from Calicut by car. The intended purpose was staying with my expectant wife till delivery. The road (NH 17) seems to be very much okay when compared to the previous trips. But took a long time to reach Alwaye and felt quite tired. The main reason was the failure of the air conditioner. For many days there were problems with the aircon, but since it was all short trips it was not much of a problem. There was no cooling, but the compressor seemed to get loaded, there was the typical loading sound difference of the engine when the A/C was turned on.

How to show update availability for a windows program on a PHP/Drupal site ?

With the release of the new version of Jaledit, I thought of introducing a new feature to all my programs. It’s the typical check for updates. I found that Opera does something similar, where in, when the check for update menu option is clicked, a message is displayed if there are no updates. If there’s an update the web page with the download link for the new version of Opera is is displayed.

I didn’t want a fully automatic update where the update file is downloaded in the background for selfish reasons (I want a page hit ) 🙂
So here’s the base spec in my terms

  1. Have a check for updates menu item in the main form and button in the about box form of my Delphi program JALEdit.
  2. Once the user clicks the option, the JALEdit webpage is displayed .
  3. Display message on the page about the status of the update on the top of the page.

My PHP skills = 0, Delphi skills = Advanced

Digging a bit around PHP documentation led to  version_compare, generally used to check PHP versions, but works quite well for program versions as well.

Here’s the code that does the job
$latest = ‘0.5.6’; // define your latest version
$ver = $_GET[‘ver’]; // for me this is like a command line argument get whatever is there after ?ver=
if  ($ver)  // Do the check only if the version info is passed  if its just http://jal.sunish.net/jaledit then nothing happens
 {
if (version_compare($latest,$ver) == 1) // there is an update available
print(“<hr/><strong>”.”An update to JALEdit is available. Latest version is :”.$latest.”</strong>”) ;
 // display in bold about update status in between 2 lines
else
print(“<hr/><strong>”.”No update available.You are using the latest version.”.”</strong>”);
print “<hr/>”;
}

What I learnt,

  1. version_compare()  functions compares versions with “.”.
  2. $_GET[‘variable’] – function to sort of retrieve command line argument.
  3. . is equivalent to + for string concatenation.
  4. A semicolon is required before the else clause (different from Pascal syntax)

Delphi Code

procedure TfrmSecMain.acncheckUpdatesExecute(Sender: TObject);
var
  tempStr: string;
begin
  tempStr := 'http://jal.sunish.net/jaledit?ver=';

  with TJclFileVersionInfo.Create(Application.ExeName) do
  try
    tempStr := tempstr + Format('%s', [FileVersion]);
  finally
    Free;
  end;
  ShellExecute(0, 'open', pcHAR(tempStr), '', '', SW_SHOW);
end;

The Delphi code is pretty straight forward with the JCL function to retrieve the file version from the exe file and that’s passed to the Shellexecute function to do a default browser call.

The PHP code I guess should work with wordpress and any CMS.

 

FCK Editor installation problems and other notes on Import HTML module of Drupal

FCKEditor 2.5 Beta version does not work on Opera Versions below 9.5 Beta.

  • Replacing old version of Drupal FCK results in an error (user warning: Table ‘user328_jal.fckeditor_settings’ doesn’t exist query: SELECT * FROM fckeditor_settings in D:Projectswwwsitesjal.sunish.netincludesdatabase.mysql.inc on line 172.) the error results even if upgrade script is run.
  • The right process is to uninstall, hopefully that will remove the tables that can otherwise cause problems from the db.
  • Import html requires tidy module. The exe version seems to work and is more reliable than the PHP module. The path has to be windows style with the back slash if you are running on windows.
  • Disable the path auto module  or you will end up with totally screwed up links from the imported site.

GPRS Activation and Deactivation procedure for BSNL Postpaid connections

Being one of the early adopters of GPRS in Kerala, I thought I knew what’s going on with BSNL GPRS. Time and again I was proved that my knowledge is limited. I wanted to change my GPRS Plan to Plan 199 and had thought that required a letter. I had suggested to BSNL employees and customer care how easy it would be if that was possible through SMS. In fact it was possible for Prepaid customers and I was told Postpaid users are less and the feature is likely not to be implemented. For me to give the letter to customer care I have to travel around 80 kms in total and wait for the activation. Now with my friend in BSNL office I was confident I could get it done fast. To my surprise I was told it can be done by sending an SMS.

So the procedure is as follows.

To deactivate BSNL GPRS on postpaid connection

Send an SMS to 53733 (3733 was the suggested number but with the new numbering an from the reply SMS no that I got it should be 53733) with the following message.

GPRSD

For activating Plan49 send GPRS49 and for Plan 199 send GPRS199 to 53733. You’ll get a reply SMS asking for confirmation to which you got to reply with GPRS49Y and GPRS199Y respectively. The activation seems to take more time than deactivation and it could take upto 24hours.

The important thing about the service was that it was notified by BSNL officially and it will probably work for only customers in the south zone.

A search with google lead to this doc http://www.ap.bsnl.co.in/mmsgprs/Portal%20link%20documents/Manual-Device+Settings.doc Why can’t they summarize the information and present it decently ? Looks like I got to do it, with all major mobile service providers, their data plans, APN names, activation and deactivation procedures etc would make good blog post.

Does the ATM/Debit Card Expire ?

