Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes happen all the time. I’m generally tolerant towards mistakes made by others, and I point it out when I notice one. If it’s obvious, as expected, it is corrected quickly. However, I become wary when the same mistake is repeated – more vary when the repeated mistake involves money. The general idea I have about people making the same mistake is this:
First time – can be dismissed as a mistake (human error, if you’d call it so)
Second time – possibility of a coincidence
Third time – Possibility of me being taken for a ride
Beyond that – I’m being taken for a ride
The rest of this article speaks about a ‘mistake’ being repeatedly committed by parking attendants who collect the parking fee, in a certain shopping mall in Bangalore, around Bannerghatta Road. Since I haven’t let the administration of that mall know about this, I’m keeping the name of the mall anonymous. My intention is to merely warn people that there is a possibility of a little scam here.
The mall in question houses a multiplex, with seven screens. Each of the halls can house at least 300 people. They run a special promotion on a weekday, where they reduce the price of the ticket by half. On this day, combined with Friday and Saturday evenings, there are at least a hundred people in each auditorium (a practical approximation). Irrespective of whether the customer shops at the mall or not, they charge a fee for parking vehicles. For a four wheeled vehicle, they charge Rs. 30 for up to three hours of parking, Rs. 40 for parking between 4 to 6 hours, and beyond that, I can not recollect. So I’m estimating that there are at least 500 cars that come in for the late night show, that ends at around midnight. I feel this is a valid approximation, given people may not be wanting to get back home in an Auto/taxi at that time (too expensive, too much haggling, …) and that it may not be very safe to use a two-wheeler.
When I enter the mall’s parking space, I’m given a slip which has a timestamp. I present it to the parking attendant when exiting. The computer tells him the fee, and he reads it out to me. The administration has not installed a display that tells the customer the fee – the system depends on the attendant reading out the correct fee and the customer paying the amount. Remember, it’s close to midnight we’re talking about, and most are in a hurry to get back home. The attendant reads out ‘Rs. 40′, the customer pays Rs. 40, and exits. Except, that the customer had parked for under 3 hours. That Rs. 10 he’s made right there. The first time this happened to me, I didn’t realise that I was being overcharged, but upon calculating later, it was brought to my attention that we had parked for only 2.5 hours. The second time this happened, I asked the attendant to repeat the amount, and out came an apology, followed by the correct amount. The third time, I repeated the amount with a questioning intonation, and it was corrected quickly again, with an apology. A fourth time, I handed out a Rs. 50 note, asked for a receipt and got Rs. 20 in return with an apology for quoting the wrong amount. Clearly, something is wrong here.
Let’s do some basic mathematics here. Out of the 500 cars, assume that 350 fall for this trick. That’s Rs. 3500 made in a few hours of working the night shift in addition to the salary (which I suppose includes an allowance for working late night). In a week on just these three days, the collection goes to over Rs. 10,000, which puts it at a total of Rs. 40,000 per month. As you can see, this is a significant amount of money that is made in addition to the salary. Who takes home this money – is it the attendant manning the exit counter, is it split between all of them – I have no idea. (The amount could be less, but even a half of that total is a significant amount)
There is significant difference between the way the numbers 30 and 40 are displayed. I can understand if 30 is misread as 50, or even 80. I tried thinking of ways by which this mistake could have happened repeatedly, to let go of the suspicion on the attendant, but as you can see, there’s none. If you think of why 30 is repeatedly misread as 40, let me know in the comments. I used multiple exits at the mall, and noticed that this happened at all of them – I didn’t notice if it was the same attendant, but remember a girl being present on one of the occasion, and a guy most of the other times. Reading 30 as 40, when it’s clearly displayed on the segmented LCD of the machine, can not be dismissed as human error when it happens multiple times by different people. I’ve noticed this happening predominantly during the night, after 9 PM – I rarely go there during the day, but there’s nothing stopping them from doing it during the day either.
Assuming that people can not be trusted and that a customer’s welfare is in the best interest of the administration, all that the administration has to do is to put up a display that tells the customer how much money he owes as parking fee. The other way is for you to keep track of the time you’ve parked, and ask if you feel the amount quoted is disputable. Ask for a receipt if possible and verify the amount.
It’s only Rs. 10 per head we’re talking about and I’m OK with it if the mall hiked up the parking charges by that figure. What I’m not OK with is someone else making that money by cheating. The amount is small enough to go unnoticed, and if questioned, an apology with the statement that ‘it was a mistake’ rectifies the problem.
That’s a neat little scam they’ve got running there.
In the rarest of rare case that you’ve picked up a Blackberry and are having trouble pairing it with a Bluetooth headset, this should help you out.
