Year of Social

The season is changing and here, in Boulder, Colorado, it means colder nights and shorter days. It’s time for animals to wrap up their food gathering operations and finish working on cozy homes for the all too familiar winter.

 

This hibernation is also coming to a very important aspect of my life. Last year, at about the same time, I dumped Facebook in favor of Twitter. I had been inactive on the micro blog since long and returned to it, only to discover so many new and amazing connections and services. I found people worth talking to and got help where I needed it. I also posted a lot on this blog here, taking it through many iterations, themes and (free) hosting providers. Now I’ve moved it to a paid provider – NearlyFreeSpeech in order to maintain a better uptime ratio.

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A Lesson Learnt

I am aware that it has been many months since I have Blogged and obviously a lot has been going on in that much time(shifting to Infosys, Mysore; completion of Infy training; posting to Bangalore; getting a project). But there are certain moments in life which often take precedence over many a months of work. One such event occurred on a flight from Bangalore to Delhi on 23rd April 2010 when I was coming home to Chandigarh for a quite holiday with my family. I had been pondering upon the question as to whether truly making phone calls from within an aircraft can cause a disturbance in their communications or was it just a hoax created by airlines who wanted people to use the onboard phone lines which they provide at a premium to their users. I had concluded that the second was more plausible as airlines have always had a dearth of money and need all that extra revenue they can get.

Obviously, the person sitting next to me disagreed with my thoughts and as the plane prepared for take off and I pushed ‘Send’ on my mobile to send the last message before I went into roaming, he requested me calmly to switch off the mobile. I, being my haughty self, told him that I, being an electronics engineer knew better than him and could saw with confidence that since mobiles and airline communications worked at different frequencies, there was no way possible that my mobile could affect the flight in any way. I had noted the tone in which he had requested me to switch off my cellphone- it was calm but stern and it felt that he had done this exercise many times earlier too. Thus it seemed fit for me to snub him in such a way. But upon hearing me say my qualifications, he took greater interest in my argument and asked me to expain my side of the debate.

Here I knew I had two choices- spend the flight fighting with this fellow about how much I knew about Communications(or how little, after all, what quality is left in today’s engineering courses!) OR accept that he knows more than me and ask for his knowledge. Lucky for me, i chose the latter, as this Radio Engineer knew more about our current debate than I could have ever imagined. 

He explained that it is not the calls or the smss which bothers the airlines much but instead, the small ElectroMagneticPulse(EMP) generated by our mobiles which can disrupt the electronics circuits onboard. This is a very small chance with the new and advanced circuits coming into use nowadays but as always, in terms of space and air travel, it’s much better to be safe than really sorry. He further commented that in his time the biggest fight was against EMP and the biggest contest was to be able to transmit voice across the globe at less than 10 Watt power. 

Ah! It was good to finally hear this explanation from someone who was confident and direct about the facts instead of just saying that it’s part of the rules and at the end of the flight I thanked him, Ashwat Dharampuri, Managing Director of W. Diamant India Ltd, a unit of Winterstone, an international diamond tool manufacturing company and walked off the flight content that I had learnt something new simply by opening my mouth and showing my ego to someone who I knew would educate me instead of cursing me.

Indeed, miracles do happen!

How To: Add Google SMS Channels To Your Blog

Hey Hey Hey!!!

This is the post all you bloggers have been waiting for! Specially my dear friend Arpit Rastogi.. Hope you find this useful…

Ok, so Last time we discussed how to Make a Google SMS Channel which gives people updates about your Blog… But what good is it if people don’t know how to access your Channel and subscribe to it??

One way is to simply send email invites to everybody in your list but that’s the most un-cool thing you could ever do to yourself (of course, it’s very very effective, but we’re trying to be cool here people! :D).

The better way is to add this function as a Widget to your blog and put it right next to the email invites so that people notice it. Now, since there was no direct way or a pre-made widget to do this thing for me, I mixed and mashed a few widgets and came up with the following code to Make me a widget!

