Credit card users beware

This is a little old news item from Times of India Mumbai edition. This news item came on 15th December 2005.
Once again a nice utility put to wrong use. Am not talking about credit card but about the Magnetic card reading device.

4 held for siphoning off plastic cash
They Would Make Duplicates Of Credit Cards Used By Customers At A Juhu Hotel


Mumbai: The next time you decide to use your credit card on a shopping trip, think again. The Mumbai police have busted a hitech credit card fraud which they believe is the crime of the future.

Four gadget-savvy youngsters from Andheri, two of them software engineers, got together to earn a quick buck and ended up ripping off over Rs 3 lakh of citizens’ money. The foursome were arrested by the Juhu police on Tuesday. Interestingly, one of the boys was all set to leave for the United States for a job in a wellplaced computer firm.

According to the police, the mastermind of the gang is 19-year-old Leo Paul. A second-year engineering student at a Bandra college, Paul had read about a magnetic card-reading device which could store data once you swipe a card through it. Data from at least 12 such cards could be stored at a time. Paul realised that if credit cards were swiped though the machine, the personal data of a customer stored on it could be accessed. He then teamed with Akash Kamble, a 19-year-old Lokhandwala resident, and ordered the card-reader from USA, using the internet, since it’s not available in India.

“The boys befriended a waiter at Kings International hotel at Juhu to take their plan ahead. Every time someone ate a meal in the hotel and paid by credit card, the waiter would discreetly swipe it through the magnetic card-reader, which is no more than 6-inches long and can be stored in the pocket,” said investigating officer Ramesh Nangare.

Once the waiter was done, he would hand over the device to Paul who would download the data from the cards on to Kamble’s personal computer. The duo would then feed the data into blank cards, available in the grey market. The cards were now ready to be used in shopping malls and theatres, or to withdraw money from an ATM.

Senior inspector Pradeep Shinde said that the boys forged information from more than 22 cards in this manner. The fraud came to light after officials from HSBC bank complained to the police. The cops quizzed customers whose cards had been duplicated and discovered they had all visited Hotel Kings International and paid by credit card. Investigators then caught the waiter who led them to the four youngsters. Paul, Kamble and the two other collegians identified as Manoj Chauhan (24) and Mahesh Valani (20), have been remanded to police custody.


A portable magnetic cardreader can store data from around a dozen cards that have been swiped through it; made in China, the device was bought on the net for Rs 18,000.

The card-reader is connected to a computer and the entire data is transferred there.

The data is then stored in blank cards available in the grey market.

These duplicate cards can now be used to buy a fortune and also withdraw money from ATMs

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A year that was

In 2004 begining of the year I moved to new company, end of 2005 am still with the same company. No changes and no plans now!!
To look back 360+ days, did I do something different from the earlier years. In some ways, yes.

1) I ran my first marathon (for those who do not know the distance, its of 42kms) in my hometown, Chennai on Feb 20. It was not easy running such a distance first time in my life at such old age!!
2) I did complete the second marathon in Bangalore on 15th may under a scorching sun with heat close to 36deg Celsius. It was difficult runing in the heat and constant requirement of water.

But what motivates is when you see 65yr old man running along.
3) To end the year, I ran a half marathon on 18th December in Bangalore under relative cool climate.

One of the proud moments of 2005.

The photo among the many I took, I liked this the most.

Tough trek.

Frightening ride I took this year. This was in WonderLa (Bangalore).

Watching Hockey match in a stadium first ever time.

Viewing Ice Hockey match without having any idea about it.

On the wing of Lufthansa in Museum in Germany

There were lot of other things that has happened which gives me a happiness at the end.

Of course, am still single and eligible!!! 🙂 Marriage is not on my thoughts even next year.

