Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Passed the Driving Test




I had my road test today at Abu Dhabi. I went to the Muroor (traffic dept) early this morning and after paying 50 dhs for renewing my learner's license (green card) and another 40 dhs for the test car, I found myself a seat on a crammed minivan, tightly packed with male test-takers.

Female test-takers do not get packed in a van, they get their names called for the test and they drive in and around the Muroor compound.

A uniformed officer took a roll call inside the van and off we were. The first test-taker from our batch was called outside the van, and he was asked to drive the test car. There were two police officers (examiners) inside the test car - one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back.

The van carrying us followed the test car, and from time to time the test car would stop and a new test-taker would be picked from the van. Each of us in the van would have a turn to drive the test car. Each 'test' lasted about 2-3 minutes and results were given in hand immediately. On finishing the test, the test-taker can hop back in the van.

My turn at the wheel was somewhere near Carrefour on Airport Road. I was asked to take a U-turn at a traffic light and then drive straight across a roundabout and then the officer asked me to stop the car, and my test appointment was returned to me with a remark stating that I passed the test.

I got back on the van, and they took me back to Muroor where I showed the appointment slip (with the 'passed' remark), one photograph, copy of passport, and 200 dhs. Within an hour, I received my UAE driving license. The license is valid for 10 years.

Most important things for the test:

  • Use mirrors well. Look at the rear view mirror even when not necessary.
  • Indicator lamps.
  • Entry and exit of roundabouts. Follow all rules, and indicator lamps again.
  • Making U-turns. Control of the car during and after U-turns.
  • Out of a batch of around 11 people who were on the van, only 3 or 4 failed the test. The examiners were reasonably polite and professional.



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bringing the spouse to Abu Dhabi




I got married and brought my spouse to the UAE in July. I'm sharing the process here for anyone who might find it useful.

Being an Indian citizen there was some paperwork that I had to get done from India. Like any Muslim wedding, mine was recorded in the register of a mosque at my home town in Kerala. In order to obtain a "Marriage Certificate", I had to print the contents of the certificate on a Rs. 50 stamp paper. I then took it to the Khateeb/secretary of the mosque that conducted the wedding and he signed it, and placed the seal of the organization.

Next, I had to get it "attested" by District Notary, then send it to the state capital (Trivandrum), where the Home department will attest it. Next, it has to be sent to the Home Ministry in New Delhi for a further attestation and then, the UAE Embassy at New Delhi, where they attest it again and stick a AED 100 UAE revenue stamp on it. This process (from District Notary attesting it till the UAE embassy attesting it can be done through an agent who will take care of the hassles for you). I paid the agent Rs. 2700 (Indian rupees) to get it all done and I believe it was worth the cost.

Then, I brought the marriage certificate (which by now, is covered with seals and signatures) to the United Arab Emirates. Next, I took it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi (on Airport Road, next to Carrefour) and paid them AED 100 to stick another stamp and attest it (again). I came back to collect it the next day.

Tip: You can reach the Ministry by taxi or you can take bus number 54.

Once I had all this done, I got the marriage certificate translated in Arabic (the organization I work for got this done for me, at my expense) and then my employer applied for the residence entry visa for my wife. Under the urgent track (100 dhs extra or so), you should receive the visa the next day.

The process is not very complicated (except the attestations part). The important thing is to make sure that both your name and your spouse's name is EXACTLY as per your passports. This is really important - I've heard that even a minor spelling error can cause your application to be rejected.

Once I got the visa in hand, we booked tickets and I asked the airline to send a visa on arrival message after showing them the original visa. On the day of arrival, I just delivered it at the Visas section in Abu Dhabi Airport (with a fee of 25 dhs) one hour before the flight arrived.

It is good to inform your spouse that a retina (eye) scan will be done at the airport on arrival.

Once my wife entered Abu Dhabi, I took her for medical tests at the New Medical Center. After obtaining medical insurance, the Residence can be stamped in the passport.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Certified Reverse-parking specialist!




