Thursday, January 26, 2012

OCBC & Lim Tan securities were down due to a Power Failure at Hosting site

Source: CNA

Strange enough, SingTel came to the news once again for not so good reasons. According to the press release from OCBC there was a "electricity" fault at the Hosting company premises and it caused the four hour outage this morning.

Also Lim Tan Securities servers too failed. Now the big question is how come both the servers failed at the same time unless the entire power feed in the row of racks tripped or both servers hosted in the same rack and the rack power supply tripped.

Seems both were hosted at Expan (SingTel Hosting services name). My guess is based on IP addresses of iocbc & - -

Both were owned by SingTel (first block is old block from SingNet and those days they used to give /27 or /26 blocks to customers. So the address in APNIC shows OCBC).

Hopefully this is not going to affect DBS :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Anise, Mugwort, Fennel - Absinthe; Common herbs in Indian kitchen.

Ok. If you ever seen Absinthe or the green fairy logically you'd think that this is an European stuff and for asians this is not a traditional drink.
But I was curious and tried finding out how it was made. Believe me guys, you'd be surprised how widely we use the ingredients of Absinthe in our day to day life :).

If you are from India and not a spoiled kid of rich parents I'm sure you'd know these things.

Jeera (జీలకర్ర), Saumph (సోంపు), Risht/Mashipatri (మాచిపత్రి), then what exactly is the association with Absinthe which has the most concentrated alcohol content?

I'm dumb surprised to know that Absinthe is made from these three main ingredients.

Below link from Wikipedia.

Monday, January 16, 2012

SP Services charges are up again from Jan 12..

Source: SP Services

As you can see from the graph if you are wondering how SP Services manage to keep the 'costs' moderated while the fuel oil prices are going to the roof then you're an innocent person who doesn't know this phrase

 "Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

Below is the graph I reproduced from the data given by SP Services. (I've checked the numbers but please let me know if you see any typos. I am not an accountant but an engineer with some interest in $ & C). This is similar to what SP Services is showing in their web site or sharing with public in news papers. It simply gives an impression that they are doing a good job moderating the charges or normalizing the charges by some intelligent/smart way of planning or hedging.

Now the thing is I want to introduce "logarithmic graph" concept. If you see the charts from stock market or technical analysis the recommendation is always to use "log" option. Reason is it graphs the growth in % terms but not in absolute $ values. This is quite critical because if the stock value grows from 10 to 20 and 20 to 40 the rate is shown the same on logarithmic graph. But on a normal scale the slope looks much higher :)

So now lets see the logarithmic graph of SP Services.

As you can see from the image the variation is perfectly in sync. Which means when fuel prices are increased by 10%, the Electricity charges are increased by 10% (one may argue that the rate of increase is diff which is true because of backdated pricing) or if it drop by 10% then the Electricity charges are dropped.

Conclusion: There is no smart guy sitting down there and seriously hedging the prices and moderating the impact. :)

By the way I know that we are not using Petrol but natural gas and I don't want to make things more complex.

Sometime back I did some noob calculations on inflated vs normalized charges too. It can be found here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Air Asia - X Cuts Indian routes to Mumbai & Delhi from Malaysia

Source: CNA

You'd be surprised to hear the news that a carrier is cutting the capacity to India. We all used to hear the news how world is looking at India and how carriers are expanding in to India. But the fact is compared to the potential the actual traffic is close to zero. Look at Indonesia or Philippines or even to Srilanka (I stopped comparing to China. They are two generations ahead in each and every single aspect), all these nations are 'attracting' people while we are stopping them at our doors.

The reason sighted by Air Aisa is because of 'higher charges'.
Cut because of rising "airport and handling charges" and visa restrictions hampering travel between India and Malaysia.

If you check the charges the charges in major Indian airports are atleast double compared to the region. Compared with worldclass Changi in Singapore Mumbai charges 2.6 times. Same with Hyderabad, Bangalore & Delhi.

