Internet “Suffering”

by Shijaz Abdulla on 15.04.2007 at 09:30

So I am on my way, leaving the seas and skies of Kannur behind, awaiting a new life ahead of me in Doha. I take with me some great memories of my relatives, of my friends, and of course – of my sweet fiancée. Due to peak season, I got a flight to Doha from Calicut via this place called Colombo in Sri Lanka.

This itinerary is especially boring – there is going to be a four hour wait in the transit lounge at Colombo International Airport before I board the flight that would take me to Doha. I moved around the airport to see if I could catch something interesting, but in vain. I must say though, that the airport was more impressive than I had expected – in fact, it was very impressive.

However, I found that they don’t accept Indian rupees at any of the retail outlets in the lounge. The only bank in the lounge offered to convert any currency in the world to Sri Lankan rupees – except Indian rupees! Quite ridiculous it is, with the fact that India is its closest neighbor and many flights going in and out of the airport would touch India, so much that they neither want to deal nor buy Indian Rupees at Colombo airport!

Crushed by boredom, I decided to pull out my laptop and see if I could browse over WiFi. I was in the hope that I could pay electronically somehow. I scanned for available WiFi networks and found Sri Lankan Telecom’s Wifi Access Point. When I tried browsing this is the “Internet Suffering hours” screen that I got.

Click to enlarge

Boy, they really know how to entertain transit passengers!

Well, it really was a ‘suffering’ – I tried paying electronically and got a confirmation for the transaction – but still no Internet! Upon enquiry at the Sri Lankan Telecom outlet, I was informed by the young lady there that “the system is under construction, saar (sir)“.

Thank you very much.

Technology @ Kannur

by Shijaz Abdulla on 03.03.2007 at 08:32

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!

Back home!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 18.02.2007 at 08:23

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