Malayalam language pack for Windows 7 is now available for download.
As part of the Microsoft Local Language Program, Windows Language Packs are being developed on most local languages, including a large number of Indian languages including Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Urdu, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Oriya, Nepali, Konkani, Telugu, etc.
More than five years ago, when I was a student in India, I had acquired a home broadband connection from Reliance Communications. They offered a ‘fixed wireless terminal’ (FWT) solution which made use of their mobile wireless network to give internet access to homes without the need for any cables or ‘landlines’.
As I remember, neither the upload nor the download speed was anywhere close to what they promised. In other words, the Reliance broadband service sucked big time.
But wait – that’s not the reason for this post.
Back in 2004, I terminated their connection because I was leaving the country in search of a job in the Gulf. As per their termination process, I went to the Reliance Infocomm office in Kannur, Kerala (the one at Thavakkara, near Police Club – “Nikshan Associates”), and asked for a complete, final bill. I paid it down to the last rupee, got a receipt for my payment and surrendered the equipment (the FWT) back to them.
I proceeded to Bahrain and got employed there.
More than 6 months later, I got calls from my friends in India stating that they were repeatedly getting harassed by Reliance Infocomm recovery agents/debt collectors. They complained to me that these goons from Reliance kept calling them up telling them that I owe Reliance an amount of money in ‘unsettled bills’ and went to the extent of threatening my friends, who were never involved in this matter.
Either their entire billing system is flawed, and they are just too stupid – Or, this is a gimmick to penalize subscribers who terminated their pathetic service.
In other words, this was:
Unsolicited communication to my friends who had nothing to do with reliance
Unjustified act of personal insult/disrepute to me
My friends gave me the phone number of a lady who was repeatedly bothering them. I called up this lady (in Ernakulam) and gave her a piece of my mind. I told her the story about my termination of the line, and how I settled bills and returned the equipment. She apologized and promised that she will not call any more of my friends.
I also wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org about this disappointing experience – they merely replied that they forwarded my complaint to Kerala team and there was no response after that from anyone – despite repeated follow-ups.
Now, in 2009, more than 5 years after terminating my connection, I got a Lawyer Notice from P.R. Radhakrishnan & Associates, who happen to be their ‘legal’ associates. The Lawyer letter (produced below), in Malayalam language, states (threatens) that I owe Reliance Communications Rs. 2563.34(less than 54 USD) and if I don’t pay up, they’ll take me to court!
Well, can you beat that?
How many of you keep receipts for your paid telephone bills for a period of 5 years? Well, I don’t. And Reliance somehow guessed that – this means I have absolutely no proof to show in court – so they have taken me for a ride.
I did a simple search online, and found that there were hundreds of other people in various parts of India, who have fallen to similar scams from this seemingly ‘reputable’ telco giant.
Now, its not the $54 that I’m worried about it. It’s the harassment that they did to me and my friends, and the well-orchestrated scam that they are systematically carrying out.
Reliance Communications knows for sure that virtually nobody keeps records of paid phone bills for 5 years, and they are bent on penalizing subscribers who don’t take crappy service for long.
Now what do I do?
I live in a different region of the world, and my time just isn’t worth fighting a battle in an Indian court for $54 with no proof in my defense. The letter suggests that I make an ‘out of court’ settlement by paying the bill for Reliance + “legal fees” for their intimidating legal goons. That’s exactly what I’m doing now – let them go to hell with it. A cousin in India will meet them to settle the unfair dues, although not without a stinker.
This is not about $54. Multiply $54 with all customers that Reliance Communications have conned. This is how they make some extra revenue. And ‘P.R. Radhakrishnan & Associates’ is probably making a handsome amount out of this scam too, Rs. 750 legal fees for sending each letter, is not bad. 🙂
At the end of the day, I am a victim. The innocent consumer is the victim.
