Friday, May 30, 2008

False fueling

This post follows after I read a mail on petrol bunk frauds in B'lore. Courtesy Anu.

I almost always fill petrol from the same bunk. They follow a 50-150 tactics here. Wonder what I'm talking about? If you've ever been cheated while filling petrol at a bunk, you'd know. Or wait, you'll have to realise that you've been tricked.

Drive into a petrol bunk. Appear careless. Ask to fill for Rs.200. Chances are s/he'll enter 50 at the meter and make you believe you weren't clear when you spoke '200'. You'll find another 150 (200-50 right?) entered into the keypad. Fair enough? You wish. What actually happens is, the 150 ain't additional as you assume. Its the overall amount to be filled (wonder who designed it that way). So 150 is actually 150 starting at 50 => 100.

You've paid Rs.200/- for Rs.150/- worth of petrol. Done deal. Bye bye. A similar dupe can be made out of happy-sitting-inside-car-enjoying-AC you for any amount. Here is an account of how I dealt with it once.

I know the manager there personally, so brought him out to the operator and gave a good sounding. Actually, he produced bills generated by the pump itself; which showed bills for 50 + 150. The manager said, if the bill reads it then you can't have been cheated. But I know my bike's fuel gauge well and it doesn't lie. Yet, out of respect for the gentleman I left. But they trick you here too, after returning home, I took a closer look at the bill. It had timestamps. Rs.150/- was billed before the Rs.50 one. So the bill was right, only I was given the wrong bill. Another lesson learnt for fifty bucks!

There is no point writing letters to the govt., making noises about Consumer Rights etc. Its your money, get out and do the following.

  • If you're in a car, get down.
  • If you have a cellphone, don't use it
  • Don't pay before fueling your vehicle.
  • If you have to, better give the exact amount. 2 100 notes can't be seen as a 50.
  • If you're paying by card, get it swiped beforehand.
  • Don't take your eyes off the meter.
  • Do not pay heed to their hints at how nice your bike is, how much mileage you get, your tyres need air etc.
  • Don't check for 0s. Check for 8's instead!
  • Have sense. Don't be scared to question if you have a doubt.
  • Spread awareness instead of complaining.
Are you aware of any other similar tricks? Do comment about it.

Adieu. Happy fueling!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Open Sesame

Passwords. A string of case sensitive characters requiring you to type them verbatim; no typos allowed.
One needs passwords (or pass phrases) everywhere. PC, email, website, mobiles, ATM, suitcases and what not.

I decided to do a bit of a research on how people like to keep their passwords. This is what I found :

  1. Mostly one password for all the accounts, sometimes with minor variations, is preferred
  2. It might carry some information related to the account
  3. It might be contain your favourite person's name/birthday/mobile number etc
  4. It is preferable when its short and not alphanumeric
I'll say the best combination of "security and easy-to-remember" is when your password satisfies (2) and is alphanumeric. Personally, I like to have a different password for each account I have. Only recently, and covering most of my accounts, have I started to put some characters related to the account. My gmail and yahoo passwords are totally random. It does not even contain numbers related to me or people I like most. It was just a random word and some numbers thrown in between. Back then, when I had only these two passwords to remember (and one for my PC admin a/c: ok, my password was 'enhance'; come and screw my system!), it was easy to relate this random thought and the account. But around the time I finished college, I was having an increasing number of passwords that I considered keeping 'ishallnotremember' as a password for the next account!

My current count is 30+, some of which I confess, I rarely use; "Forgot my password" is perhaps the most clicked hyperlink on these sites! And I like to think I'm security paranoid and maintain different passwords for each account. To lay less strain on my memory, I maintain the same id for everything: lvshankar or use my gmail a/c.

Here's the list of accounts (not passwords) I use:

gmail(2), photonmail, yahoomail, skype, ubuntu (Home),XP(Office), launchpad, ubuntu counter, cooltoad, digg, ilugc, zapak, linux mint forums, geni,mayajaal, IPMS (work related), sparknotes, hotornot (my bro forced me into this), zedge, mediafire, mabango,olts (work related), axis iconnect (2+ATM PIN), hdfc(+ATM PIN, +CC PIN), bugzilla, spreadfirefox, windows live, lifehacker, irctc, mastercard securecard (?!?!), SIT Chennai... :-)

Besides the above, I remember some friends/relatives' passwords/ATM PINs.
A final tip. You might want to try L33t.