After several classes at Emirates Driving Company in Abu Dhabi, I finally got the chance to appear for their 'yard test' (also known as "Reverse-Parking" test). I passed the test.

The test essentially consists of two parts: a '90-degree' parking and a 'side-parking'.

In the 90-degree parking you need to reverse the test car into a parking space perpendicular to the initial position of the car and then exit the parking space and get back to the initial position on the road.

In the side-parking, you need to reverse the car into a parking space parallel to the road and then take the car out to the initial position.

The rules are simple - (a) no moving forward while parking - you're allowed to move in reverse only. (b) No part of the car (including tyres) is allowed to touch the kerbstone, traffic cones or any other object.

The cars used in the test are EDC's orange-and-white Nissan Sunny cars. The examiner stands outside and does not sit with you in the car.

After passing the test, you are given a report by the examiner indicating that you passed, which you are supposed to take to the Traffc (muroor) counter inside EDC. They then give you a 'green card' with your photo on it and a test appointment for your 'road test' at the Traffic Dept. (Muroor). They also give you a 'certificate' of 'course completion'.

There is a long wait between the yard test and the road test.


See Part 4: The Road Test




Learning how to drive - the EDC way




See Part 1: Getting a driving license at Abu Dhabi

At Emirates Driving School, first you need to sign up for a PEP test (Dhs. 50). On the day of PEP test, one of the EDC examiners (who, by the way, are very friendly and well-mannered people) will ask you to drive a car and he will sit beside you. You will be driving inside the EDC compound, where there are traffic lights, roundabouts, etc. He will ask you to do a side-parking as well. In the end he hands out a sheet, which specifies what level of additional training you require.

There are 5 levels: Area 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The examiner will assign you to one of these training programs depending on your skill level.

You then pay the fee and register for the training. Training doesnt come cheap. Make sure you have a budget allocated for this course. The lower the Area number, the more you gotta pay (and the more time you will spend learning). EDC runs almost 24hours a day, you can even book a class at 1:00 AM. Well, quite often you don't have any other choice because it seems they are always over-booked. :-)

Make sure you got the whole day to yourself when you go for registration, the queuing system is kind of slow (or may be they need more counters there). I once had to wait 2 hours to get to the counter. Try to register for all areas together so that you don't need to get back on that queue again.

Also make sure that you have cash with you or a credit card. They don't accept debit cards for unknown reasons (even though the cards will work on their terminals). They do have an ATM machine there, but it didn't work when I needed it.

Due to strategic location of EDC at Musaffah, a taxi from Abu Dhabi to EDC in Musaffah will cost anything between Dhs. 20-30, depending on your negotiation skills. To and fro would cost you approximately Dhs. 50. That's 50 Dhs for each visit (registration, class, whatever) so you better bring all the documents, cash, photos, etc whatever you need for registration process.

Make sure you bring copies of all the required documents because you the coin-operated copier machines are usually crowded, and you also need to have coins - which you don't get from the cafeteria, unless you buy something there that gives you enough coins in change :)

Here's a breakdown of what they teach in each Area:

- Area 1 & 2: Basics - I don't know what exactly, I've never been there.
- Area 3: 45-degree parking, 90-degree parking, Side Parking
- Area 4: Stopping on the Hill/bridge. Turning into another road.
- Area 5: Driving around the EDC compound, roundabouts, traffic lights, free right turn, all kinds of parking.

After completing all 5 areas:

- Simulator: You drive a virtual car. To my techie eye, you are actually driving a Windows XP machine with 6 Dell monitors, which has a steering, a gearbox, and a real car seat (with seatbelt) attached. The 3D is marvellous. It was an enjoyable experience.
-Refresh Parking (free of cost). They teach you the 'tricks' on how to pass the reverse-parking test.
-The Yard test (reverse-parking test)

Each Area has 2 classes in which the instructor sits with you in the car and a few classes where you are on your own, and the instructor talks to you via radio installed in the car (aka "tower"). The "tower" cars have a strange box-like thing with flashing lights mounted on the roof and can move at a max speed of 20km/hr. The cars are all Nissan Sunny or Ford.

