Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NDTV 24x7

For those who donot know what NDTV 24x7 is. It’s a news channel which I got used to watching ‘The World this week’ on ‘Doordarshan’ which was presented by the NDTV blokes was good & quite different from what was seen on that channel J

Then they appeared in their avatar in Star TV as a new channel and it seemed like a breath of fresh air for a generation brought up on Doordarshan fare where the news always started as ‘The Prime Minister ……… said’. Later when they split from Star they started their own channels NDTV 24x7 (English) and NDTV India (Hindi) and recently NDTV Profit (for Business).

I watch the news as well as the following programmes

1) Big Fight

2) We the People

3) Walk the Talk

4) The Car & Bike show now shifted to NDTV Profit

5) Born Wild

There are a few point I would like to highlight about NDTV as a whole is that by & large it’s a nice news channel except that some of its veteran journos seem to be quite emotional about the news there presenting. I know it’s humanely difficult to contain your emotions when you are confronted by a big tragedy, natural or manmade. But with their experience I would have expected them to have learnt by now. There have been occasions when experienced guys like Mr Sardesai (who has now quit) or Ms Dutt have gone over the top with their comments during the Godhra riots or Tsunami tragedy and sounded absolutely hysterical & not in control of their senses. Remember guys the viewers know that you want good sound bytes but surely not at the cost of your credibility. A case in point was when Ms Dutt was interviewing some guy at Mr Arafat’s funeral; her body language was so gauche & silly. I could not believe this was a so-called ‘courageous’, ‘experienced’, ‘seasoned journalist’ from India. Yuucks.

This channel has a BIG BBC hang up never mind the red graphics, the same studio set up, similar style of presenting the news with a laptop in front of the news reader etc etc. I guess they are all alike in some way J. Another BBC hang up they have is the TERRIBLE accent they put on. I call it the BBC funeral bleat. It’s a sing song style BBC & CNN put on when they are reporting a tragedy. At NDTV they use it as a everyday style. People who excel at it Nupur Basu reporting from Bangalore, Mr Shivraj Prashad (aka ‘Pansy’ Prashad) from Delhi. Also Ms Banerjee from Kolkatta & Ms Gaurika Chaudhri who presents the sports, there are some others but since they are not heard so often (or at least I don’t see them that often) it’s not too bad. I wish they would stop it immediately, if they want to copy any one why don’t they try copying their boss Mr Roy or Mr Chandra who are pleasant on the eyes & ears. I cannot forget Mr Roy’s presentation of the budget & election analysis all these years. It’s a very interesting, pioneering and refreshing prog. to watch . There are some others who try to talk with a lisp thinking they sound stylish. & upper class. BTW has anyone noticed the head mannerisms of most newscasters is identical to the mannerisms of Bikram Chandra J.

Now on the Big Fight is a nice programme if the panelist could be honest and/or frank which is rarely the case most are politicians who as everyone know are rarely honest or frank.L If that happens then it’s a rare day. The host Mr Sardesai has a habit of interrupting his guests very often that’s ok if they are not answering a question, but what bugs me is he has a habit of putting his words in their mouths, which is not fair. He also has a tendency of wearing his politics on his sleeve and talking to his guests in a hectoring manner. Also he gets too emotional. Now that is just not done for a veteran journalist. Mercifully he has quit and has been replaced by Mr Chandra who comes across as sophisticated and not as shrill as his predecessor

We the People is another thought provoking programme. The host of this programme is described as ‘courageous’, ‘experienced’, ‘tough seasoned journalist’ by different people but I feel she comes across as very emotional, awkward, silly & childish in some of her comments as well as her body language. And always seems to wanting to be politically correct at all the times. I wonder if this is self imposed or company policy !!!!. if you can ignore all that it’s a nice prog. Last week she was talking to a person who came from Pakistan after spending 26 years in their jails on charges of espionage. When he was trying to make a point giving examples of Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto, she interrupted him saying ‘Oh you think like a Pakistani’. I think this was a cruel & uncalled for remark. Hardly one expected from such an experienced reporter. Barkha please remember that man spent the best part of his life in jail while trying to serve his country, I think he deserves some respect, not catty comments from someone trying to play to the galleries.

Special Report on 16th Feb at 1730 hrs there was a prog hosted by Nupur Basu on the air show/exhibition in Bangalore. It was BAD.

  1. Her style of presenting a programme in a funeral voice with that singsong bleat copied from BBC. (You guys have a terrible BBC hang up. is to put it mildly horrible. I hope you get your presenters to stop that (Ms Basu, Banergee Mr Prashad etc).
  2. I could not believe my ears when she actually a Sqdr leader and his sidekick their opinion about something their Air chief had said. Does she actually think they would make a comment on what their chief has said or give an opinion which is critical of the govt. This was present all thru the prog. Even a credulous novice cub reporter would not think that if he/she is familiar with any armed forces.
  3. There was very little interesting visuals on the different type of planes present at the show (almost FD class which I used to see as a kid). Looks like NDTV does not have the technology or equipment to film fast moving planes from the ground or from the air. What happened to all that hot air about owning so many helicopters? All hype I suppose.

Overall the programme was a BIG disappointed except for the usual hype and over abundance of adjectives to describe ourselves !!!!! I can suffer a poor prog but PLEASE do something about that sing song accent that your presenters are putting on now a days. Its quite alien to us.

Walk the Talk is hosted by veteran scribe Shekar Gupta. His written word is a treat to read. I have been a fan of is till I saw this prog. I was expecting the same class as his written articles in different mags, newspaper all these years. What I see is a prog where he wants to talk more than his guests, trying to show of his knowledge, putting words into the mouths of his guests even when his guests are the talkative type & forever trying to interrupt them. I don’t understand this need !!!!

The Car & Bike show is an average prog with a pleasant host, but I wish it were longer & more technical & less of cars which are never going to come to India

Born Wild is a nice informative programme, its compere was at one time a newreader, and a good one at that. I wonder why they sent her into the boondocks.

