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Capping off a roller coaster year

2011 was a roller coaster year. Here’s the year in review, in bullet points

  • Sold off my iPhone 3G and purchased a Nexus S
  • Supposed long term US stay gets cut short.
  • 3+ years of work on project gone down the drain. On the upside, learnt quite a lot.
  • Met Manaa in person, after being a very close friend for 6+ years
  • Was elected as Community Moderator for one of the Stack Exchange sites, Super User
  • Wrote my first Chrome Extension to get around WebNonsense crap
  • Bad security practice from the past comes to haunt me.
  • Quit 3i and joined Logica at the middle of the year – after almost having joined TCS, rejected in final round of interview at Oracle & a bungled interview at Société Générale.
  • Did a short term stint in Bangalore for training at Logica
  • My beloved Nexus S got stolen, purchased a iPhone 3GS from Shivaranjan as it’s replacement
  • Went on a road trip to Goa with Appy, AshwinSid and SwaroopH during the middle of the rainy season.
  • Test drove the Swift & Figo. Waited for the new Swift to arrive in market and then went and booked the Ford Figo. Swift’s price put it out of my budget & couldn’t wait 6+ months for the Swift
  • Met Harshad Sharma & Malcolm after having known them for *years* on twitter.
  • Gatecrashed Ravi’s wedding.
  • Ran all over Chennai in trying to get the paperwork & formalities done for the car loan
  • Car loan got disbursed, did the payment, only to be told, couple days before taking delivery that I will be relocated to Bangalore
  • Cancelled car booking, return loan since re-registration of TN car in KA === heavy losses. Total damages: 2.3k(loan processing fees) + 4k (first month interest)
  • Got a permanent transfer to Bangalore! (woohoo!) Ashwinsid & 9_6 welcome me in style.
  • Moved to a 1BHK house on rent. Much thanks to Dkris for allowing me to stay at his house and give expert tips on house hunting.
  • Watched Poets of the Fall perform with front row, centre stage view at The Great Indian Octoberfest
  • Got clicked for #TAD365, thanks Roycin!
  • Met GeekGod & Waste-u Photographer, Waste-u Photographer’s bitch and Frequent Flyer Manish
  • Finally, welcomed the New Year at a far-away coffee estate in Chikmagalur.

Gadgets bought/acquired/reviewed

Overall, a fab year. Happy New Year – and best wishes for the year ahead.

Of Dead Hard Drives, Stolen Phones & ICICI Bank Dumbassery

It’s been a bad, bad week for couple of my gadgets. First, my 500GB internal laptop drive, which I had swapped out for a Kingston 128GB SSD and converted into an external drive, crashed. It is my fault, tbh – I had disconnected it before sleeping the previous night and next day morning, after waking up, breakfast et al decided to listen to some music & plugged in the drive to the USB port.

Unfortunately, I was standing up and the moment I plugged the drive in, the USB drive slipped from my hands and fell on the ground, just as the drive had spun up to it’s maximum speed of 7200 rpm, instantly killing it. I plugged it back in, with little hopes of it being alright, but listening to the sounds confirmed what I had feared – the drive was dead, making the click of death. The data loss was minimal – most important documents were on Dropbox, Pictures on flickr, Picasa, Posterous & Dropbox. Bulk of the hard drive was populated with data from my previous install of Windows, which I meant to clear up but never bothered. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any backup of my Music – so I’ll have to redownload them again. I’ve been using last.fm, Grooveshark or Spotify (depending on my mood |) pretty extensively, so I’m not too heavily hit by the loss of my music collection. And with me using last.fm to scrobble all of my listened music, my entire music library is available online.

Another data which comprised the bulk of the data on the hard drive were the installed games that I had purchased via Steam – I’ll have to redownload these again but I’ll do them as and they’re needed.

