I am a loyal Etisalat Internet subscriber since around 1997. Over the years definitely the technology being used has surpassed what one could imagine in those days. I still remember downloading Game Rips on 64kbps ISDN connection back then. The excitement would always be there until the entire rip was downloaded, extracted and played.

One thing which definitely had not changed until recently was connecting using the same account username and password from multiple locations. Someone subscribed to a lower speed would be able to get much higher speeds by using some one else’s account subscribed for a higher speed. Using dual account logins at different places was sometimes also essential to determine any gateway or line-related issues to troubleshoot easier.

Some took advantage of this. Etisalat had absolutely no way to track this until I switched on my other Linksys ADSL Gateway in my room. The reason i got this error/notice was because I already had my other Linksys in my hall switched on and connected to the Internet.

Finally Etisalat, came up with a detection mechanism to monitor account sharing and restrict such activity.

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TRA’s decision to suspend Blackberry Services across the country through two local ISPs, Etisalat and Du, have become the talk of the town. I have personally received more than 15 calls from my friends to confirm the news and discuss any alternatives. Well, the news was striking for myself too when one on my close buddies Noaman Sayed informed me the same initially.

The ISPs have even taken an initiative to send SMS messages to their Blackberry clients of the upcoming suspension of the service and that an alternative solution will be provided soon.

One point I cannot understand is , what alternatives could be possible keeping the same device and service. Any e-mail account which needs to be added needs the respective service book. If the main reason for TRA to declare the suspension is for not being able to monitor chat logs and email communication then the whole device becomes useless and the service pointless.

Recently Chinese seem to have put enough pressure on parent company Research in Motion that a monitoring service is in the phase. Soon India is demanding one and very soon UAE wants one. RIM uses a very sophisticated encryption algorithm which limits the telecom operators to crack and read open the communication raising national security concerns.

All of this is pressure to RIM especially since their market share has dropped from 55% to 41% in Q1 2010. iPhone is definitely picking up and with providers giving full support for both on their networks gives RIM another thought to think about.

The month of August is going to be crazy here in Dubai and other Emirates to determine any feasible solutions. Throwing blackberries and getting iPhones could mean some more number crunching work for the business professionals and deploying Blackberry-alternative solutions for IT pros could mean more sleepless nights.

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Tibbs Frankie has now found a new dedicated store in the heart of Bur Dubai. For those aware of the brand tag, the taste is just the same with more varieties of frankies, sandwiches and fries. For those not aware, ‘Tibbs Frankies’ are wrap rolls with indian-spices-mixes of masala and chicken or other varieties of Paneer(indian tofu). They have small outlets across India but this the first dedicated restaurant styled outlet i have seen here in middle east.

It can be categorized as fast food, much tastier than a regular McDonalds burger. The other varieties on the menu are a treat as well.

The store opened with two days of trial rounds and being one of the fans of Tibbs I can say they have done a good job.

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Etisalat with its FTTH (fibre to the home) Project reaching the mature stage, eLife package was launched promising more bandwidth for less price. Doing this they decided to introduce a fair 100GB limit which is another story in itself discussed here.

Getting back to the router; with this new eLife Package it was necessary to upgrade the current DSL modem to a broadband router. Those of us who bought a modem/router from Etisalat initially were gifted with new Aztech HW550-3G on this eLife Upgrade. Those unfortunate had to shell out extra bucks on a broadband router and stock their older DSL types.

I went ahead and bought myself a Linksys WRT160n promising faster speeds, longer range. Installing this was no hassle. But I always found something missing in the router. With my previous experience of open source firmware, I got it updated to DD-WRT.

DD-WRT is an open-source firmware for multitude brands of routers and types. On accessing the interface, I realized my router was on steroids. One feature that I relly love is the multi-SSID broadcast. I have a primary SSID which is hidden and a public-protected SSID for which i keep on changing the password. This gives me control on wi-fi devices my friends use at my place without destroying/interrupting my own personal wi-fi zone.

dd-wrt_dialup

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It is very sad to know sudden demise of my cousin Vikas Tulsiani during the Pune bomb lasts @ Koregaon Park. He was a BE Graduate and was in Dubai past couple of months looking out for an opportunity here. Him, his brother Amit and couple of us used to meet up in a Karama coffee shop. We will feel his loss and seperation.

He was a jovial person. Loved playing UNO. We used to share laughs, jokes, and our Pune experiences with each other. Being BE graduates we ended sharing quite some thoughts on technology too.

I was in Hyderabad during the bombings and heard of Vikas from one of his aunties. He was hospitalized and got updates from his aunty who rushed to Pune.

I really am saddened by his loss.

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It has become very evident from a very strong source that Cathay Pacific will soon be removing the Mumbai sector from their Dubai-Hong Kong journey.

This will definitely put some pressure on many classes of the Indian society. Cathay is known for its superior class of service compared to its competitors. This is evident right from the moment you stand in queue for check-in all the way until the end of the journey. The snacks and food served is exceptional and of much better taste and quality compared to Emirates.