The weather reports are not bad but I get really bugged when the presenters stand in front of the screen showing the cloud cover picture. Can’t they get their angle correct where the presenter is visible (Is that necessary) and also the complete weather picture? J

How can I forget the reports on sports at the end of every news prog also daily at 7.30 pm where you can see the copy cat (the original is on CNN ) Pompous Princess of Perpetual Pout called Sonali Chander and Gaurika Choudhri who comes on screen with a condescending perpetual sneer, as if the viewers are all idiots and of course with the now famous sing song accent. And now to ‘aid‘ them is that ‘Sidhu the MOUTH’. A fellow, who could ONLY play one inning in any match, now is giving his 'expert' opinion on all things cricket. Horror of horrors in the last 2 weeks ‘Pansy’ Prashad’ has now become a full time newsreader on NDTV as well as NDTV Profit. Yucks didn’t know that they were so hard up for newsreaders.

I wish NDTV would come out of this BBC shadow they seem to have crawled under. I think we would all be proud of them for their brave attempt in being one of the first Indian company to venture out into the tough world of news broadcasting. But to be taken as seriously as BBC they should stop their monkey see monkey do attitude. In spite of all this I still watch their programmes (proves we r all creatures of habit) as they seem to be better than their competitors (less hysterical BUT SLOW in getting the latest updates & ‘breaking news’). In spite of my criticism I would still recommend this channel. Of course that’s a personal choice. I wish them best of luck. J

Orange makes me see red :(

I have been an Orange user for some time now & this is some of the few experiences I had with them. This was an email I sent to needless to say I got no reply but I know that my message was read as I got the read receipt :). This problem I encountered has been faced by many subscribers in Mumbai and has featured in an article in a major english newspaper, but this scam still goes on. I wonder if non reply to my email is an admission of guilt????

I am a prepaid subscriber.Today i had a peculiar problem at 21.32 I got an sms telling me that I have a missed call. I found this rather strange as my cell is always kept on AND I was at home where I get the signal full strength, so I sent the sms to 303 (which cost me 2 bucks) & I got a reply that I had a missed call at 8.11 pm. Now I find this extremely difficult to understand as the person calling me lives in the same building as me, he had told me that when he tried my number he got a recorded message that my cell was 'switched off' so he said. At that time I did not believe my friend & thought he was pulling a fast one on me. I live on the 3rd floor & my friend on the 4th floor how is it possible when both of us are in a strong signal area he got a message which led him to believe that my cell was 'switched off'.
I had read an article in the newspaper & also on a news channel that this is a new money making racket started by cell companies to increase their revenues. My experience now makes me want to believe this story as I have now found out that many people have had this experience. I had never expected this stunt from a company like yours. Needless to say that I am totally disgusted by this experience. I hope this email is sent to the higher management in your company so that they can be enlightened about the opinion of their subscribers. I am also expecting a technical answer as to why this could have happened. I would like you to know I am from the IT field quite familiar with the technologies involved so please do not waste my time & yours by handing out the usual platitudes..
Before this in 2003 I had another problem which is best described by my email to Orange. Here it is.

Whomsoever it concerns at Orange,
I would like to thank you for returning the extra Rs 630. I would like to share my experience of trying to renew my Just talk subscription thru the Mobile banking facility.
My name is Sandeep having an account with HDFC Bank. On 23-01-03 I was using the mobile banking facility for the first time to renew my Orange Just Talk subscription (Rs 315) at around 11 am. When I tried for the first time I got an error 'Invalid Input parameter', which should normally mean that the user has input data in wrong format (even an additional space makes a difference) so I tried another 2 times with the same result.
My balance before i tried to renew was Rs: 2360.68
After 3 sms & a call of 0.26 seconds my balance now stands at Rs: 2459.53

To add insult to iinjury my bank a/c has been debited for the sum of Rs 315 thrice and my Just Talk balance is just Rs 2459.53 @ 1305 hrs on 23-01-03 which if you notice is totally wrong it should have gone up by at least Rs 450. Kindly tell me who is responsible for this whole mess up. I am a faculty teaching Software Engineering & also Programming in Oracle, if I was given the correct error message I would not have tried to renew my subscription more than once.
I find this to be a case of poor design & poorer progamming skills . Otherwise what can explain the error message I got. I presume it was not the intent to mislead some customer like me to try the renewal option more than once. Since my bank a/c had been debited thrice i assume the entire transaction had no error. To put it mildly I am totally shocked at this whole affair, and I do not think I will use the Mobile banking facility again thru my cell phone. I am going to stick to the good old refill slips. I always thought that technology should be made to work for us, but here I find that technolgy is creating work for us.
What should have taken routinely less than a minute today, I spent about half a day going to my bank branch then to your Orange shop. Your 'Hotline' number 22222 is quite USELESS when necessary like today when I just could not connect & if it does connect (I have used it in the past) a customer is kept on hold for a very long time ( I have been kept on hold for over 12 mins after which I have disconnected). and using the other option of is quite as useful as many times one never gets a reply, & if one is graced with a reply it's after many days if not weeks (that's my past experience) which frankly in this case would have been useless. I had gone to the Orange Shop at Prabhadevi today & met your 'Customer Service' staff by the name of Sameer, he checked with your back office and confirmed that my Just Talk had been renewed once, he further told me that the other 2 would be done the next day ( I wonder why ??). I brought to his notice of the two figures I have shown above, the difference does not amount to Rs 150 or slightly less as I had made 4 SMS & one local call of 0.26 secs (which should cost me 4 SMS = Rs 6+ I local of 26 sec = Rs 1.75) so I should have been credited airtime worth at least about 150 - 7.75 = 142.25. Mr Sameer tells me that I might have made a STD call or something.
When I told him that this could not be possible as only I use my cell phone (everybody in my home has their own cell phone of which 3 are Orange, till today), he then changed track & told me that sometime the debits for calls made in the past are not debited immediately so Hey presto that should explain the whole mystery of the 40 odd rupees.
Original Balance before renewal 2360.68
Less 4 SMS & a call of 0.26 secs 7.75
Total 2352.93
Actual Balance given to me @ @ 1305 hrs 2459.53
Diff of 2459.53-2352.93 106.6
Mystery missing amt 43.4

