Ken, Caravan, Swades, Planes ….

Take a look at this pic first-

So … at work today, my next cubicle neighbour “Ken” – who is the one of the most knowledgeable and helpful person at work – said to me “do you want to see my car pics?
At first I was like “what?” … and then thought “ah ok!” … and then thought “did he said what i think he said” …
But I said “sure! why not!? … you bought a car lately? show me the pics”
And then he showed me these pics of the new van he bought and I was totally blown away! :)
I was like – Woowwwww!
I was like – Awesomeeeeeee!
I was like – Mind blowing!
In fact, I felt so happy and maybe somewhat proud also that now I know someone who actually owns a Caravan … ! :) … just kidding :)
Ken promised he will bring the van someday to office :) … I am now sincerely waiting for that day :)
I showed these pics to Smita also and she said the same thing that came to my mind too – it reminded us of the BOLLYWOOD movie Swades where Shahrukh takes a Caravan in India to visit his “Kaveri Amma” at an Indian village “Charanpur” … and when his friend asked why does he need a Caravan – Mohan Bhargav (the NRI returned) said – are yaar! gaon mein rehne ka kya intezam hoga kya pata? (oh my friend! who knows what lodging arrangements will be there at the village)
… Swades has simple incidents like this in the movie, which make it my fav movie, but that deserves a separate post.
Anyways, while later Ken showed me another awesome thing that I didnt know. He showed me some of this bookmarks for “Buying Planes” :)
Again when he first said “buying planes” I was first like “what?” … and then thought “ah ok!” … and then thought “did he said what i think he said”
I mean I sincerely thought he is saying “buying plane tickets” and I told that to Ken too … Ken said no he really means “buying planes” :) … He (and one other colleague Morgan) then explained me how buying plane is another usual thing in America. (maybe not so usual, but still, its a concept which I dont think I have heard ever in India)
So just now I searched on google and I did find some websites to buy and sell planes-
Awesome! … Buying and selling planes online like we do for Cars – an industry which I was totally unaware till today! (and I consider myself an ecommerce expert!!)
While I was talking to them, I remembered I have actually seen it in many HOLLYWOOD movies – so I thought probably rich American farmers have it – cuz I remember something similar from the “Pearl Harbor” movie .
I asked Ken and Morgan too – “so who buys these planes? is it farmers?”
Ken said – “No … it is usual people like you and me. Say someone is staying in Pennsylvania and need to travel to Florida frequently. Think about how much time he saves if he buys a plane”
I thought ok fine, but what about the cost to buy a plane!… So Me and morgan glanced over pricetag of one plane too – it was around $500K … which actually didnt sound that bad as I thought. I mean it is still half a million, but whatever, nothing beats owning a plane… right? :)
Ken and Morgan further educated me that it is actually the maintenance that costs more (reminds me of an Indian saying we have – one must be rich if he owns an elephant … or one saying I read one time advising that hiring a carpenter sometimes is so costly that it is like getting elephant sitting at your home) …
In short … owning an Elephant in India is similar to owning a plane in America … funny but true!! :)
Ken said you need to get your plane recertified after certain hours (1000 / 2000 hours) – Morgan added that is “flying hours”. (ok- sounded like the annual car registration thing that we need to do … lol, itz hard for me to leave my “car mentality” :) )
Ken added that you cannot add any accessory to your plane or try doing any modification yourself to the plane. You need to get a certified professional to help you. Say you want to add a bag on the sideway of your plane, you cannot do, you need a certified professional.
It made sense to me … because aerodynamics is a field you dont want to mess with … unless you are a bumblebee lol :) (quoting Shiv Khera)-
According to scientists, the bumblebee’s body is too heavy and its wingspan too small for it to be able to fly. But the bumblebee doesnt know that and it keeps flying.
When you don’t know your limitations, you go out and surprise yourself!
So I further asked them – where do they keep those planes? I mean is it possible to keep it at your home in pennsylvania and then fly from there to your other home at Florida? … Morgan said there are some communities in America – yes – which have things like that. Ken added usually it is at/nearby airport – at/nearby hangers.
Lastly, Morgan told me something more that I didn’t know – John Travolta is one of those guys who owns planes – he actually owns a Boeing 707!!! … haha, awesome!! – so he keeps them at home. He is also a pilot, and probably has affiliation with some airline company … and flies for them. (Ken added – big money!) … Morgan didnt remember which airline company, but just now I found it on wiki (it is Qantas)-
Travolta is a certified pilot and owns five aircraft, including an ex-Australian Boeing 707-138 airliner. The plane bears the name Jett Clipper Ella in honor of his children. Pan American World Airways was a large operator of the Boeing 707 and used Clipper in its names. The 707 aircraft bears the marks of Qantas, as Travolta acts as an official goodwill ambassador for the airline wherever he flies. His $4.9 million estate in the Jumbolair subdivision in Ocala, Florida, is situated on Greystone Airport with its own runway and taxiway right to his front door

