Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Hate MIO TV (Its a IPTV service offered by singtel)

I hate MIO TV because,

* Quality sucks for mainstream content (HD is good but the SD sucks)
* Delay in transmission. It DOES matter to hear my neighbours screaming "OUT" while I still shouting "SIXER" or vice versa.
* REMOTE CONTROL. May be SingTel invented this to frustrate people or reduce the usage of MIO TV so the system is not loaded. It doesn't work or work's with "DELAY".
* Customer Support
* Simple stuff complicated by your so called advanced technology.
* LASTLY but most IMPORTANTLY, changing the content during the contract period without any concern for the subscribers.

Ok, I've joined the group of MIO Haters, and believe me it took so long not because I am lucky but I am patient enough to hold my guns.

The quality of MIO TV is worse than terrestrial broadcast but being an engineer, I trusted that the singtel can do something to solve my problem. Slowly I'd accepted that the quality is what is available for me and continued watching the programs. But recently the quality became unbearable and I need to pause the live tv to see what's the text. No, its not due to below reasons as suggested by the smart customer service officer. I can plug in the years old HDB cable (it still works in my home) and see the difference

* my eye sight or
* problem with the TV or
* Lighting in the room or
* Angle of viewing

Thanks to the advanced technology you've adopted, the LIVE transmission is not "LIVE" but with a DELAY. True, it's 5 seconds but it makes a difference and I could see it when my neighbors screaming "OUT" while we're still enjoying the marvelous boundary by ten doeschate..It was an issue in Football Worldcup and saw lots of complaints in the news papers but it seems the fans accepted or just ignored it now. Or it may be a problem only for me :|

The smart customer support (Who'd suggested that the angle of viewing could be the problem of perceived bad quality) trys to "HELP" the lucky winners of "WHO HOLDS THE PHONE". It seems the norm is ten minutes of waiting time and by the way it costs me to hold the  phone. I wish there is an App which can detect Service Providers calling me and put them on HOLD for 20 minutes while playing "Your call is important to us, but the officer is busy on another line. Please hold while he finishes the other call". Once you wont the lucky draw, then you're asked to repeat few times what is the problem. This is much more frustrating than watching India loosing the cricket match to pakistan.

Also you guys made life more difficult with the "technology". I don't really understand why we need to change the screen settings by going in to "

Menu---> Right arrow-->Right arrow-->Right arrow-->Right arrow-->Settings-->Down arrow --> Channel Guide --> Enter --> Down arrow --> Down arrow --> Down arrow --> Down arrow --> Enter--> Screen Settings -->

Choose the settings and it'll ask for confirm and test and then accept. The funny thing is the feed is in different format. Why can't you just sense the feed and adjust the screen settings accordingly?
Why shall I press the remote button 19 times to change something which shall be accessible by few clicks. Also how come the "Screen Settings" are under "Channel Guide"? This is not a proper way to prove that you are using Microsoft product/software for your IP TV
Fellow blogger even posted the screenshots here

Final complaint is the content & also the high handed change of programming content. Whn MIO TV started you guys have CBEEBEES, Baby first (Kid's/Toddler channels) and BBC Knowledge. The first two are a very good addition to Singapore pay tv and the main reason behind we opting for MIO TV. However within a month (Aug 2009) the BBC channels were gone. We cannot change our subscription because we are still under contract. You'd changed the bundling few times, and every time you offer "new channel" which seems so new. Content is another biggest joke. My dad told me even he dont recall watching or hearing the movies in the Bollywood EROS list.

Cricket in HD is an exception and I wish the programming folks @ mio tv would learn one or two things on how to offer "interesting content". Hopefully I can see Nat Geo, Discovery, History, Cartoon Network, etc channels in the future.


Here goes some videos I've recorded.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NRI Registration for voting rights in India

I've heard PM announcing voting registration for NRI's last month. I've searched in Google on the procedures but couldn't find. Finally I managed to find a document in ECI (Electoral Commision Of India) and the summary is below.

Form 6A (Here). You need to fill the Form 6A, with one passport size photograph, passport copies,


* Every citizen of India staying in a foreign country, who has not acquired citizenship of a country and older than 18 years
* Submit to the Electoral Registration Office (ERO) of the constituancy by Hand or by Post
* Photocopies of passport should be attested by Official in the Indian Mission

In my opinion, the process is designed to be simple but made complicated by the 'attestation' stuff. Atleast in my experience (in Singapore, US, UK) the attestation process itself takes you to physically godown to the consulate or embassy and waste a couple of 'leave days'. If they could use existing identifications/verification instead of attestation it'd make things much more easier.

