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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

TN Government's new plan to avoid Foot-board Travel

It seems Tamil Nadu Government has come up with a new plan to prevent people from traveling on Foot board...
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See the image below...(Sourced from a mail forward-Thanks to Sandesh for sending it)
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The English translation of the caption goes as follows: (Translation by Balaji P)

The first line indicated in quotes actually goes with Tamil proverb.. “ if u travel in foot-board u will be forced to death at any second”. So reporters have criticized the same, by saying ,as the proverb goes, the govt takes good step to prevent people traveling on foot-board by removing steps completely!

Other related posts: MTC Chennai Volvo city buses | Why left half for ladies? in MTC buses(why not front half?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bekal Fort Kerala-Photo Slideshow

Bekal Fort is a very beautiful place 16 kms from Kasargod in Kerala. It is biggest fort in Kerala and spreads over 40 acres.

The fort seem to be custom built to provide protection against sea attacks. You can see holes in port walls, built at various positions and angles, through with either cannons could be fired at enemey ships or hot oil can be poured against enemy soldiers trying to climp up against the port walls. Excellent defense strategy of those times, when air attacks were unknown...

There's no remains of any palace on the port- Quite a small area indeed for a palace. Just few constructions and gardens remain, with a temple below.

Update: Sorry- slides are lost as site that hosted it has gone down.

How to go to Bekal Fort?
If train timings are convenient go by train. Bekal station is very near to Bekal fort- you can probably walk or hire an auto.

Mangalore Airport is the nearest one. Adequate road transport is available from Kasargod and other towns in Kerala along NH 17.

How much time to spend at Bekal Fort?
You can walk around the port in few hours time-Add some more time to relax near sea shore and you can make it a half day program.

Carry an umbrella- there are not many places where you can take shelter if it rains.

Hundreds of movies have been shot at Bekal Fort, Manirathnam's Bombay was most significant one I guess.

Read more about History of Bekal Fort Bekal.com also has other related details you might need (accomodation etc)

Similar posts: Karkala Photos| Golconda | Manipal Endpoint|SkandaGiri Bangalore |Anantagiri, Hyderabad|Abbi Falls, Coorg| Bidanur Fort, Nagara, Shimoga Karnataka

Zest Breaks by Mahindra - Review, Pricing, Comparision and More

This post gives some basic information on Zest Breaks- a new holiday concept launched by MHRIL (A Mahindra Group company which promotes Club Mahindra)

Quick Jump: Pricing SeasonsDisclaimer

While I had advised people not to go for Club Mahindra membership in one of my earlier posts [read that here], I’m not offering any verdict on Zest as of now in this post. I’m only giving the related information. Decide as you wish.
Zestbreaks from Club Mahindra-Logo of Zest
Basic differences between Club Mahindra and Zest Breaks

Club Mahindra:
Target customers: Above age group of 35-40 who tend to take well planned and longer holidays with less frequency

Membership Term: 25 Years, 7 days an year

Number of Properties (as of now, as per my knowledge): 16+

Zest:
Targets young executives in age group of 25-35 years who want to take short breaks or impulsive holidays.

10 Years, 6 days per year.

Number of Resorts as of now: 3+ (Ooty, Kodai and Yercaud (Yercaud is a tie up property))

Key differentiators between Club Mahindra and Zest Breaks:

1. While CM has its rooms classified into 3 types-Studio Aps, 1 and 2 BR (more details here) , Zest shall have all resorts with Studio Aps. This implies the following: Less headaches while selecting rooms/checking availability etc.

2. CM classifies seasons as Pink, Red, White and Blue (full details on CM seasons here),with Zest it is Verve (Most popular seasons, 42/365 days), Buzz (Regular seasons, 179/365 days) and Pep (least popular seasons, 144/365 days)

3. While CM is building properties at popular tourist places/hill stations all over India, Zest aims to build resorts at places which are a drivable distance from a metro, so that members can reach the resort by few hours of drive (or overnight journey max): Travel expense and time will be less.

4. When members take long holidays (say 6-7 days) occupancy will be high and others may not get a chance. With Zest members are likely to take short breaks-say 2-3 days) meaning availability will be relatively higher.

5. Club Mahindra currently has an overflowing membership disproportionate to the capacity at its resorts. Zest being new, can afford to give better attention to its members.
(Assumption is that Zest has dedicated properties which are not shared with CM or other partners, along with dedicated staff for customer care etc-this factor is not verified. Infact a comment I got in my Club Mahindra article says Zest is sharing properties with Club Mahindra in Ooty and Kodai-If Mahindra is selling Old wine in new bottle then it might be better to stay away-be sure to read this comment) (Thanks Nitin for that comment)

6. Per day expense appears to be little cheaper at Zest compared to Club Mahindra. [Go to Club Mahindra pricing]

7. Club Mahindra resorts focus mainly on internal activities-swimming pool, indoor games etc while Zest focuses more on outdoor activities-trekking, night safari, cycling etc (as available, at extra cost)

Pricing of Zest

Refer price chart below for Total Cost of Zest Holidays (Accommodation + maintenance only, Food, outdoor activities, Transportation etc extra)
Zestbreaks from Club Mahindra-Pricing chart

Membership (Valid for 10 years at 6 days per year) price varies from Rs 69000 to 129000 (depending on season) Plus Annual Service Fee of Rs. 3200 to Rs. 2400 (Plus 12.36% service tax extra) per annum (depending on season again). In other words, total cost ranges between Rs. 91,170 (Pep season, full payment in advance) to INR 1,94,598 (Verve season, 36 months EMI). Per day it will be Rs 1519 to 3243, inclusive of taxes. (You may also keep a provision of Rs 1200 per person per day for Food (approx amount) and another Rs. 1000 per person for outdoor activities (trekking, night safari, cycling etc-prices vary depending on activity)

Also note: ASF may increase in future. Loss of interest not considered.

How much it costs for non members?

