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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DSCE Pathshala-Karunakaran sir MMS!

It was about 9 years ago when I first attended classes of Karunakaran Sir, professor in the Mechanical Engineering Dept of Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering, DSCE. It is close to 5 years since I completed engineering. Karunakaran sir was an energetic personality who would teach with lot passion and interest in the subject.

Today I came across this video, shot some 3 years ago by a junior, capturing Karunakaran sir in action. Watch the video below.

You'll have to tilt your head or screen to get correct view of the video.

Jobs like teaching can become boring after sometime when one has to teach same topic again and again (Add to this the possibilities of poor pay, non cooperation of students and other factors) and it becomes more of a routine. It is amazing to see that he still retains all his energy, enthusiasm and passion. Wishing him long life and all the best.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photos of Singapore Underwater World

Sharing some more photos from Partho’s Singapore trip-Close photos of some interesting aqua creatures at Singapore Underwater World. Click for enlarged images. Slight compromise in clarity, if any is because it is dark and subjects are in water, behind glass shields.

Garden Eels…I’m seeing them for the first time (not sure if I’ve mistook it for some plants earlier)

Singapore’s Underwater world has implemented world’s first Oceanarium (Ocean+aquarium) RFID system. Whenever an aquatic animal comes within the RFID range, the device detects it and sends signal to reader, which interprets the signal and displays information relevant to the animal on the touch screen. This way visitor gets to read about the information related to the animal which is in front of him.
Sting Ray.. the deadly species which killed Steve Irwin


Jelly fishes are eye catching…




These 2 are a bit scary…



All images clicked and owned by Partho. Published with permission.

More of Singapore: Singapore Flyer * Petronas twin tower, Malaysia, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore * Lifestyle in Singapore * All other Singapore posts

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Upcoming Events and contests (Feb 2010)

This post shares information about some of the events and contests scheduled to happen in near future. Quick Jump: Marg My Dream Home contest * Vignettes of Coorg trip * Article-19 * Trek Polama? * Cerebrate * Bangalore Kingfisher bloggers meet * Call-n-win* Jayanti Sundararaman Dance performance
 
1.Marg My Dream Home Contest
Marg Properties has launched a contest: "My Dream Home in Chennai", targeting online community. If you're a blogger or an active twitter/facebook user you can participate, writing about your dream home and win cash prizes of Rs 5000/3000/2000

Contest is open for 3 weeks, focused on Chennai but open for all.

2 Cerebrate.in at Marg Tapovan, ECR, From Feb 25th to 28th
Cerebrate.in is Kiruba Shankar’s pet project and is being organized for the 3rd consecutive year, this time at Marg Tapovan off East Coast Road, from Feb 25th to 28th. I might just render a hand in organizing this year's edition. Cerebrate is an invite only event where key achievers from various fields meet and brainstorm. List of invitees and participants is interesting and includes former Wipro No.2 Vivek Paul (if you didn’t know, he is now board member of EA-Electronic Arts, the company which makes most of the games), Future Group Chief Belief Office Dr Devdutt Pattnaik and many more

Post event update: Devdutt Pattnaik and Vivek Paul dropped out, but event went on very well and was a memorable experience spending 3 days with some of the silent achievers. Read more

The outcome of these sessions are not known (may be not released to public yet, I’m told plans are underway to publish them as a book) but the event has been very successful so far, with Cerebrate Silicon Valley being planned for July 2010.

3. Travelwise Vignettes of Coorg trip, Feb 27-28, ex-Bangalore
Arun Bhat and Lakshmi Sharath are organizing a Vignettes of Coorg (Kodagu) trip on 27th and 28th Feb 2010
Their trips are unique from typical commercial trips due to the personal interest, knowledge and passion of these two organizers. Below brochure has more details:coorg_february The duo have successfully done Hoysala trail trips earlier. More details on travelwise.in

From Wikipedia: In theater script and poetry writing, vignettes are short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a trenchant impression about a (topic/subject)…

Also read some of my Coorg posts: Chiklihole Dam * Chelavara waterfalls * Sera Jey University * Abbi Falls * Omkareshwara Temple Madikeri *

