Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A MNC brand might spend millions on advertising to push their products, to improve their brand recall etc. But the power of a single blog post like this one beats all that IMO.

You just cannot afford to piss off a popular blogger cos' in effect you are screwing up so much else. And when a well-known blogger writes a post this about his/her problems with something there is a chance it'll get mentioned about, linked to by her readers, followers (and fans) on their sites, blogs (Now this complaint might be about a simple broken AC.. but, if it had been a seriouser problem there is a good chance it might've gotten micro-viral).

And at a time when most buyers do all their product research online, a simple screw up by the local dealership in responding to a service call/complaint might cost it a lot of business.

The brands might soon have to find a way to make sure such 'people with big voices' are taken care of well (of course the easiest way out of this would be to provide good support to all their customers).

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

A few pics from my last day at college.



My whole class







The Guys

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

another site review from me... :)

qype.co.uk is a portal that indexes information like lifestyle events, shopping offers, restaurants etc for around the world. A user might choose to subscribe to city specific information through RSS feeds or throught their weekly e-mail newsletters. The content on the site is mostly/all user added, so the amount of updates/info available depends on the number of contributing members in your zone. The amount of user involvement in the site surprises me, one can add a city/town that is not already on the list and start a new network and so on..

The site layout is neat and is mostly informal throughout. The signup page itself is a breeze to fill with a simple form and lets us choose our newsletter options etc. with no hidden finetext, you can simply check a box to stop them from bothering you with any e-mails, and they promise not to ever spam our inboxes after that.

The site might have content for cities around the world, but mainly focuses on UK and London. Detailed routes, maps are available for the locations around London, and the amount of information pertaining to places around the city is huge. A search for 'indian restaurants london' gives around 400 results, a search for 'hostels london' and 'cinemas london' have over 200 results each. Each search result has a user star rating, detailed user reviews, photos, comments etc. and a simple option to locate the spot on the map. The travel info is really extensive, you could get travel directions from your current spot by giving your pincode, you also get the nearest tube & conventional rail station with distances for each spot.

This site in its current state could be useful to someone who is new to London and when the content related to the other 6000 cities gets better, qype could become a global local review site.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

On the Civil War in SL - Part 2

I don't have too much to add to my views i wrote in my first post on the issue. This is about something else...

I had to go meet a friend near college, i happened to meet his room mate then, this guy called prakash. My friend introduced him as a 'elangai thamizhar' to me, and straightway i asked him 'sinhala thamizhar a neenga'. Dumb.. i know.. This is cos' i was of the opinion that SL tamils were mostly dravidians and this guy did not look like a dravidian to me, hence the reflex question. I've seen Sinhalese people speak thamizh and i just assumed he was a Sinhala when i knew he was from SL and had non dravidian looks. He then explained the whole thing to me and basically shut me up.

Now, most of what i know about the Civil War issue, cultural setup in SL was through movies, blogs etc. so talking to someone like him who knows about the situation first hand, was new to me. We started talking about the situation in SL after a while, i straightaway told him about i was not 'pro'-LTTE, and listed a few reasons for .


Wanted to know his opinion about the LTTE cause, and if he supported the LTTE and if the stories we all here about LTTE brutality to thamizhlars was true. To this he started off with a question, he asked me 'what is your take on Subhash Chandra Bose? my POV on LTTE is just the same. He told me why he supported the tigers and what the cause was all about. I started talking to him about how SCB was a guy who fought on the battlefront and did not send suicide bombers into cities and tried to convince him LTTE and SCB were not the same. We left it there.. we just accepted we had different opinions..

On my way back i started thinking about this, i guess his opinion about the LTTE should be given more importance than mine. If a thamizhar who has lived in the conflict zones in SL says he supports the LTTE i'm sure he has his own reasons. ( Now, from the little time i spent talking to him, i don't think he's a LTTE fanatic or anything, his views seemed pretty sane and he was very much interested in having a civil discussion with me. I've spoken to a few staunch tigers supporters before, and i don't think it is possible to have a neutral discussion about the SL situation with them, cos' they never listen to anything you have to say. They always go on about how the thamizhs suffer and how the LTTE can be a solution to the issue.. no offense to anyone though..).


