Monday, December 15, 2008

The irony of this volte-face on net neutrality

The volte-face change of stance on network neutrality by some of the biggest players smacks of irony and a scamper for $$ at any cost.

Google Wants Its Own Fast Track on the Web

I'm not really an expert on net neutrality, but this one sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth for the way in which the biggies are retreating or doing an about turn :(

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2008 November Rains

The parking lot of the building behind my apartment complex was submerged in rains during the Novemeber rains. They had to pump out the water with around 5 pumps for 3-4 days continuously. Several cars were submerged above seat level in water - anywhere between 10-30K Rupees in repairs was the comment I heard. This is not the first time this has happened for them. Nor will it probably be the last :(

Their parking lot is below the ground level when compared to the road and the design is flawed - causing water to stagnate and cause the enormous swimming pool (200ft x 150ft size of apartment complex).

 
 
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 08, 2008

List of Fiction Books

In case you haven't noticed the links on my blog sidebar, here's the list of fiction books I'm reading / have read / plan to read.

I used to track / post this via allconsuming.net, but I prefer to have something neater (don't want to bother about whether a book is first edition, paper back / hard bound, etc). Do you have any suggestions of what else I could use to share this list ? Ideally, I'd want at least the XML/RSS/ATOM feed of my blog to be updated with my most recent read book, just by adding it to that list.

Interestingly, linkedin.com now provides an application to share books you are reading, but that's more in an "professional" context.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Youtube on my mobile (nokia 6233)

Thanks to Opera Mini, I learnt that I could see YouTube videos on my mobile (Nokia 6233), via m.youtube.com.

P.S: Not that I'm a big fan of youtube videos, it's just that it's possible and convenient now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

6+ minutes to boot

My office laptop takes about 6 minutes 20 seconds to be finally ready for regular action. There's a gazillion stuff that it loads and I keep wondering about which to keep knocking off without having to put it back on again.

The machine - Dell Latitude 530, Intel Core 2 Duo, T7250 @ 2GHz, 1GB RAM @ 777MHz, running Win XP SP2.

I'm guessing that my home machine, HP nx7400 also probably takes around the same time, will time it another day.

P.S: The reason I'm writing this now is I had to reboot my device and was timing it due to the general frustration I've had with ultra slow boot times.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reliable, Free Online Backup Storage

Mozy, an online storage company from the storage world leader EMC is offering free online backup storage upto 2.2GB. For those who need more space, unlimited backup at less than $5 per month.

Referring a friend helps me get 512MB additional free storage if the friend signs up via my referral link. Hence, can you please sign up for free online backup storage via my referral URL ?

Hint, hint ... :)
Please use the following URL for signup.
https://mozy.com/?ref=C7HREM

Kindly note that EMC is a very large company and one of the leaders in the storage space (hence less fear of your content being abused) and Mozy has received good comments as far as privacy is concerned. So, rest assured that your data will be safe by any normal standards.

Alternate options for online storage backup include cloud storage via Amazon S3 Storage from players like Jungle Disk. I'm intending to trying that as well if I get a chance for a free edition. The one "true" issue with all of this that I see that my home bandwidth is a puny 128kbps link and most of the services are not in India (local access could speedup things a bit).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nokia 5800

Kinda waiting for Nokia 5800 to launch in India, quite tempted by it :) Don't think I'll end up buying it in the near future though.

Will be interesting to watch
* the price factor across the globe as well
* the ExpressMusic / "Comes with Music" facility hitting Indian shores, if at all

My Nokia 6233 does a decent job, although the S40 platform does have its limitations.

Not having an S60 platform (with its world of applications), Wi-fi connection, large touch screen, qwerty keyboard, etc adds to the yearning :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bad Construction or Freak Accident ?




The compound wall between our apartment and the one behind us caved overnight (exact time not known to me). Makes me shudder when I think what would have happened in case it was evening time or so when kids could have been playing around, or for that matter anyone walking by.

Incidentally, the builder is the same for both these apartment complexes and has also built the wall in between.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Domain renewal and billing quirks ...

For those interested in quirky details of Google Checkout, read on :) Others, don't blame me for the long post. You've been warned :)

I have my domain lakkaraju.net registered via Google Apps Standard Edition provision via Enom.com. The account is setup for automatic renewal on my credit card via Google Checkout. Easy and convenient for use. I'm not getting into the security aspect at the moment.

Situation:
Google sends out a mail about 2 months in advance of the domain expiry date that the domain is about to expire. Offers an option to renew the domain on that date or have it happen automatically via Google Checkout about 15 days prior to expiry.