Non member pricing differs from location to location, depends on if it is a weekday or weekend as well as on season. Current non member prices range between INR 3750 (week days, Club suit, non popular seasons) to Rs 6250 (Luxury Suite, weekend on popular season) per room per day including complementary breakfast (22 hours to be precise-Check in at 1200 hours, checkout at 1000 hours). This is nearly 2 times what a member would pay. Also note that there’s no concept of Club Suite and Luxury Suite for members. I’m not sure what is extra in luxury suit [Info sourced from Zest Ooty Pricing]

While it appears to be economical to take Zest membership, please be informed that all drawbacks Club Mahindra’s life membership has got continues in Zest. Some of the key factors you should be aware :

0. Of the 6 days of holiday per year, only 2 days can be on weekends, rest you need to avail during week days only.

1. No cancellation of membership allowed once you commit.

2. No commitment from Zest on availability of resorts-Once member base increases disproportionate to resort capacity getting a booking when you want will be a challenge.

3. Zest salesmen too indulge in making false promises [Read this comment to know more]

4. No compensation policy whatsoever if there’s a difference in what you got and what you were promised.

5. Since resorts are not exclusively for members, chances are that a member may get to hear 'no availability' while non member gets the booking easily.

If you’re staying in north India I suggest waiting some more time before joining Zest. They have only 3 resorts as of now (all in TamilNadu state) and will take some time before more properties get added. Flying down all the way for a small break may not make economical sense.

As I said in the beginning of the post, I am neither recommending Zest, nor discouraging you from becoming member. This is a new concept and we need to wait and see how it picks up. Not much member feedback is available as of now so no first hand experience accounts. While we can hope for good after sales service from Zest it will be premature to assume it will be excellent or predict it will be very bad. Zest is yet to build its member base so if you’re signing up right now, you shouldn’t be having a problem of non availability of resorts. As long as Zest can give confirmed booking within short notice (say one week or so) this should be a good deal for those who take short breaks every few months. But then, concept of timeshare has its own drawbacks (listed in an earlier paragraph) hence reach a decision after weighing pros and cons.

Zest season classifications:
verve season of Zest breaks
Refer images below to know what all days fall under each season.
1. Verve (Peak Season)
2. Buzz
Buzz season
3. Pep
Pep season from Zest


Update:
There was an allegation in this comment that I have been hired by Country Club to write this review, mainly because I’ve not written anything on Country Club. I hereby clarify that not a single post on this blog is sponsored by anyone. I may take some time to study Country Club’s business model and identify its pros and cons. As of now, those willing to know about Country Club may check some consumer review websites for a feedback on Country Club.

Disclaimer: Go to TOP
All information shared through this post represent the information available with the author at the time of composing the post. Pricing, facilities and other factors may change over a period of time. Readers may please check with Zest for latest pricing and other updates.

Personal opinion only. Please use your discretion and/or take second opinion if required.

Zest Official WebSite Club Mahindra Official Site My review on Club Mahindra Why fixed week is better than floating week

If you’re a Zest member please drop a comment about your experience.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

100+ Comments for Club Mahindra article-An analysis

My article on Club Mahindra, written during Feb 2007 wherein I suggested readers not to go for Club Mahindra life membership, has been the most popular post on this blog.(Got nearly 5000 hits in 9 months-an avereage of about 18 visits per day) Recently it crossed the milestone of 100 comments. (Which includes 42 comments of mine which were written in response to comments written by others).

This post is a quick analysis of those comments.

Total Number of comments as on 21st October 2007: 105
Comments by readers: 63
Comments by author in written in response to above comments: 42
Rest of the analysis is of those 63 comments written by readers:
Anonymous Comments: 21
Non Anonymous comments: 42

I recommended readers not to go for Club Mahindra life membership. Nearly 70% of those who left comment have agreed with me.
Readers who said “I agree with you, Club Mahindra membership is not good”: 44/63=69.84%
Who said “I do not agree with you, CM membership is good and can be considered”: 7/63 (11.11%)
Readers who were neutral/gave 50-50 opinion or had no exact verdict or didn’t say anything supporting or opposing my stand: 12/63 (19.05%)
Readers who said they have decided not to go for CM life membership after reading my review: 7 (Approximate loss to Club Mahindra because of this article due to loss of these prospective customers: 35 lakhs (At an average of 5 lakh per membership (Membership fee plus ASF) For exact pricing of CM membership check this. (this is a negligible amount for CM to have any practical impact. They run a 220 Crores business with nearly 60000 members.)
Readers who said “I am a member of Club Mahindra and I’m not happy with their membership” 19
Readers who said they are members and are happy with CM: 5
Some of the highly informative comments which are worth reading were written by:

1. An unnamed reader tells he’s worked with CM before and identifies that some of the positive comments were written by Club Mahindra staff. Read his comment here:

2. An anonymous comment on Country Club

3. Nitin shares is bad experience at Zest, a sub brand under Club Mahindra which targets Young working executives. Read it here [More on Zest here]

4.Sandy's gives a mixed opinion here

5. Nishu Kohli's comment. She appears to be determined to fight it out and get her money back. If anyone wants to join hands with her check this comment for her email Id and contact her to see if anything can be done.

6. Bhupesh provides some valuable insights here

7. Uday Kumar has mentioned the detailed written communication he's having with the CM authorities to resolve his concern here:

8. Vishnu gives some strong points why he doesn't agree with me. Read it here

9. Someone here feels I’ve been hired by someone to sling mud at Club Mahindra…

10. Manjusha says he/she had a 50-50 experience:

Disclaimer:
1. Comments analyzed here represents only the opinion written by those internet users (members and non members of Club Mahindra) who have chosen to write a comment and not necessarily of the general public or majority portion of Club Mahindra’s 60000 plus member base.

2. This is a non commercial and subjective analysis done manually by the author. Where ever a Boolean YES or NO is not explicitly stated in the comment classification is decided based on the overall tone of the comment. Further count would have differed by a number or two in an event of manual errors while counting. For these reasons please feel free to analyze the comments on your own if you feel above numbers are not trustworthy.

