Friday, August 24, 2007

Free The Left Lane

Free The Left Lane is an initiative from the engineers at SumTotal, an elearning company, in Madhapur Hyderabad. They have launched a blog and are working with the Hyderabad Traffic Police

  1. Their Blog: Hyderabad Traffic - Your chance to improve it!!
  2. Article in
  3. Article in Hindu
  4. Other Blog Posts

Most Hyderabadies are bad drivers. They have no patience, and zero consideration for other road users. The Left Lane is typically blocked because some impatient idiot who actually wants to go straight cruises down the left lane to the head of the traffic and stops in the lane, blocking it till the light turns green.

If I find my self in a situation where I need to turn left and an idiot or idiots are blocking the lane, I keep my turn indicator going and lean on the horn. This typically earns me glares because the idiots blocking the lane think I am at fault!

Zero Tolerance.

Do not tolerate idiots who break traffic rules to gain a few extra seconds. Like the idiots who will change lanes to overtake slower vehicles and end up coming straight at you in the opposite direction. I make it a point to stand my ground and not budge from my lane, even if it costs me time. The last time this happened to me I was driving the motorcycle instead of my car and an idiot in a Zen changed lanes. I refused to budge and came to a stop in front of the car. I was verbally threatened, pushed by the car and had fists shaken in my face. I switched off the bike and refused to budge. Finally the car walla had to back up and get back into his original lane. He hated it but he did not have an option. The people standing around told him that he was in the wrong. No body told me to move.

Follow rules and maintain a zero tolerance policy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gold & Dimond Encrusted $40,000 iPod Shuffle

Want a Gold iPod Shuffle encrusted with Diamonds? It can be yours for just $ 4,000. Yes that is Fourty Thousand US Dollars.

Or maybe the $ 20,000 Gold iPod Shuffle. No Diamonds on this one.

Source: Engadget.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bomb Scare In Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Public School

August 17, 2007. The scariest day of my life.

My children's school (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Public School, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad) received a bomb threat in the late morning, close to noon. The children were rushed outside into the playground while the police bomb disposal squad took over the premises. My 3 year old son and his class mates from LKG & UKG were sent home by bus at the regular time. My daughter (class 4) was still at school. We finally received the all clear after 1.00 pm and then the children were allowed to go home.

Those were the worst 3 hours I have ever spent. Thank God the threat was a hoax.

Career & Marriage

I hate pop-up adverts. Period. And that is one of the reasons use FireFox. Anyway to cut a long story short, I saw this pop-up advert from yesterday when I visited India Times.

The adverts promises Career & Marriage. Both. Not mutually exclusive. If you use their portal of course.

Nice. I wonder how they do it? Do they charge you for their service? The Career & Marriage bit that it. And what happens if either your career or marriage falls on bad times? Are you compensated? Do they have counseling?

What do you think?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mamli & Bablu On Independence Day (August 15, 2007)

This year both Mamli & Bablu participated in the Independence Day celebrations in our complex (Steel & Mines, Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad). They had practiced a song each and sang them after the flag hoisting. Watch the videos below.

Mamli's Song

Bablu's Song

The Painted Pot

This is the latest of Padmaja's experiments with painting pots. The pot was first painted orange and then Padmaja went to town with her box of paints.

Click the thumbnail below for photos. 

Album 48 - The Painted Pot


A Slide Show of the Pot Photos :-)


Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

Vande Maataram - Another Video (Lata)

Happy Independence Day

60 years and counting...

What does this mean to you? Are you proud to be a citizen of India? Or are you ashamed?

I went hunting for Vande Maataram on the web today and found a number of videos on You Tube. The one below is a copy of A R Rehman's video based on Vande Maataram.

A. R. Rehman's song based on Vande Maataram.
Download Vande Maataram from the Government of India web site.

Life's Little Instruction Book

This little list is not my invention. I copied it from en email sent to a mailing list at work. I loved it and I am sure you will too.

