The visionary turned arm-twister – Airtel.

Arguably, airtel provides one of the best cellular networks in India. In fact I have stuck on to airtel across the states, and the theory has been ascertained every single time, and generally speaking, I’ve not had much to complain about.

Now, I am contemplating switching to other providers, even though I can see that some of them offer services and interfaces which pale in comparison to Airtel.

With the emergence of all the Internet based communication offerings, the temperature in voice calls space has heated up somewhat, but airtel seems to have gotten it’s dance steps wrong and looks like a it’s reacting more than anything.

First they come up with the concept of differential pricing for types of data, which lead to all the debate on net neutrality.

Now again, they’re back. After having introduced the 4G network in various cities across the country, they are in a way “trying” to influence people into upgrading to that.

Earlier, it was about some lures like : Upgrade to 4G for the price of 3G, and stuff, but now I feel, the 3G network that I currently use, seems to be more flaky than before.

Also, complain to them about any of the broadband (fixed line) problems, and their sales team gets to you with a pitch about 4G hotspot.

The other “nail in the coffin” as far as I am concerned turned out to be when I traveled to a few places in Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. I’m not so sure to absolutely conclude it yet, but I have a hunch that the airtel network in south is not as big a deal. At least in 3 points I have experienced other phones (than airtel) to be working whereas airtel connection had stutters and drops.

Also the fact that airtel is the arm twister is not that big a secret. Following observation should suffice to say that.

The broadband plans they offered when I was in Delhi looked like over priced, and their services were nothing much to rave about either. So when I compared their offerings in NCR with that in Bangalore, I was in for a surprise. Simply being cut to size.

For putting it in numbers, compare the following:

  • Gurgaon plan : Rs. 1200 for 15GB @ 2Mbps.
  • Bangalore plan : Rs. 1100 for 60GB @ 8Mbps.

Looks like because of a monopoly in NCR they’re extorting what they can. I wonder how will I manage if I need to shift to NCR. 🙂

As for Airtel the saying holds : Make hay while the sun shines.

My thought process through the Google I/O.

Watching today’s Google I/O keynote evoked a rather familiar sequence of emotional impulses. A trained mind (sensitized from previous Apple WWDC and such) events reminds the enthralled heart to cool it off a little. A level headed wife helps the situation also.

I usually beef up my mental rejection shield before starting to watch such moving presentations. Like when iphone 5s and 5c were being unraveled, at once I thought that this would be a bad idea. I mean same screen size as previous one ? What was apple shooting at ?

The way they talk about the seemingly technological advancements, with the 64 bit processor and all, slow motion camera, finger print sensor and the song Applause  kind of  takes your logical reasoning away for that brief moment.

I mean if they somehow open the sales counter/website at the same time they present the features, I’m convinced the’ll witness a major spike in their sales.

Of course, cooling down a little (and sleeping over it) through the next day does lead me to other conclusions. Except the finger print sensor, the majority of that feature list was a load of crap. I mean, just seeing what the android devices were up to those days. Iphone, for the first time ever seemed to have looked the inferior product.  Fan boys excuse.

Cut to today.

They were using the stuff in such an elegant manner that it seems to look magic, however orchestrated it might be. It was sheer ecstasy watching those devices interplay. The  watch, with notifications. The car with phone, the TV which would whip up so much information as one searches through content.

Apart from the wear stuff, most of us already have much of the interactions happening at home already, right ? I mean a phone controlling your TV, Phone showing directions/entertainment content. My XBMC  rig suddenly seemed like a dated product. Believe me, it’s a setup many folks would term as “advanced”.

I excitedly asked my wife to get one item of each kind as soon as they are available (are they ever?) in India. She seemed to broom the idea under a rug which is where it is right now. Maybe, if I sleep over this , I’d realize this is not as exciting as I currently think it to be.

Maybe, maybe not. What do you think of the Google I/O? I feel android is looking like a very solid platform right now. But then again, I felt the same about iphone immediately after seeing the presentation.

