Monthly Archive: February 2006

A offline weekend!

While I was working on the laptop on Saturday night, all of a sudden, the laptop stopped responding. A minute later, I got to see the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

For me it was pretty much routine to see the BSOD, and I thought to myself..”yet another Microsoft/driver problem”… but I was wrong. I rebooted the laptop, and found that the system wasn’t booting up. Further investigation showed that the hard-disk wasn’t detected in the BIOS itself :(. Aaahhhhrrrrrr………

What a bad time for the HDD to crash. I didn’t have a boot disk or any alternative media with which I could boot. :( So, the entire Sunday, was without a computer. Somehow spent the day seeing some (stupid) TV channels ….etc.

Monday.. i.e., today took the laptop to the office, and they said that its totally dead, and all the data is gone. .. they could try sending it to some external agencies to recover the data, but its gonna cost quite a bit. Luckily, there wasn’t any major data loss.

So, spent most of the day today setting up the software and environment that I would need for my day to day work…and its not fully over yet.

Got my US Driving License

I got my US driving license yesterday. Driving in US is pretty easy, specially after driving for couple of years in India. But here, its a totally different ball game.

  • Its a left-hand drive here. i.e, you drive on the right side of the road.
  • The laws and the rules of the road are very clearly defined.
  • Everyone is expected to obey the rules and laws. And as far as I have seen, almost everyone does
  • There is proper enforcement of the law, and If you are on the wrong side of the line, you are penalised, and your wrong doings are recorded against your history!
  • Everything is tracked. Your driving history, vehicle history, and you can’t escape from it!
  • Almost all roads that I have seen here have proper markings on it. (lane makings, directions, signals, boards etc!, And, everything is standardized. So, you just need to learn the sign once.
  • The traffic moves at pretty high speeds compared to India. i.e., the official speed limit itself is pretty high compared to the speed limits in India

But one major difference I found is … In India, you drive with the assumption that the other people on road won’t be following the rules, and you are always ready for the unexpected and you are always alert. But here, people tend to assume that the other folks on the road would follow the rules….., and by chance if they don’t follow the rule, there is a high possibility of a crash!

For e.g., here in US, at an small time cross road, If you don’t see a “Stop” sign, you are not supposed to stop, but go ahead after slowing down. You assume that the people on the cross road would stop since there would definitely be a “Stop” sign on the cross road. But if the driver on the cross road doesn’t see the stop sign, then the chances of accidents are very high! But in India, one would be very cautious at a cross road. And, I am sure my Indian driving experience would definitely help me out here!

I had taken around 6 hrs of driving lessons from an instructor over here, just to get to know the driving rules and laws etc over here. And, there is an Drivers Handbook (every state has one) too which is very useful. You can download it from http://dmv.org/

Anyways, getting the drivers license was pretty easy. First I had to give an exam (Computer based), after that I had to give an small road test, where they would test my driving skills etc. It took around 1.5 hrs in all. So, the next job is to buy a good car. Its very difficult to live in the United States without a car.

Let me know if you know of any good car deals in the Tri-Cities/Kingsport area!

Wireless @ Home

My 802.11g wireless router came in this week. I actually wanted to buy a Linksys router, but got a very good deal on D-Link AirPlus™ G DI-524 Wireless Router. Got it for around $9 after mail-in rebates from eCost.com. But the final price was around $17 after shipping & Handling fees, which is still much lower compared to Linksys price. Will go for Linksys in future if there is a need.

D-Link DI-524

It took around 30 mins for me to setup the router. And around 15 to 20 mins to setup a secured network.

So, now its fun browsing without the wires!

Can I spam your blog please?

I got this email couple of days back. Check out the conversation. This is called solicited spamming. The person was kind enough to ask me if he could spam my blog with track-back spam. Check out the conversation………..

Looks like this guy has bought some “Make Money Instantly” kit, and trying his luck.

(Read from Bottom to Top to get the proper context………….)


Alright Arjun, thanks for your replies. I’ll be more careful nextime.My intention is to put ads on people’s blogs so that they in turn can put ads on my blog to increase popularity of my blog and products (and theirs).

The program Blog Blaster claims to do this and by way of keywords sort out blogs which relate to my business & blog.

Like I said it is not my intention to pollute or spam your personal blog.

Regards,
Mr. XYZ
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
From: Arjun Prabhu K [mailto:email ID]
Date: Sunday, February 05, 2006 7:21 PM
To: Mr. XYZ
Subject: Re: [blog.arjunprabhu.com -Arjun’s Blog!] Blog post

no problem.

btw, you can’t post to my blog!. Its my blog, and I post what is appropriate for me!
Thanks for your understanding!

regards,
Arjun
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
On 2/5/06, Mr. XYZ [Mr.XYZ@ABC] wrote:

Arjun,

I apologize, I was led to believe (by the program Blog Blaster) that it was legal to post like this with their program.

