Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tornado at home

This is what happens everyday at home !

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

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.

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.