Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of an Era ?

Yesterday was a remarkable day in the history of world cricket. South Africa exposed the weaknesses of Australia to the hilt and in the process defeated them in the home series for the first time in the past 16 years. I could not watch the chase as I woke up late and learned from Cricinfo that South Africa had already won.

South Africa were in very bad situation in both the tests and with unmatched fighting spirit, they overcame all odds. It was a sensational result considering how Australia used to beat other countries like this over the past decade. In my opinion, Australia had begun their steady decline from the top when India challenged them a year earlier. Now, is has more or less led them to be the third best in the world.

One salient feature of the Australian team in the past decade was that they had players like Steve Waugh, Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, and Ponting who could turn a match from any adverse situation. The lone survivor is their present captain, Ricky Ponting. He tried his very best as a batsman to avoid defeat at Melbourne, yet he failed as a captain with his weird strategies. Though he lacked the best personnel for the job, part of the blame has to be shared by him.

On the other hand, South Africa are truly the No 1 side in the world at present. Graeme Smith has lead them to a sensational win in the same manner as Dhoni had done 2 months earlier. All the 11 players as well as their bench strength is very strong for South Africa. It was evident in the way JP Duminy batted on the 3rd day of the Melbourne test. They have the best bowling line up comprising Steyn, Ntini, and Morkel backed up by Kallis and Harris.

South Africa will become No. 1 in the world officially if they defeat Australia at Sydney. I certainly feel that they can do it considering Australia has serious injury problems to Lee, Symonds, Watson, and Clark. For Hayden, it is going to be the last chance to make his claim for Ashes. He is a real fighter and it would be interesting to see how he approaches this match.

Irrespective of how the Sydney test goes, South Africa are the best in the world now and have deservedly stunned the world by defeating Australia in Australia. I just hope that other countries follow them and inflict more defeats on Australia which would do the test cricket a world of good. Next year 2009 is going to be great for test cricket as many countries are serious contenders for the top spot.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ghajini (Hindi) - Review

Aamir Khan's Ghajini released today worldwide. I could not help but watch the movie today itself though I have seen Ghajini in tamil many a times. The primary reason being Aamir Khan who puts a lot of effort in each movie he acts. I simply loved watching his movies like Sarfarosh, Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, Andaz Apna Apna, Lagaan, etc. I wanted to see the movie just for Aamir and of course, Asin, who gave a great performance in tamil version. Also, I liked three songs of Ghajini by AR Rahman.

I saw the movie in Huma Big Cinemas today afternoon as my friend Deven Patel got me the ticket yesterday. One problem with the tamil version was the last 30 minutes which was quite amateurish. That has been corrected in the hindi version making the movie even more slick. Technology is superior in hindi version with more concentration on details. Overall, it is a complete entertainer.

Aamir has given a stunning performance and he lives the role of Sanjay. One cannot compare his performance with that of Surya as both are equally good in different aspects. Asin has also done a great job with her role. Jiah Khan is far better than Nayantara, who did the same role in the tamil version. The villain Pradeep Rawat is also quite good. The camerawork and the locales are excellent. The songs also fit into the narration far better than the tamil version.

I really enjoyed the movie a lot and I am sure that it would become a huge hit. I recommend this movie even to those who have already seen the tamil version.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cricket and Terror

I was over the moon yesterday as I could sparingly watch the spectacular chase by India against England. I was doubly delighted as Sachin was extremely relaxed and his century was another gem. India played well as a team and achieved what only West Indies some decades back or Australia some years back would have achieved. We are certainly on the path towards greatness, no doubt about that.

I was not that interested in watching this match at the start as I was feeling that it was needless to stage this match after the terror attacks in Mumbai recently. But, this match proved to be a good diversion for at least the silly Indian news channels as they marginally reduced the amount of rumor they were spreading about the terror attacks.

Terrorism in any form is not to be tolerated to any extent. The recent happenings in Mumbai are a warning to all Indians to unite against terrorism across the border. As Sachin himself said, this test match gave mild relief to many Indians who were upset with Mumbai terror attack.

