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Showing posts from February, 2008

Daughter's Passport : Submitting the form

Having got the form and completing it with the necessary documentation I visited the passport office in Secunderabad. A visit to the passport office website gives you other places where the passport can be submitted but having already been to this office I was more comfortable going here. Its not on the website but the passport application can also be submitted at some of the e-seva counters. Although on casual enquiry (not official) at the passport office they told me that at times there might be a delay in the forms reaching the passport office from the e-seva counter. View Larger Map Phase 1 : Getting a token The first thing you need to do is to get a token. This token will have a time slot during which you have to submit your application. This token consists of a sticker that is stuck to your application form and is signed by you. You have to go to the front of the passport office and get a token. Tokens are issued till they are completed for the day so if there is a rush

Problogger guest post

Today my guest post appeared on problogger.net . I wrote about 9 Tips to Start Blogging Successfully . Let me give you a bit of a background about where this article originated from. I have been blogging for close to 3 years now but I have been doing it seriously only for the last 2 months. I then analysed what were the things that I should have done in order to have become a successful blogger based on what I have noticed on the ones that have become successful. The final analysis of my study is what I put into that article and it is what I am trying to implement since the last 2 months. Reading the comments it was exhilarating to notice that some of the readers actually thought Darren was writing the post :-). It was also nice to notice that many readers agreed with my analysis and that strengthened my belief that what I have written if followed will work. How did I get to do a guest post on problogger.net ? A little more than a week ago Darren invited bloggers to do guest pos

Daughter's Passport : Documents

After getting the documents from the e- seva counter for Rs. 10, I had to put together the following documents to complete the application An affidavit that needs to be signed by the mother and father - the proforma of this affidavit is present in the application form. Birth certificate of the child. Please make sure the name of the mother and father on the birth certificate is the same as what is on their passports. If it is not you will have to go through the process described here to get it changed on the birth certificate. Photo copy of the passport of the father and mother. If the address on the father's passport is not the same as the address requested on the child's passport then an address proof is required. For details of the address proof refer to the back of the passport application. Fill up the application and submit it in the passport office .

Tata sky fixes at a cost

After my earlier rant about Tata Sky which I forwarded to their customer care and publicity email ids that I got from the Internet I got a call from their customer care telling me that they can fix my problem at a cost. I was told that I would be refunded all my money but I had to pay the refund charges which worked out to about 2.5% of the refunded amount and then I can buy the new package by paying once again. Having no energy to argue with them anymore and the fact that I still save money at the end of the transaction I agreed to it. The fact that I have to pay money for no mistake of mine but a lack of a process capability on their side is something that still leaves a distaste in my mouth. Anyway for all those planning on getting Tata Sky - their service is good compared to a lot of other service providers that I have used in India. They are professional and prompt. This is the first time I have something to complain about them.

Cookbook for the novice

Cooking can be hard to learn if you do not have the right tools and guidance. Many of us miss out on learning how to cook when we are at home due to a zillion reasons that each one of us can quickly come up with from just laziness to "I will never have to cook". All of this changes when we have to travel abroad or have to live on our own and have no option but to cook. At that point of time the phone calls home and the lack of information in the cookbooks in the market to address the novice cook just don't seem to alleviate our suffering. Many years ago my parents came out with a cookbook that addressed this need. This cookbook teaches you to make some of my favourite and simple dishes such as plain rice , tomato rasam , chocolate cake , Lemon Souffle and many many more recipes. You can catch all the other recipes from the book The Amateur Cooks Companion on DSouza Web .

Offshore Development Challenges : Requirements

Anyone who has done a reasonable amount of development will tell you that in order for a project to succeed getting the requirements right is the most important ingredient of the success. Communicating a requirement is another challenge due to the fact that along with the idea the intent should also be conveyed and doing this over a non visual communication medium over thousands of miles can be a challenge. Good requirements development is even more crucial in an off-shore project due to the following reasons When the requirement is not clear valuable time can be lost as the clarifications can take time due to the time difference. Subject matter experts may not be available in the offshore team so the SMEs in the on site team have to explicitly explain each and everything - otherwise the development may not be done keeping the context of usage in mind. The on site team will not be able to see anything till the development is complete or at least a fair bit is done and this may be too