Saw 2 (2005) – Movie Review

The story continues from Saw (2004). The psycho guy suffering from cancer and escapades from death numerous times is involved in a repeated mental and physical torture like in Saw.
Detective Mathew is famous in his job for catching many drug addicts but always bails out his teenage son. The movie open with a murder and a message for Mathew on the ceiling. He tracks down the criminal but has a bigger job at hand which he can watch only on a series of monitors. He has time till 6:00 in the evening to save his son and others who are among the eight kidnapped.
All the eight have something in common.
Does he save his son or what happens forms rest of the movie.

There is one other person who is also carried over from earlier sequel, Amanda. This one can understand when she says “I have played it earlier”.
The best part is the conversation between Mathew and the psycho, where the psycho teases him and provokes him to the max. But Mathew cannot kill the psycho to save his son. In the heat of the moment, Mathew never gives second thought to what the psycho says “Your son will be safe”.

As a viewer if you watch carefully, you can judge what will happen next. But there is no relation between the sequels except the tourture part.
In this sequel, there is more characterisation and the characters are built to give a good understanding of their background unlike the earlier.

This movie is also not for the faint hearted. Though it would not scare you as much as the earlier sequel. But a definite watch is recommended.

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Saw – Movie Review

Saw is not for the faint hearted. Its a scary horror movie.
Movie opens with Adam struggling to get up from a bath tub filled with water. Out of the tub he finds himself chained. He is not alone but in company of a doctor Lawrence who is also chained and a corpse with record player in one hand and gun on the other.
“He wants us to saw through our legs”.
The game begins then.
Only one of them can escape but who escapes and how forms the rest of the story.
In the test of nerves, there has been only one person who has escaped earlier. Its Amanda a drug addict who wakes up to find her hands tied and a mask around her face. The mask is fitted with a timer and moment she gets up from chair the timer will start. A voice tells her where the key can be found. She does manage to get the key and escape. But its gory scene when she takes out the key from the hidden place.

James Wan as the director has not casted any old prominent faces. But the cast though doesnt give a powerful performance, due to the stroyline and direction without any gaps one does not notice any loopholes.
If you watch this movie after 12:00 in the night with all lights off, you would ensure that doors are latched and wardrobe properly shut close.
Under intense torture, both physically and mentally, this movie shows how a person can fluctuate with feelings and make new decisions and drastic ones.

If you are faint hearted and cannot see much of blood, please stay away. You might spill all over.
Its a definite watch though. Do not compare this movie with Seven or any other scary movie.

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No Man’s Land – Movie Review

The movie looked to be ordinary but it was depicting what happened recently. No wonder it beat Lagaan (film from India) for the Oscar. This movie about how three guys get stuck in a trench, they cant go out as either side Bosnia or Serbia might fire at them and how they come out of it with help of UNPROFOR soldiers only to kill each other.
There are no loop holes in the movie, the script is tight and never once do you feel bored watching this movie.

A contingent of 5 relief soldiers from Bosnia with a guide make way through countryside in the night. Due to heavy fog they rest for the night and wake up to find themselves close to Serbia border and soldiers firing at them. They run for cover but not everyone escapes alive. Chiki wakes up and finds no one around him alive runs into the trench between the two sides. Serbia sends two of its men to check out for any life.
They pull body of Cera and place a bouncing mine under him. If the body is moved the mine will blast having an impact upto 50 yards. Chiki swiftly moves from hiding and fires at the two Serbian soldiers killing one and wounding other (Nino). Nino is a fresher to war and does not even know how to fire.

Cera is actually not dead but just the impact made him unconscious. He comes back to senses. Cera and Nino convey that hes atop a mine.
Both sides call the UNPROFOR for help. Sergeant Marchand reaches the trench but due to his officer General Soft’s orders returns to Bosnia border to find TV reporter Jane Livingstone airing the news.

They get back to the trench along with a mine expert unfortunately even the mine expert is not able to help Chiki.
Cera had few word exchanges with Nino and outside the trench gets an oppurtunity to shoot at him. An UNPROFOR in turn fires at Cera. Both are dead.

The director nicely does not show Chiki dying but just shows him lying there in the trench with a mine underneath.
A nice movie and definitely worth a watch.

