Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"what is the command to create a file?"

This question troubled me a lot few years ago! I had just started learning computers. It was the time when I had 8086/8088 based diskless machines running MS-DOS 3/4.

Every book I found mentioned that computers store stuff in files. "Everything is file", they said. It was difficult to understand this because we never created files back then!!

Why so?
Our teacher would...
 - Boot up the PC using a DOS bootable disk.
 - type CD BASIC
 - type GWBASIC (BASIC interpreter would start and then the bootable floppy would be removed)
 - We would happily type our "Hello World" codes, run and just turn off PC when done :D No hassles of saving code :D

Soon our DOS lessons started and then using "DIR" I could see that the bootable disk that we used contained two files and one directory - COMMAND.COM, GWBASIC.COM and BASIC. Phew! There were indeed files in computers.

Next command was "MD", yes, fnally it seems I was getting closer. "MD creates a directory. MF would create a file?", I asked myself and tried the command

Bad command of filename (blah!)

I was surprised and broken :( No file for me :( I went to my teacher and asked him - "what is the command to create a file?". He couldn't understand my plight too and I couldn`t understand what he explained. My search of answer continued...

Years later, I met that teacher again on Facebook. I was really glad that he remembered me too.

Thankfully, I now know a little more about computer files than before :D

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hotel The SeaRock, gone forever!

It was a surprised news in the Hindustan Times newspaper today. It showed an empty piece of land, photo taken after complete demolition of Hotel SeaRock, Bandra Bandstand.
Photo: Sattish Bate / HT Photo
This hotel was one of the victim of serial blasts of 1993. The blasts damaged the hotel to the extent that it could not be repaired without demolition. Perhaps this process got stuck in CRZ rules or whatever, but it remained closed and abandoned (in a way) till this year.

Photo by Swami (
Whenever I went past the hotel, it always made me wonder about why this thing is not taken down or why it had not been put into service. The following link is perhaps the only detailed information you can find about the hotel. Without this, I would have never been sure about the revolving dome at the top :)

There is hardly any information beyond this on net, nor any photo of the hotel when it was in its peak glory. Not even after the blast occurred. I would like to copy-paste the entire article before the link goes defunct.


The landmark hotel in focus of reported takeover talks, has struggled to come to terms with the future since the bomb blast in 1993.

Some time after Jane Fonda and long before Shilpa Shetty cut a fitness tape, Bollywood star Rekha became the brand ambassador for fitness icon Rama Bans, who would knock her celebrity clients into shape at the health club at Welcomgroup SeaRock Sheraton at Bandra’s Land’s End. Smita Patil was another regular at the health club, Sangeeta Bijlani swam in its pool overlooking the Arabian Sea, Parveen Babi met journalists and producers here and not in her home, Jackie Shroff would mope in its coffee shop before the release of his blockbuster Hero, the party for which was hosted by director Subhash Ghai coincidentally at the same hotel.

The SeaRock was Bombay’s first serious attempt to shift away from the Fort and Nariman Point to the suburbs, and viewed as a Johnnie-come-lately by stalwarts Taj and Oberoi, from whom it grabbed both eyeballs and business when it opened in 1978. The arrangement with Welcomgroup, as the ITC chain, then newly launched, was known initially, was for marketing and management, before the 400-room property was leased to the group.

In the early eighties, it introduced Bombay to several firsts, including a frontier restaurant called “The Earthen Oven”, the rooftop revolving restaurant “The Palace of the West Empress”, known for its Chinese cuisine, the popular coffee shop “The Oceanic” and a vegetarian restaurant “Vega”. Its Playmate Club was a gathering place with a somewhat less salubrious reputation, but it was where the film fraternity and its financers — in those days the underworld — probably met. Several Welcomgroup hoteliers — Dammi Sabherwal, Channi Pantal, Anil Channa — cut their teeth managing the SeaRock.

The Sheraton relationship came later, at a time when though room rack rates were still sub-Rs 2,000, a two-year, Rs 25-crore renovation programme saw its transition, recounts veteran hotelier Sarabjeet Dhawan who was general manager from 1989 to 1992, “from just a film-frat hotel to a business hotel.” He remembers it as a glittering property designed by Kiran Patki — “what might seem commonplace today, but was pioneering then” — introducing, for the first time in the city, different categories of rooms and suites, and a business centre and executive lounge on its 15th floor. Vega and The Earthen Oven gave way to Habib Rehman’s Dum Pukht and the inauguration party was the talk of Bombay, attended by Sunil Dutt, the Ambani family, Khushwant Singh…

The bomb blasts in the 1993 riots that crippled the property now seem out of an Arthur Hailey novel. The building was endangered, the lift well was skewed out of alignment, the revolving restaurant no longer revolved, the floors were damaged and considered dangerous. Remembers Welcomgroup old-timer Shona Adhikari, “Only the fourth floor remained functional with 10 to 12 rooms, and we had to climb the stairs to our rooms when we visited Bombay.” Tea/coffee makers were provided in the rooms to tide over F&B crisis, though the coffee shop stayed open, at least notionally.

When in 2005, Suresh Nanda of Claridges Hotels and Resorts bought the SeaRock property for Rs 300 crore, it was assumed that they would bring down the building and replace it with a new one, though the headache was in dealing with city regulations that made fresh construction on the promontory overlooking the sea near-impossible. The delay since then might account for this, but in January this year the group signed an agreement with the Taj group (which has the Taj Lands End located diagonally across the road) to offer it technological and operational advice. Currently, though, with the Taj group not commenting on the takeover talks, it appears likely that it might end up with a majority stake in what was once its competitor. Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure — both the landmark silhouette as well as its history seem consigned to the past.

