Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home, Sweet Home...

The term "home advantage" is used very often in sports and also with a similar meaning in situations that have nothing to do with sports. In a sport like cricket, playing on home ground means a lot. This is coz the game has a lot to do with the nature of pitch, the pace of the outfield, the weather, the humidity, the moisture etc etc. But this never made sense to me in a game like football. What could a home ground (other than spectator support) be of significance in football?

I got the answer, surprisingly, very close to home. :-). We at office play a game of football every week. There is a regular public ground that we visit and we rarely go to any other ground. Last week, for reasons of overcrowding (and this time the population of India was on display), we had to switch grounds. This new ground we went to, was bigger, but we also had a full complement of players. But before long, we knew the game was going to be very different. We are no great players, but don't suck too much either. Yet, the passes were not as accurate as usual, the ball trappings were not as clean, the flank angels were all awry, and most critically, the auto orientation on where your team players are more importantly the goal was completely missing. It was a fun game because it was well contested and not because of the quality of the game.

This experience of playing away from our "home ground" has definitely improved my appreciation of the home advantage theory being applicable in football too. :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Useless trivia... :-)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Search is on...

It has been a long time since I have covered a gadget on this blog. I have been on the hunt for a good TV media player which has the required HD play power and at least DTS downmix if not decoding capabilities. There are quite a few pretenders, like the Asus O!Play, Ryan AC PlayonHD etc, and I had almost narrowed down on the WDTV Live, but my perennial indecisiveness ensured I didn't jump the gun and boy am I glad I didn't!

A couple of days later, I see this! Now, this thing is super cute, super powerful (for its size) and feature rich. And as luck would have it, it is also super costly, approx $500. But as a colleague of mine at office suggests, you can never get more future proof (at least w.r.t media players) than a comp as upgrades are more easily available. Maybe I will wait for a few more months and see if more like these crop up and if they can be price competitive with the current slew of TV media players.

Until such a time... droooooooool! :-P

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Our President, Pratibha Patel is no where as dynamic as Mr.Abdul Kalam. As a result, she is hardly seen or heard doing anything significant other than trying to ensure her family has a holiday every time she goes on an "official" visit abroad.

Off late, our leader has been donning the newspaper for equally frivolous reasons. She is going into the record books for sitting inside a Sukhoi fighter jet. Really? Is this really so important? What the hell does this accomplish for anyone? Is anybody "proud" of her? Damn as hell I am not! She just wasted a shit-load of my taxpayers money.

I wonder why our leaders are still stuck doing these kind of cheap gimmicks even in this time and age!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I happened to read this article and view the video just a few minutes back and it just blew me away! Here is the wiki-link for the more interested folks.

A prototype device of $350 and you have further integrated the two worlds we live in today! This invention has the potential to be the next killer technology wave and when commodotized, it will be available to the common man at a price which will pressure M$ into thinking differently on their surface computing plans. Lets hope and pray for all the philanthropic dreams of Pravav Mistry to also come true!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

...make it even better!

The football world cup is round the corner and there are a few final slots to be booked yet. One of them was going to Ireland or France. I didnt see the match live but heard so much about it that I had to see the videos on youtube. All the talk was about how Henry, the captain of the French national team used his hand quite deliberately to control the ball before passing it to gallas to score the all crucial goal.

As shocking as this was for Ireland, it really isn't shocking that incidents like this go unnoticed on a football field. Most sports today use technology, some more than others, to keep the game fair and controversy free. Will technology ensure zero controversy? Of course not, but it will dramatically reduce the number of absolute insults to the game. During football discussions at office and we have some very passionate discussions, I have heard of how the intervention of technology will slow down the game. Well, my counter argument to that is, the number of fake injuries, dives and unsporting conduct already eat a lot more time than technology could. And once the players know that the cameras all over the place are tracking not just their deft footwork but also their deft fakework, and foulwork, the number of actual minutes of "football" will only increase. There is another argument which says that technology will kill the charm of the game. While this could be true in a very minuscule manner, the way the game gets played these days, there is more cheating skills on display than football skills. And there is no charm in cheating!

Another way to look at this would be, these kind of controversies keep us talking about the game longer and this only helps the game get more popular. :-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pushing it...

Google is at it... again. We were today welcomed to watch the first glimpses of the Google Chrome OS or simply Chrome OS.

I have used the Chrome browser on and off. It is quick, it is more secure, it is not as customizable as firefox (yet), but in my experience it does hog a lot of memory incrementally. But none the less, it is a good attempt at a browser with certain clear innovations.

Now, the Chrome OS seems to be pushing the envelope even more considering the paradigm shift that we are expected to take compared to our regular OS use. This is probably the reason why they are releasing it more for the smart phones and netbook market rather than make it mainstream. The one thing about Chrome OS which sucks (at least for us poor souls in India) is that the whole OS is built on the assumption that you have a super fast net connection, which in India costs a bomb.

Anyway, we can be spectators watching the spectacle unfold and waiting for when our ISPs can offer us world class broadband at world beating price (like the telecom industry has). :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I don't follow cricket like I used to, but still something like this really irks me!