3. In real life it is very much possible that the person who wrote Club Mahindra is excellent is a CM employee while one who said CM is worst is CM’s competitor. While majority of those who left comment have revealed some kind of traceable identity (Name, link to blogger profile/blog/website or their email ID/address etc) some are non traceable (Anonymous or have left only some initials) Since have I do not have a mechanism to verify the comments/authenticate those who wrote the comment (such as if the person who said he is a member is really a member or CM employee or competitor or someone else) hence that is kept out of scope and it is assumed that all comments are genuine. Please use your own validation and verification mechanisms if need be. If you are using the statistics given here for any business purpose do so at your sole discretion and please use your own judgment. I do not take any kind of responsibility towards authenticity of these comments.

4. The comment count doesn’t include few comments which were deleted by the author as they contained links to commercial websites selling stimulant drugs.

5. I am not associated with Club Mahindra or its parent company in any way (such as but not limited to member, competitor, employee, promoter etc). My post is an independent third party observation of the business model adopted by Club Mahindra and highlights the drawbacks in it, which if ignored may lead to severe disappointment to the members. Please use your judgment.

May 2008 Update: Comment count has touched 200 now.
March 2009 Update: Comment count has crossed 330 now.

Related: Other posts that got good number of comments: Public Toilets, cant we make that free? * An analysis of network marketing companies *

Monday, October 22, 2007

A comment on 'Corporate' Movie

This post shares a small observation made on the movie ‘Corporate’ made by Madhur Bhandarkar and released sometime in 2006.
Second and third paragraphs give some quick introduction to the movie those who have already seen this movie and want to skip into can skip intro and jump to 4th para here:

Intro to Movie:‘Corporate’ is a Hindi Movie by Madhur Bhandarkar and stars Sameer Dattani, Bipasha Basu, Minissha, Kay Kay Menon, Payal Rohatgi, Raj Babbar, Harsh Chhaya, Rajat Kapoor, Javed Akhtar, Deepshikha etc. The story line revolves around 2 corporate houses which are archrivals in soft drinks and processed foods business. The movie tries to showcase how the politico business nexus works and how companies try to pull each others’ legs.

Madhur Bhandarkars movies are always unique on their own. They are not based on a conventional bollywoord masala framework but are based on a strong storyline and are made after doing a great deal of research on the subject. Traffic Signal, Page 3 etc are his other popular movies. Watch when time permits.

Situation:
Sehghal Group of industries want to produce mint based soft drink and encounter a problem. The water available near their plant is contaminated and not safe for consumption, in spite of purification mechanisms they have. The board considers only two options
First-Shift the entire production to another plant, which will delay the launch of the product by months and will severely affect they scheduled IPO. S

Second: To go ahead and use contaminated water. (Eventually this is what they choose)

Now, there’re two more alternatives in above scenario which the company didn’t consider. I bring to you those two alternatives and would like to take your opinion how feasible do you think they are.

When you need a raw material for production which is not available locally, it is commonsense to source it from elsewhere. In this case, locally available water was impure to be used for soft drinks, so they could have simply sourced the water from elsewhere.

Sourcing water from elsewhere is not a permanent solution but should have certainly helped them continue with product launch without having to compromise on safety.

Let us do a simple calculation to find out if it is economically feasible to bring water from elsewhere and run the business.

Assume a water source fit for consumption is available some 200 kms away from the plant. A normal tanker truck will have 3 compartments of 4000 liters each and carry 12000 litres of water in one trip. Assuming that a truck gives 4 kmpl mileage per liter of diesel and a liter of diesel costs close to Rs 35, operational cost of the truck per trip (fuel charge plus other expenses accommodated) works out close to Rs. 10 per km or Rs. 4000 per trip (200kms one way *2). With 12000 liters of water it is possible to produce 36000 bottles of soft drink (330 ml each). That means, cost per bottle will be 11 paise only. Given that their current production cost was Rs. 3.70 an additional 11 paise makes it economically feasible to continue in business.

Why on earth they didn’t consider this option?

Another alternative is to reduce production of some of the existing product (regular soft drinks) and use the facility to produce new product (mint based soft drink)-this would have compromised on volume but would have certainly allowed them to continue with their product launch. Even this option was not considered.

Madhur Bhandarkar, are you listening?

May be these options were intentionally ignored because they don’t fit in the story line. Drop a comment what you think of it.
Image sourced from Wikimedia.

Related: Watching news in movies: an observation * 16 in 1 Movie reviews (Jan-October 2008) *

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Recent Trends in displaying ID Cards-eNidhi India research Article!

All employees have got company issued employee identity cards. This card is the reason why we’re allowed inside the office gate…This card allows you enter your workspace. This card makes the sales rep outside the gate stuff pamphlets in your hand as you walk in and out. This ID card helps you get a new phone connection, a personal loan or some corporate discount etc as it serves as your identity proof.

Fine. So what?

A recent study conducted by eNidhi India reveals that not everyone display their ID cards in same manner. Where they keep it, how they display it etc varies a lot. Here we’re presenting few trends in this regard:

Type 1: Conventional dog collar Style: Attached to a strip hanging around the neck

This is the default style but out of fashion of late. ID card holder is attached to a strip and hung around the neck. While most of the associates let the ID card hang on their belly, few carefully shield them inside their breast pocket.

As I said, this trend has become obsolete. Everyone has a tag these days-be it school going kids, municipality cleaner or office boy or security guard you name it. Everyone have got something or the other hanging on their neck and this has stopped drawing attention. Those who have no ID cards get a tag with NOKIA written all over it, connect it to their mobile phone (which resides inside a shirt pocket) as walk with pride as if they are senior employees of NOKIA.

While this is the default way of displaying ID cards in most of the companies, it has lost popularity outside. If you’re using this style, be sure to wash the strip once in few months to keep it clean and hygiene else it will house millions of germs.

Type 2: Hanging out of waist belt, comes with elastic string for easy swiping.