    1. Have a firm handshake.
    2. Look people in the eye.
    3. Sing in the shower.
    4. Own a great stereo system.
    5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
    6. Keep secrets.
    7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.
    8. Always accept an outstretched hand.
    9. Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
    10. Whistle.
    11. Avoid sarcastic remarks.
    12. Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery.
    13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.
    14. Lend only those books you never care to see again.
    15. Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have.
    16. When playing games with children, let them win.
    17. Give people a second chance, but not a third.
    18. Be romantic.
    19. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
    20. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems.
    21. Don't allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It's there for your convenience, not the caller's.
    22. Be a good loser.
    23. Be a good winner.
    24. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
    25. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
    26. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.
    27. Keep it simple.
    28. Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.
    29. Don't burn bridges. You'll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
    30. Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets
    31. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the one's you did.
    32. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
    33. Remember no one makes it alone. Have a grateful heart and be quick to acknowledge those who helped you.
    34. Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you.
    35. Visit friends and relatives when they are in hospital; you need only stay a few minutes.
    36. Begin each day with some of your favorite music.
    37. Once in a while, take the scenic route.
    38. Send a lot of Valentine cards. Sign them, 'Someone who thinks you're terrific.'
    39. Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice.
    40. Keep a note pad and pencil on your bed-side table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m.
    41. Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job.
    42. Send your loved ones flowers. Think of a reason later.
    43. Make someone's day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you.
    44. Become someone's hero.
    45. Marry only for love.
    46. Count your blessings.
    47. Compliment the meal when you're a guest in someone's home.
    48. Wave at the children on a school bus.
    49. Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people.
    50. Always say thank you. Always.

Good eh? How many of these do you follow?

P.S. Number 50 is my addition.

Friday, August 10, 2007

12 Ways To Stop The Telemarketers (Sure Shots Ways To Ensure You Are Not Called Again!)

  1. After the telemarketer finishes speaking ask them to marry you
  2. Ask them to call you at work and give them the number of the local ICICI branch manager
  3. Tell them that your agent handles all such things and give the phone to your 3 year old son
  4. Ask them to repeat everything they say, several times...
  5. After they finish speaking ask them to repeat everything sloowwwly so that you can write it all down.
  6. Tell them that you are hard of hearing and ask them to speak louder.. louder ... louder...
  7. Tell them it is your birthday and ask them to sing "Happy Birthday" for you. Three times.
  8. If they start with "How are you today?", immediately say - "I am so happy you asked! I had so much trouble on the pot this morning! The stuff refused to slip out! I strained and I strained..."
  9. As soon as you realize it is a telemarketing call immediately say "Sania, My Love! Why haven't you called for so long! I have missed you so much my dearest!...". If they say they aren't Sania tell them to stop kidding and continue in the same vein. Perfect if the caller is a guy :-)
  10. Listen for 5 secs and then say "Excuse me..." and sing "De Do Mera Panch Rupaya Bara Anna, Marega Bhaiya...". Then ask them to continue. For another 5 secs. Then sing again... Repeat. 
  11. Call them "Darling" through out the call
  12. Ask them for their address so that you can take them to dinner tonight followed by....

Saturday, August 04, 2007

What Is Green Like? The Best Advertisement I Have Ever "Seen"

I don't have to say anything to introduce this advertisement. Please see for yourself.


This copy of the advertisement was posted on You Tube by coderedreel on February 13, 2007. Thanks coderedreel for sharing this video.

Friday, August 03, 2007

ICICI Stupidities Continue...

I had posted yesterday about ICICI Bank's Infinity web site. Our employee mailing list at work was flooded with emails on the same topic throughout the day today.

Anyway, I was happy to find the site working when I logged in from home at 11.00 p.m. tonight. I managed to get a record of the last few transactions for my off line records and cash flow projections. Then my cash flow software alerted my to a EMI payment I have to make to a bank in Bhubaneswar, Orissa. ICICI has a neat little facility that allows you to electronically send money to a host of banks across the country and I use this for my EMI payments. Anyway, I clicked the relevant link and got an ugly JavaScript message box saying "This service is temporarily unavailable".

Okay. Fine. No problem. Something wrong and you guys are working on it. Cool.

But for how long you idiots? What on h^*$^ll does temporarily mean? Tomorrow morning? Monday afternoon?

When will you idiots in the ICICI IT department learn to use your brains? A few more words would have made all the difference!


Advice For A New Professional

Productivity501 has a great post on Advice For New Professionals. A must read not just for young people starting on their first job but also for professionals who have a number of years of experience under their belt. The advice is US centric but applies equally well to Indian professionals. Just change some of the stuff to an Indian context and there you have it.

A must read.

File Locked or Cannot Remove USB Device? Unlock It!

Most Windows users must be familiar with this dialog box.

Or with this one...

Most of the time I can figure out which software has locked the file or folder. But sometimes it is not obvious and can get very frustrating. Particularly when I am trying to shutdown and want to eject the portable hard disk or USB thumb drive and Windows just won't let me.

Happened to me yesterday. I was in a hurry to leave and my portable hard disk was attached to the laptop. I shutdown all software running of the hard disk but Windows just would not eject the device. Damn!

I remember cursing Windows while I wished for an application just like Unlocker! Found it on the Freeware Genius blog this morning, quite by accident. Downloaded and installed it right away!

Ah! I am a happy man now.

Spine-Worx - Back, Shoulder & Stress Reliever


This strange looking device is supposed to gently & quickly (Oxymoron?) guide misaligned vertebra in the middle and lower spine into their correct position, brining relief from back pain, tension & stress. To use it, you recline on the device and it's contours apply pressure where it is required.

