Why I Delete Facebook ‘Friends’.

Word count: 705 | Estimated time to read entry: 10 min



As if I haven’t been labeled a freak for being over-organized about many aspects of my life, I had to get myself into this unimaginable habit of deleting friends from my Facebook list and make matters worse.  If that wasn’t malicious enough for you, I am sure you would appreciate that I first announce the impending doom of the special few with an update on my profile. A lot of people have asked me the double-why’s – seeking a rationale behind deleting in the first place and announcing the deletion in advance. So far, I have given brief explanations, having to live with the character limit imposed by Facebook in updates but I’d rather be over-specific about this as well. So let me categorize, label and list down the top few reasons why I do so:

Reason 1: Gut feeling. The person just doesn’t look familiar enough in the list anymore. It is like seeing your neighbor’s left slipper in a snap full of close family members. It is the odd man out.  They might have been great friends once, life-mates even, but if repeated attempts at reinitiating the magic fails, I believe in moving on.

Reason 2: Sorry circus watchers, you can’t stand back and enjoy the show. I am sure you find my updates entertaining, ridiculous, funny, thoughtful, weird, biased, inflammatory whatever. But I see some guys just stand by the gallery and watch the show safely behind the protective moat of inactivity. No updates, no comments, no responses. When it comes to such spectators, my whip cracks pretty loud and hard.  I expect some interaction here but if all you seek is some gossip material, sorry mate, try Filmfare.  Am certainly no Russell Crowe from Gladiator to roar, ‘Are you not ENTERTAINED??’


Reason 3: The man in the loo. Guys hardly known to me request to be in my list. For all I know, I once took a leak standing beside him in a public loo by the bus stand and the next thing I realize, I see his invite on Facebook. Eventually it stagnates and stinks and the best thing to do then is to flush it down the drain, aint it? Well I do get invites from unknown gals as well but hey this ‘loo metaphor’ doesn’t hold good for those instances OK??!     😉

Reason 4: Privacy! Whoa guys I said it despite being a total atheist when it comes to web privacy. There is no such thing as web privacy and the last thing to determine or govern that are improvements in policies of social n/ws that ensure additional privacy. Sorry, I determine my own privacy so I decide who stays and who goes.  I’d rather keep my door closed and locked than rely on the great new service revolvers my local police department is going gaga about, eh??

Reason 5: Inappropriateness or showiness. Some updates don’t cut well with me. Abuses and rants especially. And yea, the Einstein wannabe’s who share nothing but ‘path-breaking insight ‘by putting up links to news items, fall on the other extreme. C’mon guys if all I want is rants and abuses, I’d rather go get married, eh? :P.  And if all I want is meaning and info I’d rather eat some pages off Encyclopaedia Brit… hey wait a min, that’s obsolete, eat some pages off Wikipedia by printing it on a forest full of papers.  Repeated instances of such can tick me off.

If you look at it, these guys are all there in our everyday lives. The ones sequentially listed above are – Misfits, Gossip Mongers, Strangers, Intruders and Offenders. You normally don’t make space for such in your lives do you? Sometimes you just feel someone ain’t good enough to be with; some others only listen and spread slander without ever revealing their inner self; some don’t connect at all; some are mindlessly trying to seek your attention and some always peeve you either by their cacophonous thoughts or their extreme pseudo-intellectual showiness.  To me, Facebook is a large part of my everyday life and is probably the most important means of connecting with people and staying close to them. So when I don’t entertain such people in my ‘non-electronic’ (1) life, why should I on Facebook?

But why do I announce the deletions in advance? Well, I am just being malicious there! Go ahead and delete me! 😉

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(1) I don’t appreciate the usage – ‘Real’ life. I could probably write volumes on why no one should ever call it so or alternately, why every mode of existence can be called so but I have skipped all that here as it is not relevant to this entry.

