notes: tech this, tech that

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For a change, I decided to jot down the thoughts that were coming to me while I waded through month-old Reader items. Warning: It gets pretty long.

[Yes, I actually have a set of Reader items that I ensure I catch up with daily, and another set that I’m sure I will always be behind the curve on reading. What’s the point? Its the only way that I can ensure that I’m somewhat current with what goes on in the world.]

Some background: the launch of Buzz meant I went about adding a bunch of people on Reader/Buzz that I wouldn’t have known of otherwise. Louis Gray, Tyler Romeo, Jesse Stay and a whole host of other active “technologists” came to my attention as a result of Buzz. Given my aforementioned division of current and ancient news, clearly, I’m always going to be behind the curve on the most happening stuff in the internet-verse — even given how I’ve tried to balance out the “breaking news” feeds and the “info” feeds.

Over the last couple of days I realized that as long as I stay somewhat current with my “friends” shared items… I’m just fine for the latest and greatest in the tech-verse. Twitter’s Chirp conference notes – check. iPad notes – check. Latest Gmail features – check. Expectations for iPhone4, FB F8, Google i/o – check. Of course, when I say “friends” I mean the aforementioned list of people… all of whom are probably wonderful but barely know I exist. In fact most of them probably don’t know I exist at all. But their connection on this Google network is probably the best thing ever. I don’t miss out, and I get to stick to my own reading trends. This use of social networking really appeals to me — really defines what I would like from it.

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my problem with hindi movies today

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There have been any number of reviews about the latest from the Bollywood stable (My Name is Khan) – ranging from vitriolic to sarcastic/mocking to adulatory.

I could write reams, spew abuse galore, and point out in how many different ways the movie gets it wrong… but I won’t. That’s too easy. Plus, people have already done a pretty good job of that. Quite simply, MNIK suffers from the problem that Hindi cinema has been suffering from for a long time. No, not the fact that SRK is in it, or that KJo is directing it… it simply takes itself too seriously.

You can make movies that are obviously escapist, sheer fantasy – and I’m willing to accept it. For example (just off the top of my head), Krrish and Om Shanti Om get this formula close to right. Then you have the movies that are more realistic (and ergo, more intelligent) – for e.g. Luck By Chance, Dev D. Then of course, the “off-beat” – Kaminey, Rocket Singh – they take advantage of it being “cinema”, but don’t push the envelope to the extent that you cannot accept what is going on. Penultimately, the completely unwatchable – Yuvvraaj, Love Story 2050. Finally, the awesome – Gunda. Obviously, you can choose to segregate movies differently, but this kind of classification can work for most movies in most languages.

Why all this background? Movies that belong to one class, but slowly devolve into a second class end up being neither here nor there. And lead to vitriol galore.

I went into 3 Idiots expecting an intelligent comedy. Within about 5 minutes, I settled back into “escapist comedy” mode. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s sheer fun (note here that I think that people who thought 3 Idiots was “silly” were committing the other cardinal mistake: they were taking the movie too seriously). Ishqiya lived up to my expectations of intelligence. Chance Pe Dance lived up to my expectations to being nearly unwatchable. MNIK starts with merely wanting to be intelligent, then flip-flops between fantasy and unwatchable… resulting in something you eventually await the end of.

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notes: what should be the real plan for the chrome os?

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The world has been talking about the Google Chrome OS. We have people saying ‘next big huge thing‘, and obviously, ‘next big huge steaming pile of crap‘.

Me, personally? I haven’t, and still don’t like the idea of Google having a browser on the market – it reeks too much of a company trying to ensure that they take over every part of the Internet (their proposing SPDY, which will best work in Chrome does not help matters). There have been a series of posts recently dealing with different facets of this particular takeover: the oncoming war, google’s war-winning strategy (+counter-point). The Chrome OS spells the onset of Google really taking the war to the big guys – M$, Apple, – and trying to ensure they have control at the level of OS.

Can it really succeed? Continue reading

notes: is the zune HD not awesome at all?

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[opinion due to : Betanews – Zune HD: The best portable media player you may never buy ]

Like many other reviews have done before him, the author demonstrates real love for the Zune HD. He also stresses limitations – both artificial and real – which apparently translate to it being the device that nobody will ever find utility for. This is a tack that a lot of people have taken when it comes to this device. I completely disagree. Continue reading

notes: copyrights and comics

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[Thoughts due to: io9: Who Created Spider-Man? ]

It is a deal-breaking case that has been filed against Marvel Comics, probably fueled by the recent success of Siegel vs DC for the Superman copyright (and the acquisition of Marvel by Disney too?). My own WTF was fueled by whether Spidey even belongs to this dispute (he probably doesn’t). The Superman case in itself is not completely without wtf-ness given the way the rights to Superman have been split up [link]:

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what do i really believe in?

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When it comes to religion, a lack of knowledge about the unknown has meant that I have come to classify myself as a sort of agnostic (as opposed to atheistic), but if you were to argue with me about God and rituals you’ll find I’m mostly just apathetic. I have been known to do rituals simply because they need to be done: it matters little to me that they are done at all; I can do them because they matter to others. My ‘religious beliefs’ are thus dynamic enough to be classified by more than one person as mere hypocrisy.

How and why I lost the absolute faith that characterized most of my childhood – I don’t know. Sometimes these things happen. A loss of faith (or a lack of understanding) in what rituals signify eventually means that religion itself starts to seem very arbitrary. Merely performing the rituals did not prove much to me, and not performing them made it that much harder to hold onto what faith I had left. Eventually, normal absolutes such as a religious basis for God became superficial.

Recently, however, events have happened to make me question my own agnosticism. There was this year’s avani avittam (related post still in progress), and the associated realization that the real depths of religion can only be understood by accepting everything about it completely. Hoping that faith is rejuvenated based on doing one set of rituals a year (no matter how sincerely) is not really doing much at all – indeed, it can seem hypocritical (as I’ve pointed out). Giving a way of life a real chance is the only way it can have a real effect. On the flip-side, my current apathy is based on the fact that blind faith does not hold up in my own scrutiny. Doing something just once a year for the sake of faith and assuming that the reason to do it will be found – and then finding none – has killed a lot of my faith. As cliched as it may sound, I need a reason better than ‘blind faith’ to accept religion completely again.

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frustration, irritation and everything in between

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Quoted from this article:

James Otis, the owner of the Mahatma’s items, told PTI he plans to donate most of the money collected from the auction to “worthy causes” and institutions and groups working to promote Mahatma’s ideals especially non violence.

Otis said he will “donate the items to the Indian government free if it decides to spend five per cent of GDP on the poor, who were very near to the heart of Gandhi, or announces some other scheme which would benefit them”.

See, we in India, we have  no idea what to do with all the poor people we have. We don’t really need infrastructure, what we do need is handouts for all those people who have no money. If not for the awesome Mr. Otis, collector extraordinaire, we would not have known that we were supposed to help these guys. We would be busy getting rid of them.. somehow. Forget roads, schools, hospitals, and other such useless projects. Gandhi would have been ecstatic to know we were just giving them the money. Would’ve gladdened his heart to see his stuff has been hoarded by some American who got to show them off to his friends, and then decided to “give” them back to the country they should have been with in the first place.

What are these items of extreme value? Continue reading