Friday, November 29, 2013

कैसी तेरी खुदगर्जी?

"कैसी तेरी खुदगर्जी, ना धूप चुने ना छांव
कैसी तेरी खुदगर्जी,कैसे ठोर टिकेना पांव

बन लिया अपना पैगंबर, 
तर लिया तू सात समंदर
फिर भी सूखा मन के अंदर...

रे कबिरा मान जा, 
रे फ़किरा मान जा....
आजा तुझको पुकारे तेरी परछाईया..."

मोजक्या शब्दात एक मोठी कहाणी एक गाणंच सांगू शकतं. अशा बोलक्या ओळींना सुरांची साथ मिळाली की कधी कधी एक अस्सल मिश्रण तयार होतं अगदी या गाण्यासारखं.

"ये जवानी है दिवानी" चं गाणं आज पहिल्यांदा व्यवस्थित ऐकलं आणि पुन्हा पुन्हा ऐकल्याशिवाय नाही राहवलं. गाण्याच्या ओळींत एक विषण्ण व्यथा जाणवते. व्यथा एका भटक्या चंचल मनाची जे सगळं मनासारखं करत राहतं तरीपण असंतुष्ट, अपुरं राहतं. कुठून येतो हा अपूरेपणा, प्रत्येक वेळेला हवा तो मार्ग निवडून पण? असं तर नाही ना की हे अपुरेपण कुठेतरी मनातल्या आत लपलेल्या अपूर्ण ईच्छेने येतं?

आपण कितीही प्रयत्न केला अलिप्त राहून सुखी राहण्याचा मुखवटा चढवण्याचा तरी आपल्या आतल्या आवाजापासून आपण नाही अलिप्त राहता येत ना?

"Wake up Sid" चा इकतारा पण असाच मनाला भिडतो.  कबिरा ऐकताना पटकन इकतारा समांतर येतो आणि एक connection होतं. अमिताभ भट्टाचार्य आणि तोची रैना यामागे आहेत म्हणजे ते connection पक्कं आहे.

त्यातल्या एकट्या रात्रीचं वर्णन आणि त्या एकट्या रात्रीला जवळ घेउन जागणाय्रा मनाचा विखार कल्पनेनं नाही अनुभवता येत. तो मनापासून जाणवावा लागतो. तो  कळला की आपोआपच कळतो हा चंचलपणा मनात कुठून येतो आणि कशाने मन का परिंदा कायमचा बंजारा होतो ते :)

 कैसी तेरी खुदगर्जी चं उत्तर  शेवटी बंजारा परिंदा देउन जातो...





Friday, July 26, 2013

Whatsapp/Viber and their stalkers/telemarketing friendly behaviour

Whatsapp and Viber are next generation of messengers. Who uses Yahoo, Gtalk or MSN messenger anymore? I guess not much of the population. Get a phone, enable data connection, install app and bang, you are connected to all of your friends in your phone. No hassles of finding who is on which messenger, mail id or anything like that. Just a phone number is all you need...Whatsapp seems to be replacing group medium like forums and mailgroups too. Make a group and gather online. Easy and near-online way to chatter, syncup and share things. Once live voice and video conferencing comes in, that could be another step.

With Whatsapp and Viber, I generically refer to similar family of messaging applications that are cropping up on various app stores. Whatsapp is used by me and many others that I know. So focus of this post remains on Whatsapp. Feel free to replace word Whatsapp with app of similar behaviour.

I have never been a fan of modern programming techniques, used by majority of Android and iOS clan. Call it generation gap and I would not mind too. Compare features on any old messengers and you would probably realise how half baked current software is. 

What Whatsapp and others dont tell you is the way it can affect you in a negative manner. Here's how...

These apps upload your contact list to their server. If your contact is on their records, its a match and you are connected. You can see that person online on your list and you can send a message right away. This is a convenience for stalkers/.
  • All they need is the number of other person, add it and shoot messages, till they block.
  • As long as the stalker doesnt send a message, he/she can see your display picture and status message. Depending on how much enthusiastic you are about your profile, you can give out good clues to them, about your name, gender, location and current activity.
  • They can see it without you even knowing them. You wouldnt know who has added you on their list. There is no way you can find it out.
  • You cannot prevent others from contacting you, you can block numbers but a determined person can use new numbers.
  • An idle person doesnt need to know your number too, they can add any random number to their contact list and voilla, they can start.
  • Telemarketers (in India atleast) can be banned from SMSing or calling you. Whatsapp broadcast storm is probably not under scope of DnD. Sooner or later telemarketers would start adding you on their contact list and spam with messages.
How can you save yourself?