What did Dravid do wrong in the champions trophy that he is being dropped from the team? He was the top scorer and possibly the only guy who looks like he did his best to get India to a win! What did Raina do right that he is in the team? Who sees talent in Virat Kohli compared to Badrinath or Manoj Tewari or even Abhishek Nayar.

No wonder cricket (probably Indian cricket) no longer holds the special place in my day to day life. :-(

Monday, October 05, 2009

Reality beckons

The "startup days" of Linux seem to be behind it. Saw this interesting article come by and I couldn't agree more.

The more popular linux becomes, the more user friendly it becomes, the more it looks and feels like Windoze.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

For the conscious...

I intentionally left out "health" from the title... ;-)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Its been a year...

Google surprised the world with its entry into the browser war when it released Chrome. It has now been a year since and Chrome has reached 2.0 w.r.t stable releases and 4.0 w.r.t developer releases. I have used Chrome on and off over the year and one thing that is going for it is, well, its fast... speedy gonsalves fast!! But for the add-ons I am so used to on firefox, I would have moved to Chrome. Another thing that Chrome touts is security and sandboxing. It would be good to see some benchmarking done along these lines (i.e most secure browser) than along the same old lines of speed, speed and more speed.

Here is a comic book (old one) that was released by Google when introducing Chrome to the world. The comic book, though geeky, tries to explain in as layman terms as possible the ideology behind the Chrome browser. A good read...

Monday, August 31, 2009


An interesting article...

Why Indians don’t give back to society

Some characteristics unite Indians. The most visible is our opportunism

Why don’t we worship Brahma? We know he’s part of the Hindu trinity as the creator, but we worship Vishnu, manager of the cosmos, and Shiva, its eventual destroyer. The answer lies not in religion, but in culture. But in what way does our religion shape our culture?

Max Weber explained the success of capitalism in the US, Germany and Britain as coming from their populations’ Protestant faith. This ethic, or culture, was missing from the Catholic populations of South America, Italy and Spain. Protestants, Weber said, extended Christianity’s message of doing good deeds, to doing work well. Industry and enterprise had an ultimate motive: public good. That explains the philanthropists of the US, from John D.Rockefeller to Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates. What explains the behaviour of Indians? What explains the anarchy of our cities? To find out, we must ask how our behaviour is different.Some characteristics unite Indians. The most visible is our opportunism. One good way to judge a society is to see it in motion. On the road, we observe the opportunism in the behaviour of the Indian driver. Where traffic halts on one side of the road in India, motorists will encroach the oncoming side because there is space available there. If that leads to both sides being blocked, that is fine, as long as we maintain our advantage over people behind us or next to us. This is because the other man cannot be trusted to stay in his place.

The Indian’s instinct is to jump the traffic light if he is convinced that the signal is not policed. If he gets flagged down by the police, his instinct is to bolt. In an accident, his instinct is to flee. Fatal motoring cases in India are a grim record of how the driver ran over people and drove away.We show the pattern of what is called a Hobbesian society: one in which there is low trust between people. This instinct of me-versus-the-world leads to irrational behaviour, demonstrated when Indians board flights. We form a mob at the entrance, and as the flight is announced, scramble for the plane even though all tickets are numbered. Airlines modify their boarding announcements for Indians taking international flights.

Our opportunism necessarily means that we do not understand collective good. Indians will litter if they are not policed. Someone else will always pick up the rubbish we throw. Thailand’s toilets are used by as many people as India’s toilets are, but they are likely to be not just clean but spotless. This is because that’s how the users leave them, not the cleaners.

The Indian’s reluctance to embrace collective good hurts his state. A study of income-tax compliance between 1965 and 1993 in India (Elsevier Science Das- Gupta, Lahiri and Mookherjee) concluded that “declining assessment intensity had a significant negative effect” on compliance, while “traditional enforcement tools (searches, penalties and prosecution activity) had only a limited effect” on Indians. The authors puzzled over the fact that “India’s income tax performance (was) below the average of countries with similar GDP per capita”.

We do not think stealing from the state is a bad thing, and our ambiguity extends to corruption, which also we do not view in absolute terms. Political parties in India understand this and corruption is not an issue in Indian politics. Politicians who are demonstrably corrupt, recorded on camera taking a bribe or saying appalling things, or convicted by a court, can hold legitimate hope of a comeback—unthinkable in the West.

The opportunist is necessarily good at adapting, and that explains the success of Indians abroad. We can follow someone else’s rules well, even if we can’t enforce them at home ourselves. The Indian in the US is peerless at the Spelling Bee because the formula of committing things to memory, which in India passes for knowledge, comes naturally to him. But this talent for adapting and memorizing is not the same as a talent for creation.

The question is: Why are we opportunists?

In his great work Crowds and Power, Elias Canetti observed that the rewards religions promised their faithful were all far off, in the afterlife. This is because a short goal would demand demonstration from god and create skeptics instead of believers. There is an exception to this in Hinduism. Hinduism is not about the other world. There is no afterlife in Hinduism and rebirth is always on earth. The goal is to be released entirely and our death rites and beliefs—funeral in Kashi—seek freedom from rebirth. Christianity and Islam are about how to enter heaven; Hinduism is about how not to return to earth, because it’s a rotten place. Naipaul opens his finest novel with the words “The world is what it is”, and Wittgenstein ( “The world is all that is the case”) opens his Tractatus similarly.