Update: A kind of universal login id is available these days. Open ID. It is similar to M$ Passport, but in a sense open. I haven't really tried this yet. One, am waiting for it to get *really* popular, and another, it dejects me to forget most of those passwords and remember just one. Just too easy for me.

Happy remembering!


PS: If you thought this post was a show off, you are probably right!

PPS: Since I've been reading uleadin's blogs lately, I have got this PSing habit! Aarggh!
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

A New Unit of Fuel Efficiency

I used to take my company bus to office every(week)day. However, I had to walk a considerable distance from home to board it; and the same while returning. Walking back home can be considered an exercise but in the mornings, you don't want to be in sweat before starting work(!)
So, I convinced myself that bike would be a better option.

Well, my bike has been the primary mode of transport to office for 3 months now. Rarely have I had a pillion rider (I wish Seetha had come). And then one fine day I thought, "Is bike really more fuel efficient than my bus?".

After a short chit-chat with my office's admin head, I came to know that my company bus gives a mileage of 3.5 Km/ltr and around 25 take the same route as I, were I taking it. By my calculations, my bike gives 65 Km/ltr; if you try to average the number of people travelling on my bike, it would come to 1.0002 or something, so no. of travellers = 1. Today, during lunch, over a blunt conversation for no purpose, this was discussed. And I thought of this *new* unit to measure fuel efficiency: Km-people/ltr; for sake of convenience, lets call it Commutage.

With the above given information, the Commutage for me going to office, would be (65 Km/ltr)*(1 person) = 65 km-people/ltr.

The same for the bus would be, (3.5 Km/ltr)*(25 people) = 87.5 Km-people/ltr.

No prizes for guessing which is better. However, if I can get someone to ride with me to office everyday we get a Commutage that beats the bus! (130 Km-people/ltr to be precise). If everyone were to use bikes (like mine), there would be a lot of fuel saved and space. Buses, especially private ones, take a lot of space on the outside, but aren't exactly full. No. I don't recommend triples or quadruples or more on a bike, they are bound to reduce your mileage and worsens your engine's condition which further reduces mileage, which cannot be compensated in your Commutage!

Now lets take a look at cars. Assume a mileage of 15 Km/ltr. Usually a car can accommodate 4-5 people that gives a Commutage of 60-70. Take a 10 away for AC, 50-60 Km-people/ltr. It is a lot less than even a scarcely crowded bus and I've been too conservative. It can be excused for the sake of comfort. Yet, we can do better than a single person driving it.

Next, Auto rickshaws. Lets put its mileage at 20-25 Km/ltr. The average number of people travelling is 2. You do the math. The case of an Auto, brings us to an interesting point. We may now need to slightly modify our unit of measure. The driver should not be considered in the number of travellers unless he's returning home or taking his family for ride! Similar is the case for call taxis, fathers dropping kids etc. So Commutage should be (Mileage)*(No. of people travelling on purpose). In case of pick-ups and drops, the driver if returning alone has no other work on the way, gives ZERO Commutage!

Finally, MTC!! Well, we don't need to do any math for this. Truly unbeatable stats! Try it out yourself! And in the crowd of a hundred (OK. In most cases atleast), the conductor and driver do not make much of a difference :-)

  1. This should be considered only for (public) road transport. Don't wonder how less a Commutage aeroplanes or fighter planes will give :-P
  2. The availability of petrol and diesel maybe different and also their performance.
  3. Commutage should not be the only criterion. Think about comfort, safety, urgency, availability etc. But all within acceptable limits.
  4. We need more scales. Any takers?
  5. The non-consideration towards drivers, parents and friends should not be taken personally, but only for the sake of calculation.

When I started this post, the price of oil was nearly $124 a barrel. Today water, which is a renewable resource, is also scarce. Oil isn't a renewable resource and we don't have much left in the crust either.

I hope this blog will make people do their bit for the Earth. I do.


PS: I'm still in dilemma about my mode of transport to office :-(
Update: I take the office government bus now! my own bike now. Buses too crowded :(

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