Karthik’s digital footprint

Archive for May 2008

Using a calling card got a little more easier, thanks to iPhone

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As many of you may know, calling cards are typically used to call overseas at cheaper rates than what ISD calls would offer. I use these cards frequently to call my friends and family in India.

For all the impatient folk that are tired of listening through the lengthy messages and pressing a lot of keys on the cell phone while using these calling cards to call someone, here is a tidbit.

iPhone gives you an option to store the phone number of a contact along with the toll free number of the calling card provider .This means you don’t have to press the recipient’s number every time you call him/her. You create a contact and assign it the recipient’s number along with the toll free number. Once you store this composite number you can directly call this number in the iPhone-esque way of feather-touching it and iPhone takes care of pressing the keys for you.

Let me use an example to drive my point home.

For example if the toll-free number of the calling card is 1-866-123-1234 and the number you wanna call is 8611234567, you can create a contact and assign the contact, the following number : “18661231234,918611234567″ ; 91 is the international code of the country, in this case it is India . I am assuming that you have your phone registered with the calling card provider so that you do not have to press the access code; only few calling cards provide this option. If not, the sequence, “18661231234,123123,918611234567″ would do; 123123 is the assumed access code. Now, all you have to do is to dial this stored contact in the iPhone-esque way of feather-touching it.

The question on your mind at this point might be about the location of the “,” character on your iPhone keypad. You can find a key that has the characters “+*#”. Press that key and you will notice the change of the keypad style. The new-style keypad has a “pause” key. Pressing this “pause” key would introduce ‘,’ character. The ‘,’ character results in a unit delay between the preceding and the succeeding number. If you had decided to introduce two units of delay you would type in two commas; your number now looks like 18661231234,,918611234567.

As few of you might have already noticed , this method of storing numbers can also be used to store telephone numbers with extensions , and thereby avoid the repeated labor of manually typing the extension numbers .

Written by Karthik Reddy

May 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm

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Tata Indicom wireless data card : to avoid or to embrace

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The following is my experience with the Tata Indicom’s wireless data card , in Bangalore:

The sales pitch for this TATA Indicom card was that the minimum speed would be 140 kbps and that the installation of a “speed optimizer” software, provided on a CD , would jack up the minimum speed to 250 kbps. Well , complete bull.

In spite of being skeptical, I decided to buy the data card and gave it a shot . I installed the drivers including the “speed optimizer” and measured the speeds using the “speed meter” tool available on 2wire.com. The speeds fell in between 25 kbps and 70 kbps(thats kilobits , not kilobytes) in the morning and afternoons, and between 80 kbps and 100 kbps in the evenings.

To put this in perspective for the US internet consumers, Comcast’s cable internet plans priced around 30 to 40 dollars a month in US measured up to 4 to 5 Mbps when tested using the same “speed meter” tool.

To give you a feel of what kinda effect , speeds between 25 kbps and 70 kbps could have on one’s browsing experience , I am listing few web page load times I have myself measured :

46.2 secs for yahoo.com

40.7 secs for digg.com

8 secs for google.com

10 secs for timesofindia.com

29 secs for techcrunch.com

17 secs for logging into gmail.

To be fair to Tata Indicom , I was told that the data cards offered by other Indian telecom providers like Reliance and Airtel fare no better ; but I can not confirm.

Bottom Line: Go for the Tata Indicom data card only if you are comfortable with the aforementioned speeds and also if you are really desperate for some portable “internets” .

For those of you interested in the Tata Indicom’s data card: it costs around 2800 INR upfront and then a monthly rental of 100 INR . You will be given a USB compatible device , that acts as the transceiver of the data , and you will get to keep it.

Written by Karthik Reddy

May 4, 2008 at 12:10 pm