The Evolution of communication over digital media.

With the real time communication becoming a very popular means of self expression, there seems to be a new etiquette, or “lingo” so to say being put in place. Also, there is entirely new arrangement as to who communicates to whom.  Some folks love the concepts. Others loathe it, depending on age, gender and geography of the individual, without any consistent trend being applicable.

I could start from the Morse code, and fax but I do not want to dig so deep and beat around the bush. The following are very recent trends.

First and foremost, is the telephone call. It’s called  simply a call now, and is more often used as sync up medium. It is indispensable medium for friends who’re trying to meet up to be used as a coordination tool. Sample this conversation sequence. This does happen. All on a cell phone.

1-1-2012 9:00 PM

Mr. A:Let’s meet up tomorrow, at inorbit mall.

Miss B:sure, 5:00 PM then.  cya!

2-1-2012 4:45 PM

Mr. A:I’m running a little late . will reach by 5:30 PM.

Miss B:No problem, just gimme a missed call when you start.

2-1-2012 6:15 PM

Mr. A gives a call to Miss B, disconnects after a single ring, as a response of which Miss B starts to go to inorbit mall.

2-1-2012 6:30 PM

Miss B: I’ve reached. Come to Costa Cofee. I’m waiting there.

Mr. A: Sure. I’ll take another 5 minutes. cya!

2-1-2012 6:40 PM

Mr. A: Where are you, I don’t see you in Costa cofee.

Miss B: I’m on the end close to center.

Mr. A: Oh I see. I was coming in from the north end. And I see you.

I’m pretty sure Mr. Alexander Graham Bell would not have had the vision to see this kind of use for the device he created. I’m by no means complaining, but in fact noting the use of this voice call’s use. I’m sure if dead folks can see us, he’d be happily grinning up there somewhere.

It also kind of kills the concept of relying on each other. I mean see how soon you’ll call up friend/date on a meet, when you’ve turned up on time, but the other person is late. 5 minutes? 10 maybe. The cell phones have kind of de-valued the importance of other people’s time and plans I feel. It seems so convenient to call up 15 minute before the appointment and say I’ll be late, or not coming at all. Again I’m not suggesting that one has to be on time on all the occasions. Some times, being late is not by choice, but how soon before the appointment is the correct margin to notify the other party of your inability to make it. Cell phones have blurred those margins.

Text/Instant messaging.

Good for times, when you cannot do it on voice. When you need to get reminders, or addresses. People have however developed means to converse over messages too. Blackberry phones and the qwerty key pads are (were) a step in that direction. To enable people to carry out a conversation on text messaging.

Not just those devices, there is a new vocabulary developed to facilitate the expression of the ideas, with minimal effort. Read key presses. The language seems to  be a derivative of English, with all the vowels knocked out, and numbers being used for their phonetic values. The following line is actually something which has a conversational meaning, and is English.

“I hv bn lkng 4wd 2 mtng u.”

The buck certainly doesn’t stop here. The latest in thing is in social networking sites.

Status updates.

With social networking sites being all the rage, the newest trend here is updating what you’re up to with a phrase or a line. People are doing it, and some are doing it really effectively. This kind of communication enables one to be addressing a mass audience, and with that connect, you have a real time encyclopedia with a personal touch. Use it for crowd sourcing your problems, or networking. It’s quite an amazing way to communicate.

Of course there are people who don’t quite get the idea on what’s the use of this scheme. There have been status updates suggesting status updates with a post frequency of 5 mins on the lines of :

    • got up, brushing teeth.
    • taking a bath now. water is too cold.
    • eating breakfast. milk is too warm
    • leaving for school now.
    • Reached, ready for the grind … blah.

All of the preceding technologies are based on a single idea.

