Thursday, September 29, 2011

E-filing India Income Tax Return Incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in (fakepath error, null error)


As all those of you in the accounts and audit profession may be aware, the corporate Income Tax returns are due by September 30th. It is mandatory for the returns to be digitally signed for corporate assesses.

As usual in the last minute rush, the biggest problem is when you are not able to upload the return due to an error in the incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in website.

Here are two common errors and their solutions:

Can not read the file for signing c:\fakepath\xxxx.xml

The problem is with Internet Explorer - to solve this problem - add "https://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in" website to your Trusted Sites - by going to "Tools -> Internet Options". Once you do this - the problem will go away!!

Error in Upload of ITR
null
Error in parsing XML file. please upload correct XML return

For this error, make sure that the email address mentioned in the Profile under MyAccount is the same as that which is mentioned in the return. If not update the email address and logout. Login afresh and try to upload again.

Please don't forget to update your digital signature in the MyAccount section of the website.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to configure USB Hard Drive on D-link DSL-2750U Wireless N 300 ADSL2+ Modem Router

Technology is funny. My old modem at home had suddenly started acting funny and would not auto-reconnect to the internet after a sudden power loss. So, I decided I needed to change the modem.

A few enquiries later, I learnt that it's really difficult to buy a modem alone directly - I would need to buy a modem+router combo. In other words, I have to junk my perfectly working Wireless Router to fix my Modem.

Well, as they say, que sera que sera.

D-Link DSL-2750U Wireless N Modem Router
I decided to use the opportunity and get myself a slightly better modem router which also has a USB port so that I can use my USB Hard drive (that is almost always sitting there unused since I am too lazy to plug it in) on the wireless network.

A little bit of research and after shortlisting two different makes of Belkin & D-Link - I decided to plump for the D-link DSL-2750U model.

So it came and I started getting everything up and running. All worked fine except the USB Hard drive. Can't seem to find any way of connecting to the hard drive from the wi-fi network. When I plug-in the drive to the modem, it lights up and is recognized. But how to access it from my laptop?

The manual talks about installing a USB Remote NDIS Device Driver or a USB ADSL 1.3 driver - none of which came with the packaging nor can I find it anywhere on the internet.

About four hours of hunting and going through the debugging system log - found the answer and for the benefit of other buyers of this generally useful product - here's the solution:

1. Plug-in the USB drive.
2. Switch on/Restart the model-router.
3. Wait for a few minutes till it finishes all the negotiations, etc. I would say five minutes is a good time to give it.
4. Make sure the USB Icon on your modem is lit.
5. In windows explorer - type the following path to access your hard drive

\\192.168.1.1\u_disk\usb1_1\

where the IP address is the IP address of your modem - default is 192.168.1.1.

If all goes well, you should be able to see your hard drive contents now! A good idea would be to map this location with "Map Network Drive" so you can access it easily whenever you want.

Update 5th September 2013:
Many of you have asked me how to access it from Apple or Linux devices. Many of you have also asked me that the device asks for username and password. Please note that default username and password for router interface is admin / admin.

1. Please ensure that you upgrade your firmware as explained in my other post recently.
2. Please have a look at his extremely useful guide from Hew which clearly tells you how to access from other OS and also how to create username and password to access your storage device.

Hope you all find this useful.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Look east, north east...

One of the thoughts that often runs through my mind is about how little the rest of India knows about our country to the north-east.

With a background of having my ancestors having zamindari in Bogra district in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), becoming refugees and making a hometown in Calcutta and a brother-in-law from Assam, I must say I have an enduring interest in the north-east.

 There is much to see and learn about the north-east. Like the north and south of India being very diverse and different from each other, so the north-east is really unique and different from the rest of India. In the last decade or so, there has been a lot more of understanding between the north and the south, and more and more people appreciate and understand the differences.

It would be great to have similar interaction and understanding and integration with the north-east. Our prime minister who represents the State of Assam and prime ministers before him have extensive schemes and money-spending programs to achieve this better understanding/integration.

But it doesn't appear to have yielded too much effort on the ground and the north-east remains a little known large corner of India.