The ones who have been driving for years in the real world, and then sadly failed the Muroor test, may find it annoying at times to drive slowly inside EDC, with the instructor giving you a terse warning whenever you increase your speed unknowingly.

Bottom line, the training is really good - the instructors are great. The facilities are great, especially the driving simulators.

Hope this is useful, please post a comment!

Part 3-The Yard Test (aka Reverse-Parking test)!




Getting a driving license in Abu Dhabi




If you have a driving license from one of the listed countries like GCC countries, USA and UK, you can directly get a UAE license without further ado - but ONLY if you are also a CITIZEN of one of these countries.

What this means is that an Indian citizen like me, who has a Bahraini driving license (a GCC country), cannot get a driving license straight away - while a Bahraini citizen with the same license can get a UAE license straight away. Kind of ironical, but that's the way it is. Maybe the roads here can make out what passport you hold, so its not safe for you to drive on them if your home country is not the country that issued your driver's license. :-)

Well, rules are rules. So you need to follow them.

If you have a driving license from another country (or if you are not a citizen of one of the privileged countries), you are allowed to appear for a road test straight away after undergoing mandatory 'theory classes' worth Dhs 780 at Emirates Driving Company (EDC) in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi. Before registering for the classes, you need to spend a few hundred dirhams to "open a file" at the Traffic dept, get an eye test, etc. This can be done at EDC or at the Traffic dept.

Once you complete the 4-day theory class, you need to appear for an online exam at EDC and you need to pass the test to get a 'course completion certificate'.

After that you pay 50 Dhs. to get an appointment for a driving test at the Traffic dept. (commonly known as Muroor). On the date of the test you pay Dhs. 40 rent for the car, and get on the car with 2-3 police officers. They are very strict and keep talking to you in a mix of Arabic and Urdu/English while you drive, which is kind of distracting. You basically need to take the car out of the Muroor compound through one gate and get it back in thru the other, but this involves getting on the road, and making a free right at a traffic light or two. The officer may even ask you to drive fast and overtake other cars.

Here are some things I learnt:
1. Dont panic no matter what the officer says. Be cool. (Yes, it is tough!)
2. If you've been driving automatic gear for the better part of your driving experience, apply for an auto gear license instead of manual gear. It really helps you save your time and money.
3. Look in the rear view mirror every 5 seconds for no reason. The guy sitting in the back seat is watching. Make sure you move your head towards the mirror to show him that you're actually looking at it.
4. Try not to overtake, unless the officer shouts at you to overtake. Be careful, and overtake only if its simple to do. Make sure you look in the rear mirror, left mirror, and out the window, again in a way that's evident to them that you're looking.

Unfortunately, I flunked my first attempt. So, off I went to EDC in Musaffah, where I registered for further training.

Part 2: The driving course at EDC


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

10 bad email habits

[This is a repost from my tech blog, Technically Speaking]

EHLO!

outlook-icon This is a list of ten bad email habits that I've come across. Take a look and see if you find yourself doing some or all of these.

If you're like me, and you can't stand the sight of ol' SMTP being abused, I've included some tips on how to teach the abuser a lesson :). This is just my list of email habits, feel free to add more by posting comments.

  1. Misusing the CC field - Type 1
    Some people think that if they CC somebody's boss on every email message requesting action, they can get a quicker response. For something that's really critical or important, this is good. But CCing the boss on every diminutive email request is just too much. Too many such "CC" e-mails to the sender's manager is annoying for the manager too, and the manager might eventually stop reading emails from you (or even worse, administer a quick issue of the DEL key) every time you send a message. Your email eventually loses importance might get ignored even when it really is urgent. In the IT world, we can even see users doing this for things as trivial as getting access to a shared folder on the file server.

