Stephanie’s Blog

October 5, 2010

Software Freedom Day 2010

Filed under: India, KDE, KDE-edu, KGeography, Kolkata, maps — Tags: , — steph @ 10:00 pm

I was recently invited to speak at Software Freedom Day in Kolkata. I was very surprised to be invited to speak, until I saw the topic, FOSS in Education. I was initially invited to speak about Kgeography, but when I informed the coordinator that it would be almost impossible to speak about that for a whole hour, so I offered to speak on KDE-edu and Kgeography.

The event was held on Saturday, September 18, at DPS India. It consisted of 4 speakers, who spoke about Alfresco, digitization of printed books with FOSS tools, setting up networking for school/small businesses, and my topic.

First I went through a brief introduction of KDE-edu, and the programs. I followed that up with demonstrations of each program. Also, a detailed demo of Kgeography, and how to add maps. There were many people interested in it.

All in all it was a good talk, and surprisingly enough I found this time around taking 1 hour was not a problem. =]

August 10, 2010

My going-on’s lately

Filed under: Friends, India, Kolkata, every day life, my family, personal — steph @ 9:54 pm

Well…lately I have been reading a few more expat blogs. Especially Diary of a White Indian Housewife, these interest me because I can see how others live, and their experiences of being an expat living in India. I must admit though, some of the stories there shock me! I suppose we’ve had it easy so far with the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office) here in Kolkata. But more about that in later posts, as I promise to post more about my experience with them.

This past week, the 3rd-5th, my brother, Julian, was in Kolkata. It was a blast! I enjoyed having him here although after dropping him at the airport on Thursday I was thoroughly exhausted!! (**NOTE** since my blog is not playing nice and letting me upload photos, the pictures of the visit here : )

Tuesday Indra and I picked him up from the Howrah Train station at 630am…yes thats right! After 2 1/2 hours of sleep we left in the hired car, and were on our way. We found him waiting on the platform near his coach looking around. He had been brave and took the 3-tier sleeper class compartment, which means 3 bunks on each side of the train, without air conditioning for 2 1/2 days!!! WOW talk about brave, I’ve only been on a train once, and that was in an air conditioned train, and it was one of the best trains around. =D Once we picked him up we delivered him to his guest house, Mona Lisa Guest House, on Sarat Bose Road by Deshapriya Park. It was a very nice place, and we will probably use them again in the future for any other family who comes to visit.

After giving him some time to get ready, Julian and I ventured out to Howrah to go to the Botanical Gardens to see the Great Banyan Tree. We paid our Rs 50 ($1.10) for our tickets and went in. It was beautiful, so quiet and green. We kept walking, and finally found it. It was amazing! We had both thought it would be just one big huge tree, we were very pleasantly surprised. It was very much worth the 50 rupees we paid to get in. While walking around a over-sized golf cart pulled up to us and asked us if we wanted to go for a ride. We asked how much, he said 250 rupees each, but i am already giving you a discount to 150 rupees. We said no and continued on our walk.

Then we went to the Victoria Memorial, where we paid 150 rupees each to get in. We walked around and looked at the photos, and the old artifacts. But, we were not very impressed.

Later that night we met up with Indra and had a vegetarian bengali meal, with rice, daal, and some other veggies. It was yummy.

Thursday Indra took the day off and we went around the city. First we went to the Kalighat Temple, where we were accosted by touts telling us for a fee they could get us into the temple, avoiding all lines and all hassle. We ignored them, and walked around without going in. Then we were on our way to the Indian Coffee House on College Street. We had noodles and cold coffee with cream, it was yummy. We then went to a book store where Indra found a recipe book full of Indian sweets that we purchased for Julian. Then we went to Mithai (indian sweet shop) where Julian had sandesh and my personal favorite, ladu. Then we went to New Market, near Esplanade to go shopping.

Since Nina loves elephants, we wandered around New Market until we found a suitable elephant bracelet. We then went to Mocambo’s with John Bose, his gf Tara, Choto (small) Indranil Dasgupta, Arjun Ghosh, and us. We enjoyed some good beef steak sizzlers. Also, we had tried Baked Alaska (which was not very good)…then went home.

