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unwind to potential

Thoughts from the Mangalore tragedy

Posted by Rahul Narula on May 22, 2010

It has been a real gloomy day for the India and Indian aviation in particular with a Mangalore bound Air India Express flight crashed with 166 passengers on board.

Though its early days in figuring out the exact reason for the crash pilot error seems to be most likely caused the fatal accident. I have been glued to the TV to get the latest on the same and been hearing thoughts from various people including aviation experts. For me by whatever information I could gather listening to experts on TV and reading some details on the web I feel the main cause of a lot of causalities was the fire and blast caused in the airplane due to the ATF after in steered into the gorge. Had it not been the ATF catching fire resulting in the fire and blast, the causalities could have been pretty less.

This brought me thinking about it and I feel almost 80-90% of the airplane related disasters are caused by fire and blast . I am no chemical expert but wondering if a mechanism could be developed that makes fuel (ATF in this case) incombustible by missing some other chemical/liquid or something into it. So how this will work is,  if the pilot on board feels that the plane is going to land and they are left with no options he could, by press of a button mix the desired chemical/liquid to the ATF tank which will then turn ATF into incombustible liquid which in turn might  prevent a major fire or blast and hence might also prevent in causalities especially in cases like the one happened today in Mangalore.

These are some of the thoughts which I would try to get answers from experts as to if it is something possible to do and the pros and cons for the same.

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ICICI Bank Payment Gateway security issue

Posted by Rahul Narula on February 12, 2009

While using my address bar to search for something, I accidentally happened to choose one of an previous “Payseal – ICICI Bank Payment Gateway” page from the list in the Firefox address bar.

What I saw was something not amusing at all. Inspite of their disclaimed note at the bottom of the page that says

Note: This page will expire in  30  Minutes and if you fail complete the transaction in  30  Minutes you will be redirected to the order page of <service provider>”

the page opened as it had opened the day I made the payment. Forget 30 minutes, I might have gone to that page atleast a couple of months ago.

For the sake of illustration try accessing the following url’s to see what I mean

https://payseal.icicibank.com/mpi/Ssl.jsp?txnId=9FE43213A6D3414FC3D66E5AAEAC3CC26534254EFC0FA0E7

ICICI payment Gateway

Continuing here will make a payment of Rs 1295 that I did more than a couple of months back for a friend  to get him paid services of Jeevansathi. I am not entirely sure what happens to these transactions once they have been fulfilled. As far as I remember the transaction represented above were never completed due to my bad internet connection.

I just hope that this serious security issue is soon addressed by ICICI Bank else it has a serious scope of being exploited.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Google saying sorry for unknown reasons

Posted by Rahul Narula on November 19, 2008

Google search seems to be affected by some kinda strange thing today. Any query I am making today from any browser is leading me to  sorry.google.com and is falsely recognizing my search requests as bots attack.

This is the screen shot of the screen that appears for me which is something I am seeing it for the very first time in my life

sorry.google.com

sorry.google.com

Posted in General | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Escape to Goa

Posted by Rahul Narula on October 1, 2008

It really was something before the plan to visit Goa materialized for me. It has been roughly around 2.5 years that I have been planning to visit Goa but it never took off. Most of the times it was because I feel like vacationing in the most boring period of the year i.e June – September when there are hardly any holidays from the normal office schedule and its kinda summer/monsoon period. Now each of the past year when I thought of going to Goa during this period my plan was shot down due to the off season and monsoon period in Goa.

This year again the same thing happened but the hunch of an escape was so considerable that I couldn’t resist my temptation to plan my trip this year around. My plan got a significant boost when my parents also gave me a go ahead by agreeing to join in from Delhi. So it took another 1 hour to plan everything, considering that I have fair bit of research already done from my past plan that never went through. So the booking were completed within an hour. The dates planned were 26th September considering it to be the end of monsoons in Goa and before the peak season took off. Since this was the first time I was to be in Goa I didn’t wanted to take the risk of going in peak season when the atomosphere might not be suitable for me going with my family especially parents. Not to mention, also to take advantage of off-season rates in Goa. My only worry was that the weather shouldn’t be a spoilsport.

I booked two 4D/3N packages in Goa in Riviera de Goa resort in Arpora, North Goa. I was scheduled to reach Goa from Bangalore by bus and my parents were booked by air from Delhi. After researching a lot of the web about the preferred bus operator to Goa I decided to go with KSRTC since I had my 3.5 year daughter and also it would be my first such bus journey. I read a lot of bad reviews about Paulo Travels and the condition of their buses and slack schedule. The only other bus operator I could find who have volvo service to Goa was Seabird travels. Have not idea about how their service/buses are. I had to take on bus rather than the preferred mode train as there are only a couple of trains from Bangalore to Goa and their dates didn’t suited me. Though the return was booked on train YPR BIWEEKLY EX (number 7310). I specially wanted to write about the mode of travel as I couldn’t find too much information about it on the net.

