Saturday, June 12, 2010

Can curiosity kill the cat?

I read today, Sunday 13th of June 2010, in the paper this intriguing crime-question: "CAN THE TWEET KILL THE BOOK?".

My mind wanders away and several other questions arise.
Can Facebook kill the book? (2008)
Can the internet kill the book? (nineties)
Can the television kill the book? (eighties)
Can the movie theater kill the book? (twenties-thirties)

More questions come up ...
Can the digital camera kill the analog camera? (nineties)
Can the computer kill the typewriter? (eigthies)
Can the email kill the phone? (eigthies)
Can color television kill black&white? (sixties)
Can the car kill the horse? (end nineteenth century)
Can the bulb kill the petrol lamps? (19th century)

What would questions like these actually mean ...
Would somebody ever have the idea of asking them before
they actually happened?
Can Cliff Barnes kill JR? (asked in 1979)
Can Oswald kill Kennedy? (asked on 21th November 1963)
Can Union Carbide kill 15,000 people? (asked on 2 December 1984)
Can BP kill the leak? (before there was one)
Can Cobain kill himself? (before he actually did)

What about these questions ?
Can the laptop kill the desktop?
Can sex kill the Roman Catholic Church?
Can the car still kill the train?
Can online ecucation kill the classroom?
Can becoming an adult kill your youth?
Can Google kill Microsoft?
Can DDT kill the insect?
Can copper kill iron?
Can iron kill stone ?
Can China kill democracy?
Can money kill love?
Can Symantec kill the computervirus?

Some questions can become really dangerous if you would start digging too deep:
Can my wife kill my marriage?
Can the Indian politician make a killing?

There's only one real and meaningful question.
Knowing the answer to it is necessary, before you look for other answers.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Online Banking with ICICI (PART 1)

I can't help it, but I keep having continuous problems with using the on-line banking website of ICICI.
I think I'm entitled to call myself an experienced computer user, but despite all my endless efforts and my nights of studying the on-line banking system of ICICI bank, all these efforts have been in vain till now.
I had to apply 6 times (this is not an exaggeration from my side!) for new login credentials before somebody at ICICI found out that their website is not supporting Mozilla Firefox ! It took 4 months before I finally could log in.
I found out afterwards that it IS supporting Firefox after the first login however.

Since then my experiences with ICICI on-line banking have been worrisome. I try constantly to pay my bills electronically, like the lease every month. Let's follow the first step in this process: logging in.

I go to The result is this impressive screen:

Forced by my never-ending quest for money, first thing that catches my eye is the 5000rs cash back offer. For a short moment my mind already dreams about offering my wife a good meal-with-meat in one of the many hot spots in Gurgaon. I will make quite an impression on her if I will pay the bill from my own pocket. So I start to read. Damn, again I need to spend much more money first before getting the 5k. Based on experimental evidence I decide to not ask my wife for that money. I'll have to find other ways to impress her.

After reading all the options in the screen and doubting a bit which button will open the Gates of Eden, I realise suddenly what I was about to do: paying a bill asap.
So I press the "Personal" button under "Login" at the left side of the screen, as I don't consider myself in a corporate state today.
What would you expect? Right: a login screen where you can input your credentials.

Not at ICICI bank though. This is the page that shows up:

"Important alert" the message screams into my face. I read it cautiously since it's important. Wow, I got to hurry myself if I want to pay my landowner. ICICI will finally upgrade their on-line banking system. Huh ? Upgrade ? No: only maintenance they will do. And they need 18 hours for it ! Tomorrow already ! So I really need to hurry up. My deadline starts to count before I even got started... Even finishing this blog will be impossible, as I have so much to say about the ICICI banking system.

Then there's the safety notice. Hmmm, what to think about thàt? Do they have safety issues perhaps ? It seems so. Is it dangerous to enter this site ?

I don't know what kind of personality you, reader, have, but I myself don't like to have to click twice on a "login" button. To me, this is like I want to enter a restaurant where the guard holds you, tells you that tomorrow they're closed but that you'll be safe with them, and then asks you if you still want to enter the restaurant now that you know that they do everything they can to ensure your safety. I would spontaneously think then that something must be wrong entering that place.

"Tony, keep your nerves. You were going to pay somebody and you'll be able to do it in a safe way. Even if you refuse the 5000rs we would like to give you". So I press "Continue to login".

A separate pop-up appears.
"WHAT ? A POP-UP ? Is this safe ?"

Again an important Security Notice from ICICI. I need to check 3 security controls.
The first step asks me to check the URL. Seems to be OK. The URL in my browser shows exactly what is described, but what security check is this ? Any pirated popup could tell you: "Ensure the following before logging in: 1. URL address begins with http://...." after which they fish for your credentials. The security-aware reader will have noticed that I deleted the "s" from "https://"

I'm becoming very worried now ... what kind of security advice is this?

"Let's be brave, Tony. You've come to India to live here and you cannot succeed without trusting the Indian ways of doing the things. So, don't hesitate and go to the second security check."

"2. DO NOT ENTER login or other sensitive information IN ANY POP UP WINDOW."
WHAT ? This login-pop-up is telling me NOT TO ENTER my credentials in any pop up window ? They must be kidding, right ?

As I'm dead sure now that some Russians are waiting for me at their side of the cable to enter my login and other sensitive information into this pop-up, I quickly press the QUIT button.

I think I'll write a cheque.

(blog to be continued when I feel ready to climb further this Himalayan website)