Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rest In Peace, my MPX

Love me tender...

My beloved companion of three years, my Motorola MPX 220 Smartphone is fighting for its life. I made a tough decision to take it off life support today.

I knew she had to be mine the moment I saw her, a successful model in the US. A love story spanning continents. She was born in the USA, and me in Gods own country. She was sleek, sophisticated, and sensitive. I was (let’s leave that aside) and let's just say opposites attract.

The day she came to my life, she changed it. It was one of the first models to feature Windows Mobile™ 5.0. The activesync feature enabled it to sync with my PC and update all my appointments and contacts. Suddenly, I she was privy to every event in my life however minor (buy sugar) or major (anniversaries, birthdays)… She accompanied me on every trip and listened in to all my conversations.

Of course there were some (major) cultural differences. Like she couldn’t use the Indian electricity sockets, or the standard mini USB cables. But love transcends all boundaries. We decided we shall never part ways till… (sniff… sniff…)

I detected the early signs of illness when one day, out of the blue, she collapsed. I revived her (restarted) and this became an almost weekly chore to reboot (oops transfuse). Her condition only deteriorated from there on… She refused to communicate with anyone other than my virtual half (my office PC) and would not sync with any other. I accepted that as a part of her illness and moved on.

Then her condition took a turn for the worse… She refused to be charged by anything other than her data cable. Then she used to collapse unless on life support (charging) and her heart (battery) became feeble. But her brain (processor) was still sharp as ever. Never did I have to wait for her to tell me her secrets (data retrieval was lightning fast). I had to carry the cable wherever I was going and if I didn’t carry the notebook along, I had to plan my route to stop at places with PCs. And life went on…

Then one day I think she felt that she was becoming a burden on my mobility. With her hooked on, she almost became a desk phone. She decided to take her own life. She refused to charge using the data cable. I tried CPR (cold boot, hot boot, what not) and finally managed to twist her charger in a way that she could charge. But this morning she stopped responding to life support as well…

I shall be putting her to rest over the weekend and even though I may buy a new phone, I know it will never be as special as her. Adieu my love, we shall meet again in gadget heaven.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Crude and rude...

"Nobody fleecess you like the government, and you look to fleece the government like nobody else" - said a wise man (ahem) once.

As of today, an Indian in Mumbai pays about INR 55.88 per liter of petrol. The left parties, the only party that thinks in India, declared a bandh to protest this hike. How inventive! And why didn't anyone else think of that? Strike work and the prices come back to normal... simple, innit? But no, the big, bad government saw through their trick and refused to bring down the price. Why? This is what I'm trying to answer today.

Now, readers, please let me know if I'm going wrong. Chandu and I tried this once (incidentally when the crude price touched $100 a barrel) and were a bit embarrassed thinking we got it wrong...

For all calculations here, I am using market close data of June 6, 2008. That fateful day, the price of crude was $138.50 per barrel and the Dollar was trading for 42.89 Rupees.

On all days, 1 barrel = 31 gallons and 1 gallon = 3.7854118 liters. Therefore, 1 barrell = 117.347765 liters.

Now, on to the calculations:

1 barrel crude oil costs USD 138.50 or INR 5940.27 (138.50 * 42.89)

so, 1 liter crude oil costs INR 50.62 (5940.27 / 117.347765)

Depending on the purity of crude and the refining process used, you get anything ranging from 30% to 70%. (You get up to 70% if you use light crude and advanced catalytic or hydro or thermal cracking, alkylation, polymerization or what not.) So I'd be safe (and quick) to assume a yeild of about 50%. Which means if you buy 1 liter of crude, you get only 1/2 liter of petrol.

Thus, the 'cost' of 1 liter of pertol is INR 101.24

Now, add to this those delightful miscellanies that WE have to pay so happily each time we buy petrol (or anything for that matter) like VAT, custom for crude, custom for petrol, sales tax, octroi, education cess(!??!!) etc., and other stuff like dealer commission, transportation, and what do we have? The 'sell' price of around INR 150 per liter (this is being extremely optimistic and assuming only about a third of the duties and stuff..)

So, the government loses about INR 100 per liter of petrol sold at today's price! Well, let's put this into perspective. According to this study, in Delhi, with over 466 signalized intersections, 3,21,432 litres of Petrol is being burnt every day due to the idling of vehicles. So, the government spends INR 32 million (3.2 crore rupees) daily only on idling cars in Delhi. Another very optimistioc assumption I shall hazard here is that the whole nation consumes only 1000 times of the petrol that is 'idled' away in Delhi. That translates to a loss of about INR 32 billion (3,200 crore rupees) loss for the government in a day. And about INR 11,688 billion (11,68,800 crore rupees) a year! Whew...

Disturbing, isn't it? I sincerely hope I'm making some mistake in my calculations here... Someone please tell me I'm wrong...