Frankly I do not buy this story, I guess its a case of like it or lump it. But it leaves a BITTER taste in my mouth On 24-01-03 morning (around 8.30am) I checked my balance again to find my balance reduced by Rs 3.50 to Rs 2456.03 when I have not made any calls for the last 24 hrs. If what Mr Sameer says is true, does it mean that the balance display does not operate in real time mode. If not, does it not mislead the customer who tries to check his/her balance using the 22223 or *222# option ?.
Another thing I want to bring to your notice when I asked my bank branch manager for an email address of somebody senior as I wanted take it higher up in the bank she promptly gave me an email address, but when I asked Sameer the same thing, he told me I could ring up 22222 or use (I had already sent a email before going to the Orange shop & confirmed by Sameer) & you know my past experience with these two options. It seems that your front office staff have been trained to stonewall customers who want to complain higher up in the hierarchy. Now you can compare my experience with two companies in the service industry. I also got a reply to my email from HDFC the same afternoon & a call from the branch manager on the same evening to tell me that they would get the two extra entries reversed, but there was no such communication from your all !!!!!
The amounts concerned may not be large for you and I do not intend it to get larger so in future I will only be using this connection only for voice calls & SMS (if I continue with Just Talk) as I have no faith in the other services provided. From my experience I must conclude that your prepaid services lives upto its name, it's all Just Talk.



Looks like from 2003 to 2005 nothing has changed at all!!!!!. I dont recommend this service but is there any other which is better????.
Also the deluge of 26th Jul 05, Orange did not exactly cover itself with glory, when their entire network crashed. Of course they gave out the usual excuses. In fact its been noticed that during a REAL emergency their network just cannot cope AND they always come out with a new excuse. O !!! they are so creative in that department J

My experience with TATA Indicom ‘Broadband’ even b4r I become a customer!

I am currently a Sify ‘Broadband’ user that review can be found at . Since I am not happy with the quality of Sify I had applied to VSNL for the TATA Indicom ‘broadband’ connection.. I was told to ring up their number 56478000 for a connection, when I did that I was told to go to their site and apply for it (what happens if the potential customer does not have a internet connection?) after which they would do a ‘feasibility study’. The fact that I am already a broadband customer & had the requisite CAT 5 cable to my house and my current last mile operator is also providing TATA Indicom ‘broadband’ fell on deaf ears. I made my application on their site and after 3 days (what speed) a lady called Parveen called me to tell me that since I already have a CAT 5 wire to my place I am getting a ‘discount’ of 75% and would have to pay Rs 551 as ‘Registration’ instead of the usual Rs 2000 as installation charges.

I told her that when I shifted from my cable wallah’s ‘broadband’ (He became a franchisee of Sify) to Sify I was not charged anything so how come they are charging so much, to which I was told very pompously that ‘these orders have come right from the top, You can speak to Mr Tata about it to get it changed’. And that is just what I did with a copy to customer care to date I have not received even an acknowledgement of my email.

Another lady called Saira called me from customer care to apologise about the whole issue & to tell me that Rs 551 is charged to cover their backend cost, which I find quite hilarious that a company as reputed as VSNL is resorting to such specious excuses. (The reason had now changed). After that I got a call from another gentleman called Noel with a similar story but with a different twist. (they should get prizes for imagination & creativity). A few weeks another person from VSNL (said her name was Uma) rings & offers me TATA Indicom Broadband for Rs 2000 saying a registration of Rs 551 is 'nonsense'. (Now another person & another story). Considering that international bandwidth prices are rapidly coming down also the competition in the country these excuses are pure nonsense & a cheap attempt to milk the ignorant customer. Looks like there is a oligopoly amongst the service providers just like in the mobile phone ‘service’ providers. The reason I am posting this review (if u can call it that) is so that other potential customer resists this extortion attempt of gullible potential customers by VSNL in the name of ‘registration’. I am a dial up customer of the same company from 1996 and find that the quality of service in Mumbai has deteriorated AFTER it became a private company !!!!!! It seemed to be better as a PSU company. . One thing this has done is all the legends, myths I had heard about the goodness & ethics of TATA companies has gone out of the window. Lets see how long this farce continues. Their engineers have told me that even though they claim ‘up to 512kbps, you can expect anything between 128kbps to 256kbps’. I wonder if that qualifies as broadband according to the new rules. Now I get a phone call on a weekly basis pleading that I shift to their ‘broadband service’, even offering ‘free installation’ the fact of the matter is that others in my area who are customers are regretting their decision. Also their packages are a rip off.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hero Honda Splendor Maintenance

I have mentioned a few tips I follow formaintainingabike.I am a certifiedANc (Automobile Nutcase) J who is extremely fussy about my automobiles. Whatever is mentioned below is what I personally follow, its not hearsay or stuff pinched from some place. I have focused on two aspects

1) Appearance of paintwork, reducing corrosion (A real bugbear in Mumbai) &
2) Mileage, Carburetor related.

I had read a lot of rah rah rah about the GREAT quality of the Hero Honda bikes in auto magazines, so when I took delivery of my bike, I was quite disappointed. In fact I would equate the quality of my 2001 Splendor bike with the quality of our 1978 Ambassador car my dad bought. Now do u get the picture. I took delivery of my bike in June by the end of that month there were showers in Mumbai & hey presto there was corrosion @ all the weld joint as well in the chrome plated parts !!!!!!!. I was disappointed but this is India and this is what one gets around here. So all u can do is find a solution for this problem. (More of that later)

To get good mileage the quality of petrol is important which can be dicey in Mumbai (It’s true) An important thing to remember is that never raise the engine of a bike/scooter/car when u start it first thing in the morning, that’s the worst thing u can do. The oil in an engine sinks to the bottom overnight & when u start it in the morning its bare metal against metal, till the oil starts circulating & hence reducing friction. (Many people who r used to 2 stoke engines do this for whatever reasons). Let it idle gently for about ½ to a minute till the engine oil starts circulating. Another point from the safety angle is it’s in the morning its always better to go onto a main road with a warmed up engine to avoid flat spots (the jerky motion u get when u try to raise a cold engine), so that if the need arises u need speed to get out of a tight corner, it’s possible which will not be the case if the engine is cold & does not respond immediately.