4. Manipal Institute of Communication’s Article 19, Feb 25-27, Manipal
I’ve attended last 2 editions (2008 and 2009) of MIC’s annual communication festival and they were wonderful. 3 day event is action packed with talks, workshops, contests, exhibitions and performances, managed entirely by students in a very professional manner. This year’s event is scheduled for Feb 25th to 27th. I’ve submitted my synopsis for a paper presentation & awaiting confirmation, but may not be able to make it to this year's edition as the dates are clashing with Cerebrate.in

I’m unable to identify official site for this event. mmsc-manipal.com appears to be inactive. Bijlee bola and The Manipal Journal (TMJ) are having some info on the event.

Post event update: As suspected I couldn't attend. Couldn't find much updates about this event on the net.

5. Trek Polama?-Trekking Exhibition & workshops-March 6th, Periyar Hall, Anna Nagar Chennai
The Chennai Trekkers Club (CTC) is organizing a one day event called Trek Polama (Tamil For: shall we go for a trek) on March 6th 2010, at Periyar Hall, Anna Nagar. One day event will be action packed with workshops, presentations and Q&A sessions about various aspects of trekking-such as GPS Navigation,camping, snakes,first aid, Hams radio and so on, organized by CTC’s founder and core team. Venue will be converted into a forest like theme, giving ambience of a real trekking environment.

Post event update: I went to Trek Polama- the photo exhibition was nice, talks were a bit boring as I'd attended similar sessions earlier...Wildcraft, Sigmalenses and few other companies had their stalls outside. I left by 6 pm when Mayor of Chennai and other politicians were expected as I'd other work and was not interested in political talks. Collected my Trek Polama T shirt, sponsored by Christian Fabre (incidently I happened to meet Christian R Fabre at Cerebrate)

6. Kingfisher Bangalore Bloggers’ Meet, namma Bengaluru, Feb 21
Kingfisher is sponsoring Indiblogger meet at Bangalore this Sunday…Only 100 entries…Bangalore, Bloggers, Bar, Beer I see lot of Bs around. Can you try making a sentence like “She sells sea shells on the sea shore”? Something like "Bangalore big boys and bloggers meet at a big bar sipping kingfisher beer".. More details of the event here

7. Callezee Call-n-Win Contest
Callezee is a recently launched yellow pages and information services company. They’ve struck a partnership with internet major Yahoo. Callezee is already operational in several Indian Cities, offering information related to products, services and so on. They are currently running a contest called Call and Win, where in if you’re a lucky caller you might just win some cool prizes. [Related: Call-ezee Gurusamarpanam Event]

8. Dance performance by Jayanti Sundararaman, Feb 21st, Mylapore
Jayanti Sundararaman works for a leading IT Company but pursues Bharatanatyam Dancing as a hobby. She is performing this Sunday at RK Swamy Auditorium, Mylapore, Chennai at 7.30pm. Entry is free. More info at Jayanti Sundararaman's blog

Disclaimer: For information purposes only. All information as provided by/as available with respective event organizers. Information are subject to change without prior notice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feb Random pictures

Some really random pictures, clicked in recent past:
VIP-hiding-numberplateVIP Car: Looks like this car belongs to a person who was entitled to display his special status, but now had to black it out. However, in my opinion, the board used to display special status shouldn’t block the view of number plate, which is not the considered in most of the VIP vehicles. (Also read: Fancy Number plates)