For example they can use PAN Card to check information cross check and even offer the registration electronically. This is where I see Indian government need to improve a lot. They've the information but most of the times Gov still asks the requester for information and let them go through the bureaucracy which result in excessive work or some occasions corruption.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

VoIP, SIP - Advantage of TELCO, Mobile Operators over OTT players

For the past couple of days I am going through the RCS and other alternative technologies that can pose a challenge to traditional telco revenue. GSMA published a good document here
Then a question came in to my mind.

"What is the USP or what are the clear advantages if a TELCO or Mobile Operator choose launch a VoIP service compared to the traditional internet players like Google, Skype etc. "

Though there are traditional answers vendor propose (e.g. TELCO knows the customer, good point of contact or offer at a cheap rate or bundling service etc etc), I started to look from Customer point of view and at first i thought it's CLIP or Caller Line Identification. When I use SkypeOut or Google Voice or FringOut the receiving party cannot see my number. So if a TELCO choose to launch then they can integrate with their soft switch and pass the CLIP via SIP.

Then I realized my SkypeOut calls can be configured with CLIP which means there is a way or means to do it. So what other unique propositions an operator can propose to the Customer to opt for Operators VoIP service?

Comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

NFC promises - But is it going to be successful or repetition of earlier debacle

I saw the news that mobile operators committing to NFC and to launch commercial services by next year. NFC is not new and in 2007, GSM released a whitepaper on NFC. In the paper GSM outlined the activities in Europe,

* Public transport ticketing - Vodafone with Nokia, Philips semiconductors
* Public transport ticketing - Bouygues Telecom, RATP, NEC, & Gemalto
* Public transport ticketing - Teliasonera (Finland), Nokia
* M-Payment, car park subsc  - Orange, Cofignoa, Vince & Fly tag
* Stadium access, ticketing  - KPN (Netherlands), Roda JC

In addition to those we've seen several activites in this region,

* Public transport (Ezlink) - Starhub (Singapore)
* M-Payment (Nets)          - SingTel (Singapore)
* M-Payment (Fasttap)       - Maxis (Malaysia)
* M-Payment                 - AIS, Kasikornbank (Thailand)

So far we've seen commerical launches in Malaysia and the take up rate (based on my observation) is far from great. Also there is news from Korea & Japan that KDDI, Softbank & SK Telekom are working on a new service which supposed to work seamlessly between both the countries.

After reading all these stories I can only say, that NFC is coming in the big way but the actual success will be pretty much dependand on how TELCO's choose to launch the services. If TELCO's choose to compete headon with the payment card industry or financial institutions then the chances of them getting succesful will be very slim. If they choose to complement them and given the fact that majority of handphones will come with NFC, the chances of augmenting their revenue will be high. It may be small but it's better than totally be out of the value chain.

Stop embarrassing Reply All messages in Outlook

Here is a cool addin to Microsoft Outlook. Noreplyall as it name says disallows people from clicking on "reply all" or "Forward". It works (working) pretty well on Office 2007, Office 2010 in English versions.

I'm sure you've experienced the embarassing/funny replyalls be it intentional or accidental.


With "Noreplyall" addon it adds you another two buttons to the outlook ribbon. So when you are sending a mail just select "No replyall" or "Forward" button. This will atleast prevent people from accidentally clicking the reply all button.

For the technicalities, please look here.  It was found much earlier by Scott Hanselman and explained in his blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dual SIM Phones, Triple SIM Phones.

While I was in India, one great thing I observed is the proliferation of mobile phones. In year 1999, when I first introduced to a mobile phone, there were three or four models available in Pune. Now I bet there are thousands of models available.
The best part is the Dual-SIM or Triple-SIM phones made by LG, Samsung, Micromax, Motorola, Videocon & some other vendors.

There are various combinations in the multiple SIMs but typically Dual-SIM phones are made to work in GSM-GSM mode or GSM-CDMA, where as the Triple-SIM phones are made to work as in GSM-GSM-WCDMA or GSM-GSM-CDMA which is really useful.

India is a pre-paid market and getting a SIM card is pretty easy. I purchased a dual-SIM phone with GSM-WCDMA to have a first hand experience. It's a Samsung manufactured and model is Samsung Star Duos. My SIM1 is from Bharti Airtel and it's 3G. SIM2 is from Vodafone and only 2G. I'm quite impressed with the performance and the phone did the job pretty well. I can do Video calls, 3G PDP using SIM1 and 2G voice calls & EDGE using SIM2. The configuration is seamless and now I brought the phone to Singapore. Though the IDA didn't approved this phone to be used in Singapore, I am trying to see how it performs.