Hinduism recognizes that the world is irredeemable: It is what it is. Perhaps this is where the Hindu gets his world view—which is zero-sum—from. We might say that he takes the pessimistic view of society and of his fellow man. But why? The Hindu devotee’s relationship with god is transactional: I give you this, you give me that. God must be petitioned and placated to swing the universe’s blessings towards you. God gives you something not through the miracle, and this is what makes Hinduism different, but by swinging that something away from someone else. This is the primary lesson of the Vedic fire sacrifice. There is no benefit to one without loss to another. Religion is about bending god’s influence towards you through pleas, and appeasement, through offerings.

Society has no role in your advancement and there is no reason to give back to it (in any way, including leaving the toilets clean behind you) because it hasn’t given you anything in the first place. That is why Indian industrialists are not philanthropists. Rockefeller always gave a tenth of his earnings to the Church, and then donated hundreds of millions, fighting hookworm and educating black women. Bill Gates gave $25 billion (around Rs 1.2 trillion), and his cause is fighting malaria, which does not even affect Americans. Warren Buffett gave away $30 billion, almost his entire fortune. Andrew Carnegie built 2,500 libraries. Dhirubhai Ambani International School has annual fees starting at Rs 47,500 (with a Rs 24,000 admission fee) and Mukesh Ambani’s daughter was made head girl. An interesting thing to know is this: Has our culture shaped our faith or has our faith shaped our culture? I cannot say. To return to the question we started with: Why is Brahma not worshipped? The answer is obvious: He has nothing to offer us. What he could do for us, create the universe, he already has. There is no gain in petitioning him now.

Aakar Patel is a director of Hill Road Media. Write to Aakar at

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thought Collage...

It has been a long time since I have spent any kind of time on this blog. It has less to do with me not having something to write about, but more because the thoughts I had were too scattered to muster enough content by itself. But I had spent time to write something, this is all the stuff I would have written about. :-)

1. Damn Nakul, porcupine haired baby face from the Shankar movie Boys is the hero of Kadhalil Vizhundhen and Masilamani. What a makeover!
2. Cricket has gotten so boring these days (even the Ashes). Now, am I hearing someone say "I have been saying all along..."
3. Indian Television is getting bolder, just look at Is jungle se mujhe bachao
4. World club football is gonna be all about Real Madrid this year. Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema alonside legends like Raul, Nistelrooy etc Its gonna be some La Liga 09!
5. Tamil cinema lacks good scripts! Kaunis being remade in tamil, Jab We Met is also being remade in tamil.
6. Swine Flu seems to stick on longer in the desi memory than the mumbai attacks last year. Strange way the desi mind works!!
7. Saw Love Aaj Kal, Sankat City, Palung, Nadodigal, Sarvam, Pasinga, Ghost and Darkness and probably more (I have bad memory :-))
8. Listening to Aadhavan, Whats your Rashee and Eeram. Nothing special, at least, not yet.
9. Fisichella finally gets some points for Force India. Amazing!!

And many more. I should start blogging with some frequency sooner rather than later... ;-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Less Taxing

Yup... taxes are going to be less taxing, i.e. if Pranab Mukherjee has its way. The new direct tax code seems to be good for the end tax payer with the only glitch for those dabble in the stock market, wherein long term capital gains would also be taxed.

I, for one, definitely hope that this comes through in the not too distant future. :-)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The ipod/iphone mania never seems to subside and probably for good reason. I used the 1st Gen and 2nd Gen ipods and absolutely hated it. They were so high on fluff and so low on actual features or for that matter music quality that it was almost insulting to see tech geeks go for it! I usually try to place the geeks above the fad factor.

But seems like a lot has come off age at the ipod circle. I recently used an ipod touch which a friend got from US and also iphones which many in my office own. I was pleasantly surprised by their sound quality and the apps support on them. In my opinion, the app support alone is a HUGE factor to its continued growth. But, it still sucks w.r.t to value of money, at least in my opinion, but it is in many ways the 'only' option for folks who need a relatively complete solution.

Creative which not so long ago was doing pretty good for itself in the mp3 player market and has slipped off late has come out all guns blazing with Creative Zii Egg, their first multi touch mp3 player (and more). The SW and HW specs on this are drool material. They have mixed Andriod with the new Zii chip interface and the Plaszma reference platform to give 1080p nirvana! The rest of the feature set indicates a keenness to go over board and beat ipods out of the market. They have also priced it attractively with a purported starting price of $199, sweet! They have dual camera, one for video conferencing and one for HD recording. They have got wifi, bluetooth and some version of GPS which I didnt go into details off. They have also provided SDHC based expandability over the 32GB of internal storage and most importantly have introduced the now buzz word touch interface.

The video and the link should give you the rest of the story. Lets see how far this one goes, but on the face of it, seems like a winner...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A lost plot...