I chose the "automatic" renewal option. On the d-day of "automatic" renewal, I didn't see any notice. After the d-day, when I went to Google Checkout, the site doesn't show the order details. However, when I login to my apps account, it shows that renewal did take place.

So, either something's wrong with Google Checkout billing details or I'm missing something. Don't know if this is a known issue.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recommendations needed for UPS

I need to have an UPS to keep up the following devices

* DLink ADSL modem
* Linksys Wireless Router

I don't need this UPS to power/backup PCs (desktops).

* What is the capacity of UPS required ?
* How much time will it be able to power on the devices ?
* Any recos for specific makes ?
* Any recos for places to buy from (in Chennai) ?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Government Web site infrastructure still not upto mark

It doesn't bode very well when the website for the government isn't up and running 24x7. Right now (around 8am, 2-Oct-2008, Thursday), the Tamil Nadu government website is down. Infact, even the name resolution (nslookup) doesn't pass !

Irrespective of whether it's a hack or just infrastructure down, something is certainly amiss.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Google Phone to arrive in India in December ?

So says this article. Keeping my fingers crossed about the veracity of this report as well as the pricing !

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Scramble for ideas

"Scramble" is probably putting it too loud and mostly clamoring for the headline :)

But if you see the number of companies paying to get ideas off the general public, it is indeed interesting.

I'm not counting the true blood VCs in this game, for it's their daily work. Some of the ones below are turning into that category. I'm just making an observation of some companies that I've seen make such offers in the recent past.

First it was Cisco with IPrize
Next I heard of Future Group with Future Ventures
Then, I saw Airtel come up with Airtel Innovation Fund
And now, I'm seeing Google come up with Project 10 to the 100th !
(The above list is in no chronological order, only as I saw it).

Interesting trend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Need RSS Toolbar on Firefox

What I need is a toolbar on Firefox that's just like the bookmark/status/... toolbar and is separate from the tabs interface. That way I can subscribe to RSS feeds and see them within the browser window, but don't have to be within a page/tab.

Something on the lines of Gmail's Web Clips, but as a toolbar within firefox.

Anyone know of anything like this ?

Update: Found RSS Ticker (add-on to Firefox)

And, I'm back with Firefox

Inspite of trying and liking Google's Chrome, I'm back with Firefox - at least for the time being. It's been about two weeks since I made the switch back. Primary reason being that I want the first week/month nasty security bugs to be found and resolved.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

GetDropBox

Virtual drive of 2GB (free) that can be shared across multiple computers (Windows, Linux, Mac). Supposedly secure and very easy, intutive to use.

Am trying it. GetDropBox.

Read an interesting "review" here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogging on my own domain

For those who didn't notice, I've "moved"

from http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com to http://sudhir.lakkaraju.net
from http://humor-sudhir-lp.blogspot.com to http://humor.lakkaraju.net

This is thanks to blogger's excellent support for Custom Domains.

So, while it is still blogger that is still hosting my blogs, I can get a kewl "redirect" to my own domain.

Thanks to my friend Krish for pointing this out to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Picasa 3

For those who didn't notice, Google has launched Picasa 3.

Name Tags - sweet concept - tag a name in your photos and picasa finds all photos similar to that. Yet to try it out fully. Won't bore you with more details when Google itself has done a neat job of explaining what's new in Picasa 3.

Here's the link from Google Blog and Google Photos Blog on Picasa 3 launch and new features.

Search for a .in domain registrar

My primary domain has been lakkaraju.net for some time now. I however would like to get the .in domain as well. A quick search for domain registrars for .in shows that some of them are not up to the mark while others are a bit costly (with a good possibility they'll keep raising prices once you are sucked in).

My .net domain came via Google Apps registration partnership with enom.com and godaddy.com. However, Google Apps provides only .com, .net, .org, .biz and .info. They are still not providing ccTLDs like .in. I wish they did, 'cos they are at a reasonable $10 per year (I know, I know, you can get some of those regular TLDs at lesser than $10 with some of the domain registrars, however still).

Google Chrome

Time to experiment. Am on Google Chrome, the new browser from Google, now.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Google screensaver

Ok, so I've been trying to get this piece of softare from google. Comes as part of Google Pack. But their download system is broken and I can just get it to download ! :(

Wondering why they don't care to provide it standalone !! I understand the good intentions in packaging, making everything available from a single location, etc.

