Monday, October 22, 2007

It's the end of the Personal E-mail, as we know it

Here's an interesting observation, I have received far more wall-posts on facebook in the last couple of months that I've signed up than personal e-mails from friends in probably the whole of this year. The social networks phenomenon led by facebook/orkut/myspace/friendster is driving the last nails into the personal email coffin. Here's why:

Context is the catalyst for conversation. Ever notice that you can hardly go beyond "What have you been upto?" when you meet someone you haven't met in years, but chat at length with a friend you meet every weekend. Its all about context, the more information you have about the other person, the more conversation material there is. Pictures and status messages all add to that context. I've recently added friends I haven't met in almost a decade but am enticed to leave a message when they post a picture or a funny status message.

E-mails are impersonal. Unlike handwritten mails and phone calls, there is little human touch barring humor in the email body. In wall posts, there are at least pictures displayed alongside the message, that makes it far easier to connect (especially if you have profile pictures).

Personal status messages and wall posts are the latest in many-to-many communication. They are much easier and less intrusive to reach out to many people with just one update or post. Sure, you can send out mass-emails with one and flood your friends inboxes. With facebook, for example, you get updates in the form of personal news feeds that you can control whom you can get more information from or lesser of.

Spam mail- Its unlikely that you will ever receive spam posts (from unknown people) with the correct privacy settings. Email providers are still grappling with handling junk mail. Why you ask? Because social networks are closed systems. For people to communicate they must all be on facebook...a friend on facebook can not communicate with one on friendster or myspace. But your .mac account will receive email from a yahoo, gmail, hotmail or business email...and yes the spammers out there. I still remember the ruckus that was created when hotmail started censoring emails from yahoo.

So what happens to e-mail? Will they only be used for getting shipping notifications, bank statements and facebook updates :) ? Or will everyone converge onto facebook creating one big entity (read monopoly) that the DOJ force them to open up to the rest or worse...break them into many baby-books...only time will tell!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lining up all the ducks in a row...

I was walking by Lake Merritt, when I found this scene for the perfect shot...I had just lined up all the ducks in a row :)



Note: Time for me to get a new cellphone with camera features which doesnt produce such grainy pictures.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Trivia Chips

For people who like hiking and trivia...this might become a familiar sight!



A wafer company is now packaging wafers with trivia questions and answers printed on the chips. This is the close-up of a wafer...I hope they haven't used any lead paints for the printing!


You can now have your quiz and eat it too :)

You know you are in Alabama when...

Corporate America has made the US suburban landscape look so similar that if you were to suddenly find yourself in a new state you would still be surrounded by the same stores, fast-food chains, gas stations.

Work took me to Birmingham Alabama recently and besides the humidity and the southern drawls there were more clues for me that I wasn't in Kansas anymore :)

Scene 1: A no-smoking sign outside a company building. Ok...the signs not out of place...its just the response to it!



Scene 2: Ordering lunch at the cafeteria.
Me: Do you have any vegetarian food?
Person on the other side of the counter: Are you moslem?

Scene 3: A post-lunch meeting with sodas to quench the parched throats...the pictures not clear but someone just got the sodas from a non-pc place.



Scene 4: A road sign flashes a 'Stage 3 Drought Alert' warning. Two houses away, a proud house owner waters his lawn (actually Rupert Murdoch did this to his Santa Barbara lawns during the drought as well...

Scene 5: People wearing hot pants...only they happened to be old men. (actually this is a common sight in San Francisco as well). Very gross.

Scene 6: A Sushi restaurant...also serving chinese and thai food!

This Cake takes the Cake

We all know San Franciscan's don't need an excuse to party...This is the cake made for a farewell party thrown for a couple heading to Thailand and inspired by Asia SF.


Note: The complete image is fairly graphic...should be seen only by adults in sterile environs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Experience is overrated

"Experience is the Comb that nature gives you...when you go bald"
The First Twenty20 Cricket world cup has been won by India...which fielded a team not comprising any of the heavyweights - Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan, but with youngsters many of whom made their international debuts in the tournament. Its unfortunate that the seniors never won the prized silver in spite of the more than 400 games played together.



