Rape, aftermath, GST

While I do not usually like to start with bad news, but seems bad news is the flavor of the month. We seem to be going downhill one day after that. So let’s see what happened. First there is this piece which came in Washington Post and then there was the travel advisory for women travelling by their lonesome from UK and USA . It probably applies to women, even couples for sure . I am sure it was not an easy decision to come to but they had to as they as citizens come first for them. In between my last blog post and this, couple of more horrific things happened. The first thing we came to know is the burning of the Unnao rape victim which happened on Thursday i.e. 2 days from now when I am blogging. Apparently, she had gone to give her statement in a court hearing when the 5 people burned her. It does raise questions about the quality of protection being given to her. Just to be clear, there were no reports of any of the policeman coming to any harm which makes it all the most curious.

The second horrific incident were when the 4 accused in the Hyderabad rape case were ‘encountered‘ . Curiously in this case as well, except for some slight injuries to the policeman there were no injuries. This was when there were 10 policeman accosting the 4 accused. The 4 accused have supposed to taken away all the guns, how we don’t know and still didn’t manage to fire on one of them. It raises and raised too many unanswered questions. Because of these killings, we will never know the answers. What if it turned in investigation that these were not the culprits or there was a fifth or a sixth person who was not named. There was also lot of celebration of this ‘encounter’ which seems that we are still a medieval state rather than a 21st century state. Of course when you have majoritarian narratives such as ‘Hindu Khatre mein hain‘ driving election campaigns rather than anything else than all sorts of things are possible. This is when the country is going through its worst economic history, probably parallel to 1991 although that one was more externally driven while this was is more due to internal factors rather than externals.

GST

Apart from demonetization which was a huge disaster to the country, GST is perhaps one of the biggest badly implemented ideas in the country. Whereas, in other countries it is used as only as a single tax to be levied to the end-user stage, here it was put at very stage which instead of making it easier to use, made it much harder to use. While I had been numbed by seeing quite a few MSME units shutting down due to GST issues and mostly attributing to slow-down rather than blaming demonetization and GST, I was till surprised and shocked to find Reserved bit, a makerspace shutting down the end of the month. While Siddesh, Nisha had attributed a bit towards GST, they also shared they should have done more. While I have been to reserved-bit a few times and did find it engaging quite a bit, getting there was always an issue for me. The GST refund issue has been an eye-sore for everybody but neither the center or the state did anything for it, of course both being in BJP’s hands all this while, this is in my state Maharashtra, one of the more progressive states. The entire process of GST has been anal and had been in popular media for a while now but nobody seeks or shares any proper answers. Why, it even crashed last month and the month before that and before but nobody raises a voice.

The FM being as arrogant as ever. In such situations how startups are supposed to survive ? There were some reliefs given to start-ups but they were too small and still have a sting in their tale to be anywhere effective. Having retrospective taxes is another thing that people are afraid of and that is the reason you are not seeing people investing in new ventures. As it is, there is demand-slowdown or to put it perhaps more boldly perhaps, a demand recession while food inflation is at all-time high. While our FM wants to blame everything on externalities such as global slow-down but won’t answer as to why China is still growing faster than us without using questionable stats. which we are accused of. This is when they are 7 times larger than us in economy size and having a war with U.S. (economically) This is when conventional wisdom holds such that as you become a bigger economy your rate of growth decreases quite a lot as you need more economic muscle to move like for e.g. the United States or the Japanese . This is when they are far more efficient economies and have a larger tax-gdp ratio vis-a-vis compared to India. There is also the savings bit where India excelled which was wiped by demonetization and even now from the moves of Central Govt. savings are failing India which is and was one of the backbones of our economy.

For all their failings, people forget to honor Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh to make it easy to file Income Tax Returns. Of course the present regime has been making it more and more invasive but that’s story for another day. All in all a sad note to end the day on 😦

No country for women – rehashed

This is not the first time I am writing about it, sadly I had written it twice before in the preceding months. But the scenario instead of changing for the better is changing for the worse. Sharing a screenshot shared by somebody today on social-media.

Indian Express page inside page screenshot Page 9, Decamber 1, 2019 Reportage of Rape only.

The most recent gruesome addition to the list was that of a 26 year-old veterinarian. From the various news reports it was a pre-planned rape and murder of the woman. What was startling to me when I read the report that it seems people still either don’t know or police officers who should know and inform people do not inform people of their rights such as zero FIR . Maybe some RTI activist can find out how many people have used zero FIR or not and make efforts to popularize the concept and its utility. If people are courageous enough, they can even live-shoot video when asking a police officer or constable to file a zero FIR . The other part is I do hope the police do investigate and do the DNA matching so they have conclusive proof other than the statements which the rapists may later claim as being under duress. The views of police is almost Victorian in nature irrespective of whether it’s an officer or a lower hawaldar/constable on the beat.

While there have been many attempts to try and figure out solutions, it somehow always falls short. There was the ‘Occupy streets by women’ movement in 2017 and so many small and major attempts but almost all have fallen short. Simply put, neither the society, nor the police or the judiciary seems to have any answers. I probably had shared about India’s Daughter , a documentary which shared an insight into the rapist’s mindset. Except for the juvenile, all the other rapists who had confessed to the crime shared their opinion on why the rape happened and most of it was victim-blaming or victim-shaming. The producer Leslee Udwin at the time she made and released the documentary shared that she herself had been raped. The statements made by various BJP leaders as well as some from the opposition were so in favor of the men who had committed the rape were such that they had to finally ban the documentary as lot of hypocricy was being unveiled.