Appears to be the popular trend among young techies. While companies may or may not supply this kind of holders, I have seen few employees in certain companies getting this type of ID card holders with client/company logo on it, others have purchased on themselves (Costs Rs 25-50). In some companies like Microsoft this is the official way of displaying their Identity. Extremely convenient and looks smart. The elastic wire is nearly one meter long and easy to pull and hold against the proximity sensor attached to the door, without having to bend or lean.

Type 3: FBI Agent Style: Hidden in a wallet and Displayed on demand.

Ever saw people holding their wallets against the door and get it opened? You guessed it right. They keep their ID card inside the wallet. While most of us are extremely cruel as we expose our ID card to harsh sunlight and bad weather, these associates keep their ID card resting peacefully inside their warm wallet along with the neighborhood of rich credit cards and crisp currency notes. Lucky cards!

This kind of people display their ID card on demand only. When security asks for ID cards they flip open their wallet in a typical style of a FBI Agent showing his badge. They hold it open only for a fraction of second and close the wallet before anyone can read contents of the ID card fully. Every time they reach the door, people around get to see how thick and fat their wallet is.

From a security perspective this is a dangerous practice. As no one gets to read their ID card and photo properly to verify.

Type 4: NASA Style


Haven’t seen any Satyam associates using this. Here ID card holder comes with a small clip which needs to be clipped to shirt pocket at Chest level. Very easy to read the name of the other person as the badge is positioned at readable height.

Write a comment if you have noticed any other patterns.

This post will be updated later with photos. (Currently used images are sourced from istockphoto.com and Ribbonworks.co.uk

Monday, October 15, 2007

SEO-Writing for Search Engines vs Writing for Humans

Second article in my SEO series, this post demonstrates how writing for humans and writing for search engines are different. [Read first part-SEO fundamentals](I'm no SEO expert. These are some simple observations only)

Post Titles

Writing for humans: Readers can sense the excitement, criticism, pun, hidden meaning etc in a title, though the words do not convey it. But search engines read the word and store it and do not interpret other meanings/perspective of the phrase.

For example, a title “What a bike Yaar!” might sound exciting and readers can understand that you’re likely to describe some new bike in that post. But for search engine, the title looks meaningless. Because, the keywords are missing in it. The words ‘what’ ‘bike’ ‘yaar’ are quite common and are not focused. On the other hand, a title “Bike review: New Honda Unicorn 2007” will gain you better visibility on a search engine, because search engine can understand that your post will be quite relevant to those who might be searching for details on New Honda Unicorn 2007

Similarly, “We had a great weekend” scores much lower compared to “Weekend Getaway at Yelagiri, near Chennai” or

Travelled in Volvo for first time” vis-a-vis “Bangalore BMTC Volvo City buses-Travel experience

Sweet smell of shirts is a bad title from SEO perspective. Use Perfumed/Scented shirts from Cooptex Chennai.

Similarly, avoid titles like “You should read this book!” instead use:” Book Review: IT happened in India by Kishore Biyani

Highlighting useful information:

You might have written somewhere in text “we had to pay ten thousand rupees for three days holiday at that resort”. But not many people will have the patience to read through entire article to find that information. You need to be more precise with statements like “3D/2N Holiday at Club Mahindra Coorg Resort costs Rs XXXXX” and highlight it prominently.

Not having a proper introduction paragraph:

Most of the readers will decide within few seconds whether they should continue reading or should close the page (i.e. they are likely to get what they want or not). Telling readers in plain English what they can expect in that post and what may not get will be appreciated by them. So I recommend dedicating first para of your post to give prompt introduction of the content-whether it is a joke or serious article, about what have you written, what is your stand that you’re defending in the post etc). Providing in post navigation whenever possible is also recommended.

Using synonyms:

Not all people search using a same word. You need to draft your articles in such a way that it covers different synonyms of keywords you are planning to target.

Example: To know if IBM is acquiring Satyam, keywords used may be ‘IBM satyam takeover’ “Is IBM buying Satyam in 2007?” “Satyam’s acquisition by IBM” “IBM satyam rumor” “IBM looking to purchase Indian companies” etc. While IBM and Satyam are two key words here, using different possible connectors ‘acquisition’, ‘purchase’, ‘takeover’, ‘buy’ throughout the article gets you higher coverage over keywords.

Similarly, if those searching for heart failure related information use ‘cardiac arrest’ ‘chest problem’ ‘heart attack treatment’ etc. The article needs to cover all these possible keywords.

Using deliberate wrong spellings also helps. For example, the correct spelling for Acquisition is Acquisition but many people spell it wrongly as ‘aquisition’. Similarly those searching for MoserBaer may spell it wrongly as Moser Beer, Moser bair, Moserbier etc. If you use correct spelling all over you’ve to compete with lots of websites. With wrong spelling which has high probability of being used as keyword, you get better visibility. (Note: Google offers spell correction and this idea may not succeed in all the cases, unless you hit top 5 in the chart when searched with wrong spelling. Also it is not practical to cover all wrong spelling combination for a given word. Use this suggestion cautiously, Stuffing your article with wrong spelling throughout will degrade the quality of articles.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Going out of town? Stay with fellow blogger…

Attention: An earlier post on Chennai Volvo City Buses has been totally revamped with latest photos, timing and other observations. Read that here


This information is sourced from Chennai Chronicle, a city supplement of Deccan Chronicle newspaper. (Oct 10 2007 Edition) Found it interesting and relevant hence sharing with you in this post.

Suppose you need to go to a new city and need a place to stay. Hotel stay being expensive, how about staying with a fellow blogger? You can stay as a guest at the residence of a fellow blogger who agrees to host you. You can return the complements when that blogger visits your city by allowing him/her to stay at your place.


Apparently, there’s a website called extrabed.in which was launched early this year which provides a platform for above purpose. If you’re willing to host bloggers visiting your city for a day or two, or are looking for someone who can host you during your visit to an alien city, this site allows that.