Mahabs has a ball shaped rock, balancing itself on another rock. This rock is rightfully names Sri Krishna’s butter ball. Next to this ball rock is a small vertical line, which is very very smooth and used by kids as a slide. I’d some how missed noticing this during my previous visits to Mahabalipuram
DSC04299smooth-rock 
I enjoy driving- but certainly not this one. The small cleaning cart being used near Marina beach. Driver has to drive it round and round and round in small circles to cover a small area… But then, this is much safer, compared to another 4 wheeler which met with a visibly fatal accident on ECR.
sweeper-machine-driverDSC04415 
How to evacuate a restaurant and find yourself a place?
We were at the Rasam Restaurant on RK Salai (above Nilgiris, run by Sri Krishna Sweets group) and they’d commissioned 2 artists (a tabla man and a harmonium player) to entertain the guests. On seeing the harmonium I was tempted to play and we promptly requested hotel staff if I can play the harmonium for a while. After a while they permitted and I happily played Ra ra venu gopa bala for a while and few other tunes. The musicians were surprised and tried to encourage me by giving advise and all, but I couldn’t quite get what they were talking about, due to language problem.
020220105393 
The magnitude of Loss of revenue to the restaurant, due to customers escaping during my performance is not yet known. Also read: Random thoughts on Music

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Podcast with Sandhosh Kumar Everest climber

My first podcast is live. Please check the video below, for a brief podcast with Mr Sandhosh Kumar.
Sandhosh hails from Pondy and is settled in Singapore, working for a global investment banking company. He is a serious mountain climber and already climbed some of the highest peaks in the world- Cho Oyu (8201m), Mont Blanc in western Europe(4810m), Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa (5895m) and Everest Base Camp.sandosh-kumar-everest climber
Sandosh is all set to take off for an ambitious mission of climbing Mount Everest in about 47 days from now. Besides climbing Everest, he is actively supporting the cause of Child Abuse. Sandosh is trying to raise funds for his expedition and for the cause of preventing child abuse. He will be carrying a large banner to the top of Everest and for a small contribution Individuals and Corporate can get their photos/company logos on the banner, which will be displayed on top of the world. Sandosh Kumar’s personal website, climbeverestwithme.com has more details.
I had a chance to meet Sandosh when he was in Chennai few weeks ago. It was nice talking to him and learning a bit more about mountain climbing. He was explaining the cost involved in climbing Everest (about 20% or about 10000$ will be the permit fee to be paid to Nepal Govt, rest will be for the equipments, Sherpas etc, the whole exercise costing anywhere between 40-70 lakhs), challenges and other aspects of climbing. We also did a quick podcast recording of the talk, so it is better to listen to him in his own words than me explaining it. Please watch my first podcast in the video below.

Any assistance you can offer in helping him raise funds for his mission and the cause will be of immense help. If not financially, you can also help by spreading the word. Sandosh is also available on twitter and facebook.
Video editing by BusinessBlogging. Your comments and feedback awaited.
Updates on the previous paypal post available here
Similar: A painter with a mission * Car Rally for the blind *

Other interviews: Arun Nair, Club Mahindra Sr.Manager * Enda * Kamal Quadir *

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Paypal India policy change: reversal problems

Repeat visitors may directly navigate to Updates Section

PayPal is a popular online payment facilitator which is being extensively used by individuals and small companies for international money transfers, mainly of small amounts.

Paypal’s popularity increased mainly because of the simplicity with which one could transfer a few dollars to others. Those who didn’t have credit cards or international bank accounts relied heavily on paypal to make payments or earn money on their international assignments.

Suddenly, Paypal India has introduced a policy change, creating an outage which renders Paypal totally useless for small time users. As per their new policy, Paypal has stopped allowing personal payments to be sent to or from India, which means PayPal can be used only for business transactions, that too where there’s some proof of delivery for goods or services (such as shipment tracking number/billing address or other such evidences)

The worst thing according to me is Paypal has enforced this policy change without any prior notice or warning and is autonomously back dating the policy, enforcing it on already completed transactions. Pay pal is reversing such transactions done in recent past and causing huge inconvenience/loss to the stake holders who might have already delivered the services for that money. It is like your bank taking back your monthly pay deposited by your employer. Ideally PayPal (or any company for that matter) should have announced in advance that "From so and so date our new policy will apply", so that everyone could have made appropriate plans.

