Tag Archives: Bangalore

Renewing Indian passport online

My passport was due for renewal and I just renewed it. Even though the process seems relatively simple on paper, there were quite a few things I learned on the way which would definitely help someone who has to go through the process again. I thought of documenting and sharing them so that it is useful for people who are in the similar situation.

Disclaimers

Couple of disclaimers before we start.

  • As with government offices in India and state of an atom, your experiences may vary ;)
  • I am documenting the steps that worked for me as of Jan 2013. It is possible that rules might have changed.
  • I renewed it in Bangalore. It might be different if you are doing it in another city/state.
  • Most of it apply for new passport also, but there might be some changes.

Additional changes needed in my passport

In addition to renewing the passport, I wanted to do these additional changes as well.

  • Change my address from Chennai to Bangalore
  • Change my marital status from single to married. Yes I got married about a year back ;)
  • Include my wife’s name in the spouse column
  • Remove ECR check. I got my old password while I was in college and it was enabled.

One thing I came to know is that, if you are married then it is mandatory to include your spouse name in the passport by providing the necessary documents. Sorry guys, if you are married you can’t skip it ;)

Tatkal and Ordinary

There are two methods to renew passport. Tatkal and ordinary. According to the official statement, if you choose tatkal, then you can expect to get your passport within 10 days and for ordinary it will take about 3-4 weeks.

My passport was due for renewal in Jan 2013. I submitted the online application on Dec 3, 2012 through ordinary method and received my passport on Feb 7, 2013. There were two major reasons for the delay.

  • Getting the appointment
  • Delay because of police verification

If you take both into consideration, it is fair to say that you will get your passport in 3-4 weeks even if you choose the ordinary method.

Documents needed

For passport renewal, you need the following documents.

  • Old passport
  • Address proof (need two separate proofs)
  • Marriage certificate or affidavit(to add your spouse name)
  • Degree certificate (for removing ECR check)

For address proof I took the tax document (katha extract) of my house, EB bills, Gas bills, letter from my HR dept and my company id card. Even though the website says only two is needed, they asked for all the above from me.

For adding spouse name, you need the marriage certificate or an affidavit. If you have a marriage certificate it is better to carry that instead of an affidavit. For me they objected since my affidavit was issued in Chennai and was registered using Tamil Nadu stamp paper. I told them that I got married in Chennai and they accepted it on the condition that they will keep the original.

To remove ECR check, I had both my BE and MS certificates and they were fine with that.

It is also safe to carry your 10th and 12th mark sheet and also some additional certificates with have your date of birth. This is not specified anywhere in the website, but they asked me for this. The reason they gave me for this was that, if you are renewing your passport in a new city, then they can’t retrieve your old documents and you have to submit them again. I was not able to argue beyond that but luckily I was carrying them that day.

Process

Okay so let me explain the process now. This is more or less the same for new passport also.

  • Submit your application online
  • Get an appointment for the visit to passport office
  • Visit the office and submit the documents
  • Complete police verification
  • Receive your passport

Submit your application online

You have to create a new account at http://www.passportindia.gov.in, download the application form, fill it and submit it back. The site is maintained by TCS, but don’t have any expectations. It is more or less at the same league of Irctc. Links open randomly in tabs, captchas every where, random session lock-in – you get the idea right?

One very important thing to do, if you don’t want any random calls from tele-marketers is to make sure you un-check the “Share my details with tele-marketers” checkbox, while uploading your filled in form. Yes, you read it correctly! Honestly I was shocked when I first saw it. I don’t know why they want to do this in a site where you upload sensitive information about you. I don’t know how much MEA (Minister of External Affairs) or TCS (who is maintaining this site) is going to earn by doing this. Anyways that is the state of things and make sure you uncheck the checkbox and hope they respect it.

Getting an appointment

Update: From May 28, 2013, Bangalore passport office has started to open the slots for 21 days.