From 2012, till date there probably would be a dozen or more apps. which are designed to help somehow never work. There have been few women cab services, driven by women for women but that too has not scaled. The couple I know of are kaola kabs based out of Bangalore and women cabs in Delhi . The problem with Kaola is that they don’t have night services when most of the rapes occur and when they are needed, about womencabs maybe somebody who may have used the services could perhaps share their their experience. There have been many experiments, right from 2012 onwards but more often than not, most have been more or less a failure. The problems stem from many systemic and societal problems. The problem is not just of women but men too. Places which are unsafe for women are unsafe for all vulnerable groups, whether it is children, the elderly and anybody else who is not a bully. This simple understanding somehow fails to connect or be understood by people. We had this happen everywhere, whether in Bollywood or whether they are women cops or the judiciary. The situation for women is the same everywhere. And before somebody accuses me of India-bashing even though I live here. We know the same happens in all countries, surprisingly more in European countries where I expected human rights to be a savior but it seems they have their own fights to win. I guess if you are a predator you can find your prey no matter what your race or orientation is as shared by a victim recently.

Sex Education

While we can’t take the excuse of Sex education, the short video does illustrate the views of most people. If they don’t want to be responsible about children’s understanding and influence about sex especially in the nuclear families most are, then who will ?

https://www.invidio.us/watch?v=feQocm2TSBc

I had to look back at how I had helped Dr. Shome in her book where we had gone back and forth on her book on sex education titled ‘Let’s talk about guys, girls and sex’ which is there on Amazon, Kindle and elsewhere. My discussions as well as discussions with others, she had shared when last we met that she had material for at least another 2 books if she decided to go that way. The problem even with that such books do not make for casual reading and nor would either most parents or schools will attempt to have discussions around a book like that.

Mobile application for women safety

There are attempts to make a mobile application but I don’t see how any mobile application can help when it’s society’s issues at large. I am guessing funding is also going to be a big issue as well as transportation of people from place X to Y itself carries a cost other than costs and expenses incurred at various places.

Ancedote

I can share an anecdotal tale I heard from a gentleman couple of years ago, and like many stories or incidents this one also didn’t make the newspaper. A few years ago, I had gone to a friend’s place who was staying at Baner, at a somewhat secluded place. We used to meet for talking about FOSS, sharing foss, eating, drinking and sleeping at his place at night and next morning having a chai before using public transport to come back. We used to do this once a month or once two months till he shifted to Bangalore. Anyways, one night after partying I didn’t sleep well and went outside to the bus station quite early, around 0600 hrs or something like that. There used to be quite a few cycle rickshaw shops ( similar to food carts that you see in the west but somewhat more rundown.) The thing about Baner and the area I was in, this was factory area so most factories have 3-4 shifts so most of these food carts (called thelas in the vernacular) make brisk business. Unlike other times, instead of 3-4 food carts, I saw only one and also a bit of eerie silence. After a bit of talking, cajoling the owner, came to know that a naked woman had come and created a scene and other thela walas had run away. Whether she was mentally unstable or had she been raped was not known. Even the police jeep for some reason didn’t want to take her as they suspected they may blame the policeman. Even he had run away but as he was old he couldn’t tow the food cart so he simply ran away because in his twilight he didn’t want to get into any such complication.

The reason I shared the above is, in such a scenario how are men supposed to act and react, I don’t know. Whether it’s just fight or flight or some other behavioral patterns that should be incultated by men in such a scenario ?

Anthillhacks

FWIW, there is anthillhacks happening in Bangalore. For people interested in hacking or doing something like above, this may be a good chance to connect with like-minded people and have some sort of rough prototype out or at least hash out much more face-to-face rather than using the web. I had been a part of this just as have been part of similar things in the past and my experience has been swell. Unfortunately travel budget is an issue this year otherwise for sure would have been part of it. Hopefully people enjoy and also blog about their experiences while staying there.

Unbelievable

This will be short as I have been having a touch of cold and flu over the last week. As I shared, I moved to mastodon from twitter and quite a number of people have moved on mastodon and many other instance which run mastodon. The best thing IMHO was that –
a. I came to know the wide range of projects that fediverse is attacking or working on. While I’m not going to dwelve much into fediverse in this blog post, maybe some future blog post either here or on itsfoss.com might be used to share some of the features which I thought were far better than twitter and the possibility of people challenging the status quo, especially since if you have a bit of experience servicing a web-server. It is very LAMPisque in nature, except of course they use postgres ( much better choice and probably much more scalable) although they are still trying to fix and figure out response times and such, being a non-corporate, non-ad service, they rely on people’s donations.

Unbelievable

I just started seeing Unbelievable which was produced and shown on netflix. While I probably need a week or two and would be staggering my viewing so that it doesn’t affect me emotionally as have been told by friends. I just viewed the first twenty minutes of the 1st episode and there itself, it seemed lot of things had gone wrong. Some of my observations –

a. What is not told is when the first call to 911 went, if it was told that the assault involved a young woman shouldn’t a lady officer have been sent to the scene to investigate. While I have heard that the cop defended the girl, perhaps it would have been better if a lady cop would have gone to the scene. She might have been a tad more empathatic and it probably would have been easier for the victim, in this case a young girl to share her experience.

b. When it was told it was rape, there were again two male detectives. Shouldn’t it be women handling this. I would have seen multiple advantages in having a woman detective here. Probably most women are able to have a good reading about other women. Probably women in law-enforcement much more so. She would also have been empathatic and usually girl/women are usually much more relaxed around other women. So for the detective it would also have helped her in the investigation for signs of ‘tells’ to know if the victim was lying.

