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A Nightmare!

It’s the Christmas season and as usual, I was excited as the vacation came close. This year, 21st Dec, which is a Friday was also a holiday and then 25th is Tuesday. And if you take 2 days off on 24thand 26th, you’ll get nearly one week vacation. I started thinking about the travel to my hometown in Kerala even before 2-3 months due to the huge rush. Then my sister told me, there is a travel agency near her place and she can reserve a ticket for me. I said ok. So she booked the ticket around 2months ago. They noted the date, destination and number of seats required and all. But they didn’t give us the actual ticket and said, they will give it later and added, don’t worry, you will be able to go home safe and sound. Ok, we thought. And as the dates neared, we asked them. They gave the ticket, not in the bus we asked for. Also not to the destination we asked for. We had a big fight over that with the travel agency and finally got the ticket the day before my travel. I didn’t want to take any chances. So I went to the bus office [which is from where I board the bus] and I asked them about the ticket. They were not even aware about this ticket and asked me from where I got this ticket. I told them about the travel agency and they told they don’t have a ticket for this date. It was seat number 9 and after some argument, they changed it to 20 and added if I am lucky there won’t be any double reservation [Again the time of the bus on the ticket was incorrect]. I called my sister and she again had a big fight with the travel agency. In the end, they said that some how they will get me home either in that bus or some other bus.

On the day of my travel, I reached the bus office by 5:30. Fortunately, when the bus came, only 2 persons were already there and seat number 20 was free. I thanked God. I was hoping that it will be a good journey, and the bus was almost on time, 6:30pm. The bus took off and reached another travel agency, and some people boarded the bus and there came one man who asked me whether my ticket is for seat no: 20. I said yes. I was getting tensed. He went out. Then there came a person for ticket checking. He checked my ticket and didn’t tell me anything. I was relaxed. The man who asked me, got a seat in the back. So that was the double reservation. After some time, there came another lady, who asked me the same. Oh my god! It was the second person who had a ticket with seat number 20. She also went outside and she got the back seat only. I think, only because, I boarded the bus first, I retained the seat. This happened with almost every seat and at almost every travel agency we stopped and by the time the bus reached Bangalore city limits, it was 8:30pm, 2hours late than it should be. I hoped all the problems were over. But the main one was yet to come, the Bus itself. It definitely is not an air bus or too old to be recognized as one. The ordinary KSRTC buses are better I think. Every time we hit a gutter, almost everyone in the bus wakes up. Someone was even thrown out of the seat once. That was one of the worst journey’s I ever had in my whole life time. Everyone was cursing all the time. There was nothing much to do. And finally, I am supposed to reach at my place by 6am, but I reached by 9am [mainly because of the initial delay] not safe and sound, but with body pain and sleepy eyes. It really was a nightmare.

Now I have some questions and suggestions,
Is it so difficult to organize a journey and the tickets?
Is there anyone to complain about these exploits by the travel agencies especially during festival seasons?
What is there to be done to make sure the buses start a journey and reach the destination at the right time in the case of Bangalore to Kerala journey?

And my suggestions are,
Never take the A-1 bus, with registration KA-41 2552. You will be in hell. The travels from where the bus started was Choice Travels, opposite to Bata shop and near MAS restaurant. Those travel people seem nice anyway.
I am sure atleast some of my readers have similar experiences with buses. But there was a time, when I enjoyed these travels very much, only before 3years when every thing worked fine.

Rediscovering an Old Friend

The title is rather misleading I think, ‘cos it’s actually six friends. I will start with some history. Back by the end of the 90’s, computers are a very rare commodity in our place. I’ve only seen a PC in some of the educational institutions. Fortunately, one of my cousins had a computer. I used to visit him once in a while mainly to get my hands on his computer and play some games. During one of my visits, he showed me a game. It was known as the commandos. The game graphics was really stunning and the feeling was like participating in a war. More real than the movies and the then popular TV games. I couldn’t understand many details then, still I loved that game. Coming back from there, every day I wanted to play that game.

Later I figured out one of my friends had a computer, a Pentium 150MHz with 16MB of RAM and all. He stayed near to my place. I somehow managed to get a demo version of the game commandos. We found ourselves in front of the PC 24x7, till we finished the 2 missions which were there with the demo in 2 days. That was when I befriended those six guys I mentioned earlier. Tiny, Duke, Fins, Inferno, Tread, & Spooky. And when I finished my schooling and pre-degree, I bought my own PC, [my dad bought it for me]. The first thing I wanted to do was getting as many games as possible and guess what, Commandos: Beyond the Call of the Duty was the first game I have ever purchased. Rs500/- was not a small amount for me at that time. You can guess what happened next, I dedicated all my effort in finishing the game. I wrote all these just to show my personal relation with the game.

I had experienced only the first version of commandos and its expansion package back then. Recently I was in search of some games and I stumbled up on the old CDs of mine. I loaded them to my laptop, and I didn’t even realize then that I was holding my breath while the game loaded. Just like old times. All those feelings were coming back to me. The excitement, the adrenaline pumping, the satisfaction when you hear Tiny saying ‘Consider it done Boss’ or the Sapper’s ‘Affirmative Sir’, overall, it was amazing. Then I did some Googling to find out what happened to the game and I found out there are 3 other versions after the first one. With in 2-3 days, I was playing the first missions of Commandos 2: Men of Courage.

I stay alone these days, but when you play that game for some time, you won’t even feel the surroundings, let alone loneliness. I usually found myself thinking about different possibilities of how to kill a guard or how to plant some bombs near the AA [anti-aircraft] guns, even when I am doing something, like eating or even talking to someone over the phone.

My Friends
[*Spooky was away when I took this photo]

A Scene from the Field
[*They sent this over to me]

May be I am a game freak or something. But these six men, they really mean something to me. They are not just my friends [for those who have no idea about the game, I am talking about] they are the members of an elite commando unit which was formed by the allied troops during the Second World War. Incapable of resisting the overwhelming advance of the German army, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Poland, France are brushed aside within a matter of months. Britain has become the only refuge in the face of the unstoppable advance of the Third Reich. A plan is approved for the creation of a special group of elite men in order to turn the tide of the war. Experts in hand to hand combat, in handling all types of weapons and explosives, one of the best, the most highly trained men, only men of courage. Their mission, to become the bank guard of the allied troops, the spearhead of the counter offensive that must lead to the defeat of the Third Reich, the Commandos are those.

So, better be careful next time you think about challenging me, I’ve got some powerful men at my control, more precisely, some ‘influential’ friends.

Great McDonald!

I and my sister were doing some shopping that day. I was the one who suggested that we eat from McDonalds [TOTAL mall, Madiwala, Bangalore]. We ordered some burgers and two drinks and were eating them soon, when I noticed the cup they gave us. Please have a look.