Having said that I strongly feel that India must immediately shut down all ties with Pakistan including cricket as there is now ample evidence for Pakistan's involvement in the recent attacks. There is no need to play cricket, or any other sport for that matter, with a neighboring nation having ulterior motives and the nation which keeps breeding terrorists in their territory especially PoK. I would be disappointed if the tour goes ahead due to the constant lobbying of BCCI.

I am very disappointed with Sri Lanka's offer to tour Pakistan if India pulls out. I did not expect that an experienced cricketer like Arjuna Ranatunga, who is now heading Sri Lankan cricket, would take such a decision compromising players' safety for money. As another country fighting against internal conflicts themselves like India, they should have been bit sensible and should have stood with India in their fight against terrorism.

The present test match between England and India provided great entertainment as both the countries are strongly opposing terrorism in any form. A Pakistan Vs Srilanka test match will be of least interest to anyone in the present scenario even if it produces great cricket.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - Quick Review

I just completed reading the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. It is a very well written novel about the journey of a shepherd boy towards a treasure. The author has given lot of emphasis about the obstacles he faces and the help he gets along the journey. It ends with how the boy attains his treasure with the help of the omens and some persons he meets along the way.

Anyone can relate the incidents in the novel to that of their travel towards destination in personal life. The book is written in a very simple language and provides lot of insight into the life lessons to be learnt. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this amazing book. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in meaningful fictions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 years of IIT-Bombay

I had the opportunity to attend the book release function of "Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 years of IIT Bombay" by Prof Rohit Manchanda at Crossword, Kemps Corner on Oct 6th. It was a very interactive session presided over by Alyque Padamsee. Many professors of IIT Bombay including the present and past directors and deans attended the function. Many alumni of IIT Bombay who had contributed to the book narrated their experience in detail whenever Padamsee read the relevant pages from the book. It was a great evening to remember. An account of this function is provided at IIT Bombay homepage.

I am yet to read the book. I plan to write a review of the book once I do that.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram - Brief Review

I went to see Varanam Aayiram at PVR Mulund two weeks back. Though the reviews for the movie were not that great, I went to see this movie as I liked the songs very much. Here, I could watch the movie without any cuts. Here is a very brief review of the movie.

There are many positives in this movie. The songs are shot extremely well which along with nice music are a treat to watch on screen. Acting is top class from all the lead actors especially Suriya. Dual role is very nicely performed by him. The first half is very fast and entertaining.

The main problem with this movie in spite of all these positives is that it lacks an original script in the second half. Many scenes are borrowed from popular movies like Autograph, Thavamai thavamirunthu and even Lakshya. The movie moves at snail pace after the interval testing the patience of the audience to maximum level.

This movie has all the best ingredients except a good script. Hard work put forth by Suriya and Harris Jayaraj sort of goes waste due to bad screenplay by Gautham Menon. However, this movie is lot sensible one than many other mass masala craps which are flooding tamil cinema nowadays. One can definitely go and watch this movie just for Suriya's performance and Harris Jayaraj's great music.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ghajini (Hindi) - Music Review

I just listened to all songs in the yet-to-be-released hindi movie, Ghajini. Here are my comments on the songs of this movie tuned by AR Rahman.

1. Guzaarish - This song sounds great. With great humming by Sonu Nigam and vocal by Javed Ali. But I could observe that this song is ripped off from one of the Rahman's earlier songs called "Ennai Kaanavillaiye" from the Tamil movie called "Kaadhal Desam". Both the tune and beats are recycled from this song. Yet, it is a pleasant number with great visuals.

2. Kaise Mujhe - Excellent Melody with nice vocals by Benny and Shreya. I simply love this song and it is my caller tune now. I could not get the lyrics fully though I liked the premise.

3. Behka - Decent song which remembers me of Yun Hi Chala Chal from Swades. Karthik's vocal is good. I did not like this one much. Visuals are good in the promo.