If you thing uploading the document was tough, then you have not seen the real thing :)

Personally for me this was the most irritating, difficult and time consuming part of the entire process.

They give appointment only for the next two days. The booking starts at 6PM for Bangalore (varies for different cities) and gets over in less than 100 seconds! (not minutes!) You need to fill in 3-4 captchas during that time and most of the times the site just hangs or times out.

It took me one full month to get the appointment after trying it to get one exactly at 6 PM every day.

The following are some of the things I learned the hard way. Hopefully this should help you to get appointment easily.

  • Don’t try from your office or places where a single public IP is shared. They do filtering based on IP (I don’t know why)
  • Be careful while filling out the captchas.
  • Try exactly at 6:00 PM. Not at 5:59 or 6:01.
  • Close everything in your machine and have only this tab open.
  • Try to do it from a place where you have decent broadband speed. Trying from a slow connection usually fails.
  • Try to choose a time-slot between 12-2PM. Most people don’t choose this time period and the probability of getting this time slot is higher.

Visit the passport office

When you visit the passport office, make sure you are carrying all your documents and be on time. I guess you don’t want to loose the appointment that you got the hard way ;)

At the passport office, they will first check your documents and then will give you a file and token number. When the number is displayed on the display screens, you have to go to counter A, where they will check and scan your documents, collect the fees and take your photo. I saw a couple of people wearing blazers with tie and others using a hand mirror and comb. It’s up to you, if you want to do it ;)

After that you have to go to counter B when your token number is called. They also will check your documents and will ask you to go to counter C. In counter C, they will check your documents again, put a cancel seal in your old passport and will ask you to go to the final guy, who will give you an acknowledgment.

If you are lucky the entire process should be done in around 2 hours. I was very un-lucky the day I went and ended by waiting there for 6 hours :( Hopefully you will be lucky enough ;)

Complete police verification

Let me state the theoretical process first of how things should happen and then the practical process of how things actually happen.

The theoretical process is that your application is received by the police station, then come to your home to verify you stay there and then forward the application.

But in practice, this never happens. You should consider yourself to be lucky if they atleast have a courtesy to call you. For me they didn’t even give me a call. I waited for more than 3 weeks and went to the police station after that. That’s one of the reason why my passport got delayed.

The police station receive the application in a day or two after you visit the passport office. Wait for a week and if you don’t get a call, it is better to visit them. Make sure you carry all your documents and two passport size photos. Be prepared to be treated badly and also expect to wait there if needed. It is a police station and I guess you get the idea.

You receive your passport

Once the police forward your application you can expect to receive your passport by post with-in a week. Make sure you are either at home or have someone at home with your photo id.

Congratulations you have renewed your passport ;)

Posted in Random/Personal | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Buying Arduino in Bangalore

After seeing my talks and projects on Arduino lot of people keep asking me the same Question. Where do buy Arduino or other electronic components in Bangalore?

Instead of replying to them individually, I thought I would post about it here, so that it is useful for others as well.

Okay, to buy Arduino in Bangalore you have two options, either buy them offline (in a brick and motar shop) or buy them online.

Buying electronic components in Bangalore

In general you can find most of the electronic components that you need for your hobbyist projects in SP road in Bangalore. It is similar to Richee Street in Chennai. (I guess every city has a similar a similar road)

For people who are new to Bangalore, I have embedded a map of the place, which I am talking about below.


View Larger Map

Shops that sell Arduino in Bangalore

In SP road, I know the following shops that sell Arduino. There could be others as well, but these are the ones that I have personally bought Arduino from.

  • NSK Electronics (price Rs. 1300, checked on 24-March-2012)
  • Vishal Electronics (price Rs. 1300, checked on 24-March-2012)

NSK Electronics also sells Arduino clones for a much cheaper price. Once thing to keep in mind is that, these Arduinos don’t come with the USB cable. You have to buy them separately. Don’t forget to buy them as well. Last time I checked the price was around Rs 20.