Note : If you are planning to book either KSRTC volvo or the train (# 7310) book as early as possible as the tickets are really hard to get.

Coming to the day of my journey we reached the Platform 1 in Kempegowda Bus Station which was the departure point of the Airavath service to Panjim. The bus started right on time at 7.30 PM and was a comfortable journey. The bus was in good condition and we were provided with blankets and a bottle of water inside the bus. The journey was about 14 hours via Hubli, Karwar and we reached Panjim bus stand around 9.30 AM. We took a taxi to our resort and checked-in the resort at around 10.30 AM.

Day 1

My room

My room

The weather was near perfect with a clan sky and no sign of clouds or rain. It was still time before my parents were scheduled to arrive from Delhi. The resort was beautiful and  nicely done and was perfect for family stay. My room on the ground floor opened right on to the pool and I really couldn’t resist to cool myself off into it. So I took a dive immediately and enjoyed it thoroughly. After spending about an hour in the pool I felt too hungry and went straight off to the restaurant Flame and filled myself with some nice food. By the time we completed our lunch it was time that my parents arrived in the resort. Soon after their lunch and some rest we decided to visit the Baga Beach which was around 2 kms from the resort. Since the resort had a complimentary hourly pickup and drop to the beach reaching the beach was easy. We spent about an hour at the beautiful and clean water. I feel the beach will not remain the same when the season is on. So I felt lucky for that.  My first experience of Goa was turning out to be really good and all my worries for a rainy vacation in Goa were soon disappearing. Almost all the forums that I read were strictly suggesting me against visiting Goa in August-September period. But I feel that chance that I took was really turning to be a good one and everyone started with having a good time. Since everyone was tired after a long journey and time spent in beach we retired to bed early after having a delectable dinner in the restaurant.

Day 2

The one thing that I like about my vacation is I tend to wake up early when I am out. When in Bangalore I never remember days when I wake up before 8AM or so,

outside the room

outside the room

but when vacationing I wake up early and the same here. It was once again a beautiful day and we started the day with a trip to Baga Beach. This time we decided to walk along the beach to the nearby Calangute Beach which is around 1 KM walk down from Baga. But before we reached Calangute, Maanya (my daughter) had some different plans and we decided to break and take some rest by the side. By the beach we had good time doing some sand play.

Sand play

After making a few good sand artifacts it was time for us to return back as we had to take the sight-seeing arranged by the resort to South Goa. We planned to visit Calangute another day and returned. On our return we decided to the have the lunch at the beach side restaurant, Britto’s. It’s a great restaurant and pub right on the Baga beach.  There is plenty of place to sit and we were among the few lucky one’s to  get a seat right on the water. Otherwise one really need to be early to get those seats. The food was good had had a lot of variety especially for non-vegetarians with specialties in sea food. We being the from the vegetarian herd had to be content with veg manchurian, fried rice, noodles et al. There are a few other choices for dining though I didnt tried them.

After the lunch we reached the resort from where we headed straight to the South Goa tour. The drive to the south goa tour was really fabulous which greenery all over the place. This is the best thing of Goa in monsoons. The greenery was so refreshing and the cool breeze was really something worth mentioning. Among the places covered were St Francis church in Old Goa, Panjim City, Miramar beach and the boat cruise on Mandovi river in the evening. The Miramar beach was something I really wanna not write too much about as it was really bad with litter and bad odour around. To me it seems that since this beach is right in the heart of Panjim city it was not as clean as other beaches like Baga, Calangute etc. After spending relatively less time there and enjoying some Bombay chat and bhel poori we went for some shopping in Panjim market. Bought some cashews and alcohol. Wine and alcohol is very cheap compared to Bangalore so didn’t missed the oppurtunity to stock it up. I saw people buying carets of whiskey, rum, beer.

It was around 7PM and it was time for our cruise. We reached the boarding point right on time before the boat took off. It was really fun once inside with DJ and goan dances by the performers. Once the performances was done it was time for the people to dance on the catchy songs played by the board DJ. Maanya was the only once among us to make use of the facility.

Maanya enjoying music

Maanya enjoying music on board cruise

We decided to enjoy some snacks and cool evening breeze by the river which was quite pleasant again. One hour passed by so easily and it was time for us to be back to the resort. Back in resort we decided to spend some time in the lobby and refresh ourself with some in house games like carom and dart. I and my wife had planned to go to Tito’s club after some light dinner, as it was quite nearby but we both were so tired that we decided against it. After dinner we retired in our rooms and it was within minutes that we had dozed off.

