Sunday, November 28, 2010

Backing up BSNL's pathetic Internet service with Tata Photon Plus

So finally after putting up with BSNL's crap internet service that conks out at a drop of rain or gust of wind, I finally bought myself a Tata Photon.
The claim is that it can provide "up to" 3.1 Mbps for a limited amount of data (15GB). After the limit is exceeded it drops to 128 Kbps for an unlimited amount.

Apparently the reason for the limit is a TRAI "advisory" (sounds similar to the one that bans VoiP to PSTN switching unless the gateway is outside India). More about the "advisory" soon if I can find it.
The Tata Photon experience was pretty good. Ms Pratibha @ Excellent Communications in Mayur Vihar was able to answer all my questions without treating me like a retard, which was a rather rare treat from "IT wallahs" in Delhi.
The rest of the gang, callers from Janakpuri, Malviya Nagar et al sounded like they couldn't care less about the sale, nor did they have their facts straight.

The folks at excellent communications even sent over someone to collect my documentation. The guy who showed up was able to install the product (points deducted for not being willing to essay a Mac, but he did pretty well with the Acer EEEPc I handed him).
Photon Plus is apparently the only version thats available to us lower mortals in NCR. Photon Pro (the Verizon MiFi equivalent) will apparently not be launched anywhere except Mumbai initially (comments welcome)
So far Photon seems to work pretty well, even though the modem is a Huawei (not happy about that, they have a bad rep in my book after their "alleged" industrial espionage stories, but clearly Tata is happy to do business with them, so I suppose I can too)
At last test from, the speed I got was about a meg (1 Mbps) to Palo Alto. Beats BSNL at any rate. AND they have a "Customer Care Number"...W00t!

Pricing for Tata Photon Plus:
INR 1600 for the device (apparently Excellent Communications @ Mayur Vihar is offering a discount)
INR 1500 p.m. post paid for 15 GB @ "upto" 3.1 Mbps and 128 Kbps thereafter, with an INR 200 discount per month for a year. Not too bad at all, assuming the service stays reliable.

This in contrast with apprx INR 750-900 for BSNL, which uses a Nokia wireless modem that needs frequent stroking to work, gives me under 1Mbps (sometimes around 512 Kbps) with absolutely no reliability, no customer service and when it conks out you have to call the SDO (Govt official) and grovel.
To BSNL's credit though, they did fix the "broken cable" that blew out my connectivity and prompted the Photon purchase, on a weekend.

Making a stopped Maruti 800 '94 start Part 2

Insides of the Maruti 800

Making a stopped Maruti 800 '94 start

Note: The pictures are all annotated, zoom in to see annotation

Maruti 800
1994 Model
Bad Condition

  1. Replaced Tyres Nov 27
  2. Had a wiring short circuit two centimeters from the left battery pole, fixed by removing connectors and shorting the wires directly. Prior to this fix, the car would suddenly lose power in mid drive and only pick up again on holding down the clutch and repeatedly pumping the accelerator.
  1. Stopped after running fine for ~28 KMs after fix (2) above
  2. Would not start
  3. Car moves forward when ignition is turned in first gear without holding the clutch down
  4. Left car overnight
Fix Log
  1. Opened bonnet
  2. Looked around in confusion
  3. Saw silver cylinder on top right hand side near the bonnet hinge
  4. Remembered that the mech had fiddled with it
  5. Pulled off the wire in the center (see pic)
  6. Noticed that the wire was connected to the holder by a thin strand. AHA!
  7. Tried putting the wire back and turned effect
  8. Pulled connector off the end of the wire, put the wire back on without the connector after ripping off the end of the insulation with my teeth (yes teeth! That's what the mech did)
  9. Turned ignition, no effect
  10. Asked neighboring Maruti Service station mechs to help push the car to one side so they could continue to fleece other customers (my mech is not a Maruti Service center type)
  11. Mechs offered to help, I accepted
  12. Mech looks at the same connector and replaces it with a spare one (not really a spare, just a bit of wire with a connector at the end of it
  1. Turn ignition, no effect
  2. Mech opens up one of the whatchamacallits (see pic, the one with the cap and multiple wires coming out of it like dreadlocks. I think its called a self, the mechs here dont like to reveal what they're doing. Clearly shamanism has not died away).
  1. Mech claims that it needs a "gap". There is no "gap". Self is "stuck"
  2. He tries loosening a screw (see pic). The screw does not cooperate
  3. Mech sticks the screwdriver at an angle into the screw head and tries to chisel it open using a pair of pliers for a hammer. The pliers aren't heavy enough, so the screw only gets chipped and stays stubbornly in place
  4. Mech gets a heavier pair of pliers. This time the screw seems to feel something and moves
  5. Mech opens the screw and pulls a bit of the plate (see pic) counter clockwise. Then he tightens the screw back
  1. Mech closes the cap with the dreadlocks
  2. Turn ignition, car starts
  3. I thank Mech profusely and leave...he doesn't ask for payment, so I assume I owe him a favor
  4. I bring car home
  5. Open bonnet
  6. Disconnect the makeshift wire and make sure car wont start
  7. Open dreadlock cap thingie and see inside, cant make sense, but resolve to read up
  8. Close car and wait for next failure