The fight for my 50 Paise..

•October 11, 2014 • 4 Comments

This happened to me (yes! again to ME) today at Bose Service Centre, Bangalore. I walked into the service centre for replacing the damaged cushions of my Bose headphones (QuietComfort 15) and I was told that it would cost me around 2800 INR. Having already paid a bomb for the headphones, I had expected the replacement to be a costly affair but decided to go for it as I cherish the sound quality of the Bose Headphones. There is no problem in that front.

The problem started AFTER the servicing was done and I asked for my bill. The lady at the desk made the first mistake of asking me for my credit card for payment even before giving me the invoice. As this is more or less normal in India, I enquired her for the exact amount before handing over the card and she promptly told me 2863 INR. The card payment device after trying on the ‘Primary’ & ‘Secondary’ lines displayed a message “No Carrier” and immediately the lady told me “There is no balance in your card”. I was shocked! I told her that a “No Carrier” message should imply some issue with their phone lines and nothing to do with my account balance. Not satisfied with my thought process, she tried again reluctantly and the ‘Primary’, now suddenly awake, accepted the payment and promptly printed out two receipts. I signed a copy for the company and then I was handed over the invoice for the servicing. As is my habit, I checked the invoice and I frowned at the amount mentioned in the invoice – 2862.50 INR (Total Incl. of Taxes).

All the 3 Sale Receipts

The 3 Sale Receipts

Invoice for the service

Invoice for the service

I asked her, why did she “round off” the amount during the payment transaction and her reply was absurd – “Usually the system rounds off the payments, but for your invoice it has not done.” I told her that the point is the amount that has been paid from my card is different from what is mentioned in the invoice. She immediately shot back telling me “It’s only 50 Paise”.

Now, someone who knows me too well wouldn’t have made that mistake. But being a stranger, she did.

I asked her politely to give me back my 50 paise, for which she fumbled into her handbag and then the cash register and extracted a 1 INR coin and handed over to me. I refused to accept it and told her clearly – “give me back ONLY my 50 paise” that has been overcharged from my card. She was visibly irritated and started arguing with me that “it was not possible to do so”. I told her “Exactly! It’s easy to overcharge a customer with card payment, but it’s difficult to give it back”. But still, I insisted on getting back my 50 paise. Again she was rude and told me “Look I accept I overcharged, but I cannot do anything. I can only give you this 1 INR”. It was now my turn to be furious and told her she better give me my 50 Paise back.

She thought over for a while and then she did a ‘Void’ of the previous sale (2863 INR) and did a re-sale of 2862.50 INR.

What frustrates me is, these people take customers for granted. They assume that a difference of 50 Paise or 1 INR is “normal” and shouldn’t be questioned. But let me assure everyone that there are people like me still living on this planet. Just because I am spending 2800 INR on a headphone cushion does not mean I don’t care for a single Rupee (INR).

I took all the receipts and walked out with my newly serviced headphones. There was no point in “lecturing” her on what was wrong on her part and how she is even hurting the brand image of the company that employs her. I headed back home and after a hearty lunch, immersed myself into music from the headphones. Let me tell you, with the Bose headphones ON and with IR and ARR magic on full flow, one gets transformed into a better world; at least, temporarily.

Boarding Pass from NASA!

•October 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I just sent my name to fly on Orion’s flight test, scheduled to launch Dec. 4 – 6, 2014!
Orion is NASA’s new spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space.

Here is my Boarding Pass! 🙂

http://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/orion-first-flight/?action=getcert&e=1&cn=311380

Read more about Orion Flight test here.

Data Densification using Partition Outer Joins in Oracle

•October 7, 2014 • 2 Comments

Often reports are required to show data that is available and also “fill gaps” where data is unavailable. In other words this is also called Data Densification. Part of this can be achieved by the use of the Outer Joins. But this approach too sometimes falls short of the requirements. Oracle introduced the Partition Outer Joins in version 10g which can be used for such requrements as demonstrated below.

Let’s take an example to illustrate.

Imagine two tables,
1. Quarter – Listing the different quarters in an year (Q1 to Q4)
2. Sales – Listing of Sales by different customers (Jai, Tejas & Krishnam) in different quarters of the year. Data is recorded only for those customers/quarters where sales > 0

Tables - Quarter & Sales

Tables – Quarter & Sales

Now let’s try to get all the customers’ sales for all the quarters. First, let’s try with the LEFT OUTER JOIN method.