Another point I have noticed is many owners look only to the mileage covered as an indicator while changing the engine oil, please remember take into account the time gap between the two oil changes also. Also in a new bike insist on an oil change with every service in the first year or upto 2000 kms, EVEN if it is not recommended. Your workshop may try to discourage u on this saying u r wasting money, believe me its not so in the long run. It does not really cost much. In a new engine till its run in properly tends to shed metal particles which is collected by the engine oil & should be trapped in the oil filter, but some fine particles always move around in the oil, so now u see why its better to change ur engine oil with EVERY service in the first year. AND insist in getting the oil filter cleaned when the oil is changed.. This ‘SMALL’ job is ignored by many (to finish a job quickly) mechanics much to the detriment of the bike owner. At the authorized Hero Honda workshop where I give my bike for servicing, they use engine oil to lubricate the chain whereas the manual says it should be gear oil (EP 90) take care the right grade of oil is used to lubricate your machine.

For a new bike the ordinary petrol is good enough, but after some time maybe 8 - 10 months u can start using the 'special petrol' like (as gum from the petrol starts forming in the tank & carb)

IOC's Xtra Premium 91 octane,

BPCL Speed,

HPCL Power,

BPCL Speed 93

When I use Xtra premium petrol I use it 'neat' & when I use Speed 93 I also mix it with ordinary approx 50/50 it can be used ‘neat’ too (only to get more fuel for my buck). Most dealers/workshops will tell u that it’s bad for the bike. That’s a load of BULL Their gripe is they find a lot of gum deposits in the carb which they have to clean, (more work hence the complaints) so these jokers think it is bad. But that’s what these additives in the petrol r supposed to do! so initially the performance may drop but once all the gum is cleaned out performance will improve. When u put these petrol the additives in them will first clean the tank of gum deposits which will land up in the carb naturally till they r burnt out in the engine. U might have to clean the carb of gum (if it hinders performance too much). But once these fuels r used on a regular basis u should not have any problem. Another school of thought is that the high-octane fuels should not be used in these bike/scooter engines. This is again a load of rubbish. I wonder how many people know that when Hero Honda first came out with their CD100 this engine gave the Jap testers 100 kms/ltr in Japan coz of the better quality of fuel there. Incidentally I have used 93 oct petrol in an ambassador engine and got better performance & mileage and that’s in the ‘70’s. The new engines available nowadays have a higher compression ration (than an Amby) & can take these fuels. Incidentally from 1st April 2005 11 cities will get Euro III fuels (including Mumbai) where ordinary petrol will become 91 oct from the current 87 oct. If u want u can clean the carb urself (I do it). I use ABRO carb cleaner (even STP is a good one, used it before).

This is how you do it.

1) Disconnect the fuel tank from the carb, the rubber tub after the fuel cock is removed.

2) Then empty the carb of fuel. Collect it in a bottle & put in back in the tank (it costs a bomb nowadays :)). The carb has a screw to empty the carb in case of overflowing, open the screw & fuel will flow out of the tube leading to the bottom. Tighten the screw.

3) Now that the carb is empty. Do this; connect the thin plastic tube (tpt from now on, usually red in colour) with the carb cleaner to the nozzle of the can. Poke the tpt into the rubber tube u disconnected from the fuel cock (u will notice it leads to the carb) & press the nozzle to pump the cleaner liquid into the carb. U might have to do this patiently & slowly (may take about 2 --3 min). VERY IMP: U MUST ENSURE THAT THE CLEANER LIQUID DOES NOT COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE PAINTWORK, ELSE IT WILL RUIN THE PAINT. Also if it comes into contact with your skin wash immediately. If u follow these instruction u wont have a problem. All the gum deposits in the bowl of the carb will dissolve.

4) Reconnect the fuel pipe back to the fuel cock. Open fuel cock

5) Now start the bike let it idle, (the engine might die out sometimes, no problems, restart) let it idle now the cleaner is going thru the idle jet & cleans it. Then slowly raise the engine rev gently now the main jet comes into play & the cleaner will clean it.

6) Take the bike out for a test drive. IMP run the bike for at least 3 - 4 kms as the cleaners should all be burnt out, also the rubber tube thru which u fed the cleaner should get rinsed with petrol as petrol goes into the carb.

7) Ur carb should be clean now. Sometimes u might have to do this more than once.

In a worst case scenario u might have to dismantle the carb to clean. If u have to dismantle the carb u can use the carb cleaner on individual parts like the jets, float hinges etc. If u don’t have the cleaner then use acetone (nail polish remover) to do the same & then rinse with clean petrol and reassemble the carb. Usually above-mentioned tip should do the trick for any bike.
Now to get back to the solutions I have devised regarding the corrosion. Please don’t laugh it works and I use it. I selected a black bike so I could do all the minor touch up by myself. Since I wash the bike myself I constantly keep a close watch for new spots of corrosion. Under the seat inspection is carried out before & after the monsoon. If possible the rust is sand papered away (difficult @ the joints) if u can’t do that no worry and then I apply Touchwood made by Asian paints. It’s a transparent polyurethane paint meant for wood finish after its dry I then appl the paint (black in my case), this has solved my rust problem. I have even applied it on the chrome plated saree guard but here one may have to re apply, as it tends to flake off due to the sunlight. For the chrome plated wheels, before the monsoon I apply a thin film of car polish on the chrome plated wheels and let it dry DO NOT WIPE OFF. This should stop corrosion on the wheels; this may require touch up during the course of the monsoon. A word of warning it will accumulate dirt and wont be a pretty sight. That’s something u will have to forgo during the monsoon unless u want to remove all of it & reapply it again
J. U can also apply a thin coat of oil on the rims to prevent corrosion.

I even apply car polish to the chrome plated handle bar during the monsoon, which is under a riding cover. Also while on the topic of car polish, u can shine up the matt finish fiber parts like the mirror, the fiber switch console on the handle bar and rear mudguard below the rear number plate. It will improve its look and protect it from the strong sunlight. I currently Abro liquid gold polish I have also used Turtle wax, Simoniz, Eagle 1 all are good.

