Archive for February, 2006

There is always a first time…

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

… of being “locked” in at an ATM. But first, the clarification. I’ve always abhorred plastic money and had so far steered clear away from it. In fact, until today 5:30 PM, I didn’t own a Credit/Debit/ATM card, although I’ve been operating my own accounts for nearly the last 13 years. In fact, in all of my 31 years I had never actually even once stepped inside an ATM… go figure! :P

I have recently opened a new account and I was entitled to a Debit-cum-ATM card. Since Debit card is still actual money in my account, I decided its high time I got one, especially given my frequent travelling these days.

I went to the bank at 5:30 PM, picked up the card and was adviced by the on-duty staff to try out the card at the ATM just outside the bank. I walked up to it, found the door unlocked and simply went in. My Debit Card account was still flagged off, so all I could do was to print a receipt says “Transaction Declined” when I tried to withdraw some money. Bah!!! 8)

I decided to come back later and tried opening the door. Boy! It was locked! Now, in past I have actually implemented solutions that required access control gates operated by the more common mag-stripe cards or even contact less cards of the MiFare kind. I tried looking for a slot to swipe or place my card to open the door. But no-go!!! The slot was only on the outside.

I looked around for any instructions that may tell me what to do. Not a word anywhere! I’m now beginning to get worried. The helpful bank employee had patiently explained to me while handing over the card that “there are bugs in the software” and that “things get flagged wrongly at times, especially if there is a connectivity failure“. He had added “You are an IT person, you’ll definitely understand all these” and had told me not to worry if funny stuff happened.

At a complete loss now, I called up Najmun who happened to be upstairs, if she had her ATM card on her (she has her salary account at the bank). She said “yes” and asked me what’s wrong. I tell her, “Please come to the ATM immediately with your card, I’m locked in!

She comes down immediately and I quickly explain her my predicament. She excitedly asks me if I have pressed the switch besides the ATM door. I shrugged and told her “No! I didn’t, I’ve just kept trying the handle and looking for a card slot“. She nearly bends over laughing. I push the switch, which looks just like an ordinary light switch and Bingo! the door unlocks. She still can’t stop laughing.

We go back to the library. Everyone there’s enquiring “Indra-da wasn’t the switch working???”… I shoot a murderous, warning look at Najmun, implying she should keep her mouth firmly shut. I managed to get away by saying there was some problem and it was not working from the inside!

Wow! I still can’t get over it that I’ve finally learnt how to use an ATM ;-)

The Bookseller from Delhi

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

During our last trip to Delhi for LinuxAsia I saw groups of young boys aged around 9 - 13 peddling shrink wrapped editions of popular fiction and other latest bestsellers. These boys would typically approach you when your vehicle has halted at intersection signals.

They would carry about 8 - 12 books in their hands and many more in cloth satchels hanging from their shoulders. I would not have paid any attention to them except for the first one I saw, walked up to our auto-rickshaw at a crossing near Nizamuddin. He looked like he was barely 11, if at all. Already a canny salesman, he kept badgering us to buy something. Perhaps with our “Exhibitor” badges and our bags of esoteric equipment we looked like outsiders to him. Finding a tough customer in me, he changed track and started addressing Najmun, offering her a mint-fresh copy of “Interpreter of Maladies” with “Yeh dekho madam, mere paas Jhumpa bhi hai!”

That certainly got my attention! How on earth did this barely 11 year old know of Jhumpa Lahiri…??? I wanted to ask him how long he was doing this, what was it like, where did they get the books and if he had ever gone to school. But, before I could articulate my thoughts, the signal had turned green and the young hopeful face vanished from our side as our once again hurtled pell-mell into the mad Delhi traffic.

I kept a lookout for this young fellow as we traversed the same roads every day on our way to India Habitat Center. But to no avail. However, I did see his other “colleagues”. I saw this young man (click the thumbnail below) along with two others sorting their books before they started on their day’s business.

I wonder if its irony or inspirational or sheer shame that he was holding on to Shiv Khera’s “You Can Win“… indeed I wonder!

A Historic Moment!

Sunday, February 5th, 2006
East and West Finally Meets!

A picture is worth a 1000 words… or so someone said! :D

Koha goes to LinuxAsia2006

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

Well, its official now… Koha - the world’s first GPL-ed Integrated Library Management System is going to be present at LinuxAsia 2006 in the .ORG Mela presentation area. Since the entire L2C2 team will be travelling this time, managing the logistics have be …. ahem! lil hectic… I still can’t get over the number of power adopters we seem to be carrying ;-)

Kados and Rachel’s help in form of a FreeHand11 design of a Koha Box was great… if a tad difficult. Apparently almost all digital printing shops around the country will only accept a file in FH10 format. As a result I couldn’t use the design at FOSS.IN 2005. This time I was smarter, so a FreeHand MX trial version download and .eps export later followed by a round with good ol’ Gimp I managed to land up with a TIFF file at 300 dpi :P

Meanwhile, this morning managed to find an unlikely product model in my neighbour Rohit (RVK from ILUG-Cal). Here’s a sneak peek.