One may argue Singapore need tourists so they might be subsidizing it. Fine, then how about comparing with bangkok or Jakarta or Manila. All these airports charge half or less than Indian counterparts.

The overall cost structure is so terrible, it costs the same for a person to travel to Chennai (3hrs 45min) or Sydney (7 hrs).

Expensive/restricted landing rights, airport charges & bureaucracy coupled with terrible process adherence is crippling the industry and causing a terrible image issue to the country.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waze - Free GPS with Voice guidance

If you see the Appstore GPS perhaps this is one of the best out there. Even lifehacker mentions it as the best free tool for GPS on iPhone.

I've used it in USA and I was expecting similar experience in Singapore but trust me guys you'd be terribly disappointed with Waze in Singapore. First of all the maps are not updated and when I tried to update it gaves me an error " I don't have rights to edit". This is the same road I take almost every day to work.
Secondly the routing doesn't work at all and the country manager/area manager seems not bothered to add/edit the routes.
Most importantly I don't understand why can't they simply use Google Maps and add the voice capabilities instead of trying to recreate the maps again :|

After a month of using it now I gave up and going back to the good old tomtom.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Non Camera Phones - Secured Office

I am trying to find mobile phones (preferably smart phones) without camera but I am quite surprised that I couldn't find any in the market right now.
There are a couple of smartphones but they are running windows 6.1 (HTC Snap & Fuze) and one from Blackberry.
Seems like the best bet is to go for ipad v1 & use VoIP :)

So my plan is to subscribe to MIO MOBILE and use the soft client on iPad for incoming and outgoing calls. Let me see how it goes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chennai Airport

Here are some pictures I've taken @ Chennai airport. The new terminal/expantion works are pretty fast it seems and I was told that it'll be ready in 2012. 
Also the Chennai Metro team is working to connect "tirusulam" suburb station with the Airport using underground walkway. I'd think it as a great idea and if they can add travelators that'd be perfect. 

Hopefully they won't start charging the "user fee" like in Hyderabad or Newdelhi.

Top 1% of Mobile Users Consume Half of World’s Bandwidth (NY Times Report)

Source: NYTimes

Here is an interesting article about the usage patterns

The world’s congested mobile airwaves are being divided in a lopsided manner, with 1 percent of consumers generating half of all traffic. The top 10 percent of users, meanwhile, are consuming 90 percent of wireless bandwidth.

Part of the reason for the increase in download volumes may be Apple’s Siri voice feature on the iPhone 4S, Mr. Flanagan said. Siri allows consumers to dictate to the phone and enter more text and data into the network in an easier way.     

I don't really agree with the above explanation. Rather what I see is the 'video' and 'cloud' driving the usage. For example if a user makes 10 SIRI queries it'd use approximately .5MB data. On the other hand if a person takes a picture and syncs to cloud (dropbox or other such services) it'd use 2MB+ of data.
Similarly if a person watches 5 minutes of youtube HD during his commute it'd incur more than 10MB data.

Coupled with the background applications the actual number of calls are multiplied and the end result is 10% of users consuming 90% wireless bandwidth or signalling space. Data usage is still 30-70 or 20-80 depending on the country/location. For example in Singapore its 20-80 and in Indonesia 40-60(telkomsel analysis).

I am not a great fan of "policy" or throttling as user will always find newer avenues to overcome the network based limitations. So the answer I've is the 'volume' based charging rather than 'unlimited' plans. Let the end user decide on how much he wants to pay rather than operator meddling with experience.

Pogaku Bellu - Cured tobacco package

I've taken these pictures at Manduvavari Palem or Patimeeda palem near Ongole, India. Although government is discouraging tobacco farming, still majority farmers are still opting for tobacco. Reasons are very simple, 'money' :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

SMRT Circle line signalling problem (3rd time in quarter), Qantas A380 problem, SingTel network problem..

What exactly is going on? Are we totally lost our focus on the quality in pursuit of higher profits? Or is it just a matter of coincidence?. I prefer to settle with the latter option but something in my mind tells me very strongly that it can't be a mere coincidence.