Yeah, ‘2004 Athens Olympics Official Sponsor’. I was puzzled to see that. I double checked to see whether I am mistaken. But it is clearly year 2007 now and what’s printed in the cup was year 2004. [I have that cup with me when I am writing this]
I was thoughtful for some time and I decided to take some photos. There is only one ‘most appropriate’ explanation which occurred to me. They made so many cups for that Olympics that they were well over the requirement or people didn't choose McDonalds as their 'food partner'. Anyway, many of these cups [and who know what else] were left over. Later they simply ‘dumped’ them to third world countries like India. I seriously doubt whether they will use these cups in US. They may or may not face some legal issues. Besides, why do they want to do that when there is a better alternative? You can use the up-to-date items in countries like US and simply dump these things to countries like India, where no matter what they give, people will eat it happily.
I am not blaming anyone here. Those cups may not be of any harm to any one. Even after 3-4years after, nothing will happen to cups. It is not a food item. And McDonalds have every right to do whatever they want to do with what they produce. But, when they do that, if they think no one will care about it and nothing is going to change, it is wrong. Atleast I can write some articles like this or someone else like me will do it [I hope].
Before writing this, I googled to check whether something turns up related to this and here is what I got.
http://www.mcspotlight.org/case/pretrial/factsheet.html
http://cgi.ebay.com/2004--olympic--pin-McDonald's-sponsor_W0QQitemZ130181418444QQcmdZViewItem
In the second link, a similar item is listed as souvenir. May be we can collect these cups and sell them to earn some extra money.

Scientific Explanations

Last week I watched a movie named The Reaping. It’s all about God and Satan and all. The movie is a typical Hollywood horror/thriller movie. The protagonist [hero/heroine] doesn’t believe in God due to the past events in his/her life and by the end of the movie, he/she end up being a believer due to the events of the movie. I can name any number of movies with similar themes. But some specific parts in the movie made me thinking. Most of you may be familiar about the ten plagues which fell up on Egypt, described in the Bible, Old Testament. The Pharaoh, enslaved God’s people, and God gave him the ten plagues. I am not going in to the details. This movie is about similar things happening in a small town. Here is a portion of the movie where we get a scientific explanation for what exactly happened back then. Watch the clip and let me know what you people think about it? The second clip explains what really happens these days which we ‘believe’ are miracles. Anyway, by the end of the movie, it is clearly stated that God exist [in a very pathetic manner].


For those who do not have access to YouTube, here is the dialogue.

Ben: This is getting little hard to ignore Katherine, we are four for four, chapter and the verse and I mean actual verse, blood, frogs, flies, dead life stock
Prof. Katherine Winter: These cows aren't dead.
Ben: No not yet but from where I'm standing, it looks pretty damn serious.
Prof. Katherine Winter: The Bible says that God sent the plagues as warnings to the Pharaoh to let his people go. What is he supposed to be saying here?
Ben: Well maybe it’s not from him. The Pharaohs sorcerers used their own magic to match God, plague for plague, evil against good.
Prof. Katherine Winter: Well who's responsible? Satan?
Ben: I didn't say that. I don't know. What I do know is that we are witnessing biblical events.
Prof. Katherine Winter: Alright, you wanna talk Plagues? Let's talk Plagues.
In 14OO B.C. a group of nervous Egyptians saw the Nile turn red, but what they thought was "blood" was actually an algae bloom, which killed the fish which prior to that had been living off the eggs of frogs; those uneaten eggs which turned into record numbers of baby frogs who subsequently fled to the land and died. Their little rotting frog bodies attracted lice and flies; the lice carried the Blue Tongue Virus which killed off 70% of Egypt's livestock. The flies carried glanders a bacterial infection which in humans causes boils. Soon after the Nile river valley was hit with a three day sandstorm otherwise known as The Plague of Darkness. During the sandstorm intense heat can combine with an approaching coldfront to create not only hail but also electrical storms which would have looked to the ancient Egyptians like fire from the sky; the subsequent wind would have blown the Ethiopian locust population off course and right into downtown Cairo. Hail is wet, locusts leave droppings spread both on your brain and you have michotoxins. Dinner time in ancient Egypt meant the first born child got the biggest portion which in this case meant he ate the most toxins so he died. Ten plagues, ten scientific explanations. Gotta wash up.


Prof. Katherine Winter: Deep well injection. That's what it's called when a factory drops hazardous waste down a dry oil well. This kind of illegal underground disposal has been common practice in Third World countries for years. In this case, ethanol and methanol mixed with the aromatic compound DMSO and benzene seeped out after an earthquake running off into the sewer system below the monastery, the fumes of which has the dual effect of preserving human tissue (showing the preserved body of a ‘saint’) and if inhaled, creating intense hallucinatory effects. Throw in a population economically deprived enough to believe in almost anything… and you've got yourself a miracle. A miracle created by a greedy, cost-cutting corporation. Instead of providing cures for the faithful it provided them with lungful of toxic waste. This puts me at 48 miraculous occurrences I've investigated with 48 scientific explanations. I'm sorry to say, the only miracle is that people keeps believing. Have a great weekend.
Go, Tigers.
They need a miracle.

My question: Do you really need miracles to prove God exists? Is it really hard to believe in something without proof?

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed - John 20:29

For more information about the movie, visit
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0444682/


What the hell?

I tried to ‘loveBangalore. But here is something I would like to share with you. Can any one please explain these traffic signals?? Especially my ‘I love Bangalore’ friends. I am confused about all these. I took these photos from Madiwala, near the Hanuman temple.

1. All the signals are red and all the vehicles are moving. Why?

2. Ok, the previous one may have been the drivers’ error. May be they saw the road deserted and went ahead. But what about this one?? If you look at this picture, you can see all the green signals are there. They tell the drivers, it’s ok to go wherever you want to go, left, right or straight. The road is all yours. [In fact, you cannot take a left turn here].

3. Can somebody help me out here, please? Which one do I choose? The red one or the green one? [Yes the green light shows ‘go straight’ not ‘go right’, zoom it, you’ll see. And I don’t think there is a left turn there, if that’s what the red indicates]
Don’t think this is a faulty traffic light post, its like this every time. I checked it many times. Fortunately I don’t have to use my bike in this road so often.

4. This time its my fault, I didn’t see the sign post [No Parking] [This photo, I took from across the mall, Forum] I’m not blaming anyone here, just that I want you to know this is a ‘no parking’ space and if you park here, there is a chance that the police will impound your vehicle [Look close, you can see the ‘no parking’ sign, near the transformer, where 2 bikes are parked]. Last day, after a movie at Forum, when I came back, I couldn’t find my bike. I saw people stacking some bikes into a carriage truck. I enquired and they said, come to Madiwala Police Station. Finally I ‘released’ my bike for Rs 300/-.

5. What can you say about this? Ofcourse this is not a main road[Maruthinagar], but obviously one with really heavy traffic. And during a Saturday evening [hope you know the traffic rush of weekends], they have set up a stage right in the middle of the road.