Advantages are many. Someone you’d known so far only by their writings, you get to know them in person. It helps to have someone who knows the city well to guide you if you’re not familiar with local language, places etc. You get to meet someone specializing in some different profession…

I’d wrttien in my article Cyber begging, how Ramon Stoppelenburg, travelled all over the world for free by requesting people to allow him stay for one day each at their places. (Article here , his website: www.letmestayforaday.com )

Drop a comment what you think of this.
Do you like the idea?

As a blogger, how comfortable are you hosting or staying with a fellow blogger whom you know only by his/her writings?

How interested are you making real life friendship with someone whom you’d known so far only virtually?


What about safety issues?
Is it safe to entertain a stranger (physically, if not electronically)? While a small element of risk will always be there but I feel the risk if any is quite minimal. If you’ve been reading someone’s blog for some time you’ll usually have a good enough estimate of the person w.r.t his/her likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses etc. Chances of someone building a blog with a sole intention of cheating you is very low. It is very much possible to do a background check of the person before allowing him/her to be your guest and you can always refuse a request.

If any risk is still left , I think we can take few such small risks in life…

Job openings in semi skilled jobs...

After being tormented by telecallers in Hyderabad, (Read: Ladies who call me everyday) I was expecting some peace (at least for initial few weeks) with my new mobile connection in Chennai. But then, the first call I got was a wrong number and first SMS I got was an advertisement.

The SMS was sent by some individual and It reads as follows:

Situation Vacant (AATKAL THEAVI-Tamil for: Need people for job)

Car Driver (Rs 7000)

Electrician (Rs 4000)

Diesel Mechanic (Rs 6000)

Motor Rewinder (Rs 4500)

Was just analyzing the salary for these jobs and was surprised to see that a driver commands highest salary in the segment. An electrician’s job requires higher academic qualification, though drivers’ job is more challenging in terms of traffic he has to negotiate, odd timings he may have to work etc. There’s no academic eligibility for Drivers’ job, except a driving license, for other jobs at least a diploma or ITI course in electrical or mechanical field will be expected. So ideally these people must be paid better than a driver.

May be they need an experienced driver to chauffeur a CEO’s BMW? May be that is the reason being relatively better pay? Or may be drivers are scarce resources? Not sure. Leaving it for your thoughts.

In an unlikely event of anyone of you interested in these jobs (for yourself or others) drop a comment, I'll share phone number of the person who sent that SMS)

Also coming up soon: I had to change this number due to poor voice clarity. That will be explained in a new post soon.

Get latest blog entries inside outlook/orkut or other RSS readers

Many of the internet users are still not comfortable with the concept of RSS and its potential. For such people, this post tells a simple way how they can get latest blog entries right inside their Outlook. Veterans can ignore this.

Chances are that you’re unable to access blogspot and wordpress blogs on internet from certain places having restricted access. Even if you were able to, chances are you might not be checking them regularly and missing certain posts.

Get latest posts from my internet blog (and other blogs as you choose) delivered right inside your outlook. (Feature available on Outlook 2007 only)

One simple step.

Open outlook 2007, you can see the orange coloured RSS feed icon. Right click on it, select “Add a new RSS Feed”, enter http://feeds.feedburner.com/enidhispeaks as the feed URL. Select Yes.

Done. Now onwards all new posts I publish in my blog will reach your mailbox (Don’t’ worry, IT WILL NOT FLOOD YOUR INBOX. Feed contents will be diverted to a different folder other than inbox).

Similarly, you can add my feed inside your orkut: URL is http://enidhispeaks.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default for new posts and http://enidhispeaks.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default for new comments.

RSS readers come built in in Vista you can add me there or any other readers...

Enjoy reading new posts from the comfort of your inbox. But do visit and comment sometimes. I'm giving full feed to encourage this habbit.

Let me know if you have any queries.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vodafone tookover Airtel? Real Facts here!

Of late, there's been an email circulating which asks you to login to www.airtel.com and as Vodafone logo and details appear on the site, gives you an impression that Vodafone has taken over airtel. Below is real facts behind the story, provided by Anurag Setia. (He doesn't have a blog on internet hence i'm not giving link and publishing his report here with permission)- Shrinidhi

Actual write up starts...

I got atleast 10 people showing me the site www.airtel.com and laughing off how Vodafone has taken over Airtel site.... and I pity everyone who's thinking something like this without understanding what actually is behind all this.

First the domain name airtel.com doesnt belong to Bharti Tele Ventures Ltd, the Airtel service provider that we know in India. They have their site up at www.airtel.in or at www.airtelworld.com

Second, if your organization's name is India, doesnt imply that you would surely get www.india.com domain available.. if its taken u might try and negotiate to buy the domain from the existing owner but thats about it.

Also, Airtel is a brand patented by Bharti only in India (to begin with) and can be used by any other organization anywhere else in the world and Vodafone has it in Spain.... so they got the site's domain name registered long before our Airtel did.

Airtel and Vodafone might seem competitive in India.. they are actually working as a joint venture in Jersey which I imagine is somewhere in UK.

So I would really recommend all the forward freaks to get their facts straight before fwd junk and occupying valuable bandwidth.

...End of write up.

13 October Update: Anurag has launched a blog today which can be read here
Related posts: Weak Mobile signal? Try this!| SMS and Win Hype

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hyderabad-Bangalore by bus:Comparison of various operators

As I’ve traveled several times between Hyderabad and Bangalore by bus, I share my experience with various bus operators, their services, punctuality, comfort and other aspects.

Current ticket prices: Volvo B7R AC buses: Rs 600 to Rs 700 depending on how early you book, seasons, operators etc. Non Volvo: Rs.300-400. Travel time: Volvo: 10-12 hours, Non Volvo: 14-15 hours.(depends on how much time they spend roaming inside city picking up passengers from various places)

Quickly jump to: Raj National Express| HKB| Gee Pee| Chennai-Hyderabad by Bus |3rd Party Online ticket booking websites |

We’ll compare various operators one by one

KSRTC Airavata (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation)

Pros:
1. Precise punctuality (There will be supervisors in depots who ensure that buses leave on time to make space for other buses. They leave on time.