Nothing much you can do beyond blocking people who approach, but...
  • Change your display picture to a generic picture, use your favorite celebrity, cat, dog, motorcycle, car, building, road or whatever. This will attract less contact mining stalkers who randomly add you.
  • Avoid putting detailed status messages, better yet, do not put one at all.
How the developers can help you?
  • Build user's contact list on mutual existance i.e. only if two people have each other's number saved on phone. So unless you know each other, you cannot see each other online, till both want to be seen.
  • By default block people who are not on your contact list. This will prevent random people from seeing you or contacting you or following you
    OR
  • Allow people to send out invitation request in old fashioned way
  • Allow users to choose if they wish to be contacted by people not on their list. If they select not to be, people can't send invitations.
As per mashable, As of June 20, 2013, WhatsApp has over 250 million active users, and handles 27 billion messages in a single day. There are already security concerns over your contact list lying on various servers and evesdropping poorly written apps that transmit plaintext data. Encryption can solve that to an extent but with every other app reading your contact list, you can't trust all, can you?

Monday, May 06, 2013

Getting lucky on Jet Airways...stupid SkyMart con

"Nothing is free...", they say, and probably right.

While recently travelling on Jet Airways to Mumbai, air hostess handed over a booklet of "made in china" items, marketed by a brand called SkyMart.

I wondered who buys such stuff that too on a flight. (Though once I had seen a guy enthusiastically buying a perl necklace in-flight (facepalm))

A little scratchcard inside caught my attention. I was never lucky with such coupons but gave it a shot. Guess what!!!! I won something!!!

Wow, never happened. "Whats the catch?", I asked myself, "Well, that can't be so easy. Something is wrong!".

It is indeed. You need to pay "nominal" charge to claim your gift....and the cheap prizes seems cost less than the so called nominal charge itself.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Airtel Irritation - example of how morons run Airtel mobile support - Round II

Continued from ...

Here is their mail support

Re: MO - 9860440606 : INCORRECT BILLING [BALQrc108041313043715553585]
121@in.airtel.com <121 in.airtel.com=""> Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 6:37 PM

To: kiran@k...g.com

Namaste Kiran Ghag,

You wrote in on 08-04-2013 with a concern regarding activation of Subscription Service without your consent on your airtel mobile 9860440606.

We completely comprehend your viewpoint and sincerely apologize for any difficulty caused to you by our Customer service department.

We take pride in enhancing our customers with our responsive and friendly approach. It has always been our constant endeavor to ensure, that our customers are delighted by our inimitable approach.

We would like to confirm you that, ASK A DOCTOR service has already been deactivated on 13-02-2013 and currently no Value Added Serviceis active on your airtel mobile 9860440606.

You can also text STOP to 121 or 155233(toll free) and follow instructions to stop the Value Added Services.

We would also like to confirm that a waiver of Rs. 11.23/- including tax towards Value Added Service has already been posted in your account on 21-03-2013. The credit amount for the same will be reflecting in your forthcoming invoice dated 12-04-2013.

airtel appreciates your business and always welcomes your suggestions/feedback.


Yours Sincerely,
Apsar Ahamad
Customer Care
Bharti Airtel Limited



---------Original Message---------
From: kiran@k...g.com
To: 121@in.airtel.com

Cc:

Sent: 08/04/2013 01:04:42 PM

Subject: Re: MO - 9860440606 : INCORRECT BILLING [BALQrc108041311045915550122]



If service was disabled as per your mail, why I kept recieving messages and why

it stopped today after I sent unsub mesaage?



On Apr 8, 2013 12:57 PM, <121 in.airtel.com=""> wrote:

Namaste Kiran Ghag,

You wrote in on 08-04-2013 with a concern regarding activation of Subscription

Service without your consent on your airtel mobile 9860440606.

We completely comprehend your viewpoint and sincerely apologize for any

difficulty caused to you by our Customer service department.

We take pride in enhancing our customers with our responsive and friendly

approach. It has always been our constant endeavor to ensure, that our

customers are delighted by our inimitable approach.

We would like to confirm you that, ASK A DOCTOR service has already been

deactivated on 13-02-2013 and currently no Value Added Serviceis active on your

airtel mobile 9860440606.