These are a few things I came across over a period of 2 days, about Bangalore. If I start writing about all the things, I don't think this blog will be enough. So much for the great Bangalore.

Term Vs Endowment Insurance Policies

Another financial year end is nearing. Just like last year, I started thinking about saving some tax. [Not through any illegal means] Last year I was too late and I couldn’t save much of it. So I was determined about not to regret later. But to start with, I am really poor in financial management. All I know was only some type of investments/savings [Financial management gurus, please forgive me if I am misusing any technical terms] are eligible for tax savings under some section [80C I think] and a wise advice also “Diversify your investments/savings”.
But for that, I need to know what kind of investments are there. The main ones are mutual funds, life insurances, public provident fund. These will serve my purpose of saving tax very well I think, so I confined my research to these. Now, based on my research, here is something about the insurance policies I want to share with others.
A word of warning: I am completely new to this kind of stuff and what I am writing here is my opinion only. Many people argued against this approach with many other views and facts. So decide wisely. I am not that good with technical terms, I am explaining in ‘layman’s’ terms.
There are 3 main types of insurances
1. Endowment Policies [With money back ]
2. Term Policies [Without money back]
3. ULIP type
I don’t know much about the third type because almost all the articles I read or people I talked to [including a financial consultant] said linking your insurances with mutual funds is not a good idea.
Now, I will explain the other two with an example. Suppose you want to take insurance with a sum assured of 5 lakhs [You will get this amount in the case of your death during that period] and say, for a period of 20 years. [Assuming your age is 25]
In the first type, you give the insurance company, a premium of 25,000/- to 27000/- per year for 20 years. If something happens to you in that period, you will get the 5 lakhs for sure, plus bonus. These are endowment policies.
In the second type, what happens is, you pay the premium for the same 20 years, and in the end you won’t get anything back. You will get the sum assured, only if something ‘bad’ happens to you in that period. Ok, now why you need to take such a policy? Here come the point, the premium you will be giving, will be much less than the other one, only around 1200/- per year. These are known as the term policies.
Now let’s compare them. For that just have a look at the excel sheet [I too hate excel sheets, but just look at the first and last figures] here.
Assume you are putting 25500/- for 20 years in the first type of policy. With a bonus of 5% [it varies every year and the max is 4.5% (from LIC)], at the end of 20 years, what you will get is 885,340.92/-. Now consider you are going for a term policy and putting around 1200/- per year and remaining 24300/- [25500 - 1200] in PPF [which will give 8% interest]. Then look at your final earnings, 1,200,976.99/-. And the difference is, 315,636.07/-. And that is not a small difference. There are some more advantages too. Consider you want to go for insurance worth 20lakh. You will have to pay around 1lakh per year for 20 years which is nearly impossible [for guys like me]. But the other case, you only have to pay around 3800/-.
My argument is like this, it’s always better to have an insurance, we cannot say what will happen to us and when. So, insurance is insurance and savings is savings, never combine them together. 1200/- per year is not much. With 20 years you are spending 24000/-, but gaining much more from some other form of savings. [Here I took the example of PPF, and I assume you know that there are many schemes which will give you much more returns] And the agents don’t promote the term policies much because their commission is based on the premium you are paying. So next time when some one says “why do you want to pay for 20-25 years and not get back anything?”, think the other way or try to get a good look at the big picture.
Hope this will help some one who is worried about which insurance policy to take. And above all, next year by this time, I am sure that I will be reading this to know what a term policy is and what an endowment policy is.
footnote:
The individual policies differ in the details and all, but the basic concept is same. Also, for term policies, you won’t get much tax exemption since the premium you are paying is less. If anyone want the excel sheet, please feel free to ask me. The premium amount is taken from LIC/SBI premium calculator.
http://www.licindia.com/premium_calculator.htm
http://www.sbilife.com/sbilife/application?pageid=Services&ServicesId1=calculateprem
Also, I would like to thank all the people who helped me writing this blog, especially my colleague who gave me that excel sheet and explained it. ;)

Through the eyes of a Dragonfly!!!

I love photography. I love to copy and store the instances of our lives, which we want to remember forever, or a moment which is so lovely that you want to live in it forever or a scenery which will affect your mood so much. Digital photography has made it much simpler and cheaper for all of us I think.

The first task I wanted to complete after getting a broadband connection was to organize all my photos, upload them to web and share it with everyone. For that purpose, I have chosen yahoo’s Flickr. It’s really amazing. Once if you get to know it better, it’s simply the best I think. I have been using another web service. I chose it earlier because of its simplicity. But now I realized Flicker is better than any other photo sharing services. So I thought I will transfer and organize all those photos which are uploaded previously and those I have in my local machine. But the problem was, there was around 1GB of photos [after I sorted out the ones I wanted to upload] for me to sort and upload. 526 photos, to be precise. So I spent around 36hours almost straight [4hrs of sleep in b/w] to upload and organize the photos. But when it was finished, I felt immensely satisfied. So reader, when you get time, I mean a lot of time, visit this link.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedragonflyzphotos/collections/




Steps to take a BSNL Broadband connection in Bangalore - Final Part - My Diwali Gift

...Assuming you have read the first and second part of this one which is available in my blog archive...
10 Oct 2007, Wednesday
After getting my phone activated, I called the JTO. He told me, the process for broadband will automatically be started after my landline gets activated. After that, it may take around 10-15 days to get the connection. I also asked whether there is any modem shortage or so, but he said, there is no shortage.

22 Oct 2007, Monday
It is exactly 2 weeks since I got my phone line and still no word of the broadband. I called the JTO. After trying till evening, I finally got the call connected. He checked with my phone number and told me, the broadband is now in the process of creating username. When I asked how much time it will take for that, he said may be 1 week or more, it is done in another section. [I wonder how complicated it is to make a username]. He also gave me the number of that ‘section’. I called, called and called. Nothing happened except the phone ringing, ringing and ringing.

23 Oct 2007, Tuesday
I went to the place where I gave the application. They directed me to the exchange. [They were very friendly to me] First they told me there is some software updates going on and it will take only 2-3 days. Then they checked with my landline number and said that I will get my connection with in November second week for sure. Once again I got assurance for another 2-3 weeks.

3 Nov 2007, Saturday
I was at this shopping mall and its then that I got this call. He introduced him as calling from BSNL and whether he can come on Monday to give me the connection. I couldn’t believe it at first. For me getting the BSNL connection was like attaining a long lost dream or something like that. I immediately agreed and told him to call me before he comes. He said he will come in the afternoon.