4. Lattoo - It is a fast song by Shreya. A feel good number.

5. Aye Bachoo - I did not like this song after listening once. No comments.

Overall, the album is a good one with a great melody song similar to Tamil movie Ghajini which had Suttum Vizhi. It is worth listening to this album.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Champion of the Champions

Last month marked the sensational return of Roger Federer in his top gear to lift the US open title for the fifth consecutive year. Federer was not in any sort of rhythm going into the US open this year. But he fought with full dedication and lifted the crown which he definitely deserves for many more years to come.

I am a great fan of the greats of the open era like Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Steffi Graff, Navaratilova, Justine Henin apart from Roger Federer. One common factor among all these champions is that all had a single-handed backhand which is a delight to watch. What makes Federer stand unique is his versatility on all surfaces. One might argue that he could not win a title in French open still. But, if not for Nadal, Federer would already have been champion there for 3 consecutive years. Sampras has never entered the final of French open ever as he did not have a proper game for clay court.

At present, both Federer and Nadal are injured but gearing up for the next show in the Australian open early next year. This absence has given opportunity for Djokovic and Murray to regroup. On a given day, these four are capable of defeating each other with their skills. It is surely a great situation for the Australian open with these 4 being the most probable semi finalists.

Being an admirer of Federer, I strongly feel that Federer would overcome these hurdles to win the Australian open and therefore equal Sampras' record of 14 grandslam wins. Federer would then be crowned "The Greatest of all time" by statistics as well. I just can not wait for the cracking contests in Australian open next year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - Book Review


I managed to complete reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga last week. I normally do not read non-technical books especially fictions. So, I am not the right person to review it either. However, I am trying a hand at it. I got a copy of this book to just see why there is such a hype around that book. It was an easy read for me as the context of the story was quite familiar to me. Let me provide review of this famous Man Booker prize winner of this year.

This novel is nothing but a letter to Chinese Premier from a successful entrepreneur called Balram Halwai aka The White Tiger. I can observe that the motivation to write this novel was to show how this person becomes an entrepreneur in Bangalore. He comes from a remote Village near Dhanbad which the author frequently refers as 'Darkness'. He joins as a driver cum servant to a person called Mr Ashok in Dhanbad. The incidents which lead him to murder his boss and migrate to Bangalore in a new avatar of an entrepreneur forms the crux of this novel.

This story is quite straight-forward. But the brilliance of the author comes out in stitching lot of interesting incidents together, though there is something artificial in each of those. There is a sense of repetition as the author tries to make fun of each and every system in India. The novel sounds like a typical Manirathnam movie in which he usually would analyze lot of sensitive issues only to conclude the movie without suggesting any proper solution.

I have some particular queries once I completed reading the novel. I am not sure if the author tries to convey that settling in a city from a village is the only solution to problems in India. In my opinion this is just an escape from the core problem. Also, I am not sure if the author is supportive of the corporate life in cities which blatantly copy the culture from the west. I would have been satisfied if he had made more fun of urban guys as well.

On the whole, I do not see this novel to be a path-breaking one and I am not sure if this novel is worth the hype around it. I agree that there are abundant funny moments in the novel which a non-indian would enjoy. Indian citizens may not like them as they are being shown in bad light.

I am certain that, now onwards, high-class people would be very much wary of drivers and servants after knowing the fate of Mr Ashok in this novel. If this is the only change, if any, the author intended to achieve with this novel, he has achieved it with considerable success!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympics - Some thoughts

Olympic games (summer) got over yesterday in Beijing. I am extremely happy that China won the overall medal tally surpassing US. Still, US media might believe that they are the first after adding gold, silver and bronze together. It does not matter as US always has the habit of changing the rules and regulations to make sure that they are the first.

I was able to witness all the gold medal runs of Usain Bolt who set 3 world records. I was amazed by his confidence as he started celebrating every time even before reaching the finishing line. I was not so much moved by the adventures of Phelps, partly because he was over-hyped and partly because there was no thrill in seeing him win again and again.