I was indirectly associated with an event management company (Name withheld has I've not taken permission), which sold tickets of one of its show (scheduled to happen in Chennai) online. Ticket buyers would pay via PayPal, will get a unique code showing which they could collect the printed tickets at the venue of the show. PayPal never hinted about its policy change, all tickets were sold and when organizers of the event wanted to withdraw money (which amounted to over 5 lakh rupees, as thousands of tickets were sold), PayPal blocked the account demanding that organizers show some proof, such as FedEx shipment number, that they’ve delivered the ticket. Physical delivery of tickets, for local customers, that too with reputed courier services that give tracking number makes the whole idea of online ticket booking useless. Imagine the inconvenience organizers will face when they're unable to withdraw money earned from ticket sales and they've to pay for the hall, artists, advertisements and sundry other expenses

I’ve bought 2 tickets for the show for the above event via PayPal and I didn’t get any communication from PayPal that they’re having a payment dispute or reversing the transaction so that I can buy tickets separately. In other words, PayPal has neither given my money to event management company, nor returned it to me. But the money I earned from some other source has been reversed from my account, I am not sure if it is returned to the sender.

Many individual, including this writer, got an email from PayPal which reads
Your payment of  xx has been sent back to the sender of the payment.
We reversed this payment because we have stopped allowing personal payments to be sent to or from India.
If this was a payment for a purchase of goods or services, and not a personal payment, then you may contact the buyer and have him or her resend the payment as follows:  (a) click the Send Money tab, (b) select "Goods," and (c) provide a shipping address.
If this payment was a personal payment such as a gift, then we have requested that the sender find another payment method until we restore personal payments to and from India.
We are trying to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and we're sorry for any inconvenience.

Thank you,
PayPal


Paypal hasn’t offered any explanation for this sudden change of policy and wordings suggest this could be a temporary measure. One good guess is that the personal type of payment, which is free of any charges, is being misused by companies and paypal needs to figure out how to prevent mis-use of this free service by corporates/professionals who should be paying a small fee for Paypal's money transfer services. Techcrunch has quoted a paypal official (Anuj Nayar, Director, Global Communications) saying :”I can confirm that personal payments to and from India have been suspended while we address some questions from our business partners. You can still make commercial payments. We’re trying to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Most of online payments could be for activities like donations, or payments for some services (like an article submitted etc) for which there’ll be no physical goods to deliver. Paypal is used in cases where either sender or receiver is a small time operator or individual who cannot afford standard payment options like overseas bank account/credit card payment gateways etc. With pay-pal virtually shutting doors for them in India, soon they’ll be forced to identify an alternate payment mechanism (necessity is the mother of invention) and that will render paypal useless.

Money is a very sensitive matter and trust is paramount. Service providers like paypal should not be playing with other people’s money, without giving adequate warnings/time for their policy change. I am sure several individuals and companies world wide are put to inconvenience by this. If the trust and faith is lost it is very tough to regain.

I’m just watching the developments to see what happens. Image from okmu.info

Work around /solution for Paypal India users:
Senders can select "Goods" as an option under "send money for" section, provide shipping address and proceed. But paypal might ask for some proof of delivery if they suspect this feature is being mis-used.

Feb 10 Update: Paypal is also cheating on withdrawals from paypal account to bank account. Any money withdrawn to bank account is reversed as well, but in the process paypal conveniently pockets about 10% of the money, in terms of currency conversion fees and withdrawal fee, twice-once on withdrawal and once again on reversal. For no fault of theirs users end up losing 10% outright because they attempted to withdraw money. Ideally paypal should have declared that withdrawals are not allowed or could have simply cancelled the transaction, but instead they chose silently suck money from user accounts, which is outright cheating and fraud.

One can cheat all people once or one person all the time. But pay pal can't cheat all users all the time. If they wish to shut shop in India or wish to change their policies they are free to do so, but that has to be done on fair business terms so that all stakeholders have a level playing field.

Paypal blog has some updates on this, am curious to see if they will approve the user comments, including mine.

Feb 11 Update: Some good signs: 1. The money I'd lost (about 10% of the amount) during withdrawal and reversal has been credited back to my account.
2. Paypal blog has published most of the comments without suppressing any. Good
3. Got a prompt but standard reply from paypal helpline that issue will be resolved soon in response to my email
4. Payoneer.com looks like an alternative to paypal, but not sure of their India operations. Need to explore.

