Always bargain

Here’s a tip that I got from my dad which has proved to be successful many times. Whenever you shop for something and you’re about to pay, ask the seller for a discount. It’s surprising that how many sellers are willing to offer one and how many buyers don’t bother asking.  I’ve saved quite a bit over the years just by asking for discounts.  Here are some tips.  Firstly, don’t demand a discount, ask for one politely. For instance you can start by asking simply “Is there a discount on this item ? “. If the answer is no,  try again by mentioning a season – “What’s the Diwali/New Year discount ?” .  A classic follow up question is to mention that the item in question is available for cheaper elsewhere. Just make up a place and say that you’ve heard is cheaper there.  Another alternative is to play the emotional angle – “Don’t you want me to shop at your place again ? Don’t you want me to refer my friends to your place ? “.  Try these approaches and you will be surprised. I’ve tried it on everything – shoes, clothes, books, spectacles, helmets.  This works on services as well not just products. Don’t ever take anyone’s quote at face value – persist and you’ll save !

You might be thinking – what a cheapskate ! But you know what every seller has a huge margin, so you’re getting ripped off anyway.  Getting something off the price just makes it feel a little better. Don’t feel bad in asking, after all the seller doesn’t feel bad in quoting a price he likes.

Happy bargaining!

Donate to Wikipedia

I donated to Wikipedia ! I’ve been wanting to do it for sometime, but somehow kept putting it off.  Wikipedia has been running a fund raiser campaign for a while and it served as a perfect reminder for me to donate.  Wikipedia has become such a major part of our lives that we don’t often stop to think about the effort it takes to keep it running.   Right from the hard work of the volunteers that goes in to create and maintain the content to the huge cost the of the IT infrastructure required to run the number five website in the world.  Importantly, Wikipedia is free to use and is kept ad-free !  All this can only happen with support from donors.

This is the e-mail which I received from Sue Gardner, after I made the donation. It does a much better job of explaining on how the donations will be used :

Dear Suhrid,

Thank you for your gift of USD XXX to the Wikimedia Foundation, received on December 11, 2010. I’m very grateful for your support.
Your donation celebrates everything Wikipedia and its sister sites stand for: the power of information to help people live better lives, and the importance of sharing, freedom, learning and discovery. Thank you so much for helping to keep these projects freely available for their more than 400 million monthly readers around the world.

Your money supports technology and people. The Wikimedia Foundation develops and improves the technology behind Wikipedia and nine other projects, and sustains the infrastructure that keeps them up and running. The Foundation has a staff of about fifty, which provides technical, administrative, legal and outreach support for the global community of volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia.
Many people love Wikipedia, but a surprising number don’t know it’s run by a non-profit. Please help us spread the word by telling a few of your friends.

And again, thank you for supporting free knowledge.

Sincerely Yours,

Sue Gardner
Executive Director

* To donate: http://donate.wikimedia.org
* To visit our Blog: http://blog.wikimedia.org
* To follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/wikimedia
* To follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wikipedia

This letter can serve as a record for tax purposes. No goods or
services were provided, in whole or in part, for this contribution.
The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit charitable corporation
with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States. Our address is 149 New Montgomery, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94105. Tax-exempt number: 20-0049703

So, say thanks to Wikipedia and make your donation today !
Support Wikipedia

Gym attendance surprise

It has been exactly two months since I joined a gym.  Since I paid a considerable amount of money, I was motivated enough to go “regularly”. Other than about a weeks break when I was traveling, I was in the gym pretty often.  So, when I looked at my workout card today, I was surprised to see how many days I actually went.  I always thought that my attendance would be around 75%.   In reality it was 50% !  Damn. So over a period of two months, I was in the gym for just a month.  All those I’m-going-to-skip-today, Sundays and sick days – they weren’t too many, but they added up to be quite a bit.  Anyhow,  this shows how deceptive our perception of commitment to a task can be.  In general it also shows how people being lazy is a good thing for a gym. I always wondered how the gym kept signing up new folks regularly but the place never seemed to get crowded. I suppose the overall attendance averages out to somewhere between 25 to 30%.  So it is in the best business interests of the gym for people to be lazy. (Of course, after they sign up). Freakonomics anyone ? In terms of weight loss, I just lost a couple of kilos over two months. I am reasonably happy with this and I credit this to the fact that I watched what I ate.  This whole working out thing is something that keeps you fit and healthy. It really doesn’t help you to lose weight, at best it keeps you from adding more. You have to eat less. Period. Don’t believe anything what anyone promises in terms of weight loss, losing weight is hard work and it takes time.

Diwali Insanity

Yes, today is Diwali. The worst fucking day of the year. This is when shit-heads all over the country burst crackers the whole freaking day and night. The crackers are ear-drum-puncture loud. OK, it may make sense to light a few symbolic crackers/fireworks to celebrate the festival of light and all that pile of horseshit. But why in God’s name do you have to fucking do it every second of the day you sick retards ?

