Sunday, March 18, 2007

Long live Iron Maiden!

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something's always near
Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a phobia that someone's always there

I've not been an avid metal listener as the other 35 odd thousand folks who attended the so called God's of Metal Iron Maiden perform for the first time in history in this part of the world. But now I must say, that I was every bit fortunate and lucky to be one amongst them to see them live in blood and flesh.
Belting numbers from their latest album, "A Matter of Life and Death", the fans actually came to the fore once they echoed "Troopers". That was the start we were looking for, and then came "666: Number of the Beast", "Fear of the Dark", "Hallowed be Thy Name", "2 Minutes to Midnight" et al. I'm still in awe of the entire scene, it was just unbelievable when Fear of the Dark rolled out. Superlative stuff, that's all I can say! With the never-die-figure of Eddie on a Huge Tank, India perhaps has never witnessed a concert on such a large scale. Tonnes of equipment was shipped, and with a giant 40ft by 20ft of backdrop of the various posters, it truly lived to its expectations of a mega event.
A powerhouse of a performance and it wasn't a bad start for me as I watched my first live concert ever. At the end of the show, I'm still left wondering what Mr. Bruce Dickenson , the lead had for lunch to deliver such an energetic performance. Not often, do you see the the lead vocalist climbing up the speakers tower unaided and then sliding from the top. All this for the fans! But then, I'm told by someone that this very energy is their identity, which has their ever increasing fans spanning across generations. And so as the Gods descended and "commanded"..
Scream for me Bangalore!!

Update: Well, came across this article on rediff describing this event. Well, has to be one helluva fan who's written this. Read on here..

Saturday, March 17, 2007

300..A Visual Spectacle!

"It takes the depiction of historical happenings to new fantasy-tical levels".
That's the sole judgement I could come to when I saw 300 this weekend. The Battle of Thermopylae couldn't probably have been portrayed in a more artistic way so as to attract both the critics as well as the regular action flick followers. I can't really term it as historically accurate, coz I don't really know much about the Spartan history and the Battle of Thermopylae on which the movie is based on. The one thing that I did after watching it was to come back and do a Wiki Search on the backdrop of the movie. And yeah, now I must say that Zack Snyder, the director has done a pretty commendable job.
Well, on the outset, 300 soldiers against a million or more of their Persion counterparts and belting the hell out of them would seem to be an outrageous argument. But that's what had almost happened way back in around 480 BC! Well, obviously the depiction of the Persion army as being some kind of deformed monsters was bound to attract some serious panning from the reviewers as well as the historians, but then I believe the accurate presentation was never the aim of the makers of this movie.
On an overall, I believe this might turn out to be one the strongest contenders for the Academy Awards for the Visual Effects, announcing the importance of increasing CGI usage and its influence on the future of movie making. Floated on a budget of $65 million, it's a visual masterpiece!
To talk about the performances, the lead actors were pretty good, with Gerard Butler portraying King Leonidas leading from the front. But for me this movie is there for its graphics and the presenation..
It was after a long time that blood and gore looked this crazy, probably the last one doing it really well being Kill Bill.

For those, who'd like to have a sneak peek, here's the trailer..

Six 6s in an over.. Yawnnnnnnnnn..

Its been a week since the 'so called' mega event kicked off, but what have we seen till now? Record books rewritten in the most inconsequential matches one can ever hope to see. Another couple of them were broken last night when Gibbs got stuck into some gentleman called Dan van Bunge smashing him all over the park. Right, I didn't really see the feat, but just managed to see a couple of overs towards the end of the South African innings and actually the last over too wasn't too short of contributing towards a 'just broken' record conceding 30 runs from it.

Something that constantly hits me is whats the point? On one side we do have this king of all events which is the point ultimate glory for any goddamn cricketer, and on other side we have these matches being played which serve no purpose. ICC says it needs to globalize the game, I'd rather say, that they are probably doing just the opposite. How many Dutch wannabe cricketers back home would be encouraged after seeing such a performance? Nopes, I am not blaming the Dutch team, thats just not the point. So what the heck is the point here?
Does it really serve any purpose in pitching these so called 'minnows' against the top teams in the one off event and then keep on filling up the record books? This was one such feat which has never happened in the entire history of International Cricket, and it was a real pity that it had to happen this way.
A record is supposed to be a strong statement, and this is left to your own imagination to measure the strength of this one.

Most of these "new" teams have one sole aim in the ongoing World Cup - to defeat the other "new" team. The others are probably out of question, and really even if they manage to upset one of the biggies, its gonna be pretty sad for the tournament, coz we know that on the basis of talent or anything, the biggies would defeat the lesser known teams 9 out of 10 times, if not 10 on 10.
Com'on folks, World Cup is not supposed to be a Sweepstakes, its supposed to be an event which officially puts forth the Champion, and am sure no one would like to risk their chances based on a one bad day in the field.
P.S: For those who are interested in watching this feat, here's the vid link.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Google Talk invades further!

First we had Google Talk as a standalone application, then on Gmail and then Orkut. Looks like Google is all set to invade every possible application they can lay their hands on with Google Talk. Now comes the turn of overloading the Google Personalized Homepage with it and with it almost every goddamn webpage that you host. Just copy paste a simple line of code on your webpage/blogpost et al, and you'll see the Google Talk client running from there. Then it just behaves like a chat messenger and you can sign in and continue chatting and same holds good for the visitors to your page.

However, probably the most crucial enhancement to their new version is that you can now watch the You Tube videos/share Picasa photos from inside the chat client. This new version would now be able to recognize those links as their own and pop up those videos/images in the client itself.
See how it works here..
P.S: Yeah, you should be able to see this already added to my blogspot here. So go ahead and check it out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Looking beyond the iPods..

Slacker, a music service in the same vein of the likes of, has announced their portable device avatar which would allow the people to carry their music with them. However, its **not** just another version of the iPod, but has taken this whole new genre a notch further. Unlike iPods, this new Slacker portable device would continously update itself with the latest music depending on your taste. Powered by their own satellite, it keeps on pumping new tracks on your device. Just select the station, and then start listening. Moreover, you can also vote for your favorites or ban the ones you detest! Damn.. I'd do that to the likes of Britney Spears..

When I read about this, the first concern was - What if I'm not in the range of WiFi or their satellite? Well, there's some intellegent workarounds for this one. A local cache is maintained on the device itself which would still enable you to listen to the cached music. However, I'm still unaware of the limitations of the cache memory in terms of its size, or may be they do allow an extendible memory. Don't know much about that.

Now something about the device itself. Its similar to the size of a Blackberry phone and so allows it to be truly portable. Further, the communication between the device and the satellites happen every 15 seconds, so you won't be fazed with the problem of refreshing your tracks. They do provide a large 4" screen which displays album art, artist information and visualizations in vivid color.. Err.. but where are the videos?? Perhaps the second generation devices would need to incorporate that in them.

They have already licensed around 2 million tracks and so it won't be really easy not to find a desired track among them. The jukebox software remains free, barring the premium version which would be devoid of any ads and would cost around $7.50 a month.

All in all, an interesting concept and I wish they do include the videos. Yeah, I do understand that the licensing of the videos would probably be a touch costly, and the only way I see them bringing it would be in the premium service. And yeah, not yet available, this is a forthcoming product

Bought at $1.65B, sued for $1B

Google-You Tube have been sued for copyright infringement by Viacom in a massive $1 Billion lawsuit. The complaint says almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Google though has an outside chance in this lawsuit, since they claim to take down any videos from their archives on recieving a complaint from their owners. Viacom continues to license its videos to services like Joost but at present must be gearing up for one of the biggest lawsuits in the current times.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lucky Loser turns really Lucky!!

Well, it was high time that someone proved that Roger Federer was indeed human.. that he too can make mistakes on crucial points and can exhibit a certain percentage of unforced errors that make him lose 'a' match. Thats precisely what happened in the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California. The question would be after all who managed to claim such a feat and it couldn't have been a fitting match than a Lucky Loser from the qualifying round.. a certain gentleman named Guillermo Canas. Federer lost 5-7, 2-6, which means his serve was broken atleast thrice.. phew!!

Chasing a record of 46 continous wins, the barricade stopped him at 41, not to mention that he'd be rearing to rip apart it again in the near future considering the way he has been playing.

Perhaps, his win against the legendary Pete Sampras at his own home a couple of days back did turn out to be unlucky.. :D

Startling stats: Federer won just 68 percent of points on his first serve and 36 percent of points on his second serve.

For those who are in awe of the Swiss' invincibility, consider this - Canas is just the 11th player to defeat Roger Federer since the Swiss took over as the No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on Feb. 2, 2004. Canas joins Tomas Berdych, Albert Costa, Richard Gasquet, Tim Henman, Dominik Hrbaty, Gustavo Kuerten, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal (6 times), David Nalbandian and Marat Safin as the only players to defeat Federer as a No. 1.

And yeah, Canas has done this before to the Fed-ex as well.. in 2002 at the ATP Master Series.. Damn, how I wish Canas plays in the Grand Slam finals against Federer, its atleast better than seeing the likes of Andy Roddicks getting thrashed on the big stage!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Oh.. So you do meet the Expectations!

Well, its been a kinda busy and confusin' last couple of weeks.. busy - coz a bit preoccupied work and other non defining activities and confusing - coz I yet again start getting entangled in this ever so complex web of Appraisals a.k.a 'Performance Assessment'.

I still r'ber during my school days when we were given report cards which basically presented statistics about our performance in various subjects. Aha.. well quantified and self explanatory. No discussions (unless you flunked) required.
The basic idea still continues with this transition from education to profession, but then the quantification decreases exponentially.

At some places we have the grading system, at others we do have an even more complicated points system and so on. The specifications increase and in comes the end of the Calendar Year and you get to know that your boss/co. expected so much *more* of you. Well, forget those hard work late at night that you put in throught the year and forget those sick weekends where you had to work. Blah..

With the increasing demand of quality in business, be it technology or manufacturing, sometimes I wonder if the drafters of the various firms stretch this concept a bit too far to an extent that it becomes utterly hilarious. Personally, I do feel that the appraisals (read hikes) are directly proportional to the nth root of the companies profits/sales. Yeah, I do understand that some might say that the fella must have sound technical/teamwork/communication skills blah blah blah.. and another blah.. but ultimately what matters is how critical Mr. X is to his co. Y Inc. Hmm.. why the heck am I writing this though, I've not yet had my appraisal, but with the growing concern among my friends I just thought to post something here.

Sometimes I really wonder how the managers/seniors come out with this vital number which suddenly becomes a definition of what one did at his/her workplace. All of a sudden, in those couple of hours of meeting, plans are laid out for the future and a supposedly clear and *fair* explanation is given for your achievements during the past year. Did he watch you that closely? Beware, were there any close circuit cams surrounding you? Interestin' huh? Well, how I wonder if I could possess those abilities to come out with a brilliantly crystal clear understanding about the problems at work..Dammit, I'd be a genius then!

Disclaimer: This *DEFINITELY* does not involve the place where I work and has nothing to do with it. Its just a general perception that I've developed over a period of time and nothing *more*.