Atleast from Singapore context I can tell confidently this is due to the 'skill-set' issue at top management. There're days when technology companies are led by Engineers but now a days these are run by Accountants. In my 8 years experience at a local telco, I saw how the attention changed from quality to profitability or business case. Engineers were no longer considered as an 'asset' and replaced by 'scholars'. While I respect these scholars I strongly oppose the idea of they running the network. These scholars are not techies but fresh graduates and 'book' smart. They rely completely on vendors and make decisions based on 'vendor' criteria.

I'd experienced few challenges working with them and it was kinda 'dilbert show' to me. The classic one was during the 3G launch. One of the 'planner aka planning manager' who is a fresh grad (ASIAN scholar) supposed to 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thaman - Grandson of Ghantasala Balaramaiah (not Singer Ghantasala)

While I didn't really enjoyed the music of Thaman, I started to respect him after reading about him. He is the grand son of Ghatasala Balaramaiah who introduced Akkineni to telugu film industry. At the age of 12, he started working to run the family after his father passed away.

From Wikipedia

Thaman had worked with leading music directors was added to the cast of Boys after a successful audition in which he had to play the drums and went on to help out with the background score of the film.[2]
Originally named Ghantasala Sai Srinivas hails from an illustrious family connected to music. His father Shiva kumar was a drummer, who worked for 700 films for Chakravarthi, his aunt is singer P. Vasantha, mother Savitri is a playback singer and his grand dad Ghantasala Balaramaiah is a director and producer, Ghantasala Balaramaiah produced the film 'Seetarama Jananam' under the banner Pratiba Pictures which is the debut film of Akkineni Nageshwara Rao.
At the age of nine, he joined SPB, Ilayaraja's brother and G. Anand as a rhythm pads player and discontinued studies when he lost his father when he was 13. He was compelled to make his hobby into a profession to meet the crisis in his family.
He joined Raj-Koti team, worked for three years on 60 films and then joined Keeravani and worked with him for 3 years completing 30 films and also gained experience from Vandemataram Srinivas, Chakri, RP Patnaik and Devi Sri Prasad. However the most memorable period in his life is his tutelage under Mani Sharma with whom he spent six and a half years and worked on eighty films. On the whole he put in fourteen years of rhythm and keyboard programming with the veterans before branching out on his own.

About Ghantasala Balaramaiah:

Ghantasala Balaramaiah was born in 1906 in Pottepalem. He started his career as a stage singer. He produced the film 'Seetarama Jananam' under the banner Pratiba Pictures which is the debut film of Akkineni Nageshwar Rao. He directed the film 'Sri Lakshmamma Katha' (1950) and completed it within five weeks. He also acted in 'Sati Tulasi' (1936) and 'Ramadasu' (1933). He is the brother of Ghantasala Radhakrishnaiah.


  1. Chinna Kodalu (1952)
  2. Shri Lakshmamma Katha (1950)
  3. Swapna Sundari (1950)
  4. Balaraju (1948)
  5. Mugguru Maratilu (1946)
  6. Garuda Garvabhangam (1943)
  7. Seeta Rama Jananam (1942)
  8. Parvati Kalyanam (1941)
  1. Swapna Sundari (1950)
  2. Garuda Garvabhangam (1943)
  3. Parvati Kalyanam (1941)
  4. Mahiravana (1940)
  5. Markandeya (1938)
  1. Sati Tulasi (1936)
  2. Ramadasu (1933)

Not again...SingTel seems to be forgotten the lessons learned (if they have the plan to learn from their mistakes in the first place). I've no idea what is wrong but my sources told that this is some thing to do with the packet core network (PS Core) which is supplied by Ericsson. If my memory serves me well this is not the first time they had this problem. Hopefully both SingTel & Ericsson works to overcome this problem to help SingTel and Customers :)

Source: CNA
Customers of SingTel 3G mobile services have been experiencing problems with the network in parts of Singapore. Those affected since Tuesday night are mainly in the northern and western parts of Singapore.