As humans, we feel the need, and realize the importance of communication. I cannot emphasize enough on how important I feel communication is. The ability to express one’s idea across, be it with analogies, humor or with supplement actions, leads to a sense of liberation when the point one makes gets across.

I hear you.
I hear you.

Keep talking. 🙂

ISP problems, or ISP policies.

Here in hyderabad, beam telecom is all the rage.

Even I quite liked the speeds they offer, for the price they offer it at.  One thing I’ll say is that the downtime is more than airtel (compared to the experience in gurgaon).

However, the recent trouble with them (and I could not explain this to the customer care), is that their DNS server had stopped resolving some of the commonly used web servers.

I first noticed the problem when some of my pod casts failed to download after being released for a substantial amount of time.

I dismissed that as some temporary problem.

After a week of repeated failures, I also began to see some of the very popular sites. I could not open quora.com (to name a few). So, I decided to investigate.

The problem finding lead me to the cause very quickly. These URLs were not getting resolved (can’t do much with routers with a problem as intrinsic).

 

So, for the time being, I’ve started using google DNS.

I haven’t considered any downsides, or tried to contact Beam Telecom’s technical department for escalation on this, but I’ll give this a retry after shifting back to my home which is getting some face lift.

Guitars… confusion…

So, I thought I’ll get a new guitar.

Easier said than done! Trust me.

I went in with the assumption, that my (supposedly) super ear will guide me to my new guitar. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out, my super ear failed me on more levels than one. 🙂

Well, getting the acoustic one was somewhat easier, now that I look back. All you had to do, is check the sound, built, and the action. Of course, the size. And, somehow, back with the acoustic, the cost of the guitar varied nicely with the built, and looks. I found a decent one in just a couple of trips to the music shop.

The thing with the electric guitar kit is there are far to many variables in the equation. The cost variation is also somewhat spectacular. Add to it the fact, that I feel kind of unable to differentiate between sounds generated by those complicated instruments. Oh, did I mention the done variations, and the pickup coil options!

The setup at the music shop was simple, with one processor and one amp. The sales person just kept on hooking different guitars, and playing them with some knobs being flicked here and there. The end result was that I could not really latch on to what he was trying to say.

Single coil pickup or double coil. To me, it sounded much the same. He kept talking about the power, and the clean factor of the sound. It felt as though some one tried to explain stock market to me. I gave up on that particular guitar. It was a beginner Stagg.

In came the next ibanez. Supposedly of a little premium quality. Hooked it up to the same setup, and started his usual routine. Boy, time for me to get thoroughly confused. Frankly, it sounded same as the previous guitar 🙁 Maybe, I’m tone deaf or something, but  I had no idea why one of them would cost 7. 5k INR, and other 20k.

The confusion prevailed further, when I saw some Fenders at the similar range.

To add more fuel to this fire, I got to know that there are effects Processors with similar effects, but one being superior than other. I did not care to listen, the shop did not have them for try outs.

Ditto for the amps in there. About 5 varieties. but none to demo.

I’ll try to give my super ear another run at another shop, but one thing was pretty much evident here. Guitars did not make much of a difference here. Or they did, but I could not perceive. Maybe, I’ll need an expert to guide me through this mysterious myriad of options.

Any Experts?

Heath Ledger. The Joker. The style.

Ever since I saw Dark Knight (the one with the Joker), I’ve often wondered, “The portrayal of Joker in the movie was impeccable!”. I mean if I could imagine Joker in whatever form, Ledger’s role int he movie pretty much described it with perfection. No other actor in his right mind would ever, like EVER consider playing the Joker’s role.

Then I came about this clip. He’s a singer/composer/actor born in 1949, Tom Waits. Watch this interview. Not the best in quality, but hey, it’s from 1979.

Be Amazed!

Dark Knight Rises. First impressions

It’s been rather difficult to watch movies off late. The non availability of tickets at the last minute kind of derails any sort of enthusiasm that might otherwise be associated with  a particular release. I have had to forgo so many, that now watching a movie at a cinema has become too much of a chore.