Anyway, it's now wait and watch to see if they ever realize that their system is broken. Tried giving feedback, but no luck.

Update: As on 3-Sep-2008, download of Google Pack is working.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why Apple iPhone3g doesn't make any sense in India

Offered with no comments.

1. There are no 3G networks in India, YET.
2. iPhone retails in US between $199 to $299 for the 8GB and 16GB phone. That works out to about Rs.8000 to Rs.12000 (approx) in India (at simple conversion of 1USD = Rs.40). However, the two "exclusive" providers, Airtel and Vodafone want between Rs.31000 to Rs.36000 for these models.
3. iPhone3G is going to operate on GPRS network at the moment. Both Airtel and Vodafone, have unlimited GPRS plans for as "low" as Rs.199 per month. However, for iPhone, they are not looking at this unlimited plan, but want to sell separate data plans with following "features"
* plans priced anywhere between Rs.500 to Rs.100
* "free" data downloads from 0 (zero) kb to 500MB
* additional downloads between 30paise/50kb to 5paise/10kb
4. 12 month warranty as long as one sticks with the service provider and these plans

While there will be some fanatics who may buy the iPhone, I think for vast majority price of the handset has to drop and so does data plan price.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Airtel Billing Quirks

I have an Airtel landline phone at home and 2 Airtel mobile phones.

Each of them is on a different billing date.

Luckily, I could get the mobile phones to converge to the same billing date.

No luck with the landline phone department.

Apparently landline / mobile are different entities and no such sync can happen.

Worse still, my landline billing can't even change to another cycle at all !

I wish Airtel got it's act together and just sent me one composite bill. Doesn't matter even if it's 15 pages long. Would save them quite some stationary and courier charges as well. Not to mention all the pain for them as well as customer in tracking so many different billing dates.

Doesn't that make sense or am I missing something ?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

First Nick

Ok, here I am waiting at the signal for the light to turn green. A two wheeler motorcyclist waiting behind my car decides that the microscopic gap between my vehicle and the next is good enough for him to squeeze through and zoom ahead (inspite of the red light on signal). Result - I hear a minor thud and car shakes for a moment. I figure that there could be minor damage. I didn't bother to get out of the car to pick a quarrel with him. Figured it's not worth spoiling a morning for.

Checked the vehicle later. Minor nick/scrape on my car's rear fender. First one. Hardly visible - but still there.

It's times like these which make me wish I had a taser in hand or special gizmo attached to the wheels of the car which at the flick of a switch bring out shining swords like those that were seen attached to the wheels of a chariot in Ben Hur's final chariot race !

Thursday, May 08, 2008

xobni for MS Outlook

For the record, Thunderbird (and the mozilla email family - netscape communicator) has been my primary email application of choice for a long time (close to 9+ years now).

After having said that, I hate to have to admit that I'm also using Outlook :) (Hate is actually too strong a word, nonetheless ...)

Recently, I found an "interesting" tool for outlook called xobni (that's "inbox" reversed).

I've been running it for a few days now and certainly find it convenient 'cos it gives me all of the following in a handy place along with the current email I'm reading
* contact information (mobile/office/home/main/...) of sender of email that I'm reading,
* conversations (almost as in gmail) with that sender,
* email attachments that I'd exchange with that sender, etc.

There were a couple of crashes at the beginning when it first began indexing my email, but steady after that.

The one "bug" that bothers me is that profile information of sender of email I received before installation of this software is not correct, i.e, for all email I'd received before I installed this software the profile information of sender matching the email I'm reading is incorrect. It shows information pertaining to some random user instead of the actual sender of that particular email.

I've written about this to the product support team, they've acknowledged the problem, but interestingly closed the case saying that it needs to be solved !

Here's more of what I'd written to them for those interested in the other aspects as well.

** I observed that this happens only for email that has been indexed
prior to xobni being installed.

Profiles are not being show correctly for my old email that was
indexed. However, ever since xobni was installed and new email started
flowing in, the profiles shown are according to the correct sender
information.

So, it looks like there's some problem matching older email (email
prior to xobni's installation) and profile information.

** On a different note, if the problem does exist and it's something
you are working on, whatz the point in "closing" the case ? Shouldn't
the case remain "open" till resolution of the problem ? Also, if the
case is closed without resolving the problem, how will I ever get an
update on whether my problem was actually resolved in a future update
? I know that there may be 100s of users who are reporting the same
problem, but it still doesn't usually qualify for "closing" the case,
IMHO. Just trying to understand how your process works.