Data retrieved using the Left Outer Join approach

Data retrieved using the Left Outer Join approach

This gets the data for all the quarters (LEFT OUTER JOIN on table Quarter), but only where there are sales recorded. For Q4 there are no sales for any customers and hence a row with NULL and 0. But our requirement was to get data for all customers for all the quarters, i.e., 4 quarters * 3 customers = 12 rows.

Let’s use the PARTITION OUTER JOIN method.

Data Retrieved using the Partition Outer Join approach

Data Retrieved using the Partition Outer Join approach

Done !!

From the pages of the Constitution..

•October 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

After seeing the main copy of the Constitution of India, signed by leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Ambedkar, Rajagopalachari and others, at Teen Murti Bhavan in Delhi during my visit in 2011, I again had the privilege of seeing another copy of the constitution at the Punjab-Haryana High Court Museum in Chandigarh.

Both these copies have listed the official languages under the ‘Eight Schedule’ and it contains 12 languages from various regions of India. My case against ‘Hindi is the National Language of India’ rant was won when I first saw this page in 2011. It has been re-affirmed during my recent visit to Chandigarh. Even if someone wanted to go as per the Alphabetical order, the first language is Assamese.

Eight Schedule - Constitution of India

Signed page of Eight Schedule – Constitution of India

As I have already made it known to my near and dear ones, I have immense love and respect for Hindi. But that love cannot blind me to accept that it is the National Language of India.

To Provocateurs, With Anger

•September 8, 2014 • 2 Comments

From the moment I leave home to Office, till I reach home in the evening a lot of people rub me on the wrong side and provoke me into a verbal duel. I know, this statement from me can easily be considered as an acceptance of my own ‘short-temperedness’. Let me be biased and put the blame on the others (and the whole world) for this. Some routine scenarios in which I will be embroiled in are..

1. People honking incessantly and calling me names in traffic signals when the counter still has 10+ seconds to go for GREEN

2. Wayward motorsport racers coming right in front of me, at lightning speed, on my side of the lane

3. Notorious co-workers trying to park their two-wheelers in the vacant space between two motorcycles (one of them being mine) and gifting a scratch to my Bullet

4. Highly educated and brilliantly cultured co-workers jumping the Queue in cafeteria and taking pride in their actions

5. Shopkeepers trying to siphon my hard earned 1 Rs. by throwing in an unwanted chocolate candy at me

6. Morning walkers letting their dogs to relieve themselves right in front of the gate of my home

7. Merchants rounding off to the next 10 when paying through Credit or Debit Card

8. People trying to calm me down saying “It’s OK.. everyone does it”

..and the list is endless. I know I am still the “Angry-Young-Man (!) Rebel” as my B-I-L rightly pointed out. I know I can make things easier by indulging in Anger Management. I know I can try to ignore some of these and make life easier. But do you all know that the above mentioned characters can mend their ways and make life easier for everyone around them. I am no saint myself, but I make it a point not to trouble people around me and live a disciplined life. Vigilantes like ‘Anniyan’ are good for fiction, real life demands discipline from everyone, at least to some extent to maintain the sanity of this society. Till then, the anger will be there.

Liebster Award

•September 4, 2014 • 10 Comments

 

wpid-liebster-award1

A. Thank the blogger who gives it to you

Thanks to BM for giving me the ‘Liebster Award’. I wanted to record my views and opinions somewhere and that’s how I started blogging. It’s really good to see that people to read my blog and nominate me for awards. Thanks.

B. Answer the eleven questions he/she asks.

1. Tell me one good and bad incident that happened in your life so far.

Good Incident – Holding my infant niece in my arms for the first time
Bad Incident – Too many incidents, can’t pick any one in particular

2. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

En Iniya Iyanthira (Tamil) by Sujatha

3. Who is your favorite mythological god/goddess?

I am not a religious person. But among the pictures that I have seen, the Infant Murugan (Adorned on the Tamil daily calendars) is what I prefer.

4. What do you love about yourself most?

I really care about the world and people around me, and did not turn out to be a selfish person as I feared.

5. Who has influenced you the most?

Many people have influenced me, It would be grave injustice to quantify each of their influence and pick the top rank.

6. What’s something that amazes you?

Good Music, Stunning Photography and Fabulous storytelling (Books, Movies)

7. What are your nicknames? What do you prefer to be called?

Thambi & Jai/Jay. I prefer to be called Jai.

8. How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror?

Twice.

9. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

The fork nut, below the display unit on my father’s Hero Honda 100CC, could control the speed of the motorcycle. I have been a proud ‘controller’ of the speed during many rides with my father, seated on the fuel tank.