You can also text STOP to 121 or 155233(toll free) and follow instructions to

stop the Value Added Services.

We would also like to confirm that a waiver of Rs. 11.23/- including tax

towards Value Added Service has already been posted in your account on

21-03-2013. The credit amount for the same will be reflecting in your

forthcoming invoice dated 12-04-2013.

airtel appreciates your business and always welcomes your suggestions/feedback.



Yours Sincerely,

Shruthi KM

Customer Care

Bharti Airtel Limited



---------Original Message----------

From: kiran@k...g.com
To: 121@in.airtel.com

Cc:

Sent: 08/04/2013 11:47:51 AM

Subject: Re: MO - 9860440606 : INCORRECT BILLING

[BALQrc122031310030215036563]



your customer support on this case has been pathetic. looks like you have

recruited monkeys. reason below...

i had to search on my own and finally found that "ask a doctor" service was

active on my mobile and "STOP" message to 121 does not work. I have to send

UNSUB message to get this nuisance stopped.

your support executives have been useless to assist on this.

please let me know how the service got activated in first place.

Kiran




On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM, <121 in.airtel.com=""> wrote:

Namaste Kiran Ghag,

You wrote in on 22-03-2013 expressing concern about subscription service

activated without your consent for your airtel mobile number 9860440606.

Thank you for your mail to airtel and the opportunity to assist you.

We wish to inform you that we have already deactivated subscription service on

your number with effect from 13-02-2013

If you wish to stop or disable the service related SMS received on your mobile,

we request you to follow the below mentioned path:

Step 1: Go to Menu - Message - Service inbox settings / PUSH SMS - Off status.

(This path may vary depending on the handset)

Step 2: Please switch off and switch on your handset. Further to this process

of turning off the Push SMS, you will not receive any service SMS.

We hope that we have been able to fulfill your query suitably.

Please do write in for any further assista



Re: MO - 9860440606 : INCORRECT BILLING [BALQrc122031310030215036563]

________________________________________

121@in.airtel.com <121 in.airtel.com=""> Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM

To: kiran@k...g.com

Namaste Kiran Ghag,

You wrote in on 22-03-2013 expressing concern about subscription service activated without your consent for your airtel mobile number 9860440606.

Thank you for your mail to airtel and the opportunity to assist you.

We wish to inform you that we have already deactivated subscription service on your number with effect from 13-02-2013

If you wish to stop or disable the service related SMS received on your mobile,

we request you to follow the below mentioned path:

Step 1: Go to Menu - Message - Service inbox settings / PUSH SMS - Off status.

(This path may vary depending on the handset)

Step 2: Please switch off and switch on your handset. Further to this process

of turning off the Push SMS, you will not receive any service SMS.

We hope that we have been able to fulfill your query suitably.

Please do write in for any further assistance.



Yours Sincerely,

Divya. M

Customer Care

Bharti Airtel Limited



---------Original Message----------

From: kiran@k...g.com
To: 121@in.airtel.com

Cc:

Sent: 22/03/2013 10:52:10 AM

Subject: Re: MO - 9860440606 : INCORRECT BILLING [BALQrc121031323031815024283]



Why am I recieving mesaages from ask doctor service if its not active



On Mar 22, 2013 10:50 AM, <121 in.airtel.com=""> wrote:

Namaste!

Ref: Email dated 21-03-2013, expressing concern regarding the activation of

value Added services for your airtel mobile number 9860440606.

Thank you for your mail to airtel and the opportunity to assist you.

On receipt of your email we verified our records and found that the ASK A

DOCTOR is already deactivated with effect from 13-02-2013.

We request you to clear the billed amount within the due date to avoid late fee

charges and to enjoy uninterrupted services.

We hope that we have been able to assist you suitably.

Please do write in for any further assistance.



Yours Sincerely,

Shrisha P

Customer Care

Bharti Airtel Limited



---------Original Message----------

From: kiran@k...g.com

To: 121@in.airtel.com

Cc:

Sent: 21/03/2013 11:13:45 PM

Subject: Re: MO - 9860440606 : INCORRECT BILLING [BALQrc121031322032915024000]



Hi,

Thanks for the refund.

I have received VAS messages from ask doctor today itself at 14:57. The message

to stop service has not worked. please do it from your end

Kiran



On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 11:10 PM, <121 in.airtel.com=""> wrote:

Namaste,

You wrote in on 21-03-2013, with a request to stop ask-Doctor for your airtel

mobile 9860440606.