Handling spam : Blocking users in Orkut

Does the image above look like your scrap book each morning you open it. Do these messages irratate you and only waste your time as you have to patiently delete each one and every time you delete one there just seem to be more that come. Ever thought of blocking the user that is sending the spam. After a little bit of digging around this is how Orkut expects you to do it . Below is a descriptive screen shot of how to block and unblock users. First you have to go to the profile of the user that you wish to ignore and then move your mouse over the more>> link and thats when you are presented the option. Let us say that you have accidently ignored a user (would be so hard to do given how complex the task is) then the screen shot below shows how you can un-ignore that user. Blocking users is so badly implemented. First of all the help link is hard to find. In case you'll have not noticed it - the help link is present at the bottom right in the middle of the screen. Once you

Microsoft is changing with the times

I was using Office 2003 to write a post and I noticed that all the wor ds starting with blog were marked as spelling mistakes. This kind of irratated me as my post was about blogging and my whole article was painted in red. I was curious why I had not noticed this before and when I opened the same article in Office 2007 it was all fine. This shows how the Microsoft dictionary is changing with the times. You can also publish to your blog directly from Office 2007. The only issue is that you will need to use an image provider such as Flickr, Picassa, etc to hold your pictures. Office 2007 currently does not upload pictures into blogger as you do when you publish from www.blogger.com .

Cricket Ground : Lahari Resorts

Given below are the details of renting the ground at Lahari Resorts From 9:00am 2:00pm 7:00pm To 0:00pm 6:00pm 00:00hrs RATES WEEKDAYS Rs. 5000/- Rs. 5000/- Rs.10000/- RATES WEEKENDS Rs. 7000/- Rs. 7000/- Rs.12000/- PROVIDED BY THE RESORTS: Ø WICKETS Ø SCORE BOARD Ø MARKING OF CREASE NOT PROVIDED BY THE RESORTS: Ø BALLS Ø BATS Ø PADS AND KITS NOT PERMITTED: Ø CORK BALL Ø SYNTHETIC BALL PERMITTED: Ø GLACE BALL Ø RUBBER BALL Ø SOFT TENNIS BALL Ø HARD TENNIS BALL Here are some pictures of the match we played on this ground

Free Microsoft Software for students - But Not To Indian Students

Looking at this headline "Microsoft Giving Away Free Developer Software To Students" in this article got me quite excited. I thought it is an excellent opportunity for all the college students in India especially in this day and age when we are lamenting that they are not good enough when they join the industry and how the industry has to spend a lot of money in training them. So I continued reading the article and I read this line " Microsoft is announcing right now DreamSpark, a new program that gives free developer, designer and related software to college students in 11 countries. DreamSpark goes live today in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States... " If you noticed there is no mention of India in this list of countries which made me wonder, "Why is there no India?" If you notice there is even China in the list. I was wondering why and I then read the following line &qu

Environment determines persistence to succeed

Sitting in my daughter's school the other day I was watching a game that the teacher was playing with the kids. The game consisted of a block of wood with some sockets in it and it had long cylindrical pegs that needed to be put in the sockets. The pegs were all of different sizes and the aim of the game was to put the right sized peg in the correct socket. At first the kids looked at it kind of indifferently but on a bit of encouragement and excitement they were all very interested in it. What I noticed was that most of them were persistent till they completed it or thought they had completed it. I have found that with kids - once something catches their attention they are very persistent to do it. They have an unclouded mind and they attack the problem with a goal in mind (the goal may not be the right one). As we grow older we start to use our own judgment or the judgment of the people around us and we stop becoming as persistent in completing our goals if the right environment

Daughter's passport : Getting the application form

Initially I wanted to add my daughter's name to my passport since I did not want to get her a passport so early as she would have 3 passports by the time she is in her 20's. But a visit to the Regional Passport Office website told me that we can no longer add a name to the parent's passport and that we have to get a fresh passport. I went to the local e-seva counter at S.R. Nagar and bought the application form for Rs. 10. Filling up the application was fairly straightforward following the instructions at the back of the form. It is also clearly mentioned what needs to be submitted along with the form. After getting the form you need to complete the form and submit it at the passport office.