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King Kong (2005) – Movie Review

At the end I was feeling sleepy rather than feeling happy to have seen this movie. I can understand normal romantic movies but why should the director depict Beauty Vs Beast in such a fashion.
It looked like not only humans even beasts get bowled over by beauty!!! The worst part is the sentimental part and the emotions the beast shows. As the last line sums it up all, “The beast did not die from bullets”.
Why did the directors not choose a female beast or is it that beastiness is associated with only male’s!!!

The other part that put me more to sleep was the fight with big size animals in the Skull Island. It was actually an extended fight sequence which could have been reduced.

The best part is the graphics which would have been missing in 1933, where they would have had to depend on raw materials rather than computers.

The story is the same from 1933 so I would not be adding anything new to the review.

The cast is new, Noami Watts is pretty looking (probably thats why the beaast fell for her!!).

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Do call centers limit your thinking

Rape and murder of Prathiba working for HP call center in Bangalore, India has been hogging the headlines in all media.
1) When the driver who came to pick her up from home said he was newly appointed, why did she not check the route number sticker in the vehicle
2) Why did she not ask for the driver’s ID
3) Why did she not check with her office
4) When the original driver called up why did she not get suspicious and alert the police or her office
5) Why did she not realise there were not others in the vehicle and only her

Yes, we take for granted when the driver says hes newly appointed but she wasnt intimated earlier, something to think about.

The officer in HP should have alerted his higher-up’s or checked with her
1) Why didnt he do that
2) Was he part of the gang

On Prathiba’s frame on mind, every call center employee the main thing in his/her mind is to reach office and start working. They dont think in reality terms. Which might have prevented her from being kidnapped.
The officer in HP what prevented him, why did he not get suspicious.

Is it because working in call centers does not make you think laterally and probablities that might exist. Is everything only about work and to make more money and to have a happy family.
Is it something to do with the nature of work that limits your thinking abilities.

To prevent such incidents in future, I firmly believe its not only the company that has to play a role but also the employees who are travelling.
To all Software Employees, please do not limit yourself to the world of computers and partying, but also think about other things that happen in the world.
‘ Prevention is better than cure’ likewise, ‘To be well informed is better armed’.

Do read this story also.

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Bangalore Half Marathon

18th December 2005, chest number 00382 venue Kanteerava stadium, Bangalore, more than 800 runnners.
We were asked to be there at 6:30am and the race was to start at 7:00am. The half marathon was flagged off at 7:10am. My bro and myself were the last in the pack. Slowly by 1km we were ahead of many and moved ahead slowly but steadily. First 3-4kms I was having some problem with my legs, was getting heavy and little painful. Past two months I have not practised much and spent about 5weeks in Germany where I had not sufficient exercises. I also had a bad cold for past few days and it continued even on the day of marathon. I was coughing a bit.
After 5kms got into a rhythm and did not want to stop. Of course I would not like to back out after committing to run. 6kms over and still 15kms left, I ran little fast and my bro was few feet behind me. Normally he would catch up but not this time and I did not want to slow down. Close to 10km mark, I have crossed two underpasses and a stretch of inclined road and one flyover. The route was from Kanteerava stadium, Vidhan Soudha, Mekhri Circle, Hebbal flyover.
After app. 10+km it was to turn back and run the same distance in the same route.
I caught up with few guys and was mentioning how difficult it is to run on inclined slopes and flyovers, they say “not a problem, man”. Few minutes later they are walking while am still running.
Close to 15kms mark, I feel the pain because of coughing. I thought I might not make it. Just then I find this lady who crossed me. We did not exchange any words but I found some inspiration from her. Whenever I got tired and was about to break she would cross me, this made me run and she would get tired I would run and cross her. I dont know whether she also felt the same, but she was indirectly motivating me. This mode continued till the finish line.

9:25am I crossed the finish line. I had taken 2hrs15mins to complete a half marathon. First time I have run half. Other two occassions I had finished the full.
Personally I felt the timing was not bad since I was not fit to actually run.
My bro finished 25mins after I had completed, gives a satisfaction aint it!!