To get a good shine of your paint work & protect it from sunlight. First wash ur bike (never in direct sunlight) plain water is usually enough unless u have stubborn mud stuck on your bike. If u use shampoo then first rinse the bike with plain water, then use the shampoo(again follow the instructions on the can) then use plain water to wash off the soap & grime. Wipe dry. After that apply polish (following the instructions on the can should be enough) the bike. Apply in small sections let it dry for a minute or two, (again in the shade) and then wipe off vigorously. I have seen ‘advise’ given elsewhere that suggests keeping the bike in the sun after the polish is applied to make it dry faster. Believe me these ‘fatafat tricks’ r detrimental to your bike. Don’t bother looking for exotic polish cloths Cloth from your old banian is enough. I use it, its soft and works very well AND disposable J after that use a ‘yellow cloth’ to give a final wipe. Some wax polishes tend to leave a bluish haze on dark surfaces especially BLACK, to remove the haze & keep the shine

After the first rub down sprinkle a little cornstarch (we know it as corn flour, I use ‘Brown & Polson’s plain corn flour, its used to thicken soups in the kitchen he he ) J powder on the polished surface & vigorously rub down, this should remove all bluish haze from the surface & leave a beautiful shine. Dust off any excess cornstarch powder left on the painted surfaces (IMP). This might sound like a joke but it works and I use this trick on a regular basis.

Tyres can be made to look new & shiny if they r coated with a tyre polish/paint. A word of warning NEVER use ordinary black oil paint to jazz up ur tyres. U get 2 types of tyre paint one, applied by rubbing it on with an applicator or second is sprayed on. The first is easy but when you are using the spray type take care that this paint falls on the tyre area ONLY, parts like bumper, rim, spokes should be covered up. I have also noticed that in my authorized Hero Honda workshop they apply the liquid polish they use on the paintwork, on tyres, it gives a great shine & muck which sticks to the tyres after this application comes of very easily with plain water BUT I am not sure of the long term effects of this application. SO BE WARNED. J What I have enumerated above is what I do for my bike, I hope its useful to all of u J. Whatever I have mentioned regarding care of paintwork & tyres can be safely used on cars coz that’s where I developed these tricks :)

Happy riding.

Sify subscriber beware !!!!!!!!!!!!

Sify subscriber beware !!!!!!!!!!!!
I became a Sify 'Broadband subscriber in July 2003 only because my local cable wallah who used to supply me 'Broadband' thru a cat 5 wire became a business associate if Sify. Before I comment on the quality of sify 'broadband' one has to understand that the biz model followed by Sify ensures that they have very little control on quality as that is totally the prerogative of ur last mile operator who is invariably ur cable wallah so be prepared to hear the wail from sify of (what can we do , we try so hard but ur cable wallah does not cooperate crap). From the time I have become a subscriber my IP address has been changed 5 times as it was assigned to some one else AFTER it was given to me. Since I was the one to complain as I got 'IP conflict' message & could not login to the internet, I was reassigned a new IP. Till Jan 2004 they had a dynamic lady in charge of customer care who always tried very hard to solve ur problem after she left no replacement seems to have been found
Their quality was good initially but after their subscriber base went up, as usual their speed decreased & I was always told 'thumara speed teek hai' so be prepared to hear that line also. :) I even had problems like I could not send mail from my VSNL (Another ISP) email id ( I am also a VSNL dial up subscriber from 1995 ) Now this company is notorious for blocking out competitors sites & products. Its only when I wrote to their MD others this was sorted out with a sheepish explanation that it was a temporary glitch !!!!!! From Oct 04 they had another brainwave they have disallowed the webpage login facility they had & everybody was forced to download a login client s/w. That by itself was not a bad idea, but what got my goat was it came packaged with a free vaccine from mcafee which everyone was forced to install AFTER uninstalling whatever other anti virus s/w they had !!!!!! What bloody cheek. What about people who had bought legal copies of vaccines of other companies these idiots never bothered about that I have kept a copy of that webpage, only when I made a stink they changed their stance saying that whoever wanted to use other anti virus s/w were welcome to do so but we had to ring up their toll free no. so that they could ensure an installation of their client without the mcafee module. But alas to my misfortune from the time I have installed their login client I am having trouble as their client clashes with zonealarm pro & many times I am unable to log out my my clock is still ticking away as the so called 'heartbeat option' where after 10 mins u r automatically logged out does not seem to work. A 'Team Leader’ from their call center called Ranjit Kumar promised to look into this matter and give the lost subscription time but that NEVER materialised & this joker told me this s/w was tested for a month at Chennai. So this clearly indicates the quality of manpower that Sify has. I just stopped complaining & switched over to the unlimited pack when it started. (My main incentive for switching over).
And another thing that bothers me is that 'Does the so called 'login client s/w' do only that or does it also collect data from ur machine & usage details??? No one from Sify can set my fears to rest. U cant be too sure nowadays. Also all the engineers & tech office staff who were looking into this problem have quit this company so I am stuck with a service which I can log in but sometimes cant logout !!!!!!!. And now after switching over to their 'unlimited' scheme and I have run into even more problems.

From 31-Oct I have not been able to access these sites
4) www.
+ a lot of news media sites. When I rang up their helpdesk I was told the load factor is the problem & nothing could be done about it. When I sent an email I only got the usual auto reply & nothing more. Regarding the auto reply u will read a LOT of tall claims like 'We work 24X365 days a year to service your requests. Our stated (as per our ISO 9001:2000 Quality Plan Parameter) service level of email response is 90% in 4 Hours and our team ensures it responds well within this service timeframe.'' but take all this with a TON of salt.
And the best joke is I can access these sites using my slower VSNL dial up !!!!!!!!!!. Is this another case of Sify blocking out some sites??? The turn over of staff in this company is so high that every few months you will be talking to a new 'manager' or 'engineer'
U wonder what type of management runs this company. Another issue u should dwell on is the pricing of sify 'broadband' products considering that international bandwidth prices are dropping sharply, Sify has NO business to increase its prices every now and then. Especially when its service is NOT improving. Recently when the govt increased the service tax to 10.2% Sify has increased its prices well beyond the 2.2% difference. This is TOTALLY unjustified. Also note TATA Indicom DID NOT raise its prices beyond the differential of 2.2% So all in all the quality depends on ur last mile operator read 'cable wallah' and an indifferent sify help desk & management.
Also from about 29 of June 2005 the 'ping' command which used to return '=1ms' from the time I started using 'broadband' (This franchisee before Sify had his own brand called 'coconet') started returning any value greater than '=4ms' and this coincided with a drastic reduction in my net speed.
I have provided screen dumps whenever I sent a complaint email so their engineers can visualise what my problem is. In spite of all this it seems they have a 'Standard Operation Procedure'

1) You are the first person to have this complaint else,
2) Customer is always wrong. else,
3) Customer's problem is always 'normal' else,
4) There is a virus problem in customer's machine. else,
5) There is a problem with the OS on the customers machine else,
if nothing else works then it's 'under observation.' " & so it rests!

