Monday, January 28, 2008

Our Planetary Neighbours

NASA's Spirit has picked up some strange human looking life form on Mars. Yes people, the answer to our question 'Are we alone' (as if the 7+ billion was not enough) has been answered. We are not alone! Like this is what we really wanted at this time! We have so few humans around, why not get some Martians to stick around!

Too bad the Martian doesn't look anywhere as cool as depicted in the movies. :-) And since this picture is just as grainy or hazy as any of the ones of Sasquatch or Loch Ness monster, it must be true. :-)

Anyway, some more fuel for the SETI gang to continue their search.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Silly Billy

The final test between India and Australia is winding down to a draw and the main culprit for the result is probably the lifeless pitch. So much for cricket friendly Aussie pitches! :-) But then, this is apparently the first draw at Adelaide in 10 years! Can't blame the pitch much I suppose. Probably just 2 teams who played well when it mattered and hence the draw.

We had Billy Bowden as the umpire for the 3rd test match along with Asad Rauf, and the same pair officiated in the 4th test too. This was after ICC booted Bucknor off the series. After the 2 tests that Billy has officiated in, what is the general consensus on his umpiring? Was it better than Bucknors? At first glance, and considering the furore at Sydney, the answer would probably be yes. A good umpire is supposed to make the right decisions, be it out or not out. And with this as the context, on a closer look, you would see that Billy has taken the easy route out. He has played it safe by not giving any of the LBWs, even ones which were out. I think Billy's umpiring has been just as bad as Bucknors, just that people won't be as critical because, there is always the matter of the umpire being consistent and secondly, no one lost the Adelaide test specifically because of Billy decision making or the lack thereof!

Broadband alternative

Internet access in India has been around for a long time, but broadband access is relatively new and its now pervasive enough to reach the larger audience. The next step in net access is the mobile/wireless reachability. Though we have WiFi at home, we need to get to WiFi on the streets. Since that is a bit of a stretch, atleast in India it is, we have WiMax, which is much more suited for this application.

Reliance communications has gotten into this business in a BIG way and after initial hiccups have started their WiMax broadband availability.

Though this is still fixed wireless i.e. they will have a wireless modem/receiver on your roof and what comes into your house would be an ethernet drop. You can still choose to have WiFi inside your house. The dream is still to have access all over, but that will take a while. Rest assured, we are getting there. :-)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The R.I.C.E way...

I injured my leg last week playing football and it looked quite bad. I initially thought it was a fracture and that was a scary thought. I have been playing different types of sports for many years but never had a fracture or for that matter the serious kind of injury I had last week (touch wood!). I had a few friends at office who had faced similar injuries in the past assure me that it was not a fracture. This did bolden me when I went to visit the doctor.

He pressed a few of the bones and joints near the ankle area (the problem area) and since I didn't shout out, he figured it was not a fracture. A friend at office did the same to say that it wasn't a fracture. The doctor later told me to take an X-Ray and confirmed after looking at it that it was not a fracture. He later said:

"Have a lot of rest, put some ice near the swelling, put some crepe bandage to keep it tight and ensure that you put your feet "up" i.e. fighting gravity." To my surprise, another colleague of mine later pointed me to this, which is exactly the same stuff that the doctor said. Either I have an office full of orthopedics or this is very common knowledge. The doctor looked earnest in opinion till this point and then the financial reasoning came forth and he asked me to come to his hospital and start on physiotherapy. He didn't want to understand that I have to get to office and to start physiotherapy at 10:30AM is not something that will work for me at all. But nope, he wanted me to do it and didn't encourage me to get it done somewhere closer to my office. I have boldly decided not to do the physiotherapy as suggested and trust the wiki page or some other specialized website for directions on what I could do in "MY" time!

I may regret this decision to not go with the physiotherapy, but the inflexibility of the doctor to place the welfare of the patient ahead of his own business needs didn't appeal to me at all. Yes, we all work for money, but a doctor is not expected to talk like a salesman. In the software industry, we have specialists to do each job. Some of us code, some of us test, some of us manage, some of us sell, some of us do the marketing and so on. Shouldn't the practice of medicine also be similar ? Should a person in a higher position of trust, like a doctor, try to talk you into something that is forced more by the needs of business rather than the needs of the patient ? What does such talk by a doctor do to the faith bestowed on him by the patient? In our hour of desperation and pain, we will tend to listen to "whatever" the good doctor has to say. Misusing this trust points to a question of ethics, at least for me it does!