As far as Indian participation is concerned, this seems to be our best olympics so far. I hope they improve on this rather than just live with the pride. In fact, I would have been happier if the Government had established 6 sports academies instead of 6 new IITs. We already have enough so-called engineers and I have always felt that progress demands a nation to venture into areas where they are lacking. I just wish common sense prevails and sports academies/institutes are established in future.

Broadcast by Doordarshan (DD) was pathetic to say the least. The presenters kept on talking for hours instead of showing the feed they received from olympics. They had placed a small TV between the presenters which showed the live games. The problem was that one could not even see the score and other details from that TV. I almost lost my patience every time they took long time to switch to the feed in the small TV near them. Hindi and English commentaries provided by DD for all the matches were ultimate torture. They could have just left us with the original commentaries which came with the feed.

There was Men's singles tennis semifinals going on between Nadal and Djokovic which was being fiercely fought. It was shown in the small TV betweeen the presenters. I was glued to the presenters and was waiting for them to switch to the match feed. But they kept speaking arbitrary things and started showing a recorded programme on Indian participation in Olympics with Suresh Kalmadi which bored the viewers. They did not show the tennis match till the end.

This is just an example of not utilising the full resource even when it is completely available. There were some reporters from DD who were in Beijing who kept appearing every now and then. They were very bad in communication and presentation skills and were pretty old. I just wonder whether they were selected to go to Beijing on the basis of some quota.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Man Behind Ubuntu

I happened to read this interview of Mark Shuttleworth, who is "The Man Behind Ubuntu". The interview is truly inspiring, worth a read.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nokia 5310 Vs Sony Ericsson w580i

I bought Nokia 5310 and Sony Ericsson w580i two weeks back and examined their functionalities for about 5 days. I thought it worth comparing these 2 phones with similar features. Search in google for the look of these 2 phones.

Price:
Nokia 5310 - INR 9,200
Sony Ericsson w580i - INR 10,000

Model:
Nokia 5310 - Slim, Light weight
Sony Ericsson w580i - Sliding, Bit heavy

Software:
Nokia 5310 - PC suite installs in Windows 2000/XP/Vista
Sony Ericsson w580i - PC suite installs in Windows 2000/XP

Camera:
Both the phones have 2MP camera. Sony Ericsson w580i's pictures are much less noisy compared to that of Nokia 5310. This may be due to superior imaging technology of Sony. One strange thing I observed was that I could not use zoom while in single shot mode of Sony Ericsson w580i.

Music:
Both the phones come with 1 GB MicroSD card. Nokia 5310 has XpressMusic while Sony Ericsson w580i has Walkman. Quality of sound is quite good in both. Nokia 5310 comes preloaded with 50 Bollywood hits while Sony Ericsson w580i comes with 4 sets of ear plugs of different sizes. Both the phones have FM also. Both have separate volume, play/pause, prev and next buttons like IPods. I could not connect to any FM station as the signals were very weak at my hometown.

Bluetooth & Internet:
Both the phones have GPRS and bluetooth. I connected both the phones to internet via GPRS. I could browse using my laptop connected to Nokia 5310 as it had a PC suite which installed in Vista and I had Vista in my laptop. Another interesting application in Nokia 5310 is Yahoo! Go. It is a collection of tools which enable one to browse maps, check mails, read news etc. I liked it very much. The browser in Nokia 5310 called Opera Mini is excellent and it could fetch pages from internet sites which are not accessible by in-built browsers of Nokia 5310 and Sony Ericsson w580i. Applications for internet are abundant in Nokia 5310 compared to Sony Ericsson w580i.

Display:
Nokia 5310 has a 16M color display while Sony Ericsson w580i has a 256K color display. I could feel that the display and menus of Sony Ericsson w580i are far better than Nokia 5310 in terms of easy navigation and user convenience. Also, themes of Sony Ericsson w580i are very nice.