c. No legal help for the victim – After the lead detective questions the girl again in the police station, he asks her to sign over the results of the tests of the testing from the lab as well as to write the statement again. Having an attorney there perhaps would have advised her as to what are her rights and whether she should or not either sign those documents or start writing by herself right in the police station which was stressful for her. As she does tell in the beginning of the interview, she has a headache. If such a statement was indeed needed by her, she should have been told to write in the confines of her home or where she was staying with her guardian. I know of so many times while I think of writing a blog post, there are so many ideas, when I start typing, half of them I simply have forgotten. Later, if I do even want to make a change or two, many a times the change itself would be so dramatic that I would have to re-write quite a bit of the blog post taking that additional info. which I had known but not voiced on the blog. So, when somebody like me who may miss formulations or ideas even when I’m not stressed, here is a young girl/woman who claims to have been raped/assaulted. Having had a lawyer even if she was not very sharp would probably told her of her rights and what she can or should not do in the cirumstances she is in. I probably will expand on it as I see more of the series either here itself or on other blog posts as I see more of it.

Hopefully we will meet in a more cheerful blog post 😦

Move from twitter to mastodon

After last 2-3 nights of writing that blog post, was thinking that would be taking nice and easy for a while. But unfortunately, events have a habit overtaking the best of plans. Hopefully, it won’t be too long. It all started innocently enough. A gentleman, a Senior advocate who advocates in the Supreme Court, Dr. Sanjay Hegde had the following cover on his twitter account/handle.

August Landmasser – source – twitter, wikipedia, theprint.in

Now, the photograph is about a gentleman called August Landmesser, a german national who according to Wikipedia was imprisoned, eventually drafted into penal military service and eventually killed in action according to Wikipedia . This erupted as a row in twitter as the gentleman while known for his anti-establishment views has been in all aspects a gentleman on twitter. His twitter account was suspended under the view of ‘hateful imagery’ . While one could argue that it was done right, but he was not only the only one, over the last several days, lot of people on the left-side of the spectrum, sane voices have been suspended while some twitters even after giving rape or death threats on twitter from the right, no action has been taken.

So two things happened, while Advocate Hegde was reinstated over the hue and cry, he put the cover back up and was again suspended and now has served a notice to Twitter Inc. where the senior counsel is being represented by Mr. Panjal Kishore. While I don’t want to get into the legal notice itself, I would say it makes for some pretty interesting reading and makes some very valid points. The poem of poet Gorakh Pandey in its english translation provides icing on the cake. The counsel representing Dr. Hegde also points to constitutional law and previous judgements as well as references Alexander Meiklejohn and some of the statements he made in his work ‘Political Freedom’ . The notice also reminds about Article 19 (1) (a) which ensures each person the right to free speech while restraining the Govt. The gentleman also goes on to talk about censorship and its practise and asks the courts to direct twitter Inc. to unblock him while at the same time issue some guidelines which follow both in spirit and form what Article 19 was all about.

While one could argue about the merits of the case either way, it at least to my knowledge is one of the very rare detailed notice against a social media company talking about social liberties in such a manner. I, unreservadly support the notice because the notice is about democracy and ensuring voices, even of those with whom you might agree or disagree. How serious does the Supreme Court take this and what sort of action or inaction will the Govt. take will tell where the Government is heading. There are some people who feel the judiciary is under influence of the current regime but there are still others like Dr. Hegde who still seek to challenge it. If anything, have to give him points for fighting the good fight.

Movement from Twitter to mastodon

Because of the hue and cry, quite a bit of people have started moving from twitter to mastodon. People, by default don’t like toxic situations. People enjoy constructive criticism and different ways of looking at things but don’t enjoy death threats etc. from anonymous handles which had been happening. So what started with a small wave is steadily turning into a stream, people are moving from twitter to mastadon. While I’m sort of have been on mastadon for quite sometime, it was nice to see an influx of lot of reporters, journalists, constitutional lawyers, techies as well as well as just social media junkies turning to mastadon.social and other masto related sites.

The altnews founder Pratik Sinha made a thread on twitter where he asked people to ask questions. While, many of the questions were easy, many of them were also thought-provoking. For instance, the idea that couldn’t a federated system be gamed. While I don’t see how, I have enough faith in human ingenuinity to concede that any system can be gamed. We know that all and any software will have bugs and security issues. Add to that lot of such new media may use either derivatives or patches to library or libraries which have not been tested enough on security or tested in variety of combinations. But this is not a new issue but an age-old issue. I did share mastadon issue tracker . There were lot of conspirancy theories, some real, some fanciful and some portending how the rich and powerful could take over. All of which are possible, I had to admit. I did enjoy sharing https://instances.social/ which helps people in choosing instances. One of the big changes which I wasn’t aware of but became aware of due to somebody named Neha was that now it’s possible to export identities, followers, blocks from one instance to another. This at least, IMHO is a big boost to the features and ability in improvement in the federated structures. Of course, the more functionality we have, the more we want 😉 . Somebody also shared a cross-posting utility but seems to only work with mastodon and not any of it derivatives, at least not the network I’m on atm. I also came to know of another mastodon instance where a single toot can be of 1111 letters. For people asking about the cons, the biggest might be security. For instance, if I were to use the cross-posting uility and somehow it is breached, then possibility of two accounts is possible, not just one. Something to consider. Still though, all in all, a very productive evening 🙂

Update 10/11/19 – The exodus which was a sliver is has turned into a stream. First BBC reported it, then bloombergquint, News18, even the chinese picked it up as well as theprint, mumbai mirror which is part of the times group as well as moneycontrol and outlookbusiness . If you read most of the mainstream press you will see that most of them gave a sort of left-handed compliment which is not surprising. Many of them don’t understand the medium and almost all have a vested interest as they are present on twitter and their business-models is based on twitter. So, perhaps to expect them to give a kind word would perhaps be expecting a bit too much.