I happened to watch MTV after a loooong time today and it was surprising to see very little music on music television. It was one wasted reality show after another and it was like it would never stop! Its bad enough that English music is next to never seen on MTV (for which they have VH1.... of course!), now even our desi stuff is off. Though I am certifiable no longer part of the Y generation, I dont see my younger cousins interested in viewing the crap being dished out either.

MTV... losing it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Secure - FYI

Follow the link. Useful info for desi e-retailers.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It is Time...

It has been a while... but it is about time!

Google Mail, Calendar, Docs and Talk are all out of beta! Coincidentally VLC has also reached 1.0!

A Viewpoint

Here is an interesting article from Anand Giridharadas in New York Times.

Its only a viewpoint at the end of the day, but with a lot of truth in it. The "Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin" attitude that is written loud and clear on the young Indian is difficult to miss and impossible to ignore. Anand talks about revolutions and there is many a tussle of opposites in the middle of all these revolutions. The period that the revolution sustains may very well be dependent on the solutions that we adapt or are forced to accept to resolve these tussles.

Lets wait and watch...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Serious Joke!

The newest entrant into the crowded premium hatchback space in India has managed to breakaway from the crowd. I am talking about Jazz, Honda's entry into the small car market. Honda seem to have forgotten that their intention was to enter the small car market, not to exit it before they got in! The route they chose to breakaway from the crowd was not features but by making the car super pricey!! The on road price of the top of the line Honda Jazz will hover a few ten thousands short of 8L! That is a lot of money for a hatchback, no matter what the pedigree. Skoda made the same mistake with Fabia and even after correcting it to some extent by bringing in a lower priced variant, it was too little too late. They had by then already managed to send a very nice car to the never-to-be-seen-or-heard gallows of the frugal desi mind!

Looking past the price, how about the Ad campaign?? If their intention was to make the smartest ad ever to be understood by 1% of the super smart future premium hatchback ownership (me clearly not included), well, they must have done a great job! The punchline for the Honda Jazz is "Why so serious?". Seeing the price of the car, I am sure most people will see the joke in it! :-)

I have seen the Ad time and again, and I can't help but get serious... damn guys, is it so difficult to make a decent Ad? What the hell does it mean anyway!$#%@!

Monday, June 29, 2009


I came across an article in New York Times today, and it absolutely surprised me. Just last week, I was discussing with a cousin of mine on what is the laptop he should be buying and I told him, "Go HP, else Go Dell else Go anything else, and buy Acer if you are strapped for cash". My statement was not based on market share or any such thing. It was purely based on personal experience using these products in India (bought in the US) and their technical pros and cons and most importantly their support responsiveness. Yet, very quietly Acer has moved up the ranks and is now challenging Dell, the rags to riches american story for the No.2 slot in PC/Lappy sales! Quite commendable, especially in this economy.

I was similarly caught on the wrong foot when I was making another buying suggestion (I do that a lot :-)) on a MP3 player, and I said "Go Ipoo if you want to follow the trend, Go iriver/cowon if you want quality (and feel geeky) or Go Sandisk if you are strapped for cash". Very soon I got to know that Sandisk has grown to be next only to ipod in mp3 player sales across all models of mp3 players! Its a different matter that Sandisk seem to have given up on their mission to be the "ipoo killer", but none the less, this latecomer and ranked outsider had played the market right, more with respect to pricing than with innovation and won (for most part)!

I suppose its these kind of stories that smaller companies and ranked outsiders need to think that they can make it big some day, though thinking and getting there are very very different ball games. :-) BTW, I am thick skinned enough to continue with my "buying suggestion" sessions. ;-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Change...not really

This cartoon is courtesy Basic Instructions.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Too Smart...

... for your own good. That is what comes to mind as I see India play Bangladesh in their first match in the T20 World Cup. And the comment is only to do with arguably Indias most innovative captain, Dhoni.

Yes, in his pre-captain days Dhoni was one of the most feared batsman in world cricket. But captaincy has brought responsibility and Dhoni has slowly but steadily moved from the blaster role to a grafter role. While in the same time guys like Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan have won many a game on their own, not to mention Yuvraj and his explosive power. Yet for some reason, Dhoni thinks he is a better bat than all of these folks. Maybe every other game, just for the shock factor he can come one down, but he is now making it a habit and as habits come, this is a bad one.

Now, any one who wants to stick around in Indian cricket (Sreesanth definitely doesn't) knows that they don't wanna piss off Dhoni and telling him to come down to order would piss his off I suppose. But like in todays match, Dhoni came in one down after Rohit Sharma had given a good start. Gambhir has been struggling with form off late and in the company of Dhoni the two were scoring at around run a ball for the better part of 8-9 overs. Dhoni ended with 26 or 21 with one six and Gambhir to a 50 off 44 balls. Thanks to Yuvraj we had a decent score at the end, but left to "out of form but wont get out" Gambhir and "I am better than all" Dhoni, we would have definitely given Bangladesh a chance to smile, again! Who knows we still may...

Money, Money...Must be funny...

Intel has started on a fresh wave of Ads titled 'Sponsors of tomorrow'. Below is the original Ad.

People can't let anything this fancy go by without a spoof, so here is the Oops version. :-)

Apparently, the guy featured in the original Ad is not the real Ajay Bhatt and is an actor. Kinda killed the concept for me...