Thursday I picked Julian up at 12pm, and took him to the airport.

I will blog about each adventure individually, if you give me some time :)

January 22, 2010

HP Service Center, US vs. India

Filed under: HP, HP Manufacturer Warranty, HP Service Center, Kolkata, computer, ranting — steph @ 9:46 pm

Well…after almost a year of pretty good treatment from my HP Pavilion Dv4 1145-go, something finally went wrong. Last Friday my computer stopped charging, and no amount of wiggling, pushing, and swear words would get the charger to connect. *sigh* Saturday, Indra and I went off to Loudon Street (off of Park Street) to the HP Service Center. We were lucky to make it in time, because the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had come for the 150-year anniversary of St. Xavier’s College, and the whole convoy was getting ready to pull out soon. Thank goodness the police officer graciously let us cross the street saying, “Yes, go, but go fast.” So, we went across to the HP SC. Here I filled out a few lines of information about the problem I was having, and sat down. After about 5 minutes wait my number was called, and so we went back to the tech’s office and they tested my computer with their charger, and vice versa. After confirming that it was indeed the adapter that had gone bad, they looked up my warranty information, where upon searching it was found that my warranty had expired in October. Knowing this was incorrect information, I gave them the original purchase receipt, which they then promptly scanned. They told us, “tin char din” (3 - 4 days.) Upon further clarification, it was specified that it would be business days. After this we ran our few errands while we were out, and then went home.

Monday morning I woke up to a phone call from the HP SC wanting to know the specific name of the business I had purchased my laptop at, after unsuccessfully telling the lady on the other end the line, Indra was given the phone, and the call was completed.

Tuesday morning, was the same thing. Only this time they wanted a copy of the “original” invoice. When they said this, they were promptly told that the copy was already in their possession and that there was nothing else to be given. They were insisting they needed a “stamped” copy of the “original” invoice. Again, stating that this was all that I was given, they said, “okay.”

Wednesday They called later in the afternoon, and said that their warranty counterparts in India would not be able to use the warranty as my original purchase receipt did not have the serial number of my laptop on it. Outraged at this I said good-bye and proceeded to rant about the sometimes idiotic bureaucracy of India. I went to class with all intents of calling HP & Best Buy when I got home. I called them, and after 30 minutes of international calls, I had managed to get my solution. I gave the HP in the US the Serial Number and the date I purchased my laptop, and they verified that the warranty should be valid 1 year from the date I purchased the computer. I scanned my receipt and sent it on the way to HP with the promise of the warranty being corrected in 24-72 hours. The email was received promptly.

Thursday, I called the HP SC in Kolkata and told them that I had called to the US myself and that the warranty should be updated. Nobody would listen to me, so I asked to speak to the supervisor when I also explained the situation, and that *I* had taken it upon myself to fix the problem. Nobody would listen and insisted that the warranty wouldn’t work. I many times asked for them to just input the SN into their system and they would find that the warranty information had been updated from the US side. After being thoroughly dismissed and ignored. I then called Indra and asked him to call. He instead called Suresh Gopinath, a work contact, and then he proceeded to call an upper level HP manager in Bangalore. By 430pm I had heard from Suresh-da that it was fixed. The HP SC had also called and informed me that the order placement was in and that it should be here by Friday, end of business.

Today…(being Friday) I answered the phone from HP, and was promptly told that the part had been ordered today, and would again be here in “3-4 business days.” Outraged, I had Indra call to the upper level manager, and who, despite it being his day off, said he would see what happened. Then, today at about 130pm, I received another phone call from the HP SC saying that my part had come in, and what was my address, so they could deliver it. By 4pm today the adapter was here, and now my computer is working.

It outrages me how the HP SC couldn’t even call the US side and fix the warranty themselves, I had to do that legwork myself. So, pretty much I had done their work, and they thought they would be able to get off easily, because of their ignorance in how the other countries work regarding receipts. The company needs to train their employees to listen, and not ignore their customers, as well as learn about how the rest of the world works and work with the customers, not against them.

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