Some quotations or interesting comments from users and the creator

There were also some interesting comments from users as to why they moved to mastodon and they were varied a bit. For e.g.

As a media researcher, I find it amazing how new digital platforms have been shaped by a crisis of credibility. Birdsite really exploded after the Radia Tapes and its subsequent blackout by mainstream media. A crisis in the credibility of Twitter foced us to switch to Mastodon. This is important in itself because a lot of people thought that Twitter and Facebook have become the final pillers of social media and are no longer replaceable.

Garvit Garg https://mstdn.social/@gsquare/103102398088042940

Let’s get something clear…The exodus from Twitter is not because of Trolls. Those were easily handled. The problem was that Twitter was being paid by the Govt to turn a blind eye to the radicalisation of the Majority community.The exodus is not in fear but in disgust.

Comrade Nambiar https://mastodon.social/@Dasbolshevik/103102244771101873

And finally from the creator of the software Mastodon who had to figure out how to deal with all the new traffic which was coming in –

It’s now up to 18.8K new users this week. For reference, growth was about 1K per week for a long time.

Eugen https://mastodon.social/@Gargron/103104365797087977

There are of course many other aspects of fediverse and mastodon that we may explore as time passes by. Till later.

A tale of unfortunate coincidences and incidents

This would be a biggie so please relax as this is going to be a really long one. So make sure you have something to chill out with.

People talk about ‘ease of doing business’ or what not for quite sometime. From last few months, there has been a slow-down and due to certain issues I had to make some purchases. This blog post will share the travails from a consumer perspective only as the horrors from the other side are also well-known But for this blog post, will share the series of unfortunate coincidences and incidents which happened with me.

APC UPS

For quite few months, my old UPS had been giving issues hence I decided to see what is available in the market. As my requirements are small, two desktops and a laptop sometimes, I settled on APC BR1000G-IN . Instead of buying it from Amazon I decided to try my luck at the local vendors. None of them had this specific UPS which I wanted. Before I continue I want to share the trivia that I had known that Schiedner Electric was buying APC the last time I bought an APC UPS. That was the big news at the time, 2007. At that time when I bought the APC UPS I was given 5 years warranty and the UPS worked till 7-8 years so was pretty happy with it. I also had a local brand I used which worked but didn’t offer anything special such as LED interface on the UPS.

Anyways, with those factors in mind, I went to the APC site and saw the partner list and saw that they were something like 20-25 odd partners in my city, Pune. I sent one or two e-mails to each of the partners of APC, while some were generic with my requirements while in others I was more specific in what I want. I was hoping that at least a few would respond. To my horror, most e-mails bounced back and some were in black-hole which means no one answered. I even tried calling some of the numbers given of the partners and even they turned out to be either fake or not working, which of the two it is I don’t know.

Luckily, I have been to Mumbai quite often and have few contacts with some people who are into IT sales. One of them, had numbers of some of the people in Mumbai, one of which worked, who in turn directed or shared number of a vendor in Pune. One thing led to another and soon I had BR1000G-IN at my place. Sadly, the whole process was draining and took almost a week to get it at my end. I read the user guide fully, did all the connections and found that the the start/reset button of the UPS is depressed, it doesn’t connect well with my stubby fingers. I asked mother and even she was not able to push the button.

APC Back-UPS Pro 1000 Copyright – APC

As can be seen while it is at the upper corner when trying to on it and do the required settings, it just wouldn’t work. I was not sure whether it was the UPS at fault or my stubby finger at fault. As shared, even my mom was not able to push it. After trying for a day or two, turned to the vendor, had to escalate it up and finally was assigned an engineer who came to check it. When you buy a unit for around INR 10k/- this is the least they can do. Somehow his finger was able to penetrate. For both mum and me, the start/reset button was a design fail. While I can understand it why the original design might have been so, I am sure lot of people like me would have problems with it. Coincidentally, the engineer was from one of the vendors whom I had e-mailed earlier. I showed him the e-mail I had sent to the firm. Sadly, till date the e-mail address hasn’t been corrected. vishal@modularelect.com is still a blackhole while I was told this will be corrected soon but two months and it has still not been corrected 😦

Sadly, my problems still continue somewhat. While I’m thankful to whoever the apcupsd Debian wiki page for some reason it doesn’t work for me. While I have asked the good people at apcupsd-users mailing list I am hopeful will get an answer in a day or two. The good part is that the cable at least is working and giving some status information as shared. Hopefully, it will be some minor thing rather than something major but that only time will tell.

Another bit of trivia – While some of you may have known, some might not, I was also looking if APC bought out the Li-Ion batteries too. As fate would have it, the date I bought the UPS, the same date the Li-Ion batteries were launched or shown on youtube.

While it probably will take a few years, would be looking forward to it. There is also possibility of supercapacitors as well but that is well into the future.

