Mobile number portability and Data mining

I am much excited about the long delayed Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in India which is now pretty much ready for arrival next month during 2nd week of November (http://goo.gl/DuUo). I am not sure if it will be free (as it is in most of the countries, http://goo.gl/2ihz), but even if it isn’t I am expecting a lot of people would switch their mobile network operator in-spite of the few disadvantages the service will bring(http://goo.gl/w5Si).

In such times, IMHO, the mobile network operators are forced to either improve their services or put lucrative offers in front of transitioning users which they are unable to resist. The former can’t be done in a day (which user won’t wait before switching) and latter brings an interesting problem from our data mining class, back in 2009.
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Price match guarantee with a bug @Hotels.com

I just came across this website (Hotels.com), so went ahead and started playing around the website. I really liked the interface, though a little cluttered homepage, it gave a complete overview of the offers on the website. I saw the “Price Match Guarantee“, so went ahead to check their rates for the hotel I stayed in Puducherry (Ginger Hotel). I was shocked to see the results for Jayaram Hotel which was Rs. 1 lakh per night:

Hotel Jayaram @Hotels.com

Hotel Jayaram @Hotels.com

Before I could call it a bug with the site, I jumped on travelguru.com and checked their rates. It was less than Rs 1200 per night for the same hotel and same dates. I am left wondering if I can somehow get the difference in the amount per night for the hotel I didn’t book ūüėČ

Is your sales chat losing customers?

Most of the websites today have the the pre-sales chat options on their site. These chats usually do not assure you about the quality of the product/service you are going to receive but still if the sales person can convince you to buy the product and can answer all the questions you may have about the product/service, I would say that they are giving good ROI.

But what if you have a bad (read horrible) experience during the pre-sales chat? Would you still pay for the product, no matter how good you have heard about it?
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PHP: Encoding a URL before accessing it

I discussed a little about URL encoding in my recent post Facebook: Bug with URL encoding, although it seems like the bug still exists. In this post I will discuss “how to encode a given URL before accessing it using CURL or fsockopen”. The problem with URLs is that they might contain certain disallowed characters like spaces, according to RFC 3986. Our aim is to convert these invalid characters to their percentage encoded values in a given URL , so that we can access the URL using our regular HTTP request methods. For example the URL [http://example.com/space space] should be converted to [http://example.com/space%20space] before we can access it using CURL. However, the URL [http://example.com/percents%25percent] is perfectly valid as it doesn’t contains any of the disallowed characters.
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Firefox extensions to improve history tools

We visit and revisit web pages. You will find that more than 60% of your web visits are actually revisits of some sort. But web browsers support for such revisitations is limited to bookmarks, history list, URL auto-completion and back button. Here are a few history tools which can greatly improve your experience during web browsing.

  • Tab History: It is the simplest yet very useful extension. Usually when we open a link in a new tab, the back button history for the new tab is empty. This extensions¬†adds the session history from the parent tab to this new tab, so that you are not lost with the question “where do i come from?”.
  • Tree Style Tab: This extension arranges your tabs in a tree structure, like a folder tree of Windows explorer. So whenever you open a new tab from a link, this tab is added as ‘child’ node in the tab tree of the parent node.
    Tree style tab

    Tree style tab

    You can conveniently arrange these tabs in the tree using the simple drap and drop feature. You can go through  an extensive list of features on the official site. One thing I would like to mention is that if you close a tab, its children are orphaned. As the father is gone, no way children would know about their grandparents ;). Continue reading

“Hey Chef”, South Park

Some of the “quotes” I like from South Park, by Chef.
Disclaimer: The following contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone.

Chef with Boys

Episode 401

Chef: Well look at you cute little crackers with your money and your fancy clothes and your cell phones. It’s almost like you were… Oh my God! Children, what have I told you about drugs
Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny: There’s a time and a place for everything and it’s called college.
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