Mountains of Arunachal Pradesh (credit: Appaji)
In my view - the best way is to encourage interaction. The government should provide a subsidy in the form of say Rs. 5000 on every air-ticket to any of the capitals of the north-eastern states from the rest of India (maybe with the exception of West Bengal given its proximity and business ties already existing). This subsidy could be directly provided to the airlines for actual tickets sold and traveled upon.  It would be leakage-resistant and not easy to misuse. If the scheme were to run for a period of say two years - the incremental traffic to the north-east would boom. Every tourist from the rest of India would spend a large amount of money in the destination - the economy would improve. The awareness and understanding of the people and land of north-east amongst the rest of India would go up phenomenally. In my view, this 5000 would be very well spent as compared to so many other schemes that the government runs as part of its north-east development program.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Hidden Treasure at Emar Math, near Puri Temple

http://www.orissadiary.com/shashwat/images/allnewsimage/24897.jpg
Like the stuff of so many hidden treasure stories, the Orissa police cracked a case and found more than 522 bricks of pure silver, each weighing between 35 to 40 kilos, in a hidden room inside the Emar Math.

The Emar Math is housed in a 200-year old dilapidated structure just a stone's throw from the world famous Puri Jagannath temple.

The total value of the of the silver is assessed at over Rupees 90 crore and weighing almost 20 tonnes. Apparently, each brick is embossed with seals of countries like UAE, Japan, China and Dubai.

Surprisingly the Indian press didn't give it large coverage, relegating it to small news items in inner pages of the newspaper. I would have thought a find like this should have been reported more prominently...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Dune

There's a desert. In the desert, there's a commodity which the whole world wants. Once you have had a taste of it, you get addicted and cannot be without it.

The desert is ruled as a fiefdom where there is a Baron who rules over the land and the people of the land. The natives of the land are treated as dirty, filthy, uncouth creatures who have weird traditions and silly beliefs. The Baron has his men mine the commodity for sale to the rest of the world.

There's an all-powerful king who is the leader of the world. He controls all the supply of this commodity. He controls the Baron and the appointment, change of guard and exit of who rules this land.

The king derives his power from his powerful army/weapons. The army is made strong and ruthless by having them serve in extremely hostile and inhuman conditions in terrible parts of the world. The king believes that although many will die while on those assignments - those who survive will be thoroughly ruthless and amongst the strongest.

A mafia controls the trading of the commodity. This mafia and its men are even more powerful than the king, because they know they can choke the supply of the commodity and thereby choke the king's hold over the rest of the world.

A Duke of this region has become powerful and has started having an army which is becoming as strong and may become even stronger than the king's army. The king plots to assassinate this Duke.

The local urban population of the desert areas suffer under the rule of the king's Duke but do not rise up in rebellion because they are busy trying to live their lives and hoping to rise up above their economic levels to match the foreigners.

I don't know if the above sounds like a story of the current world scenario... but it is my introduction to a wonderful story of a book called "Dune" written by Frank Herbert in 1965. Wonderful book, sci-fi mixed with politics and religion - a great read!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

ISA Server 2004 Enterprise Edition - Installation, configuration tips and tricks

I recently upgraded one of our servers from ISA 2000 to ISA 2004 (yeah, yeah, I know that sounds like really old technology) - but so it was.