Cooler Master G650M

I remember writing about having a better SMPS about a year back. At the time I was having power problems I also thought it would be prudent to change the SMPS as well. While it didn’t take me much time, while I was looking for 700-750W SMPS I finally had to settle for Cooler Master G650M Bronze SMPS as that was the one which was available. There were others too, 1000W ones (gold) but out of my price range. Even the 650W SMPS costed me around INR 7.5k. This also worked for few months and then shorted out. I was highly surprised when the SMPS conked out, as the warranty is supposed to run for five whole years. While buying I had checked the labelling and it was packed only couple of months before purchase, so not that old. What is most peculiar is that now that product is no longer in the market and in fact had been replaced by Cooler Master MWE Bronze 650 which has 3 year warranty 😦 . Why is it so is beyond me. Usually Products which have 5 year warranty or more are usually in the market for a much longer time. Unlike other brands, Cooler Master doesn’t believe in repair but offer replacement but takes anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks which I didn’t knew at the time of purchase 😦

Just to be clear, I wasn’t sure what was wrong. I had bought the ASUS Prime Z270-P motherboard which has LED lighting all around it. I have blogged about it before last year in the same blog post above. What was peculiar that the stock fan above the CPU was not running and nor the cabinet power button, although rest of the motherboard it was showing power so it was peculiar as to what could the problem might be. I have an old voltage detector, something like this from which I could ascertain that I was getting power at points but still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I did have the old stock SMPS but as have shared before it has lot lesser wattage, says 400 on the label but probably more like 300-325 watts. I removed few of the components from the system before taking it the vendor so it would make it easier for the vendor to tell what is wrong. I assumed that it most probably might be the switch as I usually use reboot all the time whenever I feel the need for reboot, usually after I have some updates and need to refresh my session. The vendor was able to diagnoze within few minutes that the fault lay in the SMPS and not in the switch or anywhere else and asked me to take the unit to the service center for RMA.

While I sent it for RMA, thought could survive for the required time without any internet. But I was wrong. As news in most news channels in India is so stale and biased I found it unbearable to be without news in 2-3 days. I again wondered how people in Kashmir would be without all the facilities that we have.

GRUB 2 missing, UEFI and supergrub2

I went back to the vendor with my old stock SMPS and it worked but found that grub2 menu was missing. It was just plain booting to windows 10. I started a thread at debian-user trying to figure out if there was some issue at my end, maybe some grub variable had got lost or something but the responses seemed to suggest that something else had happened. I also read through some of the UEFI documentation on wikipedia and web, I didn’t go to much depth as that would have been distracting as the specification itself is evolving and is subject to change. I did find some interesting bits and pieces but that is for a later date perhaps. One of the things I remembered from my previous run-ins with grub2 issues is that supergrub2 had been immensely useful. Sadly though, the version which I tried as stable was dumping me to grub rescue instead of the grub menu when I used the ISO image on a thumb drive. I could have tried to make a go for it but was too lazy. On an off-chance I looked at supergrub2 support and did find that somebody else also have had the same exact issue and it was reported. I chimed in and tried one of the beta versions and it worked which made me breathe easier. After getting into debian, I tried the old $ sudo update-grub which usually fixed the issues. I again tried to boot without using the help of the usb disk but failed as it again booted me into MS-Windows environment.

Firmware update

I dunno how or where or how I thought it might be a firmware issue. While trawling via the web I had come across issues which stated similar issues especially either with dual-booting or multi-booting and firmware was one of the issues which was found. Apart from waiting 2 weeks and then perhaps getting a hdd I had no other option than to update the firmware.

Using inxi I was able to get firmware details which I also shared in the github issue tracker page before update.

$ inxi -M Machine: Type: Desktop Mobo: ASUSTeK model: PRIME Z270-P v: Rev X.0x serial: UEFI: American Megatrends v: 0808 date: 06/16/2017

I would ask you to look at the version number and the date. I used Asus’s EZ update utility and downloaded the new UEFI BIOS .pcap file . In EZ update, I just had to give the correct path and couple of restarts later I had the new version of UEFI BIOS as can be seen below.

Asus UEFI BIOS 1205 Copyright – Asus

One thing to note is that there is no unix way that I least I know of updating an UEFI BIOS. If anybody knows, please let me know. I did look for ‘unix .pcacp update’ but most of the tutorials I found out were for network packet sniffing rather than UEFI BIOS update. Maybe it’s an Asus issue. Does anybody know or can point to something ?

The update fixed the EFI code which was also not appearing, as can be seen now via efibootmgr.

$ efibootmgr
BootCurrent: 0004
Timeout: 1 seconds
BootOrder: 0004,0000,0003,0001,0002,0005
Boot0000* Windows Boot Manager
Boot0001* UEFI:CD/DVD Drive
Boot0002* UEFI:Removable DeviceBoot
0003* Hard Drive
Boot0004* debian
Boot0005* UEFI:Network Device

While I’m not going to go into more details but this should be enough –

$ efibootmgr -v | grep debianBoot0004* debian HD(2,GPT,xxxxx)/File(\EFI\DEBIAN\GRUBX64.EFI)..BO

I have hidden some details for privacy sake such as address space as well as GPT hash etc. Finally, Grub 2 menu came to me in all its loveliness –

Grub 2.04-3 debian-edu CC-SA-3.0

There are still some things I wanna fix through, for instance I hope to help out adrian in testing some of his code. I wasn’t able to do because nowadays we get cheap multi-level cell, see for e.g. this paper. I might have mentioned before.

Ending Notes – Powershell

To end I did try to make home even in MS-Windows but the usefulness of shell far outlives anything that is on MS-Windows. I used powershell 5 and even downloaded and installed powershell 6 and even manage to figure out how to get quite some of the utilities to behave similar to how they behave under GNU/Linux but still the Windowing environment itself was much of an irritant than anything else. One of the biggest letdowns was not being able to use touch. While somebody made a powershell module for it but it still needs to be imported for every session. While I’m sure I could have written a small script for the same, my time was beneficial in finding the solution to it. As shared I also learnt about UEFI a bit in the process. Sharing screenshots of powershell 5 and 6 .