More about John Travlota piloting career is here.
So … that is enough knowledge for ONE day! :) .. like they say you learn something new everyday!

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Budget 2010: Income Tax Comparison between 2010 and 2009

Dr Pranab Mukherjee presented the budget today for this year. And, like all years, the one thing that Aam Aadmi like me looks in the budget is Income Tax related changes.
This year also Pranab da changed few things in Income tax which actually looks good to me so far.
  • One of my favourite finance bloggers Deepak put a very basic tax calculator / comparison tool where you can compare how much benefit or tax saving you will have this year viz-a-viz last year.
I took lead from him and put my own excel to chart out the differences for INDIAN MAN having annual taxable income between 2.5L to 10L . (emphasis is on “MAN” as women and senior citizens have slightly different income tax rates)
The results of this excel may not be rocket science, but to the excel fanatic I am – it provides a easy to understand representation of how this budget benefits different income slabs in India. (like they say – I am the “visual” kind of person)
Here is Income Tax Slab for last year [Source:wiki]
  • No income tax is applicable on all income up to Rs. 1,60,000 per year. (Rs. 1,90,000 for women and Rs. 2,40,000 for senior citizens)
  • From 1,60,001 to 3,00,000 : 10% of amount greater than Rs. 1,60,000 (Lower limit changes appropriately for women and senior citizens)
  • From 3,00,001 to 5,00,000 : 20% of amount greater than Rs. 3,00,000 + 14,000 (slightly less for women and further less for senior citizens)
  • Above 5,00,000 : 30% of amount greater than Rs. 5,00,000 + 54,000 (slightly less for women and further less for senior citizens)
And the new announced tax slabs for 2010-11 are as follows:
  • No income tax is applicable on all income up to Rs. 1,60,000 per year.
  • From 1,60,001 to 5,00,000 : 10% of amount greater than Rs. 1,60,000
  • From 5,00,001 to 8,00,000 : 20% of amount greater than Rs. 5,00,000 + 34,000
  • Above 8,00,000 : 30% of amount greater than Rs. 8,00,000 + 94,000
Note – there is one interesting thing I noticed this time that there is no “women” or “senior citizen” specific announcements this year. No comments on that for now.
Before we proceed any further, the usual Disclaimer: This is NOT tax advice. This is educational material only. Use your own mind before you make any decisions. I am anything but not a tax expert :)
Few other things to note-
1. This excel is based on Taxable Income – so it is not your Gross Salary or CTC.
To explain this, say you are getting a salary of 5 Lakhs per annum, but you have invested 1 Lakh in Section 80c and 1 Lakh as Home Loan Interest. That means your taxable income is 3 Lakhs per annum (not 5 Lakhs).
2. In my excel I have not factored in the additional Rs 20,000 tax deduction announced today related to Infrastructure bonds. That will surely put additional tax benefits on your hand, in my opinion lots of people will utilize that to lower their taxable income by additional Rs 20K.
So, whatever … the thing we all love about excel is you can printout charts to visualize things – so the first chart I pulled out was to show how much additional income people will get per month in their paychecks.
As you can see, anyone earning below 3 Lakhs will NOT get any additional money on their hand this year compared to last year. (on a sidenote that means this budget should NOT be nicknamed “Aam Aadmi Budget”, because that will infer that “Aam Aadmi = people having taxable income more than 3 Lakhs” – which I think is far from the reality… isnt it :-))
The good news – everyone above 3 Lakhs per annum will get some benefit on his take home salary, which will keep increasing till 8 Lakhs per annum and then will go constant at Annual benefit of Rs 51,500
Other thing I calculated was “Effective Tax%age” which is by dividing “Annual Tax” to that of “Annual taxable income”.
On that I noticed that people having taxable income 3L will get 0.33% benefit this year – last year they were paying 5.32% tax (effectively) and this year they will be paying 4.98% (effectively)
That will keep growing till 8L income when people will have 6.44% benefit!! – last year they were paying 18.54% tax (effectively) and this year they will be paying 12.10% (effectively)
After that since the tax amount remains constant, but the base increases … so the “Effective Tax %age Difference” comes down, but still it means everyone above 8L taxable income will get Annual benefit of Rs 51,500
I think there are other parts of the Budget which I will blog about in coming days… but that’s it for a Friday evening.