Yesterday I got a new Visa ATM card for my Federal Bank Account. The expiry date is in 2017. The previous card was valid only for 3 years and the new one has a validity period of 10 years. I was told the old one will work without any problems. I tested and it indeed worked. I guess the bank auto renewed the old one and associated it with my account. Since the new one has a different card number, there’s no conflict of PINs.. However I just changed the new one’s PIN to the old one. So if you have a Federal bank account and thought that the card expired on expiry date, don’t worry, you an continue to use it.

Paypal lets you accept money through Indian Banks

Not news anymore and I have not yet received any payments through paypal yet ,but I have a donation link at http://jal.sunish.net/donate.

I decided to go through the paypal process to accept money through my ICICI bank account in Calicut. After going through the profile option and Add bank of paypal website, it was asking for IFSC code.  A quick search revealed no result, but I accidentally stumbled upon

http://www.joycebabu.com/blog/paypal-supports-direct-withdrawal-to-bank-account.html where he has listed the the RBI link at http://www.idrbt.ac.in/index_fromsm.html?ifsc_directory.html?infinet

Finished through the process and got this threat

“Please make sure that the information you provided is complete and correct. Otherwise, the amount will be returned to your PayPal account (deducting any bank charges) and a return fee of 250.00 INR will be charged.”

and

It can take 5-7 business days to complete this transfer, depending on your bank’s holiday schedule and payment policies.”

Still not bad, for receiving money from the following banks SBI,Bank Of India, Canara Bank (No net banking in most places), Union bank, HDFC, ICICI, Axis, Standard Chartered, HSBC and ING Vysya.

So Why Should I have a personal domain name ?

Of course for businesses you have no choice, you got to get one for the n number of reasons that you might get on a Google search. Long time back my good old friend Shankar Subrahmanian asked me What do you do with a domain name ? 

So here are the pros and cons of having a domain name in your name.

Advantages

  • You feel as if you are one the web, on the net, having a web presence or identity or what ever.
  • Have a stylish email id root@root.com or me@me.com or whatever@whatever.whatever . Yes most domain names will let you have unlimited email ids and you can have a catch all email id so that you can get all spam.
  • You can find the web site who spammed you. On the  registration form on various websites, give the email id as websitename@yourdomainname and use the catchall option to get the registration info.  Later you can know when you get an unknown newsletter, or spam from which web site it actually originated or which web site sold your email address.
  • You don’t loose your identity till you stop renewing your domain.
  • You can register and get free samples of products from sites like http://microchip.com where they do not accept emails from hotmail,yahoo or gmail or any free email providers.
  • Create as many accounts that you want for invite by email id sites. You can have multiple Gizmo accounts or anything that offers a service or product for free.
  • Provide great content and your site becomes a brand, a sellable commodity something like a business entity.

Disadvantages

  • Spam
  • Spam
  • and more spam with catch all
  • Its like you lost your anonymity, anybody can contact you. You have a  forced identity. Well you asked for it …
  • You got to pay renewal fee every year 🙁
  • You got to have hosting and have to pay for it 🙁

I want to add more, but here’s a start. do comment and add more advantages or disadvantages.

Driving madness and stupidities in India

Yesterday morning I had gone to Mahe by car and I thought I’ll make a note of the usual stupidities or lack of road sense by my fellow drivers. The confusing signals given by some drivers might be helpful for foreigners driving in India.

Here are the most common counter intuitive confusions and tips in surviving road traffic in India.

  • Putting the indicator to the right, to indicate to the vehicle following that you can over take.
    The worst part is if you wait for the vehicle in front to turn right, it will never happen, and if you decide to overtake and if the drive really meant to turn right, you are in for a crash.
  • Hazard warning indicator to go straight
    I don’t know who started it, but I have seen this happening since the hazard warning indicators started to appear in Ambassador cars. If you try to teach someone he’ll never learn goes the old saying. Try convincing a driver about what it is and he’ll reply, you have right and left indicators and how can you indicate that you want to go straight in an A/C car.
  • Beware of bus drivers, they might stop anywhere 
    Buses are like friends, they come in various sizes and shapes. Some may just barge in, some may force you down the road, overtake you and then stop abruptly in front of you at the next stop.And where is the stop you might ask, its the place where the driver feels like stopping, it tends to be the middle of the road, ensuring that you can’t overtake.
  • Humps and bumps
    Can appear anywhere, sometimes with a sign board and sometimes without. Those incredible roads do test to alertness while driving.
  • Road cuttings
    These are found in most places, as the roads are re tarred the thickness increases and the sides end up having cuttings. Sometimes the difference can be so much that it can overturn your vehicle if you make a sudden turn.
  • Potholes, drainage, fountains
    Potholes appear every year in most Indian roads. Kerala roads are well known for their deep holes that can damage your spine and drive you nuts. yes you might find fountains in the middle of the road when water pipes are broken. Be careful of the drainage, the slabs might fall off most of the time if you drive over it.
  • People, Cows, elephants and Tipper Lorries
    Watch out for all these, night or day. In some places you’ll find people who’ll actually bend in such a way that the vehicle can pass without touching their butt, and without moving their feet. Honking makes no difference, they’ll just not move until the vehicle has passed.

That’s it for now, add your comments so that I can I add that to list of things to watchout while driving in India.