Powershell 5 Copyright – Microsoft Corporation
Powershell-6 Copyright – Microsoft Corporation

Conclusion – While it doesn’t even cover probably even a quarter of the issues or use-cases but even if one person finds it useful, that is good enough. I have taken lot of shortcuts and not shared whole lot otherwise this would have been lot longer. One of the things I forgot to mention is that I did find some mentions of MS-Windows overwriting, this was in October 2018 as well as October 2019 Security Updates as well. How much to trust the issues that people posted don’t really know.

Lives around a banking crisis

First of all I will share a caricature and a joke shared by me as the rest of the blog post would be serious as it involves what is happening in India right now and the lack of sensitivity to it.

Caricature of me by @caticaturewale on twitter.

The above is a caricature of me done by @caricaturewale. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t laugh at the world, can you ? I did share my thankfulness with the gentleman who created it. It surely must have taken quite sometime to first produce a likeness and then fiddle around the features so it produces somewhat laughable picture. So all the kudos to him for making this gem 🙂

PMC Bank

The other joke of the day, no the week or perhaps the month was a conversation between a potential bank deposit holder and a banker or somebody calling on behalf of bank.

I got a call from bank.
They said: “U pay us ₹ 6000 every month. U will get ₹ 1 crore when U retire”.
I replied: “U reverse the plan, U give me 1 crore now. And I will pay U ₹ 6000 every month till I die.”
The banker disconnected the call. Did I say anything wrong???

Poonam Datta, Maritime and Logistics, IMD, Switzerland on twitter.

Now where is this coming from ? I am sure some of you may have seen my last blog post which shared about the travails of PMC bank last week. There have been lot of developments which have happened since that. What I had forgotten to share that day is that the crisis in PMC Bank has been such that lives are being lost. From last week till date, 5 lives have been lost due to the PMC bank debacle. The latest being Bharati Sadarangani, a 73 year old septuagenarian who suffered a cardiac arrest as she had her life-savings, her daughter and son-in-law’s all life savings in that bank account. Now the son-in-law blames himself and his wife as the wife used to share her uncertainities with her mom. These people and all the others need urgent psychological help and counselling. In fact, while I don’t know them, I had suggested to some people to see if they can reach to these people and maybe some psychologists team can help them. While moneylife foundation is helping the distressed to write writ petitions and provide legal help, there is definitely need of medical counselling so no more suicides, panic attacks or cardiac arrests happen. But this isn’t the end of the story but is beginning of one.

Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation

The above I shared is a stamp by Dicgc which stands for Deposit Insurance and Credit Guratantee Corporation shared by a gentleman on twitter. The stamp claims and I quote that DICGC is liable for only INR 1 lakh rupees. Now many people were surprised where did the INR 1 lakh rupee come from ? While it is aptly documented in many places, I am going to use CNBC News 18 coverage to share the history of the liability of a bank which dates it back to 1993 where it was changed last to INR 1 lakh rupees. While I did my own calculations using the simple formulae of currency exchange, I would submit to Mr. Raghav Bahl’s slightly superior method where he has taken also the Indian GDP growth also into account which comes to INR 1,00,000.

The method I used is below –

The exchange rate of dollar in 1993 was 28.13 INR for 1 USD. For an amount of INR 1 lakh it comes to USD 3,555 at that time. Using just the simplest inflation tool it comes to date at USD 20,380 as of date which comes to INR 14,43,566.35 . This comes with some base assumptions that the tools and calculations I did were and are in-line with what GOI gives. One point to note though is what the GOI declares as inflation is usually at least a percent or two lower than what the real inflation is at the very least. At least, that’s what I have observed for the last twenty odd years or so. On top of it I didn’t even use the GDP multiple which Mr. Bahl did.

As far as the argument which some people have or may have it’s unlikely that many people may have had that much money, that amount was done by GOI using a variety of factors, including one would suppose the average balance of a middle-class salaried person. If one were to take gold or some other indicator I’m sure they probably would be a lot more higher. This is most conservative estimate I made. To have a higher limits in insurance to the deposit, it would need to be a people’s movement, otherwise it could be INR 1 lakh for all eternity, or INR 3 lakhs, IF the government feels it’s ok with that 😦

Why bother with such calculations ?

One could ask the question why bother with such calculations ? The reason is very simple. While the issue came at a co-operative bank, the amount of insurance limitation is not just limited to a co-operative bank but to all banks, whether they are co-operative, National or even private banks. While I live in Pune, and always have made some very basic lifestyle choices, in Mumbai, the same lifestyle choices will set anyone back at least INR 30-40k. Somebody shared that their 1 BHK apartment electricity costs are INR 15-16k/- monthly while it fluctuates between INR 900-1k/- for the same in Pune. So in that context, putting a budget of INR 30 – 40K/- may be probably conservative for a single person, if it’s a family or 2 or 4, which is common would probably be much more. So in any such scenario, it affects all of us. And this is not taking into account any medical emergencies or credit needs for some unplanned event.

The way out

What is the way out ? While those who are stuck in PMC Bank do not have a way out unless RBI takes some firm actions and help the ones in distress , those who are not are equally in distress because they do not know what to do or where to go. While I’m no investment adviser, just don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Put some in different post schemes, some in PPF, some in gold bars or coins certified by some nationalized banker or something. And most importantly of all, be prepared for a loss no matter what you choose. In a recessionary economy, while there may be some winners, there would be lot more loosers. And while people will attempt to seduce you with some cheap valuations, this is probably not the best time to indulge into fantasies. You would be better off spending time with friends and loved ones or into books.