    What can I do?
    If you are the recipient, do not give the sender an impression that you are expediting on the sender's low-priority request just because your boss is CC'd on it. Give priority to those other low-priority requests that have been directly sent to you by others and action them first (even if they came after the abuser's email). If you can afford to do it, action this particular email request at the end of the day. When you reply to this sender, do not CC your boss.
  2. Misusing the CC field - Type 2
    And there are some other senders, who mark a CC to every son of Adam whenever they send an email message. If the motive of the email is to advertise about an achievement of the sender (often in a subtle way), this is perhaps done to show the world that the sender is worth his salary. If the motive of the email is to point out a fault concerning one of the recipients, then this most likely shows arrogance on part of the sender.

    What can I do?
    If the motive of the email is to communicate something which does not directly concern you - it is best to ignore it - if you can't take it any longer, pick up the phone, and ask the sender nicely to stop marking you on such emails. If several of the recipients do the same thing, the sender will gradually come to terms with the idea. If the motive of the email is genuine and if you need to respond to it, make sure you remove all the unnecessary recipients after hitting 'Reply to all'. This will reduce the number of recipients in the remaining part of the thread, and most likely prove a point to the sender.
  3. BCC
    The BCC field is a mistake. It shouldn't have been there in the first place.
    Users, be aware that your email administrator can and will be able to see whom you are marking on BCC.
  4. Responding when you are angry/frustrated
    This can make things very ugly. There is no worse feeling than wishing that you had never sent an email - two hours later. Think twice before typing an email. This is going to be a permanent record in the pages of history. Think of email like a gun. Once you pull the trigger (hit Send), there is no turning back.

    What can I do?
    Do not hit 'Reply' as soon as you finish reading a provocative e-mail. Sit back, relax, take a deep breath and reply later when you are 'yourself' again.
  5. Using email instead of the phone
    Using the phone for minor things can be faster than sending an email. Some people tend to think that sending an email increases the priority of the matter. However, in the real world, people are not always glued to their Outlook and may not (or choose not to) see your message till you call them :).

    What can I do?
    Accept the fact that email is not a replacement for the telephone. Period.
  6. Read receipts
    A read receipt is a cool feature designed with a purpose - it tells the sender when and if you have read the message. So, use it! Some people (usually managers) do not like to send read receipts when they receive email. The justification might be "who is this guy to ask me if read my email?!". On the other hand, some people configure Outlook to always ask for a read receipt on every email they send. That's a terrible waste of a good email feature.

    What can I do?
    Respond positively to all read receipts. Avoid configuring Outlook to automatically request read receipts for every email you send. It is annoying!
  7. Overdoing the Out-of-Office reply
    Out-of-Office reply messages are really cool too. They let the sender know that you're not in town so they need not expect an immediate reply. It can also be used to direct the sender to contact someone else. However, some people use the Out-of-Office to write essays to explain at great lengths what they are up to and what's missing in the organization because they are gone. I guess this is done by some users to show the boss (and everyone else) that they are taking care of a lot of responsibilities - the work of four men, etc. Oh please!

    Example of a good Out-of-Office message:

    Dear Sender,

    I will be out of office from May 27th, 2008 to June 26, 2008 and I will be having limited access to my email during this period. For any urgent matters, please contact Mr. Humpty Dumpty on 050-123-456 or email him on
    hdumpty@mycompany.com

    Regards,
    Yankee Doodle


    Example of a bad Out-of-Office message:

    Dear Sender,

    I will be on vacation at a beach resort in Hawaii from May 27th, 2008 to June 26, 2008. I will be having limited access to my email during this period.
    Please contact the following people during my absence:

    For matters concerning cabbage and cauliflower, please contact Jack Thompson.
    For reporting rotten cauliflower, please contact Charlie Brown.
    For issues related to onions and garlic, please contact John Smith.
    For issues related to onions without leaves, please contact Charlie Brown.
    For issues related to onion skin, please contact Jack Thompson.
    For anything related to vegetables, please contact John Smith.
    For queries related to legumes, please contact Charlie Brown.
    Anything else related to food that grows on plants, please contact Jack Thompson