The Bangalore police did a good job of diverting traffic and stopping vehicles when runners were passing through. There was one incident, since I was not witness to you, cant comment much.

The organisers should learn to keep boards indicating the km. I had to actually enquire at one point to know how much I had covered. I believe they should have learnt from the Marathon which was conducted in the month of May this year.

No photos to upload since I did not carry my camera. Our usual group of kribs, Jacob and few others were not there.

Looking forward to Mumbai Marathon early next year and hope to complete the full in 4hrs – 4.5hrs. Not more than that, but can try to finish early than that. Hopefully I practise enough and would be medically fit also.

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What ails Indian Hockey

On Tuesday I was at the Hockey Stadium in Chennai where the Six nation Champions Trophy hockey match is in progress currently. There were three matches to be played that day, first one between Netherlands & Spain, 2nd between Indian & Australia, 3rd between Pakistan & Germany.
The results were in the media so let me not talk about other matches except of course India’s match.

India had won its earlier match against Pakistan and there was lot of hope in the crowd, But, Australia was the winner from the moment the game started what with a goal scored right in the first minute.

What differentiated the two sides?
1) Indians look half the size of Aussies not in height but in physique
2) Aussies were more fit than Indians. As soon as the earlier match was over Aussies came for practise, Indians were not to be found.
3) Aussies practised really hard, taking short runs and doing a mock dribbling. Indians just hit few balls to the goalkeeper and found the net.
4) After 10mins of practise Indians went back to their area but Aussies were still there practising.
5) After the toss and completing the customary walk to the middle, Aussies took another sshort runs from the D-Line to the half. Indians were just discussing strategy.
6) During the course of the match, Indians were finding it diffcult to run from one end to the other (of course it is tough, but you guys chose to play).
7) Whenever Indians take the ball from their side to the Aussie side, the moment they loose the ball not everyone is able to return to the base and put up a defense.
8) When Indians get hold of the ball, they keep it and search to whom to pass. On the other hand when the Aussies take control of the ball, the player in possession runs so fast to the other side with 2-3 backing up. He then while running checks for unmarked person and passes the ball. The speed with which each player runs is amazing.

The problem with Indian team is:
1) Most of the guys are young, so it would require some more exposure to International matches
2) Young guys should be practising hard, not take things for granted
3) Guys are not interested in keeping themselves in top form of physical fitness, once they get into the team life is made
4) Players are not able to get field goals

What the coach should do:
1) Every player irrespective of age should run for about 2hrs in the morning
2) Do workout in the gym after running for another 1hr
(First be physically fit, everyone has got the hockey skills)
3) Practise hard, practise everyday

What the Hockey federation can do:
1) Include a foreign coach along with Indian coach
2) Get a think tank team like Indian cricket team
3) Get a fitness expert who can grill the players into exercises
4) A psycho-analyst would also help to prevent players from falling into excessive drinking and smoking

If the Hockey federation can pick up few of things and get moving things would fall into place. I would personally recommend Dhanraj Pillay to be the teams fitness expert and part coach.

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Lufthansa almost screwed me

On Sunday I was supposed to fly by Lufthansa from Frankfurt (Germany) to Bangalore (India). Unfortunately there was another guy travelling in the same flight with same name as mine. So, the person at the counter had issued two boarding passes with same number. I am not sure how they can mix it up so badly.
At the boarding counter they called me and said, I got the duplicate whereas the other guy had the correct boarding pass. He took me to another counter where he put me to a person and checked. I was informed that my ticket was correct and the other persons was wrong. When I go back to boarding counter they again repeat it. And again I go back, this time they make things clear that mine is correct. I had an e-ticket whereas he had a printed ticket. So the other persons ticket had to be changed. Of course since luckily there was some space he got the ticket.

It just wonders how easily they could commit the error even though our passports differ, second name differs, ticket differs.
Mistakes do occur, afterall we are humans but not when you are using a computer to enter the records!! Least did the person noticed while issuing boarding passes why should the same person come again and get a new pass!!!