Monday, December 15, 2008

Good Reading – Year In Ideas 2008

Year In Ideas 2008 – This is a very interesting feature from Here is one of the very amazing discovery:

Avian Dancing

If you aren’t one of the millions who have already done so, go immediately to YouTube and search for “Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo.”  [View the video here] There you will see a large white bird balanced on the back of an office chair, bobbing his head, stomping his feet and doing something that — until now — scientists believed impossible: dancing just like a human.

This is good fun. It’s also good science: Snowball’s videos are changing the way researchers understand the neurology of music and dancing.

Aniruddh Patel, senior fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in California, got the link from a friend. He saw not just a funny bird but also a potential solution to a scientific argument dating back to Darwin: some researchers say that human brains have been specially wired by natural selection for dancing, because dancing confers survival benefits through group bonding. If that were true, according to Patel, you would see dancing only in animals that, like humans, have a long history of music and dance, which no other species has. The fact that only humans dance has long been seen as evidence supporting the evolution argument.

So Patel sent an e-mail message to Snowball’s owner, Irena Schulz, and asked to study her bird. “The obvious question was whether he was just mimicking somebody,” Patel said. To answer that, he made CDs of Snowball’s favorite song (“Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys) at various speeds. Schulz videotaped Snowball dancing to each version, and then Patel graphed Snowball’s movement against the music’s beat. “Like a child, he synched to the music for stretches of time, then danced a little faster or a little slower, but always in a rhythmic way,” Patel says. “Statistically those periods when he’s locked onto the beat are not by chance — they really do indicate sensitivity to the beat and an ability to synchronize with it.”

What’s most interesting to Patel is that this ability is present in birds but not in primates, our closest animal relatives. “This is no coincidence,” he says. Patel says dancing is associated with our vocal abilities, not musical hard wiring. Humans and parrots are two of the few species with brains wired for vocal learning — hearing sounds (like words), then coordinating complex movements (lips, tongues, vocal cords) to reproduce those sounds. Other animals who have this ability: dolphins, seals and whales. “In theory,” he says, “they may be able to dance, too. We just don’t know it yet.”

A News Report From Karachi, Pakistan (Funny Video)

Imagine how difficult is the job for this TV reporter – very funny video! [Thanx Kiran for link!]

Friday, December 5, 2008

Honda’s F1 Journey Halted by Recession


Honda is pulling out of Formula One, blaming the world economic crisis for plans to sell its team.

Sources told BBC Sport the team were "optimistic" they would continue, but an investor had not yet been found.

The decision leaves Englishman Jenson Button and 2009 team-mate Rubens Barrichello without drives, with only a few mid-ranking seats still available.

Honda, which spent more than £300m a year on F1, said it would also no longer supply the sport with engines. “

Read complete story here on BBC.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An Open Letter To PM (Reproduced)

Here is the text of an open letter to India’s PM, which appeared probably in Times of India. Currently it is doing rounds of emails. Only part that I disagree in the letter is about corruption in Maharashtra – no, it is not more than or even equal to what is there in some other states in India.

Read it -


Dear Mr. Prime minister

I am a typical mouse from Mumbai. In the local train compartment which has capacity of 100 persons, I travel with 500 more mouse. Mouse at least squeak but we don't even do that.

Today I heard your speech. In which you said 'NO BODY WOULD BE SPARED'. I would like to remind you that fourteen years has passed since serial bomb blast in Mumbai took place. Dawood was the main conspirator. Till today he is not caught. All our bolywood actors, our builders, our Gutka king meets him but your Government can not catch him. Reason is simple; all your ministers are hand in glove with him. If any attempt is made to catch him everybody will be exposed. Your statement 'NOBODY WOULD BE SPARED' is nothing but a cruel joke on this unfortunate people of India. Enough is enough. As such after seeing terrorist attack carried out by about a dozen young boys I realize that if same thing continues days are not away when terrorist will attack by air, destroy our nuclear reactor and there will be one more Hiroshima.

We the people are left with only one mantra. Womb to Bomb to Tomb. You promised Mumbaikar Shanghai what you have given us is Jalianwala Baug.

Today only your home minister resigned. What took you so long to kick out this joker? Only reason was that he was loyal to Gandhi family. Loyalty to Gandhi family is more important than blood of innocent people, isn't it?

I am born and bought up in Mumbai for last fifty eight years. Believe me corruption in Maharashtra is worse than that in Bihar. Look at all the politician, Sharad Pawar, Chagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane, Bal Thackray , Gopinath Munde, Raj Thackray, Vilasrao Deshmukh all are rolling in money.  Vilasrao Deshmukh is one of the worst Chief minister I have seen. His only business is to increase the FSI every other day, make money and send it to Delhi so Congress can fight next election. Now the clown has found new way and will increase FSI for fisherman so they can build concrete house right on sea shore. Next time terrorist can comfortably live in those house , enjoy the beauty of sea and then attack the Mumbai at their will.

Recently I had to purchase house in Mumbai. I met about two dozen builders. Everybody wanted about 30% in black. A common person like me knows this and with all your intelligent agency & CBI you and your finance minister are not aware of it. Where all the black money goes? To the underworld isn't it? Our politicians take help of these goondas to vacate people by force. I myself was victim of it. If you have time please come to me, I will tell you everything.

If this has been land of fools, idiots then I would not have ever cared to write you this letter. Just see the tragedy, on one side we are reaching moon, people are so intelligent and on other side you politician has converted nectar into deadly poison. I am everything Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Schedule caste, OBC, Muslim OBC, Christian Schedule caste, Creamy Schedule caste only what I am not is INDIAN. You politician have raped every part of mother India by your policy of divide and rule.