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That was on the start of the week. This Thursday, however I faced the most significant loss – my beloved Nexus S – was stolen while boarding the bus. Anyone who’s known me or met me knows how possessive I am about my phone – don’t let it go out of my hand. I was heading back home from work, waiting for the bus to come. The bus was crowded, more than usual. I hesitated at first on whether or not to take the bus, bus considering that I had been waiting for half hour, decided to board the bus. While climbing, some dude bumped into me. Once in the bus, after I paid for the bus ticket, I decided to listen to some music and *wham*. That sickening feeling of knowing that your phone’s no longer there hit me. I asked a lady standing next to me to give a call – but it was coming as switched off. And bear in mind all this happened within a span of 10-15 minutes.

The thief flicked my phone, switched it off, tossed out the SIM within that period. *sigh*. I didn’t have any tracking apps installed either to make things worse. My first concern was that the thief would try to delete my contacts, and since contacts are sync’d to my Google account, they would be deleted from there as well, so I rushed over and changed my password. Since I use LastPass premium, I also revoked access to the app.

For now, I purchased a second hand iPhone 3GS from Shivaranjan – ideally I would have gone for the Nexus S again(yes, I love that phone!) but it was out of stock on Flipkart. Knowing Shiva would have a phone or two as backup(!) I DM’d him if he was willing to sell any of his Android phones, he said negative but offered me the 3GS.

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If these 2 incidents weren’t enough, ICICI was there to fuck up things even further. I had opted for an upgrade to my debit & credit cards(both were due to expire soon) about 2-3 weeks ago. This week, I finally got my debit card. ICICI nicely informed me that they would send over the PIN for the debit card in another postal mail for “security reasons” – this would take another 7 or so days. While that was fine, these dumbasses also deactivated my existing debit card, which meant I couldn’t withdraw from the ATM, all this while I’m due to pay rent for my room. And with my phone stolen, I couldn’t even get the phone banking to work – it would reject my account number and report that the debit card entry was invalid.

Finally after a lot of head banging, I managed to get the debit card activated.

To top it off, Airtel decided to take their own sweet time in reactivating my replacement SIM request. Yeesh. Hope at least the next week turns out to be a little bit better.

Bangalored…

… for a fortnight, that is.

Although, I was not  strictly Bangalored, barely a week after joining Logica I was asked to come over for Bangalore for 2 weeks for some training sessions. Now since this was a company sponsored training, my travel and accommodation was handled by them.

Reached Bangalore on Sunday, May 1st morning via the Jan Shatabdi Chennai-Mysore train at 10:45am. Ashwin was kind enough to come over to the railway station to pick me up. Headed over to At-home Guest House at Koramangala, which was to be my place of stay for the duration of the visit. With no agenda being set, Ashwin & Me were wondering what be the next thing to do. Ashwin & Me remembered Ashwin Murali ( “Cruise” to avoid any confusions” Smile with tongue out ) tweeting about TGIF having reopened in Royal Meenakshi Mall, and that’s where we decided to move next.

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Goodbye, 3i

I had tweeted these 2 simple sentences, the former about 3 months ago, the latter yesterday. Yep, after nearly 4 years, I’m moving away from 3i. It’s been an interesting experience – I’ve ranted and raved about my journeys on twitter, and often blogged about my experiences and misadventures in 3i ( if you have same free time, go read through the archives – good stories there). In these past (almost-)4 years, I started out as a trainee, creating patches & shipments, moved onto to GUI development using Oracle forms, switched over to backend stored procedures development using PL/SQL. Then came the big challenges – client interaction & data migration. Moving data from a 30-year old legacy system is no easy task, and with the constraints & adherence to business logic to be followed – was no doubt, the most challenging task that I had undertaken. Big props to all my colleagues, team mates, peers who helped me along and encouraged and motivated me. Also, a special Thank You to the Ruby gang.

So what’s next? I will be moving over to Logica, starting Monday. I’ll still be in Chennai, though.  Here’s for the new challenge ahead.

Of Thanksgiving Trip, Gadget Overloads, Cancelled Christmas Trip & Back To India

I’ve been absent in posting here – more because there’s hardly anything interesting going on. Well, there’s laziness as well. So here’s a recap.

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For the past couple of months, my colleague had returned back to India, which meant me having no company. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I decided to pay a trip to my cousin sis’ place in Allen, TX. With no car with me & bus service from Austin to Allen non-existent – I decided to rent a car from Enterprise.