Cricket Grounds in Hyderabad

This is a repost of the article I published on the 10th of Jan, 2008 as I have added a new ground - Lahari Resorts. View Larger Map In this post I will try and update the list of cricket grounds that i know in Hyderabad. The grounds that I have listed till now are MCH Play ground, Ameerpet Francis (Do not have the contact number but go to the ground and ask for him). The charges are Rs. 1100 for the ground. They do not charge for anything more. You get the ground from 9:00 AM to 4:00PM. The ground is small. Welfare Center, Sanath Nagar Dhanraj Babu (+91 9394556356). The charges are Rs. 1100 for the ground. They charge you an additional Rs. 500 for the mat and Rs. 100 for cleaning and drawing lines and stuff. They are supposed to give you the ground from 9:00 AM to 4:00PM but what they do is that they pocket extra money from another team wanting to play and give the ground out to them for the remainder of the day assuming that you won't play for the whole day. So what happened th

Changes in Birth Certificate - Finally got it

For the first three parts of this series please read Changes in Birth Certificate Changes in Birth Certificate - Day 2 Changes in Birth Certificate - Day 3 Finally after 10 days of constant follow up I managed to pick up the birth certificate from the Ward office where I had submitted the completed checked application form. The process in the office is as follows - the birth certificate gets printed here and then goes back to the HUDA building at Tank Bund to get some signatures and then it comes back to the ward office and that is the reason why it gets delayed. Constant follow up is needed. The good part of the whole process was that I did not have to bribe anyone. That's a big step in the right direction. I just hope they make all these processes a lot easier and sleeker. I am sure we can develop as a country much faster if the government got more efficiency into their processes.

Cricket Ground : Welfare Center, Sanath Nagar

Here are some pictures from the cricket ground that is present at the Welfare Center, Sanath Nagar. Here are some points to note. The ground as you can see has absolutely no grass but the good thing is that is quite level and there are hardly any pot holes. They put a half mat but you have to make sure that it is nailed properly. So it is good for some of the players to reach earlier and make sure that the mat is nailed properly. You are not given any equipment including wickets so you have to carry your own. The boundaries are fuzzy which the caretaker of the ground will show you before the start of the match but you need to have a discussion between the captains and decide on the boundaries before the start of play since there is a stage and some walls that are quite close to the wicket. You will get no water on the ground so carry your own. We usually buy a 25 lt water can and take to the ground. Tell the caretaker to lock the gate and not to allow anyone onto the ground during the

Importance of engagement

I had the opportunity to sit in my daughter's playgroup class and it was interesting watching how the children behaved when the teacher gave them her complete attention and when the teacher was distracted by something. For example let us say one of the kids started to cry, this distracted the teacher just briefly but that was enough for a couple of kids to go to the toy chest and throw all the toys around, another couple of kids to start a fight, one started to scream and this triggered off a few more screaming kids and it then took about 15 min to again put order in the room. Another thing I noticed in the class was that if the teacher did something that did not engage all the children then the others that were not attended to started to do their own thing. I realised that this is not very different to how it is in the workplace. If you do not engage all the employees they all tend to drift away into their own worlds. It is very important as a manager to understand the waveleng

Learn to have fun

Life is fair and unfair at the same time. There are things that we like doing and then there are an equal number of things that we do not like doing that crop up at the same time. Does that mean that we only do the things we like and ignore the things that we do not like doing? Unfortunately it does not work that way. So how does one get through this? What I have realised is that we have to enjoy what we are doing and accept the rest of it however unpleasant it may be. There is no point fighting or ignoring the stuff you do not like doing since it will always be there to bring you down. It is better to look at the brighter side of it. We would not be doing it if there was an alternative. I was watching my 2 year old daughter make a big mess on the ground. She was on her hands and knees really messing up the place and enjoying it. I let her do this for a while and then when she got bored of it I told her that she has to clean it up. There were 2 ways I could have gone about it - been