10. What do you consider unforgivable?

Betrayal of Trust.

11. What’s your reaction towards people who are outspoken about their beliefs? What conditions cause you to dislike or, conversely, enjoy talking with them?

I will be excited when there are different opinions in a conversation. It not only makes the conversation interesting, but also gives a chance to learn more about the topic and the person presenting the varied opinion. I don’t like it when they try to degrade others’ point of views.

C. Nominate eleven bloggers with less than 500 followers

I cannot nominate 11 bloggers, but will nominate 2. These 2 were chosen by me based on the criteria that they are active Bloggers with Regular posts. I also thought it was not prudent to nominate the one who has nominated me (recursive loop). So the 2 bloggers are,

1. Anitha
2. Maya

D. Ask these bloggers your questions.

1. Can writing, in any form, change the way this world operates?
2. Why do the honest people face the hardest battles?
3. Back-stabbing Friend or an Honest Enemy, whom would you choose?
4. Are you able to keep pace with the rate of growth of Technology in this world?
5. Honest feedback about my blog – What is good? What needs to be avoided?

E. Let these bloggers know that I have nominated them.

Done.

‘En Iniya Iyanthira’ & ‘Vikram’ – Books Review

•August 5, 2014 • 5 Comments

Though I was initiated into Tamil reading/writing in childhood, by my Parents and Grandfather, I have more or less restricted myself to reading the weekly magazines (Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam) and the occasional newspapers. Till recently I had only 3 full-fledged Tamil books to my reading credits – Prabanjan’s ‘Vaanam Vasapadum’, Cartoonist Madan’s ‘Vandargal Vendrargal’ and a book on Veerapandiya Kattabomman by Nalloor Nagalingam.

Vandargal Vendrargal, Vaanam Vasapadum & Veerapandiya Kattabomman

Covers of ‘Vandargal Vendrargal’, ‘Vaanam Vasapadum’ & ‘Veerapandiya Kattabomman’

Recently on a trip to Kodaikanal, I happened to walk into a fair which had a stall selling Tamil books. The huge collection of Tamil writer Sujatha’s novels, in new editions, caught my attention and I decided to buy few for my Mother, who is a voracious reader of Tamil books. I picked the following 4 titles – En Iniya Iyanthira, Vikram, Meendum Jeano and Sirukadhaigal Ezhuthuvathu Eppadi.

I have always been fascinated with the ‘Science’ laced writing of Sujatha that is well utilized in some Tamil movies. I was also told that ‘Endhiran’ was adapted from ‘En Iniya Iyanthira’ (More about that below) and hence with the enthusiasm getting better of me, I picked up the book and below are short reviews for the two novels that I have read so far.

1. En Iniya Iyanthira

No! This novel is not related to ‘Endhiran’, except for the fact that both contain characters that are Robots. And the robot in the novel is a little ‘Dog’ called Jeano which brings down the house with its remarks and one-liners. The story is a nice Sci-Fi set in Chennai, with a short trip to Bangalore in between, which fuses a futuristic world into the known areas in the city. Considering that the novel was written way back in 1980s the imagination is ground-breaking and mesmerising. People now are used to Sci-fi and ‘Futuristic World’ concepts after being exposed to numerous movies/series in the new millennium. But in imagining such a futuristic world way back in the 1980s (with generous inspirations from western media) and infusing local ingredients and characters, Sujatha genius is written all over the book. His narration, simplifying even the complex scientific systems laced with street humour, makes it hard to drop the book after the end of a chapter. If you can read Tamil, I would recommend you to read this novel.

2. Vikram

‘Vikram’ is a 1986 Tamil film starring Kamal Haasan loosely built on the James Bond framework. Kamal Haasan produced and played the titular role with Sujatha writing the movie’s story and screenplay and adapting it to novel at the same time. The novel ‘Vikram’ was in my checklist from a long time. The novel is a small book, like the James Hardley Chase thrillers. The action starts from page ONE and moves at swift pace. Sujatha’s mettle in Science is displayed every now and then. Exotic locales, glamorous women, interesting and sinister villain (the novel’s lines actually bring to life Sathyaraj, the actor who played the villain in the film) all come together in right proportions in this ‘Bond’isque adventure. It’s a jolly good read with guaranteed enjoyment.

Covers of 'En Iniya Iyanthira' & 'Vikram'

Covers of ‘En Iniya Iyanthira’ & ‘Vikram’