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Two months on, I’m soldiering on…

Hard to believe, but it’s been two months since I’ve been in Austin.  Let’s rewind back to my flight details.

As mentioned in my previous post my flight was due to depart at 04:45, and I would have to reach at the Airport by atleast 2AM. Since I didn’t have a vehicle, I called up a call-taxi and arranged for it to come at 01:30. The airport was about 45 minutes from where I stay, and wasn’t sure about the traffic (if any – plus it was kinda stormy that night/early morning) so revised the taxi timings and asked him to come over at 01:15.

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Heading back to Austin

Well, I’m heading back to Austin for a second stint. Had an amazing time the last time I was there – was there for almost a year. Learnt a lot – technically & otherwise. Unlike last time when I had a flight from Chennai to Mumbai and then a direct Mumbai to New Jersey flight ( with a Mumbai International Airport to boot) – this time, the flight will be from Chennai.

The route would be Chennai – Doha – Washington – Austin. Worst part about this journey is that flight takes off at 04:45, and I would have to reach there by atleast 2AM – which means – Goodbye sleep. Will be reaching Doha by 06:45 for a 2 hour stopover. The connecting flight leaves Doha at 09:00 and would reach Washington at 16:00. The final flight to Austin is set to depart at 18:50. I’m a little worried about this difference – I’m not sure if this difference is enough for me to finish off the formalities – especially the immigration part. Lets see how it goes. Hope it will not be anything like the last trip!

Of comatose blogs & vacations

Its been a very busy, hectic past few months. Besides my day night job( I work at US timings, PITA), I’ve also started contributing to techie-buzz, though my day night job takes a whole lot of my time, and I’ve not been able to contribute much. My Linux blog and as well as this blog has been lying almost in a coma state. I plan to start posting some articles now and then, got it in shipshape with a new theme, so watch out!  I’m still pretty active on twitter ( again, not as active as I used to be – even with my “low” activity I keep getting requests not to spam the timeline :p). I’ve been fairly active on posterous though.

I started using tumblr as my tumblelog, but switched over to posterous. The primary reason for switching over was at that time, tumblr was incapable of handling multiple attachments – it’d post the first attachment and discard the rest. Started looking for alternatives, and posterous caught my eye. Its unbelievably amazing how simple posterous is. Just send an email to post@posterous.com, and you’re done. That’s it. That floored me over.

I’ve been actively involved in Web communities for quite some time,  and now time constraints mean that current my involvement is at Chip forums where I’m the Super Moderator and at SuperUser( with rep of 7.1k ) – The StackOverflow for Power Users. I also lurk around in Meta – there are some good discussions over there. When I get some time, just drop by Reddit, Hacker News and TED.

Coming back to real life, as mentioned I’ve been pretty deeply involved in work, and come this Wednesday, I’ll be taking a break for about 10 days ( after a span of about 5 months, I believe). Initially, the break was meant just for the weekend – the plan was to head to Thrissur, Kerala and then hop back to Chennai. I decided to extend the plan,  and head over to Mangalore to take a break. Deepti, Ankit & the rest proposed that we meet up at Cochin for the weekend,and so it was settled. So, currently the plan looks like:

Jun 23rd: Chennai to Thrissur

Jun 24/25: Thrissur to Cochin

Jun 25 – Jun 27: Cochin

Jun 27 – Cochin to Mangalore

Jun 28 -  July 4th: Mangalore

Will be good to take a nice break. Hope I don’t calls regarding work, my experience says I will get it :/

Got nothing planned in Mangalore, lets see how it works 🙂

A much deserved break: The Bangalore trip

First up, Happy New Year folks!

I don’t take off from work very often – the main reason being me working in Chennai means it nigh impossible to visit my hometown of Mangalore over the weekend. So generally I have a set routine of work for about 3-4 months, then take a week or so off (often coinciding with some festivals/holidays/extended weekends to get the maximum number of holidays with minimum number of leaves) to take a nice break, relax and rejuvenate – an approach which had worked very well over the past couple of years that I’ve been working.

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