Books

If you want to indulge into fantasy, go buy a book at Booksbyweight or Booksbykilo rather than indulge in needless speculation. At the very least you would have an asset or commodity which will give you countless hours of pleasure and is a tradable commodity with friends and enemies over a lifetime. And if you are a book lover, reader, writer, romantic like me they can be the best friends as well. Unlike friends or loved ones who would demand time, they are for you whenever you are ready for them rather than vice-versa.

Update – 24/10/19 – Few people asked me on social media how you came to the conclusion that we are entering recession. While I’m not sharing any reports or graphs, what I’m sharing can be easily typed by using keywords in your search engine –

1. Savings – Savings in India has been in a downward slide for about 6-7 years now but acutely so in the last 5/6 years. Less savings means either people are consuming more or earning less.

2. Cost Inflation – If you look at the CPI (Consumer Price Index) inflation and real inflation which I have talked about above, that has been rising. Veggies, which a large population of India eats has been costlier, season after season. Even non-veg like chicken and others have skyrocketing. I am sure if one would look at historical charts they would see a much starker inverse relationship between the two.

3. Salaries – If you look at salaries, in many places there has been actually reduction in salaries and even mass layoffs. While you get headlines of billions of dollars of deals signed up for Indian IT, when you look at the figures closely, you find the value and profits have dripped quite a bit. In fact, cases and suits such as happening at Infosys doesn’t inspire as to what may be happening in other mid to high-range IT companies.

4. Demonetization and Badly implementd GST – The real dangerous effects of demonetization and badly implemented GST would never be fully known. While there have been some studies which co-relate the result of two disasters, they will never be fully known. While there are ample of anecdotal evidence to provide the same, let me provide one of a friend/client who used to run an engineering workshop. The gentleman used to do all kinds of work including getting work from Indian Railways. He had a crew about 20-25 odd people who used to work for him and I knew the gentleman for almost 2 decades. Most of his workers had been working with him for almost 10-15 years. When demonetization happened, he was literally stuck for cash. In an engineering workshop you need to keep an inventory fo small bits and bobs all the time . Because of cash crunch, he couldn’t either pay salaries to his men nor could he get any new orders because everybody in the chain was stuck. He tried his level best but had to fire more than half his crew for no fault of theirs. And when GST came, he was again stuck. At the end he sold the land to whatever price he could, fired the remaining crews and is now basically retired or semi-retired. Now that is a loss not just for him and his men but their families and economy as a whole. The people who bought the land were thinking of making a mall or something but haven’t done that either because there is no demand. They did get the land at a steal but aren’t doing anything with it which is again a loss.

Social media, knowledge and some history of Banking

First of all Happy Dusshera to everybody. While Dusshera is India is a symbol of many things, it is a symbol of forgiveness and new beginnings. While I don’t know about new beginnings I do feel there is still lot of baggage which needs to be left I would try to share some insights I uncovered over last few months and few realizations I came across.

First of all thank you to the Debian-gnome-team to keep working at new version of packages. While there are still a bunch of bugs which need to be fixed especially #895990 and #913978 among others, still kudos for working at it. Hopefully, those bugs and others will be fixed soon so we could install gnome without a hiccup. I have not been on IRC because my riot-web has been broken for several days now. Also most of the IRC and telegram channels at least related to Debian become mostly echo chambers one way or the other as you do not get any serious opposition. On twitter, while it’s highly toxic, you also get the urge to fight the good fight when either due to principles or for some other reason (usually paid trolls) people fight, While I follow my own rules on twitter apart from their TOS, I feel at least new people who are going on social media in India or perhaps elsewhere as well could use are –

  1. It is difficult to remain neutral and stick to the facts. If you just stick to the facts, you will be branded as urban naxal or some such names.
  2. I find many times, if you are calm and don’t react, many a times, they are curious and display ignorance of knowledge which you thought everyone knew is not there. Now whether that is due to either due to lack of education, lack of knowledge or pretensions, although if its pretentious, you are caught sooner or later.
  3. Be civil at all times, if somebody harassess you, calls you names, report them and block them, although twitter still needs to fix the reporting thing a whole lot more. Although, when even somebody like me (bit of understanding of law, technology, language etc.) had a hard time figuring out twitter’s reporting ways, I dunno how many people would be able to use it successfully ? Maybe they make it so unhelpful so the traffic flows no matter what. I do realize they still haven’t figured out their business model but that’s a question for another day. In short, they need to make it far more simpler than it is today.
  4. You always have an option to block people but it has its own consequences.
  5. Be passive-aggressive if the situation demands it.
  6. Most importantly though, if somebody starts making jokes about you or start abusing you, it is sure that the person on the other side doesn’t have any more arguments and you have won.

