Airtel 4G Dongle Review

Below is my letter to the Nodal officer of Airtel Karnataka. I'm posting on my blog in the hope other people avoid signing up for this service.


As a long time airtel customer, and a current customer of both DSL (about 1.5k per month) and Mobile (about 3k per month) I am DISGUSTED by the level of customer service I have received trying to pay for yet another airtel service (4G Dongle).

I request that you immediately activate my account, and I request you take action against Regional Communications (particularly Anand who I have been dealing with) and inform me of the result. His number is 9686868683. I would recommend his contract be cancelled. In addition, I request a credit on my account for the immense amount of time I have wasted in this matter (literally 20+ phone calls).

I purchased a 4G dongle from Purohit computers in BDA Complex HSR Layout Bangalore on Tuesday the 25th of February. I was told it would take 2 days to activate. It has been 12 days and the agent in charge (Anand from Regional Communications) is now hanging up on me and blocking my calls.

I have submitted all documentation required.


OSX's greatest strength is its greatest weakness

I use a macbook air. I haven't always been a mac user, but around 5 years ago I joined a company which said they would spend $3,000 on a computer so I left the land of neckbeards, printed out my X11.conf file and burnt it in a fire of virgin's hair and blood and joined the dark side.

I don't really mind the darkside, I actually really like it, as long as someone else is willing to spend on my machine. But the past couple days I got caught in some yak shaving which led to some realizations around the fragility of the "full stack" myth Apple likes to talk about.

Specifically, my company uses Jabber for chat and I use the excellent Open Source client Adium. We also use a self-signed certificate which adium complains about everytime I start it. In the new version of Adium, you can say "trust this cert forever", however doing so causes the Apple Keychain file to become corrupted (of course, this isn't obvious). The first symptom of this is that https:// URLs don't work in Chrome and Safari but not Firefox. It also causes various programs that use HTTPS to crash in weird random ways and eventually a kernel panic. Obviously it took awhile to figure out the cause of this.

The bug


Airtel 3G data pack / plan recharge after you run out

Airtel's 3g payment service is incredibly broken. I am a heavy data user and this happens to me all the time. Here's the scenario:

  1. You buy a data pack (say 2GB for 455 INR)
  2. You use up all 2GB before the end of the month (if you call 12311# it will tell you 0.00 MB remaining).
  3. You SMS 3g to 121 to renew. You select what you want (after the 10th try).
  4. It tells you it will be activated in 4hrs.
  5. A minute later, it tells you you have more than 50MB in your account so you cannot purchase the data pack.

4 calls to customer service who supposedly fix it every time, 3 emails which will be responded to in one day (4 days and no response).

TAKE MY GOD DAMN MONEY AIRTEL! I'm not asking for you to make your service work, or even provide me good service, I'm asking you to TAKE MY MONEY. Can't we find a win-win here?


Is Test Driven Development in Drupal possible?

I was searching for a way to make test writing for Media a little less painful.  I use TDD in Ruby, Python and even in PHP projects I did before coming to Drupal (5 years ago).  It pains me that I'm unable to find a way to do it in Drupal.  I read a fantastic writeup by a dedicated TDD engineer trying to switch to Drupal

"One minute per test case when I'm expecting to easily more than a hundred test cases feels insane."

I personally agree.  And I'm not going to spend a few hours setting up mysql on a RAM disk just to go from 3 minute runs to 1.5 minute runs.  The only answer is of course unit testable code which for any substantial module means a unit testable framework, which we really don't have.  

So if we're going to rely on functional tests, we can kiss TDD goodbye.  What is the long term solution here then?  Can we make D8 more pluggable so we can use mocks around cleaner interfaces to avoid this?  The issue is that Drupal's USP is you can mess with anything anywhere… as soon as you start introducing mocks, you kinda lose that which means the tests aren't as sound.

Maybe the answer is Simpletest 2 which allows you to run on a "dirty" environment.


Why Americans are seen as arrogant: The Visa.



Okay, now let's consider for a moment what America is.  Is America a "white" county? Although many would like it to be, it is not.  Non-hispanic whites were only 68% of the population in 2008 and that number is likely inflated since the percentage is dropping rapidly.  Is it an "English" country?  Officially yes, although a huge number of Americans speak other native languages.  16% of the population is of Hispanic or S. American origin and most of them speak Spanish or Portugese at least as a 2nd language.  So what is it?  An "American" country?

At what point does one become an American and then have the right to delineate the "other" and then humiliate them?

Has any US and EU citizens reading this ever tried to get a visa for another country?  I've gotten several and it is usually as simple as "send in the form with $50 and your passport and get a visa in a week or so".

My in-laws are trying to get a visa to come to the US and visit their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.  My father in-law was an important figure in the police service for many years and they are 100% above board legally and financially secure.  Here's the process:

  1. Pay ~$150 per


Appcelerator's Titanium: A truncated review

Like any self respecting entrepreneurial geek, I've got my eye on mobile applications.  Recently receiving my sweet sweet Nexus One (seriously, drool worthy phone), I wanted to see what I could break.

I used one of my very precious Sundays about a month ago to dig in.

What is Titanium 

As far as I can tell (this review is truncated) Titanium is basically an API and runtime which allows you to build a web application and deploy it to a mobile device, or run it on the desktop.  The differentiator is that while your app is just running in a webkit browser, you can add controls and utilize APIs on the host machine using Titanium's custom JavaScript APIs.  I guess they accomplish this via a plugin for webkit which renders them in the browser?  I don't know, but anyway, that's the gist.  It's supposed to be better than Phonegap (which is now my only other option for x-platform mobile development) because it uses these native controls instead of the ugly browser based ones.  So your app doesn't look like a web app (even though it kinda is).

The company's website has been nicely lacquered with Web 2.0 spray and they are venture backed.

Great idea, doesn't work.

Getting the desktop


Velocity tracking in Agile

Long comment from http://agilepainrelief.com/notesfromatooluser/2010/02/misuse-of-velocity-in-agile-projects.html has turned into a post here.

Scrum and Agile is something I'm particularly interested in and enthused about.  But it is strange how many people throw the terms around or even claim to work on Agile teams without a background in the reasons and common applications of Agile.  I'm not saying you have to do everything in your Agile book, but at least read one!

Some of these comments make my eyes bulge out a little bit.  I think even the most elementary book on scrum makes it really clear why we use story points and why they are the basis of all sprint planning.  

Now granted, this is *really* hard to use when you are responsible to a client and have to invoice weekly with the # of hours of work performed and estimate ahead of time what they will get for X.  Time and Materials or fixed bid, client's have expectations.  But outside of that, if you can get a client who is happy to use agile that basically means they hire X full-time people for N number of days - and hope to fullfil part of an agreed upon roadmap.

In that case, the point is that you will never have the


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