Anyway, what I was coming to was, a friend of mine who works in the US told me that the same Ads run there too, which means that a lot of money is being spent on this campaign across the globe. What is quite strange about this Ad and the whole campaign is the timing. I know friends at Intel who have told me about colleagues who got pink slips and possible pay cuts. And this is the time that Intel wants to build a "feel good" factor in people minds about itself? This is not a product Ad, this is not a technology Ad, this is a generic Ad telling that smart people work at Intel and since we are firing and not recruiting you are not welcome. ;-)

Looks like Intel has a lot of money, just not for retaining existing jobs.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

...And its a rap!

A legend of American Television, Jay Leno has finally called it a night! After 17 years at the helm of "The Tonight Show", Jay handed over the reins of "The Tonight Show" to an equally talented Conan O' Brien.

Jay's show was on Star Plus or maybe Star World when cable television in India started getting a move on and I have been a viewer ever since. His show was my only source of "American Culture" then and it has helped me to no ends when I interact with Americans or folks in US on a daily basis as part of my work. Yes, the idiot box actually helped me with my work! I have since used Google to help me keep abreast with the happenings in US, but I never miss a chance to catch up with Jays show as I channel surf.

Jay was quick-witted, smart and bold! He will have to attribute a lot of his fame to his excellent script writers who always gave him the best of jokes on a daily basis. When the writers guild went on strike in late 2007, early 2008, the quality of Jays jokes went noticeably down and he made no attempt to hide the fact that his regular writers were not around to give him the "good stuff".

Adios to a great comedian and an excellent host...

Monday, May 25, 2009

They exist...

... yup they really do!! I am talking about colleagues who do next to no work and yet somehow not only manage to evade being caught but manage to get lauded by peers for doing a good job! Its difficult to corner them on anything as they have some standard areas to hide, where no one has gone before and never will!

ok.. now for the fun part!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A mandate...

... like no other in recent past.

Lok Sabha 09 was the first time I voted in "any" form of elections and this was probably the reason why I followed the results as intently as I did. Karnataka again voted to not be in sync with the centre! The mandate that resulted was quite surprising, since I just didn't expect the UPA or for that matter the Congress to do as well as it did. But what suprised me more and quite happy that I was, the fringe players who thought they were more than fringe players have been shown their place. Mayawati almost made it look like she just deserved to be sitting in the PM seat, now with some 20 something seats, she can just forgot about it for a while. The communists who were quite arrogantly bossy after their good showing in the last elections have got their worst number of seats ever, if I recall right. And the list goes on... Lalu, Paswan, Gowda(s) or even Mulayam, have all been shown their place.

What this means is that Congress has a free hand for most part in the running of the Government and the decisions to be made. Good or bad... time will tell.

Now, thats Royal!

Never thought I would see this, at least not in this edition of IPL! The Royal Challengers Bangalore are in the semis of IPL 2009! Yes, yes, you read it right... the co-whipped boys of last year have pulled off the real coup. They have beaten the top 3 teams in the last 3 games and in the process ended up in the top 3!

Hats off to Kumble... that guy is just such a fighter!!

Friday, May 01, 2009


Watching IPL has been fun... though I have been only catching glimpses, the sheer mega feeling of the event and the intensity that big money gets from everybody (owners, players, rivals, commentators, coaches etc etc) is worth watching!

Our very own Royal Challengers, the team that we have to support, started off this year too just as badly as last year. Kevin Petersen couldn't do much and it was up to the old warhorses, Kumble and Dravid, who have been the best performers in the team. Just when I was losing interest (again!), they beat Kolkata Knight Riders (this years super strugglers, no thanks to Buchanan) in an unabsorbing yet tight encounter. Todays match between RC and Kings XI Punjab was a forgone conclusion in my mind. With no KP or Dravid, and the team playing 3 wicket keepers (Boucher, Sreevats and Uthappa), I didnt expect much. The batting was patchy, but thanks to some wierd and lusty hitting my Van De Merve, RC got to a decent total. They surprisingly followed this up with an exceptionally good performance on the field and a decent bowling show.

The first worthy win in this IPL season for RC and hopefully a turning point in the the teams fortunes!

Loooong Hiatus!

Not a single post in the month of April... I actually achieved it! :-) Though I wasn't gunning for it, I was overwhelmed by work at home, work at office and then some more additional responsibilities at home. :-)

Anywayz... time to get back onto the saddle.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Another G-service

Google can't stay quite for too long now, can they... They are now coming up with a new service, Google Voice, which is designed to help the person calling you, get to you on any one of the myriad locations you are likely to be in (home, mobile, office desk, lab etc). The way it works is, they give you a special number which gets mapped to all your configured contact numbers. So, calls to this special number can be received on any of your configured contact numbers. This is far from being a brave new idea with many companies already providing similar services (just Google for it).