One can not, however, help but commiserate with the losing Pakistani side. Twice in a row they have come tantalizingly close to breaking the world cup jinx of not winning against India. The first was decided by the shoot-out and the second thanks to Misbah-ul-Haq's untimely scoop a la Mike Gatting's reverse paddle in the 1987 world cup, which sealed their fate when victory was well within reach. On both occasions, the veteran batsmen had been done in by rookie bowlers.


'The Fateful Scoop'

Its heartening to note that the young Indian team devoid of any superstars had taken on the strongest teams in the tournament...and won. Thats the power of youth - carrying no baggage of expectations and performing without fear. Experience is seriously overrated.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Introducing Barista Vinod

I was packing up for my move and found an old sketch of mine which I had a drawn a while back. I decided to 'ink' it and put it out there (here) and see what future beholds 'Barista Vinod', 'Sheelah' and me!




"Being Your Own Boss"

(Click Image for full view)



p.s.: Here's the original sketch.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Evolution of a Song

Trace the evolution of this song from folk to an industrial, bollywood re-mix. Some songs should just be left alone.







Demis Roussos - Say You Love Me (1970)


Sholay - Mehbooba - Helen Richardson Khan (1975)


Aap Ka Shurrur - Mehbooba - Mallika Sherawat (2007)


Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag - Mehbooba Mehbooba - Urmila Matondkar (2008)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

'Appetite for Destruction' turns 20???

I saw the cover of a recent issue of the Rolling Stone magazine and the title of the lead story stopped me in my tracks. Its been 20 (not 14) years since the release of the rock album that influenced me significantly during my angst-ridden teenage years.



I was at an asian Karaoke bar last weekend and was dispassionately hearing all the singers belt out their tracks until a young girl in the next table started singing 'Sweet Child O Mine'. In no time, we were roused from our beer stupor and we all joined her in the chorus.

GNR...thank you for the two decades of memories!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Simpsonize Me!





















Funny...I dont look like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon at all!

Image courtesy SimpsonsMovie's Avatar maker and Windows Paint.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bone Marrow Registry

I finally got off my lazy bottom and headed to the Santa Clara Convention center to enroll in the Bone Marrow Registry as a part of the HelpVinay drive. The procedure was very simple- 4 swabs gently rubbed against the inside of the cheeks for 10 seconds each and handed over to the volunteer. Filling in the paperwork took longer :)

After graciously handing in my swabs, I got my picture taken as proof that I registered...I also have a membership card with my registration number.



Btw...if you are registering at the same venue, you may run into Shekar Kapur at the Pan-IIT meet and have a tete-a-tete with him as I did and discuss his new Virgin Comic venture.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sing Again of Michigan

I was wrong about Michigan. I was disappointed during my last visit to this state by the crumbling city of Detroit, the ghost downtown of Pontiac, and a slew of road construction in preparation for the 2006 Superbowl. The dullness of winter further added to the glum.

This visit has changed my views about the state. My co-worker took me to Planet Rock in Pontiac and it was the biggest rock climbing gym I have ever been to (Not much...considering I have been to only two more - Planet Granite in the bay area and the rock climbing wall in Phoenix).



The suburbs of Troy, Rochester Hills and West Bloomfield were very picturesque. I cant imagine ever finding such houses in the bay area for the prices they were at. I wonder when the real estate market will rebound here again.

The Workout Hotel Room

My Hotel is so cheap...that they put me in the exercise room (j/k!)


Actually, these are the new Workout Rooms from Westin, which will help you "work up a sweat without leaving the room".

Oh Yeah? Try that with a room with no vents in it...the smoke alarm in my room got triggered after a 30 minute treadmill session.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Shooting to Thrill


We had our annual team building exercises at the Scottsdale Gun Club :)

I learned today that I should stay far away from my team mates when they took aim at the target...and never to shoot like in the movies.

For a man from the country of Gandhi, this was a nerve-racking experience. I was terrified about holding a gun and causing any damage.

I started anxiously with the humble revolver, trembling as I pulled the trigger. After a few nervous shots I was shooting with glee...working my way up to a glock, a semi-automatic and finally finishing with a long barreled Wes and Smithson, with a discharge so loud and a muzzle flash so bright that everyone there stopped their shooting and took notice.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ramayan 3392 AD

Virgin's latest comic book series - Ramayan 3392 A.D. appears to be doing very well. Late last year, they roped in Spiritual Guru Deepak Chopra, filmaker Shekar Kapur, illustrator Abhishek Singh and writer Shamik Dasgupta to create this futuristic science fiction based on the Indian epic. According to the TOI, the comics are flying off the shelves not only in India but also in the US.