Take example of former president Abdul Kalam. Such a intelligent person, such a fine human being. You politician didn't even spare him.  Your party along with opposition joined the hands, because politician feels they are supreme and there is no place for good person.

Dear Mr Prime minister you are one of the most intelligent person, most learned person. Just wake up, be a real SARDAR. First and foremost expose all selfish politician. Ask Swiss bank to give name of all Indian account holder. Give reins of CBI to independent agency. Let them find wolf among us. There will be political upheaval but that will better than dance of death which we are witnessing every day.  Just give us ambient where we can work honestly and without fear. Let there be rule of law. Everything else will be taken care of.

Choice is yours Mr. Prime Minister. Do you want to be lead by one person or you want to lead the nation of 100 Crore people?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Notes on Mumbai Terror Attacks


The shameful attacks that were carried out on Mumbai for last 2 days are finally reached to the end now. With death of more than 150 common people, some best cops & commandos, and some foreign nationals, these attacks have made wounds on hearts of billions of Indians.

A few things that I noted during these attacks are -

  1. These attacks have certainly shocked even the most resilient city of Mumbai, mostly because there was a methodical randomness and wide reach in these attacks.
  2. The real face of politicians came to fore more starkingly than ever. Especially what angered people was behavior of Narendra Modi, CM of Gujarat, who took a press conference right in the cordoned off area while the commandos were shedding their blood inside the Oberoi hotel.
  3. This was probably the longest LIVE coverage of an event which lasted for more than 57 hours…kudos to cameramen and anchors of electronic media for bringing all to the masses – for now everybody understands the dangers of religious hatred that culminated in terrorism.
  4. These attacks also will bring in a change in the way Indian internal security system works. Some issues which need urgent attention will be – coordination in various intelligence agencies, overall strengthening of intelligence gathering, security of sea-shores of India, tougher majors to curb terrorism, and strengthening the hands of cops who deal with terrorism.
  5. Before general elections next year, these attacks will force Indian government to do some tough-talk and arm-twisting with the Islamic neighbors of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  6. This event also showed, at once, the strength and weakness of social media, especially Twitter. On one hand Twitter facilitated very wider conversations and interactions which are just not possible in any mainstream media. Many Indian media houses will hopefully wake up now to this reality. On the other hand it was also seen that most of the conversations were parasited on coverage of electronic media. Very little original feed came in.

A window to web on Mumbai Terror attacks:

Twitter Feed for #Mumbai

Flickr Photoset of Vinu

Some of the best, original, and least seen photo shows here, here, here, here, here, here, here & here from local media

Some good content from around the globe here [one of the best photo shows], here, and here, and here

Map of the locations

NDTV Page on Attacks with videos and more

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nano – Who Is Funding the Car?

I always believe in the fact that there is always something more than what meets your eye. And this has been proved right for me on every occasion.

Take case of Nano – the cheapest car from India’s Tata group. Tatas promise to deliver the car at INR 100,000 (i.e. little more than $ 2000). Mind well – this is a promise, so the car will carry the INR 1 lac tag notwithstanding any external factor.


Initially Nano was to be produced in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal which is ruled by communist party for decades. Surprisingly, the opposition to the Nano project came from not the communists but their opposition – Trinmool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. She agitated so strongly against take-over of land by Tatas that Tatas had to pull put from the current location – some 50 km away from Kolkata.

The utility of Nano is beyond doubt. A 1 lac car puts mobility within reach for thousands of small-town Indians thereby giving a strong impetus to economy. Forceful agitation by Mamata Banerjee (her supporters sealed the Nano plant area, making normal production impossible) created a roadblock for Nano which by now has become a point of pride for Indians. This act generated widespread anger against the tactics of Mamata and her actions were said to be politically inspired. Incidentally, Tats had to pull out from W. Bengal and they have now opted for Gujarat for setting up the Nano plant. Read these media reports here, here, and here.

Though I am fully for the Nano and believe that political sabotage of any project is worse rather than good, I always felt that there must something more than what meets the eye. For example, no media report was talking @ Tats’s deal with W. Bengal government. No facts were being presented anywhere.

Today, I came across what I was searching for many days – some facts from other side of fence. I am not drawing any conclusions here; I just want to point out some facts presented in an article. Here is an excerpt (read original article here) -

                The cash starved WB government has given a Rs.200 crore loan to Tata Motors at – yes – at 1% interest. The first installment will be repaid in the 21st year of the project. Does a group that paid Rs 35,000 crore or so to acquire the British steel company Corus need a Rs.200 crore loan at 1% interest? Forget that. By the time the first installment is due, Tata Motors would have earned close to Rs.2,000 crore in interest income by investing that money in a fixed deposit.
               Tata Motors will pay a lease of Rs.1 crore per year on 647 odd acres of land for the first 30 years of the 90 year old lease. That is less than Rs.1,300 per acre in commercial land, less than 50 kilometers from Kolkata. Even poor middle class souls like you and me pay a lease of Rs.1,80,000 per year for a 1,000 square feet house far from the heart of the city.
               The Nano project will get power at Rs.3 per KwH; the current rate in Bengal is Rs.4.15. If rates go up by more than 25 paise per Kwh in five years, the government will refund Tata Motors. You and me are already paying close to Rs.6 per unit for electricity. For every Nano sold in Bengal, the state will de facto refund the VAT and sales tax collected on each sale of Nano.

If these facts are to be taken as an indicator to the kind of deals state governments are entering into, then it is the state’s taxpayer who is going to bear the burden of car’s cost-price difference.

A 1 lac car, then really is not so attractive an idea that it is without such facts.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Read @ Financial Crisis


Financial Crisis As Explained to My 14 Year Old Sister - Kevin Nguyen

Kevin: I’m getting to that. Let’s say that the Charizard is worth $50, so in case you decide to not return my money, at least I’ll have something that’s worth what I loaned out.