Buying Arduino Online in India

If you are not in Bangalore or if you prefer to buy them online then you can buy them from one of the below shops.

  • rhydolabz.com – I bought my first Arduino from them, way back in 2010
  • 9circuits.com – They are slightly costly, but they have Arduino ADK boards as well.
  • tenettech.com – They have lot of good tutorials and also have a clone as well.

Buying USB Host shield

I have not seen any shop selling USB Host Shield in Bangalore so far. The only option is to buy them online from Circuits@home

If you find a better option, then let me know in the comments below and I will add them to the article. Till then, best luck with your Arduino :)

Posted in Arduino | Tagged , | 37 Comments

Smart ways to rule the streets ;)

I have been pretty quiet on this blog for quite some time. It’s mainly because of my new addictions. First addiction is physical computing (more about it later). The other one is that, I have started roaming around the city with my new bike :)

New Bike

Ever since I moved to Bangalore, I was planning to get a new bike, instead of bringing my old bike from Chennai. As with anything I buy, I started my research and finally settled on two. Bajaj Pulsar 220 and Yamaha FZ-S. I test drive both and both were pretty good, but in the end Yamaha FZ-S won on the basics of exclusivity.

If you go to any parking lot, you can see hundreds of Pulsars, but only a few FZ-S and I liked my bike to be unique. :)

Yamaha FZ-S

Specs

You can check out the full specs of the bike from the manufactures site.

From my experiences so far

Pros

  • The bike is designed for being exclusive and to attract people – and it does it very well.
  • Complete digital display
  • Awesome road grip
  • Has an excellent self-starter. I have not faced any problem with it in the last 20+ days.

Cons

  • Mileage – If you want a bike which gives good mileage, then this bike is not for you. I am hardly getting around 35 Km/Litre of petrol. :(
  • Because of the shape of the tank, if you try to push the bike forward while sitting on it with your legs, you might hurt yourself.

Apart from it, I really like the bike and it has so far held up to its tagline – Smart way to rule the streets :)

Posted in Gadgets, Random/Personal | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Interacting with XMPP using PHP

Yesterday, I talked about using XMPP with PHP in the Bangalore PHP meetup.

I have uploaded the slides which I used for the talk to my Slideshare account. I have embedded it below for easy viewing.

Demo

You can find the demo and the source code which I used in the talk here.

Links

The following are links to some of the softwares/libraries which I mentioned

  • Strophe – JavaScript XMPP Library
  • BOSH – XMPP HTTP Bridge
  • Ejabberd – Open source XMPP server written in Erlang
  • JAXL – PHP XMPP Library

Posted in Events/Camps | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

One year at Yahoo

On June 15th I completed one year at Yahoo and Bangalore.

I sat around to write about my life in the past one year and then I read about Derek’s experience.

Now, all you need to do is to replace *Sunnyvale* with *Bangalore, *Yahoo Hack Day 2008* with *Yahoo Hack Day 2009* and *Kansas City* with *Chennai* in this post and you will get my story ;)

Thanks to everyone at Yahoo for making this past one year as one of my best years and also for Derek for saving a couple of keystrokes for me. :)

Posted in Google/Yahoo, Random/Personal | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Using WordPress as a platform

I just gave a talk in Bangalore PHP Meetup about ways in which we can use WordPress as a platform. The following is the slide I used and a little write up about the talk.

Okay, we have seen various tutorials, blog posts etc about using WordPress as this, WordPress as that and even a definite guide to using WordPress as a CMS ;)

What I am going to talk about is how we can use WordPress as a platform to develop PHP applications on top of it.

There are basically two ways in which we can write apps using WordPress.

  • As a Plugin or a Theme
  • As a standalone app

As a Plugin or a Theme

This is the most common way of writing apps using WordPress. You basically write a Plugin or a Theme that uses WordPress API. (This is how RoloPress is developed)

Check out the slide for some examples apps using this technique.