If you go through the homepage for this service you will see a lot more features. As exciting as this may sound, the service is currently under private beta for GrandCentral users, a company that Google bought quite some time back. And if and when it comes out of private beta, the service is likely to be available only in US. The rest of the world will just have to wait for Google's benevolence to cross the seas. :-( And considering the big market in India and innovative ideas that the telecom service providers here come up with, we can expect an alternative to come up pretty soon. From what I remember, Airtel already had a similar service though only compatible with their mobile and landline services.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


In the midst of drastic attempts by the cricket administrators to make the sport more TV friendly (T20, T10 gully cricket) and compete with other sports like football, basketball etc, here is an interesting bit of info I didn't know off until today.

Imagine if we had stuck with the "Timeless" format for tests and we leave the Sri Lankan cricket team to bat on a dead wicket... they will keep batting till the fat lady is in her grave!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Movie Review : Delhi 6

I caught this much anticipated second movie of Rakeysh Mehra during its first weekend after release. I was not really keen on this movie till the music released and got more interested after a couple of colleagues gave me a positive review after they watched it on the day the movie released.

The movie describes the "holiday' journey of an American born to Indian parents coming to India to drop off his grandmother who wishes to 'rest in peace' back home. An "All American" Aby baby comes to the chawls of Old Delhi to be greeted by the contrasts that would surprise even folks who have stayed in India all along! Apart from a few "cool" and "nice" remarks he is not too perturbed by what is transpiring in the antiquated streets of Delhi-6. While taking in the smell, sound and taste of Delhi-6 our hero slowly falls in love (desi style incest) with his uncle’s daughter. While poking his American value system onto the almost childishly immature occupants of Delhi 6, he incurs their wrath in the most obvious problem that could crop up, communal tension. All this under the backdrop of the monkey man controversy that hit the Delhi streets in 2001. The movie climax is obvious and expected in more ways than one, and hence I skip it. :-).

There isn't a strong storyline or great performances to note. Throughout the movie there is an innate sense driven into people that "India Works" while making Cliché yet needed comments on politically incited communal tensions. The music is good, the screenplay is excellent and Old Dilli plays a wonderful backdrop to this movie. A see once and forget experience, I give Delhi-6  a 6.5 on 10, docking 0.5 off for not living up to expectations.

BTW, I up the music review rating of Delhi-6 to 7.5. I liked the picturisation of a couple of songs. :-)

Now just a slumdog!

Azharuddin Mohammed reached heights he could not imagine, saw places he could not even dream about and shared stage and red carpet with legends he could not even afford to see on screen.

After all the glitter and glamour of the Oscars, the little boy comes back to his life, his reality, to be treated like a superstar.

But then, has his reality changed very much? His irritated father is angry with him for not putting on a show for onlookers, completely disregarding that the young boy has just been through adrenaline pumping last few days and a tiring 24 hour plane journey. He gets an ass kicking (which he is probably used to), but this time in front of a crowd which was there to applaud his performance but instead see one from the dad.

I haven't seen the movie and am not really in a hurry to see it either. But, as people say, if the film talks of optimism and hope, I think one of the protagonists of the movie needs to see the movie more than many others!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Could it be any simpler?

Blackberry takes its first (of possibly many) potshots!

Now, if the product can live up to this, that would be something!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Boon or Bane!

I received the below content in an email. Apart from the extra development fees (or whatever...) that is built in into the existing air fares out of Bangalore, we will now need to shell out an extra Rs.260 per head every time we use the International Airport. If the committee that did the financial feasibility study of the airport didn't come up with the approx amount needed to run the airport, who approved the project? If the financial feasibility committee did do its job and if the promotors/administrators didn't get the financial part of this feasibility agreed and accepted, how did they get approval to start the project? How can the common man be imposed this fee at a random point in time? Why should someone use RTI to actually know if the money is being well used or not?

I am not a frequent flyer and won't be affected too much by this. But in my opinion, this kinda unilateral writ being pushed onto the consumers is wrong!!

Dear Sir/Madam,

        Update: Bengaluru International Airport to charge a User Development Fee

If you are traveling from Bangalore, please note that the Bengaluru International Airport is now charging a User Development Fee of Rs 260. This fee will be charged effective January 16, 2009 and be collected directly by the airport.

Who will be affected?
All passengers travelling out of Bangalore from the Bengaluru International Airport will have to pay Rs 260. However, infants under 2 years are exempted.

Where to pay the UDF?
You can pay the fee at the specially built counters just outside the terminal. You will then have to show the receipt before entering the terminal.

How can I pay?
You can pay by cash, credit cards or debit (only Visa, MasterCard and American Express) at the UDF counters outside the terminal. If you are paying by cash, we would advise you to have the exact change ready.

Will it take time?
While the airport has made provisions to provide enough counters, it may take up to 10 minutes during peak hours - from 6am to 10am and 5:30pm to 8:30pm. While at other times, it may take no more than 3 to 4 minutes.

But why is this extra amount being charged?
The UDF of Rs 260 has been approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India. This amount will be used for the development and maintenance of this state of the art airport and to provide other services and amenities.

For any other information, you can contact the Bengaluru International Airport at 080 - 66782251 or 666782255 or visit their website:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Will we abide to ABIDe?

Bangalore infrastructure woes are nothing new and there are many things being done to address things. Unfortunately most of these initiatives will take some time before they are effective on the ground. In the meantime, ABIDe is here to our rescue. Please read the below email from Rajendra Misra of Lead India fame.