Olivia: Okay.

Kevin: But one day, people realize that Pokémon is stupid and everyone decides that the cards are overvalued. That’s right—everybody turned twelve on the same day! Now your Charizard is only worth, say, $25.

Four Stages of Global Financial Crisis – Ajay Shah

The first place to focus on was US housing construction. US housing was clearly in stratospheric territory. Once the US Fed started raising rates, and Mortgage Equity Withdrawal became less important, trouble was going to come about in US home construction. In this period, I watched the DJ US Home Construction Index.

Can a US Style Financial Crunch Happen In India? – Prof. Jayant Varma

Another way of looking at the Indian situation comes from reading Ellis’ paper “The housing meltdown: Why did it happen in the United States?”, BIS Working Paper 259. Many of the factors mentioned by Ellis are equally applicable to India:

  • The supply elasticity of real estate construction has been very high in the current boom (compared to the past) and this supply overhang has the potential to deepen the correction that is required.

Rationality of Panic – Steve Coll in New Yorker

People don’t generally panic in the sunshine. They panic in the dark. And we are in the dark about what assets and liabilities are truly held in what has been properly labeled the “shadow banking system”

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Good Web App

Today I cam across this amazing web app. The concept is really cool. The app lets you create a slideshow of webpages. The slideshow displays pages not aas images but as live pages. Further, you can also share/embed the slideshow.
Incidentally, it is created by Paras Chopra and Ravi Pathak.
See here an example of slideshow of webpages of Reality Is a Farce.
Amazing thing is that Paras created this app just for $ 8.75 [INR 350], in six days! Read his candid post @ this development here.

Good work Paras!

[Also read this Techcrunch post to create a web app in 4 days for $ 10,000.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Top 5 Features of Google Chrome

Finally, something is happening on Web. Google launched its browser ‘Chrome’ today. Supposedly a Microsoft-killer, Chrome rocks – at least, that is my first impression.

Here is a list of Top 10 features of Chrome -

1. Plug & Play

After you install Chrome, you can import everything – passwords, bookmarks, history, search engines – from Internet Explorer and Firefox. This means that when start Chrome for the first time, you have everything ready – a seamless transition to new browser. This is great considering the fact that in Chrome you need not go looking for your bookmarks, the address bar does that for you.

So, just install it and done.

2. Omnibar


Note this – Chrome’s Omnibar is better than the ‘Awesomebar’ of Firefox 3. It not only auto-suggests visited links, bookmarks etc., it also acts as Google Search Bar! It also tells you the number of instances of that link in your browser history. It is actually a one-stop shop for everything related to links. ‘Omni’, isn’t it?

One think I did not do is – add more search engines and see if they also appear in Omnibar. Most probably Omnibar takes only default search engine (which is Google Suggest) which you can change.

3. Control on Tabs


Chrome gives you fair control over tabs without any extension. For example, apart from common things, you can close tabs which are opened from a parent tab.

One feature about tabs which many will like is that you can convert a tab into a new window. You just need to drag that tab out of current window to convert it into new window.

4. Webapps Shortcuts

Offline webapps is going to change the way we work. Google started on this line by launching Google Gears. Chrome allows you to take your web apps offline with the help of Google Gears. What Chrome does is not revolutionary, since Mozilla has Prism, which does the similar job of being a site-specific browser. Chrome is different however in the sense that it has integrated web app windows like Prism and Bubbles with normal browsing. Whenever you are on a Google Gears enabled web site, just say ‘Create Application Shortcut’ from the ‘Page Menu’ and a shortcut will be created for that app.

5. Incognito Browsing

The thing which IE 8 Beta 2 has introduced – private browsing – is there in Chrome also. For a trace-less browsing, you need to open a new ‘Incognito’ window. The in-browser traces of that visit will not be stored in Incognito window.


The great possibility

As of on day 1, though there are some minor glitches and some things that will add some spice to Chrome (like a great user community driving out exciting add-ons),  there is a huge possibility inherent in Google’s going for a browser.

As Google says, Chrome intends to be a platform to access web pages and to launch web applications. Everybody knew the need of doing that and also the potential of having such an integrator of surfing and applications.

With Google’s array of apps – docs (where I am excited the most), Gmail, Bookmarks, Gears, Search etc., Chrome is going to add the single application which can make the picture complete for Google.

Some Misses

Not for Mac yet?

No integration with Google Bookmarks?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Nice Video

This is a video made of over 3000 snaps, shot over 3 days around Boston. Interesting video...

3 Days - 3,038 Photos from Robbie on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

N96 About to Start Distribution in India…

A few days ago, I registered on Nokia India site for prior booking of N96 – the hyped i-Phone killer in a country like India. Today, I received a call from Nokia dealer in city informing to book N96 by paying Rs. 4000. He said that N96 will be delivered to me within 8-10 days. With the handset, there is a free 2GB card (why it will be needed when N96 will have 16GB of internal flash memory?) plus an assured gift from Nokia. On asking about price, he said that it will be in Rs. 37000 – Rs. 40000 range.


This price range will be considerably higher in Indian market, also considering facts that N96 won’t have touch screen or a QWERTY keyboard…But anyway, N96 has enough as its tagline says - “How Much Power Can You Handle?’

Loading image

Click anywhere to cancel

Image unavailable

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beijing Olympics - A Look Back


India will remember the Beijing edition of Olympics for years to come. Firstly, she never had before so many individual medals in any single edition. Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra clinched a gold in rifle shooting, her wrestler Sushil Kumar bagged a bronze and now boxer Vijender Kumar has a chance to create history by winning in semifinals of 75 kg boxing. He has anyway secured a bronze in semis itself.