I’m writing this firsthand to let all Indian internet users know that Reliance Infocomm has a track record for such systematic malpractices waged against the dignity of self-respecting individuals – in short, they are a huge scam. So, if you are an unsatisfied Reliance broadband customer (which you would most likely be), and you want to terminate their service, make sure you keep a record of all your payments to them for at least 6 – 10 years. Also ask them to give you a ‘no dues’ certificate and keep it safe, especially if your payments are usually large amounts. Do it so that you have sufficient proof to defend yourself in court, when they take you to court 5 years down the line.
If you already got a Lawyer Notice, fight for truth – if you have the proof – or at least make it known to the world. You can post your comments/experiences below by clicking on ‘Comments’.
The Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had announced that it will terminate the Blackberry services in India over concerns of security, since the Indian government cannot monitor the Blackberry servers as they are located in Canada.
Indian mobile operators that offer BlackBerry services, top executives of the Canadian telco Research in Motion (RIM) (the company that owns the “Blackberry” brand), security agencies and officials of the DoT are meeting on March 14 to discuss the concerns of security agencies in order to prevent having BlackBerry services terminated after the March-end deadline.
BlackBerry is famous for its push-mail services that deliver mails as and when it receives, and has over 12 million customers across the world. It is estimated that Blackberry has around 400,000 corporate customers in India.
Google and Yahoo declined to comment on the issue and Microsoft India said the issue was not of immediate concern to them.
Sumeet Gugnani, Director, Mobile Communication Business, Microsoft India, said: “Windows Mobile-enabled handheld devices and cellphones enable users to configure mails on their respective in-house (read in India) Exchange Servers if they so wish.”
I believe in a country like India where mobile internet services is inexpensive, it may be worthwhile to use Exchange Activesync push-mail services which can be hosted by the organization’s Exchange Server itself.
Update: March 15, 2008
The government announced that it is not seeking to ban mobile operators from offering Blackberry services in discussions over security concerns. However cellular operators where asked to reason with RIM to work on a possibility of legally intercepting the data.
Microsoft and India’s Reliance Communications have signed a 500-million-dollar deal to launch India’s first high-definition Internet TV service.
Microsoft TV, known as Microsoft Mediaroom, the new IPTV service from Microsoft, will bring the world-class digital TV concept to homes in India. The service is expected to start early next year in 30 Indian cities.
About 71-million homes in India, a country of 1.1 billion people already have television sets, and 61 percent of them have pay TV, mainly through cable and satellite.
Reliance Communications owns and operates the world’s largest Internet connectivity infrastructure with 165,000 km of fibre-optic cable that spans India, the US and Europe! Reliance is also India’s second-largest telecom firm.
I recently read with interest the press release regarding this. Microsoft is penetrating homes!
MSN India has come up with a new venture. It’s called Cool Hotmail.
The objective is just that. A “cooler” hotmail.
Cool Hotmail lets you select from a number of domain names such as @mumbairocks.in, @delhirocks.in, @CharSauBees.com, @clubsachin.com, @underpaid.co.in, @iambad.in, and even @vadapaavrocks.in – and tons of other domains! Most of the domain names are registered in India (.in).
Now you can create an email address in one of these domains for your name. Grab ’em while you can!
USEFUL INFORMATION After 640-822, many individuals go for 350-030. However a small number decides for N10-003. Here they get stumped. Then testking comes to their rescue. They assist in tests like 70-236 to get on the way to N10 series.
I was totally amazed when I stumbled upon the Microsoft Bhasha project. It is the Microsoft Indic Language project – and they have developed Windows interface packs in almost every Indian language – Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Punjabi, Konkani, Oriya, Sanskrit, and Nepali.
So I dared to download the Windows XP interface pack of my native language, Malayalam from the Microsoft website. Very interesting to note that even the download page was written in Malayalam. Too excited to read, I went ahead, downloaded and installed it.