    Regards,
    Show-Off Jones

    What is this? An IVR system? The sender could have also added one more line - "If you are confused, wait till I come back, because I'm THE MAN".
  8. Empty Meeting Requests
    If you send a meeting request, you are requesting time from other people - which is valuable. Make sure you have a darn good reason for throwing a meeting and mention it in your request. Write a brief note on the meeting - use the OARRs rule: Objective, Agenda, Roles and Responsibilities. There's nothing more ridiculous than receiving an empty meeting request and you end up reaching the venue wondering what the whole meeting is about. And when you reach there, you find other attendees in your very same, clueless, sorry situation.
  9. Using crazy shortcuts and too many smileys
    Using abbreviations like ASAP, FYI, FYA are well-accepted and good. Avoid using words like 'coz', 'bcz', 'pls', 'thx', 'thnx', 'LOL', etc. These might be good to use in a chat session, but not in a formal email message. Also make sure your email is well-punctuated and easy to read. Do not use more than one smiley per formal message. Read your mail once to see if it makes sense and run a spell check before hitting 'Send'.
  10. Sending chain mail
    Sending a few impressive emails is good and keeps cheer in the workplace. It also helps build conversation at the water cooler and in the coffee room. But please don't overdo it. Do not keep sending every trash that you receive from the internet - especially the ones that ask you to 'send this message to 500 people in 3 days otherwise your momma's gonna die'.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you have come across more email habits by posting a message below.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Security Vulnerability in YouTube!




[This is a re-post from my technology blog - Technically Speaking]

Hello world. The time is 12:31 AM in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and I have logged in to YouTube to upload a short video. And guess what? I am automatically logged in as another Youtube user that I dont know anything about!!

I kept navigating on various pages in YouTube, and I found that I kept getting logged on as various other users! New vulnerability in Youtube/Google? I guess this will be published in a dozen other blogs by tomorrow and then maybe we can wait and see what Youtube/Google says.
Here are some screenshots. I'm cropping some of the images for ethical reasons :)

I clicked on My Favorites, and I get Zoobi4658's favorites!


Hmm, I clicked on Home, and I arrive at Just2koool's home.


I click on My Videos, here comes da54sk8er



Clicked a random link, and lo, here is koxlcxlk


No, I am not a hacker - neither white, nor grey, nor black hat. It just happened. I logged in with my username and password and the next thing I know I get redirected with a new identity. I keep clicking on other links, I get further new identities. I tried to logout and back in - the same story ensues.

This isn't the first time with Google. The exact same problem was reported by GMail users in Kuwait a few months ago. Users were able to see other users' inboxes and email.




Monday, April 7, 2008

Nobody appreciates IT: Who says?!

Today, one of my colleagues received some chocolates as a gift with a thank-you note attached for restoring some important files that a user had deleted herself accidentally. Who says nobody appreciates IT?!

Monday, March 31, 2008

How to get to and from Abu Dhabi airport




Abu Dhabi airport is located at a distance from the city. This makes moving to and from Abu Dhabi airport to the city difficult for those who dont have a car or who dont have someone to drop them at the airport. Getting a driver's license is not easy, even if you have a valid driving license in another country and hence you may find yourself in this situation.

I'm posting this info here to help others because I couldn't find anything clear and useful on the internet.
There are several kinds of taxis on Abu Dhabi roads, the old golden and white taxi being the cheapest and the new silver taxis with the white signboard being the most expensive. The cheapest costs about 40dhs for a trip to the airport, and the more expensive ones can cost 70-75 dhs.

There is a still cheaper way. Abu Dhabi municipality runs frequent buses between the airport and the main bus stand (a.k.a the taxi stand). One can take bus number 901 on this route. Buses are available round the clock at 30 mins interval during the day and at a 45 minutes interval during the night.