My Blackberry, out of the box, would pair with my handsfree kit (in this case, my car’s built-in bluetooth kit) to attend calls. If I disconnect the bluetooth connection, and try connecting it again, the Blackberry would display ‘Connection to … failed’ and the car’s display would pop up a ‘Pairing failed’ message.
I couldn’t be the only possible user facing this issue and surely, RIM wouldn’t make phones that wouldn’t pair successfully with a Bluetooth handsfree kit. So, I started the standard process of hitting my favourite search engine, keying in various combinations of words to figure out what could have been wrong. Many helped point me in the right direction, but at least the first page of results didn’t get me anywhere near what I’d hoped for. Many posts speak about ‘Bluetooth profile’ mismatch and correcting it. I understood what it meant, but those posts didn’t clearly speak of an option which will allow me to get this corrected.
So here’s what you need to do to get this to work – Navigate to Options -> Network & Connections -> Bluetooth Connections. Press the Blackberry key to bring up the menu, and select Options. It may be worth noting that it doesn’t matter whether your Bluetooth is ON or OFF. Scroll down to ‘Services’, and keep these two checked:
Uncheck the following:
Serial Port Profile (and all sub-options under this)
A/V Remote Control Target
I should mention that the last two we are unchecking above will disable the ability of your mobile to play songs and be controlled with a Bluetooth device with those capabilities. In case you need those two, keep them checked.
Save the settings, go back to the Bluetooth Connections menu, delete the device you have added and force pairing again.
This has worked for me – let me know if it doesn’t work for you in the comments. The rest of this post is just what I think of the entire thing, and if you aren’t interested, you can consider the article complete.
From what I can understand out of this little exercise, it appears that the Blackberry attempts to use the enabled profiles to connect with the Bluetooth device, which shouldn’t be the case. From my understanding, most other phones do not do this and use the Bluetooth device’s profile to connect. I’m no expert in Bluetooth or have knowledge of how devices work, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
Either way, in my opinion, this makes for very bad user experience. Considering most ‘normal’ users would never need Serial Port Profile, Dial-up Networking – these should have been disabled by default.
Edited to add (2013/05/03) : If it’s still giving problems, disable Encryption (Be sure to understand what you’re doing here)
One of those mornings where I had to wake up really early and pick someone up from the railway station. Unfortunately for me, it was cold, and the train was arriving early. That left the visitors no chance of getting into an auto, and I had to wake up early at around 3:30 AM and drive a good 15 KMs to the station. One of those rare times when I get to drive around on the main roads of Bangalore and there’s no traffic – I took my time, keeping well under the speed limit.
I generally have a tendency to pay respect to the traffic lights even when it’s that early and there’s no one on the road. That day, as I stopped at the Vellara Junction on Brigade Road, a white high end sedan driven by lady stopped next to me. The signal turned green and she took off in a tearing hurry. A little before the entrance to St Joseph’s Boys High School, I saw a few barricades on the road, and cops standing next to them. Initially, I thought they were pulling over people for speeding, but when the let the lady in tearing hurry go and stopped me, it was obvious.
I rolled down the window and the cop stuck the breathalyzer into the car, into my face and said ‘Blow’. I took in a lungful of air, and obliged. I couldn’t see the what was displayed on the device, but I heard it let out a loud beep, and show a red light. I looked at the cop, and his smile told me the obvious. For once, I was terribly confused as to what was going on – I wasn’t drunk, hadn’t taken a sip of any alcoholic beverage, and here was the cop and his device stating otherwise. He asked me to repeat it, and with a little bit of anxiety, I did it again. The results were the same, but this time, I managed to get the cop to show me what was being displayed on the device.
Amidst relief and confusion, I pointed out to him that it was displaying ‘Error’ and not telling him that the test was positive for alcohol in my breath. The cop was in no mood to listen, his smile grew even wider as he pointed it to me that all was not well. He was postulating what alcoholic beverage I may have consumed, indicated that I should pull over and get out. I pulled over close by with him next to my door, arguing with him that it was displaying ‘Error’ and not indicating that there was alcohol in my breath.
For some unknown reason, or out of confusion, he listened, but didn’t believe. He thrust the device at me one more time, and indicated that I should blow into it. This time, there was a green light, and the cop let me go.
A couple of things popped into my mind as I drove away from what could have turned out to be a not-so-great experience for me.
1. The cop didn’t know how to use the device – it’s not his problem that he didn’t know how to read English, nor am I stating that he wasn’t trained to use it. He probably was, but in his excitement, forgot the various messages the device could display.
2. The device manufacturer didn’t realize that it could be used in a region where the users may not be well versed with English messages. That is, localization was absent in the device. I’m sure the cop could have caught the message displayed in Kannada and retried. An interesting use case, and possibility of some Indian manufacturer to bridge the gap, if possible.
