Sunday, April 29, 2007

Domination or Annihilation?

Dublin (Ireland), Apr 20, 2031: The customary rites are over and the Aussies have streamrolled their opposition once again, this being their 9th World Cup in a row and extending their unbeaten winning streak in the competition to 120 matches!
Aah.. that seems to be picture-perfect..
Alright, as for now the above scenario seems to be a not-so-surprising future for the indomitable Aussies. Yeah, Dublin might seem to be a bit of an exaggeration to few, but with the ICC's so-called Global-Spread-of-the-Game Policy, who knows!
Anyways, enough can be written 'bout the morons later. For now, hail the Champions for they showed us once again the way this game should be and needs to be played. For those who crave for soccer, et al on the premise that they beat other sports on the excitement factor - watch the Aussies. They are splendid to say the least. To me, when they march on the cricket field, they give an illusion of an 11 men army who'd give almost anything for the glory of a win! I'm not saying that others don't play to win, but the intensity thats on display when these folks play is intimidating - to say the least..

In my countdown-to-the-cup review, I had given a 9.5 on 10 to them, just because a 10 on 10 would have been unethical. Well, I think a 9.5 would probably be an injustice to them - they definitely deserve a 10 pointer.

"I've been joking around the rooms saying that I'm thinking about coming out of retirement."

-Glenn McGrath

Few players have ended their international campaign on such a brilliant note, the last one probably being the legendary Imran Khan with the shining World Cup crytal in his hands. Glenn McGrath probably just managed to take it a step further. To say that he has been very accurate in his bowling would be inappropriate, I'd rather say that few can make robots matching it! From the 1996 edition to the 2007 one, not much has changed. In fact, it would make for an interesting pitch map analysis indicating the percentage of McGrath deliveries landing on the perfect length spot.. The Athertons, Tendulkars, Laras, Kirstens - all would have created a lot more records for sure had this genius not been around. Too bad, his final adieu has come a trifle too late for them to celebrate. A master craftsman, an asset, a trier - one can keep gesticulating along with the adjectives - to sum it all, its just brilliance personfied!
Well, he also won me a few goodies - one of my friends had a bet with me that the master bowler is gonna go for more than 5 an over in 5 matches in this edition. Needless to say, I did win it. Thanks Glenn.. :)
With Mcgrath retiring, and probably a few others as well from the Aussie team in the coming months, their lineup for the future edition in 2011 would be a matter of deep interest, but rest assured they'd be as confident as we are of their chances of winning the premier compeition for the 4th consecutive time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Off for the rest of the week..

Another small vacation.. another wedding to attend.. but I'd be back next week!

Google asserts itself as the Top Brand..

Its official now. Google's hit the last nail in the coffin by coming out as the Top Brand in the Millward Brown - Top 100 most Powerful Brands survey for 2007. Google's brand value has shot up by 77% to land itself in the top spot. Last year's supremos Microsoft have slid to the 3rd spot after GE (General Electric). Read the full coverage here..

Well, I just had a glance through the rest of the list and was able to spot atleast 3 Chinese firms making into the top 100 namely China Mobile(5), Bank of China(38) and China Construction Bank(61).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Depleting Dollars..

Figures can get really interesting at times. I'm generally not into stuff like economics, et al, but then genres such as these at times put together some astounding figures, which compelled me to look at them from an intriguing perspective. To be more specific, I was looking at the general perception of the US economy and was presented with a plethora of statistics from various sources, all of them point to the same thing - all's not that well.. The worst part is that this is one economy that tends to play a huge role in the way the world economy goes as well.
The so called Global War on Terror looks to be a never ending saga, atleast till the Bush regime continues. Not delving into the political aspects of this, I'd rather like to consider a few financial aspects. Statutory Warning: I'm definitely not a qualified scholar on this topic, but the 3 w's (www) do provide some interesting numbers.
$8 million - cost of war in Iraq.. Per Hour!! Continuing on this trend, the mega spending comes out to approximately $700 Billion per year. Phew! According to,
At that rate of burn, General Electric’s value would be wiped out in three and a half years, Bill Gates’ personal fortune would evaporate in just seven months, and the troubled Ford Motor Co. would cease to exist in a matter of weeks.
Staggering as that number is, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Linda Bilmes calculated that the real cost exceeds $2 trillion. As a sidenote, the cash inflow into the war saga is a big factor in the depletion of the US Capital, which is going down at the rate of $80 million an hour.
The US $ on the other hand continues to fall - the exchange rate today says that $1 US is equivalent to 41.538 of its counterpart INR. According to Professor Peter Morici of the University of Maryland -
"This is not great news, as the February figure was revised up from 0.2%. Over the last year, producer prices, including food and energy, have risen 3.2 percent, and this is troubling high."

Errr.. did I say earlier, that All's not well.. well, guess, I should have rather said - something's seriously wrong.
Enough of background on this, but we all know how the world economy functions, i.e. through circulation of money. Now, even the Big Sam can't generate money in the order of its spendings, so the question arises - How the heck are they continuing the war in Iraq? $700 Billion is a huge sum after all. The answer lies in the fact that the war effort is being ridden on the debt, which is held by the biggest players in the global economy: Japan, Europe, Saudi Arabia, and China. So probably, not a lot of pain is being inflicted on the US economy (now) even after the multi billion dollar adventure, but then someone's gotta pay later..
Among all the big players mentioned above, China is turning a lot of heads towards itself. A trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves - they are accumulating to their forex at an eye-popping rate of $30 million an hour, and considering the continued growth rate of more than 10% - well, better get your calculators out. What's more, they are all geared up to spend $400 Billion in the next 4 years over infrastructure! Excuse me, did I hear it right?

According to the Economist,
"China's official reserves already far exceed what is required to ensure financial stability. As a rule of thumb, a country needs enough foreign exchange to cover three months' imports or to settle its short-term foreign debt. China's reserves are equivalent to 15 months of imports and are six times bigger than its short-term debt. The explosion in reserves is also a headache for the central bank. It creates excess liquidity, which risks fuelling higher inflation, asset-price bubbles and imprudent bank lending."

Two diverse countries, and radically different foreign policies. I'm not advocating China, they have been a closed door for most part of their existence (though changing radically now), but the fact that they have managed to pile up reserves the way they have did - perhaps even the best brains didn't expect this to happen so soon!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Brilliant, Breathtaking and yet.. Beautiful!

Date: June 22, 1986
The occasion was the World Cup match against England, and Diego Maradona's Goal of the Century was the highlight of this day. Nine minutes into the second half, Héctor Enrique passed the ball to Maradona some ten metres inside his own half. Maradona then began his 60 metre, 10 second dash towards the English goal, leaving behind five English outfield players (Hoddle, Reid, Sansom, Butcher and Fenwick) as well as goalkeeper Peter Shilton to make the score 2-0 to Argentina. This goal is rated sixth at the list of 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

Date: April 18, 2007
A repeat of the earlier version was utmost difficult, but Lionel Messi, the Argentine wonderboy did come really close at emulating it. According to a football enthusiast,
'Messi beat five players; he covered covering 48 metres in 12 seconds, taking 10 touches with his left foot and three with his right'.
Well, the team at the recieving end was Getafe, and Messi was not representing Argentina, rather was representing Barcelona at the King's Cup. Labelled by the pundits as the next Maradona, Messi has already recieved the Golden Boot in the U-20 version of the World Cup. So, will he really set the world of football alight with his enigmatic displays, time will only tell. For now, watch this brilliance..

Google Latest Add-Ons..

Google has introduced 2 new add ons -
-Google Web History: Analogous to the normal page history maintained by your browser, Google comes up with its own version to do the same. However, the difference here is that it maintains the history irrespective of your client machine, which implies that one can access the pages it has searched before from any computer, provided it has the internet access. The history is viewable only after the customary google sign in, which means it takes care of your privacy. The history page obviously has the usual Google makeover, with your visits classified according to your searches done in the Videos, Froogle, Maps, Music et al.

-Google Recommendations: A pretty novel concept - it is primarily a service which provides a daily recommendation to you about the sites that might be of your interest. The recommendations are presented based on the searches that you have done in the past which are already recorded by the Web History. This add on comes in the Google Toolbar, for which you should have the latest version downloaded.

I tried this, but it was a bit of a blooper. However considering its a brand new service, I have decided to give it some more time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thanks Brian, It was a Privilege..

Another era goes by, and this one definitely won't be an easy one to let go off. One of the greatest batsman to have ever played this game bids adieu to international cricket. Brian Charles Lara finally seems to have got tired after scoring a mammoth number of runs in both forms of the game - 22340 (before Saturdays' game). But it is just not this figure that he'd be remembered for, but the manner in which he managed to come to it.
Scene 1 Act 1: An unorthodox stance coupled with an incredibly high backlift just when the ball was about to be delivered.
Scene 1 Act 2: Thats an unbelievable cover drive!!

Over the past 17 years, we have seen this happening time and again, the result of which has often been the ball ending up either on the fence or beyond it. The swish-pull off one leg, the scathing square drive, the stupendous backfoot punch - they are never going to be the same again.
Since Sir Donald Bradman, there hasn't been any soul who's hit the big runs so often in this game. A 501, a 400, a 375..errrrrr.. excuse me, we haven't seen ever Sir Don do that!

Lara was a true sporting icon, and I say this because he hasn't been without his share of controversies as every icon generally goes through. But what has been remarkable, is the way he has bounced back.. and done that time and again! He seems to have been a loner in the West Indian side, how often have we seen him perform outstandingly and yet end up in the losing cause. Consider this, he holds the record for the highest number of runs in a match and yet ended up on the losing side - Against Sri Lanka, Lara totalled 351 runs (221 and 130) but Sri Lanka still won by ten wickets.
Cricket's never gonna be the same again. With Lara gone, and Sachin probably considering it as well, it will be a long search before the game finds such icons again. Thanks Brian, it was a privilege for me watching you play and to be born in the same era as you and see you perform the way you did. I'm sure this holds good for most cricket lovers around the world.
Thanks again,
P.S: West Indies were trailing by 228 runs in the first innings when Lara smashed 4,6,6,4,4,4, off Robin Peterson to break the world record for the most runs in an over. Watch it here..Guess what, Lara went on to reach 202 but a second-innings collapse resulted in a 189-run South African victory.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Poms and ODIs.. Nah, not happening..

There are thrashings, there are wallopings and then there's what happened to England today.


The Proteas hit 188-3 at 8.06 runs an over to beat Scotland last month — less than the 8.12 they smashed against England.

-The SUN

England's lack of form and adventure was bound to catch up with them at some stage. Granted, most of the pitches in the Caribbean have not been belters (this one had bounce but was a little two-paced), but there has been no Plan B to counter the better sides except to flounder about hoping opponents will somehow implode. For that, the players, the coach, and a county system where one-day cricket is treated with casual disdain, must shoulder the blame.

-The Telegraph

England were bundled out of the World Cup yesterday with all the dignity of a drunk escorted from a temperance night club.

-The Guardian Unlimited

Such was the plight of English cricket after their exit from the World Cup. I haven't written even about the Indians not making to the Super 8s, winning and losing is a part and parcel of the game. If the Indian Team can be criticized for not showing enough heart for the game, how 'bout the Poms? Was it the lack of appetite for One Day Cricket or pure nonchalance about the shorter version of the game, since whatever said and done, for a team to perform the way they did yesterday against the Proteas is simply unforgivable. No I am not really talking about the collapse they suffered mid-way, but the way they started off with the game. Yeah, the turf was a bit bouncy, but it was brilliant for batting and what a mess did the English batsmen found themselves in within the first 10 overs. This was more of a game lost by England rather than won by the South Africans - a perfect example of serving the win on a platter.
It was a sad display and in certain ways a disregard for this game and its ultimate glory. Spare Collingwood, Pietersen and to an extent Strauss, and then you are left with a bunch of players who 'seem' to be least bothered about whats happening in the 100 overs in the middle. (Well, Monty Panesar looks to be an exception to this bunch though, but I'll take a conservative stance on this one)
All in all, we could have afforded a Super 7s rather than an octa version of the same. Atleast a few inconsequential matches could have been avoided.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - Big-Picture Site, for Big-Picture Thinkers

I was glancing through Venturebeat, and came across this new startup thats been rolled out called the beta version of Nah, its not a social networking site, or a mindless review site, its much more interesting than that. Launched by Condé Nast, the New York publisher, it strives to capture the intrigue, excitement, and power that attract people to the business world.
Its not the regular run of the mill business news site, which would put up any breaking news on its portal. Rather, it goes deeper than that. The ultimate aims seems to select the stories which are likely to make an impact, and to dig deep to come out with a solid S.W.O.T analysis including the implications in the longer run. Salient features -
- Top 5: Top 5 keeps track of what you need to know
- Market Brief: Dynamic snapshots of key market and economic data.
- Hype Report: A roundup of the most-talked-about companies and executives.
- Profiles: More than 500,000 in-depth profiles of public and private companies.
- Infographics: Dynamic graphs, data visualization, and interactive charts.

A very interesting bunch of stories have been rolled out, with the genres ranging from art, fashion, technology to as diverse as geography - with the common thread of business implications tying them. It is bound to create waves if it continues to come out with the sort of stories they have listed right now, and would be very interesting to see if they can hold on with such captivating stuff in due time. For example, we all know about the scientists, political leaders and environmentalists crying about Global Warming and its effects in the long run - Portfolio tries to bring an entire new perspective to this issue - How can Global Warming be good? Intriguing analysis.. Hang on, you've got read yourself to know that.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Google Earth simulating Darfur

"When the Janjawid arrived, I took my daughter in my arms and ran away but I was shot in the leg and had to slow down. That is when my daughter Husna was shot."
--BB, the father of the three-year-old girl who was killed

Its not difficult to locate a path from one location to another using Google Earth. However, now Google is using its popular online mapping service to call attention to atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan. With assistance from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), Google Earth would now also focus on the atrocities caused in the Darfur which the United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in four years of carnage. If you focus over Darfur using Google Earth, the image will now be overlayed with icons indicating the extent to which a village has been destroyed. Further, details concerning the number of people displaced and refugees have also been mapped. More details in the form of downloads are available on per click basis. Sara Bloomfield, the museum's director, said museum staff members had approached Google about the project as they sought ways to highlight what they believe is genocide to many people who remain unaware. In Google Earth, which the company says has been downloaded by 200 million people worldwide, they found an ideal medium. Meanwhile, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir continues to deny of any such atrocities. United Nations has officially termed it as a genocide, but sadly other international organizations and nations have still failed to recognize the gravity of the situation. Here are a few snapshots regarding the same..

DoubleClick Deal - Twist in the Making?

Less than 2 days since Google bought off the Web ad supplier firm DoubleClick Inc. for $3.1 Billion, Microsoft has called regulators to closely scrutinize the deal. It is pretty evident that this deal would add substantially to further elevate the kingpin status that Google enjoys in this arena. Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, said the deal would allow Google to corner the online advertising market and provide them access to a huge amount of information on consumer behavior on the Internet."This proposed acquisition raises serious competition and privacy concerns," said Brad Smith, Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel in an e-mail statement.

Shortly after announcing the deal on Friday, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a news conference he expected the deal to be approved by regulators. "This is a very, very competitive market in terms of the number of choices," Schmidt said.
The big question however lingers on. With Google enjoying a massive 64.1% of all US searches, what is the future of the search division of Microsoft and Yahoo? Some analysts have already started predicting a merger between the 2 giants which would put them in a better position. I am not so sure about this, but considering the amount of 'increasing' pressure that Google is subjecting on its rivals, Gates and Co. might just have to consider that option. The stats (from Hitwise) are here for the reference.

Awesome catches.. brilliance personified!

Here comes another video. Yeah, you can accuse me of doing a bit of You-tubin' off late, but then there's always some awesome stuff tugged in. Check out some of the best catches you'd ever see in the game of cricket. I have seen a lot of cricket (loads of it), but few of these catches have been a surprise. The dude who's uploaded this has done a brilliant summation. Check this out..

P.S: Yeah, he's a Collingwood fan, so what..But am still wonderin' what's a Creed (Higher) single doing with this video??

Saturday, April 14, 2007

From Inside the Googleplex..

A lot has has been written about Google, this has perhaps not only been the biggest buzzword since the last 5 odd years, but has been extremely consistent at maitaining the top spot as well. Currently standing at $150 Billion, it has attracted the top talent (read geeks) from everywhere to work for them. But IPO has long gone, and with the share price soaring high at almost $500, there's more thats attracting people to work for them. Food at every 100 feet et al.. yeah, we have all read 'Google Story'. Now here's the clip I got hold of, from inside the GooglePlex.. Watch on..

And if that does not satisfy your appetite, have a look at this..

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spot this.. Joint Strike Fighter F-35

This is out of no where. This information about one of the most incredible and perhaps the most powerful jets literally compelled me blog about it here. Well, its not something which has been developed in the last few days, or even months. But considering its potency, I just thought to give a mention about it here.
United States has a stronghold over stealth aircrafts. But the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) gets it to an entirely new level. This project started as a $200 Billion competition between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which LM eventually won. The result is a powerhouse which has the capability of carrying 2000 pounds of explosives, and 15000 pounds of the same if stealth functionality is not required! Capable of nailing down an enemy 155 miles down the lane, it probably couldn't have got much better.
Further, the sensor system of this ultra extreme machine is perhaps the best the airforce fraternity can ever hope to see. The JSF is pounded with sensors and cameras all over it, which help provide a 360 degree view to its pilot helping him to make split second decisions. The innumerable cameras and sensors coupled with some seriously high speed processing help contruct a spherical view for the pilot apprising him of the surroundings as never before. Further, at night it helps in creating an infra red image!
Survivability, a cornerstone of F-35 design, is enhanced foremost by the aircraft’s radar-evading properties. Stealth capability, available for the first time in a multirole fighter, will minimize the threat to the pilot during operations in heavily defended areas. The aircraft also is configured with advanced countermeasures to reduce the effectiveness of enemy defenses.
I was in awe while I saw this on the channel. Various technicalites, and I do recommend the following video that I found later. Step aside.. here's the king..

Monday, April 9, 2007

Its the Big GOOG into trouble now..

Google has run into trouble soon after releasing their IME (Input Method Editor) which provides an alternative to type in Chinese characters using the normal alphabets keyboard. Soon after,, one of China's major web portals declared that its technicians have found that Google apparently copied the technology which was used to do the same.
In response, Google said the product had in its initial R&D stage been built "leveraging some non-Google database resources," but it had since upgraded the system. However, they have now issued an apology to Sohu and also promised that remedial actions would be taken at the earliest. "We are willing to face this issue of ours. While we apologize for the inconvenience this may have incurred to users and Sohu, we have also adopted immediate actions," Google said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Indian Cricket.. Please Stand Up!

Switch on any of the news channels, and the flashing news interestingly reads the same.. "Indian Coach Greg Chappel resigns". Well, this was bound to happen, and even if he wouldn't have, there was every possibility that his contract won't have been renewed (which was due to expire at the end of this month).
One of the most rewarding (read challenging) jobs that one can ever think of, and interestingly even the President of India probably won't be mentioned this many number of times. Such is the nature and appeal of this game, and it was incredibly disappointing to see Chappell failing miserably at the same.
Well, cricket readers, pundits, followers et al might argue that the real rot lies in the very system. Agreed, and probably a yr and half won't be enough to clean this. The very way that BCCI functions, the always increasing hoopla about the game and its chief actors, the money involved, lack of accountability, zonal system blah blah blah.. It definitely sucks, no second thoughts on this. But then, there were numerous other things that went incredibly wrong during Chappell's tenure, which definitely deserve a mention.
Tendulkar fades faster than expected - Although agreed upon the fact that 17 yrs of non stop cricket would have taken a toll on him, and even though others might argue about Brian Lara playing (more or less) for the same duration, there's no doubt that the pressure on Sach to perform was a million tonnes when compared to the latter. But still I along with a hundred thousand million souls expected him to fire.. atleast till this World Cup. What really happened? Did his reflexes slow down all of a sudden or from no where basic flaws appeared in his technique? It was quite amazing and at the same time disturbing to see Chappell sayin' that "Sachin is never gonna be the same again" as early as in 2005. Yeah, we know that the Aussies have got this knack of being blunt, but then probably this was uncalled for.
Viru's fall from grace - From astronomical batting averages in test cricket to being a bunny, this was a rude shocker. We all knew his attitude problems, his crudeness.. but then still he was India's best opener in several years now. Be it Australia or NZ or England, he had scored everywhere with his questionable technique, and then all of a sudden, he was failing to score on the home grounds as well.. Errrrrrrrr.. another duck!
Harbhajan's Nightmare - I seriously fail to understand how can an offie pitch the ball consistently on the middle stump, and just rely on the doosra to get the wickets.. Who the heck is his advisor..

It was not just the above shockers that proved to be India's undoing. Well, our ODI record overseas was in shambles as well. Yeah, some might say we had never won a series in Windies before, but then I'd say they should have won it atleast 3-0, with the kind of cricket the Carribeans were playing.
Nopes, I don't intend to blame Chappell in entirety, I'm still sure he tried his best, but then I guess this team of record holders (on paper atleast) needs more than a coach. With probably the most experienced bunch of players any team can even think of, they probably need a man-manager who can re-instill some faith and confidence in this team. Its just not possible to make huge changes in this team by plugging in youngsters who have had little or no exposure before. There needs to be a blend of youth and experience(which is very much still there), but more importantly the potential needs to be harnessed. Yeah, we might expect the Suresh Rainas, the Kaifs, the Piyush Chawlas to take over from the seniors, but then for now I guess India probably can't do without its core bunch of players.
Oh dear, I guess the ESPN STAR board can do without the Gavaskars and Shastris for sometime now. Rather get them on board for the team, that can do wonders!
Adios Greg, thanks for what you did for Indian Cricket, I hope it would do well for them in the future at some point of time.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Switching to Vista.. Errrr..

Microsoft continues to have a tough time handling Vista. Already under the hammer for the delayed release of their much hyped new OS, Vista, the latest problem that has surfaced is the security issue. Promised to be their most secured OS ever, this one fails the first test on this front. Apparently, they have uncovered and fixed a 'critical' security issue with the way Vista handles its animated cursors. Read more about it on TechRepublic here..
P.S: Well, atleast Microsoft managed to release a fix before a break-in happened!

Back.. to Where I Belong..

Aah.. that was a pretty long vacation that I had taken and must admit that its been a helluva (kinda painful) last couple of weeks or so. Phew, a lot could have gone into this blog for sure. Right from India getting knocked out of the Cup (damn..) to the very sad demise of one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen in Bob Woolmer. Anyways, but then life does go on..
On the contrary, I was off witnessing a 'enormous obese Indian Wedding' of one of my relatives. I do have a few pics of the same, but I believe it won't be right posting them here. Copyright issues, you see! :D
Anyways, I'm back!