5 Nov 2007, Monday
I waited till 3pm. I thought again I missed it. Then I called the JTO in my area and asked about it. He gave me the number of another guy and told me that the one who called me was on leave that day. I called the new one and he said he will come soon. And by 4:30pm he called me saying he will come soon. I went home from office. And finally he came. He gave us the wireless router itself, the one we applied for. I asked him whether they had the stock and it seems like they’ve just got the new stock. He did all the configurations. But it was not yet the actual connection. He said it will take 2-3days more to activate it in the exchange. Atleast we got all the hardware and configured them and are fully ready for the net. He gave me the username, the password and the helpline number too.
I have to admit one thing. Even if the BSNL are slow, the people working there (from my experience) are all very friendly and are always there to help. I am talking about the people, a customer will come in contact with. On November 9th, I will celebrate 2nd month anniversary after giving the application.

8 Nov 2007, Wednesday [Diwali]
I got a Diwali gift, not from my friends or relatives, but from BSNL. Yeah! I got my broadband connection. I don’t know how they managed it, but they activated it precisely on the Diwali day and manage not to test my patience by extending it to a third month. They gave the connection precisely on the 2nd month itself. Even now, there are some more problems, but I hope they will be solved in due time. Nyway, thanks BSNL for the Diwali gift and for letting me complete this trilogy about the pursuit of me for the broadband connection.

Bangalore: The City of thieves?

First of all, I am not accusing everyone in Bangalore. I have many good friends who are originally from here. But this is the first impression I have got about Bangalore - Garden city as well as the city of thieves. The day when I joined my new company, I heard about the burglary of a mobile of one of my colleague. The incident goes like this. My colleague forgot to take her mobile to a meeting and left it on her office desk. When she was back, the mobile was long gone. I appreciate her for fighting with all her efforts and finally she got her mobile back after a series of incidents. I am not going in to the details of it [as I am not allowed to do so].
While discussing this incident with another of my colleague, he told me about what happened to him. A woman came to his apartment and introduced that she will clean the house. He went inside for a second opinion from another guy who is staying there. By the time he got back, she was gone along with his wallet. He somehow traced her to a street and even before he could talk to her, the locals rammed the place and he literally had to flee. So the next whole week he was really busy, calling all the credit/debit card companies to block them.
Okay, those are two incidents of theft which happened to my colleagues. These were the hot news of discussion among us for the first week I landed here. Then I heard many similar incidents for which I cannot submit any proof.
Even if you cannot call theft in the direct sense, what else can you call what the auto-rikshaw drivers are doing here? How can you logically resolve what has happened to you when you have to pay Rs 20/- and Rs 60/- for the same route and same distance to two different auto-riksaw drivers? They all think they are above the law. At the same time, the public transportation system here is really pathetic. Even to travel a distance of 1-2kms, it may take from half to one hour at peak times of traffic.
Leave the auto-rikshaw drivers. I once went to a furniture mart to buy a couple of chairs. The person there immediately showed me and my friend a printed chart of the prices of some brands and models of chairs. After some time bargaining he went inside the shop and produced the catalogue showing the detailed pictures of the chairs. First we thought what he saying was correct. Later only we inspected the catalogue with the actual chairs models there and we really got surprised to see that that price in that printed sheet was well below what he told us. Around Re100-200/- margin was there.
Or, take the case of BSNL. I gave application for a BSNL broadband connection on September 9th, 2007. They assured me that I will get it with in one week. Now its almost 2 months and I am still waiting. You can read the detailed story about it in my other blog. I even had to start a trilogy to explain the whole stuff.
Is there any means to book people like these? What do I have to do? File a complaint in the police station? I don’t think that will help in anyway. I can narrate a number of incidents like these. I think its time we need to act. But how, I don’t know.

A game worth spending half your life for!

Imagine an ordinary day, just like any other day, you going to your office, you greet your colleagues, go through the routines, go to your place, start working and all of a sudden something go wrong and you become unconscious. And you wake up after some time only to know that the whole world has changed. What if you find aliens crawling all over your office? The situation gets worse when you find most of your colleagues, dead. And you try to escape the mess fighting through the aliens with a crowbar and finds that the US soldiers are chasing you. Sounds funny? Well that’s what happened to Dr. Gordon Freeman, Ph. D holder in Theoretical Physics from MIT, not some special ops team or a superhuman.
Caution: Spoilers ahead. I haven't written everything I wanted to write due to lack of space.
Well to have a basic picture of him, just have a look at the title of his thesis, “Observation of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Entanglement on Supra-quantum Structures by Induction Through Nonlinear Transuranic Crystal of Extremely Long Wavelength (ELW) Pulse from Mode-Locked Source Array”, in English, teleportation of matter through extremely dense elements. What else can you expect from an MIT Ph.D holder? But don’t think he is one of those old, conventional, light tempered, professors or scientists. He is only 27, handsome, has got a goatee, and is quite athletic. Too young for a scientist, you think? But he is much more than that.
It was just another day for him. He boarded the tram which took him to the Anomalous Materials Department where he was assigned, which was deeply buried in the Top Secret Black Mesa Research facility located somewhere in New Mexico. He greeted his colleagues, put on his special HEV suit and went to the Sector C Test labs, Test Chamber C-33/a. He started by pushing a crystalline specimen into the beam of overcharged antimatter which changed his and everyone’s life forever. That triggered something, up on which Dr. Freeman got unconscious. By the time he comes back to his senses, it was too late for anything. The world, as he/we knew, seized to exist.
There were aliens, both small and big, all over the facility. The experiment, which went severely wrong, triggered something known as a resonance cascade which ruptured the space-time continuum, opened portals from border world of Xen which teleported alien life forms, both intelligent and wildlife, to Black Mesa. As everyone would have done, he tried to escape to the surface as soon as possible. In order to do that, he had to go through a series of duct and air vents, fighting the aliens. But he reached the surface only to find that the very people he thought would help him, trying to hunt him down. Yeah, the government had sent specially trained black ops to shut the facility down, by killing anything which is moving there and nuke the facility as part of their cover up. Now Dr. Freeman has 2 enemies, the aliens and the army and to survive, he had to show exceptional skill with the advanced weaponry, both human and alien ones. Finally he managed to launch a geostationary satellite which is supposed to close all the inter-planetary portals. And guess what, he even had to teleport himself to the border world of Xen and kill the alien leader.
You think the story is over? It is just a beginning dear reader. Instead of winning his freedom, Dr. Freeman has been put in to a time wrap [something like a hyper sleep] by someone [or something] which is a humanoid. No one knows what is he/it actually and is called the G-man. And by the time he woke up, earth was completely changed. Most of the nations of earth were destroyed and the remaining cities were numbered like City 1, City 2 etc. The humans were enslaved. And he returned to city 17 where the huge alien base named the Citadel located. Again, our protagonist managed to over come all the alien resistance and broke in to the citadel, destroyed it and stopped Dr. Breen, the human who helped the aliens to do all this. And here also the story doesn’t end. Our hero, Dr. Freeman, who started as a theoretical physics doctorate holder in some research facility transformed to a soldier, who successfully resisted the aliens and the black ops, has turned a legend by now. One who gave hope to the people of earth against the alien exploitation. He has got all the support from civilians of earth who even formed a rebel group. They even made the symbol in his HEV suit - the Greek alphabet, Lambda - their logo. Interesting uh?
Well, you may have guessed it right. This is the story of the computer game, named Half life. I guess they gave the name in relation to the half life of radio active materials. But I will say, it is surely a game worth playing, even if it means you have to wait half your life for it. It’s not just my opinion, look what the game has got, over 50 Game of the Year awards, including Overall Game of the Year at IGN, GameSpot's Award for Best Shooter, GameSpot's Reader's Choice - PC Game of the Year Award, Game of the Year from The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and "Best Game" with the Game Developers Choice Awards, where it was also given various awards for technology, characters, and writing. The game also had a strong showing at the 2004 BAFTA Games Awards, picking up six awards, more than any other game that night, with awards including "Best Game" and "Best Online Game". So, why are you waiting for? Grab a copy of Half-life now itself and start shooting…

