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Sun, 28 Dec 2014

My Friends

Over the last couple of years there has been a good amount of websites popping up called social networks like Linkedin,Facebook etc .All these are fabulous sites the only problem I see with them is that they are islands and your data is really locked in it.So I prefer , a distributed social networking like FOAF(Fried-of-a-Friend) or microformats like XFN to represent my social relationships where there is no central authority controlling the data and locking it.
So essentially I have listed my friends in the list below and the publicly available information about them.The list is in the order of ascending first names.
N.B. If you want to get  yourself removed from the list below , please send me an email and I will remove you immediately.I respect your privacy and hence I have just pieced together your public information ONLY.
  1. Akila  Chandrasekharan
  2. Akhil  Dhar
  3. Alpesh  Sheth
  4. Amar Nair
  5. Amit Prabhushastri
  6. Anand Ahire
  7. Anand Raja
  8. Ankit Shah
  9. Appajee  Papolu
  10. Archana Kataria
  11. Brigid  Walsh
  12. Carolyn Agabin
  13. Chethana Chidambara
  14. Cheryl Ehlman
  15. Chuck Elwell
  16. Chris  Pettibon
  17. Dipti  Srivastava
  18. Danny Liang
  19. David Sirbiladze
  20. Devang Raval
  21. Dinamani Nagabhushan
  22. Edward Vinokur
  23. Engel  Martin   
  24. Eshita Shah
  25. Eugene Kramer
  26. Gaurav Pal
  27. Gary Kincade
  28. Geetika Bansal
  29. Giathang Dao
  30. Girish  Krishnamurthi
  31. Govindarajan  Rangarajan
  32. Harshvardhan Kelkar
  33. Hubert Siu
  34. Jagjit Arora
  35. Jay Shankar
  36. Jerry Hu
  37. Jayadev Surapaneni
  38. Jiani Chen
    1. Home Page
    2. LinkedIn
  39. Jigna Modi
  40. John Weigand
  41. John  Thornton
  42. Junaid  Mohammed
  43. Karen Garcia
  44. Kash Noorani
  45. Kathy Phan
  46. Kelly Deaver
    1. Home Page
    2. LinkedIn
  47. Khalil Sheikh
  48. Krishna Prasad
  49. Krishna Mandava
  50. Kunjal Parikh
  51. Madhura Walia
  52. Madhumita  Guha
  53. Manish Patel
  54. Maruthi  Dogiparthi 
  55. Meghna Patel
  56. Mital Talati
  57. Mohita Sinha
  58. Mouneel Mehta
  59. Murali Balijepally
  60. Narayan  Kumar 
  61. Narayanan  Arunachalam 
  62. Nitin  Mahajan 
  63. Narendra Desirazu 
  64. Nilesh Dixit 
  65. Paul Zinn
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Paul's Band
    3. Home Page
  66. Peter Dai 
  67. Prashanth Shah
  68. Prashanth Talanki
  69. Prijesh Patel
  70. Pritesh Parekh
  71. Pritpal  Singh
  72. Priya Ayyar
  73. Rahul  Virkar
  74. Raj Cheruvu
  75. Ravikiran  Vemuri
  76. Ravishankar  Murugan
  77. Raviraj  Murdeshwar
  78. Rich Bradley
  79. Ronnie So
  80. Sachin Tappe
  81. Santosh Kumar Kancha
  82. Seema Kaul
  83. Sheetal Desai
  84. Sriniwas Chaubey
  85. Sujatha David
  86. Supri Babu
  87. Susanta Pattanayak
  88. Mohammed Sirjad
  89. Usha Rajesh
  90. Vamshi Bhoopalam
  91. Vitaly Morozov
  92. Victor Martin
  93. Viju  James
  94. Vincent Lasfargues
  95. Vipul  Desai
  96. Viral Mehta
  97. Vishal Thakkar
  98. Vladimir Katsman
  99. Zarana Gandhi

posted at: 13:01 | category: /personal | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sat, 15 Dec 2012

My car buying experience with Costco Auto Program

So we were in the market to get a new car.I usually do not prefer to buy new cars , however there was significant financial incentive offered by our employer to buy a new Hybrid or electric vehicle.
So we decided to buy a new Prius C One due to it meeting the criteria set by our employer for the financial incentives.Other choices were Honda Fit and Insight and then the higher range cars , original Prius Hatchback , Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf etc etc.
We did not want to haggle with the car salesman as in general it is not a good experience which always leaves a bitter taste due to their shady business practices.So we thought we will try the Costco Auto program.
Usually I become very paranoid as far as car salesman are concerned and when prices are not clearly printed on anything as that leaves too much room for error and most of the time consumers end up loosing.

I submitted my zip code and my email address to Costco site at about 7:45 PM PST and I got a response from Piercey Toyota in Milpitas at about 9:45 PM PST that they are a costco certified Dealer and I can set an appointment with them.

We told the dealership via email which exact model we were interested in it was the  Magnetic Metallic Gray Prius C One and we made it clear to them that we don't want any additional options and we are not interested in any upselling and we will not need any financing and it is a simple deal.