The next time you get pulled over and checked for BAC, and you know that you haven’t consumed alcohol, ask for the results of the device to be shown to you. Sometimes, it could be as simple as a wrong message being displayed. If the device genuinely displays that you’re drunk, good luck – you’re going to need it.
There has been a lot of emphasis on Road Safety – it has always been there, but recently the authorities have started to enforce it rather sternly. I welcomed the rule making helmets mandatory for two-wheelers, and seat belts for four-wheelers, among the others where periodic checks were made to ensure that drivers weren’t driving under the influence . Of course, the traffic cops aren’t omnipresent and couldn’t guarantee that every single driver wasn’t a threat to themselves, and more importantly, others on the road. These actions were to increase the probability of someone’s chances of survival when a mishap occurs.
There must be regulations that would not allow a transport vehicle to carry rods and other construction material protruding outside, but with the long string of legal terms and alternatives used, I gave up on my search for it. Of course, I understand that there are times when the material being carried will protrude, but should those vehicles necessarily be allowed to go on the roads when its rush hour? Can’t a permit be made mandatory for such vehicles in which the route and time when it has to move is made of and approved? A simple search for ‘road driver protruding rods’ on our favorite search engine yields plenty of articles from news agencies that have the necessary information on the hazards of such vehicles.
I was a witness to one accident in which, fortunately, no one was injured, where a rather large metal tube fell of a vehicle and the driver behind the vehicle was able to brake in time. What surprises me is the ease at which this can be enforced – there is no need for special equipment to check if rods are protruding from beyond a vehicle. Clearly, something is wrong – the motive with which road safety is enforced becomes questionable when such an easy safety hazard is let go of. No seat belt, helmet can guarantee survival in a case where a rod or tube falls of such a vehicle.
For those curious, the two pictures above were taken when the vehicle I was driving wasn’t moving.
So yeah, that’s my car. I bought it exactly a year ago, and it’s been a happy year of, as the guys at the showroom use the word, ‘roading’. A reflection of what we’ve been through in the last year.
I love the car. It’s everything they claimed it would be (except for the mileage part – everyone lies about them in showroom, so that’s OK). It’s great to drive within the city, being a small car, easy enough to park, has enough ‘stamina’ to do long drives as well. I’ve driven it to Chennai several times. 20553 KMs done in a year is not so bad, eh? Some of the highlights:
- Toughest drive done: Himavad Gopalswamy Betta
Chose a wrong day to go there, and I got stuck in horrifying traffic during the ascent. In most places, the handbrake wouldn’t hold and the car was slipping back if I stopped anywhere. Blew out a tire on the way to the place as well. And as for the end result, I managed to get <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jnarin/tags/himavadgopalaswamybetta/"five photos that I liked and came back a more ‘seasoned’ driver
- Longest distance covered in a day: Himavad Gopalswamy Betta
Yeah, that 400+ KMs to GS Betta, from Bangalore happens to be the longest I’ve driven in a day, so far. Managed to get tickets for TDKR during the night on return to Bangalore as well
Major war wounds: A tractor on the road I’d parked on, an older model of Toyota Qualis at the parking lot and a Honda Activa driver who didn’t want to stop at a signal on Silk Board – BTM ORR bumped into the car bumped into me, the end result of which were four dents (the idiot driver of the Qualis bumped into me twice!). I grazed into the railings on the road once, scratching the left back side of the car mildly. Apart from these, there are tiny scratches here and there (including a scribble on the bonnet by another idiot).
Am I happy with the vehicle? Yes.
Would I recommend it to friends? Yes.
Would I recommend the same dealer? Absolutely! [More on that below]
The only gripe – brochures from Hyundai rate the mileage within the city as 15 (under standard test conditions). To date, I’ve never been able to extract more than 13, and at most times, around 11, from the car. After discussing with a few friends who own the same car, I can state that none of us have been able to get 15 KMPL, under whatever conditions, within the city. Had they been a realistic, they wouldn’t have sold cars – I get that.
Hats off to Advaith Hyundai for not only having good salesmen, but their after sales support and service has been excellent as well. Whatever little complaints I’ve had with them, they’ve heard me out, and fixed the problem to my satisfaction. Once when the spare part was not available right away, after they procured the part, the service engineer called me practically once everyday for two weeks to figure out when I’ll bring the car to the garage to get it fixed – such dedication is tough to see.
So far so good. What next?
Photo (c) Pratap.
Get the car out of the garage. Half a kilometer ahead, choice to make on which road to take.