For trips starting from the bus stand, the bus stops at the second row inside the bus stand. You will find a yellow signboard that has "901" and the arabic word "Mataar" (meaning airport). That's where you get the blue-and-white bus to the airport. Tickets cost AED 3.00 and can be purchased inside the bus.

Buses at Abu Dhabi main bus stand

At the airport, step out through one of the doors and walk all the way forward in the direction of traffic, till you reach the end of the building. Keep walking till you see a blue signboard that says "Abu Dhabi Municipality Bus stop". Wait there for the bus. The buses are blue and white in colour and costs AED 3.00.

Abu Dhabi City Terminal:

If you have heavy luggage and you want to ride the bus, there is an alternative. You can check in at the City Terminal which is inside the city (beside Beach Rotana Hotel, diagonally opposite the Abu Dhabi mall). This is like an extension to the checkin at the airport and you can check-in, obtain your boarding pass and dump your checked-in luggage. Then you can proceed to the main bus stand and take the bus to the airport and travel light with just your cabin baggage. The City Terminal does NOT provide a complimentary transfer by bus to the airport as advertised on some websites.

Tip:

1. If you're planning to use the bus, make sure you have ample time before your flight starts boarding. You may not get a bus right away when you arrive at the bus station.

2. There are two terminals at Abu Dhabi airport. Make sure you know which terminal your flight is on, and tell the bus driver which terminal you want to go to. Drivers tend to "assume" everyone is going to Terminal 2. :-)




Sunday, March 2, 2008

The sands of time

No man is an island. What happens to one, happens to us all, for we all share the same instance of time. The universal clock keeps ticking endlessly in its insane foray into the unmarked and unknown infinity.

We are but the elements of time; each of us given a slice of time. A very small slice of time, to make our grand entry, leave our mark, and go away quietly, when our time is up. And all that remains are those marks that we made - those scars, which will remain forever, for history to remember, and all is lost in the fiery tempest of time.

It is of our volition to play our part well before the exit beckons on to us. We do not move towards this portal of doom; rather, it approaches us mercilessly. And we are left with a few intense moments to gather what we can and sow the seeds for the hereafter. And as we sow, so shall we reap...

My past stands behind me as great exclamation mark. My present is a pathetic full stop and my future stands before me as a great question mark.

The past clings on to me. I cannot change reality. I cannot change the past. But the past is the reality, and everything else is just a mirage, a fiction of thought. I cannot undo what has been done. But the past is my teacher; I learn from my past. Through the years, I have made and lost the greatest of friends. The happy-go-lucky days when I was poisoned by the joy of friendship. Up till the day it dawned on me that this joy was an illusion, another fiction of thought that had buried its nasty fangs in the flesh of my heart, as a permanent record in the diary of my past - something that I shall remember till I die. Yes, the past clings on to me.

My present is another story. It is also the author of my past. And as the sands of time continue to fall in this hourglass that we call life, I pause to ponder “what have I done”? Where do I go, and what shall be my future?

But wait, what is this force that pulls me together and keeps me going? That strong, unknown force that joins me up to my integral self from the pieces that I’ve been torn into? That, I realize, is the spirit of independence. The independence of thought, a skill that my rivals had failed to acquire. The art of free-thinking: the thoughts of man being his own, not what’s on the mind of those around him. Gossip and grapevine everywhere, people have relied for years on the views of their fellow mates and blindly accepted them as their own. In that, they had underestimated the power of one. The power of one mind - their own mind, to be more precise.

And only then did I realize the possibility to explore the reality of dreams, and to make these dreams my master, to make goals out of my wildest imagination, and to navigate through seas of knowledge. To see the world in a portal as diminutive as a grain of sand, to travel distant lands; my own imagination waiting there for me.

A journey, a pilgrimage to that sanctuary where I am the navigator of my own thoughts, the controller of my own speech. I do not desire fame or glory. And I never desired love… All I ever wanted to do was to leave that mark, that humble mark in the pages of history, before my time was up, before the clock ticked to my exit from this world of illusions.