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The iPad Hulla Bol!

There was too much hype about the tablet from Apple to be released in January 2010 – and release they did – The iPad.

Well … I didnt like it in the first impression itself.
I still remember the iphone presentation by Steve Jobs which I saw 3 years ago. Jobs presentation skills deserve a separate post, but let’s focus on the product in this post.
At that time, just looking at the product/presentation, I knew this is going to be a superhit with consumers and will grab a good share of the smartphone market (taking marketshare from smartphones like BB, palm treo etc) … and it did. When I saw that presentation iphone was not released and there was not too much mention of it in mainstream media (geek blogs were full of it though) … but my geeky sense told me it’s gonna be something.
But my geeky sense is not that sure about the iPad. 😐
It is still a month away till iPad will be released and only then we’ll be able to know how it performs. Still, in last month, there were too many interesting reviews on iPad (mostly negative) and related tablet market . I will use this post mostly to aggregate those links.
The first one is review of iPad by none other than Hitler. (i have seen so many versions of this Hitler video, but the iPad one is best)
Next comes what I really felt about iPad – it is nothing but a bigger iPhone. [Source]
Can’t wait to get your hands on an iPad? Miffed that Amazon.de took down the iPad preorder page? Generally at the end of your rope?Fortunately, there’s an app a peripheral for that: the iPhad. “Turn your iPhone into a full-fledged iPad with this easy to install add-on.”Unfortunately, the “add to cart” button for the iPhad appears to be broken at Seven’s Heaven,the home of illustrator Metin Seven.Some might say that tacking a magnifying glass onto an iPhone to turn it into an iPad is unwieldy — even satirical! — but we’re holding out hope.
The reviews on Lifehacker were the best one I read –
There was another thing which I read about iPad is it doesnt support flash (means will not play youtube videos, just for example). Moreover I read about Steve Jobs supporting that decision – rather than fixing it – saying HTML5 will have the functionalities that flash has. http://www.slate.com/id/2243422/
But I dont buy that argument. I think Jobs is overdoing his future-looking-thing, it might take a while for HTML5 to replace flash – and even if it does say in 5 years. Till that time Tablet market will be claimed.
Then there was one of the most comical comparison I saw – iPad vs Stone Tablet
There is hardly any difference between the two – except stone can do multitasking … LOL :)
Lastly there was a youtube video summarizing it best – iPad Keynote in less than 180 Seconds: Incredible, Beautiful, Amazing!
This might be usual part of any presentation where you praise your product, but it definitely felt like Jobs and his team is pushing hard this product. They are doing it the INFOMERCIAL-way … not doing the apple way – where you just create a good product and capture consumers imagination.
Anyways, let’s now look at the competition, because almost every company is jumping on Bandwagon. First one I saw was Google’s own tablet (still in concept stage)
Next one I read was “Made in India” Adam … and I have read good reviews about this tablet so far, still I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Hmm – long story short, the tablet market is just starting now, and I think it will create a marketplace of its own. But I dont think it will cannibalize notebook or netbook market, (umm maybe it will a little), but I think these all products will co-exist, your notebook/netbook will not be rendered useless.

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The Future is Here!

