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.

Mishaps happen in bulk

For the past many days there were problems both in the Mill and theatre. In the mill, the already old expellers, yes both of them stopped working. Both of them are aged work horses. Luckily the one that was not being used could be repaired to the extend of getting the job done.   

In the theatre too, something went wrong. The two QSC ISA 750 conked. Apparently, smoke came through the front vents. The interesting part is that just around an hour back both of them were working fine. These amplifiers powered the centre,left,right and sub woofer channels of the DTS system. The surround sound amplifier, processor and DTS player has no problems. All of the devices were powered through the servo. The voltage levels seemed to be fine and it was powered through the generator. God knows why ssuch things happen. I opened the amps and found that two capacitors were damaged, huge 16000uF caps, funny part was both the amps had the same cap blown. One of the amps did not even power on but the other has no problems with the power. Gave the amps for repair, expected to get in another 2 days. By tomorrow it becomes a week since the amplifiers conked.

I don’t know to what mysterious reasons I can attribute the mishaps, but its a fact that I have been a bit disinterested. There was also an employee compensation issue that made me feel quite bad. I hope things would change for the better.

How to write a product or service review ?

I was just thinking of starting to write reviews about products and services. Naturally I intend to review only those products or services that I use. It has to be true, unbiased opinion. So I first thought if I make a general procedure on how to write a review it might be helpful for me and others on similar grounds. Well I can also write reviews on movies and books, but may be I’ll cover that in another posting.

Its always easier to answer questions even when you are on a stage freight session. So I think, I’ll just list out questions and some tips where in the answers to the questions and the tips will help you to be more creative in writing a review.

Here are 11 tips in writing a product/service review

  1. Be honest and truthful about the product or service that you review.
    You are writing the review so that it can be helpful to somebody else. Why cheat ? You should not get somebody into the same trap that you fell into. There’s no problem in being opinionated, its your review, but be faithful to what you do.
  2. Make Notes while using the product or service that you are going to review
    Its quite easy to forget, so while using the product just make a note. Use your PDA (I use my  Treo 650 with Splash Notes) or any note taking software, if noting’s available just use the classic pen and paper.
  3. State the antecedents
    Your readers might be interested in knowing how you bought and got to know the product and your background information. The context might be important as the reader can skip the review altogether if its unimportant to them. It also gives a personal touch and adds genuineness to the review.
  4. General Features and Limitations
    There are advertised features which you might easily find on the product website. Go deeper, make a difference by looking out for the not so obvious features. Something that you truly liked. Be critical, but not insulting while stating the cons.
  5. Usability
    I’m one of those guys who’s interested in usability. Almost anything that you use will have an interface that makes it more usable or maybe something that irritates you by making you go all the way around your head, to touch your nose. for software and hardware products, you can state about your installation and configuration experience.
  6. Aesthetics and Durability
    Yes, looks can be deceiving and beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. My wife can better tell about the aesthetics of a product, about the color combination. The general saying is that beauty and brains don’t go together. But still there’s something that anybody can tell regarding the looks of a product and its something that you can write about.
  7. Cost
    For some cost is not an issue, but for the majority its the price that counts in ultimate decision making. I generally look out for the Price Vs Performance ratio. I look out for the maximum features that I can get for the given price. Stating the price in the review gives the reader more options. It will help him in knowing whether his deal is worth.
  8. Benchmarking
    This is the difficult part, you might have to do some research and testing.  Some sites like notebookreview.com give guidelines on benchmarking tools and their download links. If the product or service doesn’t warrant benchmarking or if you can’t just don’t do it. Also note that it might be a violation of the license terms.
  9. Comparison with similar products
    Anybody reading your review will definitely like to know about similar products that you considered while buying the product. So give the share of information that you got in doing the research. While comparing be careful not to compare Apples with  Oranges. If your comparison is generalized like comparing fruits, yes you can compare apples and oranges.
  10. Have screen shots or photos
    Having photos of products or screen shots (if its  software) would definitely enhance your review. Just ensure that your photos are not bandwidth hogging  monsters. It can also give a hint on the aesthetics of the product.
  11. Conclude
    Write a conclusion whether its worth it, do you like it and for whom can you recommend the product or service.

Want to add more, feel free to comment..

What’s the difference between Indian Railway AC Chair car, 2 Tier AC and 3 Tier AC compartments ?

Here’s the excerpt from Wikipedia

1A
The First Class AC: This is the most expensive class, with fares which can be on par with airlines. Bedding is included with the fare in IR. This air conditioned coach is present only on popular routes between metropolitan cities and can carry 18 passengers. The coaches are carpeted, have sleeping accommodation and have privacy features like personal coupes.

2A
AC-Two tier: Air conditioned coaches with sleeping berths, ample leg room, curtains and individual reading lamps. Berths are usually arranged in two tiers in bays of six, four across the width of the coach then the gangway then two berths longways, with curtains provided to give some privicy from those walking up and down. Bedding is included with the fare. A broad gauge coach can carry 48 passengers.

FC
First Class: Same as 1AC, without the air conditioning. Such coaches are not very common.

3A
AC Three tier: Air conditioned coaches with sleeping berths. Berths are usually arranged as in 2AC but with three tiers across the width and two longways as before giving eight bays of eight. They are slightly less well appointed, usually no reading lights or curtained off gangways. Bedding is included with fare. It carries 64 passengers in broad gauge.

Note :- Power plug points are provided on some AC coaches, depends on your luck. One important thing about the power provided is that its 110V AC and not the standard Indian AC voltage 230V AC. For laptops and mobile chargers its okay as most of the current adapters have SMPS that can tolerate input supplies from 100 to 260V AC.

CC
AC Chair Car: An air-conditioned seater coach with a total of five seats in a row used for day travel between cities.

EC
Executive Class Chair Car: An air-conditioned seater coach with a total of four seats in a row used for day travel between cities.

SL
Sleeper Class: The sleeper class is the most common coach, and usually up to ten coaches could be attached. These are regular sleeping coaches with three berths vertically stacked. In broad gauge, it carries 72 passengers per coach.

2S
Seater class: same as AC Chair car, but without the air-conditioning.

G
General: The cheapest accommodation, with seats made of pressed wood. A seat may not be guaranteed and tickets are issued usually two hours before the scheduled departure of the train. These coaches are usually heavily crowded.

 

Now what I wanted to note was AC 3tier is more expensive than AC Chair car but Indian Railway Catering and Tourism (IRCTC) doesn’t give any benefit for AC 3 Tier  travel  while using Shubh Yatra Card. BTW the card is the Frequent Traveler card provided with an initial charge. The only benefit apart from getting free tickets on reaching 500 points is that you don’t have to purchase platform tickets when you have the card. Its unfair in not giving points for AC 3 tier as the charges are higher than AC chair car. I wonder who gave such great ideas to Indian Railways

All Kerala BJP Hartal

Another week, another hartal. Today’s hartal was initiated by BJP, against the formation of Salem Railway division. Does the hartal make any difference. Yeah the only difference is that it can push Kerala backwards, by a day. The political parties are just using people who are already lazy. I heard on some interviews that people really welcomed the Hartal quoted by a BJP leader.

For me, today was not as productive as the previous hartal day. Spent a lot of time on the net but didn’t actually add any content. Did some research of voice cards. Found that Dialogic doesn’t belong to Intel anymore.

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.