Why dirty the already filthy streets ? Why turn the chaos into a cacophony ?

I was dreaming up the horrific abuses that, given the chance, I could mete out to these vile bastards. I was typing it here, but then realized that these particular sentiments could cause me to be branded as  a social psychopath.

But I think we know who the real psychopaths are. Happy Diwali.

Eclipse generate getter setter tip to deal with field prefixes suffixes

Here is a nifty feature I found in Eclipse regarding generating getters and setters. Normally the names Eclipse assigns to the getter and setter methods are the field names as-is suffixed to get and set. For e.g. if you have a field called “lastName” – the getter would be getLastName() and the setter would be setLastName(). Now some people follow coding conventions by prefixing fields with a certain letter to indicate they are class level variables.  e.g. mLastName, mFirstName etc.  In such a case when Eclipse is used to generate getters/setters, then the method names become getmLastName(), setmLastName() etc.  Those names are nothing short of disgusting:

Getter Setter method name with field prefix
Getter/setter name has field prefix

Fortunately this can be easily fixed.  You can tell Eclipse that you prefix/suffix your fields in a certain way and the prefix/suffix will automatically be removed from the generated getters and setters. Click on Window -> Preferences -> Java -> Code Style.  Select Fields and click on Edit to specify the field name conventions.

Set field name conventions
Set field name convention

Now, things are looking good.

Getter/Setter without field prefix
Getter/Setter without field prefix

Eclipse, what would life be without it ?

The book of Mozilla

Try this for some fun. Type about:mozilla in the URL bar in Firefox and hit enter.

Quote from the Book of Mozilla
Quote from the Book of Mozilla

Yup, you get a quote in biblical style about Mozilla. This is what I saw in my Firefox 3.6.10:

“Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto the fire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own image as promised by the  sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their children.Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower.”

How cool is that ?  In case you haven’t guessed it, “Mammon”  refers to Internet Explorer.  So you can see how the quote refers to Firefox becoming popular and finally when IE 7 came out, it copied several Firefox features. Turns out these quotes have been part of the Firefox browser ever since the Netscape days.  Wikipedia of course has the whole story superbly covered.

This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. Yes, of course the Pulp Fiction Breakfast scene where Samuel Jackson quotes from the bible.

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

Pure Gold.

Funny Java Constructor Quote

Saw this funny quote about constructors in the very readable Head First Java.

“You have the right to your own constructor.

If you cannot afford a constructor, one will be provided for you by the compiler.”

For someone who watches way less CSI type crap than I do, it’s a clever take on the Miranda warning. That reminds me, here’s a ridiculously hilarious image that I found which spoofs CSI 🙂  (Make sure you’re zoomed in enough while viewing)

India – Noisy and Nosy

We Indians are the world’s noisiest (and nosiest people). Let me get done with the nosy part first.  We have a twisted and perverse interest in the affairs of other people.  I will concede that folks world wide have an ear for gossip which explains the whole paparazzi and the tabloid business. However, the point where things get so annoying is that people here make concerted efforts to get private information out – directly or indirectly.  Everyone right from the security guard, the maid, colleagues, neighbours take a keen interest in every stupid little thing. Where did you go ? How come you are late today ? Who is that friend of yours ?  All right, What the fuck ? Yes, you may have these thoughts inside your sick mind, but why ask directly ? What is your fucking business asshole ? Anyway, I have now resigned myself to this and now answer in monosyllables rather than asking the offenders to fuck off.

OK, now to the noisy part. This is probably the most exasperating, frustrating part of daily life in India. There’s noise everywhere – every fucking where. It’s unimaginable.   Loud music/TV, traffic honking, shouting while talking, construction noise and not to mention dogs.   The worst criminals are these “organizers” of local celebrations of all kinds of religious festivals.  Of course complaining against loud noise will only hurt religious sentiments. What a load of bullshit.  Is that how you celebrate a religious festival ? It is an occasion to sincerely thank the almighty for his blessings  and for quiet reflection and prayer. Can there be even an ounce of devotion that is possible with loud blaring music from cheap speakers ? The situation is of course compounded when there are competing local celebrations each attempting to outdo each other in the “who can play the loudest music” game. Do not these morons realize that there can be infants, old people, sick patients who can be severely affected by noise ?

The next bunch of assholes are those who play the fucking TV and radio loudly. What the fuck is their problem ?  Behenchod! There is some thing called headphones for fuck’s sake. What’s really incredible is complaints are met with blank faces – oh my god, how can that even disturb you ?  In general, Indians tend to have a high noise tolerance.  I am frequently surprised to find people not upset by high levels of noise.

It is impossible to find peace, quite and solitude in this country. At home, you are besieged by neighbours and other assholes. At work by co-worker retards who are compelled to loudly discuss everything. While commuting, traffic noise. You cant think straight! You go to a resort in the wilderness and some bastard is chopping wood or playing something obscene on his cellphone.