Last week I saw a video about Electric cars / GM’s volt (see video at end) … which also talks about Green energy / Solar panels etc.
Then today morning I read this bit from my friend Nitin, which finally triggered this long due post.
It led me to think that all this hoopla about Electric Cars / Green Energy is probably not mere noise … there is a fundamental change that is happening which most of us are unaware about.
A change which is probably good for everyone – it is good for environment, for the energy consumers. Maybe bad for the oil companies, but think of it they have a huge market and limited supply say 50-100 years. So even if we start transitioning to green energy now, it will take at least 20-50 years to convert whole world to Green Energy, which per my understanding is the time left to us till we run out of fossil fuels.
Anyways, the best part that I liked about below video is, when they explain possibility of turning energy consumers to energy producers. See the bit between 6:00-7:00.
Let’s say homes have solar panels installed and during a hot summer day the “smart home” realizes it has everything charged up and doesnt need anymore solar energy. Now rather than “switching off” energy consumption, it will start sending out the energy to other energy users.
Final result – the consumer (we) may end up getting 2000-4000 $ per year for electricity generation, rather than paying for electricity … isnt that wonderful and amazing?
The future is here!

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Internet Speed – India vs USA

It is probably not fair to compare the two, still.

I read this article on trak.in about Google plans to experiment very high speed internet connection upto 1GB/s at selected US locations (see video at end).

Also saw this screenshot by the blog owner, Arun Prabhudesai, about the dismal Internet speed at India (screenshot below) … as we can see the internet speed is hardly 0.4MBPS. (and this is broadband high speed connection, not the dialup types which we used to use 8 years back that kept loading forever)
Now, Last time I was at delhi, they used to charge around Rs 700 (I had Airtel broadband). (around 15.5$) … although unitary methods should not be used for such cases but still by simple maths this turns out 30$ to use 1MB/s speed in India. (15.5$/0.5)
I thought to check internet speed at my home @ Pennsylvania to see how it turns out.
It turned out to be 20 MB/s!!
Now, I have comcast here and I pay around 45$ per month (incidentally, I used to pay 20$ promotional price for first six month.)
So in this case, it comes out around 2.25$ to use 1MB/s in US.
Summary – from elementary mathematics it sounds like we pay 10-15 times more in India, and we get a dismal service… still we have made some progress so far, so hopefully will improve upon in future.
Less said the better, we do have a long way to go.
PS – here is the video-

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Is there really any difference at all?

I am not a political expert (certainly not in American Politics), still…

George Bush vowed for War in Iraq.

Barack Obama is rooting for War in Afghanistan.
George Bush had government do uncontrolled spending, causing huge national debt.
Barack Obama – doesnt have a choice, has to todo same thing to bring economy back on its knee.
… I can keep on going, but they say pictures are worth thousand words …
Below are the pictures I noticed, Barack Obama’s one was the one I noticed few days back on facebook [here].

George Bush’s picture is the one I noticed today. [here].

I gave you the links above so that you can check yourself that these are genuine pictures, not tampered with at all!! :)

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A problem with UIDAI project – no clear directions after launch (integration with MAJOR systems)

I am not sure about this, but seeing this video about the Unique ID project headed by Nandan Nilekani – raised few questions in my mind.