Dear Friends,

As you are aware, ABIDe (Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure & Development) Task Force, with the Chief Minister as Chairman, Mr. Ananth Kumar (MP-Bangalore South) as Vice Chairman and Mr. Rajeev Chandrashekar (MP - Rajya Sabha) as Convener, has been constituted to revive and rebuild Bengaluru through a combination of Comprehensive planning, improved municipal services and new investments into infrastructure. ABIDe also owns the task of providing a blue-print for sustainable and orderly development of Bangalore under Bengaluru Vision 2020.

I and Ashwin Mahesh (IIM-B), are entrusted with the task of suggesting solutions to the Traffic and Transport issues of Bangalore - A tough job indeed :). Please visit to read and give suggestions on our recommendations.

The Transportation team at ABIDe has identified public transport as the most important tool in reducing traffic congestion and chaos on Bangalore roads. Given that metro rail network is still some years away, Bus based public transport system is being promoted with a corridor approach.

To promote public transport and make travel hassle free, 10 major arterial roads (Big-10) have been identified as high density traffic corridors which will be made junction/signal free with dedicated point-to-point Bus Services, both A/C and non-A/C buses, named as Big-10 service.

Priority Bus Lanes, Bus Bays, Paved Footpaths, Safe Pedestrian Crossings, Cycle Lanes (proposed) will also be introduced on these Big-10 routes. We have 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 month deadlines to accomplish all these Road Infrastructure Improvement objectives on all Big-10 Corridors. Please visit ABIDe website for corridor and other details. -

However, deployment of Big-10 and Hop-on Hop-Off (HoHo) Bus Services has already begun.

Out of 10 Corridors Big-10 Bus Service is already in operation on Hosur Road (Vellara Jn - Electronic City) and HAL Airport Road (Trinity Jn - Whitefield-Hope Farm jn). This is proving to be extremely popular. Next week Bannerghatta Road Big-10 Service will start. In next 2 months all 10 Corridors will have Big-10 Bus Service with a frequency of 5-10 minutes, both A/C and Non-A/C Service.

This service CONVENIENTLY connects with Central Business District (CBD) HoHo Service (Kendra Sarige) at Vellara Jn on Hosur Rd and Trinity Jn on HAL Airport rd respectively. This makes it extremely convenient for anyone living and commuting on these routes to use this Big-10 Service in conjunction with CBD HoHo service to reach any point in the city including all shopping malls and offices, without the need to take their private vehicles to work or shop.

I have myself used these services and they are extremely convenient and efficient.

Please encourage all your friends and colleagues to use these BUS services. Traffic congestion will reduce only if we stop/reduce taking our cars to work and shop. No amount of cribbing or road widening is going to help if we keep adding private cars to our roads. Now we have the comfortable and convenient public transport in close proximity to our homes and work places, lets use it and help our city and the environment.

PS: Please send this e-mail to your friends and colleagues with suitable modifications as you deem fit. We need to popularize public transport through media, blogs, personal contacts and word of mouth, to save Bangalore from traffic chaos.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Great offer or is it!

I had a couple of my friends talk about virgin mobiles new offer for free sms for the day after you send 3 SMS's out. Their USP apparently is that you get the offer irrespective of any pack.

When you do the math, they are charging Re.1 per SMS for the first 3 SMS's which makes it Rs.3 for the day i.e. Rs.90 for the month. Most SMS packs from other vendors are same or at lesser cost. So, camaflouged as a great feature, this is nothing but another market gimmick trying to get at the yuppy generation.

I don't know of any vendor giving a SMS pack for national SMS and this is where Virgin definitely scores. So, this offer could probably work out from this perspective though for potential customers. Their costing for National SMS works out to Rs.1.50 per SMS and for the mandatory first three it is Rs.4.50 which works out to Rs.135 per month. Not bad... maybe.


Long time since I had a good laugh. :-)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Idea Sirji!

Last weekend, I was watching a football match and also a cricket match and voila, I get another pointless idea and I am bored enough right now to think its important enough. :-)

So, here goes... We have electronic boundary boards showing Ads during football. This means, its not a stagnant single company Ad made of paper and stuck on some cardboard. This is an LED (similar?) board which can show any Ad at runtime. Cricket hasn't gotten that sophisticated yet, but it will get there sooner rather than later. Lets take the case of football first. A live English Premier League game is watched in so many countries. Now, lets take a site like 888. They are a big deal sponsor in EPL and pay quite a bit to get onto these electronic boards. This site is not well known in India and the EPL folks are not going to get as much money(or viewership attention) showing this Ad while telecasting in India when compared to Airtel or similar. Likewise, the India vs SL series is mainly sponsored by IDBI Fortis, a new investment wing of IDBI bank. I am quite sure they have next to no presence in SL and hence this is meant mainly for the indian TV audiences. So, what about the Srilankans ? Wouldn't they be relate more to say, Dilmah Tea ?

In case you haven't got what I am getting at, my idea is that all the boundary boards be made green in colour, so as to make it easily graphicable, for lack of a better word. So, just like in the movies, with the help of Computer Graphics, the green coloured boards can house country specific Ads, hence increasing the sponsorship worth of events and hence more money flowing and more glamourous and all that good stuff.