** Would love to know how end users can track their case information
online. Some on the lines of "provide you case-id to find out current
status of the request".

** When I submitted the error report / support request, I was kinda
informed that I'd get a notification / reply. However, I didn't get an
automated response nor immediate acknowledgment. It indeed made me
wonder if the system had registered my request. I think you should
provide an automated reply with the case-id. Or at least provide an
option to Cc the email that (s)he is putting up on the website. That
way, if for some reason the request doesn't get registered, the user
doesn't have to retype everything they put up in the first place.

** And, you certainly have a very interesting product here ! Kudos to
what you've done ! Wondering how the business model will work going
forward once free beta is over. How do you plan to monetize xobni and
how will beta users be benefited by their participation ? Will there
be discounts, free upgrades, ad based free installs, ... etc ?

Would love to hear from you.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

My new Dzire Zxi - Silky Silver

Finally, got the time to post a brief note on my newly acquired Maruti Swift Dzire Zxi Silky Silver. A longish post. Some Photos towards the end of the post.

Prologue:
My previous vehicle was Tata Indica DLS (diesel), purchased Mar 2003, sold Dec 2007. Done about 36000 kms. Sold primarily because niggling issues were slowly turning into painful ones. Fairly satisfied with the overall experience, however kinda "promised" myself not to get another Tata vehicle in the future.

Competition to Dzire for my garage space, at various points of time from Dec 2007 were mainly the following - Sx4, Tata Safari, Tata Sumo Grande (inspite of the above "promise").

Had decided on a petrol vehicle - note my fuel analysis take here (Petrol Vs. Diesel (Swift Dzire)).

Main Story:
Got delivery of the vehicle on 24-Apr-2008 (about a week earlier). About a month in all is what it took to nail it down.

Had a chance to pick up a Biege Zxi from one of the dealers in the very first few days, but slipped it up 'cos the color wasn't very appealing to me. Finally, decided on the Silver.

Did take the Team BHP PDI checklist with me, but didn't make it a point to cross check it physically during the delivery, although I made it a point to mentally go thru' most of the things on the list.

Total OTR (on the road) is about 6.25L (includes registration, life/road tax, insurance, number plates, basic accessories, 3&4th year extended warranty).

No freebies from dealer (didn't try negotiating as well). No corporate discount on Dzire yet.

Basic accessories - floor mats, boot mat, mud flaps.

Still missing - in my opinion (IMO) - sunfilm. Can live with the stock ICE (in car entertainment), although I wished it packed more thump and volume. The music controls in steering wheel are a pretty nifty feature !

Still pending from dealer:
* Road/life tax book/coupon - 30 days ETA (expected time of arrival)
* Insurance NCB cheque (albeit it's actually coming from the insurance company) - 1 week ETA (initially quoted 30 days)
* RC book - 30 days ETA
* Extended warranty booklet - 30 days ETA

The vehicle's done around 450kms in this one week time, most of it in the city and some of it in longish night drives on empty/almost empty roads. Don't know if I'm doing full justice to the recommended run-in period. Making it a point to stick to around 2K RPM max. Most of the riding during the day is in 3rd gear at around 30-40kmph.

That hopefully qualifies me to write a small piece about this vehicle.

What I like, in no particular order:
* AC cooling effect
* Automatic climate control
* Music control on steering wheels
* The automatic lock after reaching 20kmph speed
* General responsiveness of the vehicle
* The outside temperature indicator (although I strongly believe it isn't working perfectly - as it showed 49 degrees celsius y'day anoon around 2pm in Chennai).

What I don't like, in no particular order (some of these are obviously in comparison with my earlier ride):
* The lack of good leg space in rear (I'm 5'9". With driver seat adjusted for my position, there's still decent space in the rear. However, putting any luggage - like shopping bags, etc - cramps the available leg space extremely).
* The lack of space in glove box.
* The lack of space in the driver/co-driver door "magazine holders".
* The fact that my hand (driver's) sometimes scrapes the leg of the front passenger while shifting gears (never happened in Indica) - maybe lesser width - will have to check out the specs.
* Not yet been able to fix myself the best driving position - still getting a slightly sore back after "long drives".
* The lack of good visibility via the rear view mirror due to the high boot.
* The change over from diesel to petrol still inconveniencing me.
* The power windows don't operate when key is not turned on. They don't close automatically when vehicle is locked. (Autocop power windows and keyless-entry/anti-theft system on my earlier Indica had this nifty and useful feature). Looks like this is a "feature" of OEM fittings !!!
* The volume and thump (bass) on the music system isn't exactly top notch. The Pioneer system on my older vehicle used to generations better than this and had tons of features as well.