We had to cut our convo short cos' i had some work to do and i had to leave abruptly. I'm hoping to talk to him again sometime soon. I also showed him my blog post on this issue and asked him to drop a comment if he felt like it.

Well this point of this post is to archive the conversation i had with him and also tell everyone else about how i feel about the SL issue now. My stand hasn't changed much .. but i'm really interested to read up more content online and from both sides, talk to people who can tell me first hand about their opinions, before making one by myself.

I'm sure my friends, my blog readers would want to do the same and make their own opinions, or better don't have an opinion and just be tuned in to the info. if they feel like it.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

MMSC Track Day Experience - 22nd Feb '09

Awesome.

here are some pics. .
















had lots of very safe fun, without maxing out the bike cos' the first priority was safety.

wrote this mini-log for the xBhp forum,

I rode 150 kms on my Unicorn, around 35-40 laps ithink, split in 4 sessions. First three sessions were spent in getting to know the track. On corners, the throttle was open just enough to maintain speed and i was on 5th gear most of the time. Experimented and learned the lines for most corners.

The C8 was a little scary, cos' of the crashes. I guess 3 riders crashed on this corner and the scratch marks leading into the grass made me take it easy all the time.

The C6-C7 ( never ender) was fun when done in 4th, like we stay at full lean for more than 5-6 seconds(ithink) and by exiting at 75-80, i could reach my top end of 105 kmph before braking hard to enter the wicked C8. 105kmph was also possible on the back straight (c3-c4) but not on the home straight, prolly' cos' i was a little scared about the C1 bumps and the front wobble, so took the main straight and C1 easy all the time.

The last session was the best, i tried increasing corner speeds intentionally by staying in 4th all the time, opening the throttle immediately after the apex. Too bad the session ended 4-5 laps after i started riding this way.

I did not push my bike to its limits, but i'm happy it went all good. The surface was really asking to be ridden hard on but i stayed within my limits.

I also found out that i had a 'very' weird riding posture, my head stays cocked against the lean and from the pics i've seen it looks quite crazy. I tried to correct my posture for a few laps, but dropped that after i almost ran into the apex and the cement edge thingy when i tried leaning my head into the corner against my natural posture.

My Unicorn was handled beautifully, not a single washout or slip up the entire time. The hard rear suspension setting does wonders on the track, the front was a little soft this made the bike wobble on C1 but otherwise everything was fine.


The first time i got to see the MMSC track at Sriperumbur was two years back, i went there on my scoot to' watch' superbikes at an official track day. I remember standing near the first corner after the straight and ogling (yep) at the bikes and cars that were on the track. And back then, I was happy just to be there and watch all the action from so close up. And now, to actually ride on the track was some huge dream come true for me.

This is not over with the one track day btw, i'm addicted to track riding and i'll try to save up money and prolly' do this once every 2-3 months. :)

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On the Civil war in SL....

this post is in response to a question( at least the Q got me started on this issue) raised in a comment on this blog post. I first wrote a huge comment, but then thought i would make a response post on my blog instead. The Q will make more sense if you first read the post and the comments following it.

Yayathy: My question is why Indian politicians keep talking about saving the people there and not about killing LTTE terrorists?


my 2 cents,

The TN political parties that protest the military action in SL are all LTTE supporters. Some, like the MDMK, VCK show their direct support, a few others like the DMK do it indirectly by claiming to support the tamils in SL, and so... they end up supporting the LTTE cos' they 'represent the tamils'. Now, the DMK has a two-pronged approach, while the TN govt. part of the DMK has a more neutral stand ( cos' they still are part of the coalition at the center and cos' they cannot possibly openly support a banned organization accused of assassinating a prime minister) and the DMK party otherwise itself has a pro-LTTE policy very similar/close to the MDMK-like parties.