As a standalone app

In this technique, we can make use of our knowledge about WordPress functions and API in our non-standard WordPress PHP-based web applications. The easiest way to use this technique is to use BackPress.

BackPress

So what is BackPress. Here is the official definition

BackPress is a PHP library of core functionality for web applications. It grew out of the immensely popular WordPress project, and is also the core of the bbPress and GlotPress sister-projects.

Using BackPress, you can include the necessary files and you will get the WordPress utility functions. My most favourites are the security functions. In additions to using the utility functions, you will also be able to get the following features.

  • User role management
  • Complete Plugin API
  • XML-RPC Server and Client
  • Object Caching
  • Database Abstraction
  • Pseudo-cron functionality
  • Full HTTP library
  • KSES: Full security filtering for HTML content

You can see the full list in the BackPress documentation.

I also go about discussing the scenarios where it is advantages and where it is not so advantages to use BackPress. (You can see those in the slides)

So in a nutshell, if you are a WordPress developer and want to use the familiar WordPress functions in a non-WordPress PHP-based web application that you are developing, then you can use BackPress to get those familiar functions.

I am going to use BackPress in a couple of projects, which I am going to start and so stay tuned. :)

Posted in Events/Camps, WordPress | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

It’s been 30 days since I abandoned TV

.. and I am really happy about it now. :)

Like my role models, I thought of abandoning TV as a 30 day experiment and it worked out wonders. :)

It all started after I moved to Bangalore. I rented a new house and I needed to buy a set-top box to watch TV. I was slightly busy getting settled in the first week and so was not able to do it immediately. After about a week of not watching TV, I thought of continuing it for a month, to see how things turn out.

Now, after a month, I am very happy that I took the decision to abandon it. I was able to save at least 3-5 hours a day and I tried to put in those hours to other things that I always wanted to do, but didn’t had time to do. Following are some of the things that I did in the hours that I saved.

Concentrated more on my blog

I concentrated more on my blog with the extra time I got and it has yielded very good results. Here are some stats.

  • In July alone, I have written 16 posts, which is the highest number of posts in a given month in the entire existence of my blog.
  • On July 24th, I received the highest number of page views on a single day in the entire existence of my blog.
  • In July, I have received the highest number of page views on a single month.
  • In July, the traffic to my blog has increased by more than 40%.

WordPress Plugin

Next within these 30 days, I have created and released more than 5 Plugins for the WordPress Plugin competition and have updated around 3 of my old Plugins. Ohh, by the way, do vote for my Plugins ;)

Gym

The next best thing, I did during this period is that, I have started going to the gym regularly, which I always wanted to do (but didn’t) for the last 10 years. I could feel that my stamina has increased tremendously after just one week of regular workouts.

Books

I was also able to finish reading around 5 books, which were lying in my bookshelf without reading for quite some time.

Other projects

I have also invested the extra time in a couple of other projects (which I will talk about soon). I am also working on enhancing the theme that I am using for my blog and you will see it in action with in a week.

Future plan

I am planning to continue abandon TV and planning to go to theatres to watch movies. May be I will relax this rule a bit, when cricket matches take place.

Overall, I was able to achieve, what I wanted to achieve for years, by just switching off the TV for 30 days. More than achieving things, I am very happy and much relaxed now. No wonder why they say that people who don’t watch TV are very happy. ;)

So what are you going to do for your 30 days experiment? :)

Posted in Random/Personal | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Joining Yahoo

Well guys, got some good news for you all. I am joining Yahoo Research, Bangalore next week.

I am relocating to Bangalore and may not be available online for a couple of days, so if you have sent an email, you may have to wait for some more time for reply.

This is the first time in my entire life, I am leaving the comfort of my home and Chennai, so a little nervous about it. But I guess everything should be fine once I get settled there.

So Bangalore, here I come ;)

Posted in Random/Personal | Tagged , , | 17 Comments