Friday, July 27, 2007

US trip in pictures

Was on a quick trip to the US last week, covering New York and San Fransisco in 4 days and weekend. The US is a changed place since my last visit in 2005. The mood is upbeat, the paranoia with security is lower (airports are more relaxed), everything has a nice resurgent energy about it with airlines looking brighter and staff friendlier; and the economy is doing well.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Alright! 120 posts up

Ok I know 120 is not a traditional milestone number, but I just happened to realise that ITS 120 POSTS !

Started on March '06 with no mission other than to kill boredom, BombayCurry has come to be, well, nothing more than a bunch of rambling posts with spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, and no particular direction, but a small but loyal readership

According to Google Analytics 167 people from all over the world visited in the last one month, and nearly 1500 since the start of 2007.

What I've been most pleased about is the fair amount of photos I have been able to post here. This is thanks to my great little Sony Ericsson K750i mobile, which in my opinion has the best digital camera built in; and I mean THE BEST, because it even puts my Nikon Cool Pix to shame.

What has been most disappointing since I started blogging is that global blog readership is growing much too slowly. I blame this on the poor design of blog reading tools which in my opinion are still much too complicated to use. Blogs have remained confined to techies and savvy Internet users. All average users have no idea about how to set-up RSS feeds and subscribe to blogs. I need to do something about that...

Thanks for regularly stopping by and reading, please keep commenting....I'll make sure I post atleast as regularly as I currently do.

Bank accounts then and now

I opened my first bank account in 1989 when I joined St. Xavier's College in Bombay. The bank was located within my college itself, in a tiny room next to the Chemistry lab. It was called Corporation Bank St. Xavier's Extension Counter (Extension Counter because it was too small to be a full fledged branch). Opening the account was a 2 minute process where I wrote my name and my campus address on a small slip of paper and signed it. I was given a pass book in which all my transactions were recorded by the clerk; and I had to produce the pass book each time I needed to withdraw money. There was no cheque book for some reason.

I'd visit the bank once or twice a month to withdraw on the allowance my parents sent me. I first had to fill up a counter slip with a pen attached by chain to the counter and present it to the bank clerk, who would give me big brass token with a 2 digit number on it. Then I had to wait till my number was called by the cashier (who would be sitting inside a wooden cabin enclosed in steel wiremesh), take the cash and surrender the token.

Just as I was leaving college in 1992 the bank introduced cheque books, so I decided to keep my account there, as I didn't really need any other facilities like ATMs or loans; it also gave me a good excuse to visit my college once in a while. I have been using it ever since as my only bank account.

A month ago our company finance manager insisted that I get another "professional" account and build a "relationship" with a "good" bank, incase I needed loans; and most importantly that I should get a credit card because it was not good practice going to shops and restaurants and asking them to send the bill to the office to pay by cheque (seems perfectly fine to me).

I fell for the pitch and got very excited about getting an account; so decided to straight away get two new accounts: one with Kotak Bank and one with ICICI Bank, both of whose billboards' I could see everyday on my drive to work and back.

First I noticed that the forms were considerably longer than 1989 and they required 6 photos each, plus all kinds of ID proof. Plus I had to sign in atleast 10 places on each form. It took me a very long time to fill out both forms. I also had to open 2 accounts in each, one fixed and one savings, to avoid paying "bank charges".

My accounts opened and I got a large package from each bank with a letter from the "relationship" manager welcoming me to the bank (whatever happened to good ol' bank manager?) and informing me that I was eligible for all kinds of privileges and facilities, from holidays in Taiwan to emergency cash anywhere in the world.

I also got my credit cards, atm cards and a variety of privilege cards

Then the phone calls began.

In the middle of a meeting, a strange number would flash on my mobile and a marketing pitch would begin. In the first 20 days I must have received atleast 15 such calls, plus a few smses. If you hung up on them they would just call back a few minutes later. They just wouldn't stop despite calling the "relationship" managers and telling them strictly to stop calling me.

Finally, I let go of one of the two new banks, the one making the most calls and I am having some serious thoughts about shutting down the other one as well.

Meanwhile my banking continues with Corporation Bank St. Xavier's Extension Counter, who has never sold to me, never troubled me, never glamorized themselves; but just quietly keep doing their work. Isn't that how it should be?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

How to easily take & edit screenshots

I used to use Snagit, but somewhere in my comuter upgrades I lost my key. And because I didn't feel like paying for it again I figured out how to manage without it. Its quite easy.

1. Take a screenshot with using the Prt Scr (Print Screen) button on your keyboard

2. Open a PowerPoint slide

3. Hit Ctrl V and the screenshot gets pasted on your PowerPoint slide

4. Right click on the screenshot and use Save As to save it on your desktop

5. Goto the desktop and open the screenshot in Picture Manager

6. In Picture Manager you can crop it, resize it, covert it, compress it, etc. Save it after you are done

7. After you are through with 6, you may still want to add blurbs or make edits to the image. Locate the image on your desktop, right click and open with Paint. Here you can do all this. Save after you are done

Its all very easy and effective and free

Gspace - store files on Gmail via Firefox

If you use FireFox browser (which you MUST because it's way better than Safari & Internet Explorer), then you should get Gspace. This is a nifty little Firefox addon them equally easily. If you are working between home pc, laptop and office pc, like me, then Gspace is an absolute necessity. No more carrying (or rather forgetting) flash drives and having to email self important files.

The image above is the Gspace interface which opens within Firefox itself. On the left are the files on your computer and on the right are the files uploaded via Gspace to your Gmail account. This dash in addition to allowing storage and retrieval of files on Gmail, allows you to easily manage and maintain and synchronize all computers.