There is this one glitch of the actual money paying viewers at the ground seeing just green boards. But I am sure there is some technology that can come to help in this case too.

How does it sound ? Can this fund my EMIs while the recession eats aways more jobs (me next?) ? :-)

Sunday, February 01, 2009


So... another grand slam final and another Nadal win. Don't get me wrong, it was a great match and all, but somehow I expected something different. No, I didn't think the result would be any different, but I expected something more from Federer.

Federer has played Nadal in 5 grand slam finals now, if I remember correctly. He has lost 4 of them and 3 of them on different surfaces. Now, the genius that we all know Federer is, how can he be losing so consistently. Well, this in my humble opinion is his problem. He is a one dimensional genius. He doesn't have a plan B, at least not with Nadal, And its only with Nadal that he really needs a plan B.

For e.g. it doesn't take rocket science and 13 grand slams to know who will win an endurance testing baseline slugfest between Federer and Nadal. And similarly its also straightforward to guess who would win a serve and volley contest. So, how come Federer didn't use a single grand slam final to try this possible 'Plan B' or for that matter any other 'Plan B'??

To reiterate, I do enjoy seeing Nadal beat Federer everytime as rooting for the underdog (not any more I suppose) is more fun. But still, what would Federer want to be remembered as ? The greatest player of all time or Nadals bunny ??

Music Review:Dilli 6

On the heels of the much heralded audio track of Slumdog Millionaire (I still wonder why), Rahman gives us Rakeysh Mehras next movie, Dilli 6.

Masakali - Kinda weird. I don't usually like Rahman when he tries this kinda stuff, but to the contrary to my usual assumption, Its not a bad hear. Surely a one month ear candy and some more.

Dilli-6 - The title track, this has a lot of character... kinda pacey. It has some lady rapping in some foreign language, probably french, and then in Hindi too with a similar accent. But nice mixing of styles...

Hey Kaala Bandar -  Sung really well and a very good english rap merge. The lyrics are actually good(for most part) and a catchy rhythmic tune and beat. This one will rule the radio channels for quite a while.

Bhor Bhaye - I am not classically inclined, but from what I heard, this is very well sung and otherwise out of my league. :-) One for Shreyas resume, if she will ever need one.

Dil Gira Dafatan - What does the title of this song mean ? Nice strumming and later on scottish pipes. Can't think of many music directors who can give us this kinda instrumentation feel. But that being said, the husky male vocals didnt do it for me and I didn't feel anything special in the tune either. I have an inkling that Rahmaniacs will brand this as one of the most brilliant tracks ever and stuff. To escape their wrath, lemme say, I don't have a clue of such high fundoo music, so let me be. :-) Hopefully situational song, otherwise the most pedestrian track of the album (for me).

Arti tumre bhavan mein - Whats with Rahman and devotional sounding songs ? He always seem to get it right, whether its bhajans or sufi songs. No real music to talk about, but a totally riveting tune. For reasons I can't well explain, this is winner of the album for me and would have loved for it to be longer that it actually was.

Arziyan - Again Rahman with his devotional sounding song and this one has got great male vocals. Both Javed Ali and Kailash Kher have exceled in my opinion.I didn't think there was anything out of the way in the tune, but a nice hear none the less. They neednt have had this as a 9 minute song though!

Ghenda Phool - Now this is what Rahman would call fusion, and why not. A rustic voice (Rekha Bharadwaj) mixing with club beats and yet sounding like they belong. This is the second song (first being Kala Bandar) that I would like to see the picturisation off. Though the lyrics give away the generic locale and feel, the music seems too 'out there' for it to be anything usual. Lets wait and watch....

Rehna Tu - Rahman sometimes keep the best track of the album for himself, but he hasnt done that here, since this is not a special song. Its OK sounding and Rahman sounds very Rahman like and there is nothing more to write home about.

So, all in all, we have a mixed bag with Dilli 6, with some songs that are good, some average and none that is bad per say. I would give it a 7 on 10, and the lesser rating coz, for me, there is no real cracker of a track in this album. :-(

Monday, January 26, 2009

Right Steps

Life has been happening and hence blogging has taken the second seat, no wait... third seat... no wait... its still waiting for a seat. ;-)

Coming to what I wanted to write about, dunno if you folks have noticed this, but there has been a rather strong message coming from the government and government supported agencies to do the right thing.

For e.g. I noticed the Ads on TV to try stopping domestic violence and if I may try profiling the audience, they have tried to target the less fearing and more outspoken younger brigade by playing them on channels like MTV. Not so long ago, there were many Ads on Consumer Awareness which is something very desperately needed in India. I have always found the after sales service in India close to robbery with none of the vendors caring a rats ass for the customer once the sale is done. Then there are Ads to initiate people into voting with "Jaago Re" series and also Ads on making people aware off and less embarrassed to talk and use condoms with "Condom Condom" series.

A much needed and well directed series of initiatives.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

HNY 2009!

All you folks have a great year ahead! I will try to be more regular with posts here than I was last year [for better or worse ;-)].

But I am too lazy to actually make it a new year resolution..... Yet! :-)