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Thank goodness. this relieves me the pressure of loading up a cydget and having manually sync contacts between the two. I just rcvd an AppStore badge mentioning there was one update. After installing i was surprised at the two initial prompts i rcvd. The first prompt asked me whether i would like to enable push notifications for updates from my facebook profile, and the second one was the long awaited friend-sync question.

On accepting both prompts, a Sync Contacts screen shows options to enable syncing and replace photos. The alert I rcvd on enabling the Syncing kinda confused me initially. It rather mentions a warning more than a message whether I am ready to start the sync and that my friends should not be having a problem. Well, it’s my phone, my profile, I get to use it how i want it.

It first starts downloading all the picture information it finds on your profile. Once it finishes that, It tries to sync the contacts and match them in batches. It took almost 8 minutes for running the initial sync. So if you have around 600 friends, pl accept delays of at least 15 minutes. Avoid this initial setup over your data plan, as it could be frustratingly slow and a heavy download.

Best of all, It tries to match, email address or phone number and puts the image right in your contact info’s details. It also does put link to the particular conatct’s profile page right in the home page address of your contact.

Sadly to say, as yet, there is no manual syncing option. Well, might happen in another update.

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A long time since my last post. I was occupied traveling to India and having some arrangements done for my marriage. Well, here I’m back again waiting to write about my newly purchased Apple TV.

It is a great product provided you are ready to have it hacked(cracked) to playback XViD movies and have third-party applications installed. I used a neat installer called aTVFlash. It does come at a price, and must say it is a complete package bundled with everything you need. It makes running Google Earth possible, gives you bluetooth support, a media center application and ability to mount network shares.

I have a PC, dedicated for my downloads, and the AppleTV just plays on along pretty well. My dad has got used to XBMC, a media center application, and plays Hindi movies, and watches movie trailers without bothering me much.

Update (7 Jul, 2010): Having it for now almost 8 months, I haven’t been able to make Bluetooth work as yet, the built-in remote just works fine. Did I mention that you could also use any other remote to work with Apple TV. It has a learning system where it catches the infrared signals and stores them in its memory. Lucky for me, I use my home theatre’s remote which has multiple modes to operate.

One thing to keep in mind is that the AppleTV is an under-powered Mini. Which means playing 1080p movies is a partial fantasy. They do play, but since the processor is not able to deocde so much data on the fly, the frames skip and you have a crisp-clear movie with bouncing frames.

Even H264 and x264 encoded movies skip a lot of frames. aTVFlash comes with its own version of the codec which can be disabled or enabled. But on these codecs and resolution the Apple TV just canot cope up. The max resolution that I have been able to work with flawlessly is 720p with XViD encoding video and AC3 sound. Anything beyond this and you have a frame skipper.

Thing that work (after my aTVFlash):

  • XViD @ 720p
  • AC3
  • SSH
  • FTP
  • VNC Remote Control
  • External USB Storage
  • AC3 Passthrough
  • iTunes Syncing/Sharing
  • XBMC
  • Stream from DVD

Things I could not make work:

  • Bluetooth
  • AFP
  • Sapphire
  • x264/h264

I hope the documentation of aTVFlash becomes more extensive. Any case, kudos to the aTVFlash Team for their continued development on the product.

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with my experience with Etisalat as a customer for the past 12 years, I could not recollect when was the last time they were able to solve a problem immediately. Sadly, this is the case even now.

Subscribing to their services, enters you into a plethora of random irritations that you cannot just get out of them. Like :

  1. Internet Passwords getting reset automatically
  2. GPRS going down suddenly
  3. Blackberry Services going down
  4. Rolling out spying packages saying these are network upgrades for better connectivity
  5. SIM cards not re-issued correctly
  6. Bill Payments not handled correctly, etc.

Instead of managing these issues, and rectifying the recovery time, they still manage to bombard their customers with marketing SMSes to their more than 94m innocent souls.

The marketing messages are sent across as SMS messages on device handsets. Messages include options for subscribing to special services at discounted rates, blackberry devices going for cheap prices, e-vision packages offering new channels, Special rates for calling cards to Pakistan and India, reduced prices during EID, special prices during Ramada, Diwali, Onam, etc. WHO CARES.

These messages have no fixed timing for delivery. Sometimes they reach a day late, sometimes momements before the offer expires, and sometimes during sleeping hours. This has not improved and got even more worse with Etisalat offering newer blackberries and to cause even more trouble the iPhone series of handsets.

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Finally i got myself an iphone. Had been prying on my sister’s 3G for a long long time. Finally she could not resist and had to make my own-an-iphone dream come true.

It has been fun so far. My second day as yet. Have to catch up with those who have been using it for years now. 

The base technology has remained the same. No doubt. It is the software which has made a lot of difference. I remember using the 2G 1.1.2 OTB version, which i sold off the very next day as I realized the crack was not out yet.

I hope to bring this investment to some judgement.

– A proud apple fan

Category: Personal, Technology