Past Links:

Visiting India - Felt like penalized rather than welcomed

No wonder the number of tourist visitors to India in 2010 stood around 5.5 millions while Singapore receives 9.1 million & Hong Kong receives 20 million. No comparison with China here as more than 55.6 million people visits China.

My country which is filled with natural attractions from Kashmir to Kanyakumari; Tropical forests to Scorching Deserts & chilly tundras; Land of thousand cultures & tastes; Hell with all, the nation itself is called a "SUB CONTINENT". But why the country simply gets half of what Singapore could get? This is after 3 years of "Incredible India" where we spend millions of tax payers money world wide.

While I can't answer exactly or give the roor cause below are my observations.

There are tons of problems in India but based on my experience,
  • Infrastructure
Be it roads, hotels or Airports every single aspect of Infra sucks big time. You can hardly travel in India without raising your BP levels. Added to the frustration is the 'attitude' of people. 
  • Service
Service in India doesn't exist at all barring handful of places. You'd get the shock at the airport itself with no one seems to have any idea about any question you may ask. Don't assume that you are a customer thus you'd get some service at any of the government places/offices.
  • People
There is no such thing as 'courtesy' or 'grace'. You can hear people shouting over the phones at all locations and thanks to the cheap mobile plans the situation just became unbearable. 
Even educated people just behave weird and irritatingly the moment they land in India.
  • Cost/Value
You'd be surprised if I say india is expensive. Yes, for the value I received I found India much more expensive than any developing country. Flight tickets are expensive, Airport charges are expensive, Toll's are bloody expensive at Rs.400 (USD 8) for a 200 Km (100mile) drive at 80Km/Hour.
Hotels are expensive (5* - $200++), so the attractions. Simple meals became tasteless and expensive. Public places charge exponentially high prices. A simple samosa costs around $2 at Airport in India while the same can be purchased for $0.60 in Dubai airport.

The entire journey simply gave me an impression that India wants to penalize me for visiting rather than welcoming me.

By the way here is the link for the stats on tourism numbers from UN

Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) - Apply passport online in India

Recently MEA opened quite a number of PSK's aka Passport Seva Kendra in India to simplify the passport application process and to reduce the lead time required.

Best part is you can apply online through the portal and even book appointment online at one of these PSK.
Below is the link for the passport application & other details

I just did the application couple of days back and here are the experience/lessons to share with.

* Make sure you've all the documents required

  1. Register for new user at the top right corner. (here)
  2. Enter all the details of the applicant. For instructions refer to instructions
  3. Once completed, you can book the appointment slots at one of the PSK's. Important point to remember is the opening of appointments is typically done just 2 days ahead at 1800 Hrs. Means if you are trying today at 6PM you can only see for tomorrows & day after tomorrow's slots. Also most of the slots are taken within few min so you need to be ready in front of the PC :)
  4. Once done, visit the center 15-30 min before the appointment. 
  5. We went to Vijayawada PSK which is conveniently located at Midcity Hotel opp. AIR bus stop. The exact location can be found in Google Maps or Facebook Vijaywada page.
  6. If you are going for infant/child then make sure you'd get extra food etc. Also prepare to stand/wait for one hour minimum. You can bring one person for support so make use of it.
  7. Affidavit is not requested during the online submission but at the counter they are asking for it. Note that this must be notarized so bring one. Annex-I is the one they are asking for.
  8. Bring photo copies of all your documents and make it as a set.
Happy submission :)

Indian Railway seat, berth layout - Great help.

While I wish Indian Railways gives us an opportunity to book based on the layout/seat map I can't complain much. Given the fact that the entire system is taking millions of hits I believe they need some time to do that. In addition thanks to the 'indian' attitude we tend to delay things until last minute instead of planning in advance.

I was looking for the layout so I knew the locations and how can I change my seats :) Luckly I came across Indiamike which is one of my fav sites :)

Below link shows you the layout of various categories and browse the site to understand more in details. I'm sure you'd enjoy the site..