We could never have believed such a run in Olympics before the event kicked off in Beijing. Generally the headlines in Indian newspapers are enough demoralizing, e.g. in an Indian daily a headline can easily read ‘Won Olympics Gold. Now What?’ – sounding ‘Won Olympics Gold. So what?’ or when 20-something Saina Nehwal loses out after showing a promising run in Badminton, newspapers here still say that she ‘disappointed’ Indians.

Beijing games will also mean a lot to the world. Firstly, it assured China a deserved entry on world stage as a serious superpower contender. World watched the opening event extravaganza with awe. Security concerns, doubts about China’s ability to host such an event all melted away when the game set rolling.

These were also the first games in era of Social Web. The reach of events was enormous with people having choice of platform to watch the event. Although nothing like an Internet Meltdown happened due to games.

Most important thing that happened at Beijing was about sports. Usain Bolt & Michael Phelps happened to Olympics at Beijing. Usain’s super-human runs in 100 m and 200 m sprints, his world records in both events indicate that here is a true Olympic ambassador – after Carl Lewis retired, there was nobody really speaking. Jamaican sprinters are a new superpower on bloc and Jamaica is already past this edition setting eyes on 2012 London Olympics! Read this news in Jamaica Observer.

Michael Phelps also rocked the world with his record equaling haul of 8 golds. He is a sports hero who will inspire many a generations. [Interesting link - read this article in WSJ which talks about an interesting aspect of swimming championship – Touching the Wall.]

It will be interesting now to see now whether USA takes over China in medal tally – this is still a possibility with so many gold medals to win in Athletics - a US stronghold.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Rock Candy Mountains!

Some songs make a place for themselves in your heart forever. This song - ‘Big Rock Candy Mountains’ is one of such gem of a song. I heard it first in Coen Brothers’ ‘O Brother! Where Art Thou?’.


The song instantly captivated me. First was the music. I came to know that this particular music genre is called Bluegrass Music. According to Wikipedia,

“In bluegrass, as in jazz, each instrument takes a turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others revert to backing; this is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment."

The music seems so simple to ears and is also earthly.

Second reason is its lyrics…song is about an utopian place called ‘Big Rock Candy Mountains’ – I thought earlier that this place is an utopia for a thief! Read these lines -

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin
And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in
There ain't no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picks
I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work

Aren’t these so funny! But as I read more, I came to know that this was actually a song which was used during Great Depression in USA to mobilise countryside folks for road-works! Many of these people were ones whose life did not follow the law always – so these lines.

Incidentally, after changing some parts of the songs, it was also made into a popular children song. E.g. ‘cigarette trees’ in original song became ‘peppermint trees’ for children.

When I read the version for children, I was shocked to see that one nursery rhyme in Marathi, written by a famous poet bears a striking resemblance with this children version of ‘Big Rock Candy Mountains’. In Marathi the song is about a ‘Chocolate Bunglow’ and every Marathi child knows this song.

Let's say that's a good inspiration to have.


On Youtube.

Read more @ Bluegrass Music here.

Read @ ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ on Wikipedia here.

Lyrics of the song here.

Lyrics of children version here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Freaky Nokia Photo

This happened yesterday, in Mumbai, when at the same time, a person was called and also was being answered. Look carefully - if you are a regular Nokia user, you will instantly understand that this is not a call-hold situation. Incidently, the operator is Vodafone (who acquired Hutch, who acquired BPL).


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scare of Firefox 3



What the hell is this? The problem which I thought is over is still there – alive and kicking! Do you know what is causing this trouble?



Supposedly the fastest browser of all is not the lightest one – at least with some of the recommended add-ons. Look at the amount of memory it is having for breakfast!

Look at the sharp drop of blue line [indicating RAM usage] when I ‘killed’ FF3 -


Each time it happened, I had to hard-shut the machine. Apparently, this happened due to some add-ons. I started the FF3 in safe mode and uninstalled some of the add-ons. Now FF3 is working fine.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Interesting Links

No Smoking Hotospot [Global Warming Myth]

…The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

Big Mac Index [Global Currency Valuations against USD]


What Bush And Batman Have in Common

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Interesting Link:

Pi or 2Pi: That Is the Question

In February this year there appeared in Physics World an article entitled Constant Failure by Robert P Crease of Stony Brook University, in which he showed in how many formulae of physics and mathematics 2π turns up, rather than π. This article struck a chord with me, since even after many years I remember the feeling of "cognitive dissonance" when being taught that the formula was 2πR rather than πD.

Do not forget to read the comments.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dark Knight – 4 Reasons Why It Rocks


Above: 3 reasons why Dark Knight is awesome movie

A day before yesterday, I went to watch the much hyped superhero flick – Dark Knight. It had already generated enough curiosity for being the last completed movie by Heath Ledger. I also liked Christian Bale after ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘3:10 to Yuma’. He is an actor with a lot of substance and in future he is sure to portray some memorable characters.

Just before the intermission in the movie-theatre, I thought the movie is over! And, I was still very happy to have watched a good movie!! But it did not stop there…it went on entertaining me till I came out of theatre as a hard-core Dark Knight fan. No wonder that Dark knight is currently No. 1 in IMDB’s Top 250 movies.

Here are some things which I liked about this movie -

1. Heath Ledger:


I was surprised to see how well he has portrayed the Joker. Heath Ledger is very successful in that he conveyed the right tones of Jokers’ personality. He was not supposed to be a Joker actually, he had to be a psychopath and it’s what Heath appears in the movie. Especially watch the scene when he claps in the cell on news of Gordon’s promotion – that was really terrifying.

Most of those who have watched Jack Nicholson as Joker will agree with me that Heath is better than jack in role of Joker.