Without any more festivities, here’s the code:

<a href=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/subscribe/NitinsBlog”> <img src=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/inc/SMSChannelsLabsLogo.gif” alt=”” height=”50″ width=”150″> </a> <br> Have GMail? Now get my posts via sms! <b> <br> Just <a href=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/subscribe/NitinsBlog”> Click HERE </a> </b> <br><br>

Now, here’s an explanation of the code, the first href link within the double quotes is the link for your SMS Channel, this is the one which will be embedded within the cute little picture of Google SMS Channels which will be part of the widget… Oh and also, the second href link is your sms channel too!!!

Google SMS Channels

So, all you have to do is this: Change the two href double quoted links from My SMS Channel (NitinsBlog) to the Subscribe link for your SMS Channel and post it in the Widget for your Blog and you’re done…

Oh wait! How to make your own widget?? If you are on WordPress, simply go to the Widgets page in your Admin and add the Text Widget to your Widget list and add the Code there…

If you are on Blogger, go to the Layouts page in your Admin and click on the Add a Gadget link, then, click on the HTML/JAVASCRIPT widget in the Basic Gadgets and add the code there…

One last note, make sure you change the href link and make sure you put the subscribe link for your sms channel in double quotes for it to work properly.. and if yuo don’t change it, you’ll be making sure that people join my blog instead of yours! 😀

And a p.s. No common user uses Google SMS Channels right now so they’re going to have to register themselves to it first and that’s a slightly confusing process. I have already added the whole procedure to my earlier post, here and I seriously suggest that you read it and write your own blog post about how to join the sms channels for the benefit of your readers… Feel free to copy from my post…

Finally, if you want to get a feel about how Google SMS channels treat a new user, register yourself from my blog’s channel using the widget given at the top right side of my blog 😀

Have fun!

A SubPrime Crisis for India

India is always fast in picking up various trends from the International markets. Whether it be clothing, fashion or foreign policy. Thus how is it possible that India not pick up international faults and repeat them in its own style? Well, I’m not just talking about the cost fluctuations due to Oil Prices and the whims of the Oil Sheikhs and those of the Federal Bank of the US. I’m talking about taking the biggest blunder of the century being adapted to the Indian scenario. We all know what the sub prime crisis has done to the United States, the world’s biggest economy is now at the brink of a recession best remembered way back between the World Wars… And its not even War right now, it least not for a majority of the world (I hate to say this, but I’m wrong, it IS war for most part of the world). But India is Unique in that unknowingly it is having a sub prime crisis too. No, not food grains, Cellular connections. India is currently one of the largest growing cellular markets and in order to woo the populace, the many cell operators in India Introduced very early various schemes for which the ICM (Indian Common Man) fell hook, line and sinker. But these amazing schemes have a draw back. Lifetime prepaid is a dream well dreamt, but most people are not staying with it at all. Thousands of free smses per month are a boon for the college student, but the companies providing these facilities are now facing the heat of not just TRAI but also the fact that they have to earn money in order to buy more spectrum in the coming years. So companies like Hutch (now Vadophone) and Spice have done a volte-face and upped their prices. MTNL and BSNL still hang on to the Great Dream but they too will soon realise that the government is not interesting in funding their whims and fancies.

Worse of all is the fact that the govt will be introducing Number Portability as early as 2009 in many circles. This will give undue power to the consumer in threatening the Cellular Operator into giving away freebies or loosing vital subscriber database which already has their favourite phone number. This will lead the companies to join hands under the Aegis of TRAI and set the minimum standards for call and sms rates. This will also lead to a uniformity not achievable as yet as each operator tries to use some loophole to their benefit.

For Example- TRAI told all operators to start charging rupee 1 per sms on goverment denoted holidays or festivals. This was a bane for prepaid consumers who had to develop strange habits of being overpunctual in wishing their relatives a day before the festival in order to save precious talktime. But odd it is when you still recieve many smses on the good day too! These are from PostPaid consumers who, amazingly have been granted the boon of being exempted of such silly reforms.

May God only Intervene in the Crisis now ravaging the minds of the mobile happy ICM.

Hoping that solutions be Just a corner away,

Nitin.