I have a dream. Of a world where truth and goodwill prevails. Of a world that is not blinded by the darkness of ignorance. Of a world where each person has his own free view, not poisoned by the selfish views of others. Yes, I have a dream.

And the universal clock continues to take its unforgiving sweep towards the next minute in its journey towards the end of time...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Food for thought

The other day I was so busy with work that I had to skip lunch. Famished, at about 6:30 PM went to this Indian restaurant on Hamdan street in Abu Dhabi. After waiting for what seemed to be the longest 15 minutes of my life, the waiter came down and I ordered a Paneer butter masala and some Naan bread. The guy exhibited a I-dont-give-a-damn look on his face and said that 'ispecial' (special) items will be available only after 7:00PM. I looked at my watch and it was already 6:45.

Respecting the contentions of the waiter, I ordered a simple dish - masala dosa. He nodded in acceptance and sailed elegantly to the next table, where a European couple was seated.

"Good evening madam", went the waiter, in the most polite and sweet tone. "What would you like to have?"

The white lady glanced through the menu and said in an anglicized accent:
"Paneer Butter Masala"

The waiter said with utmost reverence and respect "OK. Ma'am. Anything else?"

I almost looked up!! My watch showed 6:48. I stared at this waiter on his way back to the kitchen, and he tried his best to avoid my gaze.

While I was eating my masala dosa, the white lady was having the dish that she wanted - and I pondered over what had just happened.

Not that I'm a racist, but I am an Indian man at an Indian restaurant, paying just the same money as the white lady in the same Indian restaurant!! But from the waiter (also an Indian), I get the hasty 'what do you want?' look and she gets the polite 'what would you like, your highness?' look. I get to eat what they serve and she gets to eat what she likes.

If I pay the same amount of money for the dish as her, then what could be the difference between my order and hers? Something to think about.

Why Google Adsense sucks

I am not a Google fan.

If you've been catching up on my posts in Technically Speaking, you might already know that. I am no fan of Google, but I admit that I use their search engine and blogger. (I stick with blogger only because there is no easy way to move my posts to Windows Live.)

Until recently it was just that I was not a fan of Google. Just that. I never hated Google. Until when I decided to use Google Adsense...

More than a year ago, I explored ways of monetizing my blog and website, in the modest hope of making enough money to pay for the hosting. I found that nobody notable (including Microsoft) offered the kind of advertising services that Google offered through the Adsense program. Cornered by lack of competitors, I decided to give Google a shot.

Google has a 'secret' way of determining how many clicks/hits/impressions their ads get and then they pay you a 'secret' amount for every click/hit/impression/whatever. The whole process is 'secret' and they don't tell you how they come up with the few measly dollars or cents that you earn every month (and you say Microsoft is not 'open'). Google finally pays you when you accumulate $100.

So there I was, putting code snippets on almost all pages of my website, and on my blog - so that Google could place their ads there. My pages started looking ugly, "so what?", I thought, "at least it will pay someday".

But 'someday' never came. Even with the kind of hits I was getting it took almost a year and a half for me to accumulate $100. And when I finally did accumulate $100, I was in for a shock - they refused to pay!

Here's what they said:

Hello Shijaz Abdulla,

While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting
https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153&hl=en_US.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team
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Wonderful. They post ads on my website and blog for a year and a half and then they dont pay for it. Do I look so generous that I would place ads on my website for free?

Nevertheless, I submited an appeal online to reconsider the situation. As per Google policy, I can submit the appeal only once after which no correspondence will be entertained. Two months after I appealed, they replied:
PerformancingAdsPerformancingAds
Hello,

Thanks for providing us with additional information. However, after thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, we've re-confirmed that your account poses a significant risk to our advertisers. For this reason, we're unable to reinstate your account. Thank you for your understanding.

As a reminder, if you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting
https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team


I am beginning to suspect that this has got something to do with the content of my blog - and the fact that my posts reflect that I'm no Google fan and I'm pro-Microsoft.

Goodbye Google Adsense!