I have a P4 machine with 512 MB Ram and the OS is Win2k (legal), SP4 with the latest patches. Whatever points I have mentioned above have been proved wrong by me to their staff in the past (It seems the onus of doing so rests with the customer). Till date this problem persists. Going thru my old mail I see I had made a similar complaint 15 Jul 2004, this problem seems to have cropped up again to haunt me again, that time it was resolved. Currently Sify engineers still seem to be trying to prove its my machine that’s at fault. L
Another gripe I have is many time I cant send my mail thru Outlook Express This has happened for a long time (Jan2004 onwards), but now a days it seems to occur intermittently (thankfully). Again my machine was blamed, after spending more than 3 hrs (total) at my place, it was agreed it was a backend problem (which is what I was saying all along) it seemed to have been sorted out. But no it STILL occurs.
From 15-7-05 I have shifted to the 256 kbps of !GB limit (Even in this pack, the speed is quite poor, screen dumps enclosed) pack as the 128 kbps unlimited pack price has gone up to Rs 595 from 500, since my speed HAS DECREASED I don’t see why I should pay more for a reduced quality. Since I still cant log out this pack is already (in one day already) getting to be expensive for me. At the most I may try the 256 kbps unlimited in future.
My list of problems with my connection never seems to reduce or stop; it resembles a continuous production line. Being a Sify customer and getting my problems sorted out, is turning out to be a full time job (which I don’t want). Getting back to my main problem of poor speeds, Sify engineers have spent more than 8 hrs (on different days) at my place trying to find what is actually wrong, on 19-7-05 they finally came with their own laptop saw that they get the same speed from my a/c on their laptop at my residence AND at the switch in my colony AND FINALLY came to the conclusion that its a network problem. (I was telling them just this) As I am getting ready to post this blog I am shocked to find the data packet loss has increased even more
Then on 25th of Aug Mr Khan & Sharma came again with their laptop & found the same problem later they went tracing backwards to the cable wallah the entire network and found the problem at every switch !!!
On 29th Aug the field engineer for my area called Mr Shivji came to my house saying that some work had been done to the network. When he checked the speed at my end it showed between 25 & 26 kbps (actual download speed), So he declared that this was normal speed !!!!!!! What a load crap. True to form I was expecting this nonsense for a long time here is what I had written to Mr Ramraj the CEO of Sify of the ‘Sify SOP’ mentioned above, the third option mentioned above was used on me today. When I brought to his notice that when I had a 64 kbps scheme I used to get 7.7 kbps (actual download) constantly so what should be the speed for a 256 kbps scheme. He had no answer. His only retort was to say' OK THEN we will keep this 'under observation for some time' as if this was a bargainable issue !!!! Later he called up Mr Manoj at their Vile Parle office to whom I spoke about this issue. Who agreed that this should be 'observed' for some more time? So how come different 'engineers' from this company have different 'opinions' about what is normal & what is not. Till 25th of this month when Khan again checked with a laptop, it was a problem of low speed (which even a blind person can see). Now between 1600 hrs & 1630 hrs I check the speed & it has dropped back to 18 -19 kbps how come. I can understand that speeds can vary, but not by this much. Even the latency observed at my end was considered abnormal till the 25th of this month, today it is considered NORMAL !!!!. Was the speed increased just before the engineer came to my house? Looks like when problems cannot be solved it becomes normal. !!!!!!!!. If the reader is wondering why I am suffering such a third rate ‘service’ is only because the competition is just as good. And it’s just not worth the ‘start up costs’ for a service where I have to suffer the same problem. Maybe it’s a case of ‘Known devil better than unknown devil’. J
Update 3-9-05 Today was the pits, had renewed my Sify broadband a/c on 31-8-05 and my a/c details showed that that my renewal was in the 'pipeline' to be used when the older subscription got over. It was displayed in the pipeline til the morning of 3-9-05 then around 12 o'clock when I logged in I got a shock as I was being asked to renew my a/c, when I checked my a/c details I was stupefied to see that what was displayed till today morning had DISAPPEARED. This company seems so technically incompetent, its mind boggling. They don’t seem satisfied by increasing the rates & decreasing the promised internet speed they seem to have stooped to outright stealing. I tried to call their Mumbai office but no one replies, same with their Chennai office then I called their toll free number & logged a complaint saying that if this is not rectified by evening I would be lodging a complaint with the police as I have a reciept for the payment I made. No response from their side. Shows their attitude. As luck would have it their engineer had come to my house for my other problem of slow speed. He made a few calls & rectified this billing issue. At 2136 hrs today when I log in again they have now displayed a notice saying that there is a problem with their billing At 2136 hrs today when I log in again they have now displayed a notice saying that there is a problem with their billing !!!!! But a little laterI find the same problem has cropped up again. I just now rung up the call center again around 2225 hrs & spoke to Karitk who tells me that he cannot help as his 'system' is down would be up in about 20 mins, I asked him if the same problem is responsible for my problem, he replied that it is not. I then asked to find out from somebody what the problem is , he replies that they are not allowed to make outgoing calls!!!. Later I called up their call center & spoke to Robert who has kindly given me a complimentary pack of 125 kbps for the 2 days. I wonder when am I going to get what I paid for. But even at 1317 hrs I no sign of rectification. Needles to say I am ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED WiTH WHAT IS HAPPENING. On 5-9-05 morning I went to the Sify office in Mumbai and spoke to Vivek Nayak, after explaining the problem to him & showing him my receipt, he did the needful.He told me they have installed a ‘new system’ & that they are having some problems with it. That means if some problem like this happens I have to spend half a day and get things sorted out. I hope Sify improves their 'system' so that this type of 'error' does not happen again. I have got the Tata Indicom brochure from R V Net & downloaded the MTNL ADSL details from the net to look at other alternatives. I have logged in now & I find my renewal is there again in the 'pipeline' I just hope it does not suddenly 'disappear' again.