What to do with money stuck in Paypal account?
As I can see below are some options.
Option 1: Just wait, hoping for paypal to sort out the mess
Option 2: Buy something on eBay
Option 3: Use the funds to do some commercial purchase if feasible
Option 4: Explore legal options if you have the muscle for it

Related: Be an alert Consumer * Helium.com Policy Change impacts APAC users * Policy change @ Vegetable shop *

Friday, February 05, 2010

policy change @ vegetable shop

Above title may sound serious, but the post is not.

A neighborhood vegetable shop has started displaying this sign which says “No Selection” (Never mind the spelling. Tamil variant means Don’t pick, signaling that customers should not be choosy and accept whatever they pack and give). Before proceeding further with the post, have a look at the snap below and let me know what are your immediate thoughts on seeing it.
no-selection
If you marry a vegetable vendor (or belong to family of vegetable shop owner) do you get to cook/eat fresh vegetables every day? To the extent I know, unlikely. Because vendors usually take home not so good vegetables as consuming fresh vegetable means a big opportunity cost (It could have been sold to customers for good price). Vegetables are highly perishable products with very less shelf life. Any unsold quantity directly adds to loss. Though vegetable merchants keep a provision for a part of their inventory going waste, their constant endeavour will be to sell all of their stock, including the not so good ones.  If say by experience they know that 10% of vegetable will be left unsold as no customer likes them/they are rotten/over ripe, the merchant will have to recover his cost price and profit from the remaining 90%. So in the interest of profitability, vegetable vendors aim to clear their stock by force disposing not so good/rotten/over ripe pieces along with good ones. This is the reason why vendors always manage to add one or two rotten/over ripe pieces of vegetable in your bag (by diverting your attention or by replacing the pieces you’ve selected while weighing or changing them while packing)
veggie-boyMost of us will not go back all the way to the store for one or two bad pieces and vendors often getaway with their tactics. Having said that, customers becoming increasingly smart/alert is a pain for vegetable vendors and it might have prompted this shop to introduce a “No Selection” policy.

As a customer how would you react to this policy change? Are you expecting vendors to suffer a loss on unsold vegetables? Would you pay little extra for all fresh vegetables? Or are you ok with a few not so good pieces if overall price is not hiked? will you go to another shop in search of better tomatoes and onions and potatoes?
Also read: Make rasam in 12 easy steps * Anil P’s recent post on Delhi vegetable vendorsRunning office canteens * Paypal Policy Change * Be an alert consumer
These two images clicked using the new Cannon IXUS 95IS

Monday, February 01, 2010

Movie/serial Shooting at Alamparai fort

Alamparai (aka Alampara) is a scenic picnik spot loated in between Mahabalipuram and Pondichery. Read my earlier post on Alamparai for more.

My 3rd visit to Alamparai fort gave me some unexpected shots- It was Friday and the place was void of any tourists, except that crew of Anand Cine Services had already arrived ahead of us and were busy with their preparations to shoot. This post only shares some photographs clicked at the location. Hope you’ll like the pics. Click to enlarge

Left Right left… A man carries an unknown equipment, while another man pulls heavy cables towards the spot (to supply electric power generated from generator van)

Movie-crewfort

 cable-main food-carrier

Breakfast for the crew arrives in a large container, with another assistant carrying plates and spoons.

Dogs and crows had their day in an otherwise inactive place. They had their moments of victory managing to taste the food from the open container whenever caretaker’s attention is diverted elsewhere. (I assume it is leftovers containers kept for cleaning and not the ones storing food to be served)

dogs-and-crows anand-cine-services-vehicles

I’ve no clue which movie/serial they were shooting for and I am totally unaware of Tamil stars. Didn’t bother to enquire much, but for those who are curious, below photo has accidentally captured a lady, who appears to be the lead character because someone else is holding an umbrella for her.

preparations Camera-closeup

A local lady was busy with her daily chores while a bird was watching around, probably thinking “Thank god it is Friday”

borewell bird-closeup

We didn’t stay there for long and couldn’t see the shooting happen. Looked like they’d take much more time and we’d more places to visit.