The AIADMK, in my opinion have a more sensible and ballsy stand on the issue - LTTE does not represent SL tamils and they support the flush out happening right now, but as of now they've gone a little soft from being aggressively 'anti-LTTE' to just supporting the cause of innocent civillians caught in the middle of military action. By refusing to support the LTTE, the ADMK is pissing off its vote bank here in TN (i'm sure the opposition will make JJ's support to the SL govt.' a poll issue by making JJ look totally anti-tamil).


No political party would want to directly diss the LTTE, this is cos' popular opinion in TN is still that the LTTE are 'namma aalunga' fighting for tamil freedom. This sympathy is cos' of a lot of things, starting with 'we share the same language'. The first point that comes up when someone pro-LTTE talks about the situation in SL is the inhuman treatment of tamils by the SL army, closely followed by how the tamils are always treated like dirt, no rights, no dignity etc.

The MDMK site has a page about ' Why we support srilankan tamils' and knowing MDMK-Vaiko that literally reads 'Why I(vaiko) support LTTE'. The page starts off with pictures of corpses of tamils killed supposedly by the SL army in the offensive and goes on ( a rant imo) about the tamils oppression history in SL. I've seen some pics, and even videos of the kind of crap that goes on there, and my heart goes out for the people suffering there and i know the situation is real bad. This does not stop me from knowing that there'll surely be an other side to this.

But, there are people who base their opinion/support for the 'LTTE' on such pics, articles about the inhuman crap that goes on there. And i know of people who're so taken in by this content that they speak about 'how prabhakaran is the only hope for tamils in SL' and how we need a leader like him to further our causes. what crap ?

moving on...

About about your views and the comments on Muthukumar's suicide, i don't think it was as simple as you make it out to be. MK did not take his life after a sudden whim or a flash, but his action was a result of careful thought and was properly planned. I just think he deserves a little more respect than what you've given him, for he is someone who believed in social activism(however harsh). He believed in something, and he was ready to go as far as taking his life for that, i might not actually support the way he chose to channel his activism and i think he could've done more good by living on, and continuing his work.

Read the english translation of his last words here to read his views and to see how involved he was in the tamil cause.

Again, i might not agree on his views in the letter, but i see he was someone who believed in what he stood for and had the balls to do something.

I think i made this a rant myself,..well i hope it adds on to the discussion on this post.

more later..

comments invited btw...

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Shop for East Asian Inspired Furniture @...

... lombok.

lombok[dot]co[dot]uk is a website that sells East Asian (to be more particular Indonesian) inspired furniture among other stuff like lighting equipment, home accessories . 'Lom bok' is based in the UK, and they have around 20 outlets all over the country. The site is an online catalogue cum shopping portal targeting their home customers, this is evident from how they don't directly ship orders outside the UK for now, how their pricing is in pound sterling.

The site design is soft and easy to use, the interface is fairly quick, at first it looked like just another basic html template based website, but the design also has a few cool functional flash details like 'mouse over to zoom' for the product catalogues etc. which make the page interesting without slowing it down too much. The pictures of their products are wonderfully shot and the description that accompanies each one of them is complete with info like exact dimensions etc., this should be a great help when you are looking to order furniture online.

The customer service section of the site has useful, well laid-out information about their delivery, return policy and also has other resources for furniture maintenance, warranty claims etc.

Their range is complete with all the furniture, lighting equipment you will ever need inside the house, this includes minor stuff like lamp shades, laundry baskets, candles, log baskets etc. They have products to suit all budget ranges, also the pricing seems pretty value for money to me.