Regarding dealer experience:
Overall it was a pleasant sale, nothing to really crib about. However, here are some interesting bloopers from the dealer sales/service.

* I thought I'd seen a red color EPS (with those letters as such) sign on the display panel during delivery explanation. However, when I searched for it next day morning, couldn't find it on display. Read the manual and saw that it was supposed to switch on and stay on till ignition kicked in. This was the morning after I'd picked up the vehicle. Panicked a bit and called the sales guy first. I was amused and irritated when he gave me crap that it will be switched on only once first time of the day and not after that. Called up service and had an appointment fixed with them to check it out. A "specialist" showed to me that the EPS sign wasn't in actual letters (as I'd imagined) but had a different symbol. To allay my fears, he showed in another vehicle as well.
* When I spoke to the service people for recommended driving speeds in various gears, I was given total crap. The guy just didn't have a clue.
* NCB refund from my earlier vehicle was supposed to take 1 month. My dad who is an ex-insurance officer says it's an over-the-counter affair and should hardly take more than a few days if not minutes.

Some questions:
One of the leaflets given with the vehicle recommends the following speeds for maximum FE.
1st gear 0-10 kmph
2nd gear 10-20 kmph
3rd gear 20-30 kmph
4th gear 30-40 kmph

I'm however maintaining 3rd gear even while in the 30-40 kmph range (from my Indica days). Does one know if that is fine ? Any recommendations ?


I had owned a Tata Indica DLS (diesel) for about 5 years earlier. The change over from diesel to petrol is still taking some time to get used to. Vehicle gets switched off once in a while, while in traffic, when I start inching forward from a stationary position. This stopping is however beginning to become lesser. Hope I'm able to overcome it completely in a short time. Any recommendations ?

Fuel Efficiency:
First full-tank-to-full-tank measurement yields 9.14 kmpl. This was at about 85% AC on.

---------------------------------------------------------------

This post is an "almost duplicate" of the one posted in the Team BHP forum.

---------------------------------------------------------------






Friday, March 28, 2008

Desire for Dzire

In continuance of my earlier post, I still haven't got my next car.

Now, it's the turn of Maruti's Dzire to be the object of my desire.

Not that I love the piece, it's just that it fits most of my requirements to a T, except for the restricted legroom in front of rear seats. But I guess I can live with it before I pick up my next car a few years down the line.

Now the hunt is on to find out what color I like and which dealer can give it at the earliest.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The wait is still on

Sold my close-to 5yr old Tata Indica V2 DLS in the month of December 2007. Kinda vowed to myself that I would not buy another Tata vehicle due to the small nagging issues that always come up.

Almost made up my mind on buying the Maruti SX4 and was ready to sink in the money (Chevrolet Aveo was a hot contender, however pathetic resale value of GM cars prompted me to think otherwise). And, that's when Tata announced the new SUV Sumo Grande. In fact, heard the buzz before the vehicle hit the Auto Expo 2008 via TeamBHP.com.

Vehicle was supposed to be in showrooms in first week of Feb. However, calls to dealers in Chennai prove that the wait period could be more.

Being stuck without a car after getting used to one for so many years can really be painful.

Am often tempted to just go out and get one of the A/B-segment cars without thinking too much about it. But then, I do kinda know that the Tata Nano or a variant of one such is what will become a second car down the line - once I get my C-segment car/suv (Maruti Sx4/Tata Sumo Grande).

For now, the wait is on.

Cable / Dish TV

Sometimes procrastination pays. Or so I may be tempted to think.

A few months ago, I'd done some good amount of research on the Satellite TV choices in India (basically between Dish TV and Tata Sky), however postponed buying either of these two. The entry price was around Rs.3000/- or so for the antenna, STB, few months subscription (during offer period) etc.

The terrestrial cable TV MSOs (Hathway, Sumangali Cable TV) were offering STBs anywhere between Rs.1000 to Rs.3000 (depending on rental / outright purchase).

For running charges, cable TV still proves to be less costly when compared to Satellite TV. Complete bouquet costs Rs.270/- on cable TV Vs. Rs.350/- on Satellite TV.

And, this week, all of a sudden,Hathway offered the STB for FREE in our apartment complex. Only rider being that partial subscription charges be paid for 4 months in advance. I promptly sunk my teeth into the deal and have signed up for it.

According to the local cable operator, the STB should be installed in a day or two. Let's see how the experience is.