First watch the video-
Note – there was the funny part at the end where seemingly there was some technical glitch from news channel and we had some “doordarshan moment” when the anchor was totally unaware that he is live… but I am not talking about that. :)
In the first part of this brief interview, Nandan clearly mentions the deadlines of project:-
* 12-18 months for Pilot (that is around end of 2010)
* Around 5 years (2014-2015) will be when the project be “implemented” which means around 600 million Indians will get UID (that will be roughly 50% of India’s population at that time). I am sure the project will go beyond that to cover 100% of India’s population, although Nandan did not define that timeframe … but I am ok with it, because it is difficult to predict that schedule at this time.
Note the tone of professionalism and clear vision coming from a “Minister” – that is the reason we need more technocrats/educated people at these critical positions. It is definitely a soother and great change from the traditional – totally opposed to the vague answers we get from our minister sahibs. Even if the usual Indian minister gives you a deadline – you will have to ignore that – because it will have no base or substance to back that deadline. (example – Pranab Mukherjee saying in 2009-10 Budget that VAT will be implemented by April 2010 – which everyone knew is not going to happen because of the coordinations involved between various state governments and central government. I believe his motive was not to misguide us – but he just wanted to put a date so that everyone at least have a vision about the horizon.)
Anyways, let us not diverge and come back to Nandan – in the later part of the interview he was asked “what kind of applications is he looking at – where UID could be used?” – once again Nandan very clearly explained it – UID is just a unifier, not the real application. He defined the scope of UID project and said that other systems (like Passport, Ration card, NREGA) will have to come forward to use this number.
So far so good – but I think what lacked here (and all other publications/news I have read so far about UIDAI) is how/when/what will be those integrations with other systems be done?
Important- without those integrations, UID project has no significance. See this video-
Note – UID will become just a “status symbol” without those integrations, I mean it will be of no real use to have UID. (I also do not agree with one woman’s complaint when she lost her voter ID card and demaned UID should be accepted. I dont agree to that. UID is just a supporting system, not a replacement for Voter ID, per my understanding.)
Also, I do agree it is not in Nandan’s project scope to talk about those integrations. But from Nandan’s tone, it sounded like those projects will need to be totally “owned” and “driven” by those respective system owners.
I dont agree with that.
In my opinion, UID has two distinct customers –
1. Indian Citizens (who will use the card)
2. Various Governance Systems (who will also use the number, they are real UID clients)
From my limited IT experience, I know that an integration project is successful only when both the parties become the owners, that is when both the parties see the benefit coming out of the project. In our IT projects, it is usually vendor-client relation. The client benefits from the functionality, while the Vendor benefits from the revenues of the implementation.
So if only one of the party owns the integration, that integration project will have lots of problem. The final solution will be delayed, it will be defective and it will be full of issues.
So I think their are serious questions that need to be answered here-
* What other MAJOR systems will be integrated with UID?
I said MAJOR – because the list is endless. Potentially all government systems could and will be integrated to UID.
* Who will own and drive those MAJOR integrations?
Will it be UIDAI? Will it be respective system owner? or will it be joint ownership as I explained above?
* When would those other systems be integrated with UID?
In my opinion, just like UID launch project .. those MAJOR implementation project also should clearly define plans and deadlines. Say – year 2020 as deadline for passport-UID integration, 2025 for Ration Card-UID integration … I am just cooking up numbers to explain my point.
* How will other systems be integrated with UID?
The approach will also need to be well thought of to avoid duplication in effort, and saving time and money. It will be better if that approach is thought of now.
Say – what will be the implication of those integrations from a common man’s perspective – Would a common man need to go out and get UID in 2014, then go out and get PAN card updated with UID in 2016, then get passport updated in 2017, then get ration card updated in 2017 (assuming that is when those integration projects will be implemented)
Imagine coordinating with 1 Billion people on these implementations on year to year basis … that is a food for a big mess. It will be a BIG wastage of time and resources if 1 Billion people has to come out every year to get one of their cards updated. Think about logistics to manage that!!
So – why not plan it now?
One possible solution – launch UID to general public in two phases – first the UID creation and second UID integration with Major systems.
So those 1 Billion people will need to come out TWO TIMES –
* First to get UID – government will do biometrics required for UID.
* Second time they will furnish to government every information related to them – passport #, PAN#, ration card# etc – or better if government can himself pull out that information (which could be messy actually) – but everything will be done at one shot.
This is just one idea, I am sure if Nandan’s team gives 10 minutes to those integration projects now, they will find 10 better solutions.
Maybe these things have already been decided at government level but not made public yet, and will come in due time. So I guess we will have to wait and watch for now.
Updated Later
I read this writeup later, which I think was released by UIDAI themselves (probably leaked?)
Anyways, it does answer few of my questions vaguely.
Read this-
The Registrars that the Authority plans to partner with in its first phase – the NREGA, RSBY, and PDS – will help bring large numbers of the poor and underprivileged into the UID system.
So, the first phase itself will include integration with few systems! Good news!
Jut like I mentioned in my post that there are two distinct clients of UID, this document also says similar thing (they said three – third one being government as a whole)
For residents : The UID will become the single source of identity verification. Once residents enrol, they can use the number multiple times – they would be spared the hassle of repeatedly providing supporting identity documents each time they wish to access services such as obtaining a bank account, passport, driving license, and so on. By providing a clear proof of identity, the UID will also facilitate entry for poor and underprivileged residents into the formal banking system, and the opportunity to avail services provided by the government and the private sector. The UID will also give migrants mobility of identity.
For Registrars and enrollers: The UIDAI will only enrol residents after de-duplicating records. This will help Registrars clean out duplicates from their databases, enabling significant efficiencies and cost savings. For Registrars focused on cost, the UIDAI’s verification processes will ensure lower KYR costs. For Registrars focused on social goals, a reliable identification number will enable them to broaden their reach into groups that till now, have been difficult to authenticate. The strong authentication that the UID number offers will improve services, leading to better resident satisfaction.
For Governments: Eliminating duplication under various schemes is expected to save the government exchequer upwards of Rs. 20,000 crores a year. It will also provide governments with accurate data on residents, enable direct benefit programs, and allow government departments to coordinate investments and share information.
The other thing which I remember I read/saw somewhere else also that this is being developed as revenue generating / service oriented model.
Revenue model
By providing identity authentication, the UIDAI will be taking on a process that costs agencies and service providers hundreds of crores every year. The Authority will charge a fee for its authentication services, which will offset its long -term costs. Registrars and service providers will also be able to charge for the cards they issue residents with the UID number. Such pricing will be within UIDAI guidelines.
There are still questions to be answered – like when it will be integrated to the systems that affect me – the middle class of India – like passport, ration card, voter id card etc.
But I am sure people are already thinking. So we need not be worried. (let’s hope for the best!!)