As requested, The ask-Doctor service has been stopped on 21-03-2013.

You can also text STOP to 121 (toll free) and follow instructions to stop the

Value Added Services.

We would like to confirm that a waiver of Rs. 10/- towards VAS charges has been

posted in your account on 21-03-2013. The credit amount for the same will be

reflecting in your forthcoming invoice dated 12-04-2013.

Service message:

If you wish to stop or disable the service related SMS received on your mobile,

we request you to follow the below mentioned path:

Step 1: Go to Menu - Message - Service inbox settings / PUSH SMS - Off status.

(This path may vary depending on the handset)

Step 2: Please switch off and switch on your handset. Further to this process

of turning off the Push SMS, you will not receive any service SMS.

We request you to clear the billed amount within the due date to avoid late fee

charges and to enjoy uninterrupted services.

Thank you so much for choosing to continue with airtel. We welcome your

feedback.

Yours Sincerely,

Ranjith HK WCC MO

Customer Care

Bharti Airtel Limited



Monday, April 08, 2013

Airtel Irritation - example of how morons run Airtel mobile support

Out of nowhere, once Airtel decided to activate "Ask-A-Doctor" service on my mobile. I quickly asked their customer service to stop it. I was told that they have "deactivated" the service and I need to wait till the bill to be generated to know if any refunds are needed.





The bill was generated and there was additional charge. After complaining, that was reversed quickly.

However, I still kept getting annoying tips from their service, atleast one message daily.

I kept complaining and they kept telling me that the service has been deactivated and I can send message "STOP" to 121. Sending this message informed me (via message) that there are no value added services active on my number. And their tips kept raining.

Once again I complained and I was told same solution - send STOP message. But this time there was an additional input, they asked me to disable flash messages. Nevertheless, that didnt help.

I tried to post feedback to their case response. There was a link for feedback in the mail communication. However, upon submitting the response, an error is thrown - "User not authorised to access page!". Perhaps its a preset logic to avoid negative responses reaching in their queue!

Upon serching net a bit more, found that they have another keyword "UNSUB" for the "Ask-A-Doctor" service. I sent that and got immediate reply - the service has been deactivated!!!

I still wonder
- How this service got activated on its own?
- Is this a consumer scam/tactics by Airtel to generate additional revenue from users who dont care? (They were quick to reverse the charge. Normally they would fight for one paisa of outstanding bill amount but here since they started it on their own, they quickly tried to cover it up maybe. So people who complain would keep quiet, others would keep paying)
- Why their customer reps keep sending irrelevent replies? They are not even aware that there are two different types of services (facepalm)

Do let me know if you have similar experience with these tactics of Airtel.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jugaad - Data recovery from old hard disk

My neighbor came to me a day and said, "hey look, I got this old PC laying around and there is some data on it. Can you recover it? The hard disks is crashed. There are some old pics on it which I would like to have back."

"Bring it over", I said.

So he sent it over. I opened the cabinet and took out the disk - Western Digital Caviar 40GB ATA. Quickly connected it to laptop using USB IDE adapter and waited for the disk to be detected.

A minute went by and no sign. I checked power and disk had not spun up. Looked like it was real dead all this time and sleeping peacefully in the ATX coffin :)

However, detailed look at the disk revealed this ...


"Ohh well, lets try to revive it", I said to myself and shoved some aluminum foil in the molex connector, hoping that it would make contact. It didnt work.

Cut a small wire, put in molex and taped it over exposed 5V contact on PCB. Voila! disk spun up and Windows found it in seconds. Resurrection!!!


One problem though, tape wont hold the wire over PCB and disk spun down :( I could press it down and it would stay on but remove the finger and it powered down again. Soldering was other option but I hate to solder these wave soldered contacts.

Solution: keep a laptop power adapter on the contact to keep it pressed :)
It worked. The disk appeared to be very fine and I could retrieve entire data off it without problem :)


Morale: Believe in Jugaad :) :) :) :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I dont dig Smartphones

Computing has come a long way since it started. History has proven that every new thing replaces the older and takes things higher, floppies gave way to hard disks, hard disks to SSD. Monochrome got replaced by color, crt by lcd, CLI moved to GUI and GUI aims to go touch way.

Its time for android and ios to play battle. I am no way an expert on both but having witnessed computing over years, I still feel these smartphones are still phones. They can replace the phone, but not the PCs yet.