It is very sad that he took exit exactly when he has shown so much promise.

2. Aaron Eckhart


Aaron Eckhart was the real surprise package of this movie. The role of firebrand public prosecutor came to Eckhart not as a first choice. The director sought out Matt Demon and several others for this role before Eckhart was considered. But whatever happens, happens for the best. Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent overshadows even Batman in many parts of the movie. Harvey Dent is supposed to be the White Night in Gotham – but due to tragic death of Rachael, he is transformated into Two-face. And this is the best part of Eckhart’s portrayal.

3. Good acting by almost everybody

This movie is one of those rare ones, where everybody of the cast gives 100%. During movie, you never feel that any of the casts is out of place or situation. Special mentions are Caine, Freeman and the man who played Gordon.

Off course Bale is always there.

4. Christopher Nolan

After a movie, how many characters do generally linger in your mind? Only a few in most of the movies. In case of Dark Knight, everybody lingers. Right from the prisoner in orange prison clothes who throws away the dynamite switch, to the Joker’s man whom Harvey tries to kill by doing a toss of coin. Credit of this character development must go to Nolan.

What I liked most about Nolan is that he has brought so much depth in Batman movies – both Batman Begins and Dark Knight. Superheroes are not search and rescue operatives like most of the flicks showcase them. Nolan focussed on the moral dilemmas in mind of the superhero instead. And he succeeds in that. Hats off to him for giving us this movie!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Inflation – Where Are the Real Culprits?

In this excellent article, on, Murad Ali Baig points out to the exact share of oil price rise in Inflation. Price hike for every commodity and everything else is attributed to the sky rocketed oil prices. However, as Baig points out that

“…. (but) only few realize that the Rs3 (roughly 8.5%) increase in diesel prices would affect freight transport costs by only a marginal 0.12%, that is equivalent to 12 paise on every Rs100 that is spent on what one purchases.”

He further writes -

“Elementary arithmetic will however show that the cost of transport in the cost of most goods averages just 5% and the cost of fuel is usually about 35% of this cost. India’s four million trucks and one million buses have to additionally pay large finance costs, depreciation, staff salaries, tyres, repairs, taxes, bribes, etc. So if the cost of diesel is just 35% of 5%. it is barely 1.4% of the cost of most of the goods that one buys.

Therefore, the recent 8.5% increase in the price of diesel should only have an impact of about 8.5% on this 1.4% or a miniscule 0.12%. It will vary a little and be even less on high value goods that are transported over long distances and a bit more on milk and vegetables that are transported over short distances.”

You can read the full article here.

Today I got this interesting email which illustrates the role of speculative hoarding in Inflation. Common people also engage in it oblivious of the impact it may have on their purse.

Email is long, but worth reading.

Nice Logic - It May Work!!
A man eats two eggs each morning for breakfast. When he goes to the Kirana store he pays Rs. 12 a dozen. Since a dozen eggs won't last a week he normally buys two dozens at a time. One day while buying eggs he notices that the price has risen to Rs. 16. The next time he buys groceries, eggs are Rs. 22 a dozen.
When asked to explain the price of eggs the store owner says, "The price has gone up and I have to raise my price accordingly". This store buys 100 dozen eggs a day. He checked around for a better price and all the distributors have raised their prices. The distributors have begun to buy from the huge egg farms. The small egg farms have been driven out of business. The huge egg farms sell 100,000 dozen eggs a day to distributors. With no competition, they can set the price as they see fit. The distributors then have to raise their prices to the grocery stores. And on and on and on.
As the man kept buying eggs the price kept going up. He saw the big egg trucks delivering 100 dozen eggs each day. Nothing changed there. He checked out the huge egg farms and found they were selling 100,000 dozen eggs to the distributors daily. Nothing had changed but the price of eggs.
Then week before Diwali the price of eggs shot up to Rs. 40 a dozen. Again he asked the grocery owner why and was told, "Cakes and baking for the holiday". The huge egg farmers know there will be a lot of baking going on and more eggs will be used. Hence, the price of eggs goes up. Expect the same thing at Christmas and other times when family cooking, baking, etc. happen.
This pattern continues until the price of eggs is Rs. 60 a dozen. The man says, “There must be something we can do about the price of eggs".
He starts talking to all the people in his town and they decide to stop buying eggs. This didn't work because everyone needed eggs.
Finally, the man suggested only buying what you need. He ate 2 eggs a day. On the way home from work he would stop at the grocery and buy two eggs. Everyone in town started buying 2 or 3 eggs a day.
The grocery store owner began complaining that he had too many eggs in his cooler. He told the distributor that he didn't need any eggs. Maybe wouldn't need any all week.
The distributor had eggs piling up at his warehouse. He told the huge egg farms that he didn't have any room for eggs would not need any for at least two weeks.
At the egg farm, the chickens just kept on laying eggs. To relieve the pressure, the huge egg farm told the distributor that they could buy the eggs at a lower price.
The distributor said, " I don't have the room for the %$&^*&% eggs even if they were free". The distributor told the grocery store owner that he would lower the price of the eggs if the store would start buying again.
The grocery store owner said, "I don't have room for more eggs. The customers are only buying 2 or 3 eggs at a time. Now if you were to drop the price of eggs back down to the original price, the customers would start buying by the dozen again".
The distributors sent that proposal to the huge egg farmers but the egg farmers liked the price they were getting for their eggs but, those chickens just kept on laying. Finally, the egg farmers lowered the price of their eggs. But only a few paisa.
The customers still bought 2 or 3 eggs at a time. They said, "when the price of eggs gets down to where it was before, we will start buying by the dozen."
Slowly the price of eggs started dropping. The distributors had to slash their prices to make room for the eggs coming from the egg farmers.
The egg farmers cut their prices because the distributors wouldn't buy at a higher price than they were selling eggs for. Anyway, they had full warehouses and wouldn't need eggs for quite a while.
And those chickens kept on laying.
Eventually, the egg farmers cut their prices because they were throwing away eggs they couldn't sell.
The distributors started buying again because the eggs were priced to where the stores could afford to sell them at the lower price.
And the customers starting buying by the dozen again.
Now, transpose this analogy to the gasoline industry.
What if everyone only bought Rs 200.00 worth of Petrol each time they pulled to the pump? The dealer's tanks would stay semi full all the time. The dealers wouldn't have room for the gas coming from the huge tanks. The tank farms wouldn’t have room for the petrol coming from the refining plants. And the refining plants wouldn't have room for the oil being off loaded from the huge tankers coming from the oil fiends.
Just Rs 200.00 each time you buy gas. Don't fill up the tank of your car. Don't drive to places where you can walk. Don't drive to places where you are just driving because you have a vehicle to spare. You may have to stop for gas twice a week, but the price should come down.
Think about it.
Also, don't buy anything else at the fuel station; don't give them any more of your hard earned money than what you spend on gas, until the prices come down..."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Firefox Finally Sends An Update