Update 9-9-05: Now to add insult to injury is, I get a call from Sify today 'to find out If I had made my payment'. When in reality my cheque has already been encased by them !!!!! Wonders never seem to cease if you are a customer of Sify :)

Update 12-9-055 @ around 1600 hrs: A jerk by the name of Janardhan came to my house claiming to be from Sify. When I asked if he was familiar with the problem, he said that was my job to tell him. When I told him that if he had familiarized himself with (as it is an old problem) what the problem was before coming to my house he would have saved his time & energy as well as mine. This cocky SOB even refused to connect me to his supervisor with whom he was talking & giving false reports that I was not allowing him to check my machine or even give his name. It looks like every passing bum in town from Sify wants to come to my house and ‘check’ my machine. When their seniors have already identified the problem to in the network AND NOT in my house. I had to ring up the engineer who had come to my house previously and familiar with the problem & tell him the whole story to get things sorted out. PHEW tomorrow will be another day when these guys will be out ‘checking’

Update 21-9-05:
Engineer Mr Khan came to check the net speed today claiming to have replaced the switch & some other equipment in my colony. Had a problem with LAN card the same nite.

Update 22-9-05: Engineer from Micropoint came checked the LAN card found it faulty & took it to his workshop for further checking. (It refused to load the drivers for the Realtek LAN card.

Update 24-9-05: Got a call from Chennai to enquire about my connection, since I dont have a LAN card in my machine I cant check the net speed

Update 26-9-05: Got a call from Chennai to enquire about my connection, since I dont have a LAN card in my machine I cant check the net speed

Update 28-9-05: Engineer from Micropoint came & fitted the new LAN card, & it took the drivers with out any glitches. When I tried to ping the gateway I found to my horror that I was getting a message'timed out' a week of non use because of a blown LAN card & this. Spoke to Sify & also to R V Net about this.
R V Net got this problem sorted after an hour & a half & I find the latency has increased. I was hoping things would improve after a new LAN card was put. To cut a long story short, my complaint no. 2336768. which had not been resolved yet but has disappeared (second time this has happened) from my display on . I dont think Sify is seriouos of solving my slow browsing problem. Today after logging in for the first time after a week. I find my complaint of slow browsing has disappeared. I sent the screen dumps to Mr Khan today. Incidentially I think my LAN card went bad because of a power surge thru the Sify CAT 5 wire on 21-9-05 during a thunder storm. It is my good fortune that nothing else apparently has been ruined on my computer, else I would not have bothered with this email. (My machine was switched off). This 'broadband' connection is turning out to be very expensive for me. On the same day Mr Khan had come and checked the net speed on my machine and had found it to be around 24 kbps at that time I was told that my case was under 'observation' (for a 256 kbps, 1 GB limit package). I have enclosed the screen dumps of the ping command & test downloads as well as my log sheet of Sify broadband usage for the month of sept 05. (Incidentially I have an Excel workbook in which I have kept my Sify login details from the time I became a customer in Jul 2003, seen by all field engineers). Today I am getting a speed between 14 - 23.8 kbps for a 256 kbps package. What a pain !!!!. The most shocking thing of all is when I sent this email to, Vivek Nayak, Manoj Sify, Ashwin Suvarna, Ranjit Kumar, Suchint Murali & Sify Mumbai Tech Support, ALL except the email to customer care bounced !!!!!. Shows the quality of their mail servers.

Update 29-9-05: Today I got a call from Jigna of Sify Mumbai office regarding the email with screen dumps I sent yesterday. She was surprised that all the emails bounced & that a ‘engineer’ would come to my house to check the net speed. When I sent the same email with the attachments to her email-id that too bounced !!!. Its as if they don’t want the customer to show them proof of the problem.
Shivji was the engineer who came to my house today was the same joker who had come to my house in the past and showed his ignorance. Today I found ANOTHER way they bullshit their customer as well as their regional office.
He tried to download something from the following sites when that showed slow speeds he resorted to this trick

He started 2 downloads from Now anyone who has done a download knows that when you start one the speeds displayed are high but they tend to settle down after some time. This joker took a screen dump of the multiple download BEFORE the speed settled done so he could show a good speed to his office & customer and hopefully close this issue !!!!!
He refused to take a screen dump when the speed had settled down and was lower. When he tried other sites it was obvious to him and his supervisor (who was on the phone) that they could not get a better speed than this. After he left I took some more dumps and sent it to the same address, which Shivji had sent his screen dump to. After this Jigna rung me up to tell me that she had seen the screen dump and found the speed to be OK as it was showing a total of around 30 kbps. I told her the method it was done, but she only tried to shield ‘her’ engineers. I told her I had sent screen dumps taken after Shivji had left & asked her to view it. I also spoke in the intrim to Mr Khan about the whole incident. Later she called me up to tell me an ‘engineer’ would come today with a laptop to my place for more checking. Another intresting thing I noticed today was when you try to call the Vile Parle office the operator picks up the phone & keeps it aside !!!!. When I mentioned this to Jigna she told me that they don’t allow incoming calls. Now HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THAT ONE FROM A COMPANY IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY.

Oct & Noc 2005

Now to cut a long story short for the month of Oct & Nov 2005 everything that could go wrong, did in fact my renewing it for the month Nov 2005 was basically an extension till I migrated to some other provider in Jan 2006 (read my article on MTNL Triband)

What went wrong in the month of Oct 2005

1) Pathetic speed (of course)

2) Very poor connectivity with a result I could not log in many times.