This affects devices running Gingerbread (2.3.*) and prior versions with the both of the following user configured option
Last weekend, I stepped on the weighing machine at home. The last time I stood on it was 3 weeks ago, by mistake. There was a 5 KG increase in my weight – my food intake hadn’t changed much. I’m not a fitness freak or diet conscious, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a 5 KG increase in 3 weeks was not a good sign. Not wanting to wait any further, I hit the gym. I’m nearing middle age now, and though many may argue round is a shape, I decided that it was time I got out of that shape. As hard as that may be, this would at least reduce the pace at which I gained weight (I know that it is inevitable!)
First day at the gym, I had no clues what to do. The place was empty with a lady walking on the treadmill. That’s pretty much the only piece of equipment I knew to operate. There was a fairly large green button that said ‘Start’ and pressing that button did exactly what it said. Very soon, I mastered the art of controlling the speed at which the belt was moving. Minor victory achieved in the war against weight gain.
A few minutes into the exercise, and a gentleman steps by my side – I can see his lips move, but I can’t hear what he’s saying. Quickly, I realize that I have my earphones on and remove them. He happens to be the trainer at the facility, and offers to help me out. I gleefully agree. He says we’ll start the regiment from tomorrow and asks me to continue on the treadmill for sometime. I used it for over 30 minutes, and when I stepped off it, it was a little disorienting getting adjusted to a world in which things moved when I walked, but that was overcome quickly without any embarrassing events.
Day 1. I arrive on time, proud of myself. Trainer is already present and he glares at me for being a minute late. Anyway, turns out to be this nice chap who gives me relatively ‘simple’ exercises on the first. Sometime on the treadmill, leg stretches, and back stretches. I go back home after an hour, feeling good that it wasn’t so bad.
Day 2. I arrive on time again, and it seems like the trainer is already used to me for being late. Today he has a tougher regiment. Warm up routine, hit the treadmill, and then he starts the real training. I can’t remember what all he made me do since that’s his job. But whatever he made me do (including dancing around with a long bamboo stick), taught me about the various muscles in my body that were remaining dormant all these years. I have no idea why those were used, or what their purpose was in the human body. A piece of dirt went into my eye, and my hands will not reach my eye – I have to bend with a considerable amount of pain to clean my eyes.
Day 3. Yet to happen. But I’m positive if he handed that stick again to me, I may act out of of self preservation.
Tending to believe that these guys give people like me a hard time so that I don’t return after a week and he gets to keep the fee paid. It’s like “Oh, you’re back – now let me see how you can take this”.
Just kidding – my instructor seems to be a nice person, with understanding that round is not a shape and needs to be handled delicately. I have no clues how long I’m going to last. But if this is the amount of pain I have to endure to be fit, hmmm..
Oh, and the part about the lying weighing machine – I checked my weight again yesterday (and to verify, once again this morning), and the bloody thing showed 3 KGs less than what convinced me to go to the gym over the weekend. So apparently, I haven’t gained over 5 KGs as I thought I did. If only it had worked well the first time……..
Everyday. Shortage of water. Lakes, ponds and other water bodies are converted to real estate.
Everyday. If you overtake from the left, you’re breaking the rules. Yet, the slowest moving vehicle is on the rightmost lane.
Everyday. Vehicles carry steel rods and other sharp construction material that can impale or give you a painful death on the road. Ban sun-film on privately owned vehicles.
Everyday. Cattle stray on the road, block traffic and take a dump. Cattle owners never pay road tax
Everyday. Public buses and trucks bellow out black smoke. Cops fine you for not having pollution check certificate.
Everyday. A new scam – bigger than the one yesterday. But what was the outcome of yesterday’s scam expose?
Everyday. A new politician or person in power goes to jail. The one convicted and jailed yesterday walks out.
Everyday. A new criminal investigation. What happened to the last one?
Everyday. CBI ‘grills’. Grills what, exactly?
Everyday. Fuel prices increase. No one cares.
Everyday. Increasing taxes. More corruption.
Everyday. New websites and services launched. Internet censored by ISPs and Government says they aren’t the ones who’ve order it.
Everyday. More vehicles bought, more road taxes paid. Condition of roads becomes more terrible day by day.
Everyday. RTI activists and other whistleblowers receiving death threats request for police protection (and are eventually brutally murdered). Corrupt politicians and celebrities get highest possible security.
Everyday. So many genuine problems. Media focuses on cricket, movie premiers and film stars.
Everyday. Porn is illegal. But all right for politicians to watch it in state assemblies.
Everyday. Rs. 28 is not enough to buy me food twice a day.
Everyday. Lack of toilets in villages (and lack of public toilets in cities as well). Rs. 35L spent for renovating two toilets in Government office.
Everyday. We are a secular and anti-racist country. Caste and quota system work wonders.
Everyday. Unsafe for women to go out in the evening. Cops issue notice asking women not to go out after sunset instead of making it safe.