As previously written, the profession of medicine is so much more different from any other and continues to intrigue me.

p.s: I have very few friends who are doctors. :-)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Queen Maker?

Coalition politics are here to stay in India and since Congress and BJP can never partner with each other, the local players of each state will be the king makers in each state. At the center the story is different but not too different. The power players of each state do have a role to play, but we then have a few big players too. For e.g. the left parties and more recently Mayawati.

Mayawati understands that she has her very best chance of becoming the PM now. She sees the Congress losing in most states, BJP winning in some. If the nuclear deal results in India going for mid-term polls, she knows that there is a very good chance of neither of the big guns getting a majority. This opens the door for her and she is readying herself. If she manages to split UP into 3 states (which is good, but being done for the wrong reasons), her party will now have majority presence in more than just one state. This will give her more bargaining power and don't be surprised if she does a Deve Gowda and ends up becoming the Prime Minister of the country!

Here is a preview of her fancy plans.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not Funny!

I initially intended to post the new concept DAPs at CES 2008 by iriver, but was halted and veered away to another post by this rather bizarre happening at the CES this year.

Gizmondo is a very respected gadget guide website, one which I frequent often for getting the latest on gadgets or to catch a review of something I wanna buy. This being said, they released the below video on their blog of the bizarre happening I was talking about and I certainly didn't enjoy it!

This prank to shut off some of the LCD screens at the CES show was the brainwave of editor of Gizmodo! He has since been banned from this years show and the site probably has a lawsuit on their hands. If you have seen the above video, you would see many of the presenters being presented with their worst presentation nightmare, and not just once! The motorola guy tried to recover by moving from his primary LCD, which had stopped working, to the secondary LCD, which also went off within seconds.

Pranks are fine if this was a convention for college kids. But this is CES, one of the most looked forward to events of the tech calendar. There are serious companies showcasing there path breaking or at least money making (hopeful) products for the coming year. And to have such a serious event be disrupted like this is just childish!

The above video has been removed by youtube. Here is a link for the video right from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


The Indian government supported bodies or companies always seem to get the better of the rules of the land, thus making them monopolistic in nature. I had written a while back about how doordarshan gets to relay the live feed of cricket matches from Neo Sports without paying them any money and yet make money themselves on Ads in between overs. The situation in the fuel market is not very different.

I choose to fill petrol from the Shell outlet on Old Madras Road. The reasons for choosing them over a HP or IndianOil petrol pump are many fold.

1. I don't have to keep my eyes pinned on the money or fuel meter to see if they are trying to pull a fast one on me.
2. They don't make the choice of premium or normal petrol for me!
3. They clean the windshield of my ever dirty car. :-)
4. They give me a bill for every transaction without asking for one.
5. I have a smiling face welcoming me to the petrol station, and not someone who seems to think that he is doing a favour by pouring petrol into the tank.

There are more reasons, but then, they are not big enough to mention, but significant enough to make you feel more comfortable.

Last week, I went to the Shell petrol pump and got to know that they have stopped selling normal petrol in Bangalore and Chennai and that they would now sell only their premium version of petrol and diesel. The reason cited is that the subsidies provided by the government is only for the PSU Oil companies, but the private players are expected to keep the price fair inspite of not having the subsidies. They were kind enough to warm me before they started filling up and also had the below notice given to every customer who had any query regarding this.

I better reacquaint myself with the skills needs to fill petrol elsewhere!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Small is Big

Finally we have a few glimpses of the 1 lakh car from Tata.

The Looks:

The Details:

Tata is clearly trying to woo the low end car market (Maruti 800) consumers and the high-end 2 wheeler consumer into switching to the 1 lakh car. The current market leaders of the high-end 2 wheeler segment, Bajaj, cannot let this happen without a fight and they have released some news about their own version of the 1 lakh car.

More details here.