Found that the upgrade was a far more bigger headache than it should have been because of some changes in the way ISA 2004 works as compared to the earlier version. Hence, here are some tips and tricks that may help you save some time and not spend few days scratching your head.
  1. Make sure the Windows server is up to date and is 32-bit, mine was Windows 2003 32-bit.
  2. Install the latest Windows service pack.
  3. You can't or shouldn't preferably install ISA on your Domain controller. 
  4. You can join the ISA machine to your domain which we did.
  5. Your ISA machine will normally have two network cards - one for the internal LAN and the other for the external WAN.
  6. It is very important that you only specify the DNS servers of your internal LAN and not the external DNS servers of your ISP. In other words, your internal LAN card will have your internal DNS servers but your external WAN card should not have any DNS servers specified.
  7. If this is not followed, your ISA Server will lose the domain credentials once you reboot the server and all systems will stop - the event viewer will have a "RPC Server unavailable" error along with many other consequential errors. This link is a good example of the errors you will encounter - http://www.eggheadcafe.com/aspnet_answers/isaenterprise/Aug2006/post27617673.asp
  8. Do not specify a Default Gateway on your internal LAN card.
  9. The default gateway on your external WAN card will be the Router IP.
  10. The old ISA stored all its configuration data in Active Directory on the DC. ISA 2004 stores its data in an LDAP version of AD called ADAM. 
  11. This data is stored in what is called a Configuration Storage Server. Hence you cannot join the old ISA server enterprise as another array.
  12. As a first step, you need to install the Configuration Storage Server. We installed this on the ISA machine itself - preferably install on a different machine for better redundancy.
  13. Once this is installed, go ahead and install ISA Server 2004 and also the latest Service Pack 3.
  14. ISA 2004 comes with a migration wizard that you can run on ISA 2000 and export the configuration as an XML file. Preferably run this wizard on the ISA 2000 server itself and export all the configuration to an XML file.
  15. Please note that NO RULES are exported and cannot be migrated. The Export will basically take care of all the destination sets, protocols, etc.
  16. Export at the root level and import also at the root level of the enterprise in ISA 2004.
  17. This import will create the Enterprise policy which existed in ISA 2000 as a similar enterprise policy in 2004 with the objects but sans the rules.
  18. For the ISA machine to allow internet access, you will need to configure DNS resolving.
  19. On your domain's DNS server, go to Forwarders and for "All other DNS Domains" - add the IP addresses of your ISP's DNS servers. This essentially means that your network will route the internet access requests to your DNS server for resolving which in turn will retrieve the same from your ISP's DNS servers.
  20. Once you have configured the DNS server for forwarding - create your DNS servers as Network Objects in ISA Server 2004 i.e. as Computer objects - give their name and IP address.
  21. Now you want to create a rule "Forward DNS Requests to ISP" which ALLOWS all traffic from your INTERNAL DNS SERVER Computers to External Network and for ALL USERS. 
  22. Once this is done - you can check by opening the command prompt on your ISA machine and typing NSLOOKUP followed by a domain like google.com. IF all is setup well, you should get a response from your internal DNS server with the IP address of the requesteed domain.
  23. Set the default gateway on the network card of your DNS server machine to point to the ISA Server box. 
  24. This is a good link to better understand the DNS configuration - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc302590.aspx
  25. After this create an Network object for your internal domain (say ABC.com) and specify the IP range that your domain is using (for example 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.0.255).
  26. Create a NETWORK RULE to take all traffic from Internal Network to External Network as NAT.
  27. Add an Enterprise Rule to ALLOW all HTTP / HTTPS / SMTP / POP3 protocols from Internal Network to External Network for all users.
  28. Go to your Array server node, under configuration, bind the Internal Network with the ABC.com object that you specified. This tells the ISA machine which are the internal IP addresses.
  29. Under Configuration - General - Firewall Client configuration - change the "Outlook" entry from 0 to 1.
  30. Under network properties - allow Web Proxy clients and set authentication to integrated, preferably with "Must authenticate" set to true.
  31. Under the same tab, define the Proxy client settings for automatic configuration and give the name of your machine for resolution - isa.abc.com for example.

If all goes well, by this time, you will have your ISA Server functional and a client computer should be able to access the internet through your firewall. It's a good time to back up your configuration!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book review: John Grisham - The Confession



I haven't read a John Grisham for a while now and so picked up this new book anticipating another fast-paced racy legal thriller.

The Confession is fast-paced but a little dry. The story of a convicted serial-rapist dying of a tumor who decides at the last minute to confess and thus save a wrongly-convicted man from being hanged. All this through the help of a reluctant but righteous Lutheran priest.
But in reality the book is a die-hard votary and a strong plea for abolishing the death penalty. Set in Texas, the death penalty capital and in a "culturally" black-white separated community, the book is a great read if you are wanting to debate within the pros and cons of hanging someone.

But if you are like me, who picked it up for a great story and as a light read, its disappointing. Its a nice well-meaning novel which wears its conscience clearly on its sleeve - but its not the Grisham that I was looking to read!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eureka - 3 feet of water at 5 feet!




How to dig a well - by hand (open dug well)

It's been a long time that we have been trying to get some regular source of drinking water supply at the farm. The neighbors have started acting stingy in allowing us to draw water from their wells. It was about time that we made a 3rd attempt I thought.

Digging a well in a rural-Indian village is not a simple matter. There aren't that many people around still doing it, so first you got to find someone who is in this line of work.
Then there's the weather thing - you can't dig in the rainy season (duh, every thing will have water!). You should ideally dig in the peak of summer because if you find water at that time, it is very likely your well will always have water in the peak summertime in future. BUT, since well-diggers are few and far between, they are in high demand and it's very unlikely you will find somebody in the peak of summer to do this for you in your remote little farm!