So, what’s the solution ? Unfortunately none that works. Legislation exists but is rarely enforced and you might get into trouble for complaining.  I have tried noise isolating earphones with limited success.  At home, you can try fitting noise insulating windows and maybe at work you can ask your colleagues to shut the fuck up.

If all else fails, pray. (Quietly of course).

Delicious New Bookmark

I have been using delicious (the bookmarking website) off and on for quite a while.  I used the Firefox plug in which had a nice big button on the toolbar to create a new bookmark. Now I was using Firefox which didn’t have the delicious plug in installed and I wanted to save a bookmark, so I had to use the website.  For the life of me, I couldn’t find the new bookmark link anywhere. Finally I found it – hidden away in the top-right (just below the search box). What the fuck ?  For a bookmarking website, the add new bookmark button should be the biggest, most conspicuous button on the page – screaming for attention! I dont get it at all – I mean who okays these usability decisions ?

Where is it, goddamit ?
Dammit, where is the submit new bookmark button ?

Storing and restarting a Bullet motorcycle

Of late, I had to park my bike for long periods of time when I’m away traveling. I ride a Royal Enfield Bullet Electra 5S. (I have a black and silver model). The Bullet manual has detailed instructions on how to store the bike as well as to restart it. However, here are a few quick and hopefully useful steps that I found from experience.

Before Storing:

1) Disconnect the battery. This is very important. The bullet is heavily  dependent on the battery and will not start without it.

  • Remove the battery case.
  • Next, there will be two rubber straps that hold the battery in place. Reach out to the back of the battery, on either side there are hooks that hold the straps in place. Just unhook both the straps.
  • Next unscrew the leads from the terminals. Carefully preserve the nut, screw and the washer set of each terminal.
  • Put the battery case back on.
  • Store the battery in a cool and dry place.

2) Drain the petrol. Petrol slowly evaporates from the tank when stored for a long time. So you’re stuck without fuel when restarting the bike.

  • For this bring the fuel control knob to the OFF position.
  • Remove the small rubber pipe at the end that leads out from the fuel control knob.
  • Place a dry, clean bottle at the place where you removed the pipe. Turn the fuel knob to the ON position, all the petrol should now start flowing out of the tank into the bottle.
  • Once all the petrol is collected, reconnect the pipe and bring the knob to OFF position.
  • That’s it (And that’s why its so darn easy for those frickin’ petrol thieves!)
  • Store the petrol bottle in a cool, dry and safe place.

3) If the bike is parked outside, cover the bike with a tarpaulin cover – to prevent dust and rainwater from getting in.

4) Wash your hands and go eat a snack or something.

When it’s time to restart:

1) Reconnect the battery.

  • Get out the screw, washer and nut sets.
  • Place the battery in the holder.
  • Align the leads to the battery terminals making sure you use the correct polarities.  The screw plus washer set will hold the lead to the terminal on one side and the nut has to be on the other side. Keep tightening the screw till the lead is firmly connected to the terminal. Repeat for the other polarity.
  • Now just turn on the ignition and check if the neutral indicator light comes on. If so, you’re battery is good. If it doesnt, try the indicator or the brake light. If nothing works then the battery is dead. In such a case, haul the darn thing to a battery shop where they’ll charge it for you overnight for about 20 Rs.
  • Once the battery is connected, tested and in place, don’t forget to put the  straps back on. This is a bit of a pain fucking nightmare, so you’ll have to struggle.  Hook the battery strap into one hook and then pull the strap tightly – you’ll have to stretch, press, grunt and squeeze. A lot.  Once the first strap is in, the next one will be much easier.  (That’s why test the battery before putting the straps on.)

2) Fill in the fuel into the tank and bring the petrol knob to RESERVE position. This is to ensure that there will always be fuel supply.

3)  Next, remove the spark plug and just blow any carbon away. This is the critical step, removing the spark plug will cause built up air pressure to be released. If you don’t remove the spark plug, you’ll be kicking away until you have fractured kneecaps. All right then put the spark plug back on.

4) Now, press the clutch and crank the kick-starter lever. The lever might be difficult to press, but keep at it. If it moves without any pressure at all,it’s a good sign. Do this 15-20 times, this will allow the oil to circulate in the engine.

5) OK, showtime!  Turn on the ignition and make sure the engine switch is ON. This is easy to overlook, especially the engine switch.  All right, decompress the engine, and then give it a few solid kicks. If you feel the engine sputter – this is a good sign. Couple of kicks later – the engine should start. Fucking awesome! Give it some throttle and let it run at moderately high throttle for a couple of  minutes. Progressively lower the throttle and check if the engine runs.

If the engine doesn’t start at all, give a couple of minutes break and then retry with the choke on. It should work. All in all have some patience and don’t give up, I’ve usually found about twenty to thirty kicks to be the max to start the bike. (If it doesn’t start at all, fuck it and just call the mechanic.)

6) Ride into the sunset.