Dark night rises .

The ticket presented itself without me having to put any effort whatsoever. Thanks to my office work group for that initiative. We got first day first show tickets.

The day was a cloudy one, and it might seem to be a bad day for getting up early in the morning and going to work, but never i had seen such an amazing turnout. The folks assembled at the office by 9:30 AM, and some decided to come directly to the cinema. But the turnout was nothing short of impressive. Even the latecomers and otherwise lazy ones stood right outside the line and spot on time.

I mean who would miss a chance to see such a highly anticipated movie . Add to it the fact, that it’s been pre-booked like crazy. I doubt if I could get any of the bookings done even now if I wanted to. August might seem my best shot!

So we all reached well in time. I’m sure everyone had expectations. The previous version was such an atom bomb.

***Disclaimer / Spoiler alert***

The opening scene shows a scientist from a plane being kidnapped mid air and what a shot it was. It also is where Bane makes the grand entry. Just the way Joker did in Dark Night. Shows how much on edge the character is.

The movie starts by building up from where the previous one had left. Harvey Dent is the projected Hero and Batman the convicted murderer on the run. Bruce Wayne becomes the recluse who has no other motto in life but to eat, breathe and just exist. He’s also with a broken leg which was as a result of shot he got in the ending scenes of the last movie, when Batman runs away, after supposedly killing Harvey Dent.

Enter Anne Hathaway ! The small time cat burglar in movie, and at the point when she messes up with the high end lock in Wayne’s mansion, right in front of Mr. Bruce Wayne, and immediately he seems interested. She’s seems slick indeed.

Also, meanwhile a rather powerful competing business tycoon tries to acquire the Wayne Enterprises by stealing Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints. A ploy that does seem to work, but Bane becomes too powerful and breaks free from being a paid pawn to the controlling king.

Eventually, Bane and Bruce Wayne do meet, and that’s  when it strikes you as to how powerful that “product of hell” really is.

Joker did bring with him a certain humor element, dark as it was. Bane brings fear to the party. The actor is mostly expression less, and has a rather intimidating form, where the mere the mere presence says a lot. The manner with which he speaks is very authoritative at all the times. He regards no one as his superior.

Then there is Ra’s Al Gul’s child twist to it. And how Bruce Wayne gets to hear that story when he was left to suffer in the very same pit from which Bane had risen. Overall lot of things happen in the movie. Enough to keep you interested till the very end.

While it is not possible to prevent people from comparing it with Dark Knight, I’d say that comparison is not just. Dark Knight had that impeccable performance by Heath Ledger and I seriously doubt if anyone can rise up to play a more convincing Joker.

Go watch this movie, and do not run those comparisons with Dark Knight. It’s pretty good.

Of random plans, and unexpected surprises.

So it was decided, that we’ll go to the western coast for sure. Goa, perhaps. Nothing finalized but lot of speculation and tentative ideas thrown in the mix. Even people who’d go was not decided.

“It’ll need to be a road trip” he said.

“We’ll take turns driving” was the verdict.

So after not much planning and one night of food and music, when everyone was in good mood, it was decided that we’ll all drive to a place called Gokarna. 750 kms from Hyderabad, the connecting roads are pretty decent, up till all the way. Major part of the journey would be at night, so was expected to be fast, and without major stoppages.

There’s also a stretch where one has to drive by the western ghats, and that stretch is even more beautiful than the contemporary straight highways.

The fact that monsoons were approaching also added to the charm. For those unaware, western Ghats during the time of rains is quite a sight to see. Lush green, and moist everywhere. The road spirals around with delightful curves. The slope is not daunting. The quality is impeccable. So it is not uncommon for people to drive at 60 – 80 kms an hour.

We hit the ghats early in the morning. So everything was visible.