3) Very heavy packet loss

4) Increasing latency which became ‘normal’ for Sify tech staff (shows falling standards)

5) Very poor quality of the tech staff in providing solutions (as many of the problems were @ the back end and not with the last mile operators (cable wallahs)

6) Sify staff replacing faulty switches in the network with ‘refurbished’ switches & reporting to their offices that the replacements are in good working condition !!!

What went wrong in month of Nov 2005

Apart from the above-mentioned problems additional ones faced are

1) Triple digit latency, no browsing or anything else possible.

2) For the entire month I could not log in from around 10 am to about 1700 hrs This was faced by others in my building on the same network. (Incidentally who also gave up this service provider @ the same time as myself)

I got a three-day complimentary pack in the month of Oct as I had told them I was stopping my subscription. I had decided no matter what happened, I would not ring up or complaining to Sify in the month of Nov 2005 as I found it to be too exhausting and a waste of time & ruining my health. At the end I was relieved not being a Sify customer, for the interim period I used my tried & tested dial up connection (VSNL) also called Tata Indicom. In Jan 2006 I switched over to MTNL Triband. That story continues in another article.

In the month of Dec 2005 & Jan 2006 I have had many people from Sify coming to my house or calling up asking me to pay for the Dec subscription when I had not renewed it. (In fact I never called them up from the Oct end as I renewed for Nov 2005 subscription on 31st Oct) or wanting to know why I am not renewing my subscription. Going by the number of people from the same office calling me it’s evident and proved again that in that company ‘the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing’.

The End

Monday, August 29, 2005

My experiences with now called

I am new to blogging so please bear with me. J This was the feedback I had sent to (now ) & it might be helpful to some of u readers. While shopping online in

India some points should always be kept in mind.

1) The buyer should always remember the axiom 'Buyer Beware' .

2) Deal with sellers who r given a 'super seller' rating by baazee. Of course this is no guarantee, but something better than nothing

3) Try to deal with sellers from ur own city. I am from Mumbai. And all but 1 seller from Delhi who I dealt with, has tried to cheat me!!!!. I know this will anger a Delhi reader :) but that’s my experience & am only trying to highlight the dangers off buying from out station sellers who take the liberty of taking u for a ride. Also the cost of returning an item back to an out station seller may negate the reason of buying from the net.

4) Avoid sellers who give their address as 'elsewhere in India', some charge very high 'transportation charges'.

5) Care should be taken to see that sellers give their correct personal name AND NOT the name of their seller id as their personal name. They do this to hide from the buyer that they are operating in more than one name. They may be trying to net more buyers but its not in the best interest of the buyer. Maybe there should be a limit in how many name one can operate as a seller. eg: if I have a bad experience with a seller & I decide to boycott him. I might still end up buying from the same crook under a different alias. I have had the experience of ordering from a particular seller & his company and the item is delivered by another company probably his alias company!!!!

6) In most cases the so called 1 rupee auction are a big joke as even though the so called price is Re.1 the transporting charges are obscenely high, which makes a mockery of the whole exercise. But u could take a chance for if u observe a particular item over a period of time u can gauge the right price.

7) Also on the same topic of auctions, strong vigilance should be exercised on the first few 'so called bidders' in Re.1 auctions as many times the first few 'bidders' are dummy bidders created by the seller himself, just to boost the bid price of the auction. It's very easy to find out look at the first few bidders(maybe first 5 - 6 bidders) in a Re.1 auction see if they have only bought from that seller only, this then is definitely a dummy bidder created by the seller. Also the same names are repeatedly used by the seller. Again suspicious are the newly created buyer id's who maybe on his first bid, but in this case its not conclusive unless the same name occurs repeatedly. Such scamsters should be strictly avoided If this is mentioned on your site as a tip for buyers.Such stunts would not be contemplated by sellers.

8) Some sellers operate in somebody else's name but u cant come to know of this until u deal with them, I say this because many sellers I have dealt with operate in the name of their wife etc. The whole exercise becomes a part time job, many times these people are ignorant or indifferent of how to go about with the service, so service quality drops as also customer satisfaction. On many occasions I have seen that when you finish the buying procedure, you are requested to make the cheque/DD in a name other than the so called seller ?? Trying to save taxes !!!! Dealing with such characters is a dicey biz.

9) On the point of service. I have had the experience of buying torches from a seller who had offered batteries and a belt holster with the torches. These did not come with torch & when I gave a negative rating to the seller, he rang me from Delhi and admitted that there is no batteries or belt holster with the torch which by itself is of good quality. There were also many other tall claims of 10 yr warranty which were hollow claims. What was displayed on the webpage was something blindly copied from somewhere and he seemed to be unaware of the discrepancies !!!!! He then wanted to offer me a 'free gift' to get me to change my rating. I refused as I did not want to be saddled with something I didnt want. I told the seller that if he wanted me to change my rating he should remove the tall calims displayed on his page, but there has been NO change. So my rating stays. I mention this incident only to highlight thatsome sellers make tall claims out of ignorance or greed to lure a buyer & leads to immense frustation in the buyer. The rating system does not really help.

10) More training should be given or care should be taken on the Information Technology, aspect as many sellers are TOTALLY ignorant of how to go about selling on the net. They do not even know the basic etiquette to be followed in composing an email or keeping a buyer updated promptly etc, which makes buying from such a klutz very frustrating. eg: I had the experience of a seller given in the dispatch details given an incomplete consignment number, so I was not able to check the progress online, on the couriers site. In many instances the dispatch details have come AFTER the delivery of the item !!!!! all this makes one wonder about the seriousness & competence of the seller

11) Preferabley choose sellers who offer u the 'ATM drop' option where u drop a cheque in the ATM of his bank (even if he is a out station seller) as its the quickest & cheapest option for the buyer.

12) If u r a 'privilege club' member dont bet u r being offered lower rates by the seller browse around for that item on the site or even some other site. I have some times found a seller selling an item at a higher price in the 'privilege club' category than what he is offering to everyone else on Baazee !!!!

These are some of the points I thought worth mentioning. Hope some of u find it intresting.It has been culled from my email to customer care at baazee but the person who answered to my email except for 1 relevant point he made just tried to brush all my allegations as false even though I had given all proof necessary as attachments to that email I sent to them !!! Will update this as my experience with ebay increases. So happy e-shopping