A Butterfly Life


Have you ever heard of the concept of ‘Butterfly life’? I’ve seen it in a movie some years back. I forgot the name of the movie. But it really touched me. That movie is basically a narration. The narrator always carries a stop watch with him. Some times he clicks it. His lover once asks him why he is carrying it always. Then he replies, “ I am adding these moments to my butterfly life. Let me explain. Have you ever noticed butterflies? How beautiful they are? How lovely and happy they appear always? Ever wondered about how long they live? After coming out from the cocoon, some of their life span is only around one day. In that one day, they do everything. They drink honey, fly and play a lot, fall in love, mate with their partners, reproduce, enjoy their life, do everything they can do in one day and go to a peaceful sleep by the end of the day. A sleep from which they will never wake up. Yet they enjoy their entire life, our single day, or 24 hours. They take the maximum out of it. With no complains, no worries, they spent their whole life happily. We, the humans, our life span is around 70-80years. Yet how many years, months, days and hours we waste worrying or planning over the silly things which may mean nothing to us in the end. So whenever I think I am spending my time truly happy, like a butterfly, I click this stop watch to add the time to my share of butterfly life”

Saying this he checked his watch and said “I have lived over 19 hours of butterfly life in the last 30 years since I have started this”

This touched me deeply. That was one of the situations, I really thought about how I spend the time of my one typical day. One day mean nothing to us, most of the days we spend meaningless doing nothing of much importance, without even realizing the value of the time we ware wasting. Only when I heard this that I realized the value of each moment in our life and wondered how precious moments can be. Later there should be no regrets. Because I have read this some where,

“Dream what you want to dream
Go where you want to go
Be what you want to be
Because you’ve only one life
And one chance to do all the
Thing you want to do”

ps: What I have described here may not be exactly same as in the movie [the dialogue], but the sum and substance is the same.

Mission to Mall

The time was around 1830hrs. I was walking really fast to get to the basement of my building. I looked back to see whether anyone was following me. None was there to be seen. The place was almost deserted. I walked fast to the direction where I parked my bike. I had a feeling that someone was following me. My contact was waiting for me. The scheduled time was 1845hrs and the rendezvous point was a mall near by. I switched off my mobile. Just for a moment I got a glimpse of someone just disappearing around the corner. But I couldn’t let that happen. I can’t let anyone distracting me from this assignment. I have waited long for this day to come.
I started my bike and got out of the basement and slowly entered the courtyard. Suddenly I sped my bike in to the road in front of me ignoring the “Dead slow: High speed traffic ahead” sign board. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another bike getting out of the basement. There was heavy traffic in the road. I took a left turn after sometime and entered in to a less crowded road. I wanted to reach the mall in time. I can’t afford to let my contact go away. He traveled half way around the world for this meeting. He had some computer discs with precious data I had custom ordered him to bring from the country he was doing his previous assignment.
I decided not to use the mall’s parking facility. No records [parking tickets] of me being there are to be found. So I parked my bike near another building behind a construction site. I started walking towards the mall. The mall was heavily crowded. I tried to merge in to the crowd. I took my mobile, switched it on and called the contact.
“I haven’t had my lunch, so I will be there in the food court”, heard the voice from other end.
“Ok, I will be there soon”, I said.
I again checked whether I reached there in time, I was not too late. I looked around and started towards the food court. The time was 1900hrs. I scanned the area for any immediate threats and also to find out my contact. He was waiting there at one of those tables, eating some thing, some continental dish I guess. I made sure no one else was watching us and decided to proceed.
I joined him. “Hey man, how are ya?” I asked.
“Nice to see you man, its almost half an year”, he smiled.
“You got the data I asked for?”
“For sure man, I do”
“Show it to me then”. I took my laptop and switched it on, used its finger print scanning facility and logged in. He gave me a small baggage. My mind was racing. This is the moment I have been waiting for the past 6 months. I opened it. Yeah! The discs were there. I inserted the DVDs one by one in my laptop to see if it was for real. Yeah, all of them were for real. A smile came in to my face.
All of the computer games I asked were there. The games I dreamed having. My friend, who just came from Japan after his onsite assignment, brought me those. Bioshock, Crysis, Lost Planet Xtreme Condition, Shadowrun, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, HALO 2, Half Life 2, DOOM 3, Need for Speed Carbon, Age of Empires III etc.
“So are you happy?” He asked me.
“Ofcourse man, you are my best friend”, saying that we hugged each other.
Later we had a nice talk over the dinner together, after 6 months.

ps: Except for some minor details, all the incidents in this blog are true. Thanks to him, one of my best friends who gave me this idea. :)

Steps to take a BSNL Broadband connection in Bangalore - Part II

I have been waiting for one week after my last blog to continue my quest of acquiring a BSNL broadband connection. Below are the milestones which I covered during that.

19 Sept 2007, Wednesday
I tried many times to connect to the contact number given at the time of application. Finally I made it through. Some one at the other end answered. She said at least it will take 2 weeks, i.e. one more week from now. When I asked about the process and status of my connection, she tried to explain the process, my application has to undergo before finally [magically] turning in to the broadband connection. But, she preferred the language Kannada, which is alien to me. I only understood some words like, telephone exchange, connection point etc. Those too were heavily accented.

21 Sept 2007, Friday
My friend who went to another BSNL office got another form, though the contents are same ;) How many forms do they have? Now itself I have seen the one from Internet, the one I filled and the one my colleague got. I guess the BSNL people don’t even know what exactly to do. Also, they said to him ‘frankly’, “It will take one month for you to get the connection”.

29 Sept 2007, Saturday
I wanted to call them last Wednesday, but I was not well and also busy preparing to go to my home town. Today morning while I was on my way, I got a call from a guy. He started off with Kannada, but when I heard the terms ‘Internet, phone connection, BSNL, broadband’ etc, I understood what it is. I told him that I don’t know Kannada and we settled on Hindi, which neither of us knew perfectly. I told him I am in Kerala and gave my friend’s number to contact. But somehow he conveyed me the message that, phone connection is ready [couldn’t understand what he said about Internet] and he needed me personally [with my id proof] there to give the connection. He gave me his number and said to call him once I am back.