Check out their 20% discount sale on their new Canton designs that goes on till March 2nd, and also their online clearance store for its excellent bargain buys or you could look at their Spring Summer 2009 collection online. You can also request for a complete product catalogue to be mailed over to you for free.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Track day on 22nd Feb at MMSC

If everything goes by plan, yours truly should hit the track on the said date. Trying to gather gear for now, i'm still a jacket, gloves, knee guards short. This ( if it happens) will be my first track riding experience. The track day is organized by a few chennai xBhpians and is a Pay & Practice session, ie. get your own vehicles - 400 bucks for 2w and 1000 for 4w.

here is a pic of the track,



we'll mostly be running the short loop, i guess the complete lap is open only for 4wheelers or proper track days.

What you need to ride on the track ?

A bike + 400 bucks entry fee + Basic riding gear ( a helmet, a jacket, shoes). The session is from 8am to 1pm and you can ride as much as you want, 30 min sessions with 15-20 min breaks would be the best ithink.

I'm a total noob when it comes to track riding, and even the simple cornering stuff. The track is not just for the good/fast riders, but is a great place to learn and perfect your riding skills. That is what i'm looking to do.


links

Madras Motor Sports Club site.
Track day discussion thread on xBhp.

more later..


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Choreo Nite @ Saarang '09

warning .. long post. skip to the last part of the post to know what the rant is about and save time.

I was really intent on attending the choreo event, first cos' this was the cheapest ( ticket price wise) pro show at Saarang and ya.. dancing events are fun.. at least good timepass. I was supposed to buy tickets for venki and me. Tickets were on sale at the fruit shop on greams road outlet near my place, but then i kept postponing buying the tickets till they got sold out. screwed it up.

So, instead we rode to Pondicherry that night. :D The ride plans were made in a hour after i randomly suggested we ride to pondy that evening. We started out like we were going to the beach or something. Tanked up and started off towards Tirivanmiyur at 6.30 from near my place.

Left the city at 7.30ish and took the OMR till Kelambakkam and then switched on to the 2-laned ECR. Stopped for dinner at mahabs, we knew the next stretch was the toughest part of the ride cos' for 60-70 kms after mahabs the ECR gets really twisty with a lot of blind curves. Decided to ride at a relaxed 50 kmph, anything more than that became tough for me. Venki is comfortable with night riding with his awesome projector headlamps and all, but for me riding with the puny Unicorn headlight was scary (the high beam has a very stupid throw, like the light is spread all over the place). Upped the pace to 60-70 kmph after a while, cos' we got used to the darkness, the blinding oncoming traffic, the curves etc by then. At one point of time, we were really comfortable with the roads and started riding like it was daytime. Opening the throttle hard on straights, i guess i even went past 100kmph a few times ( i was too scared to look down at the speedo).

Reached the beach at Pondicherry at 11.30pm, parked our bikes and went to check out the beach and had a small snack that we brought along. We had nothing else to do after 15-20 mins, but ride back home. Filled up fuel for 300 bucks each, btw fuel costs 43.3 bucks here ( 49.xx @ Chennai), so we get close to 7 litres instead of the 6 you get at chennai. wow.

Decided to take the NH45 for the ride back, asked around for directions to get to the Tindivanam road. We had no idea about how good/bad the road was, all we knew was that after 40kms or so of riding we would get to the 4-laned NH45 and then riding would become really really easy(?).

So.. what we had was - pitch dark, narrow, dusty, broken roads + extreme chilly weather with light fog( i'm sure the temp must've been very close to 20c) + frequent road diversions with little/no warning ( cos' of the road widening project on this stretch) . I was a little scared by now, we were riding on unknown, unsafe roads at 2 in the morning and somewhere inbetween i lost sight of venki, he was riding way too fast for me and i couldn't keep up with my screwed up head lamps. Decided to slow down and let him go ahead, so now i was riding alone. :( all my night riding fears were back, i started seeing things that weren't there. I would brake hard to avoid non existent dogs etc., slowed down even further and started riding at 40kmph. Caught up with Venki near the end of the road, got onto the NH45.