The small car market is pretty big in India and these guys know it. Let the wooing games begin! :-)

Saturday, January 05, 2008


I didn't plan to write this post, but I just couldn't contain my anger. Here are a series of events in the second test between India and Australia in Sydney.

A delve into the past... In the 1st test between India and Australia, Yuvraj is unhappy with a very bad decision given and lingers a little longer than he should have. He is held up by the match referee and then let go. The ICC chief is unhappy that yuvraj is let go scot-free. Now to the present... where there is an ongoing investigation against Harbhajan for alleged racist comments against Symonds, one in which the match referee didn't see anything, the umpires didn't hear anything, but the aussies go to media with statements like "we have a strong case against Harbhajan". All this happening in the middle of the match!

Now, lets get to the center of all the controversies and we have many in this match.

1. Aussies are in a spot of bother in the first innings, Ponting is batting on 14 and snicks a ball to Dhoni. He does not walk and the umpire Mark Benson does not give him out. No questions asked, India... tough luck.
2. Symonds is pulling aussies out of trouble, he snicks a ball and the catch is taken. He does not walk and the umpire Steve Bucknor does not give him out. Since Bucknor takes for ages to give any decision, Ishant Sharma continues to appeal. Bucknor complains about him to the match referee for sustained appealing. India... tough luck again.
3. Symonds is now playing well and Dhoni manages to get a stumping very much against the run of play. He appeals to the square leg umpire, who decides to go to the 3rd umpire. The replays show that he was definitely out, but again, the 3rd umpire has other plans. India... not your day, not your test.
4. Another stumping off Harbhajan by Dhoni on Symonds. This time Bucknor who is at square leg doesn't even go to the 3rd umpire. The action replays show that he was out! India... Bucknor eyes are as good as that of a bat in daylight, trust him!
5. Jaffer is bowled by a beauty of a yorker by Lee. Action replays show that it was a no-ball. India... the ball was so good, the umpire was distracted from seeing the no-ball.
6. Aussies see Harbhajan of all the people giving able support to Tendulkar and they can't stomach it. They start their needling and Bhajji responds back in as many words. The Aussies feel pissed and lodge a complaint. India... Shut up, we, the aussies can sledge, your part is to only listen and not react!
7. Michale Clarke into bat in the 2nd innings and slashes at a ball from Kumble and the catch is taken by Dravid in slips. There isn't even an iota of doubt, but Clarke doesn't walk. Indians are flabbergasted and finally the umpire lifts his finger. India... Its after all Clarke, the vice captain of the team, if he is standing his ground, there must be reason!
8. Kumble has taken 2 wickets in a row and is on a hat-trick. A very valid lbw appeal against Symonds is turned down. Since Bucknor is so slow in deciding, Kumble continues the appeal and Bucknor has a word with him on sustained appealing. Hawk-eye shows that the ball would have hit the middle stump! India... when will you realize that Symonds has a contract for one let-off for every 50 runs he scores!
9. India is playing its 2nd innings and trying to save the test, Dravid is decided to plonk is feet down and is playing very well. A loud appeal from Symonds for a brush off the pads, supported very ably by all the close in aussie fielders including the 'preacher' Adam Gilchrist. Bucknor doesn't bat an eyelid and gives Dravid out. A disgusted Dravid laughs his way back to the pavilion. India... if the aussies have to win dravid can't be around.
10. A ball from Hogg hits Dhoni on the pads and bounces up. Ponting dives for the ball and catches it, but comes up grinding the ball in the ground. A definite not out, but there is a huge appeal from Ponting. Luckily the bowler appealed for LBW and Ponting for cthe catch and the confused umpire didnt give either. India, see, you may not be lucky, but at least on this occasion you were not unlucky.
11. Ganguly in prime form has scored run a ball 50 and is looking to save the match. A snick from Lee goes to Michael Clark in slips. There is definite doubt on whether the catch was taken cleanly. Ganguly stands his ground. Umpire Mark Benson instead of going to the 3rd umpire to confirm, instead of going to the square leg umpire to confirm, goes to the opposing captain, Ponting, who gestures to the umpire and to the batsman that ganguly is out. India, you got to understand, Ponting plans on becoming an umpire after his active career and he needs the practice!