3 Oct 2007, Wednesday
I asked one of my friends, who knows Kannada to call him and ask what is the status. When she called he said he will come and ‘install’ this Saturday. I don’t know whether he will give only the land line or both broadband and land line.

5 Oct 2007, Friday
I wanted to confirm about him coming to my apartment tomorrow. So I told my friend to call him again. [Thanks to her] He said we will meet in front of a hotel near my apartment tomorrow at 11:30am and I should have the receipt and id proof then.
In the mean time, I talked to a colleague of mine who took BSNL connection. He actually applied for the Home UL900 plan, but he got the Home 500 plan with a download limit of 2GB per month. He applied for a plan change, but it took him one month. He told me that the Home 500 plan was having really good speeds as compared to UL900 plan. The 2GB download limit for the Home 500 plan is very tight to maintain, but that plan has got unlimited connectivity between 2am and 8am.

6 Oct 2007, Saturday
Again the magical moment got postponed. I guess the BSNL people made it their policy that you have to realize the value of the broadband before having it. I called the guy and gave the precise location of my apartment. He said he knows the place and he will be here with in 12noon. I waited till 11:30 and called him again. Then he said some problem about the telephone number and it will be finalized only by today evening and that he will draw the cable on Monday. [Last Saturday when he called, he said everything was ready] Also he gave me the number of another person to call on Monday. I will have to come back to my apartment from office when he comes.

8 Oct 2007, Monday
Finally!!!!!!!!! I didn’t get the Internet connection. It is not a typo, I didn’t get it. I contacted the new guy [from office] and found out that he doesn’t even know Hindi. He said something to me in Kannada and all I understood was a telephone number and a name with a suffix JTO. I managed to convey him that I applied for a new connection and didn’t get anything and asked him when he will come. He said he will come to my place at 12:30pm. Later I called again to confirm that I will get both the phone line and Internet connection. But communicating with this guy was completely impossible. All I understand was that guy saying “sub kuch milta hain aaj” [You will get everything today]. My mind jumped with joy. But I told my friend [who know Kannada] to talk to him by around 11:30pm. He said he will be there within 15 minutes. So my roommate and I rushed to the apartment. We waited and waited. Called him two times in between and he say “10 minutes sir, I will come in 10 minutes”. We waited for around 1 hour. Finally he came. Then only I realized the actual situation. He came to install the phone. After installing the phone and activation [which will take another 2 days] only, the broadband connection process will be initiated. The telephone connection is supposed to be installed & activated at least with in 10 days from the day of application. The line man said something about the entering data to computer, shortage of modem and all. But I called the JTO [Got his number from the line man] to confirm all these. He said to call him after the activation of the land line. It will then take around 10-15 days [so he told] to get the broadband. [I am expecting a delay of one more month]. So that’s the story till now. All I got till now is the land line. Once again I am in to a waiting state.
Above all of these, when I called a friend of mine, he said he bought the wireless gadget of BSNL directly from the customer care centre. It got activated within one day. But I am trying to convince myself, broadband is better, as it will give you 256Kbps of speed [exceptions are there] while the other will give a max speed of 146Kbps. The other details are it has unlimited wireless connectivity all over Bangalore and up to 5Kms outside the city limits and the equipment cost is Rs7000/- [either one time payment or Rs200/- per month] and a usage charge of ~450 per month.
There will be a final part of this. [Trilogy] But I can’t guarantee when. It depends on the BSNL people. I hope it will be soon.

How to unscrew a Pulsar 180 CC Petrol Tank [2006 Model with Digital Meter]

It is recently that I had relocated to the city of Bangalore. The first thing almost everyone whom I asked said about Bangalore was its traffic. Everyone was so tired because of the traffic blocks it seems. Some of my friends say it takes around 1-2hrs even to cover 1-2kms in the peak traffic hours. The public transportation is almost pathetic and the auto-rikshaw drivers think they are above the law. [That is a subject for another blog]
I own a Pulsar 180, 2006 model, with the digital meter. I was planning to bring my bike when I relocated. However, first I wanted to experience the traffic conditions of Bangalore for myself. With in one week, I understood a two wheeler is a necessity here. After 1 month of successful survival in Bangalore without a 2-wheeler, I decided to bring my ‘machine’ to the garden city. The question was how? I had 3 choices.
  • Train [Too many formalities + railway station far away from my both my home town and place of stay in Bangalore]
  • Ride all the way [which I preferred, but my parents don’t]
  • Volvo Bus [Easy, but have to remove the tank]
Considering all the cons and pros, I decided to go for the option of Volvo. When I enquired about this, I came to know that Pulsar is ‘taller’ than usual bikes. So I may have to unscrew the petrol tank. I went straight to a Bajaj service centre and asked for help. They told me its no big deal and showed me how to. It really is very easy. I will demonstrate it here.
  1. Unlock the left side panel, only then you can take out the seat. For that, insert the key in the keyhole, unlock it, and pull it from the left side first and slide it to the left as shown. [The left side of the side panel is inserted in to a hole in the tank]
  2. There you can see a small loop. Pull it gently and pull up the seat simultaneously.
  3. Unlock and take out the right side panel also, just like you did with the left one because it is also attached to the tank as shown before.
  4. Now we have to switch of the petrol valve from tank to the engine and pull the tube out from the pipe. Make sure petrol is not leaking. Note: You can choose whether to empty the tank or not. But it is better to empty it if you are transporting it. Always Safety first.
  5. The tank is fitted to the chassis with a screw and a bolt. This is the only part were you need any tool. Use a no: 12 [I am not sure whether its 12, the guy at the service centre told me so] spanner to unscrew it.
  6. Slowly pull the tank to the back side [the side of the seat as shown].
  7. Do not pull it out completely. There are 2 more connection under the tank. Raise the tank so that you can see the connections. One is an air hole [As told by the mechanic], which is connected directly to the tank. The other is an electrical connection which I guess is used for the fuel indicator. Retrace the wire from the tank and you can see a black connection. Simply pull it out.
  8. That’s it! You have successfully dismantled a Pulsar 180CC petrol tank and now it is ready for transportation.

Colours

I always loved colours. The way they change the moods, always amazed me. I even used to associate colours to common thing like actions or letters or numbers and all. I know it may sound crazy to the readers. But I use to do it and I liked it. It’s really amazing how we can make new colours out of mixing some basic ones, right? Somehow almost always, I knew which colours to mix to get the one colour I want.