Day 3

It was the most happening day for us. Since my parents were quite tired with the last day hectic sight-seeing they decided to take some rest for a few hours. We had a north Goa tour lined up in the second half of the day. I and my wife took this opportunity to hire a bike and explore some more of Goa. I managed to get hold of an Activa right outside my resort which was arranged by the resort people only. We agreed on a price of Rs 200 for a half day rent for the scooter. After finding out about the places we can cover, we decided to go to Fort Aguada. The bike ride was quite cool and I loved driving there for a change. Though I have never enjoyed doing the same back in Bangalore or in Delhi.

Rahul on Activa

The fort was on a bit of a uphill and I enjoyed every bit of the drive. After exploring the fort we still had a lot of time left before we had to return the bike so we decided to head to Dona Paula as we heard about some water sports being available. Though the full water sports are only available when the season starts around mid October but a drive of around 20 kms from the fort didn’t disappointed us as we managed to get a jetski there. the charges were Rs 100 per person and we both took turns to enjoy the ride. It was yet another fun filled adventure,

Reshu on a jetski

Reshu on a jetski

though I was looking for a banana boat ride but couldn’t find that around. After roaming around for a while we decided to head back. After lunch we had to go to the planned North Goa tour covering Vagator, Anjuna and Calangute. All these beaches had beauty of their own but we had the maximum fun at Calangute which was the most happening beach. It is evident even before reaching the beach by looking at the amount of commercialization around. The beach was the most crowded among all beaches but still it was very good fun. The people were swimming till deep into it which to me seemed risky. There were a lot of life guards around blowing whistles at all times but everyone seemed lost in the fun.

enjoyin at Calangute Beach

enjoyin at Calangute Beach

After spending more than a hour playing in the sea it was time to head back. On the way back we enjoy some delicious chat, tikki and all the Delhi chat corner. On return to our resort I wanted to go for Go-karting the track for which being right opposite to the resort. We reached at the nick of time before it shuts down for the day. I felt very lucky to have sneaked in as I was feeling that I will almost miss the opportunity having got late returning from the beaches. But I was luck enough for that and I had the best Go Kart experience till date as the track was nice with some good chicanes. The charges were something that was the best part being Rs 150 for 10 laps. It was clearly a steal considering I have spent much more for a fewer laps at places in Delhi and Bangalore. I was pretty satisfied after the race. Again we had to say no-go to Titto’s even today after being totally out of energy. Had a few beers in my room before the dinner before retiring to the bed.

Day 4

We were planned to returned today but we had the full day in our hands as the train was in the evening at 20.45PM from Vasco station. We were also scheduled to checkout at noon due to arrivals and the resort was fully booked due to a group of around 70 students checking in a day before. The first half before checkout was spent completing the packing.

Sand Marvel

Sand Marvel

One can imagine the time spent for packing with kids along. We checked out at noon and headed to Baga for the final time. Had lunch at Britto’s and spent a cool 3-4 hours relaxing and sand playing. Time just passed by and it was soon time for us to be dropped off the station which was again part of the package.

The train took off on time and my memorable first trip to Goa came to an end. The train reached Yeshvantpur station 1 hour late and it took around 1.5 hrs to reach my place. It was enough for me to realize that the honeymoon was over and I am back in reality named Bangalore.

For more pictures of my trip checkout my picasa gallery

Posted in General, vacation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

BMTC Vajra Re 1 promotional scheme after effects

Posted by Rahul Narula on September 17, 2008

The last I was really upset by the announcement by the government of the Re 1 ride on elite and luxurious Vajra buses in Bangalore. I could not understand the so called reasoning of promoting the vajra service so that more and more people could use the same. I feel this idea was a totally ridiculous one and would do more damage than any good to the Vajra service in Bangalore. Now after a few days that the promotional scheme is over (thankfully it was only for 3 days) news of it after effects are coming in and the after-effects of the horrendous decision by BMTC are coming to light. The buses seems to have taken a lot of pounding as a result of astronomical load on them during the 3 days leave alone the financial loss incurred by BMTC due to the promotion.

I really wonder how can by reducing the fare to Re. 1 BMTC will be able promote the service and more people will start using them. I feel that people who would have dared to give a try to the service on the promotional fare would have had a rather bad experience after traveling on them in the state the buses ran on the 3 days. As per data Vjara buses carried upto 97000 commuters than the normal 15000 daily during the promotion. How can one experience the real comfort of traveling these buses in such condition? I must say that only one time users would have had more fun riding them during these 3 days. Even normal users of the service would have shyied away from using them during the promotion period. So if that was what BMTC intended to do i.e giving a chance to all people who couldn’t afford these buses, then I must say that they have very well succeeded in doing so.