No offense meant

Respectfully,
Mr. XYZ

PS How should I post to your blog?
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
From: Arjun Prabhu K [mailto:email ID]
Date: Sunday, February 05, 2006 7:12 PM
To: Mr. XYZ
Subject: Re: [blog.arjunprabhu.com -Arjun’s Blog!] Blog post

thats unsolicitated advrt!. or in other words trackback spam!.
So, i think my filters took it off automatically. sorry.
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
On 2/5/06, Mr. XYZ [Mr.XYZ@ABC] wrote:

My link is hxxp://t******p.o****y.com
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
From: Arjun Prabhu K [mailto:email ID]
Date: Sunday, February 05, 2006 6:41 PM
To: Mr.XYZ@ABC
Subject: Re: [blog.arjunprabhu.com -Arjun’s Blog!] Blog post

it should have picked up immediately. but not very sure.
let me know your link…
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
On 2/5/06, Mr.XYZ@ABC [Mr.XYZ@ABC] wrote:

A trackback!

Regards
Mr. XYZ
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
From: Arjun Prabhu K [email ID]
Datum: zondag, februari 5, 2006 5:55 pm
Subject: Re: [ blog.arjunprabhu.com -Arjun’s Blog!] Blog post

do you mean a trackback ? (or pingback?)

kindly clarify!

regards,
Arjun
—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-::—-
On 2/5/06, Mr. XYZ [Mr.XYZ@ABC] wrote:
From……: Mr. XYZ
Email…..: Mr.XYZ@ABC
Url…….:
………………………………………………….
Subject…: Blog post
………………………………………………….

Hello,

I have added a post to your blog with Blog Blaster. How long
does it take
foryour blog to pick it up?

Respectfully,
Mr. XYZ


Beginning to settle down..

Its two weeks since I landed over here, and I am slowly beginning to settle down. The daily normal routine is in shape now.

Work wise, things are pretty hectic. I am here as an replacement for Suroor, who has been here for nearly 2.5 yrs now. He would be leaving back to India tomorrow. We had a two week transition., and most of it went on smoothly. But the past two weeks were kind of very hectic. So, from this Monday, I would be on my own and it would continue to be hectic for the next couple of weeks.

On the home front, the apartment that I moved into was kind of unfurnished. Its an 1BHK apartment. The features available at the time I moved in were :
1. Carpeted flooring
2. Electric Surface heating (something similar to hot plates in India) with Oven
3. Fridge
4. Dish washing Unit
5. Air conditioning (heater and cooler)
6. One fan in the Hall, and a light in the kitchen!

So, that’s about it!. so, the entire house was pretty much empty, and I had to take care of…
1. Electricity
2. Lights, Microwave, Vacuum cleaner, and other household stuff
3. Bed/Mattress
4. Cable + Internet connection
5. TV
6. Furniture – chairs, tables, iron board etc
7. Lot of other small things..

Getting electricity connection was pretty easy. The house was already powered. All I had to do was call up the power company and tell them that I had moved into this particular apartment. And I had to deposit around $160 as security deposit, which is refundable.

Lights…… got two lamps from Walmart. One for the bedroom, and one for the hall. They are pretty much basic, and look good. Also bought a basic microwave oven and vacuum cleaner and lot of other household stuff from Walmart.

Getting a mattress was quite a challenge. I got a very good second-hand king sized mattress. Sriram, one of my friend & colleague knew a person who deals with second hand mattresses. So, we went over to his place, and bought one. The only problem that we had was, moving the mattress into my apartment since its located on the 1st floor! (or 2nd floor if you are in US!). But thanks to Andy (another friend of mine), we managed to move it with no major struggle or may be a little bit of struggle!

The only Cable + Hi Speed Internet service provider in this area is Charter. I had asked them for a connection on the day I moved into the apartment. i.e., on the 31st of Jan. They gave me an appointment for installation on the 8th of Feb. And the time slot given was 10 AM to 2 PM. That was the earliest available one. And the next available appointment was 13th Feb. I wanted the Internet access at the earliest and went ahead with the 8th Feb option, even though it was a Wednesday and I had meetings at office from 11 AM to 12 PM. I requested Charter if they could come at around 12-2PM time, but they said that its not possible, and they can come anytime during the time slot given (ie, 10 AM to 2 PM!). I asked them to give me a pre-call, and I only hoped that they wouldn’t come at 10 AM. On Feb 8th, luckily, they didn’t call me upto 12.30 PM. I came back home at 12.30 PM and waited…..and the technicians did not turn up even upto 2 PM! Called up the local charter office, and finally, the technicians came in a few mins later. It took them around 20 mins to install. So, finally, I was online with a 3 Mbps connection. And, the speed rocks!

I am yet to buy TV and other furniture. May be sometime this week I will have to go out for one more round of shopping. Otherwise I am kind of done with shopping for most of the things required on a day to day basis.