All these decisions have brought India very close to defeat, with kumble battling on with the bat. This has been one abysmal performance by the umpires and unfortunately all decision minus one went against the Indiansremoved from the e. If they are bad, they need to be bad to both the teams, not just one! Its about time Bucknor is removed from the elite panel of umpires or at least not officiate in matches involving India. He has been complained on by India in the past, and he still is persisted with. He is the umpire for the 3rd test even. We will be blessed to watch more of his wonderful decision making!

What action will be taken against the belligerent aussies after then very sportmanly conduct? What action will be taken against the umpires, who have made more than their fair share of mistakes and even worse almost all against one team?!?

Change Needed!

The telecom sector in India has changed the life of people by leaps and bounds and in the process has revolutionized the way we view the telecom industry which was monopolized by BSNL. I have had very little interaction with BSNL in the last few years. The last I had contacted them was to get ISD enabled on my landline and I had to wait for 2 months for it to be activated after providing a written letter with a photo attached requesting for the enabling of ISD services. I should have been happy that it at least got done and stayed away from BSNL till absolutely necessary, but nope, I am a sucker for hoping things will change! :-)

I had been to a BSNL customer care center last week to buy a landline prepaid card. I went to the lady who seemed to have nothing to do and asked her for the counter where I could get the card. The lady without raising her hand, without telling a word, just moved her eyes in the general direction of the counters. I figured she is keeping "Mouna Vratha" and moved towards the counters. She apparently is the person in charge of enquiry section! I go near the counters and wait my turn. In the meanwhile, our lady of inaction seems to be exercising her eyes ever so often, with every enquiry being pushed off to some other official or counter. Then is the icing on the cake, when one individual expects an answer from her and not just bharatnatyam movements! This irks her so much that she in fact fires the guy for not being able to help himself! The disgusted customer shouts a bit and then walks out. There goes more business away from BSNL.

Now continuing my time at the counter. I asked for the card and told the denomination I wanted. Later I asked for the call charges, for which the answer I got was "Same like all the other cards Sir". Was this answer supposed to help me? If all the cards are same, then why have so many different cards or so many different denominations. Further more, the official is searching away his small pile of cards for the right one. He is taking for ages and doesn't seem to know what is kept where. I am able to spot the card I want and tell him "The card is there sir, to your left". He doesn't heed my help as he goes about the search in his own slow pace and finally pulls out the card and hands it out to me. The cost of the card is Rs.312 and I pay him Rs.1012 to help him with the easy math to get back the right change. But I was surprised that he got the calculator in front to do the math and waste some more of my time!

The whole experience took around 15 minutes which I think could have taken less than 5 minutes. Its not the 10 minutes that matter, but the lack of adaptability by the BSNL officials to the already changed consumer mindset and expectations!

TOI Goof

Given more time, I am sure I can update the Times Of India goofup section almost daily! This is what is seen in todays paper.

Which Ind vs Aus match was the TOI following?

And this was in yesterdays edition.

How about a spell check before you increase the font on the headlines?? Will avoid us from becoming the victims! :-)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Music Review: M.I.A-Kala

To start off... Wish you and your family a very happy and healthy 2008!

A friend of mine pointed me to this youtube video. The music was extremely catchy and infectious! My friend and myself discussed this and felt it sounded a lot like dapang-koothu and very gaana sounding lyrics. To add, it seemed to have some sorta desi influences in the basic tune too. Now that it had got my attention, I had to dig around a little more...

The name of the artist is M.I.A and the name of the album is Kala. I remember seeing this as one of the best selling albums of 2007 on some music trivia page. At first sight, this reminded me of some hip hop artist from US and disregarded it. But after hearing it, was totally impressed with the peppiness. And once I got to the wiki page, I was convinced with whatever my friend and myself had discussed.

The artist M.I.A's real name is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, a UK based artist originally from Sri Lanka. Her dad is a LTTE member and she has been shuttling between Sri Lanka, India and UK during her early years. Her first album is named Arular, named after her father and her second one is named Kala, which is named after her mother.

All in all, a very new and interesting sound. A definite must-hear.