This is what I got (click to enlarge):
It was extremely funny. I mean, I’m glad it’s localized to my own language but the words used were … er.. preposterous. An ‘ordinary’ Keralite like me will better understand the English version. 🙂
Technology here in Kannur is still way behind the rest of the world. It is catching up, although not at such a fast rate as I would like it to.
I found that people here have not heard about Wi-Fi hotspots (forget hotspots, I had to tell them what Wi-Fi is). Even the more prominent restaurants in town didn’t have a wireless internet zone.
At a public place, you could become the centre of attraction if you take out your PDA or Windows Mobile powered device to check your mail or sign in to IM. The other day I was at the dentist’s waiting room when I noticed that other people were curiously staring at what I was doing with my stylus.
You run the risk of being laughed at if you use a Bluetooth earpiece/headset in public.
Many retail outlets still run monochrome MS-DOS applications.
Computers are still considered expensive, revered, super-duper devices. I’ve found that very few people keep the desktop cabinet on the floor, or neatly tucked under their desks. Instead, they are always placed in a prominent location on top of the desk, next to the CRT monitor, for all to see.
LCD monitors are yet to be popularized. People who buy LCD monitors for home PCs become talk of the town.
Nobody (even the computer literate) can imagine what a server is. They’ve only heard about it. Some think a server is something from which the internet comes.
With all this “hi-tech infrastructure” in place, the Government of this State is making storms in a teacup by forcing Linux in educational institutions and banning Microsoft technologies (which by the way, all people use at their homes/offices – although very few people *legally* use it). Ahem, is Microsoft listening?
Getting fast and easy Internet access was the greatest challenge I faced. Being a geek who always had an online terminal no farther than a few feet 24×7 for the past 2 years, I suffered from some kind of withdrawal syndrome!
Internet access, by far, is cheaper than it is in the middle east. This is really a good sign – more people can afford to be online. The fast DSL connections from BSNL require you to have a fixed, postpaid telephone connection at home (which is not feasible for me – I’m here only for a few weeks!).
The AirTel mobile connection I used had an “add-on” GPRS facility (with monthly prepaid charges of course). But the speed was pathetic. It wouldnt let you attach anything greater than 180-200KB with your email.
So my last resort was to go to an Internet cafe, like everyone else. The good thing is that Kannur is dotted with a large number of internet cafes. Wherever you are in town, you will find a cafe near you. Maybe someday the number of Internet cafes will overtake the number of phone booths! You still need to take your shoes off before you enter an internet cafe though, or they give you “the stare”.
Somehow I do not like using the cafe’s computers for my internet access (Key loggers, RAdmin, etc, – Being the security freak that I am!). So I finally found a cafe where they would let me plug in my laptop to their network and surf the net.
In fact, as I am typing this blog at an Internet cafe, there’s this guy (one of their young customers) who was so amused by seeing a laptop that he jumped right behind my shoulder and started admiring it. I just hate it when people are reading (well, looking at) your screen behind your shoulder……… Ahh… that’s much better.. he has stopped doing it now!
Bottom Line: There’s still a long way to go, but progress is neither a small step, nor a giant leap. I’m sure we’re gonna reach international norms some day. But in the meantime it is rather amusing to take a few steps back in time while I’m here!
Note: This entry is not intended to be derogatory of Kannur. I admire and love the place very much. This is just my two cents, my point of view regarding IT in Kannur. So, no comments and threats, please!
After serving a tenure at Computer World Bahrain, I’m back to Kannur, my hometown for a brief vacation. Kannur, as enchanting as ever, welcomed me with its natural beauty, magical skies, blue seas and homely air.
There hasn’t been much changes in the past two years I was away from Kannur, save the fact that some multi-storey apartment buildings have cropped up. And of course, the rise in prices – of everything!
I went about rediscovering the town that I had roamed for about four years during my engineering course, clicking away photographs, capturing still life and enjoying those moments.
This isn’t a travelogue, but you can find all the Kannur pictures I shot (along with some older ones) in the “Kannur” section at http://www.shijaz.com/photos