Banking

Before I start, let me share why I am putting a blog post on the topic. The reason is pretty simple. It seems a huge number of Indians don’t either know the history of how banking started, the various turns it took and so on and so forth. In fact, nowadays history is being so hotly contested and perhaps even being re-written. Hence for some things I would be sharing some sources but even within them, there is possibiity of contestations. One of the contestations for a long time is when ancient coinage and the technique of smelting, flattening came to India. Depending on whom you ask, you have different answers. Lot of people are waiting to get more insight from the Keezhadi excavation which may also give some insight to the topic as well. There are rumors that the funding is being stopped but hope that isn’t true and we gain some more insight in Indian history. In fact, in South India, there seems to be lot of curiousity and attraction towards the site. It is possible that the next time I get a chance to see South India, I may try to see if there is a chance to see this unique location if a museum gets built somewhere nearby. Sorry from deviating from the topic, but it seems that ancient coinage started anywhere between 1st millenium BCE to 6th century BCE so it could be anywhere between 1500 – 2000 years old in India. While we can’t say anything for sure, but it’s possible that there was barter before that. There has also been some history about sharing tokens in different parts of the world as well. The various timelines get all jumbled up hence I would suggest people to use the wikipedia page of History of Money as a starting point. While it may not be give a complete, it would probably broaden the understanding a little bit. One of the reasons why history is so hotly contested could also perhaps lie because of the destruction of the Ancient Library of Alexandria. Who knows what more we would have known of our ancients if it was not destroyed 😦

Hundi (16th Centry)

I am jumping to 16th century as it is more closer to today’s modern banking otherwise the blog post would be too long. Now Hundi was a financial instrument which was used from 16th century onwards. This could be as either a forbearer of a cheque or a Traveller’s cheque. There doesn’t seem to be much in way of information, whether this was introduced by the Britishers or before by the Portugese when they came to India in via when the Portugese came when they came to India or was it in prevelance before. There is a fascinating in-depth study of Hundi though between 1858-1978 done by Marina Bernadette for London School of Economics as her dissertion paper.

Banias and Sarafs

As I had shared before, history in India is intertwined with mythology and history. While there is possibility of a lot of history behind this is documented somewhere I haven’t been able to find it. As I come from Bania , I had learnt lot of stories about both the migratory strain that Banias had as well as how banias used to split their children in adjoining states. Before the Britishers ruled over India, popular history tells us that it was Mughal emprire that ruled over us. What it doesn’t tell us though that both during the Mughal empire as well as Britishers, Banias and Sarafs who were moneylenders and bullion traders respectively hedged their bets. More so, if they were in royal service or bound to be close to the power of administration of the state/mini-kingdom/s . What they used to do is make sure that one of the sons would obey the king here while the other son may serve the muslim ruler. The idea behind that irrespective of whoever wins, the banias or sarafs would be able to continue their traditions and it was very much possible that the other brother would not be killed or even if he was, any or all wealth will pass to the victorious brother and the family name will live on. If I were to look at that, I’m sure I’ll find the same not only in Banias and Sarafs but perhaps other castes and communities as well. Modern history also tells of Rothschilds who did and continue to be an influence on the world today.

As to why did I share about how people acted in their self-interest because nowadays in the Indian social media, it is because many people chose to believe a very simplistic black and white narrative and they are being fed that by today’s dominant political party in power. What I’m trying to simply say is that history is much more complex than that. While you may choose to believe either of the beliefs, it might open a window in at least some Indian’s minds that there is possibility of another way things were done and ways in which people acted then what is being perceived today. It is also possible it may be contested today as lot of people would like to appear in the ‘right side’ of history as it seems today.

Banking in British Raj till nationalization

When the Britishers came, they bought the modern Banking system with them. These lead to creation of various banks like Bank of Bengal, Bank of Bombay and Bank of Madras which was later subsumed under Imperial Bank of India which later became State Bank of India in 1955. While I will not go into details, I do have curiousity so if life has, would surely want to visit either the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A of Italy or the Berenberg Bank both of which probably has lot of history than what is written on their wikipedi pages. Soon, other banks. Soon there was whole clutch of banks which will continue to facilitate the British till independance and leak money overseas even afterwards till the Banks were nationalized in 1956 due to the ‘Gorwala Committee’ which recommended. Apart from the opaqueness of private banking and leakages, there was non provision of loans to priority sector i.e. farming in India, A.D. Gorawala recommended nationalization to weed out both issues in a single solution. One could debate efficacy of the same, but history has shown us that privatization in financial sector has many a times been costly to depositors. The financial Crisis of 2008 and the aftermath in many of the financial markets, more so private banks is a testament to it. Even the documentary Plenary’s Men gives whole lot of insight in the corruption that Private banks do today.

The plenary’s men on Youtube at least to my mind is evidence enough that at least India should be cautious in dealings with private banks.

Co-operative banks and their Rise

The Co-operative banks rise in India was largely in part due to rise of co-operative societies. While the co-operative Societies Act was started in 1904 itself. While there were quite a few co-operative societies and banks, arguably the real filip to Co-operative Banking was done by Amul when it started in 1946 and the milk credit society it started with it. I dunno how many people saw ‘Manthan‘ which chronicled the story and bought the story of both the co-operative societies and co-operative banks to millions of India. It is a classic movie which lot of today’s youth probably doesn’t know and even if he would would take time to identify with, although people of my generation the earlier generations do get it. One of the things that many people don’t get is that for lot of people even today, especially for marginal farmers and such in rural areas, co-operative banks are still the only solution. While in recent times, the Govt. of the day has tried something called Jan Dhan Yojana it hasn’t been as much a success as they were hoping to. While reams of paper have been written about it, like most policies it didn’t deliver to the last person which such inclusion programs try. Issues from design to implementation are many but perhaps some other time. I am sharing about Co-operative banks as a recent scam took place in one of the banks, probably one of the most respected and widely held co-operative banks. I would rather share sucheta dalal’s excellent analysis done on the PMC bank crisis which is 1unfolding and perhaps continue to unfold in days to come.

Conclusion

At the end I have to admit I took a lot of short-cuts to reach till here. There is possibility that there may be details people might want me to incorporate, if so please let me know and would try and add that. I did try to compress as much as possible while trying to be as exhaustive as possible. I also haven’t used any data as I wanted to keep the explanations as simple as possible and try not to have as little of politics as possible even though biases which are there, are there.