On the whole, both Nokia 5310 and Sony Ericsson w580i are worth the money spent.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dasavatharam - Erroneous proofs for controversial theory

Yesterday, I went to Adlabs for watching Dasavatharam just to see what is there in it to create this much hype. I did not hold any expectations as per the advice of my friend Balaji. Dasavatharam has only one show (that too at 7:20PM) per day in Huma Adlabs, still there were hardly 50 people on the 5th day from release.

I was thoroughly disappointed with the first scene itself where a graphics of stadium was shown. The crowd and architecture resembled like those shown in EA sports games such as Cricket, FIFA etc. But the 12th century set and camerawork were of very high standards.

Coming to the theme, Kamal's story and screenplay has tried to prove the theory that God does not exist throughout the film. But the sad part is that the proof is completely erroneous with neither proper justifications nor proper implications. It is no wonder that some spiritual organization asked for a ban on the film. My observation is that Kamal has made this movie to please the atheists. I do not want to elaborate how Kamal was wrong in proving his point as I feel it a waste of my time and energy to discuss about that.

As far as Kamal's 10 roles are concerned, Kamal has put lot of effort to make every role distinct. Out of 10 Kamals, I liked the Balram Naidu character which is quite hilarious. The Poovaragan character is quite sensible. Other characters are just passable. Asin's character as Andal is one of the most irritating roles I have ever seen. She keeps on running with Kamal and lands him in trouble most of the times.

The movie on the whole is very artificial and kids would appreciate it more as they may not understand the theory behind the movie. One would have liked Kamal to make a light-hearted comedy with his ten roles in this movie. But he follows a different path in this movie and fails miserably. This film, no doubt, has some good scenes but they are sparse and spread randomly. Dasavatharam is definitely not in the league of Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Avvai Shanmugi, Thenali etc.

My predicition: An atheist would enjoy this movie the most and people who have even small belief in any form of God would like to stay away from it after hearing from others.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hardy Heron - Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

Hardy Heron, an Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Long Term Support), was released last month. It includes several new features like Firefox 3 beta, Wubi installer for windows among several others. I would always try a new ubuntu release the very day it gets released. But this time, I am presently out of my territory for a couple of months. So, I could not try Hardy Heron till now. I would post a review once I get into my zone next month. Till then, I need to satisfy myself by reading reviews by others on Hardy Heron.

Here are some of the reviews:

http://fosswire.com/2008/04/24/ubuntu-804-hardy-heron-review/
http://www.itwire.com/content/view/18227/1141/
http://www.adtmag.com/article.aspx?id=22514
http://www.crn.com/software/207401927

By the way, next Ubuntu release in October 2008 is named "Intrepid Ibex"!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Few days with gOS Rocket

I installed gOS Rocket in my desktop a week back out of curiosity. My desktop has P4 2.26GHz, 1.26GB DDR1. Installation was very simple. But when I booted for the first time with gOS, some arbitrary error messages flooded my screen (even now, I get them everytime I boot :)). I thought gOS had screwed up something. Fortunately, those messages didnt affect a normal startup and I could login. The desktop is quite pleasing for the eyes. Other than that I really could not find any improvements over Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon. In fact, I faced some problems in navigation through different windows and also difficulty in locating even the terminal ! Any user already using Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon would be happy continue using it. There is no reason to switch to gOS Rocket.

In short, I would term gOS Rocket as just a very good theme based on enlightenment for Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon. It may be suited for desktops with <512MB RAM because its desktop is very light. I would soon switch to Gutsy Gibbon as it offers more than what I desire for my desktop.