The picture on the right side of this page [my profile picture] is the result of such an experiment by me to create a colour combo. I think I succeeded up to some point. If you ask me what my inspiration for all these, I don’t know. But I do know this much, whenever I see something beautiful, like a landscape, or some beautiful lights or a path or anything of beauty, the first thing I feel like doing is to copy it to a paper using colours. [I mostly do landscapes] The feeling/satisfaction you will get after such a creation is unexplainable. You feel enormously proud looking at your creation (if it is a fine one). Simply you can say “I feel like God”. I can imagine how He may have felt after creating all his creations [according to The Holy Bible]. God may have felt immense satisfaction seeing all his creations. It surely does need a lot of imagination to do all these. Here are some of my experiments with colors.

The Dream - Watercolor
Harbour Dusk - Watercolor

The Mystery - Glass Painting

One of the Greatest B'thday Gifts I've ever got!!!

The following are the words of the two cards, my parents sent me for my last birthday. [I don't think, many people send two birthday cards, even for their most loved ones]. I feel so lucky to have them, and thank God for giving me such loving parents…
I
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Son,
This is our day of celebration for it brought you into our lives.
To Our darling Son,
You came in like the first beam of sunlight
and a promise that our world
would never be the same again.
Everything about you was a new lesson
you pushed us to learn.
May you always be as enthusiastic and
childlike as you explore life.
Wishing you countless moments of joy.
Happy Birthday

Love & Kisses
Mom and Dad

II
Birthday Wishes, For A Dear Son,

To Our Dear Son,
May memories of years
gone by, add to your joy
and the days ahead hold
promise of good times,
for a Son like you is always
close to the heart, who
understands so well and
makes people comfortable
around… You’re truly a
precious gift and it feels
great to have a Son like you.
Happy Birthday!
Love & Kisses,
Dad & Mom
A Fairy Tale

Once up on a time, in a kingdom far far away, there lived a prince named Adam. He was so handsome that every lady in that kingdom would do almost anything even to have a glance at him. He was also very kind and service minded. But Adam was not interested in marriage. He just wanted to spend his time serving his country and the people. His parents, the king and queen were very sad about this.
One day he went hunting in a far away jungle. He and his friends were hunting the whole morning and were tired by evening. Then Adam heard a very beautiful song from somewhere deep inside the jungle. The song was very beautiful yet sad. He began walking in the direction of the song. He reached the shore of a river. Near the river, he saw a beautiful young lady who was singing. At the first sight itself, he fell in love with her. He slowly approached her. But by the time he reached her, she began vanishing and soon she was completely gone. Adam became very sad. He wanted to get one more glimpse of her somehow. He went back to his friends and told them the story. They went near the river and searched for the beautiful girl. No one could find her. Being very sad, Adam went back to his castle. His only thought was how to find her.
A number of search parties were organized. But no one could find her. Days, weeks and months passed, no news about her came. Then one day, an old man came and told the king, “The lady, Adam is looking for, is a princess under a curse. Only her true love can rescue her. No need to worry, I will give the instructions. But this quest, he alone has to complete it”
“Three days to north, you have to travel to reach the border of the kingdom. There is a thick, long and dark forest after that. Seven days, it will take you to cross it. Then you will come across a small town. There you can find an old building near 3 oak trees. You will find a way to reach your true love there. You take my donkey with you. It can help you in difficult times.”
Reluctantly the king and queen agreed. Thus Adam set out for his quest to find his true love with the donkey. He being kind, didn’t ride the donkey, they walked.
On reaching the border of the kingdom, Adam and his donkey were tired. They decided to take rest for one day. The next day, they continued their journey.
After seven days, he reached the old building. But there was only an old woman there. She was very tired out of hunger and thirst. Adam being very kind gave all his food and water to her. She became happy and told Adam, “I know what you are looking for. The girl is the princess of this kingdom. But she, along with this kingdom, is under a terrible enchantment. A witch turned everyone in this kingdom to marble statues. Only the princess is allowed to be out of the curse one day, from morning till sunset, every year. That day, she searches for her true love who will free them. It was then you saw her. You will get her back only if you kill the white witch. She is very powerful. In order to make her powerless, you will have to kill the dragon, guarding the haunted castle. Many have tried and failed. You cannot slay the dragon directly.”
“Then how am I supposed to kill it?” asked Adam
“There is a mirror mounted on top of the castle roof. Direct it so that the sun rays fall directly on the dragon’s eyes. Look only in the reflection in the mirror. That will burn its eyes and distract it. Thus you can borrow sometime to kill the dragon.”
Adam and his donkey went to the castle. From far away itself, he could hear the dragon’s roar. But he had no idea how to get to the castle roof. Then his donkey began talking. “Noble Adam, I can turn into a flying horse. Use me and get to the castle top”. Thus the donkey turned in to a white flying horse. It flew him to the topmost castle tower and Adam pointed the mirror so that the dragon almost got blinded. He then flew back and cut the dragons head and killed it. Thus the witch lost all her powers and became an old woman and tried to escape in disguise. But Adam intercepted her and she was sent to the dungeons. By then, the enchantment on the kingdom was lifted.The witch’s castle automatically turned in to a beautiful one with gardens having beautiful flowers and trees. All the marble statues began to turn in to humans. Adam entered the great hall of the castle. The princess was waiting for him, for her true love. He slowly walked to her. They both gazed each others for a while and hugged for a long time. Later, they got married and lived happily ever after.

Steps to apply a BSNL Broadband connection in Bangalore - Part I

I have recently relocated to Bangalore and since I am a ‘High End’ person, I want the net connectivity as fast as possible and that too, an unlimited connection [not with any download limit]. So even before I came here I enquired with some of my friends here about the procedure to get the internet connection. After my small survey, I got the following details.

The major providers are [One thing to note is that, I am talking about home connections] BSNL, Airtel, Tata Indicom, Sify, Reliance (I have seen the ads only; I haven’t met any one who is using it)

At first, I almost dropped the idea of going for a BSNL connection because of the formalities and lack of proper customer support and all. One of my friends knows people who are using the Tata Indicom connection. When he enquired about it, they said, the connection speed is somewhat ok, but most of the time, there won’t be any connectivity. About the Sify, my friends who used it said the speed ‘fluctuated constantly’. Most of my friends were using Airtel and almost all showed a thumbs up for Airtel. For Airtel, we planned to take the 128Kbps connection which cost around 700INR. When we ventured into it, we came across a small problem, there was no Airtel connectivity in our area and so plans for Airtel connection was cancelled.