The re-packaged classic is a nice offering alongside the classic Amar Chitra Katha comics, which I still relish. The art work is fabulous and the new story refreshing. You can download the comics in PDF and read them using Adobe Acrobat to find out for yourself!

If George Lucas could be inspired by the Mahabharata to create the lucrative Star Wars series, I dont see why the original epic can not find international fame on its own.

According to Virgin Comic's CEO Sharad Devarajan:

"
Similar to the phenomenon we have seen with Japanese Anime and Manga, which has influenced virtually every aspect of popular media in the West today, our mission is to reinvent contemporary Indian popular art and permeate this new style and vision throughout the globe.

In the same way Indian children have embraced Batman, Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo and Britney Spears, today's Western world has an increasing global appetite for the most engaging content, regardless of its cultural affiliation. If you told parents ten years ago in America that their children would know characters named Yu Gi Oh! and Pokemon as well as they would Spider-Man, those parents would have thought you were crazy – yet in America today an estimated 30% of major children's animated programming is now Japanese animation."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Microsoft Surface - Turning the Tables

Microsoft just unveiled a cool, gesture-based, multi-touch device called Surface that will surely upstage Apple's iPhone for the best tech invention of 2007. See the demo below:



I really would like to see this in restaurants and hotels soon. The surface dining table will be a nice way to share snaps and videos taken on cell phones and cameras instead of passing those mobile devices around the table. I also like the way you can split checks by placing the credit cards on the surface and dragging the items ordered on the respective cards.

No more splitting hairs about splitting checks anymore!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Press Print to Play


In my previous post, I wrote about picking up my favorite Asterix statuettes at a novelty comic book store in a far away Quebec province. The store does offer international shipping and the same can certainly be found somewhere on eBay. Sometime in the near future though, we will only need to download 3D models from web sites and 'bake' them in our 3-D printers.

The NYTimes has the scoop in their technology section - Beam It Down From the Web, Scotty (Registration Required).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Asterix meets Tintin


I am sure the die-hard fans of french comic books know this bit of trivia- In which comic books do Asterix and Tintin characters appear together?

Answer here.

I was in Montreal earlier in the week and found this novelty comic book store - Luniver & Cie on Rue St Denis where I found Asterix and Tintin appear together again.

I got some statuettes of Asterix, Oblix and Idefix (Dogmatix) but I really wanted this chess board of the Gauls against the Romans :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

PaniPuri

I was checking out the winners of the World's Best Presentation Contest and came across one on PaniPuri that won the People's choice award.

This is especially useful for me as I can simply send friends this presentation when I need company to try out some PaniPuri (or GolGappas)!



Another presentation that I really like is Shift Happens...an interesting statistic quoted in one of their slides is that in India, even if you are one in a million...there are still a 1,100 of you!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reno 911

Barely had the ink dried on the settlement in the civil case that I had to return to the courts. This time it was because I was wrongfully ticketed with an extremely harsh driving infraction in Nevada.

My buddies and I were returning from South Lake Tahoe to the bay area after a weekend of snowboarding when a huge snow storm hit the area to leave us grounded due to avalanche control. We returned to our hotel room and waited for the storm to subside. After nearly 12 hours, when the storm passed, we headed back by another route through Carson City/Reno. The roads had cleared out and we were making good distance on 395 when a cop turned his lights on. He was overwhelmed by the number of incidents during the storm and was in a very foul mood. He threw the book at me (I was the driver) for being slightly over the limit. We were shell-shocked when he gave me this ticket equivalent to a misdemeanor.

I had to clear my name. I decided to hire an Attorney to represent me as I didn't want to take any chances. Only I had to fly back in to Reno for the court hearing. My attorney made a pre-trial hearing with the prosecutor, the district attorney, and made strong points in my favor, citing my good driving record for starters. At the end of their conversation an agreement was reached. My case was dropped!

Great Success!!!

Unfortunately, as I was exiting the court...my rental car was rear-ended.