So I asked a few questions to the Costco Auto Program people.Here are my questions and their answers

Bhavesh Q1: Are dealers required to give car prices in an email  or do I need to physically go to the dealer and get the quote for the car which Im interested in  even though I know the exact VIN# ?
Costco Rep : Dealers are not obligated to give prices in writing or on phone as Costco does not require it.
 
Bhavesh Q2: Is the out the door fees negotiated  by Costco and will they show me the out the door price?
Costco Rep : Yes they will show you the out the door cost including Documentation/Dealer charges.

Bhavesh Q3: How frequently is the price of the car updated , as thanksgiving is coming near by does the Costco price change based on market conditions ?
Costco Rep : I honestly do not know the answer to that , but I think it would be once in a quarter.

I was also not very happy with answer to Q1 in todays age if you already have the VIN# and don't want any addnl options on the car I dont know why the dealers would not give the price via email , and why would Costco not require.But considering from where we have come as far as new car buying experience is concerned it is still a huge step.

Indepedently a few google searches told me that there is no Costco set price for each cars and basically Dealers are obliged to sell the car at the dealer invoice price(not MSRP) + $100(which goes to Costco Auto Program)
Some people on Internet were saying that Dealers can have any invoice price as they want but I'm not sure if that is true or someone is just trying to spread FUD(Fear ,Uncertainty, Doubt).

On Saturday we showed up at the dealership without setting appointment as we wanted to close the deal sooner because of extreme low to zero availability of the model/color we were looking for in the entire bayarea.Also I personally think Toyota purposely might not be building too many Prius C 0ne's and probably building more  of higher models of C two,three,four to upsell folks , some other forums also mentioned similar observations of low availability of starter models.

Now comes our real experience with the dealer .
On arrival we straight went to the Costco salesman and he was a Fleet manager.He was a good person and was not at all pushy in fact I dont even think he was a salesman as he was not at all pushy and very calm.
So I asked him to show the dealer invoice price and he showed it to me for the VIN# I had chosen ,  Cargo and other mats were shipped from the factory along with the bumper guard.So that was included in the  dealers invoice price which was $19,349 and miles on the car were 45.Ideally I wanted the base model without these silly addons like bumper guard and Toyota mats for the full car, but the salesman said that  for our region  they always ship mats.To which I didnt have much choice as the model/color was just not available .
As per costco agreement we need to pay $19349(which is the official dealer invoice price which he said will be same across entire california, dont know how true that is) + $100 , so the final price comes to  $19,449.Though , one nuance is the invoice sheet he printed did not have costco logo.I would have preferred to see a Costco logo for peace of mind. He also told me that they are legally obliged to submit the official dealer invoice price to Costco.I do remember that when I had signed up for the Costco Auto Program I did ask Costco to " Please verify my savings after purchase." and here is the text from costcos website

So then we asked him about all the addnl fees etc and he gave us a printout of the price along with all the addnl fees(mainly from DMV) and it came to $21,409 out the door price since we did not need any financing etc.The documentation fees was $85 which is the maximum anyone can charge in california and it was included in the out the door price.
Here is the exact breakout based on our contract.
Cash Price : $19449
Documentation Processing Charge(not a government fee) : $80
Sales Tax : 1635.61
Electronic Vehicle Registration or Transfer Charge : $18.60
Paid to Public officials
Vehicle License Fee : $127
Registration/Transfer/Titling Fees : $90
California Tire Fees : $8.75
Also we made it clear to him that part of payment will be via Amex as we wanted some cashback from Amex.To that he said that Piercey Toyota has a cap on maximum amount to be charged on any Credit card as $2000(Apparently as per Amex site $2000 is the minimum they have to accept) .We didnt want to haggle on it too much so we said fine and the rest of the amount we paid via personal Check.

So the deal seemed reasonable to me so I wanted to test drive the car and when we checked the car we found there were 107 miles on it versus what was on the invoice as 45.I really didnt like it but the salesman told me the car came from Vallejo.But since I had read about this online that there is quite a bit of possiblity in buying new cars that there are some miles on it , so it was not too much of surprise for me.
We took it for a short test drive and things seemed ok.
So then I ran a calculations on my smartphone and online.
My calculation was following , based on truecar.com the cost of the car was for Milpitas(Piercey Toyota is in Milpitas)
Base Price : $18,003
Options Price :$189
Destination Charge : 795

Now Costco's own website showed the following
Base Price : 18,003
Options : $189(Cargo/Carpet Floor mats, this price is costco's discounted price)
Destination Charge : $795
Total : $18,987

So even I were to get the best deal in town I would have to pay $18987 + $100 for Costco Auto program , so it comes to $19,087 and what I was quoted is $19,449.
So the difference would come to is about $362.
Also anyone who fills out Costco survey would get $50 back from Costco their survey and that can be only used at the Dealership which you bought the car from and $20 cashback from Amex.This $70 I would have got back regardless of the price of the car and the cost of the car .
So overall even if I overpaid , I might have overpaid by $362-$70 = $292.
To me this ~ $300 is well spend considering that there was literally zero availability of model/color in entire SF bay area,  that overall we felt that we might have not got the most perfect deal but it was reasonably good.We could have visited 5-8 dealers in SF bay area and negotiated with sleazy salesman and would have "potentially" saved another $100-$200 but we felt it was not worth the hassle.