2. Maximum luggage safety. Luggage cabin once locked while leaving the origin will be opened after reaching destination only. While private operators having multiple pick up points open the luggage space multiple times, rearrange the baggage, may not have proper tagging system etc and hence relatively less safe.

3. They do introduce special services during popular seasons (with extra charges though)

4. Have good number of buses and can replace a bus in case of accident/breakdown etc. Private operators having very few number of buses wont have this advantage.

5. Transparent booking system. (While with private operators there’s every chance that they create an artificial shortage of tickets to sell them for high price last moment)

6. You're automatically entitled for Rs 1 lakh accident insurance with KSRTC when you buy tickets above Rs 20.

7. Government Bus terminals will have additional facilities like Public broadcasting system, drinking water, waiting room, toilets, shops etc which sometime come handy. Private operators who pick you up from roadside may not be able to give you all these.

8. Free journey in BMTC buses 2 hours prior to departure time, if you have valid KSRTC ticket

Cons:
1. No pickups. You need to go to starting point and board the bus. (In Bangalore you can travel for free in BMTC buses 2 hours prior to scheduled departure if you have a reserved KSRTC ticket. Very few buses do start from places other than majestic)

2. Hesitate to play Kannada movies. (While APSRTC happily plays telugu movies, KSRTC often plays Hindi movies for Hyderabad Bangalore journey)

3. Some Airavata Volvo B7Rs are older than recently purchased buses of private operators. One Volvo was leaking water last year.

4. Cancellation charges are deducted without hesitation. (Private operators often entertain rescheduling requests (like cancel today’s ticket and post pone for tomorrow) without charging extra.)

5. Official luggage charges are expensive.

6. KSRTC has volunteered to get speed governors on its buses- this might make the journey a bit safe but will increase travel time.

October 2009 update: A friend survives a KSRTC Volvo bus accident- read his experiences.

APSRTC Garuda:

Almost similar to KSRTC, no major differences. (one of the comments indicate that Garuda experience is very bad compared to KSRTC)

Raj National Express:

Pros:
1. Excellent punctuality

2. Well established name in travel industry. Raj has operations all over India.

3. They do play Hindi movies usually compared to telugu ones in most of the other operators.
Raj National express bus inside view of a seat
Cons:
1. Limited pick up. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday they offer pickup from Madhapur and Gachibowli while rest of the days you need to go to Mehdipatnam.

2. Some buses are quite uncomfortable-The hand rest between the seats has an protruding object (looks like 12v battery charger) which causes lots of inconvenience while sleeping.

Aslo: Few quick facts about Raj National Travels: Owns over 104 AC coaches (Volvo + Tata Globus mainly), 29 Own departure lounges, Operations in 14 states (Covering left half of India) connecting various cities from Cochin to Jammu, Runs 172 departures and 5000 passengers per day on 132 routes. Raj claims to have served over one million passengers so far.

HKB Tours and Travels:

I don’t know what HKB stands for. I asked the driver-even he didn’t know.

Not that punctual. But once while I was traveling, an elderly gentleman (who seemed like Bus owner or manager etc) boarded the bus, distributed chips and biscuits to all passengers and wished them happy journey. Never experienced that with any other operator.

Gee Pee:

They have sleeper coach Volvo buses wherein you can sleep on 180 degree flat beds and travel. Quite comfortable.

But beware, if you get sitting seats journey will be horrible. No place to keep luggage, not enough place to stretch your legs and arms, very little space above your head. So insist and cross verify that it is sleeper berth and not regular seats. Also Gee Pee is pathetic when comes to punctuality. If one seat is vacant they don’t mind waiting 2 hours to get a passenger for that seat, and by the time they leave the city limits it can be past midnight. If you have to go to office next day, avoid Gee Pee.
busCaution on Private Non AC buses: All operators try to carry as much cargo as possible on top of the bus. (See image) When they load excess cargo, the bus will not be able to clear some height barriers in the city and chances are that they make lame excuses and try to offload passengers at city outskirts (like near Hebbal instead of going till Majestic in Bangalore). Also they don’t hesitate to load excess passengers and make them sit/sleep in the bay between the two rows of seats. Omer is the worst in this aspect. Also majority of them do not honor timings. (No such problems with Volvo B7R since volvo can't carry anything on rooftop)

I have not tried Kallada, kesinenini and several other operators.

Quick Note on Hyderabad Chennai by bus: Distance and pricing is almost same as Hyderabad-Bangalore (700 Rs approx in Volvo, around 12 hours journey)

Dhanunjaya: Efficient service but not that punctual. Once they inserted an mp3 cd and were trying to get video out of it …

Kamakshi: Relatively punctual, but non uniformed staff, entertain excess passengers who sit/sleep in the walkway.

Raj National Express have Tata Globus service between Hyderabad and Chennai for around 450 rupees.

If you have any specific experiences to share please drop a comment.

Quick Summary: Go to TOP

For Maximum Luggage Safety: KSRTC/APSRTC

For Punctuality: KSRTC & Raj National Express

For Multiple pickup points: Gee Pee, HKB

For Full sleeper coach (Volvo): Gee Pee

3rd Party websites that facilitate online ticket bookings for south Indian destinations:
1. Redbus.in (by Pilani Soft Labs Pvt. Ltd.)
Covers most of South Indian destinations -Read detailed review of RedBus.in business model and viability

2. Prasanna Tours P Limited: http://www.prasannatours.com/
South India (Presently Covers the BGL - HYD Sector)

3.CustomerNeedz.com
http://www.customerneedz.com/

4. http://www.abhibus.com/
Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Baroda

5. http://www.easybustickets.com/
For buses originating from Hyderabad to all parts of AP, and to Bangalore and Chennai

Disclaimer: Opinions given in this post are based on author’s personal experience when he travelled in these buses. Individual experience may vary and service quality may change over time. Written for informative purposes only. This author is not associated with any of the websites/travel companies

Related posts: Kudos BMTC| Bangalore Volvo City Buses | Chennai Volvo City buses| Why left half for ladies in Chennai MTC? | Self Drive Car Rentals in India-All you wanted to know

People who are used to spending their vacations at cruise ships and resorts are quite prodigal in their expenses. Penurious individuals usually manage by getting on cheap flights and booking a travel lodge only.

Additional posts related to Travel and Tourism: Skanda Giri Hills Bangalore | Anantagiri Hyderabad| Shilparmam Hyderabad| Durgam Cheruvu Hyd| Ramoji Film City-Photos, Videos | Club Mahindra membership|Golconda Fort|Chennai-Mysore on road by self drive | Extra berths in Indian Railway Coaches | Yercaud, TN travelogue | Wayanad Travelogue
| Ooty Traveogue |

May 2009 Update: Chennai-Bangalore by bus.

I usually travel by train for Chennai-Bangalore sector as it is convenient and cheap. Since tickets were not available last time, tried Bharathi for Chennai-Bangalore and KPN AC Sleeper Volvo for Bangalore-Chennai. Overall good experience in both. The sleeper was very comfortable. Bharti was little behind schedule. For KPN had to travel in a van till electronic city to board the bus. KPN has decent waiting space at most of their pickup points which is an added advantage

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ganesha festival aftermath-photos of destruction

I spotted a huge Ganesha idol being taken out from Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad last Sunday. Apparently it was immersed in the lake after Ganesha Chaturthy festival and what you see below is aftermath of the festival.
Ganesha idol being dismantled
The idol was really huge, made from plaster of paris with steel reinforcement. The idol which was worshipped by hundreds of people for 7 odd days was being brutally destroyed by works who wanted to gain some scrap value out of it and clean the mess.

At first, what came to my mind was why can’t we reuse this component (Ganesha idol)? (IT influence you see!) I.e. why are we creating this idol every year, dispose them off few days later and re create from scratch again next year? After the festival why cant we preserve the idol and use it again next year? Will the annual maintenance expense (of preserving this idol for one year) be more expensive than new idol? I’m not sure.
Ganesha idol being dismantled
But on second thought, I realized that such a practice (of reusing the idol) would defeat the very purpose of having festivals. One of the main reasons why our ancestors designed the concept of festivals under various pretext is that money should circulate within the society. Ganesha idol being dismantled
Several sections of the society who make a living by selling products/services not so critical for day to day living (toy makers, artists, craftsmen etc) make money only during festival seasons when people buy their products/services due to festival. In other words, there’re people who make a living by selling Ganesha idol and such people need to be supported by the society by buying idols every year… So cost cutting strategies will have severe social implications here…
Ganesha idol being dismantled
By afternoon they had got gas cutters on the spot and were almost done with their work...

There goes story of an idol...

Also see: Durga Pooja festival in Kolkata *

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Laptop Brands-Dell vs HP vs Sony vs Lenovo vs Others

August 2009 updates:
Lots of things have changed in past 2 years since I published this post. Configurations twice as good are now available for half the price. This post has got over 130 comments so far. A good number of people have given negative opinion about HP. Acer seems to be doing very good. Dell and Acer are now manufactured in Chennai, India. Dell has also started selling laptops in physical stores, compared to pure online model it had earlier. -Nidhi

September 2009 Recommendation: Lenovo G550 2958 2TQ looks very good at a competitive price of 35k.


November 2010 Update: Checkout review of Acer Netbook with Android and XP dual OS
------------Original Post (Oct 2007)--------------
In this post I’m listing pros and cons of major laptop vendors which should help a prospective buyer of notebooks to compare various brands in the market. Contents in this post are based on my observation made during June 2007. Specification and pricing may change without prior notice. Please check with respective companies for latest information.

Go directly to Dell* HP*Sony Vaio*Acer*Lenovo*LG*Sahara *Panasonic
Dell (NYSE:DELL)

Legendary Direct sales model, favorite vendor for corporate houses due to aggressive pricing, Cheapest option for any given configuration and excellent customization.
My other post on detailed analysis of Dell's Business Model
Pros:


0. (NEW!) Dell notebooks on display at select stores in Chennai-you can touch and feel them now...
1. Relatively cheaper than competition for a given configuration
2. Prices may drop further once Dell’s India plant in Chennai becomes operational
3. Configure and customize as you wish
4. Only vendor who gives original OS media (With others you need to create recovery discs)
5. Only Vendor from whom you can ask Windows XP instead of Vista (Not available in Dell website, you need to ask for this manually later with Dell Representative.)
6. Available in Multiple colours (Inspiron and XPS series)
7. Blu Ray writer available optionally (Rs 28k extra!!!)
8. Prices can be negotiated

9. Changeable skins
November 2007 Update: Some recent Dell Models are quite feature rich-travel remote, 2MP camera, detachable DVD drives etc
9. Dell Latitude now comes with 19 hours (claimed) battery life, longest ever! (Aug 2008 update)

Cons:

1. You need to pay 100% in advance and wait for few weeks for delivery
2. No showrooms, No Service centers (Web and telephone help, onsite warranty in some cases)
3. You can not see and feel the product before purchase. (Update: Some stores in Chennai are displaying Dell notebooks)
4. No finance options arranged
5. Dell has no tablet PC as of now (Expected early 2008)
6. Trouble shooting can be a headache if you’re a computer novice.
7. Strong up-selling tactics can make you spend more than what you originally budgeted.
8. Other laptop dealers/service center staff may refuse outright to fix a dell unit or charge heavily for the service. (Reason being, since Dell deals directly with customers these people are loosing commission)
9. If you buy a vista unit and want to downgrade to XP later, Dell will charge heavily for XP support.