The look is surprisingly similar to the climb from siliguri to Rangpo. 🙂 . Brings back those memories. One thing different though is that I had the steering wheel. Back in college, we’d curse the cab drivers for rash driving, and dangerous banking on roads. Now, I think I know why they did that.

Well, after hitting the ghats, one does not feel as though there’s any beach around . It looks as though you’ve come to a hill station. I kind of detest going to hill stations, because all my life I’ve been to hills for most of my vacations. So it was a very weird bit of the journey.

My eyes were desperately looking for anything that remotely looks like a beach. It was a road curving around the ghats, so the obvious look that emanated  was of a hill station. The GPS suggested we were very close.

I ranted about how hills hate me and follow me to most of the places, I go to, and kept looking out for anything that would resemble a beach.

Then, at the last descent, after the car reached up to the seemingly last hull, when you would not expect such a feat, there was the sea . Big and endless. looking to swallow the land, with all it’s might and size.

At once, the towering giants of hills looked like ants to the sea. We were approaching down to the juncture where the two boundaries seemed to merge. And there, bounded from one side by hills, and the vast Arabian sea on the other was a white sand beach. Sweet!

Where have you been? Making some Punjabi choumeen!

So I had been absent from this blog for quite some time. Ok, A REALLY LONG TIME!

It had been a crazy few months. For I think about a month out of those, I had lived without internet connection at home. That’s quite a feat, I think. Commendable to say the least. I had (not so recently), shifted house, from a well established residential community to a place which was absolutely bare to begin with. I had to do it up from scratch. And do a lot of things, trust me.

It was quite nerving with, and those with weak heart or depression tendencies, be warned. Those who live single, be warned!

*Thanks to all the folks who helped me, stood by me, during the strenuous phase where it seemed (even to me) that I was losing the plot!

—————–

Any who, things are much more easy paced now. I believe that I’m back to leading a comfortable existence day-to-day activities do not seem a chore.

So, after quite a stretch of eating regular Indian grub, I was longing for something new, something different, something that’d offer the good ol’ taste buds some sense of excitement. And I decided to make some Chinese food at home.

After a lot of deliberation and consideration I decided to make hakka noodles and chilly paneer.Fair thought, you’d think. I thought so too, till I got to the point of getting and boiling noodles. That was the time i realized i require some spring onions, ajinomoto, and some vegetables I could not possibly procure from my local vegetable vendor. Well, I had two choices . abandon all the processing, and go out to eat some spicy biryani, or stick around and make some thing from those boiled noodles, and whatever stuff I had. I decided the second option. The spicy biryani and me don’t go down so well together. My kitchen will need to be really broke for me to consider having that again . (Yeah once bitten, twice averse).

So, me and the punjabi in me decided to get working. and I put some nice “Yamla Pagla Deewana” soundtrack in the back ground on crazily loud volume. Gulped down a full Pepsi glass. I really needed some nerves to do what i was about to do.

I needed spring onions, I had regular onions : after successfully making “Bhindi do pyaza”, my confidence in onions has increased by leaps and bounds. I believe every dish must have a dash of those shallow fried onions, brown and transparent in color. Though the recipe prescribes, it should be done with only little frying, to induce the taste of somewhat raw onion juice in the dish. Yeah that flavor in authentic Chinese certainly is no tadka.

So I did, and I had some vegetables. I needed peas, capsicum and cauliflower and cabbage shred to make some nice Hakka noodles. I had some Beans, carrots and apple gourd (tinda).

Close enough!

I cooked it just like I would make some nice gravy. without spices, and the turmeric routine. Some similarity had to be maintained. 🙂

Next up I needed some soy sauce and vinegar. Absolute essential to getting that tangy taste.

What I had > Amchur(dried mango powder) and lime juice! Will do, I thought to myself. Anything that can save me from that sorry excuse for a biryani.

And i cooked, and cooked with an unfaltering belief that I’d make something edible.

This is what it looked like. This is one of the best examples of the popular sayings, “appearances can be deceptive“: