Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gravity

The 3D short of my beloved blue planet from 600 kms above and the last
five minutes alone are worth the movie price. The rest may or may not
have feedback, but it is just commentary!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

ஓநாயும் ஆட்டுக்குட்டியும்... Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum...

"Lone Wolf" productions is Mysskin alluding to his position in Kollywood.

A wolf with its back to the corner is the most dangerous. And what an output it has produced this time! One way, he really is a lone wolf, handling direction and picking up the lead role as well. Another way, with the kind of BGM support he has received from Ilaiyaraja, he is hardly alone! This movie is dynamite - with Mysskin pruning his penchant for dramatization, tightening the screenplay, removing songs from the movie and finally going all out in terms of effort and intensity.

Whatever perceived arrogance I had seen about Mysskin with respect to his screenplay from his earlier movies, he redeemed himself through two situations.

1. The poignant story he narrates towards the end of the movie. Whatever ambivalence the viewer may have had towards the character is instantly demolished and you care for the character right way. I am sure the story is not just about the movie character!

2. Making the BGM clips available for free download. Thank you sir!

 It is not fair someone has to face an uphill task like this all alone by himself. I hope this movie fixes that situation with its quality and success.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A handful of diesel...

Recently, I was watching a heavy bulldozer move huge chunks of building material from one side to another effortlessly. The size of the material was like - to do this with people, it would have taken about 40-50 people, all puffing and panting to complete.

It is one thing that we have built the machinery to accomplish this. But the core power for this activity came from a handful of diesel. This handful of diesel and the labor of 40-50 people - the comparison seemed very disproportionate.

I had to keep mulling on this until I realized something: This handful of diesel came from a million years of activity inside the womb of planet Earth. It is just that we have organized this extraction, production, transportation and eventual consumption life-cycle to such an extent it looks trivial.

If petroleum takes a million years to produce - and we are consuming like a million liters every day, we are eventually going to run out of this and the machines are going to be twiddling their thumbs. Well, even that needs diesel. I understand this is why we are turning to the Arctic for petroleum - which I have a feeling will be a stupid decision among the long list of stupid decisions we have made in the course of history.

It doesn't take much to see we will run out of petroleum in the Arctic as well. Petroleum is the blood of planet Earth. Much of the raw power that we derive from it is the planet's power - and we ought to treat it with some discretion and respect.

It is time to turn to a proper renewable source on a war footing - and along with that scale our activities in proportion with what's available.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Brilliance through simplicity!

A brilliant idea that shows innovation is not necessarily spending millions on research.
Just enough care and a simple process through a brilliant idea <==> true word of mouth advertisement for the company!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back to the nostalgic world of schoolboyish charm

Grown ups (/s) have a problem. Being one of them I can vouch for it.

We have defences which comprise of silly logic and gooey pseudo-maturishness. If someone needs to penetrate them, they need to feed them with stuff that looks like logic so our intellectual cows can chew on them.

That's exactly what the Avengers and Iron Man 3 movies do. Amazingly, they do all these things - throw a bone for the dog of logic, bring out the charm of adulation for the superhero and depict mind blowing action. Speaking about Avengers - it achieves another impossible milestone - bring the superheroes together, give them their on space for their individual herodom, give them their own egos where they squabble among each other, and in the end bring them all roaring together for a common cause in a magnificent inter-planetary showdown. I am just wondering why Spiderman was left out of the squad, but take nothing away from the execution!

Avengers also depicts the brains of the rulers - a quite not so indirect message to the guys who send a nuke to bomb the city when the super heroes are already at their showdown and say "Good luck guys!". This one is not fiction! But Iron Man is up to the task and gives a feeling of euphoria and adulation when he handles that as well.

This was not a review. Bring on Avengers 2 and Iron Man 4. I am sold baby!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

#6 - What I am listening to now...



You must read this post before reading this article!


S.NoNameArtistAlbumRemarks
1ellAme iRai aruLaLe...iLaiyarAjAPazhassi Raja This is an Islamic song - but in a sense it crosses all borders and notifies the oneness of all cultures. But the tone, the mood, the sounds, the lyrics, the chants - all are Islam. The feel is that you are in an Islamic space. Any pompous words or extreme inflexions might tend to dissuade from what I am trying to say - but the song blew my mind!
Especially when the chant starts, the first time I heard it, it was like I was the stone in a catapult launched it 1000 feet high. This chant still twists and churns the insides of me. In a way, this song has one foot on the beyond and other is steeped in Islamic culture. For me personally, it is an experiential proof that all religions lead to that one Source.

“லட்சம் காதம் தூரம் போய் நீ லட்சியம் அடைய முடியாது...
லட்சம் கையில் இருந்தாலும் மருகும் மனம் சுகம் தழுவாது!
எல்லாமே இறை அருளாலே...
எல்லை இல்லாதோர் பலத்தாலே!”

“You may travel a million miles and still not reach your destination.
You may hold millions but your wavering mind will not know peace.
All here is from His Grace!
All here is from that Infinite Power!”

Just beautiful!

A message to fanatics from all religions:
Dear fanatic: whichever religion you may be from, if you as much laid your little finger on another person in an attempt to coerce him or her into your belief, you do not understand what your religion stands for. If you threw a bomb or took a gun or a sword to finish them off, you just went against the deeper sense of whatever faith you came from.There is this incredible, magnificent, Christlike, too-good-to-be-true mystic from India whose name was Ramakrishna. After his enlightenment he discarded his enlightenment and started on the Islamic path and discovered that it reaches the same final Source. He then discarded that and took up Christianity and found it it reached the same Source as well. Osho said that Ramakrishna stands alone in this effort in the whole history of humanity. His sincerity pounds my heart to pulp! Dear fanatic, if you lack this kind of sincerity, you might as well shut up, be a little more humble and see that there might be something that you are missing. The word God and the need to kill to enforce conformist ideas is an oxymoron of sorts.
2intha kOvil mattum...iLaiyarAjABaba Pugazh Malai Ilaiyaraja has this beautiful practice. If he comes out with a devotional album, he bans all advertising for that. His notion is that it will reach anyone who is entitled to receive that. So long after this came out, I did not know it even came out. But I guess I am entitled :)

I read somewhere that the spiritual strength of a single Mahavatar can offset or counterbalance the negativity of the rest of the humanity. It must be true! For the mess that we are and the cruel creatures that we are, if Mother Earth is still holding us together, it must be for those select few who tread a different plane.

This song’s message is the same, in more simpler terms - and in celebration of Shirdi Sai Baba. Evoked very strong feelings in me!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rate my life - 2013

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 7.3
Mind: 6.7
Body: 8.4
Spirit: 5.7
Friends/Family: 4.8
Love: 7.3
Finance: 9.1
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

I have been doing this quiz intermittently over the past few years.
Tip: Take this quiz when you are in a good mood :)

Body: Want to cut out white. White rice, sugar - big minuses.
Mind: Want to cut out TV from my life (not movies).
Spirit: Actually, this is one part of my life where my concern is near nil. Not exactly sure how the engine computes the score but this is what came up when I answered the questions.
Love: Decent quota? Fair enough :)
Finance: Touch wood! I think 10 is "self sufficient" because that is what it amounts to. It needs to be remembered that debt free is a big deal in a high spending economy.
Friends/family: Err, ehhm.... People don't like me - I guess that's ok!

There is this section where people who have high category scores can type out advice to others who seem to be struggling. I found a few tips enriching.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Music and my disclaimer...

I used to jot down about what I was listening at any point of time whenever I had the time to do so.
I will continue to do so as well, but it is important to also add a disclaimer.

Why? Music, to me, is very powerful. It moves me more than I can explain - which in itself is why I take time to write about what I listen. In the process of writing, I notice that my posts are more biased and prejudiced that it would otherwise be - viz, when I carefully construct my thoughts to whatever extent possible.

So, here goes:

1) I do not know anything about music - nothing whatsoever.

2) I have zero musical knowledge.

3) I am very arrogant to comment about things I have no knowledge about.

4) Do not read these posts unless you are ok to encounter comments like "IR sucks" or "ARR rocks". They are far more intelligent that I can ever comprehend but I may still make such comments because I cannot help it.

5) Whatever I write may be completely wrong or untrue. (See 1, 2 and 3). They are opinions (which can be disguised as facts as well) frozen at a point-in-time and may change later as well! I may write about ragas, operas, staccatos, librettos, harmonies, counterpoints, Scottish bagpipers even though I have no idea what these are. I may also write about the lack of musical knowledge about a composer who has written ten full fledged symphonies.

6) You agree and acknowledge that by continuing to read, you are treading into the head of a madman and the madness might be temporary or permanent beyond a point of recovery.

7) Seriously, please read point 6.

8) Ok - I hope this construes as fair warning!

9) For indoor or outdoor use only.

10) May contain nuts, milk or eggs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just... Very... Tired...

Writing this isn't going to change anything outside or within me.
But this is a way of giving vent to my frustration and utter disappointment - with myself and all of us as a whole.

The whole week had been beautiful. News is toxic for you - warned this article, and from Guardian News no less. I read and nodded but did not heed the advice. I just got a glimpse of the headline from "The Hindu".

The same notorious Delhi. This time, the ante had been upped. It was a five year old girl. Actually, by and large, the majority feel the fear, the anger and the frustration. But we lack the wherewithal to convert them to meaningful results. It takes enormous energy to just hold the attention of those people who could directly do something about all these things. As an apathetic group of people, if we were stirred into expressing our feelings, it just shows that the string of events have spiraled down to such low levels. Our love for status quo has resulted in anarchy outside of our imaginary shell called democracy. People who can see through this imaginary line called law-and-order and have the courage to act on the loopholes give free reign to their greed, lust and perversions with a free hand.

Somehow, all this attention event after event does not seem to deter any such activity. The brazen audacity with which these activities happen may be suggest we need to be more ruthless about how these are dealt with. Brazen audacity - mind-numbing incompetence and corruption - stone-like apathy; only this time the mark fell too close to home that there is some semblance of us reacting as a group.

But really - that girl was five years old. That is what I keep saying to myself - she was five years old. Someone looked at her and saw just body parts. Right now I just want to resign and be away from all this. I am sorry, I am just very tired - and I lack the necessary words, emotions or actions to express what I should really express about where we stand now. I am not the only one feeling this.

She was five years old... And I find it hard to fathom what it would be like to be her mother or father right now. That article ended with these lines - I want to say the same thing.
"Dear baby girl, we have failed you even in our sorrow."

She was five years old...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A few random notes...

Suddenly, I look back and see it has been two months before I wrote here. Occasionally, the thought comes that I should put and end to this blog umbrella. Then the answer is always "Naah...". I just love to write and would continue even if this blog weren't there.

"People who you may know..." which G+ so helpfully reminds me makes me realize - so many people I now and have met, but how few I really know! It is surprising and refreshing in a way I can't really explain!

As technology really grows and some of its nuggets come into our access - the initial euphoria is good. As it dies down, it always reminds me that it is not transformational in anyway. It is good to use and enjoy, but that is not the road to take.

They found the giant squid. I don't know why I am so excited. The squid was always there in the depths. We just got to see it. How many more surprises nature has in store for us? Please remember people - we are not masters of this planet. Every species we drive to extinction in pursuit of our greed is a burden on our back which we have to answer one day.

In Vermont recently, a meat plant was closed down for violations. The violation? A video was leaked showing live skinning of veal calves. Goes back to our greed. We need meat for our survival as a species the way we currently exist. Can't we get them in a humane way? Given that we have the necessary technology to do it, there is really no twisted or far fetched excuse that would suffice for not doing it in any way.

Finally, the real solution for everything is a rise in human consciousness. It would really help if organizations that are taking baby steps in that direction, and which are really few and far in between, are not burdened with ridiculous claims and accusations that sap everyone's energy without any real benefit to anyone.

Namaste!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aaron Swartz

I will be honest. Until the news broke out, I did not even know who he was. But you do not have to know a person to be touched by that person, directly or indirectly. Life is filled with examples like this. In Aaron’s case:

- I’ve been helped by posts on Reddit
- I use and love RSS
- I use and love the Creative Commons concept

What makes me really sad about Aaron is thinking about those few moments that led to the tipping point from which there is no turning back. It could not have been pleasant and that is putting it mildly. And for someone without any real help and going through depression as well... Sad. Very Sad.

Also, it is true that the judicial system lacks a sense of proportionality. For an alleged crime that in which there are no victims, is a 35 year jail term proportional? As with any other life situation, the right thing to do is to make relevant changes by using this as a lesson.

The role of a law is to reform. Not to bully and punish. Systems across the world seem to have forgotten this. I am sorry Aaron. Whatever your alleged crime is, I am sure you did not deserve this. Thank you for everything you have contributed to making the Internet and the world a better place for us.

Note: I am typing everything in retrospect so there is no right or wrong here. I am just sad. Very sad. All I am wondering in the end is, did he deserve this? I know that the answer to that question is “NO”.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I got a new phone...

When I wrote that I wanted a new phone, little did I realize that I would be posting an update within a month.

With this post, I become another of those Blackberry users that has jumped ship. I have a shiny new Galaxy Note II - the same company that made the yucky phone my wife owns - now. Wait - what happened to the “first choice for Blackberry” thought? Man proposes... This phone was a gift so I did not have much choice. But looking at it another way, the timing couldn’t have been better - actually it left me wondering.