Oops! What do I do? Naturally being an adventurer, I decided that I will go for the BSNL connection. So I thought I’ll go for a reckon mission first and I began checking out the details in net, getting details from people who use it etc. The BSNL tariff goes this way: For an unlimited connection, the plan is HOME UL 900 & HOME UL 900 PLUS with 256Kbps along with a phone. (Airtel also provide a phone I guess) The difference between PLUS and the ordinary is that, with the PLUS connection, you don’t have to give rent for the phone, just give the fare for your calls (Rs 1/- per pulse), the other one, there will be rent, but you have 50 free calls. At that time I met some of my friends who are using the BSNL connection (256Kbps). I tried it and the speed was amazing. Also in the BSNL application form it says like this 256Kbps - 2Mbps. The speed may go up to 2Mbps. Thus I finalized on a BSNL connection. [Added advantage: the BSNL monthly bill can be used as address proof.]
For that,
  1. You have to find out under which BSNL office does your place come in. (I stay in Madiwala - Maruthinagar and the BSNL office is in Koramangala BDA Complex)
  2. You can get the tariffs, both phone and internet through the BSNL site - http://bsnl.co.in/ - Also you can download a form and fill it out (Don’t do it).
  3. Go to the BSNL office and to the new phone registration counter. I told them that I need a new internet and phone connection [not an existing customer]. They gave me a form which is really different from the one I got from net, so I used this.
  4. While filling, you need to select the plan of broadband/phone, the modem, the method you choose to pay for the modem if you are buying from BSNL etc. I suggest that you refer the site before going to the BSNL office and filling the form.
  5. Submit the filled form, along with your address proof and 500INR. If you need the ISD facility, you need to attach a photograph of yourself in the form. It’s better to have a BSNL phone number of a nearby connection. There is a column in the form asking for that [optional]. I didn’t fill it out anyway. I guess that makes it easier for them to figure out the switch for your connection. As the address proof, you can either provide your rent agreement or a letter from your employer showing the address to which you need the connection. [These were my choices for id proof]
  6. They will assure you that you will get the connection with in one week itself.
  7. Ask them for a contact number. For me, they gave the telephone number of the exchange.
    This is the point where I have reached till now. And the rest, I will explain from the experience of a colleague of mine.
He did the above steps and waited for around 1 month. Whenever he contacted, they tell him there is shortage of this and that and all. Finally, he called some top guy it seems, and he said everything is ready for him. All he needed to do was to contact the line man. Then only he knew that what he was lacking. He didn’t ‘meet the line man, properly’. [I hope you understood what that meant] Now I am waiting for one week and I too mostly have to meet the line man ‘properly’.

There are some more tips I would like to share with you. There is an online application form in the net. I have tried that. After pressing the submit button, it says registration successful. But nothing much will happen (I didn’t expect anything to happen). I guess, after that, they are supposed to contact us. It’s more than a week since I tried and nothing has happened yet.
In brief: There is no use in filling the online form. [From my experience]

I hope I will be able to get the connection within one month, so please do visit this page for updates on this. Till now, the BSNL services are really above my expectations in my experience. But in my personal opinion there is a large scope of improvement for the system.

Every person whom I asked about a BSNL connection agreed in one thing. “Once if you manage to overcome the ‘starting troubles’, you have the best choice of broadband in the city”.

Reference sites

802.11n - The NeXt Generation Wireless Standard

From my first blog, you may know that I have joined another firm recently. Here, I will be working in the same domain as my earlier one - IEEE 802.11 a.k.a Wi-Fi or Wireless LAN [WLAN], my personal favorite. Now that I am having some free time at my new firm since my joining formalities are not finished, I thought I will spend some time researching the new trends in wireless domain. It is then that I came across a commercial claiming a data rate of around 300Mbps for a wireless product. But the products which I worked in, 802.11g compliant, will provide a maximum of 54Mbps (raw data speed) only. I had some idea about 802.11n, but I never thought they will provide this much speed. And thus, I thought I’ll spend some of my time researching about 802.11n.

A word of caution before I go in to the details: I am assuming the reader of this blog is familiar with IEEE 802.11 basics, not in the user perspective, but in a developer one since this contains technical stuff unlike my other blogs. Non-technical people, skip to the summary section.

Setting the new standard
As I said, the wireless product I previously worked had a maximum data rate of 54Mbps. It was an 802.11g certified product. In the 802.11 base spec (1999), three PHY layers were defined, an FHSS (Frequency-Hopping spread spectrum), a DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum), both in the 2.4GHz band and an Infrared PHY which is obsolete now. Then released were the 802.11b (DSSS) (July 1999) which supports 11Mbps, 802.11a (OFDM – Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) (July 1999), which supports the 54Mbps raw data rate. But 11a didn’t get in to that wide acceptance because of the very fact that it operated in the 5GHz spectrum. Then the 11g came with 54Mbps data rate which operated in 2.4GHz spectrum and is used by almost all the Wi-Fi certified products now. In the case of 802.11n, the draft specifies many ‘options’, like many configurations and we can make it work in any possible configurations. With every possible options turned on, you will get a raw data rate up to 600Mbps. (Data taken from
http://www.broadcom.com/docs/WLAN/802_11n-WP100-R.pdf) I will give a comparative table to show the details rather than explaining.
As you can see from the table, 11n has a very high data rate compared to others. But that is the raw data speed with the entire data rate options turned on. From the user level perspective, you will get around 100-200Mbps. Even that is a great boost from the conventional 802.11ga mode.

802.11n specific features
One of the great features of 11n is the use of multiple antennas which is known as MIMO - Multiple Input Multiple Output. Basically it uses more than one antenna to send the data packets in multiple streams. It exploits the phenomenon called multipath, which usually is treated as interference in radio communications. Two important benefits of MIMO are antenna diversity and time-space multiplexing. The draft specifies antenna configuration option of up to 4x4. This feature can be a power consuming one and so the draft n specifies a power save mode also. So the multiple antenna configurations are used only when maximum throughput and data rate is required.
Other options in the 11n specification are,

  • Better OFDM - The OFDM in 11n is improved so that the maximum data rate which can be achieved is 65Mbps rather than 54Mbps in 11g.
  • Wider channels – 11n provides options for 40MHz channels instead of the conventional 20MHz ones. But the downside is that the number of channels will be less and so it doesn’t give much space for other devices to transmit in the same airspace.
  • Reduced Inter-frame Spacing [RIFS] - A smaller inter-frame spacing than that of 11a or g which uses the SIFS [Short IFS], PIFS [PCF IFS], DIFS [DCF IFS]& EIFS [Extended IFS]
  • Aggregation - This feature is used in the case of inter-operability between the legacy modes 11b/g and 11n. It uses transmission burst in between the overhead communication there by improving the efficiency.
  • Greenfield Mode - This is an optional mode which allows an all 11n network which doesn’t have to give any backward compatibility with the 11b/g devices.

These are some of the options which can be turned on and off. So by fine tuning them, you can attain really high data rates as compared to the present 11g devices.

Summary
Just going through the table above itself, we can see that the 802.11n will surely bring a revolution in the wireless domain in the case of both data rates and range. But only at the cost of MAC/PHY layer becoming more complex. The applications of 802.11n will become prominent in VoIP (Voice over IP), streaming video and music, gaming, NAS (Network Attached Storage) etc. Already there are around 70 products in the market which are 802.11n Draft 2.0 certified. The 11n standard is supposed to be ratified by fall 2007 or early 2008.

References

ps: If you come across any discrepancies, please do comment on it.