Plus you have to know where to dig. This is a tough one - how do you know where to dig? Well, you get a water diviner - who will come and tell you where to dig. Amongst the many ways that they could do this (aside from using scientific equipment) - the two most popular ones involve the use of a coconut or the use of a y-shaped tree branch. It's quite an interesting thing to watch. The coconut water diviner will put the coconut pointy-side facing upwards in his open palm, arm outstretched at the elbow and then start walking around. At certain points, the coconut moves a bit - seeing adequate movement he slows and down and concentrates his steps in that area - and voila - at some particular point, the coconut just tips over out of the palm! The stronger the water current below - the faster / harder it will tip over. At this time, the water diviner can also suggest how many feet down they have to go to get the water. Talk about modern technology! The twig is similar - the diviner holds it in his two hands (one end each of the y) and the tail pointing out - as he walks around - the Y takes on a power of its own and starts to bend up-or-down as it senses water. I have tried both techniques myself with very little luck - neither coconut nor branch shows any inclination of moving!
If all this is not enough - there is one thing nobody can predict - rock. Water they can predict, but in the process of digging, if they find stone - then you give up. For that's the end of the well. Maybe there's water underneath the rock, but nobody's going to dig below that. How can you?

So anyway, we tried to make our first well two years ago - in the peak of summer - got the well-digger, got the water-diviner, chose a nice location near to the shed-house and started digging. About 15 feet in, a nice round hole in the ground ready, we hit some partially-hard rock. The diggers said they saw ghosts at night and promptly left next morning. So that was that of well #1.

Last year, we tried agian. New well-digger guy. Two water diviners - one coconut and one Y branch. Matched the locations till we found one that both agreed had plenty of water. They predicted there were three veins of water running below and all three joined at this precise spot. Imagine my good luck! Well (sic), we started afresh to dig a well. All went well. For 15 full feet. and then we hit partially-hard rock. My well-digger's men had stomach upset and would come back soon. Like in the next century. So that was that of well #2.
And so here we are in 2011 with well #3. Same well-digger of year 1. Promises that this time, we will make it happen, come what may. I was asked to be prepared to get dynamite if the need arose. Prices about double that of year 1. Desperation at about three times of year 1 and therefore price-elasticity is very high. On an auspicious note one morning they started. By afternoon, they had done about 4 feet. Late afternoon, 5 feet. And Boom - gushing water. Not a trickle. Not a small rivulet. Here was a gushing river - filling up the well with 3ft of water in 10 minutes! Hooray!

Now comes the balance hard work of actually making this well and finishing it. I hope to have good updates for you in the near future. Oh, to finish the class:
1. So you need to book your well-digger early - just after the rains. Like November maybe. Get him to start like in December. Once he finds water, he will go away and dig some more - at other people's farms and villages. He will keep doing this - find water and move on. No water in 2 days - abandon and move on. Then he will come back after a couple of months and make the concrete rings and leave them to set. Then he will come back in the peak of summer - ensure depth is adequate and water is still there. If it is - you have got yourself a nice well that you can now finish, seal and hopefully have perennial water supply.
2. Choose the lowest position in your farm - the lower you are (closer to sea level :-) - the more likely you are going to find water.

Hopefully we will end up with something like this.

More to come, stay tuned.

P.S. Images aren't our farm's. Copyright of images acknowledged.

Kid Dictionary

Kids have an amazing way of looking at the world differently, and I am left speechless every other day when my 3-something suddenly comes up with a new one!

In an hopefully ongoing series, I am starting here with 2 interesting kid dictionary anecdotes.

Optimum
The other day my son standing in the backseat of the car suddenly said "you are going too fast, please drive little slowly." and I slowed down - then he said "you are going too slow, you must drive *warm*". Hmm... now what did that mean. So my son explained - "warm" like when you give me milk - not too hot and not too cold - just right. So now I realized for something to be "just right" or optimum - it has to be warm!

How to earn money kiddy-style
Then there was the time we went on vacation and I saw this really amazing house by the cliff, and jokingly told my son that he has to buy it for me when he grows up. He looked at me very seriously and said yeah, okay, no problem. So I said, how will you earn the money for it?

He said by eating 'raita' (curd) and we all burst out laughing. To encourage my son to eat his raita, I had on occasion told him that he would get a coin for his piggy bank if he ate raita. And that was his solution - he could earn money by eating raita and then buy me the fancy house by the cliff!