Importance of the 5 W's

I was spending time with my 2 year old daughter today and she kept asking me what, why, when, where and who for the entire time I was with her. She asked the same question a million times even though I gave her the same answer all the million times. The key is she never was shy to ask any question and she never got bored of asking a question. Which made me start to wonder - Do kids learn so fast because they are uninhibited in asking questions - they ask them with no fear. They have parents/grandparents/guardians that would answer the questions with patience till the answer is well engraved in their minds. Learning is the key to growth. And learning happens only when you have questions and I feel that as we grow older we have so many hang-ups in asking the questions. When we stop asking the questions we inhibit learning. On the other hand as we grow up the number of people that will willingly give you answers all the time just like a parent/grandparent/guardian gives answers expectin

Tata Sky disappoints

After forwarding this rant to the customer care and the publicity email ids of Tata Sky they fixed my problem at a cost . I have been using Tata Sky for close to a year now and have been extremely happy with their service. But then since you are paying a premium for the service when compared to cable TV operator you expect that from them. They have managed to disappoint me today. While recharging my Tata Sky account I noticed on their website the following offer " Pay for 10 months and enjoy 12 months of TV viewing ". Well this got me quite excited as it is quite a bit of saving. So I chose the option to do this and was directed to the screen like the one below that said " Note: The annual package is available only on recharging your account on My Tata Sky for a single transaction amount of Rs. 3000 for Annual Super Saver Pack ... ". Based on the above statement I topped up my Tata Sky account with Rs. 3000 to buy this package. Once I recharged my account I cam

Having pride is key to quality

What is it that brings about quality programming? Is it just having great processes? Lots of people have the ability and the knowledge. So what stops them from doing something great? There are a lot of good developers but the good developers become great developers when they start taking pride in what they do. If a developer writes a piece of code and he has the courage to display it to everyone else and say "I did that" then I can assure you that it will be something of quality. If the work is not one of quality then the person will not have the courage to put it out there and stand up to the scrutiny and criticism. I think it is for this same reason the quality of code that is in open source is a lot better than the quality of code that comes out of institutionalized development. The reason is because the developers write the code and put it out there for use and scrutiny and they have nothing to earn from it other than pride and popularity. So the question is - if you ha

Identifying a great programmer

Over the last few years I have taken quite a few interviews and have been challenged with the task of identifying great programmers. The surprising thing that I have learnt is that the ones that have turned out to be great programmers very rarely impressed me with the quantity of knowledge about the technology that they were being interviewed on. So what is it that made me say yes to the candidate if it was not based on the knowledge? The following list of items is what I go through in each interview and if I am not satisfied after any step I stop the interview. Same wavelength The candidate should be very down-to-earth when he introduces himself and presents his capabilities. You should be comfortable with him from the time the interview starts. If you are not comfortable there is no point carrying on the interview however great his credentials may be. Remember the person that you are going to be hiring has to gel into the organization. Another thing to look for here is if the person

Reproducing hard to find errors

The key to resolving any error is to be able to reproduce the error. Ever had a situation where a client reports an error and there are no reproducible steps and the client is not able to recollect the reproducible steps or there has been an error reported and you are just not able to reproduce that error in the development environment because there are so many permutations and combinations. We have been in this situation a few times and the following method has helped us resolve these issues. Create an excel sheet with all the permutations and combinations possible in other words a list of all the test cases possible. Install snagit on your machine. Get someone to execute all the test cases in the excel sheet and capture the screen as video. Choose the options as shown in the screen shot below. Once you reproduce the error playback the video file and check the actions that were done to get the error and there you have your reproducible steps.

Online Encumbrance Certificate in Andhra Pradesh

You can get an encumbrance certificate online in AP now. In order to get it you have to perform the following steps. Go to the website http://igrs.ap.gov.in/ Click on Citizen Services -> encumbrance -> Search Click on Yes in the screen that appears Fill in the entries that appear in the search screen. You will have to get quite a few details in so it will help to have a copy of the registration document available with you. Once you finish entering all the details click on Submit. It will then go to a new page with the list of items that matched the search displayed. Click on the check box of the list of encumbrance certificates that are needed and click on submit. This will open a new popup window with the encumbrance certificate. You can then print this certificate. What is this useful for Anyone buying new property can go and verify the current owners of the property that is shown on this certificate in the column Name of PartiesExecutant(EX)&Claimants(CL) with the copy of

An apeal to my readers

I have had close to a 1000 unique visitors on my blog in the last 3 months but I have had less than 10 comments being put on the blog. It would be really nice to get some comments on the blog so that I can Improve their experience on the blog Write content that they would like to read Answer any questions that they might have Elaborate on parts of the topic that are vague On the other hand it would be nice if the readers can Point to additional content that may supplement the information that is already in a post Give their point of view on the topic they are reading Add information that they may have about the topic they are reading I would love to hear from all of you so this is an appeal to all my readers to help make this blog more interactive, fun and informative.