There's no justice cruel world :(


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Driving Miss Desi

Over several posts I have written about the mapping options available for Indian destinations. I was checking out the new Yahoo India Maps and was very pleasantly surprised. I found the data there to be far superior than the wisdom-of-the-masses information displayed on WikiMapia. You can actually search by locality and street on Yahoo instead of just by the city.

I also found that Yahoo Maps was driven by a company called CE Info Systems just like Navteq drives most of the maps here in the US. A brief search led me to their own site MapMyIndia . Their web site had more goodies to offer- Directions!!!

I was finally able to map out the trip I used to take on the bus from Bangalore to my college. I am sure I wont have the courage to drive on that highway though.



Autorickshaw owners beware...we will catch your longer routes with this utility.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Future Shock

I visited a hi-tech campus today to meet a client. When I reached the lobby to get my visitor pass, I was greeted not by the smile and pleasantries from a receptionist but instead by a contraption consisting of a flat-screen television, cameras and a VOIP speakerphone...which had a big button next to it which read - 'Press here to speak to a Lobby Ambassador'.

A few seconds after pushing the afore mentioned button I was greeted by the Lobby Ambassador - Caeser on the television monitor...


I was in shock and awe, and for a while didnt know where to look at to make eye contact. When I recovered from the surprise I asked him for a badge. He said gladly and told me that it would be issued from the printer right in front of me. I waited for my badge to appear but there were no signs of any activity for over a minute. At which point he said, 'We are experiencing technical difficulties right now...Can you just write your name on a piece of paper instead'. I took out my pen and wrote it on a temporary, temp badge and walked into the building. So much so for technology.

As I walked past the hallway one particular display monitor caught my attention. It was displaying the news ticker and some stock information, when an application on the screen crashed right before my eyes.


I have seen the future...and it isn't pretty.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Somebody Gonna Get-a-Hurt Real Bad

I know Carlos Mencia is under fire for reusing other comics stuff. I just found some more of his recycling. I was watching the 2nd season of 'The Mind of Mencia' when I came across two sketches which were so similar to Russell Peters material from several years back that I had to make the comparison.

Compare the videos below:




Russell Peters

Carlos Mencia


Russell Peters entire schtick was based on the whupping routine and I remember him complain that internet downloaders (there was no youtube then) had nearly ruined his act as everyone had seen his material and he couldnt create new stuff fast enough.

I had actually watched both Carlos and Russell perform at the same venue in 2005 at the Wild 94.9 Comedy Jam. Carlos was the featured act that night but he sure took some inspiration from the lesser known comic.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

My Heavy Carbon Footprint

I used the Carbon Footprint calculator on ClimateCare to determine whether my eco-conscious efforts like using public transportation, using extra-blankets instead of heating in winter and using totes instead of paper or plastic while shopping had borne any fruits. Unfortunately, the the results were not flattering at all. The carbon emission calculator deemed me a carbon criminal.

My Carbon profile follows:


A single overseas trip of mine to India resulted in carbon emissions that exceeded those from the nearly 10000 miles I traveled in car in the previous year! There were more startling statistics about the costs to offset my carbon emissions:

Personal:
Offset total: 10.92 tonnes of CO2
Cost to offset: $ 166.86*
Business:
Your Company Flights CO2 Emissions are 55 Tonnes
Distance flown: 55000 mile(s)
To offset this CO2 will cost: $ 840.41

An average British person has a carbon footprint of 11,000 kg each year (10.82 tonnes of CO2). I am over this amount by a really large margin. On a positive note - Not counting my air travel, I am well below the average.

The BBC is running an article on reducing the carbon footprint and another one -"Should I really give up flying?" that describes why an itinerant job profile like mine is injurious to the world's health. One of the biggest problems with CO2 emissions from planes is that the carbon is released higher up in the atmosphere, far out of the reach of photosynthesis.

I am hoping that the hydrogen fueled airplanes get deployed sooner so I can rid my guilt of my air travel. For the interim, I will do more tele-conferences and webex-es to limit my trips.