FF3 for Blog

Lately I am extremely annoyed with the crashes and memory leaks of Firefox 3. The browser which made a world record of highest number of downloads in a single day, is actually not that stable after all.

But here is an update to Firefox 3…let’s see if it does any improvements.

In case of Firefox issues, I turn to Opera, which IS most reliable for me…

Google Docs Launch Templates

Google Docs Template

Google Documents is a very useful tool for knowledge workers. Today they made it better by launching Templates for documents. There are templates for Resume, Business Plans, Venture Pitch, Wedding Planner, Project Plan etc. Some templates, like the one above for Presentations, look stunning.

Read more about templates here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tweaking Day

Today, it was a day of tweaking for me. I tried to change a lot of things about this blog and realised that small tweaks take a long time. So here I am – fatigued from clicking Ctrl-F5 (which refreshed the page overriding the cache) the whole day.

At the end of the day, these are the things which lingered on my mind:

1. Tweaking takes real long, but you need to do it once in a while. See at the changed look, isn’t it cleaner and refreshing?

2. Google ads (or any ads for that matter) create clutter, not money, for a small blog like mine. So, gone are all ads.

3. Go with one of the default blogger theme. You can tweak it to suit your style and needs. The freely available themes across Internet have so many blind-spots which you just can’t edit only because blind-spots are so many there. Plus, standard themes are a plus when you post content with a blog editor like Windows Live Writer (which is highly recommended). To read more about Live Writer, go to these excellent posts on Digital Inspiration.

4. Not copying, but you can model the design on some nicely-designed blog. I like cleaner interfaces with readable fonts. Google’s blogs were a natural choice for me. Except the image in header, Many things resemble Google’s blogs. See here and here.

5. You need to look in right places for answers and you need to use right tools. I used Firebug, SnagIt, Picnik, IrfanView, and this blog proved to be of great help, not to mention the uber-notepad for editing comparing the HTML’s.

6. This tweaking is worth it. Though there some things on which I still need to work, overall, I am happy about what I see.

Next, I will add the widgets which I use regularly. But that – some time later…

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vodafone-iPhone: First Public Appearance & Some Bugs


In the morning today, I was extremely happy to see this ad on the front-page of Times of India. There so many people like me who are waiting for this beauty of a device. Many had already had unlocked device from USA. But I abstained from buying that time since 1. no money 2. it was better to wait and watch because I had heard so much negative things about iPhone from some of my friends staying in US. Their negative feelings about iPhone were strong enough to prevent me from making my pockets lighter.

Hmmm. But it is an Apple device. I would better use it first and then give it misgivings. Then it was declared that iPhone will come to India through Vodfone (which seemed natural choice against other Indian operators like Airtel/Idea). Now today Vodafone announced that it will bring iPhone 3G into India ‘soon’. (I did not get any reply even after sending sms twice to the short-code listed above).

Now it seems that I won’t be able to withstand this iPhone seduction when it does actually arrive at a Vodafone store in India. The price also looks great in US Dollars - $199 flat – meaning about 8-9000 INR. Other day, we had this great discussion about iPhone pricing in India. Where does Apple wants this product to position? INR 8000 is a middle class range since you commonly see a higher priced Nokia N73 on Indian streets. I thought that 12000-15000 INR is a better guess because it is high enough yet is not prohibitive.

And, I am ready to shell that much. (I was actually thinking between N95 – E51, had this ‘Apple 3G iPhone into India’ thing been not happened).

However, there are so many small (and hence more bugging) bugs in iPhone. About the iPhone 1, I heard from my friend that there is no number forwarding, sms forwarding, no contact search etc. This sucks man. Having been used to these features, not having them is extremely difficult. I don’t know whether these have been worked upon in new iPhone or not. They better be. Today I came across this article on which talks about ‘7 iPhone Disappointments’. The author has listed 7 things that are like the bugs which I talked about above. The biggest surprise in this list is absence of video recording. C’mmon Apple! Won’t a person who wants to click a snap with his cellphone, also want to shoot a clip? Offcourse, anybody would think that natural, but Apple thought otherwise. Another big thing is No Flash! Means so many feature rich website is out of bounds.

Let’s see. My decision is again on hold till iPhone hits the road in USA…

Monday, June 2, 2008

Funny Quotes about Rajanikanth

Today, I stumbled upon these extremely funny quotes about Rajanikant. On his blog,Mostly Harmless, this blogger has written this post in 2007...the quotes are too funny so with all credit to original blogger (if he is the one), I am reproducing entire post here. The original post is here.

