The world, how it works, surroundings, myself, etc.

Sunday, March 30, 2008 Turned the Lights Out

Found this out from a friend's blog and couldn't help shamelessly copying. The folks at Google turned the lights out for an hour. Read the original post here.

Oh, and if you are quick, you can find the it live at:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Check mChek

Today, while trying to foot my airtel bill, I came across mChek, a mobile payment solution. It works like a charm.

It allows you to make payments from your cellphone without giving out your credit-card information or following painful websites. I just had to register once and choose an mchek pin, using which I was able to view my latest airtel bill and make payment, all in a matter of about 3 minutes.

You get all the good things that online payment services like PayPal & Google Checkout already offer:
  • consolidated summary of your expenditure in your bank-statement
  • never have to divulge your credit-card details to third-party
..except that you can do all this from your phone, the only electronic device you carry anytime, anywhere.

mChek will be expanding to cover bank's payment gateways soon.

mChek has shown the way - the cashless society is here and has gone mobile.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

State of the TV

Deprived of good internet, I spent a lot of time in front of the idiot box (television) in the last few days. I have a few observations on the state of television in India.

  1. All news channels have crime as the general theme. They now dig for crime. A TV channel showed the full footage of a man mowed down by a train, and the channel was blaming the train-driver for not stopping! I mean, come on.
  2. The channels on God and religion have the unique distinction of having people blabber words with absolutely no sense. And that lack of sense is supposed to give a feeling of how limited man's abilities are. (Swami Ramdev's programmes are a small exception)
  3. The only channels worth watching (movie channels excluded): Nat Geo, Discovery, Cartoon Network, Pogo, CNBC
  4. The house-wife channels (Ekta Kapoor types) have reached an unbelievable level of depravity. The fundamental ask is: Use No Head. It's funny to see how they imagine about the kind of things a household can fight for. And what's with the 3-way face-flashing after each and every dialogue?
  5. All DD channels was, is and will be legally and socially and politically safe. They believe in: No action, no mistakes.
All views are personal and should not be misconstrued as detrimental to anyone living, dead, waiting or zombied.

Tata Indicom Wireless Internet on Mac OS X Leopard

I am visiting my hometown in Patna, a part of the country where good and reliable internet is still a luxury. I had purchased a Tata Indicom wireless USB modem (Huawei EC325) for internet on-the-move. It works like it's supposed to, except that I couldn't get it to work on my MacBookPro running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).

Though the folks at Tata Indicom customer service refused to support Mac OS, their website now does have the drivers for Mac and usage instructions. However, that didn't work as-is for me either.

With minor tweaks, however, I did get it to work and now I'm using the same internet to blog.

1. Download the driver and README at Tata Indicom's website.
2. Install the driver corresponding to your machine (ppc or intel). Do not follow the README. Those instructions did not work for me.
3. Open System Preferences > Network and you should be able to see an entry for "Huawei Mobile". Configure the device with #777 as the telephone number and "internet" as the username & password.

4. Click "Advanced..."
5. Select "au by KDDI" as the vendor and "cdmaOne Bluetooth" as the Model. This chooses the modem script to run. The defaults did not work for me.

6. Click OK and then connect as usual

The internet is not blazing fast, but is good enough for checking mails, that is, good enough to let me breathe everyday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blood Donation

I donated blood today for the first time. They say that blood donation is good for health, as it improves circulation of new blood. And the body is able to make up for the loss in a mere 48 hours anyway.

More than anything else I'm happy for the fact that I'm not underweight anymore. I remember having considered blood donation earlier but could not because I wasn't healthy enough. My weight at 68 now makes me perfectly healthy for my height.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shop Review: Shapes Opticals

Shapes Opticals is located in the heart of the nearest market from Hitech City, near Pizza Hut in Madhapur. I went to Shapes Opticals to get my specs' frame mended after I managed to break it on my flight back to Hyderabad from Singapore. What happened thereafter is an exclamation.

The guy refused to mend it; he suggested buying a new frame instead. I wanted my specs fixed as soon as possible, so I gave in and signed up for a new specs. I was promised that it would be done in a day. Now, I wasn't truly confident, as it has happened on a previous occasion that the shop had defaulted on the promised time, so I insisted that he better make sure that it's ready by time. He said that it would be.

When I went to the shop the next day, I was surprised to see that it was actually ready. Just that it wasn't the frame I wanted. The frame I wanted was black. This was red. When I complained, the guy in the counter (the same one who took the order) started tweaking it -- he started pulling out things from another black frame and plugging into mine. I didn't object. And there in front of my eyes, he broke the frame. He asked me to come back later. And he wasn't even ashamed. To make it worse, when I got angry, the other guy across the counter asked me to take cancel the order.

I returned back after a day and this time my frame was brown. And it didn't even rest well on my nose. I had given up hope to get my point across. Brown wasn't unbearable, and I could do some adjusting myself, so I just took it. After all, it was my fault to choose Shapes Opticals despite apriori bad experience.

Points to note: Shapes Opticals has exorbitantly high prices -- frames and glasses alike. The guys across the counter are dumb to say the least. They don't have any kind of expert knowledge about specs. They are rude. They'll almost certainly default on the order.

All things said and done, I understand that he has the right to sell crap if people are ready to buy, and I have the right to refuse to buy from him if I don't like it. So, here I am, exercising my freedom to make others aware that if you want reliable service on your specs, do not choose Shapes Opticals. You'll almost certainly be dissatisfied.