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How to get into your own Bathroom!?

It’s a long due post (I drafted long back – 12/13/09, but never completed), so here you go……..

I had a terrific dinner tonight (home made tandoori roti and chilli chicken, thanks to Smita, my lovely wife).

So after finishing up the dinner I went to bathroom to wash my hands and what I see –
“We have locked ourself out from the bathroom, it got locked from inside!!”


I was not surprised really (because it happened with us 2nd time, umm 3rd actually, 1st time it happened with bathroom, 2nd time with bedroom) … but I was disappointed – why me? … come on, not again. :(
So I went back to kitchen to inform Smita, and umm, wash my hands too. When I told Smita, she smiled back at me thinking I must be kidding (things like this doesnt happen on Sunday night 9:30pm… right?) … wrong! … Smita looked at me again and saw I am not kidding – what!!! again!!?? …. I said (like it’s my fault) – umm, yeah (with a sorry tone) …. and I added to my defence – “so, umm, who went last time to bathroom” (that was not relevant i know, but I couldnt come up with anything else to defend myself)
so, what next? well, the good thing about it happening for the third time is I have the emergency phone number for maintenance guyz … but last 2 time both me and Smita observed how they unlocked the lock using screw driver etc… and Smita must be reading my mind, so she asked to do try it ourself if we can unlock it.
I still feared if we’ll break anything we will be charged humongous amount (I have heard about similar stories) – so maybe we should better leave it for professionals – but then I thought maybe we can give it a try, why not, we will stop at the point when we feel we are breaking anything.
So, both Smita and I went back to bathroom door with a screw driver, now another problem – it was a philips screw – so it needed that four headed crossed philips screw driver!
So I thought to accept my defeat, but then I saw my wife coming up from kitchen with a “Peeler”
I thought to myself, ok right! like that is gonna work!? … hah! … my wife started giving it a try, but we felt we are doing it wrong… so I said – leave it … let me call maintenance.
As the luck’ll have it – even Maintenance guy doesnt wanted to come out 10pm – He asked 50$ for coming – when I asked in most humble voice isnt it supposed to be free, he said that is during the day, not during like middle of night.
He further added we should try opening the lock ourself. He explained some technicalities too over the phone – which all went over my head. Sensing my tone he said – “why dont you just give it a try, I will give you a visit tomorrow morning anyways to see if it worked out for you” – I thought that sounds reasonable. So said ok.
Now, Me vs the Door – again – I manage to do the first part correctly – open the screws and push a part of lock back to fall inside the bathroom. But the 2nd part was to somehow “click the lock open with screw driver” – which even after 5 minute desperate tries with screwdriver – I was not able to do.
I remember searching on internet too – and I think I even found the patent page for the lock – but that all was not helpful.
I dont remember if it was Smita’s idea or mine (I think it was Smita’s idea) – but we decided to now try it on a Bedroom door lock :) …. since that door was already open – so I can look both side of the door lock – and can understand the mechanics – and if we mess up anything, the doorman is coming next day anyways.
So, I tried with bedroom door and figured out the trick. I went back to bathroom door, tried the same trick – CLICK – and the door opened.
I cannot tell you the joy when this happened (rather unexpectedly) … even my wife was so happy and proud of me – I just cannot tell you! … I guess even I felt like a Macho Husband! 😀 … LOL :)
So, anyways, all is well that ends well!

