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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.

The farce that is online request forms present on Indian websites

Have you ever seen the “contact forms” that are present on a lot of companies offering services such as Broadband, Telephone Lines, cars, bikes et al?
I have and I’m sick of seeing them. Why do these dumbasses put these forms? They are of no utility except for the sole purpose of harvesting email address, phone numbers & other contact details so that they can shove their promotional material down your throat and spam you to eternity.  Over the past couple of years that I’ve seen and used them – with zero response, I wonder why in the hell do they keep it at all. Absolutely zero response.

The culprits so far:

  • Airtel (telephone, Broadband)
  • Reliance (telephone, Broadband)
  • Tata Teleservices (Broadband)
  • You Telecom(Broadband)
  • Maruti ( car)
  • Ford (car)
  • Hyundai (car)
  • Volkwagen (car)
  • Honda (car)
  • Fiat (cat)
Heck Volkswagen haven’t bothered getting back to me, yet have nicely subscribed me to their promotional crapware that gets deleted straightaway(oh thank thee, GMail filters). (Update: Volkswagen gave me a call today, nearly  a year after I had filled in their online inquiry form. Are they freaking insane? Call up after a whole freaking year?) 
To give Ford some credit, one of their dealers did call me and setup a test-drive & then conveniently forgot about arriving for the test drive. Way to go, Ford!
If you don’t have the basic decency to pay a little attention to your customer who’s investing truckloads of money in you, you should STFU and not talk about customer care. At all.
And for Christ’s sake, get rid of those useless request forms.
Update: Added Honda & Fiat, as mentioned to me by techrsr

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.

****

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.

****

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.

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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A look at Reliance WiMAX (Broadnet ) Internet Connection

Been a while since last wrote a review so I’m a bit rusty 🙂

Previously, I depended a lot on the crappy Airtel data card. In course of time things happened, ( which is not relevant to the review 😉 ) and I shifted to a new place. This place had a pre-existing Reliance WiMax connection, so I really cannot comment on the installation charges and support.

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The case of the Neverending SMS Series

Most of the Ruby gang are very well aware of the “Stupid SMS series”. For the uninitiated, it was Nitin’s way of…. umm… timepass ? by sending SMS to all of the Ruby gang which made absolutely no sense whatsoever ( I hate to admit it, but it’s true, Nitin is a version of “The Amit“).

Anyways back to the post,  couple of days ago, as I was spending time in morning, my iPhone started to buzz away. It wasn’t very surprising, since getting a message in morning isn’t something out of the ordinary. Opened the message only to see it was a blank SMS from an unknown number. Ignored it at first, but then the buzzing went on continuously. In a matter of few minutes my inbox looked like this:

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Celebrating 2 years

Couple of days ago, I tweeted this little message. July 9, 2007 is a red letter day for me – for that was the day I started my career as a working professional. As I tweeted that, I was greeted over IM by few of my friends and colleagues. It didn’t strike me much as soon as I tweeted, but few hours later I was just amazed as to how fast time has gone by – and how far I’ve come. To think, I applied for this position as an afterthought (“should I really ? Well..”). That got me into nostalgia mode.

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Experience of a Lifetime – The Mumbai Austin Flight

I’ve been in couple of flights before but this would be my first International, Intercontinental flight. As in my previous post, the flight was scheduled to depart at 23:40 from Mumbai on Nov 20 and arrive in Newark, New Jersey at 05:25 AM. And then the connecting flight from Newark, NJ to Austin, Texas was scheduled to leave at 07:15 and arrive in  Austin, Texas at 10:25. Like most other things, (surprise, surprise) this too didn’t as per plan.

Let me start from scratch.

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I wanna listen to music!

Statuatory Warning: LOT of curse words ahead. If you cant stand curse words, well then fuck you.

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My stay in Chennai is turning out to be one big lesson as to what kinda pricks and dumb fucks exist in this planet.

First it was the Chennai Cops. Then it was the stupid mansion owner.  Recently it was a stupid hotel cashier. Chalk up yet another dumb prick to that list courtesy yesterday night’s sequence of events.  As usual, after doing some last minute mail checking, I went to sleep at around 01:45. Barely half hour later, we had a power failure. No fans, 40 degree temperature, >90% humidity, sweat pouring down your head and neck, I was certainly NOT in the best of my mood. And then, bam! Some stupid prick prick starts playing music from his (presumably Walkman series, going by the loudness)phone AT FULL VOLUME,  at 02:30. I mean WTF? I gave him a bit of time, waited for couple of songs to get over, thinking he would stop playing.

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