Going WiMax

After 4 years of struggling with wired broadband connections and 2 providers later we have decided to try out a wimax connection. The wimax provider is Reliance. To read more about how we came about this decision you can read more about it on my wife's blog My tryst with ISPs in Hyderabad . Wimax as defined by wikipedia is "...a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL." So essentially they are going to put a receiver on top of my house which will help me connect onto the Internet by connecting wirelessly to the Reliance tower. Sounds like a dream in our wire infested cities . This is a rather new technology but it is said to provide high bandwidth at a lower cost in the long run. Currently Reliance is offering it but soon Tata Indicom (first quarter of 2009) and BSNL are also going to offer it. Given below is the chronological account of my Going wiMax experience Day 1 (Jan 28, 2008) T

Changes in Birth Certificate - Day 3

For the first two parts of this series please read Changes in Birth Certificate Changes in Birth Certificate - Day 2 On Friday, 5 days after I submitted all the papers at the GHMC office in Tank Bund I had to go back and collect all the papers. I then had to take the collected papers to the ward office based on where my daughter was born and that happened to be at Khairatabad. This is the same place from where you collect the birth certificate. I was then told that the person in-charge of doing the birth certificates is on vacation and that it will take me 10-12 days to get the new birth certificate. I had to pay Rs. 100 as charges for the birth certificate (Rs. 60 for the correction and Rs. 40 for the new birth certificate). To read the final article in this series Changes in Birth Certificate - Finally got it

Not going to be cheap flying out of Shamshabad

When the new airport opens in Shamshabad, Hyderabad in March it is going to become very expensive to fly out. First of all it is going to take about an hour providing traffic is reasonable (which is a tough ask) from Punjagutta to reach the airport and over and above that there is going to be a Rs. 750 (approx charge) development fee that is going to be charged for each ticket that is departing from the airport. There was a point where air fare was compared to train fare and the railways were losing passengers to air travel. Not any more with Kingfisher buying up Deccan and Jet buying up Sahara the price of air fare has gone up significantly. Add to this the long commute, the exorbidant parking charges (costs Rs. 120 to park your car for 2 hours in Begumpet airport) and the development fee and it is no more a simple choice between air and rail.

Does adversity make us better ?

I have been wondering if "Adversity forces us to become better". About a couple of days ago I had a late night at work trying to fix some stuff that should have never reached that stage. Having fixed it I started wondering why we got here and started to brainstorm about it and started putting processes in place so that we do not have such a situation again. Which made me wonder why did we not do all this brainstorming earlier and this is not the first time this is happening. I find this true not only in my life but in general too. We start questioning the government administration only when there is a calamity. They start putting in processes or special measures only when there is some threat. This is the same in other organizations that I worked for too. Another thing that I have noticed is that early in ones career if you have faced adversity at work then you come out of it stronger as against those that have had a pretty easy time when they joined a job. I feel the reaso

How call center executives can aggravate you ?

A few days ago I was in a wonderful mood to blog and my internet connection went down - so I called up the call center. After all the introductions where I gave them my subscriber Id and told them the status of all the lights on my router and unplugging and replugging and twisting and turning that they demanded I do and the thing still didn't work I was told that an executive will visit my house. So I asked them when the executive would come and they tell me in 3 days. That had my blood boiling. A great deal of screaming and shouting had no effect - they told me point blank that their process will take 3 days and just as i was about to slam the phone down they say " Thank you for calling. Have a nice day " and that had me furious. How can they expect me to have a nice day - they just messed it up for me even more by telling me I won't have an internet connection for 3 days. The question I have is, do these guys thing ? Why do they not put themselves in the shoes of t