Before I talk about the new phone, I want to spare a thought for Blackberry. RIM is facing an uphill task - truly - and their BB10 series better be truly breathtaking to compete with the current crop of phones.

This is my first experience with Android as such. It will be really unfair to compare this phone with the 8520 that I had. For one, this is a product of two or three iterations of evolution which spanned two or three years. And then, the Note 2 is a behemoth! In size (a mini tablet), in price (well, let us just say you could be riding a shiny new two wheeler here in India if you decided to invest the money there!), in performance (quad core, seriously! I remember working on computers that had a single processor running at half this phone’s speed). So the first experience was “Wow!”. And Android itself was a thorough surprise as to how meticulously thought out and crafted it was - in every single way. Actually, I wrote some things I wanted from my new phone in the last post. Let’s see:

1) Good memory. 8520 has 256MB - I have to juggle apps to maintain a healthy free memory
Check! 2GB Ram and 16GB Flash. If you had the dough to spare, you can take a 64GB version. Add a 32GB microSD card and you could be carrying your music collection and a few movies in your pocket.

2) Good camera. The camera on this phone totally sucks. No detail and lots of noise.
Emphatic check! The camera on this phone knocks the socks out of the 8520. With 8MP, the detail is impressive but it is still a phone with a camera. But I love the close up shots. In fact, its already proving quite useful as a note capturing device and even a document scanner.

3) 4G - I want to leapfrog the 3G generation, which is part of the reason I am waiting. 
No check! But 3G is fast. I am not going to be twiddling my thumbs for 4G now.

4) Good processor. A pain point with this phone. Now with quad-cores becoming common, I want to see what becomes available soon.
No, I wasn’t seeing the future when I wrote this.

5) QWERTY - I am still not convinced with the touch screens' ability to do email and messaging. With whatever I've tried, its like switching from a car to a bicycle in terms of speed!      This option pretty much rules out every phone other than the BB isn't it? Lets see!      But I love the facility of large touch screen real estate and possibilities. The only good phone that married the too was the BB torch. But it appears I have to pick one in favor of the other! 
No check! This is one department where I am feeling the pinch and this is one area where the 8520 will still win. That and the AutoText settings.

6) Video watching - preferably without reformatting! I can't even think of something like that on this phone.
Whoa! With the quad core and the ample memory / flash storage, you can really show off!

7) Dual SIM - would be good value, but I am sure there is not going to be one in the BB.
Duh!

8) Full browsing - both in terms of browsability and speed.
Yep! You can carry Firefox, Chrome and Opera all in the same compartment.

What about things I was already doing?

1) Calling and SMS messaging (duh indeed)!
Copy paste!

2) Almost all bank activities short of depositing cash!
ICICI Bank has an equally good app for the Android as well.

3) Access all my important files and send to others on need basis.
Dropbox has an Android app as well.

4) Access Email, Twitter, Google Talk
Yes! GMail has a dedicated app (and why would Google not provide one?)

5) Borderless messaging, thanks to WhatsApp and BBM
No BBM (not going to be missing that), but WhatsApp - yes!

6) Expensing with Expensify
Expensify has an Android app with a similar look and feel but with the better Camera on the Note2, the results are much better!

7) Browsing
Its a different era on this phone.

8) Facebook - yeah right!
Ditto!

9) Jotting notes with Evernote
Evernote app is notches ahead here because its written to exploit the processing capabilities of this phone. They also have a separate widget to put on the home screen.

10) LinkedIn - I don't really use it
Available, but not installed.

12) It is my alarm clock, stop watch and timer as well!
Available. To use full fledged. I love the fact that you can design multiple alarms and activate and deactivate one or many. I have a Sadhana alarm and a Lazyboy alarm setup. Don’t ask what they are!

13) It has fallen atleast 5-6 times and has survived
Dear God! I hope not...

Another wonderful app I discovered is Pocket! Nice name - nicer function! What it helps you do is to mark off all interesting looking articles you scan on the web. It removes all the fluff (read: Sucks the content out of the presentation and reformats it into just text and pictures) and pushes it to your phone in a neat readable format. It is like if they printed a newspaper with just the things you want to read. And you can carry it in your pocket. One of those apps which makes you think “How did I do without it?”

And there’s talking Tom! He doesn’t like his tail being pulled, but that’s what I do!

I am yet to explore this phone in its full depth - and given its capabilities, it will take some exploring to do. Good luck Blackberry - I enjoyed being with you while it lasted.

 
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