For those aliens who really do not know Rajanikant - he is THE Tamil Superstar and a God for many a fans. After rocking Tamil film industry for years (and hitting rock-bottom at Bollywood), Rajani is now poised for an entry into politics.

Here is a trailer of Shivaji movie starring Rajanikanth -

Here goes the post -

* Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Rajnikant.
* Rajnikant counted to infinity - twice.
* When Rajnikant does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down.
* Rajnikant is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
* Rajnikant doesn't wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.
* Rajnikant gave Mona Lisa that smile.
* Rajnikant can slam a revolving door.
* There are no races, only countries of people Rajnikant has beaten to different shades of black and blue.
* Rajnikant's house has no doors, only walls that he walks through.
* Rajnikant can divide by zero.
* When taking the GRE, write "Rajnikant" for every answer. You will score over 1600.
* Rajnikant grinds his coffee with his teeth and boils the water with his own rage.
* If you Google search "Rajnikant getting kicked" you will generate zero results.
* Rajnikant doesn't bowl strikes, he just knocks down one pin and the other nine faint.
* It takes Rajnikant 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.
* The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Rajnikant kicked one of the corners off.
* There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq cause Rajnikant lives in Chennai.
* Rajnikant once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills. They made him blink.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008



Mahabaleshwar is a hill station, situated in Western Ghats. With beautiful valleys and hills, and a splendid eating-shopping experience, Mahabaleshwar has become an attractive destination in India...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Oil Prices and Shift in Wealth

In a beautiful article in Washington Post (in 2007, but still very relevant) Steven Mufson, points out attention to a major impact of rising oil prices - the transfer of wealth from oil importers to oil exporters and the petroleum companies.

Oil Price Rise Causes Global Shift in Wealth

High oil prices are fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone.

The consequences are evident in minds and mortar: anger at Chinese motor-fuel pumps and inflated confidence in the Kremlin; new weapons in Chad and new petrochemical plants in Saudi Arabia; no-driving campaigns in South Korea and bigger sales for Toyota hybrid cars; a fiscal burden in Senegal and a bonanza in Brazil. In Burma, recent demonstrations were triggered by a government decision to raise fuel prices.

Read the full article here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Biased Web - China Earthquake Vs. Myanmar Cyclone

Here is the Google Trends comparison of 2 major natural disasters...Draw your own conclusions -

"china earthquake" "myanmar cyclone"

China Earthquake Deaths - 71000

Myanmar Cyclone Deaths - 128000

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

iPhone Coming to India Through Vodafone - Its Official

In a great news for gadget enthusiasts like me (and to thousands of iPhone anticipators in India), Vodafone has announced that it will bring iPhone to India 'later this year'. This was announced today by Vodafone. Apart from India, iPhone will be introduced officially to 9 other countries.

Read Vodafone announcement here.

Read the PC Pro article about it here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Best Advice The Best People Got

Fortune has a good feature-slideshow on its website. It features captains of industries, astronauts and other successful people. These icons share the best advice they ever got. Watch the slideshow here.

The one which immediately resonates with me is the one given to Sam Palmisano, CEO, IBM. He talks mostly of 2 things - 1. Leaders don't make themselves centre of attention; they listen. 2. Career is not a linear progression, rather, it ought to be a little unstructured and horizontal.

Good Thought

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama or Hillary - 'Who is 'Buzzier'?' & 'Whom Do Indians Like More?'

See why they say that Obama is the web kid! Obama beats Hillary hands down when it comes to being an object of Google Search and of news items.

Hillary Obama

However, funnier is the picture in India. Hillary is far more popular in India than Obama is -over past 12 months. Also look at the state-wise break up...Why Madhya Pradesh is so obsessed for Hillary?

Hillary Obama India

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Youtube Videos Sorting - Too Much


Featured, Most Popular, Most Discussed, Most Recent, Most Responded, Most Viewed, Top Favorites, Top Viewed...

Isn't all this tad confusing?

Then combine these with Today, This Month etc. and you get a more confusing experience...

Windows Vista Quick Launch Bar Short Cut

Windows Quick Launch Bar Trick

Windows quick launch bar always offers a good place from where you can launch the frequently used applications. Today, by accident, I discovered the short-cut for launching quick launch bar applications.

The image above explains the short cut. For example, to launch Firefox, which is the first on quick launch bar, you need to press 'Windows+1'.

Shoes Harm You...

Photo credit:Tom Schierlitz in

'You Walk Wrong!' says this article in New York Magazine, and I agree instantly. No excerpts here...please read the article in original at Basically it says that your foot should touch ground more often without a shoe...

Friday, April 25, 2008

What's Your Leader Like?

On Fastcompany website, I read very interesting question - "Do attributes like height and a louder voice really translate into more power in the workplace?". Most of the respondents to this question deny this.

In my opinion, what Mary Parker Follet said about leadership is very important. She propounded a leadership style which is based on expertise - Functional Leadership. He, who knows about the job is the leader at that time. This is true. But in second thought, in addition to this, the leader must have Compassion for his followers/colleagues. And for me Compassion is one of the most critical components of Leadership.

I would strongly recommend to you to read David McCullogh's interview on leadership - 'Timeless Leadership', which appeared in Harvard Business Review magazine. Here is a part of the interview. You need to have a subscription to read the full interview. Crux of what David McCullogh says is that apart from a strong sense of history, you need to have virtues like expertise, strength of character, compassion, optimism and ability to look beyond that which is appearing on surface...

What do you think about leadership?