True Religion

So we are witnessing a growing nexus between department stores and religion...Contemporary Jean brands that are the rage lately use religion in their names, case in point True Religion and Blue Cult :)

I was walking past Union Square in San Francisco last night and found a huge Ganesha statue adorning the entrance of the store. This reminded me of a store in Bangalore - Kemp Fort where a huge Shiva Temple was built behind the mall. Devotees made a beeline for the temple and then did their post-prayer shopping at the mall. It was a clever strategy by the owners and it worked very well for them. It seems like the American department stores are taking a leaf out of the Indian stores strategy book and following suit to cash-in on success.

Shiva Temple - Kemp Fort, Bangalore

Note 1: The Ganesha decorations are part of an 'Imagine India' show.
Note 2: Kemp Fort is styled after either the Excalibur in Las Vegas or Disneyland, so there is a cross pollination in design.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Holi-day Celebrations

ASHA Stanford hosted Holi celebrations at the lush green venue of Sandhill Park in Stanford. Holi is the festival of colors and is celebrated to welcome spring. It turned out to be a colorful day!

Wearing Trashbags to Save the Seats



Here comes a big Splash


Thursday, March 22, 2007

CSI : Jamaica

The stakes at the World Cup Cricket played in the West Indies are sky high now. Notwithstanding the pressure of performance from the fans demanding victories in every game, players have to tend to their commercial interests and also contend with bookies now.

The World Cup has just snared its first victim- the coach of the Pakistan Team...the inimitable Bob Woolmer. He died shortly after his team's defeat to Ireland, and I was sure that there was some foul play involved. The BBC now reports that he was infact murdered. A post-mortem examination established that the former England player had died as a result of "manual strangulation".

This is a heinous act and the perpetrators of this crime should be apprehended at the earliest. The clues are pretty strong, and a CSI analysis would be based on these facts:
  • Bob Woolmer went back to his hotel room the day of the defeat after 8:30 pm, the maid found him unconscious at 10 am and he was declared DOA at 1215 pm.

  • He was found partially naked, draped in a towel, indicating that this was either before he went to bed or early in the morning. The post-mortem will have a more accurate estimate.

  • Since he was draped in a towel and found dead in his bathroom, it indicates he knew the attacker(s) and probably let them into the room and had an animated discussion before matters went out of hand. There was no sign of forced entry into Mr Woolmer’s hotel bedroom, nor had his possessions been disturbed

  • In the Police Commissioner's own words "Bob was a large man - it would have taken some significant force to subdue him". This indicates either a large man like himself or more than one person attacked and killed him

  • The people with the greatest motive are either bookies, disgruntled fans or a member of the team.

  • It is unlikely that a crazed-fan entered the hotel and room without escaping the watchful eyes of security. The same may apply to bookies too no matter how affluent.

That should narrow down the list of suspects considerably. Now, I hope that the CCTV footage will provide some damning evidence.The ICC doesn't want the investigation of the murder to interrupt the remaining games. The show must go on...just like the unending seasons of CSI.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Cramer Effect

A few words spoken by a few people can drastically effect the course of the US financial markets. Two of them hold official posts - Alan Greenspan, the former fed chairman, and Ben Bernanke, the current chairman. Sometimes even chosen silence at their ends can result in a market volatility. Fortunately, their pronouncements happen quarterly or over a cocktail at a big-wig meeting.

There's also this former hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer, who influences the markets on almost a daily basis. He is the host of the popular show - 'Mad Money' (Note: I also own a copy of his book Real Money), where viewers call him up for his advice on stocks. The next day at the start of trading, the stocks which he advised to sell are pummeled and the ones to buy appreciate in value faster than you can say 'Boo-Yah'. I have been left holding the bag of pummeled stocks on several occasions and sometimes very pleasantly surprised by the increased value of my stocks.

Thanks to the Cramer effect, I never buy any stock that he advices to buy anymore because they shoot so far up in value, wiping out any profits that I can potentially make on them. Stock fundamentals be damned.

It seems Cramer has let the cat out of the bag on his tactics and stirred a hornets nest in his latest interview where he says "A lot of times when I was short at my hedge fund...meaning I needed (a stock) down, I would create a level of activity beforehand that could drive the futures," Cramer said. "It's a fun game and it's a lucrative game."

Cramer has retired from the Hedge market business and claims to run a fund for charity. His benevolence, though, can not justify the blood he has spilled of many an investor.