Remember .. the ride was supposed to get so much better after this with the 4-laned roads, the wide median blocking the light from oncoming traffic etc. but, i still wasn't comfortable. The NH45 has one single kind of traffic, at least at night - Trucks. Slow moving, rear reflector less trucks, so when you try riding at 80 kmph, you sometimes don't spot them till you're really close. This was getting really irritating cos' i had to slow down from 80-40kmph everytime i spotted a truck late, and again i lost sight of venki, with his projector headlamps, he started with his usual 4-lane act ( which is.. riding at a constant good speed with slick lane changes weaving through traffic without a care). Then it became even worse for me, the fog started coming on and off and at some places it got really thick, visibility was less than a few meters and i was really cold throughout, (even with the three layers of clothing i was shivering a little), my fingers became numb and it was like i did not control them anymore.

Found venki waiting at a toll plaza, took a butt break, asked him to slow down and help me through the maze of trucks. It was almost 3.30am and we were still 50 kms from Tambaram, after sometime of following venki around, i got used to the traffic, the roads. Next time when he left me behind (ya, again) i did not have to struggle so hard.

Reached tambaram at 4.15ish, found him at a tea shop, we had a hot tea and started off towards home. Venki was really sleepy by now, so decided to stick to low speeds inside the city even with the well lit, wide roads. We finally got to our place at 5 am. zzzzzz......

Short trip log:

Venki and me, 22-23 Jan 2009, Night Ride, 6pm - 5 am, Chennai - Pondy - Tindivanam - Chennai, 325 km.

I need to make sure i get saarang pro show tickets on time next year, else .. a Bangalore night ride maybe...

btw, got my seventh sem results today(the 25th). sic. aggregate but i managed to get through in all my papers. that is good enough for me..

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ramblings on the Satyam fiasco

I'll come to the actual issue later on, but now i wanted to write about something else - the media coverage of the issue over these two days .

After this whole resignation news came up yesterday, i did some reading about all the recent developments involving Satyam in the last month, this was to know the timeline properly before i find out anything about yesterday's crash. There was no shortage of news items/articles about yesterday, when i came to that. All the news channels were flooded with this news, all the news sites carried articles about the resignation of Chairman R. Raju. After i had read up enough about the crash, i started looking for situation updates to know what was happening or going to happen to the company/employees. But, even as of today there has been very little coverage of current situation. The sites are flooded with articles about How/Why he did it, How this is India's 'Enron', Where the guy is hiding, cos' there were some reports of him skipping the country etc.

IMO the issue is being blown out of propotion by the media and I don't really think Satyam is going to go down the 'Enron' way. From what i gather the people over at Enron managed to cover up huge losses and show profits/growth on the books to keep going so the company wasn't really working well, but at Satyam the profit figures were just inflated to make the company look good ( which in my opinion isn't as bad as what happened at Enron) and i guess all these admin issues don't affect the workforce, i'm sure they'll be able to perfectly continue their jobs if there is a takeover or a bailout plan from the government. Ya, the investors, employees and public were taken for a ride/cheated by the 'fraud' and all that, but they sure did enjoy the benefits when it lasted, right ? The investors got good dividend checks the last 7 years, the employees got pay packets on par with the other truly growing IT companies, they got prolly' got bonuses based on the inflated profits. Damn, prolly' they were hired just because of the fraud to keep up the image of growth. Whatever...

With a company like Satyam closing down isn't an option, a govt./industry backed recovery plan is what it needs right now and the company should be propped back on its feet.

Now, going back to what i was talking about, very little content was available about the current events, chances of a bailout. The media was concentrating on thinking up captions like ' Satyam - a Rs7000 crore Lie ?', 'Satyam's billion dollar asathyam' etc. to keep the shock value going.

I hope they get out of this phase and start being a little more optimistic, and .. that can really help ithink.

more on this later ..

btw, this is just a rant. i have never had a stable opinion about anything.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Honda Unicorn - Run In Guide.