I am particularly interested in knowing - what is the one quality which defines the leadership of a leader around you?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Shahrukh Khan & Ishant Sharma


This funny pic is doing rounds of email. This was probably clicked on the launch ceremony of Kolkata Knight Raiders team of Indian Premier League.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Astronauts at increased risk of premature aging: Study - ExpressIndia.Com

Astronauts may be at increased risk of premature aging due to exposure to radiation found in space, suggests a study that could have major implications for long-duration space travel.The findings from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Georgetown University Medical Centre in the United States shows that astronauts may be at increased risk of colon cancer due to exposure to the high linear energy transfer (LET) radiation found in space.The study, funded by NASA and presented at the 2008 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, shows that the high-energy radiation found in space may also lead to premature aging and prolonged oxidative stress in cells.
Astronauts at increased risk of premature aging: Study - ExpressIndia.Com

Canadian Firm Receives 50 Million USD For IPL Portal reports about the till-now secret portal developer of IPL. Look at the hefty paycheck that the firm received for developing one portal. Now we hope that a standard portal comes through for IPL...

"Live Current Media Inc (LCM), a Vancouver, Canada based company has bagged the portal rights of the Indian Premier League for 10 years for $50 million, contentSutra has confirmed from sources. LCM owns the domain, and intends to develop it as a portal around the IPL. An Indian company may also be involved with the portal. We believe that live streaming rights are not a part of the deal since those are being sold separately - Willow TV has got rights for streaming content in the Americas. $50 million for just the portal rights may seem high, but these are exclusive, and come at the cost of preventing other websites access to the IPL. As per reports, LCM had recently rejected a $6 million offer for the domain

Earlier known as, LCM used to be a domain name company. They stopped selling their domain name portfolio, and began using the domains as commerce sites. As per our sister site, around 90 percent of their revenue came from one e-commerce site - The company owns 1100 domains, including,, and, among others"

Technorati Tags:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trivialisation of News in Indian News Channels

We all laugh (though while increasing TRP and thus steaming up the business) at the news channels in India. Whenever I feel sad, I switch on a news channel! They for sure have a waking up value. Another day, an anchor who was visibly concerned about US subprime crisis could make a single point in about 5000 words!! So much of fog!!! Then there was an anchor who was asking opinion of another anchor about an issue on a news channel. I feel only business news channels and to some extent NDTV are sensible enough to bore me by streaming 'real' news.
When we say Indian electronic media business scene is hot then we mean the heat is created by relentless, shameless, senseless permutations and combination of conjunctions and words like I, we, you, think etc.

Look at these pics, they are live!!

Adsense for Conversation? (Update..)

Nice idea...


Now Read and Write Web has an exclusive sneak peak into Google Dreamads!!! You guessed it is contextual advertising for your dreams!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tata Buys Jaguar & Landrover - Is the Deal Ok?

Tata's deal with Ford has many skeptics. For one, what will be the effect of looming global economic downturn on the market? Then there is the troubled history of UK auto industry - particularly the labor trouble. While on one hand whole nation (except, perhaps the stock markets) felt jubilant after the deal, real success of the deal will hinge on how skillfully Tata's balance the demands of changing economic situations and demands of profitability. Read a Fortune story about the deal below. The story is aptly named 'Tata buys into 40 years of trouble'.
Tata also doesn’t seem all that concerned about instant profits – just as he doesn’t expect instant returns from the tiny Nano car he hopes to launch by year’s end. Instead, he is expected to use the brands and their U.K. plants, executives and labor to help build Tata Motors, which had $7.2 billion sales in fiscal 2007, into a global car company. He’s been on this mission for several years, buying Britain’s Tetley Tea in 2000, a Korea-based Daewoo truck plant in 2004 and steel giant Corus (previously British Steel) last year. Ratan Tata’s hands-off ownership could win him crucial support as he tries to fold the Jaguar and Land Rover brands into Tata. Mark Norbom, the head of General Electric in Japan, wrote recently in the Financial Times about the importance of the “soft side” of a takeover deal. The “look in the eyes that (the buying) company is worthy” has special value, said Norbom, and is something that “does not come naturally to the typical western-trained dealmaker.” Well, it seems to come naturally to Tata and his people. It was evident in the Corus deal, and it seems to be at work again in their Jaguar and Land-Rover plans. This could, of course, mean that Tata is seen - especially by British trade union leaders - as a soft option who will let workforces carry on as usual. Land Rover has had three years of record sales for Tata to build on. But there’s no telling how long the status quo can last, especially if demand slackens in the United States and elsewhere and Ratan Tata has to institute cutbacks at the luxury car makers.

Riding the Elephant Tata buys into 40 years of trouble «

Used-Car Bargain - Economist
(Update to original post)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

French Stereotypes...Funny Article

Every nation has some peculiar characteristics which sound very funny when looked from outside. This is a very good and funny article in NY Times - well written by Elaine Sciolino. One peculiar characteristic of French people is the love for anniversaries; then there is the the 'french' kiss. Read On...
No anniversary is too minor to celebrate. In my time here, France has marked the 20th anniversary of France’s sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, the 200th anniversary of the high school baccalaureate diploma, the 60th anniversary of the bikini and the 100th anniversary of the brassiere. For the 100th anniversary of her birth in January, Simone de Beauvoir was celebrated with half a dozen biographies, a DVD series, a three-day scholarly symposium and a cover of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur with a nude photo of her from the back.

A Guide to the French. Handle With Care. - New York Times


Originally uploaded by ganeshkulkarni
This is actually a play ground meant for Hockey - the white banner in background says so. But this also happens to be India - where Cricket rules hearts of people

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wall Street Online 30 Days Trial? Sleeping Webmasters...

Today when I tried to visited Wall Street Journal's website -, I was presented to this page...To my surprise, it offered 30 days free access to's premium content.

When I clicked on the link, this was the page -

What's this?