B'lore Headbangs to Iron Maiden

CNN-IBN reports that nearly 30,000 fans showed up for the Iron Maiden concert in Bangalore last night.



Thank goodness Karaoke hasn't caught on big in India :)

It is a different experience attending a rock concert in Bangalore than in the US. Even classic rock acts attract a much younger audience...here in the US the age of the audience mirrors that of the band members.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

JetBlues



For a road-warrior like me, no-frills airlines like JetBlue and Southwest have brought a whiff of freshness in the stale airs of the big carriers like American Airlines, Delta, United and US Airways. What I like best about Jetblue are the personal television monitors, a la Singapore Airlines, to survive the long cross-country flights. They had friendly staff who made funny pre-boarding announcements until the FAA clamped down on their humor. There are constant servings of beverages and junk food (like my favourite Terra Blue potato chips) to satiate the thirst and hunger cravings.

They have gotten a lot of flak lately for the recent flight cancellations at JFK in New York where they left passengers stranded in the terminals. This happens to me every time I fly through O'Hare during winter on just about any airline.

My only complaint about Jetblue was and is their frequent flier policy. For each flight completed and each reservation made online you get a certain number of points (Max of 8 for a coast-coast) and once you reach 100 points or about 8-10 roundtrips before you get a free round-trip. (Southwest requires 16 roundtrips for a free ticket). The problem with the JetBlue policy is that these points expire in a year so if you are unable to make the 100 points in a year they will be gone. I have watched my 92 points vanish in the last month. This rule is draconian...I am still redeeming my American Airline miles that I earned in 2000.

I had stopped flying on American because their service went down the tube after 9/11. I used to have a choice of two hot meals on coach during my trips from Austin to San Jose in 2000. Now I dont even get peanuts that Southwest hands out with glee.

I restarted my trips on AA as my manager got me an Admirals Club membership as a spot award. This membership provides me access to their lounges so I can sink into their comfortable leather sofas, watch the telly or read the magazines, and get on to the internet before and after a flight. This lounge feature is a good strategy for airline companies as frequent fliers are bound to get hooked on it and stick with the carrier.

I have lesser incentive to fly on JetBlue now as I have to make all my travel arrangements with our official travel agent which means I dont get the reservation points anymore, thereby doubling the number of trips I need to make for the magic 100 points. I am only hoping JetBlue sees the error in their ways and win back their customers loyalty. They can start by reinstating my lost 92 points!

Cricket Watch

What lengths would you go to watch a cricket match?

The World Cup Cricket has begun and has already featured an epic battle fought on the grounds of the Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica. I haven't watch a single ball being bowled in the tournament so far. It was not like my last trip to Jamaica in 2002, when I traveled nearly 5000 miles with the intention of enjoying two days of cricketing action between India and the West Indies only to be holed up in the Hotel room because of incessant rains (I have since decided not to risk such trips to watch a game live).

This time it is because I refuse to cough up the high fees for viewing the live telecasts. These feeds are only available on satellite television - DirectTV and Dishnetwork, each demanding $199 for the telecast of the 51 matches. Considering that I will be following only the games of my favorite team, i.e, watching only about 6 games, this works out to about $33 per game! This is exorbitant even for a captive audience. I could watch the Golden State Warriors play in the Oakland Arena from a prime location with this kind of money. Compare this with NBA TV charging $200 for over 200 games, with many of the games broadcast in high-definition unlike the grainy cricket telecast on dishnetwork.

Four years back I was faced with a similar pinch to watch the world cup cricket games but I was able to share the costs with my two house mates. This story about the pains of a cricket lover in America was picked up by the Outlook magazine. I even signed a petition so we could watch the games on cable or the high speed internet.