Monday, January 21, 2008

gOS Rocket - First Impressions

I finally managed to download live CD of gOS-2.0 Rocket yesterday. I just ran the live CD to get first impressions of the new gOS Rocket. I list some of the features I could observe during my 30 minutes stay with the live CD.
  • gOS desktop appears stunning similar to a Mac, better than other linux distros.
  • As I already doubted in my previous blog, Google applications are not preinstalled. Just the icons are there in desktop. Clicking the icons, would take one to Google homepage through Firefox.
  • Almost all applications required for everyday use such as Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Gimp, CD/DVD burner, Music/ Video players (Rhythmbox, Xine) are pre-installed.
  • Synaptic package manager can be used to install other free applications like Tetex, mplayer, gedit, emacs etc through internet.
  • Performance-wise, gOS is very fast even while running from live CD which may be attributed to the light-weight window manager called Enlightenment.
  • Installation procedure is same as that of Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon.
On the whole, in my opinion, gOS is quite suited to any desktop/laptop user working with internet most of the times. In other words, any managerial person would love to have gOS to be with him/her. Almost all everyday job can be performed very easily by even a beginner in Linux. Hard-core Linux fans (also Linux geeks) who are already working with some other popular Linux Distro such as Ubuntu, Suse, Fedora etc may not appreciate gOS that much.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ubuntu Training Material for Novice

I just came across documents which are basic guides for any novice to Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu training group has done a commendable job with the document and clearly explain the advantages of using Ubuntu without much advanced details. One can download both student and instructor material from Ubuntu Wiki as PDF documants. This is a very good step towards educating new users about the best OS available now. I hope many instructors use the available material in order to encourage and educate students to use Linux.

Good Tamil Movie Album in recent times !

I rarely listen to new tamil movie songs for the past 3-4 years because most of them are repetitive in music and few of the new singers spoil the better ones. Just few weeks back, I happened to listen to songs from the tamil movie "Pirivom Sandhippom" which has music by Vidyasagar. All the songs in the album are worthy melodies. I particularly liked the duet song "Kanden Kanden" very much. Singer Karthik has sung this song excellently, as good as SPB in his peak days. Female singer Swetha's voice is pretty good, though rendition is not clear at times. The background music of the song is very innovative. Anyone who likes peppy melody would definitely like this song. After "Mozhi", Vidyasagar has given nice melodies once more!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

gOS Rocket Launch !

gOS - Discover a good OS is a Linux distribution with free updates for life. It is built upon Ubuntu Linux and Enlightenment window manager. It has almost all major applications such as openoffice, pidgin, firefox etc which every desktop user requires for his/her day-to-day work. I still do not understand about how Google applications are shipped with this OS. Generally, Firefox is enough for running almost all the applications of Google as they are web-based. Enlightenment is a light-weight window manager which could speed up Ubuntu quite a bit compared to Gnome, KDE and xfce. Rocket, the latest version of gOS built on Gutsy Gibbon (Ubuntu 7.10), is due for release tomorrow. I am eagerly awaiting to try Rocket and see its added advantages with Gutsy Gibbon.

Belated New Year Resolution

First of all, Congratulations to Australian cricket team for securing the worst win in test cricket at Sydney flooded with hugely biased umpiring (thanks to Benson and Bucknor) and cheating by almost all Australian players. Australians, in particular - Ponting and Gilchrist should be ashamed of this win for they supported and carried forward all the cheats carried out over all the 5 days of Sydney Test. As World Champions, they are setting a worst example to others.

This win has obviously propelled me to make a belated new year resolution, i.e., to stop following the cricket matches which are becoming increasingly meaningless thanks to the growth of pathetic umpiring and poor gamesmanship. This resolution would definitely save a lot of time for me and would enable me to do better things in life. At least now, I have realized this. Always, it is better late than never!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Australia in Trouble? Call on the Umpires!

Australia was in hopeless condition today at 134/6 in the Sydney Test. I thought India were in a better position to wind up Australian Innings below 200. But, as it has always happened for the past few years, apart from luck, umpires (including 3rd umpire!) came to the rescue of Australia. Symonds got to an ugly century one would ever see in a test after getting out logically innumerable times. I will not give any credit to Australia even if they win this test by an innings. Now that there is little hope for India in this test, I can better concentrate on my work. :) However, kudos to Indian bowlers for their fighting spirit against all odds.