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It took me four

Word count: 600 | Estimated time to read blog: 8 min

Image source: Leathersupreme.com

When I was a teenager, I had a great fascination for leather jackets. I found it a cool add-on to the denims I was sporting in those days and neither John Travolta nor Arnold Schwarzenegger told me anything otherwise 😉

The first one was purchased after a surprisingly lucky break with the exams – my parents (and to this day, I myself) couldn’t believe I got such marks and as per terms decided before the exams, were compelled to buy it for me. I felt as great in it as a hippopotamus in a steam bath – the weather of Manipal is just not suited to leather jackets. But it was ‘cool’, you know! And in a short while i had quite a collection. Until…
…Until the day when I learnt that some being had to pay with its life to make me feel cool. It was then that the whole fascination came crashing down. The jacket felt as soft, as wonderful and as warm as before but it wasn’t the same thing at all. It still was the best jacket brand in the world – no other brand came close to it but I didn’t feel cool wearing one anymore.

Now you don’t need to be a student of marketing to realize that what just happened was a transition from a mindless, sense gratifying consumer to an informed one. I couldn’t ignore anymore the fact that the creation of that jacket was possible only by the death of something, however far removed and unimportant to me.

I have similar feelings about fireworks and crackers. To me, they signify the death of someone’s childhood. I also don’t promote movies of directors who repeatedly portray violence and glorify gangsters. To me, they signify actual deaths in the society as cinema is a very strong influencer and by glorifying such acts, there will be at least one among the viewers who will go ahead and commit such acts as are glorified.

Maybe I am over analyzing things. True, if you look at everything this way, no form of consumerism is ever possible. But to me, there are some more glaring than others and I choose not to ignore them for a start.

Moreover, you and I have a responsibility towards society – in the real world and online. Our choice and behavior will largely determine the future of how we all live in this very society. And in that, we can choose to support a Hitler who will promise great things at the expense of someone or a Mother Theresa who will promise equally great things by involving everyone. And it is my opinion that great tomorrows come from being open and allowing openness. A tomorrow however great, achieved by curbing/eliminating something forcefully isn’t worth the sunrise that heralds it.

To me, it is a sign of greatness and confidence to include everyone despite difference of opinion, conflicting business interests etc for the benefit of the collective good. It is a sign of insecurity and doubt to forcibly snub and exclude someone, not to mention a disregard for the collective good. How can such a one lead?

In making our choices, we at some point in time should cease to merely evaluate wrt our senses and employ rationale. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The real seat of taste is not the tongue but the mind”.

So how many leather jackets does it take you to realize that you must look beyond that cozy feel and the hep looks?

Now read the title.

Look who is tempting us with an apple again

Word count: 920 | Estimated time to read blog: 12 min

Say NO to iPad

It was in my second year of engineering that I fell in love. The internet was a growing phenomenon and fascinated me no end. So I enrolled myself for a web designing course and it was here that we first met. Soon I started spending more and more time with this new found love and since then, not a day has passed by without my expressing, in some way, my sheer fascination of it all. It is called Flash.

Now, apologies for all that melodrama in the above paragraph but if you do manage to get to the end of this entry, you might probably agree with my calling it so. If you think this is too long a note, please read the last line and that should do. 🙂

When I began learning Flash, it belonged to a less known company called Macromedia – in fact they created the product. What fascinated me as much as the product itself was Macromedia Flash’s awe-inspiring credo: What the web can be. That one sentence said a lot – about the company, its dreams, its potential and about the product Flash. And it did live up to that credo and if you are a guy/gal who has learned web designing the good old way starting with HTML coding on notepad, then moving on to Javascripting and then Flash, you will certainly appreciate the overwhelming ease and interactivity that Flash brought to the web. Remember, we are talking early 2002 here.

By the end of my 4th year, Macromedia was acquired by competitor Adobe and along with it went Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks to Adobe’s kitty which had but one feather in its cap thus far – Photoshop. And Adobe did take Flash to heights unimagined. Soon every website was being designed in Flash, college students did their presentations, even resumes in Flash, most front ends and UI designers bragged about their Flash skills so much so that even HTML itself was used to a bare minimum and that too, only to embed Flash files on web pages.

The rest is history. Adobe kept the show going and made the dream-like credo, “What the web can be” a perpetually improving and pleasing reality. With their vast repertoire of heavenly fonts, video rendering functions etc, the web became the beautiful, lovely and aesthetic place it is today that you and I enjoy. The games, the videos, the glossy animations and all other media rich content kept coming in and Flash made it possible without ever declaring or worrying that behind all that magic there was a product that most laymen didn’t even knew existed or bothered to acknowledge.

In its advancement, never did Adobe restrict any other technology or device. With a credo like that to keep up with, one couldn’t; one wouldn’t. Be it PHP, AJAX or even devices like smartphones, Flash merged seamlessly to provide the unique experience it did on the web. What’s more, Adobe added cross functionality across its own product range and the magic of desktop design products like Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop could now flow in and out of Flash, making the web the far cry it is today from the days of HTML.

Without ever ruthlessly aiming for market domination at the expense of other technologies that improved the web and forever providing fantastic updates radically different from previous releases, first Macromedia and now Adobe, through Flash, made the web a lovelier, easier, pleasanter, richer and the most delightful experience it is today.

And today, one bearded son of a bitch dares to belittle this relentless and almost selfless contribution to the web by saying Adobe is headed to the grave. Just because he has had some market attention in the past 3 years and has sold a few million devices. That sob is Steve Jobs and hey it rhymes!

I have nothing against Apple devices – they are superb. The form-factor is lovely, the screen rendition amazing…in fact, the very things that Adobe and Flash stand for – beauty. Despite being a die-hard Google fan, I would kill for iPhone 4 and not the Nexus one. I also appreciate the fluidity of MAC OS and the utility of other devices like iMac, Time Capsule etc.

What I am against is the philosophy the company stands for which is evident in its actions: to cut down all others and promote only self interest, ethically or otherwise. More so, otherwise. Today’s declaration of Jobs sending ‘Adobe to the grave and that they have enjoyed their summer’ reeks of just that not to mention, a disregard to a great contributor to the web and allied technology and above all, to Beauty.

The mere act of iDevices not supporting Flash doesn’t spell doom for it; there are others that collectively outnumber Apple. But I dislike the spirit of not supporting Flash. It seems every 3 seconds someone is now buying the iPad. And that means every 3 seconds, someone is disregarding and forgetting all the beauty that Flash imparted to the web.

I for one am not buying the iPad. And if you consider yourself an admirer of beauty, a designer, an artist, a promoter of free thinking and to say the least a person who is grateful – you shouldn’t either.

It comes as no surprise that the last time someone tempted Mankind, it was with an Apple. And even today Satan is always dressed in black.

Say no to iPad.

PS: If you aren’t convinced about the last line, I’d certainly encourage you to read a more detailed explanation of the rationale. It has nothing to do with technology, it is simply a question of the mindset. Read more here


Movie Review: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

Word Count: 812  |  Estimated time to read entry: 10 min

“There are only 2 kinds of people in this world, those who have played Prince of Persia and those who haven’t”.

Image source: IMDb

It won’t come as a surprise to people following my FB updates that I am a die-hard fan of the Prince, having played all 4 games and eagerly awaiting the next. While this could mean I’d be unfairly biased in my review, it also puts me in a position to assess the movie better wrt the game.

And since I have been watching as many good movies as I have been playing good games over the last 2 years, I have decided to split this review into 2 perspectives to avoid any last traces of bias and to keep the review relevant, depending on the kind of person you are – refer my quote above 😉

GAMER’S PERSPECTIVE:

If you are as ardent an admirer of the Prince as I am, you wouldn’t even be reading this review in the first place because you already know the movie is superb. It brings the legend alive! The setting is good, Jake Gyllenhaal looks astoundingly similar to the character we so admire. Many of the moves – the wall run, the ledge swing, the masterly wielding of the sword, avoiding the death traps are all neatly and realistically portrayed. The movie is exciting and fast-paced and the action sequences are fantastic. And with the Rewind of Time by pressing the gem on the Dagger of Time, the spirit of the game is kept alive.

But is the movie as good as the game? No! Despite the settings, there is a lot of Americanism in the movie which was hardly noticeable in the game. Other characters like Farah and Vizier are changed to Tamina and Nizam respectively and they are nothing great in the movie. Some of the fatal moves of the Prince like the Vault attack, Asha’s Fury, Breath of fate, Wall rebound and other environment based attacks are totally missing, which is a big let down. The puzzles and turnstile based sequences have also been excluded and the sand beasts, the concubines, Dahaka, Shadee, Golem and all other bosses are completely missing. A new breed of enemies, The Hassansins, has been created and they are good!

What is most unpardonable is that the soundtrack is a complete let down and it is no where close to Stuart Chatwood’s fantastic track ‘Time only knows’ for the game.

The Prince is not as gentle as he was in ‘Sands of Time’ neither is he the merciless, blood thirsty guy we knew in ‘Warrior Within’ – he is somewhere in between. The red sash seen in the poster is not seen in the movie at all.

All said, the movie is not as good as the game but it is thoroughly entertaining and as close to the game you can get. For a gamer who has played even 30 min into any PoP game, this is a must watch.

Rating: 8.5/10

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MOVIE BUFF’S PERSPECTIVE:

If you have never heard of Prince of Persia let alone played a min into the game, you will want to watch this movie for some really great action sequences. It is a thoroughly entertaining watch and really exciting. The story line is tight and gripping and requires no prior knowledge about the Prince or anything related to the game at all. For once, I found most of the accent understandable and Alfred Molina is hilarious in the movie.

Jake Gyllenhaal looks terrific and the gals might want to see the movie for him alone. Gemma Arterton has managed to keep most of her clothes on most of the times and still looks good, if that is any motivation for the guys 😉

But with a reputation like the all-time great ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ behind them, Walt Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have failed to create as much an appeal in this movie. Though a mindless and inappropriate comparison, Captain Jack Sparrow seems a far greater hero than the Prince of Persia. It is not that Jake Gyllenhaal fell short, it is just that Johnny Depp is simply par excellence! I see no other reason why, with (most) other things being equal, there is such an enormous difference in the two movies. My honest opinion is that this movie would have been far more successful had it been an animation movie.

Therefore, don’t expect to be as entertained by this movie if you (like me) have seen and liked all three parts of POTC.

Overall, this is a movie you can watch once and forget. This, unlike POTC, isn’t the kind of movie you will store in your DVD collection and want to watch again and again on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Rating: 7.0/10

PS: IMDb rates this 6.8 and IMO this wont exceed 7 after 10,000 votes. Would be surprised if this crosses 7.2 but then there are always gamer fans like me!


MIT EnC 2k4 ReU.

Word Count: 670 | Estimated Time to read entry: 5 min

It took 6 long years for the MIT Batch 2004, Electronics and Communication folks to decide that a reunion was quite essential to catch up for old times’ sake. The need for having a reunion, keeping up with staunch MIT tradition, was felt in a bar. If you didn’t know, DownTown in Manipal has been the single biggest hub for some terrific brainstorms ranging from the simple ‘How do I propose to that girl’ to the very innovative ‘Can rickshaws be used as fireworks’… but I digress. 😀

When Ajay “Ghee Roast” Pai, Raghavendra “Stock Broker” Shenoy and I got together at a sea food specialty bar and restaurant in Bangalore, the only thing that flowed more than pomphret tandoor and squid pepper fry was the conversation about the good old MIT days – the gals, the profs and their antics, the scandals, the ‘big red text book’, the jokes and whatnot. At the end of it all, the three of us were thoroughly convinced we need a Reunion.

Facebook proved handy and a few like-minded people immediately liked the idea, notably Pradeep ‘Im-getting-married’ Pai and Sneha ‘Software Engineer’ HS. After the finalization of the date, time and venue a Facebook event was created and each of us started inviting mates we were in touch with.  Midway through it we realized we had made a mistake – the Americans and the Australians and the other globetrotters who were profusely overactive on Facebook would certainly not attend the ReU. And those who were in Bangalore and likely to attend were inactive on Facebook. So we decided to adopt some outdated technology and call up the guys in Bangalore informing them about the ReU.

Soon we had a quorum and the D-day arrived. There were 17.58 of us in all – I say this because one of the attendees had ‘to attend 2 other parties that night’ and left early so she contributed only 0.33 of her presence and yet another spent such a long time on her make-up (and blamed some non-existent traffic jam later) that she was present for only the last 25% of the ReU. Oh yes, 2 others did leave early but then they were married guys so I guess their excuse made sense 😉

Pic Courtesy: Sneha HS

When all of us were settled, we decided to go ahead with the food. For making it easy and quick we requested Marvin ‘Melbourne’ DSouza to order for all of us. He promptly agreed but took almost a minute just to order French fries – ‘is it deep fried?’, ‘what about the sauce, green or red?’, ‘how big are the bowls?’ etc. For the main course, he decided to make it real fast by writing down all our orders on paper. The hotel staff ran around to get some plain paper and everyone placed orders and then retraced and placed new ones and added side dishes and ordered more helpings and cancelled everything and began all over again…at the end of which the paper looked nothing short of an ordie paper where the guy has made a desperate attempt to hit the magic 15 + 35 total.

Then began the introductions – name, company, status and post MIT experiences. The cross questionings were hilarious but I won’t list them down here as I agree with Suraj ‘Not Infy. SAP’ Shenoy that “those who skipped the ReU have to lose out on something”. For the toned down, sane version of the intros, you can check my FB videos 😉 There were also prof imitations and hostel life discussions which was fun.

Finally it was time to say goodbye. A last attempt at kicking one chap’s ass just for kicks failed miserably. It was strongly suggested that we meet once every year and some really enthusiastic ones preferred once every three months. We departed only to see that many were uploading pics and messages about the ReU on Facebook.

So for all those who made it to the ReU, it was great wasn’t it? And for all those who didn’t, too bad. Next time. If there is one. 😉

For those of you who just can’t get enough of me… ;)

Word Count: 330 | Estimated time to read entry: 3.5 min

GP

Fed up of being a Digital Nomad – by providing profiles of my various social network links for different occasions – i guess i have created a lot of confusion. Of course, not among you readers but in my own mind.

So to prevent all further confusion that you are anyway not subjected to,  I have found a single, permanent shelter for all of my digital footprint  – My Google Profile.  I thought you might not be very keen to know about my tooth extractions, ear wax removal etc so I skipped adding my Google Health profile and other such boring stuff.  Now that was thoughtful of me, wasn’t it?! 😉

And since I am not a self-proclaimed pretty girl to open up a social network account and then go on to protect/lock/restrict scrapbooks, pics, videos and almost every other facility provided, you can view all of the listed features without any  hindrance. Only, don’t try morphing any of my pics with Paris Hilton’s – cos the next time you wanna watch her videos, all you will ever think of is me… and you don’t want that, do you? 😛

I am also not paranoid about privacy and leakage of personal data because I am sensible enough to understand that what is on the web is public and the only way to keep private things private is by not putting them on any site rather than put stuff there and then lock it.  Therefore, you certainly wont see pics of me sunbathing in a skimpy swimsuit on the sunny beaches of Florida….because I haven’t been to Florida yet, you nitwit. 😀

So do enjoy all the obscure data I have mentioned in each of my profiles – like the Hebrew movie I saw last week or the snap of the  gate of the priest’s bathroom in the backyard of a church I visited while at Mysore. Better still, you might want to create a similar profile?? 😀

Flip Mino HD – Vblogs soon.

Word count: 434 | Estimated time to read entry: 5 min

DSC01214

I developed a fascination for the Flip Mino in the middle of 2008, when this was being touted on all the tech blogs as the one that will revolutionize our already over revolutionized digital age. Amazon wouldn’t deliver this outside of the US and it would take quite a while for Flip to consider marketing in India (in fact, it isn’t available in India yet. Just bragging.)

Fortunately by December 08, 2 ladies agreed to pick this up for me in the US and hand-deliver it while they arrived in Bangalore. I now had to take the chance of guessing which one of the two would arrive sooner. And as with all things that could ever be ‘guessed’ with ladies, here I am writing this blog entry on my possession of the Flip Mino HD, a good 7 months later 😀

In this time, Flip has been bought over by Cisco, cheaper and better alternatives like the Kodak Zi6 are now available and the dream of being one of the first to possess the FM-HD in India was also shattered when the package was unceremoniously dropped at my aunt’s place, thereby making her precede me in its possession!

Flip Mino HD, as the name suggests, records HD video on an in-built, non-expandable 4GB memory that amounts to 60 min of record time. The one thing that stands out about the cam, justifying the $250 price tag, is its simplicity of usage – no 100+ pages of manuals to read, batteries to charge and precautions to take. At the press of a button, a USB connector flips open and you can begin charging by connecting it to your PC. The software that helps you manage and upload videos, Flip Share, is loaded in the cam itself and prompts for an installation on first connect.  It is shaped like a mobile phone so it is very portable and maintenance free. There are the few basic buttons and unless you dropped straight out of Stone Age today morning, the operation of the cam is intuitive. The quality of the recordings is superb – in fact better than what you actually see with your eyes.

A few accessories come along with the standard equipment – a wrist strap that could be passed on for a platinum necklace, a pouch that looks and feels like a Hollywood hottie’s satin underwear and an AV cable to connect to the TV that looks exactly what it should look like.

I intend to begin Video blogging soon and put this cam to good use. Topics and suggestions welcome.


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For the one who healed the world, made it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race…

MJ

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.”

W. H Auden, ‘Funeral Blues’


PS: Comments on this post disabled

What would childhood be?

Word count: 300 | Estimated time to read entry: 4 min


My reading habit has been steady if not prodigious in the past few months. Having tried Isaac Asimov, S. Maugham, Charles Dickens,  Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Ruskin Bond and O.Henry, I wanted to try something new, something light and something that I could pick up anytime of the day for a quick read. I explored various options on Amazon when I suddenly realized that I was ignoring something closer home that had entertained me for endless hours during childhood – Tinkle!

 

A quick Google search revealed that Tinkle now had online presence. Within minutes I completed the subscription formalities and after a few weeks the first of the issues arrived!

Tinkle

 

I was as overjoyed to see the copy as I was in Class 1, perhaps more. 🙂 The magazine had not changed much but the coloring was cleaner and the page layouts better. All the familiar characters were doing what they did best – Tantri the Mantri had failed once again in dethroning the king; Suppandi drove yet another master nuts with his idiocy and Shikari Shambhu was an accidental hero once again. Even the other sections on ‘Tinkle Tells you why’, and ‘It happened to me’ were all intact.

 

The memories and incidents associated with Tinkle also rushed to mind – the frequent visit to the book stall after endless tantrums to pick up the latest issue, the dilemma of having to choose just 1 from the hundreds of richly illustrated Amar Chitra Katha on the shelves, the relentless efforts at convincing dad that ‘if he bought me the whole set, he’d never have to buy me anything ever again’ 😉 and all the hours spent in reading the comics subsequently.

 

I wonder what childhood would’ve been without Tinkle. I am now waiting for the next issue to visit my childhood again! 😉


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