Oh yes, yesterday I applied for my SSN. The process was quite straight forward, and took around 20 mins to complete. I should be getting my SSN in a couple of weeks.

Yesterday being Suroor’s last Friday in the US, around 6 of us went out for a movie named “Firewall“. It was a decent movie. 6.5 on a scale of 10.

And yes…….for almost the entire day today, it snowed.

My first snow!

Wow.. it snowed here in Kingsport this weekend, and its the first time that I saw a snow fall. Yes… its a thrill to see it for the first time, but after that, I know its a pain :)… anyway, from what I have heard and read, it snows very lightly here in Kingsport during the winter, not like the northern parts of US where the entire place is covered with snow for months together!

Here are some snaps…!

View from Outside my House
View from outside my house – Click to Zoom

Snow Outside
Snow Outside – Click to Zoom

Snow - Allandale Falls Apartment Complex
Appartment Complex View – Click to Zoom

Snow - Allandale Falls Apartment Complex
Appartment Complex View – Click to Zoom

Snow - Allandale Falls Apartment Complex
Appartment Complex View – Click to Zoom

Snow on Cars
Snow on Cars – Click to Zoom

Now its a bit sunny, but still I can see some light snow showers!

How it going in USofA?… Here is how…

Its nearly six days now since I landed up here in US. And everyone seems to be asking just one question. How are you finding US ?. Quite natural!

Well, my answer is… so far so good. Its a nice and different experience all together. Everything is new to me. The culture, the society, the system, the food…..everything is different and new. But, the best part is, its good.

The place that I am at is very scenic, but its not a place for youngsters who would like to have fun etc… But its a very peaceful and beautiful place.

Here are some pics that I managed to take…

Isn't  it beautiful
Kingsport – Click to Zoom

Horse!
Horse!! – Click to Zoom

Road Uphill
Road Uphill! – Click to Zoom

Kingsport itself is a very small place in Tennessee. Actually there are 2 more towns close by. One is called Johnson City, and the other Bristol. These three cities together are known as “Tri-Cities”.

Well, talking of change… its a totally different lifestyle out here. But its not a shocking change for me. May be I was kind of ready for it and had heard about this lifestyle from multiple people. Its only that I am experiencing the change now!

Ok. Somethings I would like to make a note of in random order…

  • The people out here are generally very very friendly. They are ready to help you if you ask for help. People respect your privacy, and the same is expected from you!
  • The Infrastructure is just top notch. May it be roads, power or whatever. Its just great.
  • People follow rules. That’s really good. May it be traffic/road rules or any other public rules.
  • Everything is big! From roads to shopping ‘malls’, and every other shop is part of a chain.
  • You ‘must’ have a car to go around. There is nothing called public transport at least at the place that I am at. (There is some bus service, but its ..something very very very very basic).
  • Every mall or shop or office has solid parking space. That’s because, everyone owns a car!
  • There are lot of places & systems that just work on trust! And people live up to it!. That’s one thing which really surprised me.
  • Most of the houses are made up of wood.
  • Paper is used royally here. No one uses Hankey! Tissues are used for almost everything.
  • Almost all the houses (apartments for rent) come with basic stuff even if its unfurnished – fridge, oven, surface heating (electric hotplate – as known in india), dishwasher. Hot water is always available. AC – cooler and heater.
  • The place that I am at, the temperature outside is pretty low – around 0 to -3 C at nights and around 15 C during day. But, you won’t feel it when you are indoors. May it be office, or house, or shopping or in car. Everything is temperature controlled.
  • SSN is the most important thing to have with you. Drivers ID is the next most important document. Without these two, its very difficult to manage!
  • You must have a credit card with you when you are here. One… since its accepted at almost all the places and Two… it helps you build something called as credit history.
  • Its not easy to get a credit card! (which is totally different compared to India, where one is forecibly given a credit card!!!)
  • To get a credit card, you should have a good credit history. And to have a credit history, you must have a credit card! – Perfect chicken and egg problem.
  • So, the way out is, you need to go for something known as “Secured” credit card. Its something like, you have to deposit some money in your account, and that becomes your credit limit. Its not a debit card!! Its still and credit card. :)
  • Without a SSN and Credit card (and so…credit history), its difficult to get services like telephone, mobile etc. If you need those services, you need to a good sum of money as deposit (refundable in most cases). I had to pay deposits for the apartment, and the power supply.
  • Getting a Mobile phone connection too is not so easy!. Its a must that you have a good credit history to go cellular. Where as in India, every tom-dick and harry has a cell phone now!. The cellphone air-time charges too are quite high out here compared to India. Prepaid connection is way too expensive compared to postpaid.
  • Day to day things/supplies are pretty cheap out here. Electronics stuff is cheap. Stuff related to kids is expensive! What i mean is, there is value for money. Specially in the southern states. Not sure about areas like NJ or Bay area.

So, thats about it for now! More as and when I find time! :)