Available on Amazon. Price $34.95. Weight - about a kilogram. Will they ship to India?

ICICI Mutual Fund Removes Exit Fee For 3 Funds

ICICI Mutual Fund has removed exit loads from three of it's funds with effect from August 1, 2007. That is investments made in these funds on or after August 1, 2007 will not pay an exit load on redemption. Other than investments made via SIPs or STPs.

  1. ICICI Prudential Power, Fund Page on Value Research
  2. ICICI Prudential Services Industries Fund, Fund Page on Value Research
  3. ICICI Prudential Equity & Derivatives Fund - Wealth Optimizer Plan, Fund Page on Value Research

Article in Economic Times about this.

The World's Largest Gold Coin On Auction

One Hundred Kilograms , the size of a large Pizza!

Minted by the the Royal Canadian Mint, this gold coin has $1 million of Gold bullion, with Maple leaf on one side & Gueen Elizabeth II on the other. The coin is on auction at TeleTrade.

Current bid (7.08 am IST, July 3, 2007) - $1,000,000 ....

Thursday, August 02, 2007

PortableApps - My Software Travels With Me!

I recently discovered PortableApps, an amazing new way of packaging and running software applications. PortableApps allows you to put your favorite applications on removable media like a USB flash drive or a portable hard disk. You can run your programs directly from the removable media on any Windows PC and not leave anything behind when you disconnect and move on.

And to top it all, PortableApps is Free! 100% Free. And it works like a charm.

Okay here is how this thing works - You download the PortableApps Suite, and install it into the root folder of your removable media. There are a number of different options available. if you have a large disk then you could use the full suite or use the Lite version which comes with a smaller set of pre-installed applications.

Available Choices:

PortableApps Suite (Standard Edition): ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox - Portable Edition (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird - Portable Edition (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird - Portable Edition (email client) and runs comfortably from a 512MB drive.

PortableApps Suite (Lite Edition): Uses AbiWord Portable (word processor) instead of Portable and runs comfortably from a 256MB drive.

PortableApps Suite (Base Edition): If you'd like to pick and choose exactly which apps to include, you can try Portable Apps Suite (Base Edition). This is a stripped down package with just the PortableApps Menu, PortableApps Backup utility and custom folders, icons and autorun. It's less than 1MB installed, so it's a great option for smaller drives.

I downloaded the Standard Edition and installed it on my portable Transcend hard disk (80 Gb in a Transcend IDE to USB casing). PortableApps installed without problems and created the following directory structure:

 Volume in drive E is Walkie2
 Volume Serial Number is 80EE-5425

 Directory of E:\

31/07/2007  09:34 PM    <DIR>                Documents
01/08/2007  11:34 AM    <DIR>               PortableApps
19/11/2006  06:30 AM                  52,476  StartPortableApps.exe
31/07/2007  03:14 PM    <DIR>            xampp
               1 File(s)         52,476 bytes
               7 Dir(s)  14,979,813,376 bytes free


I then browsed through the rest of the PortableApps web site and downloaded other applications that I wanted (GIMP, XAMP, VLC Media Player, Audacity, Notepad++ etc). Mow I have a fully configured PortableApps setup, with FireFox browser (with multiple proxy switching support), Thunderbird for work and personal emails, Gaim for work instant messenger & Yahoo, XAMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP, Tomcat, Perl), Java 1.5 runtime, etc.

Plugin & Play!

This of course feeds my need to have all my emails, bookmarks, contacts etc at my fingertips. And my favorite color schemes, FireFox Enhancements, Plugins, RSS Feeds, etc. With this I will not have to keep synchronizing my work laptop with the home PC! And of course when I have access to neither I will still have my complete setup! Like when I visit Dad and have to use his PC. 

PortableApps has a vibrant developer community and I see that they are adding new applications every now and then. They also have an excellent discussion group.

I am writing this post using FireFox Portable running off the external hard disk.


PortableApps menu running on my PC. Note Thunderbird Portable & Gaim Portable in the system tray.

My portable hard disk.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

ICICI's Online Banking, Infinity - Service Unavailable!

ICICI Bank offers online banking facilities free of cost to it's customers. Their banking portal is called Infinity and is pretty good.

However it does have it's off days and today is one of those. I am not sure what is wrong today but I ended up with a blank screen with only "Service Unavailable" on it. No apologies or regrets. No we will be back in a while. Just two words.

Lack of good manners? Laziness? Or just the default web server setting? If it is the last, then I am scared about my money.


[Update - 9.41 p.m.] - Service still down. I was able to access the site for a little while at about 4.00 p.m. but have not been able to connect since.