It seems like the bigwigs at echostar have listened to our petition, and decided to share the feed on-line on Willow TV. The only problem - its the same cost of $199 for even granier pictures with lots of lag and delay in the feeds. I discussed with my friend the possibility of using a slingbox device so we could stream it over the web from his dish connection. I was about to hit the bid button on an ebay auction for the SlingBox AV (about $70 excluding shipping) when I decided to use my google powers to find a better option. My search yielded a TVonPC online offering called EZ TV which I am not sure is legit even with their FAQs explicitly stating that it is. I signed up for it and checked it out for myself. The image size is rather small but the feed has no lags like willow tv, definitely watchable!

p.s.: I just googled with the same search query and couldnt locate their paid advertisement anymore. I am now keeping a close watch on my credit card statement.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Muscle Memory

My association with Tennis dates a long time back when I was about 8 years old, when I showed up at the tennis courts with a Badminton racket in my hand. I have since then switched to using a tennis racket and improved my game by watching a lot of tennis on the telly and taking tips from other players. I have also 'abstracted' many of my life's lessons from my experiments with tennis.

For example, when my game was stuck in a rut for a period of time, I decided to get expert help in the form of a tennis instructor who could take my game to the next level. Since then I have applied that in my professional life as well and have sought advice from a mentor to help navigate through the doldrums of work and life.

I later switched tennis instructors from a scheming Matt M, who also moonlighted as a Chiropractor, and was more interested in ensuring that I spend my hard-owned post-tax dollars on his multiple income sources. This time I chose an expert - Brian Garrow, an illustrious son of the city of Sunnyvale, who won laurels by beating legendary players such as Ramesh Krishnan. Brian's loyalties were not split and I could get his undivided attention in sprucing up my game and I developed a killer forehand. Lesson in life for me - always chose the best of breed else you will end up in the dispensary.

I also learned another important life's lesson from tennis - If you spend all your tennis time just learning from the instructors, you are gonna go broke. Its valuable to rally against other players, just for the fun of it, also its light on the wallet (unless the loser buys beer at the Dutch Goose in Menlo Park and you happen to be him).

This week, after many months of playing with my inconsistent single-handed backhand, I switched to a double-handed backhand with some spectacular results. My decision was partly swayed by watching Serena Williams destroy Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open with her killer, open-chested, two-handed backhand. I went back to the wall and practiced my shots for a few hours. Every shot I hit (remembering Ms Williams as I swung my racket) boosted my morale and increased by enthusiasm by leaps and bounds. I can't believe I made this switch after two decades of playing mediocre tennis. I enjoyed even my solitary trysts with the practice wall and after many hours I finally got the muscle memory to use it effectively in a game.

The Namesake



Last Tuesday, I attended a special preview of 'The Namesake' organized by the American India Foundation. The movies director - Mira Nair makes such hard hitting movies to, in her own words, "take the embarrassment out of the Indian lifestyle". I could relate very well with with the movie and its characters, not because its protagonists are torn between two countries - India and the US. I felt that my life was embodied in Gogol's character, minus the part about my name based on a 19th century Russian author. Beyond the immigrant story, you will notice how Mira Nair has contrasted the relationship between Ashima and Ashoke, wonderfully played by Tabu and Irfan Khan, and the ones entrancing Gogol, wonderfully portrayed by Kal Penn.

The movie is not your typical song and dance movie that bollywood enthusiastics will probably be queuing outside Naz8 Cinemas for. At the end of the movie, there was no clapping or cheering, just the silence of a captivated audience with a big lump in their throats. The cheerful banter began when Mira Nair came on stage for a question and answer session.

I also happened to watch another relationship movie on PPV - The Last Kiss. It stars an actor who reminds me of Kal Penn - Zach Braff. It also features Jacinda Barrett who plays Maxine in 'The Namesake'. It is just another relationship movie, with a lot of similar situations that I have been through, but no advice to help us viewers out. Whatever happened to the movies with a moral at the end?

Now...I have an idea for the next spoof in the long line of 'Scary Movie', 'Date Movie' and 'Epic Movie'.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Law of the Land

Nearly seven years ago we decided to build our house on a plot of land in Bangalore that we had purchased from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Co-op. We began by constructing a perimeter wall around the plot. A week after it had been built it was knocked down overnight. We learned that someone had claimed a part of the land as his and objected to our construction. As we had all the legal papers so we decided to go to court. That turned out to be a bad decision. The defendant had the backing of a local politician and got a ruling in his favor without producing any proof of ownership.

My mom didn't lose hope and moved to the higher court. She attended the court proceedings religiously. I accompanied her on a few visits when I was there and was repulsed on each visit. Sometimes the defendant's lawyer wouldn't show up, dragging the case on so we would get frustrated and give up. Our lawyer was no angel himself as it was in his interests to keep prolonging the case too. As the case drew to a judgment, we were hit by another curve ball. The defendant had 'sold' our land to another developer and he was no longer liable in the legal proceedings!

