Friday, December 28, 2007

Setting up a mobile account in India

After reaching India, one of the first thing I do is get my own mobile number set up. That is the reason I bought an unlocked phone. Now the strange thing is I can use SIM card only of certain carriers. Fine, so I bought SIM card of a carrier. Let's call it FairCell.

Now my impression so far has been that India is undergoing a cellular revolution with access to mobiles as easy as it gets. Hmmmm.. but access to mobiles is only part of the story. What you do not hear is the procedure to setup the connection and charges for it. My experience is with the prepaid card and not the montly subscription. I just want to narrate an objective description without any prejudice.

So first with the procedure. You have to take a photo ID, a proof of address and a photo to the cell dealer. Let us assume that you buy a phone from him. Now, this guy gives you a packet with a form. The packet has a phone number listed on it and also other details. You fill the form and submit it with other mentioned documents. The form is pretty straight forward. The dealer then sends an SMS to some service and you should expect your phone to be activated within 30 minutes. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast amigo. My phone was not set up for a day and I had to visit the dealer again. To his credit, he was extremely co-operative and helpful and immediately solved my issue.

So my take, have a good personal relation with your cell phone dealer and have patience. Another impressive thing was that I had a wide array of cell numbers to choose from. The paperwork was minimal.

Now about the rates. The packet containing cost me about 495 rupees. I had to pay another 99 rupees for, I believe, activation. This sums up to about 600 rupees. This gave me a talk time of only 10 rupees. The rates of FairCell were about 2 rupees per minute. This converts into a 5 minute talk time. Of course, I found thes talk time rates very unreasonable. My dealer told me to pay another 65 rupees so the rates would be reduced to 30 paise per minute for FairCell to FairCell number and about 1 rupee per minute for FairCell to another carriers. I paid that. Now my setup cost excluding the phone was about 765 rupees. After this I paid another 60 rupees for talk time.

So excluding the phone price, the setup cost for a mobile account was about 765 rupees.

This is still cheaper as compared to the pre-paid phone cards in USA. But one thing is in the US, the phone comes free. So it is kind of hard to compare the two systems. But why compare burgers and batatawadas?

Friday, December 21, 2007

आजीच्या राज्यात

अाजीच्या राज्यात सगळं िकती छान होतं
दंवबिंदू पडलेलं गुलाबाचं पान होतं

शाळेला उशीर चालत होता दांडी मारणं पण माफ होतं
पोटात खोटं दुखलं तरी मन मात्र साफ होतं

सर्दी खोकला झाला की चहा आल्याचा प्यावा मस्त
चार बिस्कीटे ग्लुकोजची त्याबरोबर करावी फस्त 

फरशीवरच घड््याळ काढावे सात अाठ खेळताना
पेशंस पण समजून घ्यावा बेरीज वजाबाकी शिकताना

सातच्या अात घरात यावं देवासमोर िदवा असावा
शुभंकरोती म्हणताना थालिपीठाचा वास यावा

भीती वाटली अंधाराची तर हळूच आजीच्या गोधडीत शिरावं
मायेच्या पांघरूणात स्वत:ला गु्रफटून घ्यावं

अाजीच्या राज्यात सगळं िकती छान होतं
दंवबिंदू पडलेलं गुलाबाचं पान होतं

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Setting up VNC

If you are a software professional, you will probably need to work from home. If you are using Windows only environment, then Remote Desktop or Netmeeting is probably a standard option. For X-based system, you will need a different approach. While for simple tasks, using SSH is always the fastest and simplest way, to work in visual mode, you will need VNC or similar kind of softwares. In this blog, I will explain setting up VNC. My goal here is to get the user up and running quickly.

VNC connection has two parts server and client. The server is setup on the machine where you want to login. In this case, let us assume that it is a linux machine.

Setting up vncserver
1. Using PuTTY or similar client, SSH into your linux box. Assume you have bash shell.
2. At the command line type, "which vncserver"
3. Mostly it will reply back "/usr/bin/vncserver". This confirms that you have vncserver in your path.
4. Now start the vncserver by running the command "vncserver". Check if you need to run it as "sudo".
5. It will ask you to setup a password. You will need this password later to connect to your linux box from your Windows client. Setup the password.
6. Now your vncserver should be started. You can verify this by giving the command
"ps -fu grep vnc"
7. Now in your home directory, run the command "ls -a"
8. You should see a hidden directory ".vnc"
9. Go to ".vnc" and list its contents. You will see "passwd", "xstartup" and a filename containing the servername and a number. This number is the session id. If you have multiple vncserver sessions, then you will see multiple such files with the format "", "servername:sessionid.log" etc.
10. Thus now your server is setup.

Setting up the client.
1. Go to
2. Download the TightVNC client for your desktop
3. Open the client and specify "servername:sessionid". It will ask for your password. Provide the password and you will be connected to your linux box.

What is the purpose of the "xstartup" file
Sometimes you might see that you cannot view the visual desktop of your linux box.To fix this, you will need to edit the "xstartup" file in your .vnc directory. The "xstartup" file looks something like this

# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
xsetroot -solid grey
vncconfig -iconic &
xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
twm &

So if you see that the lines
exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc

are commented out, you need to uncomment them.

Good luck!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For quite some time now, this, crazy if you may call it, thought has been lingering in my mind. "What if I start to treat me like a corporation?" Now what does that even mean? This simply means that I think of my financial matters as if I am a corporation.

Just like everyone else, I have my own likes and dislikes. I have penchant for some things like chocolate and coffee. Take for example, the other day I went to the grocery shop to get some milk. But as I was passing through the candy isle, I saw Cadbury's Dairymilk with Irish Cream flavour. All it took was a little temptation to deviate me from my disciplined spending habit. The problem is not that I spent a couple of dollars over something I like, the problem is that I am still thinking about it after two weeks and I am blaming myself for not being firm enough.

So what makes me think that if I treat myself like a corporation, things will change? For one, I would be the CEO and the largest shareholder. And like a good corporation, the executives' obligation is to the shareholders. I believe that position should bring not only possibilities but also responsibilities. When I treat myself like a company, I will have tangible goals. My salary becomes the revenue of this company. Salary is a fixed income. So in order for me to grow the individual enterprise, I should be a good investor and cut on unnecessary spending. When you run a corporation, you should also have faith in the company and give it a mission statement. That means I should have faith in me and run my life with principles. Every company has bankers who finance it in its early and probably fledgeling years. When the company becomes profitable, it should return the loans. This brings into picture managing your debt wisely. That means not using my credit cards like a magic wand and paying bills in full.

But while these are good first steps, they will not make me much prosperous. In order to progress I should have clear objective goals and a timeline to achieve them. I should have peace of mind so I am balanced and not emotionally driven. Afterall prosperity does not come without prescience.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First snow in Redmond

Today morning, I was greeted by rays of sun falling on thin layer of snow on the grass across the backyard of my apartment.

What a start to the weekend! I was told that snow is a rare occasion in Redmond. So this came as a pleasant surprise.

When it snows, I always think of the earth as a beautiful lady draped in plain white like in the famous Marathi TV serial "Shwetambara". It is pristine beauty. And the weather made it more enigmatic and mysterious.

Now coming down to earth, it is no fun driving in snow and neither is walking. It is fun when you have holidays and you can play snow fight. I like it when it snows and it is still sunny.

I wanted to take some pictures. But now it is evening and the sun sets so early these days that my plans did not materialize.

I heard that last year it was a really bad winter over here. I hope this winter is mild and it snows just to a tee.

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