Now the Tata group has confirmed that the deal is done and a world class facility is set to appear in the place. After 20 years of hibernation, it would be interesting to see what comes up. If news from void is to be believed, this pic depicts the new property

If I could go back in time, this is surely a place I would like to visit in the past. I went there recently and took some photos of the remaining structure. The curiosity of the stucture again made me wonder. Hence News in HT today was a little surprise. The demolition happened quietly in a way or perhaps the abandoned structure was assumed to be there for few more years. Its disappearance was unexpected.

I could never step inside old Searock and probably would never do so in the new one. But the place would remain an icon in the heart, and a story to tell for sure.

Enjoy few more pics ...

Sea Rock Hotel
Photo taken by me a while ago, Sea rock against Land's End
Photo taken by me a while ago
Bandra Worli Sea Link from Plane
Awesome photo by Amit K

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

HID on Bajaj Pulsar 220F

Finally the HID is on! (For the impatient souls, scroll down fast :) )

Ever since I started digging through various forums and groups, one magical acronym always sounded desirable - HID. There was enough information to read about it and posts flooded with questions, opinions and experience that caused an overload :)

With VT-KIRAN nearing 4 years of existance, and daily commute nearing 70kms, most of it on dark highway, it was tempting to get HIDd. I had done the avenger coil mod but it still didnt seem sufficient. HID kept tempting.
When I finally decided to get HIDd, I got my hands on two projector assemblies salvaged from from P220F and a pair of Raylux 4300K HID. The excitement of getting slim ballast shortlived when I could not get this going!
You could buy these projectors at Kurla bazar for a few hundred bucks. It was crude to get those mounted on top of P180. And then, no mechanic around me was sure how to wire the stuff. In desparation, I wired it directly to the battery on Mahabaleshwar ride, just to discover that the projector was mounted incorrectly and the beam pointed to sky :( So the projector was left on during the entire trip and served well to attract folks around who could not get what that protruding thing was :) In second attempt, I used a relay and switch to swap it with stock low beam. It failed miserably too and then I suspended the project. VT-KIRAN soon left me and gave way to VT-RAPTOR.

Inside HID packing, note the slim ballast
Raylux HID pair

I thought adding HID to P220F would be simpler but many ensured that its not as easy as it seems. I was told that opening up P220F fairing is a daunting task and should not be undertaken. I wondered how would it happen if stock bulbs fail? Someone pointed out that P220F has a mechanism to detect failed low beam bulb based on lower current draw and then it would switch over to high beam (HIDs draw less operating current than stock P220F bulbs).

Many thanks go to the low beam bulb that died. On a fine evening I started and noticed that the high beam stays on. Next day at service center, it was a matter of minutes to get that replaced. Looking at it, I decided to get my hands dirty again and be glad about it.

Here are quick steps to wire HID to Bajaj Pulsar 220F

What would you need
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Electrical insulation tape
  • HID (bulb, bllast and wiring harness)
  • P220F :D
Steps to plug it in
  • Switch the lights off and turn off engine
  • Use a spanner to unscrew two retaining nuts under the front number place
  • Just above it, there is a plastic cover kept in place with 4 small screws, remove that with phillips screwdriver
  • Put your hands under the fairing and remove rubber cap at the back of low beam bulb.
  • You can now pull out the wire plug that provides power to low beam bulb
  • HID kits are easy to setup, the HID bulb will fit into ballast using polarised connectors. Then the ballast has two wires with flat lugs at the end.
  • Put these flat lugs directly inside the low beam plug that you pulled you out. You have to check the polarity. If connected the wrong way it wont turn on the bulb. But you can use general electrical commonsense to detect the polarity (Black is GND ;) )
  • You might have to press the lugs a little to ensure that they fit tight
  • Start the engine and turn low beam on to check that BCU doesnt detect bulb failure and switch to high beam. If this test passes, congrats, you are already through! You need not look directly at the HID. Also do not hold it with your fingers, IT WOULD GET VERY HOT!!!
  • Turn off engine again and let the bulb cool off for few mins.
  • Carefully press retaining clips on stock bulb and take it out. This has to be done with little guesswork if you haven seen it how those tiny wire springs clamp the bulb in place
  • With greater care, put the HID bulb inside and clamp it. This is tricky as the bulb is longer. It fits inside properly so do not worry or press hard. If you have to use pressure then you are putting it wrong way ;)
  • Put the wire clamps in place to keep the bulb firm in position
  • You can cut the rubber cap a little so that you can put it back on
  • The HID kit must have come with cable ties, use those to secure the ballast inside fairing
  • Use insulation tape to wrap up the stock plug and ballast connection
  • Put the Plastic cover and number plate back on
  • Fire up and amaze yourself with the upgrade
  • Adjust beam throw using adjustment screw under the fairing. Your beam cut off should remain parallel to the ground. This would ensure that road is lit maximum and oncoming people/traffic do not get glare
  • Ride out and enjoy!!!
The whole setup should not take more than 30-60 minutes.

I am yet to figure out how to replace high beam bulb but as of now this looks sufficient. Road illumination is improved for sure and I am finally HIDd :D