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There is No Free Lunch … There is No Free Windows 7 Upgrade!!!

So few weeks back my laptop got infected with highly annoying and stubborn viruses and spywares, which wont let me use the laptop the way I wanted to use. (constant google redirects, forced reboots … you know it all … right?) … they wont go away no matter how many anti virus softwares I will install.
Still I tried fighting with them for a week (which deserves another blog post) … then I gave up and brought out the brahmastra (The recovery CD) … and formatted everything. I had no inhibitions in formatting because my data was safe via windows live sync to another laptop which again deserves another blog post.
First – I had windows XP installed originally, but the laptop manufacturer (Lenovo) gave me Windows Vista Recovery CD for some reason – unknowingly or knowingly.
I didnt want to upgrade to Vista because of many software incompatibility stories I heard – But since I had no option so I said – what they heck, lets try it – ALL IZ WELL!!
Then someone on my facebook friends list said why dont try Windows 7, which was a great idea as I have read good review about Windows 7 … and I know my laptop manufacturer was offering Free Windows 7 Upgrade.
I went to Lenovo site and clicked on the so tempting link of “click here to request free windows 7 upgrade” and was redirected to a site which looked like a third party non lenovo site – Mentor Media Corp – so this free upgrade is being done by some other company? maybe? do I care? maybe? maybe not? what the heck – ALL IZ WELL? … But soon I realized this site had the MOST HORRIBLE WEB ORDER FORM i have ever filled – you know those forms which keep refreshing the page whenever you click a field – no matter which field you click- no matter how many times you click – still AAL IZ WELL – I said to myself again.
I clicked clicked clicked – and on final submission page noticed 17$ shipping – what? 17$ to ship a freaking CD? then why are they calling it Free in the first place? Isnt it a shameless lie to call it free and then charge you?
What the …. AAL IZ WELL AAL IZ WELL … I clicked the submit button.
And lo – “you have got mail” with something which they didnt mention up until now – I will need to send them “Proof of Purchase” – why didnt they tell me before in BOLD LETTERS – I am sure it must have been in some small text somewhere. What if I didnt have “proof of purchase”? Isnt things like should be told to customer before getting the order. I mean how many times I will need to tell myself AAL IZ WELL?
Anyways, I searched my gmail and found the original NewEgg.com receipt for the purchase. So I zipped it and send to email address.
Then I waited and waited and waited for a week… up until today.
No email reply.
Finally today I realized this will not be easy and it is just the beginning. I searched on internet and read their support forum and found almost everyone is having issues. People are getting there “free CD” after 3-4 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!! … Whoa! 3-4 months!! is it stone age or what?
Hmm … my order status page is still showing “pending for proof of purchase” Since I dont see anyway out, so I just emailed them again my proof of purchase and will fax it too tomorrow.
Now I try to learn from these experiences – I dont know whether I will get chance to implement those learnings ever in my carrier, but still. I think it is good to learn from your own bad experience so that you can avoid it when you are on the other side – Reminds me of recent movie I saw this week “ROCKET SINGH” although the movie was nothing great but it had nice motto – only way to grow a company is to have good and sensible customer service. That is it.
Anyways, I think one of the main reason this chaos is because it is labelled “free” … So there is a huge rush of customers – which I dont know why didnt they foresee and prepared in advance. I think most big companies these days are totally insensitive to bad customer service. We have seen it all – Comcast, Bank of America etc in USA … Airtel, ICICI etc at India … it is the story everywhere. Like for Lenovo, it looks to me they are totally aware about the bad customer service but they have this implicit excuse “since its free, so it is the bad service .. take it or leave it”
I think they could have done some simple things to improve customer experience here like telling the customer beforehand about the order backlog … so that customer gets mentally prepared before placing the order …. and those who doesnt want to wait can order from somewhere else (even Microsoft is selling windows 7 for 200$ it seems)
Another option could be to have a “premium processing option” say charging 50-100$ .. so that customer have at least an option to choose better service for more money… or stick to bad service for less money.
I am sure if someone at corporate spends 10 minutes thinking over it – they will find 10 better solutions.
Anyways, I am still telling ALL IZ WELL to me and hoping I will get my free Windows 7 shipped to me in next 2-3 months. Let’s see.

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