Overall we were ready to buy the car and so we finished the paperwork in the salesman's office.Unfortunately since we were paying by personal check the full amount , we still had to give our social security and had to go through a credit check .I had already read about it online that for personal checks they do have to do a credit check etc, so we gave our Social security number.
Then for the final steps of payment we were asked to meet the Finance department guy who wanted to sell me(to some extend scare me by showing maintenace costs) extended warranty etc and I told him that we are not interested and would like to finish the paperwork.We were done with all the paperwork in 20 mins or so while our car was getting detailed etc and they went and filled fuel in it , when i saw the car again it had 5 more miles , so i asked how and they said they took it to fill gas(2.5 miles each way).

The original salesman who helped us buy the car did a walk thru of the car and we were on our way.
Then suddenly while I was driving I felt that I was speeding at 50 mph in a 40mph , but to my surprise the car was showing in km/hr , Phew...I never expected that it will be in km/h instead of mph .In any case I quickly figured out to change to mph and lots of other people on various forums had the same problem when they bought the Prius from dealers. I dont understand why the dealers would not take care of this simple check as it really can cause issues especially newer cars make less noise and it is hard to figure out that you are speeding on a new car.


Overall to summarize our experience was pretty good in today's age of dealership controlled monopolies and behind the door pricing etc.My hope is that in future we are able to buy cars online by pricing it correctly and knowing exactly how much we are paying upfront and from home.But until that day comes I feel Costco's auto program is a decent compromise and I would recommend it to "my grandma to buy her car with Costco Auto Program" .


Update 1 on 11/18/2012 : I filled the Costco Auto program survey to receive the $50.I also gave them the URL of this blog post and they told me that their Membership advocacy group will follow up with me on my experience in 3-5 business days and might ask a testimonial from me as well to be published.They instantly send me the $50 voucher via email after filling survey.

Update 2 : On Nov 22 , 2012 , Costco's Membership advocacy group followed up with me and have asked me to send the Invoice/MSRP/Contract to them as they would like to review my case.I was more then happy to get it reviewed.

Update 3 : Enrolled on Toyota.com and found out on their website that indeed the car was shipped from Vallejo.And then as per the printed invoice which i got as above had 45 miles on it.And the distance from Vallejo Toyota to Piercey Toyota as calculated by Yahoo is about 62 miles so 45+62=107 miles , bingo my odomerter reading as I bought it.Also on Toyota's website I found something weird that it said that the PDI(Post Delivery inspection) was done at 4 miles and at Vallejo Toyota but that is incorrect as PDI was done with me and the date on Toyota's website was the time I picked up the car.

Update 4 : MSRP on the car was $20,049

Update 5 : Finally figured out how to price it correctly on truecar.com.The Truecar's average price paid for the exact Selection came out to be $19,605
Someone got this awesome deal on Prius C2
Update 6 : Found out that Costco Program is not same as Truecar.com which is primarliy used by AAA,Amex etc.Here is the link on wikipedia which confirms that.
Update 7 : Send all the paperwork to Costco Member advocate group and got a call back from them in 24 hours that they confirmed that I had got the Costco price for my car

posted at: 01:03 | category: /personal | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Thu, 20 Jan 2011

My Ham Radio call sign

So I got my Ham radio call sign.It is KJ6MEJ.

posted at: 01:38 | category: /personal | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sun, 16 Jan 2011

Preparation for Technician's license for Ham Radio

So one day during my time off during the last two weeks of  December , i thought why not learn radio , after all , all the geeks which i have met in various outings like Linux user groups tend to be ham's.My motivation to get a ham license was more towards emergency preparedness and less about chit chatting with random people on the planet or in space(astronauts in space ) etc.
Being frugal I really didnt want to spend an arm and length on this new hobby of mine.So I just went to the Cupertino Library and got  book "Ham Radio License Manual Revised 2nd Edition"(saving of about $30).
Since I come from an engineering background , I knew most of the basic electrical components etc and their functions and so I had to prepare less.
After reading for a few days then I took a few free practice tests on QRZ.com.Once I was comfortable and was getting decent scores, I went and gave the test and passed.

posted at: 21:36 | category: /personal | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Passed Ham radio technician License test @ Saratoga Fire station

The ARRL incorrectly lists the timing for the licesing exams to be at 9.I called one of the organizers and he said that the tests are taken anytime between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM.
So like a disciplined school boy i showed up @ 8:00 am :-).Filled all the paperwork etc and gave $15 for the licensing test and finished the test by 8:30 or so and passed the test :-).
Overall there were a few volunteers , very experienced and senior folks who were taking administerting the exams.Along with me there were two other folks who were giving some test.
In any case they told me to look out for my paper license in about 2 weeks and my new call sign to show up on FCC's ULS database by Wednesday.
Lets see how it goes.Excited to be a new ham !!!!

posted at: 21:28 | category: /personal | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin