Monday, September 24, 2007

And They said, "Unleash the Fury and Excitement!"

Well, did I say it would be fireworks unlimited earlier? Pity, that I wasn't able to think of a better phrase since the game today catapulted to much larger dimensions than what me, you and everyone else could have probably imagined! Such were the ways of the game that it could have nailed a weak hearted right into the grave.

Sad, that I didn't get to see the finals and I'd be only catching up the highlights on the web, but from what I've learnt after reading about the game - it was a battle of nerves. There was little to choose between the 2 sides and it all came down to a 'cheeky' shot that went terribly wrong.

Well, I must agree that when the tournament format was first proposed, I just despised the format to the extent of almost acknowledging that ICC was hell bent on 'annihilating' the game. I'm sorry, and I take back my words! T20's been a rage and its been arguably one of the most exciting last couple of weeks of international cricket ever. In short, Excitement Unleashed!

Everything said and done, India won, but I'm elated for yet another reason - for the game itself and how two of its most ardent followers lighted up the sky. Cheers India and Pakistan, I hope its a dawn of a new brand of cricket in these two lands - seething but smooth, elegant yet brutal!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fireworks Unlimited!

It took 32 years and 10 premier World Championships for the Gods to figure out the right draw!

Cricket's biggest superpowers and arch rivals come together to play in the finals of a World Championship. Well, it might not be a regular F50 (sounds good, huh) format, but its still a World Cup. First round exits from the former earlier this year, and in the finals in the shorter version now. Its a dream script, and ask any ardent cricket fan, and you can't expect anything more.


I just read the above in one of the most established cricket sites, Cricinfo, and it summed it up all. This has been a dream tournament for both sides, who were gone for all money before it even started. However, 14 days into the Championship and few will argue that its debut could have been better.

Expect deafening noise, die hard support for both teams and hopefully a belter of a pitch (sorry for being batsmen biased). Its a party one can't afford to miss. It can't be a better time for David Lloyd who's been dreaming to switch jobs from being a commentator to flag seller. :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

'Woz'ning Education

Steve Wozniak has always been an enigma of sorts. I'm not sure why but he is so synonymous to the word 'thinking engineer'. Well, there must be a hundred thousand 'Engineers' produced in India alone these days (I'm one of them), but then we haven't seen another Wozniak, have we?

A few months back I got hold of iWoz, and was startled at the way he has written the masterpiece. The simplicity with which he has described everything would probably be understandable by even a 12 yr old.

From dreaming to build a computer and realizing the dream, Apple's story is known to all. Steve Jobs is one side of the coin, the other side is this 'thinking engineer'. I came across his interview in Convergence and found it to be quite an intriguing read. Nopes,  he doesn't talk about Jobs, he doesn't even mention Apple - rather he talks about 'Education' and talks about 'thinking'. A few quotes of his -

"We have to remember to think freely for ourselves. We need to make sure we’re asking a lot of questions and listening to everyone and not just automatically accepting the word of the day. Whenever anything sounds like you have no freedom of choice, you have to remind yourself to think for yourself.
You have to ask, “Does A cause B, or do I just think it does because everyone says it does?” If you don’t ask yourself that, you might one day read in a journal that someone proved it differently. The more you’re told you don’t have a choice in thinking, be very suspicious."

"Now another argument is that games make a kid socially withdrawn. The idea is that a “techie person” is always on a computer alone with the door shut and no one else in the room. Well, these are the kids who used to be shy at school with no one to talk to. Now, because of technology, they can go into chat rooms or onto MySpace, and they have a whole life and don’t have to be popular in real people world."woz

"If we could reverse some of the paradigms of education to let kids of different ages all participate together in a larger room, then the few human teachers would browse and help students with certain problems that somehow the computer can’t. Each person would have a computer that would be very personal and go at different rates."

And finally,

"Farmers get to vote on farm bills, the elderly get to vote on elderly bills, but students don’t get to vote on school monies. I’d love to see that change."

I especially just loved the 'research part' where he literally persuades people to ask questions, to be clear in fundamentals and force themselves to think!

If interested, you can grab the pdf version of Convergence here. Check out the Summer 2007 copy for the same.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Glimpse of X-factor and Absurd Politics

Sometimes hasty decisions do turn up well, and when they do, it deserves a post. The incredible youth of Team India finally delivered on the big stage and for any ardent fan it does provide a good feeling somewhere inside. T20 isn't a great format, but then it definitely provides pressure cooker situations where a little flip could draw curtains for you. I virtually had no hopes from the Indian outfit to do well in this f ormat, and with a new 'young' skipper, success looked all the more distant. However, its this very player of the team, who has looked the most buoyant of all and in to talk simply - has been 'inspirational'. Well, sometimes performances alone don't do justice. MS Dhoni though hasn't lit up the skies with fireworks in South Africa, but the way he has handled the situations has been exemplary. Responsible batting and razor sharp thinking have shown the great transition that he has undergone in the past few months of his international cricket. The subtle arrogance and air of defiance that surrounds him is something that was missing since the 'Glorious Ganguly' captaincy regime lost its magic. Well, I can see a little glimpse of it now, though I just hope that the 'glimpse' turns into a blockbuster motion picture.

I don't write about politics, since I feel its one of the most ridiculously absurd creations of the Homo-sapiens. Indian politics is like an eternal drama where characters come and go and they just don't miss an opportunity to show their skill - just that they fall into the 'terrible' category. There has been a lot of confrontation going regarding the Sethusamudram project, and I had no inclination to even write about it, till I came across the comments of the party leader of one of the premier political parties of India. I don't fall into the believers' category, but sometimes these 'so called' leaders stoop to the kind of levels, that its embarrassing to acknowledge that they form the government. For those who know what I'm talking about, check this link, where P Anantha Krishnan hits the nail in the coffin.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Unlocks Presentation

Google has made its Presentation tool available through Google Docs. Well, I had mixed feelings when I had a look at the same. There were certain obvious things missing and at the same time some pretty decent features present. A mixed bag of sorts!

Diskless systems are turning on the heat now and with such applications like Google Docs, Buzzword, etc we are slowly making a gradual transition to a new phase of doc keeping.

Sometimes, I do feel that Google takes its 'keeping it simple' motto a tad too seriously. Its one of the benchmarks on which their flagship product is based but then when you come down to a tool like a presentation maker you probably need to be a bit more flamboyant.. as I call it the zing, and their latest tool falls short on it.

Well, a somewhat surprising omission was that you can't add images from anywhere but your machine on the presentation slides! Did I forget to tell you that its an online tool? Errrr............. Few templates and fewer fonts make it a not so attractive option. Microsoft PowerPoint is a heavy product, and perhaps comparing all the features of such a product with Google's Presentation would be unfair, but then certain features can't be missed. A small albeit irritating glitch is that once you have created a new slide, you cannot change its layout. Oh com'on..

Anyways, the 'Share' feature is worth taking a look and yeah, Google allows you to save the presentation in a PowerPoint format. Moreover, you can also upload a PowerPoint file, though with certain size restrictions (which is obvious).

I never wrote about Buzzword, but then its one of the most fantastic tools I've come across. Its a word processor and I've not seen many better tools in this category than Buzzword.

And damn, when will Google recognize Opera as a stable browser? Google docs refuse to work, Google Reader gets a screwed up layout and God save the Blogger!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 IBMed, Dravid's Declaration and Rahman's Genius!

IBM's new found stand against monopoly is gaining momentum through collaborations. To start with, last month IBM announced that it will offer SUN's Solaris OS on x86 servers and now this latest news of contribution to OpenOffice.

In spite of being open source, this project hasn't yet got the kick it wanted in terms of fame. In fact, I am using OpenOffice out here and the suite looks pretty smooth but for some minor glitches, where Microsoft Office scores. However, now with IBM actually contributing code to OO, it will be interesting to see how it shapes up in the future.

Its been yet another news generating week in Indian Cricket. How often have we seen an Indian captain resigning after winning an away series? Well, first of all we haven't had many wins in series away from the sub continent, and then when we do, we generally have the skippers reaping in the benefits for years to come. Not so, with Dravid as he relinquished his post pretty abruptly. "I wasn't enjoying anymore", he said. Well, with crucial games coming in against Australia and arch rivals Pakistan, it will be not soon before we get to see the repercussions of this decision.

A.R. Rahman is a genius, and we all know it. I just came across this video of a new version of the National Anthem, and needless to say, it was inspiring. As though the original version wasn't stunning enough to make you stand up on your feet, this one goes to add some terrific new age music coupled with the classical. Check it out..

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cricket or Soccer.. Whatever.. India Won!

Want to ignite any form of cricket, then bring them on. They might not be the giants of the game in terms of skills, but the vigor they bring into the game probably matches up for that.. well, at least sometimes! Today was just one of those days.

ICC has been trying to popularize this new silly format of T20 with the World Championship and I am really not sure if they have been able to score any brownie points after their 'actual' World Cup farce earlier this year. Anyways, you want to get the crowds going, then go for the magical wand - get India and Pakistan in the same group. Well, they tried the same in the World Cup earlier as well, but fate had other plans.

Now for the game, India looked a changed side, with a riveting fielding display. The same cannot be said about their batting abilities though. Whatever said and done, it was indeed a pleasing site to see Pathan back in action. I can't really say if he bowled or batted well, its way too short an innings to stamp yourself, but he fits this team so bloody well.

For those you missed the action of the bowl out, here you go. Damn, so reminiscent of soccer!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Orkut Updates!

Well, we all know Orkut has undergone a "supposedly" phenomenal changeover with respect to their look. As part of the new feature-set, they have included the 'updates' section where one is notified of the updates made by anyone in the friend's list. As a result of the same, your page will invariably be cluttered with updates. Heck, I tried to disable this thing, but apparently its 'not possible' right now..

Is it really called for to make this damn thing mandatory?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Revisiting Iron Man

I just found this video on YouTube, and the event dates back to March 2006, when Black Sabbath was inducted into the hall of fame by Metallica's James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Metallica paid a tribute to the legendary band by playing 'Iron Man'. Well, generally such covers aren't good enough, but then this is Metallica for you. If the riffs in the original were heavy enough, Kirk Hammett and Roberto Trujillo don't do a bad job emulating it either.

Indeed, as the lyrics go -
Iron Man Lives Again!

Future Trends in Web

A silver convertible Audi zooms past me as I write this post making even a shiny black Mazda Protege and a host of BMWs look pretty ordinary. Damn, its not an illusion while I'm going to school in a bus! Okkkkkkkk am back.. its time for a context switch!
Arun Radhakrishnan points out an article originally published in by Richard McManus, where he tries to analyze the 10 future trends of the Web. Read the original post here, and Arun's comments here.
The one thing that really caught me in the entire article was 'Attention Economy'. Well, he says that its been thriving since Web began, but I'd like to differ on this slightly. Attention grabbers were always there, but to generate monetary benefits out of it is something thats perhaps yet to gain momentum. There are several websites that get launched, primarily in the zone of video streaming, social networking, search engines (Ujiko, etc) which have served as attention grabbers but we are yet to see of any prolific site (atleast I can't recall any) which is generating significant revenues through such a model. Citing Google in the super profitable zone is attributed more to the fact that they brought about an entirely new model of generating economics - through advertisements. So the transition from 'Attention Grabbing' to 'Attention Economy' is something which is going to take quite a bit of an effort.
It was surprising but I didn't see Online Advertising in the list, perhaps that's one thing which is 'the' money grabber. What say?
Meanwhile, the 2007 trend is picturized pretty well below, though this pic only takes the brands into account, but still gives a fair bit of an idea. Thanks to BrandCurve for this.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Resurgent Indians.. and 'master'ful 90s continue!

Sometimes life and events take a full circle, and you come to know that when scenes from the past flash again in the present. Obviously, there'll be subtle changes but the picture is so reminiscent of what you have already seen, and more importantly.. cherished!
Lords, 2002; India were facing a daunting task of chasing 325 in the grand finale.. The rest is history.
Oval, 2007; India were again facing a stiff challenge of 315 in a match which would have otherwise sealed the fate of the series. India won.. again!
The reason that I cite these as similar is because how often have we seen our superstars falling when it really mattered! Make no mistake, I still believe that its our stars who took us to that stage that really mattered (WC 2003 being an example) but then on the real big stage, they somehow just didn't tick.
So at such times, when they do it just sticks on to the cells in the memory forever, and perhaps that is why that such matches are so special.
Almost 2 decades of doing one of the most demanding jobs in the world, and then he still shows up with the kind of enthusiasm for another day at office which even the freshers draw inspiration from. That's what separates the great(est) players from the great ones.
Cover Drives, lofted shots, cheeky paddles, brutal pulls - these things never look so beautiful and at the same time audacious as they do when the master shows them how to play it. Mortals watching can only emulate, but its the master who shows the way. Brilliant yet Brutal, thats how I'll term Tendulkar's innings at the Oval, and when they come in unison with one of the most elegant left handers India has ever produced - that's like icing on the goddamn cake. They played as though with the least respect for the opposition, they played as though they just wanted to win, they played as though they were the kings!
Getting out in the 90s is becoming as much of a trend for Tendulkar as was making 100s a few years back. Well, it was another matter that folks like me were still gruntling when he got out, I just wanted to see him play forever. But its alright, he doesn't need to prove anything. If at all that he can do anything now is to re-inject his energy into this team, which now has a lot more promising and 'fighting' youngsters who probably will take the Indian Cricket to its pinnacle some day and reflect back on this Little Master who kept on giving every ounce of his energy for the game he loved.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Outsourcing - An American Perspective..

Check this video out, which is a realistic account of Chris Jobbins, who loses his job to outsourcing. He then travels to Bangalore, India to find out more about this nature of business. An interesting account indeed.. Watch it here.