We all know how difficult it is to get something worthwhile in our country but now since we managed to get something good in our city the government and its authorities are making every effort to spoil them by promotions like these. There are various other means by promoting such services. Instead of improving the service I fail to understand how the fare of Re 1 was decided as per me a promotion offer of flat fare of Rs 10 was also good enough to attract more serious commuters. The fare of Rs 10 would have been good enough price for the people who were reluctant to use the service just on the basis of high fares though I personally differ to believe that only high fares is deterrent to the optimum use of Vajra service. By offering Re 1 the BMTC took a double blow by taking away commuters from regular non-Vajra service thus reducing the collection from regular services and also doing significant damage to the expensive Volvo buses.

I though believe that these uneducated decisions should not be taken by the government and some serious thoughts must be put before actually implementing such foolish promotions which does more damage than good to the city.

Posted in Bangalore | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Google Chrome Comic Book in PDF

Posted by Rahul Narula on September 2, 2008

Google announced the launch of its browser titled “Chrome” using a comic, which as per me is the first time a product is announced in such a way. As always Google get the First for this one as well. Read what I expect from Chrome.

Download the complete comic book in PDF format (6.3 MB)

Posted in Internet | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Advertising ban ! Will it work in India?

Posted by Rahul Narula on August 27, 2008

After reading a recent news item about Apple iPhone ad been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in UK I wondered if this happened in India around 90% of the ads would have to be banned just for the same reason of “misleading consumers”.

I even wonder if India even has such an authority in place. I am sure it will surely be existing but wondering what its function would be except sleeping.

Posted in India, TV | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

A survey for people who make websites

Posted by Rahul Narula on August 20, 2008

A List Apart have once again come up with the survey for people in the web world and is aimed at  designers, developers, information architects, project managers, writers, editors, marketers, and everyone else who makes websites. The survey has 44 questions spread across 18 pages aiming at  finding the working conditions of people who make websites.

List Apart Survey

I completed mine and would encourage everyone to take the survey. The world is watching.

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Cuil – A Google competitor?

Posted by Rahul Narula on July 28, 2008

wow, I had to gather a lot of courage before choosing the subject of the post. But Cuil, a new search engine, created by a startup founded by ex-Google engineers, promises to do that. Cuil (still trying to figure out the logic behind naming it “Cuil”), claims to deliver better results than other major search engines by searching across more Web pages and studying them more accurately. To put it in perspective their About Us page quotes “Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.” It is also one of the very few new web 2.0 applications that came straight out without a Beta release.

Cuil Search

Cuil Search

The various features that I noticed about it are

Look & feel : The site’s results page, which resembles an online magazine, is a lot different that what Google offers and to me the idea seems pretty cool and fresh.

Search Results: I tried a few very basic searches and saw the results varied quite a bit once inside 3, 4 page deep in the search results. Another thing I noticed was the results yielded a lot of results which were not linked correctly. The search results also the comments posted by me in various blog and forums which I never found in Google results.

Tabbed Results: Another nice feature is tabbed results where in search results are grouped in various tabs and results are filtered accordingly. e.g searching for India gave me 3 extra tabs for “Times of India”, “India News” and “Air India”. I have no idea as to how only these tabs appeared. Dont really think TOI or Air India might have paid them for that.

Search Category: This one is another very neat grouping and is soemthing similar to related searches offered by other popular search engines. again taking India as my search query the categories offered to me where “States And Territories Of India”, “Indian Hill Stations”, “Prime Ministers Of India” among others. I also noticed that the search categories changed when I search for the exact same search string “India” again.

Search Results

Search Results

Navigation suggestion: When you type a query, sometimes you’ll see a search suggestion with an icon representing a website. Click on this link and you will go directly to that website. It lets you look before you leap, a direct rival to Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky feature.

All in all I feel Cuil is a promising tool but IMO it still has a lot to do before it can be termed anywhere close to Google.

Posted in search | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

b2 – ICICI answer to complete online banking

Posted by Rahul Narula on July 25, 2008

ICICI Bank has recently came up with a unique and first of its kind savings account which they term as “new face of money“. As always the pioneers in banking software adoption have come up with a new product called “b2 – Branchfree Banking“. Introducing the product when they asked when was the last time you visited your bank branch, I had a clue what on offer as in my more than 5 years of relationship with them had never being visited the branch as I do almost all my banking online using Infinity.

So what is b2 anyways and how its exciting ?

The new b2 account has the following offerings. I am categorizing them into 2 sections,1 that favor bank and the second that favors us as customers

For BANK

  • no branches
  • no ATMs
  • no cheque books

For Customers

  • higher interest
  • zero charges
  • no minimum balance

    So you will get only a account that you can use for online transactions be it paying utilty bills to shopping for air tickets. The money kept in this account with earn you better interest. People who are aware of the Quantum Optima feature of the regular saving accounts will be aware of how it is done as for this account Quantum Optima comes by default.

    For online transactions they have come up with eWallet & Virtual Credit Card to minimize risks. All transaction (as of now) are free.

    Posted in General | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

     
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