I found another lawyer who had represented my high school buddy's folks in another commercial dispute. We decided to switch to him as he came highly recommended. His advice to us was to settle the case out of court as it could be dragged on for a much longer time. The compromise involved splitting the land between us and the new developer, and with the developer building the boundary wall around the new areas in lieu of the one torn down. Whoever coined - 'Good fences make good neighbors' surely had our situation in mind.

The settlement was reached on Sunday and a heavy weight has been lifted off our chests. We can breathe easy again.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My Celebrity Look-alikes

This is a startling revelation :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

School of Rock

It seems like Jack Black's efforts are finally paying dividends. Watch this video of a really young band - Gaucho-Salta based in Argentina, covering rock numbers from Iron Maiden to Sepultura. In the video you will also find a lil girl who has all the makings of the next Ashlee Simpson!



I was introduced to rock music when I heard an Indian Band called 'Rock Machine' (also Indus Creed) in middle school. I was awed by their first album 'Rock n Roll Renegade'. I have been searching for their CDs for a long time and I finally found their MP3s online here. Their music sounds great even after all these years.

Update 02/13/2006
Iron Maiden is planning their first gig in Bangalore. *sigh*

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wiki + Maps = WikiMapia

In an earlier blog, I had written about the new satellite imagery capabilities in Google Earth that provided aerial views of territories previously unmapped, such as India. Wikimapia.org is a new online resource that allows people to collaboratively annotate and see such maps.

I was surprised to find my college completely annotated in the wiki-map, and like I told a lot of the non-believers, we indeed have a private beach about a mile from the campus (See map below for details).



Its nice to see highways and airports mapped out but the maps are also littered with unimportant entries such as "ZM Fazullulah Residence", which need to be weeded out. I am sure the folks at WikiMapia will put in measures in place to restrict such entries.

My next prediction: Directions in WikiMapia.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Author Laments Lonely Life of Bloggers

The Globe and Mail is running an article about the lonely life of bloggers in this piece.

In my defense, I keep my blog so my friends and family can get the latest information on me, as they have given up on my e-mails. My blog inspires me to go out and do interesting stuff...so I have something to write about :)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tag, You're It

I have been tagged by theunknownindian, my dear college senior who I now get to learn about from his blogs. In deference to the rules of the chain-blogging, where I need to provide some information about me and tag 5 other bloggers I know, unless I wish my soul to burn for all of eternity, I am posting this blog entry.

here goes...first some lesser known facts about me:
  • The details of my life are quite inconsequential... very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it. (Actuall this was from Austin Powers, the real details follow...)
  • My front door neighbour growing up was Lara Datta, the former Miss India/Universe. I played tennis-ball cricket with Rahul Dravid, the current Indian captain, at the Yellow House...I was frequently chastised for my butter fingers.
  • In high school, my friend - Deepanjan Chatterjee's dad, an expert astrologer and palmist, looked at my hand. A few minutes into the session he said he was really tired and didn't make any predictions. I remain very paranoid ever since :)
  • I am working on a cartoon strip - 'Binary Boomer', a look into the colorful life experiences of the digital generation (includes me) which is bound to make a profound impact on the world, just as the Baby Boomers did.
  • I like cooking vegetarian, south-indian food. My Pi├Ęce de r├ęsistances are Bisi Bele Bath and Ravi Idli with Sagu
I am tagging these bloggers:


Andreas - Driving-Vacation and ManagingArchitect
Roopesh - FinEngineer
Ranjit - rmathew
Anand - Aniyer
Rags - Poweryogi
Rajesh Shetty - Life Beyond Code
Manish - Ultrabrown

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bollywood Feud on the Colbert Report

I have always enjoyed Stephen Colbert's comedy style...watch how he settles this bollywood feud in a special section called "We the MEdiator".




Update Jan 19, 2006
The battle rages on with some new revelations...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

PCLDLTR

I snapped the license plate of this car in front of me. It reads PCLDLTR if the picture below is too grainy.



Think 'Office Space' if you need a hint to crack this one.