Well, first of all i'm not going to write a 'run in guide' or write any useful text that answers the question ' how to run in a Honda Unicorn ?' or write something that will be useful for someone who googles ' Honda Unicorn run in method'. The title and the previous lines are purely my attempts at SEO.





Moving on, i decided to write about how i treated my Honda Unicorn, during the 'run in period' ie. the first 1000 kms.

I did not follow the usual run in method that is generally followed for new bikes( no surprises here) and I definitely did not follow the run in instructions from the Honda user manual ( which requires me to ride at low engine rpm with no sudden acceleration etc. for the first 500 kms).

Let me first talk about why the engine has to be 'run in' or 'broken in' ( the way i did).

In a brand new engine , the cylinder walls and the piston rings haven't really spent much time together ( cos' they just met each other). So the distance/space between them is not even, and the action is quite rough. It is 'this' factor that decides the life of your engine, piston rings etc. and how long the default compression will last (ie. if you screw up the rings, your cylinder will begin leaking compression which will lead to reduced power and so on..).

To make sure we get ideal engine performance, proper mating of the cylinder walls with the piston rings is really really important.

The regular suggested/followed way for 'run in' is actually the 'crawl in' method IMO.

The usual method - Run the engine at very low rpms, never take it beyond 40-50% of maximum load, ie. on our Indian bikes we'll need to keep the engine below 4k rpm and 50kmph (prolly') for the entire duration of the run in period (1000 kms). The 'crawl in' pundits claim even breaching the rpm/speed limit once could screw up the run in/engine. Which according to me is total BS. Also i think this technique does no good to the engine period.


Motoman's run in method - Read the original article here.

This is an extreme run in method that claims that the best way to prep an engine for its actual life is to 'break in' hard. ie. the piston rings mate best when the engine is run hard in the few kilometers. (the exact reasons for this are given in his article). After which an engine oil change has to be done to remove the micro metal dust that accumulates in the oil as a result of hard break in. So this way, the run in is done with in the first 20kms.


And, this is what i did and also suggest.

My way was a mix of these run in methods, and i think is the best for our Indian bikes ( obviously)


- I made sure i took the engine through its entire rpm range in the first three gears at least, this was when the engine had done less than 50 kms.

- I rode at a 75-25 mix of sedate under 50 kmph riding + harsh throttle bursts, when sometimes i touched 80+ speeds, till the 600 kms on the odo.

- I made sure i did not ride at a constant engine rpm, this is the most important part of any run in. Prolonged constant rpm riding causes engine glazing( google to find out what engine glazing is) and in short fucks up the engine regardless of your run in technique.Most of the riders who follow the instructions in the manual end up doing this, cos the manual says 'no sudden acceleration'.

I wanted to change the engine oil at 100kms but then couldn't really find the time, also i was a little short on money then so couldn't invest 200 bucks on engine oil. but, I think this is necessary cos' a new engine always sheds metal dust into the oil. You'll do better without such dust in your engine lubricant.


After 600 kms, i went on a 450 km ride to Yelagiri, to complete my 'run in' period. The average speed on this ride was 70kmph with short bursts of 90kmph. Made sure i kept varying the engine RPM. The bike performed beautifully on this trip and there were no heating issues even on continuous riding ( i expected some trouble).

Got my bike serviced the next day, ie. got the engine oil changed. I feel the engine has become a little smoother with the new oil and the gear shifts are definitely getting better ( starting to get that nice 'click' on shifts now).

I'm happy with the run in method i followed and think my engine is well set right now, i decided to do a small solo ride yesterday night at 11pm on the Maduravoyal byepass road, the roads were totally empty so i tried topping out my bike on a long straight stretch, i could do 110kmph( speedo indicated) with ease, ie. with no ripping in lower gears and by just opening the throttle from 80kmph in the fifth, i got to 110kmph in no time and the bike looked good enough for a good 5-10 kmph more.

Check out this article which describes the tech stuff related to engine break in. Very good read.

Totally open for discussion on this in my comments page. Indulge yourself on any engine related talk.

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