Presentation on “Windows Azure & MS Online Services”

Last Friday (24.Sep.2010) I made a presentation on “Windows Azure & MS Online Services” for a program titled “Benefits of using Cloud Computing for your Business Growth” at  Andhra Chamber of Commerce, Chennai organized by Cluster Pulse and Sponsored by Microsoft India. The audience were mostly of CXO & CEO level and members of the Chamber, so I wanted to cut all the marketing fluff  & technical jargons. I covered the need for a Cloud OS and how Windows Azure meets this need perfectly along with some demos of Microsoft BPOS.

Andhra Chamber - Windows Azure - TNC Venkatarangan - 24Sep2010

You can view the presentation (PPTX) I used from here and the video recording from here. My thanks to Microsoft Solution Specialist Piyush Saggi from US Southeast for the base slides.

Credit Card International transactions

Just like many of you I make international purchases online using my credit cards. Most of the time this is the easiest, hassle free when compared to wire transfers and some times this is the only option to pay. I have read in magazine articles that using Credit Card is recommended and can be cheaper than Traveller’s cheque or Currency conversion while travelling as well.

Many of the international transactions are in US Dollars and it will be converted to local currency (Indian Rupees) by your credit card issuing bank to prepare your statement. I never thought there will be differences in the conversion rates charged by them. Out of curiosity I decided to check this out today between the two credit cards I have from two different banks (Corporate Card & Personal) and below are my findings.

Credit Card USD to INR Converstion

(RBI Rates are taken from the official reference rates for that day published by RBI in their website. Conversion rates are always different depending on whether you are Buying & Selling foreign currency)

I am not a banking expert, so I will not risk into giving any explanation for the above. What I learned from doing this exercise is that before you do a large international transaction with your (Indian Rupee) Credit Card it is better to do a small transaction and check the rates that your bank is charging you. I se e no use in complaining to your bank after the transaction is done as I am sure your bank would have covered all this in the big booklet of ‘terms & rates’ they send to all of us (on RBI instructions) which I am sure none of us bother to read and even if we read are able to understand the jargons.

Cochin & Guruvayoor

This weekend I travelled with family to Cochin mainly for having Darshan at the Guruvayoor Krishnan temple, I come here every few years once at no particular regularity. Considering Kerala’s narrow roads I have found it convenient to stay in a Hotel in Guruvayoor itself called “Krishna Inn”, which has decent well furnished rooms and excellent food. This time around we stayed in Cochin for the night and we just hired a taxi to drive down to Guruvayoor and return on the same day. We reached Cochin in the morning, had lunch and immediately started from Hotel Trident (Cochin) to Guruvayoor around 2PM and reached at 5:30PM – covering just about 95-100KMS.  We had a good Darshan in the evening, had dinner at Krishna Inn and returned around 11PM to the Trident, Cochin.

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In earlier trips to Cochin I have stayed at Avenue Regency at M.G.Road – a nice Hotel in Ernakulam. This time I wanted to try a different place, seeing online a good deal from their website I booked at The Trident, Cochin. When I actually reached the place I realized how far the Hotel is from the City Centre or any other place. It is nested somewhere deep inside Cochin Harbour and you go through Navy security toll booth and so on. In terms of Distance the Hotel (The Trident, Bristow Road, Cochin) is something like 55KMS from Cochin International Airport. The Hotel itself was nice, small, nothing worth mentioning of a Trident and the food was decent. My son got a little disappointed  in discovering the Swimming Pool was just 5 Feet deep, having practising in a 12 Feet pool in Hotel Savera (Chennai) this was feeling like shallow water for both of us.

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The above photo shows an eco-friendly lid made from a wasted Naan (Indian Bread) used for covering a pot of Veg. Briyani served in The Trident – I found it to be a nice idea by the chef!