Since I surrendered my workhorse thinkpad when I left job recently, I am without a laptop. All I have is this android slate with. I am trying to get things done, which I would normally do on a laptop. Results: few months on, and I am still struggling! Why? Lets see...

Touch
Its easy to type with swype, prediction but I still miss the pure full 3D keyboard

Nagware
Its based on open model, but free is no more free as in free beer. Suddenly every developer wants to blast you with free adware version or buy full version. Makes me think how these guys earned their living before. People used to write freeware and there were so many good ones. Looks like that word and culture is history now.

Behaviour/usability
One thing annoys me is the way wheel is being reinvented. There was a time when critics and fanatics fought over how a particular OS has bad GUI behaviour and how it requires x amount of more clicks to get a job done. Are they sleeping in their graves?

I am writing this post on a tablet, as I have moved beyond one page, simple stuff like formatting one word into bold or italics needs back and forth scrolling in blogger!
I haven't managed easy way in google mail app to select all mails in a click.
There is no standard way to layouts and most developers are creating their own. It can be easy for literates but try teaching a computer illiterate and you will know the difference.

Integration
Convergance is good for hardware but it leads to half baked software. Stuff that looks good on 4inch looks sparse on tablets. Folks its okay if you code specific versions for tablet or handheld. But try to write a one size fits all version and you mess both.
One example of half baked software apart from ones shared above is google maps. Nokia offerred a perfect solution for maps, full with offline maps, turn by turn navigation and route editing. Google maps cannot do offline maps for entire state or multiple countries. I have had tough time while trying to customise route. Then I created custom map on pc and sent link to googl maps on iphone. The app re calculated path and it was not same as its desktop counterpart. Nokia never had such issues and that phone was equally good at rest of the things.
On integration, bill gates was sued for integrating browser into OS. Now its defacto to have everything mixed into OS. There is no OS infact. The browser is os, os is camera and camera has file uploader. Anyone?

One button
Also obsession for one button is beyond me. Many pre android/ios smartphones had multiple buttons for camera, volume, audio controls and. On a newer phone its so frustrating to unlock and navigate just to change song. And with bigger tablets, holding one to click photo, especially self clicks is sure lame. Atleast give full keyboard on screen with shortcut keys or modern equivalent s of ,

Crappy multitasking
No other word, its not true multitasking yet. Its TSR way of multitasking. We are just stretching a phone screen concept to match what we do on a desktop. They blame it on lack of processing power but if today's calculatora can pack prehistoric supercomputers then smartphones can atleast pack a humble pentium, can't they?

Multiuser
First the computer was personal, then it became multiuser and now its back as single user. Couldnt anyone see this as a necessary feature? May not be on a phone, but on a a shared tablet in a family? Its going to be here but why was it lacking in the first place??

Open?
I can no more use one media to setup on different phones. its not what you do everyday but Imagine if you needed different OS media for your dell pentium and you have to wait for Dell to release it for your particular version. Or you are stuck with x version of ubuntu on your desktop since no one has ever written update for your hardware combo? Why a particular app wont run on samsung tab but can run on others flawlessly?
Interoperability was dealbreaker back in earlier days, many superior products died cause they were proprietary. Now no one bothers! Its so easy to switch devices than expect value for money and better programming.

Why can't manufacturer keep software and hardware seperate and focus on one of them. Ultimately there are no PCs and compatibles akin to old days, now there are note 1s, note 2s and blah blah. (I believe apple is bit different here)

Updates
Everyone complained how windows updates were annoying. Now updates keep coming every other day and that seems like a norm. We are no more users, we are beta testers for a product that never enters release.

Cloud
Every app assumes internet connectivity and thats kind of dangerous for your privacy. Someone said rightly, if you want to secure your data, dont connect your PC to the net. Now every bit is on net and you cannot know how many people see it.
You cannot use some basic apps if you do not connect to net and that freaks me out. One crappy software claimed video conversion. it uploaded every video to its server, convert it there and download it later #facepalm
Remember, clouds are in sky (net). Rings a bell?

Disclaimer
I do not make any claim that this is the final word. This is how I see things based on my usage. You are welcome to share your view or let me know how to get things done. Perhaps I am expecting too much from a phone.

PS
During the edits, somehow I can't see any bold formatted text. Unless I publish it, I wont know! And I am not bothered. This is my last post from an android.