SIM1: SingTel USIM (3G) (3G only)
SIM2: StarHub SIM - Prepaid (2G).

I've enabled Call forwarding from both. i.e. If SIM1 is not reachable then it calls SIM2 and vice versa. Also I've enabled the SMS Plus feature in SingTel and forwarding the SMS to StarHub SIM.

This is quite similar to what Apple is trying to do with the soft-sim concept. The SIM first registers in one operator network and with a backup configuration of competitors network.So during outages or problems the soft sim registers with the available network. Pretty good idea I guess.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Watching cricket world cup in High Definition

Back to Singapore and believe me guys. I've got a shock of my life when I reached my home. For a moment I thought I entered the wrong house and only realized after my domestic helper wished me.

This is CRICKET period and I am one of those lucky guys who's got MIO TV at home with sports subscription which is WORKING.  So no wonder my living room is filled with friends, friend of a friend and friend of a friend of friend and some unknown faces (who later introduced that they worked in my wife's friend's ex-company).
If you don't believe come to my house next Sunday during India match and you can have first hand experience on how complicated Indian friendships or relationships can be..

Coming to the point, I confess watching the sport in HD is really an unique experience. I still remember the Prudential cup (1987) matches and to watch the match in 11" B&W television set we traveled almost close to 50 KM to a relative's (Refer to above to understand the definition of relative) home. It's great with the added graphical display showing the replay's and analysis.

Here we've two different feeds, one in Hindi and the other in English. Hindi feed is exactly the same as those transmitted in India while I believe English version is some thing exclusive to paid viewers. So the + or - point based on how you see is, THERE ARE NO ADVERTISEMENTS.. Seriously no ad even during the drinks time or lunch break. For me it's really boring to watch complete game without the 'masala' ads coming in between. Anyway my friends liked it and I am guessing to see more crowd during the next weekend.

Another interesting thing I observed is the match between Srilanka &  Indian Canadian teams. I think the Canadian cricket team is filled with folks from south asian origin and its almost like watching our Indian team 10-15 years back. They are slow in the field, often dropped catches, missed run-outs but I am impressed with their spirits. If they'd have done better in the field, they'd have shown the Srilankan's a tough time. Anyway's best of luck and move on guys..

Trying blog monetization

an euphonious is for life, not just xmas!
I am trying to understand how the adsense and other advertisement providers works. I've seen some before but trying to understand the technicalities.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Singapore budget 2011

First time in my life I am waiting for the budget speech. I never waited so eagerly to see the ministers opening the sealed pack.
I hope the Gov would reduce the burden on residents by either reducing the tax bracket or by increasing the deduction limits. A lot of people think Singapore tax rate is one of the lowest in the world. Its true on the surface but when we look in to the details we'd know the fact. For example, when I was in India (with 30% tax rate) I never paid more than 10% of my savings thanks to various deductions. But in Singapore I often end up paying more than 20% of my savings.
Hope to see some relief..


Wooohhhoooooooo....Here goes the summary and dear minister, thanks for fulfilling some of my wishes :)

* Personal income tax rebate of 20% (capped at 2000) for FY2011
* Rate cut up to 120,000 from FY2011
* No more TV lic
* Increase in employer CPF contribution (additional 0.5%)

Not so good

* CPF contribution limit increased to 5,000. (If you are earning 4.5K+ then your paycheck is reduced by100/month and including bonus it'll be reduced to a max of 1,650/year)
* No 'tangible' benefits to parents (may be I don't see the benefits given very useful)

Overall it's average budget before 'election' year and i fully support the decision of putting back the $4billion in to reserves. It's good thing to do..

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chiranjeevi Praja Rajyam (PRP) merged with Congress

I've no qualms if Chiranjeevi merger with Congress but I found the rationale quite funny. He says, he is impressed with the way Congress is handling corruption. May be he saw a great opportunity there, where the PM keeps his mouth shut, new cabinet ministers support their predecessors even after CBI shows proof of corruption.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

BSNL DSL, Reliance Netconnect, Bharti EDGE

Perhaps this is the first time I need to use internet extensively in India. We've BSNL DSL (One Net) connection at home but having experienced problems with it I wanted to have another option and I am inclined to get a mobile connection. With mobile I don't have to worry about power outages and landline issues.

Finally I opted for Bharti due to the price and positive feedback. Charges are acceptable and speed is much better than what I expected. I even made some skype calls over it and quality is same or much better than our world class infrastructure in Singapore. Throughout is consistent around 120 Kbps which is enough for skype.. The charges are R5 for 50MB /Day. Few more options are available like R98 for 2GB/Month etc..