Hewlett Packard (HP) (NYSE: HPQ)

Quite popular among domestic consumers-Competitive pricing, good sales and service network, lots of features and occasional promo offers
HP logo
Pros:

1. Lots of value added features: Like Remote Control, Fingerprint recognition, Webcam etc, not available in most of the competition models of similar configuration
2. HP liveperson chat is quite useful (Available only during US hours-You can chat with a sales executive who will answer your queries related to HP products and services
3. HP promoted lightscribe technology available in most of the units (Read this post for more on lightscribe technology)
4. Decent sales and service network
5. HP imprints can give good look to your unit (it is a sticker kind of thing with attractive images/scenery etc which you can stick to back of monitor)
6. Excellent collection of Accessories

Cons:

1. Latest processors are not incorporated.
2. No option to make any changes in the specifications
3. Not so robust compared to Dell and Sony.
4. Very few models in high end segment.
5. I am not happy with HP's recovery manager software-Read this post for details
6. HP gift redemption process is a pain. You need to send a DD for Rs 500 to a delhi office along with bill copy, product sticker and many other things and wait for 2-3 months. Why not give the gift along with notebook?

HP is reportedly looking to sell of its notebook business and focus mainly on software

Sony (NYSE:SNE) Go to TOP

Some of the most expensive notebooks available (Highest one costing INR 1, 99,990), can be seen in most of the movies, more as a style statement.
Sony Vaio Logo
Pros:

1. High resale value and excellent brand recognition
2. Good build quality and attractive colours
3. Latest processors incorporated readily (In June, while most of HP notebooks had Dual Core processors, Sony Vaio were powered with latest Core 2 Duo (T5500 onwards))
4. Blu ray technology (Blue ray writer) available (September 2009 update: This technology yet to reach the mass-price of blu ray drives have come down drastically)
5. Sony gives official 3% discount on MRP
6. Finance arranged through Bajaj Finance.
7. Excellent screen clarity
8. Sony is the first company to launch flash based memory (no moving parts as in HDD, so far effecient and fast, but currently it costs Rs 1,40,000-more details on Vaio VGN TZ38GN series
Cons:
1. Relatively expensive (Vaio mini (W series) starts from 30k, any other model with decent config (C2D) costs Rs. 50k INR onwards)
2. Blu Ray drives not available in entry level models
3. No Tablet PCs (They have some new concept called Panel PC !!!)
4. No option to make any changes in the specifications.
5. Don't think they have AMD based units

Other brands:

Acer: Go to TOP
Sub 20k notebooks are available only from Acer. Hritik Roshan has been commissioned to sell this brand and strong advertising is going on. Nothing exciting about other models. Ferrari fans can go for their flagship Ferrari notebook, but I didn’t like the configuration.

Acer netbooks- detailed review

Lenovo: Go to TOP
Chinese firm Lenovo bought IBM’s PC and notebook unit few years ago. Their license to use IBM logo expires soon. Only brand to have face recognition. Legendary ThinkPad series starts 90k onwards and beyond the reach of common man. Y and R series are doing good business.
Lenovo Logo
LG: They’re not focused on notebooks. Just have X-note series in their portfolio besides hundreds of other products in consumer electronics. Pricing appears to be expensive for the given configuration. New x-note with Dual screen in unique to LG and not attempted yet by rest.

Personal comment: I've been using  a Lenovo G550 for about 2.5 yrs now. Except few minor issues, it has been overall satisfactory experience owning this.

Toshiba: No specific comments

Sahara: New entrant in the market. Caters to low end entry level segment. Good pricing. Tie up with Indiatimes, Big Bazaar etc. Yet to gain market share and popularity. Not enough feedbacks available.

Samsung: Reasonably priced, but nothing unique.

Panasonic: Panasonic has launched toughbooks to market. These are military grade netbooks priced close to a lakh rupees INR.  Panasonic toughbooks are available in different flavors and are known for ruggedness. I got a chance to use and review one such notebook-details here

Go directly to Dell* HP*Sony Vaio*Acer*Lenovo*LG*Sahara

Let me know what you think.
Note: Logos are property of respective companies. Sourced for reference from internet.

You may also wish to read my posts on Amway QuestNet mGinger Redbus

To those seeking advice on purchase of laptops:

Please note that I do not follow the developments in notebook industry on a daily basis. Nearly one year ago I did some study before buying my laptop and this post is largely based on the study and observations made at that time. But since then, so many things have changed. While I try to respond to your queries to the best of my knowledge, please be informed that there may be differences. Please consider taking second opinion/cross check if felt necessary.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Few Videos taken @ Ramoji Film City

Videos related to Ramoji Film City | Photos related to RFC

This post shares some rough, amateur videos taken from mobile camera at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. Please note that these videos, by no means can substitute the actual experience of viewing these events live. You need to visit Ramoji Film City in person for full experience. If you haven’t or if you’re unable to, then some of these videos may compensate you to some extent

Videography is not prohibited inside RFC hence these videos are being recorded and displayed here. Contents are for domestic personal viewing only and are intellectual property of Ramoji Film City.

Video 1: Opening Ceremony:


Video 2: Wild West Stunt show: (introduction to stunt show)


Video 2-Stunt Show


Video 3: Spirit of Ramoji show-Video 1


aircar

aircar2


Standby for some more posts related to RFC...
To watch photos related to Ramoji Film City check this post

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Watching news inside a movie...an observation

This post shares a small observation made related to switching on TVs in movies.

Scenario: In a movie, something important is happening and one key person is not at al aware of this. His/her friend/business associate/relative etc calls him/her and asks “tumhne TV nahi dekha” (hindi for: You’ve not watched TV?) Now the person receiving the call says “Nahin, kya hua” (No. What happened?) and then switches on the TV.

In all movies, following happens without fail:

1. The viewer never needs to change the channel (The TV was set to the channel where the said news is being shown-In real life, there’s always a high probability that you’ll have to ask your caller on which channel the news he/she wants to tell is coming and then you’ll have to navigate to that channel)

2. The news item begins from start once the TV is turned on (Usually you should miss initial few lines if you switched on few seconds late)

3. They always switch off the TV after hearing one or two lines.(with anger, most of the time) They don’t check what other news channels are showing or call up someone to cross check the information.

End of post (No further interpretations)

Similar: Sevanthi-Sevanthi Kannada Movie Review | Corporate (Hindi) movie review | Some more movie reviews | Transaction Integrity and Money Transfer in Movies* life saving skills from movies * Why spiderman can't work in India *