Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love - Funny and stupid

Out of the 3 movies I watched last weekend this was one.

For me the main attractions were Steve Carrell who is a good comic actor and Julianne Moore who is good actress and a cute one at that.

The plot was fairly obvious from the trailers. Steve's wife wants a divorce and he is plunged into the single life willy-nilly. He gets a mentor in the form of fast-speaking, skirt-chasing, womanizer Ryan Gosling.

It's a good movie in the way that it makes you laugh. That's the only redeeming quality.

The story is the old formula - dating guru teaching a novice, you have seen this many, many times. The plot is simple and predictable, though I have to admit it managed to shock me twice with a twist.

Performances are good as expected. Steve Carell lives up to his reputation. Julianne Moore looks and acts beautiful as always. Ryan Gosling does alright in the role of dating-guru on his own, but he's not even 10% of Will Smith in Hitch in the same role. Marisa Tomei looks older and acts fine, but doesn't look anywhere near as hot as she did in "My Cousing Vinny". Emma Stone does okay. I am not a big fan of hers. Julianna Guill looks so sexy and yet so good in her role as schoolgirl that I didn't recognize her as herself. I thought she must be one of the popular teenage actresses and not the adult (grown-up, not in an R-rated way) actress that she is.

Other supporting cast is okay, nothing remarkable.

I was not very impressed by the pick-up scenes of Gosling though they were decent. His patter is okay, not as well-written as Will Smith's in Hitch. And for God's sake can we have at least one Hollywood film where the divorce is NOT the husband's fault? The wife sleeps with another man behind her husband's back but it's the husband's fault that they are getting divorced! I try to keep the battle of the sexes out of my blog, but come on, this is too much! Is the whole Hollywood so pussy-whipped they can't dare to show a woman ever being in the wrong? It was not this movie's fault, but this was like the last straw. I have just seen it way too many times now.

The climax is as predictable as the rest of the movie. Happy ending, Hollywood style.

My conclusion is that as a romcom it's entertaining enough to be watched once, but don't go in with expectations too high. It's light entertainment to keep around on DVD even, to watch when you don't want to get too deep into a movie and just want something to make you laugh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Google+ - Can you believe it?

43 Million users in one week!!
According to this story, Google plus got a 1269% increase in users since it was opened to public.
I, of course, was on it weeks before when it was in invitation-only stage. *smug smile* So I guess I would be one of those "influencers" and "early adopters" that the story talks about.

Now that Google+ is open to public I am expecting to have a bigger friend list and a more active Stream. So far I like Google+ as compared to Facebook, with the only problem being having more friends on Facebook as of now. That will change. Even though I use Facebook, I really hate it. It's only because of boredom that I ever even open it, mostly on my phone .

Why iPhone sucks - Fact List

This is my web series. Watch this space for an episode on "hi-phone" ;)

"We put the Ape in Apple"

I don't have an irrational hatred of iPhones or even Apple. I do hate both, but it's based on facts. While hatred is an emotion, it comes from real, factual reasons.

Just to be clear I don't own an iPhone, I have never owned one, and I probably never will but I have researched them several times when I was looking to buy another phone. They never measured up to other phones for features and never could fulfill my requirements.

I have seen iPhones, I have operated them and I know what their appeal is, we'll discuss them along with the issues they come with.

I am quite vocal in dissing iPhones and many times been told by iPhone owners "You can jailbreak it!". So, I will be covering that in this thesis as well.

First of all, if you jailbreak it, it's not covered by warranty. Technically it's still an iPhone but really it's not, not the way Apple intended, so let us say my criticism applies more to out-of-the box iPhones, not a jailbroken one which I'd say is a custom device. The same way, you could root an Android phone and get even more functionality than you already get.

Secondly, the iPhone is known and praised for its ease of use and user-friendliness. Rooting or jailbreaking a phone is a risky, non-user-friendly business. If you have to jailbreak it to make it any use, purpose defeated.

Thirdly, even after jailbreaking most of the problems or lack of features in an iPhone remain unchanged.

I hate it when people compare iPhone with latest model Android phones or come up with terms like iPhone-killer! Even the first model of Android phone, G1, could do things that the latest model of iPhone can't. So no need for a new model, no need to kill it, it's a piece of crap, you don't kill a piece of crap.

Let's look at a list of things that iPhones can't do or won't do. The common theme in all these will be a lack of choice and freedom for the user as you'll see.

Flash -

I'll dispose of the most obvious and popular one first. Flash. iPhones cannot play flash, never have and possibly never will. Poor iPhone owners try to convince you that Flash is on its way out and HTML5 will replace flash in the very near future. While that maybe true I haven't seen this happen yet and until that happens I enjoy Flash on my Android phones while you can't. True story.

I have heard that Apple (Steve Jobs) decided to keep Flash out of iPhone for perormance reasons. May be true. But it would delay things when you open a Flash-rich website, isn't it? Then it's up to the user to make that choice, not the company.

Now you are serving up a fast internet by not loading part of the websites. I call that cheating. The company claims in their advt's that it's not "Watered-down internet". I call that false advertising. I am surprised nobody has taken them to court for that.

Bluetooth -
I was surprised to learn that while iPhone does have a bluetooth radio, it can only connect to bluetooth headphones. ALL of the other functionality of bluetooth is suppressed. Why? I have no idea. But you can't send and receive files over bluetooth, you can't use your phone as remove control to control other devices and you can't use it to exchange information like contact cards.

USB - Even with an Apple cable you cannot use your iPhone as a USB drive and just copy files. No, you always have to use iTunes and you always have to "sync". And you know what's wrong with iTunes? It sucks!

iTunes - I used it the first time (and last) when a friend of mine, idiot as he was, bought an ipod and asked me to put some songs on it as his own computer was back home in India. As soon as I started using it, I was apalled and infuriated by the asinine way it works!

Do you know that you cannot transfer MP3's, you can only sync? Let me take an example, suppose you had 999 songs on your computer. You connected your i-device (iPod or iPhone) and copied them, oh, excuse me, sync'ed them to your portable device.

At a later date, you moved those songs off your hard drive to an external hard drive to make space on your internal hard drive.

Later you bought another song from iTunes online store and want to copy it to your ipod or iPhone. When you connect your device to your computer and sync it, it'll DELETE the 999 songs from your device and copy the 1 new song to it!

Do you see how much fun that'd be?

So what it means for an iPhone or iPod owner is that every time he wants to copy a new song to his collection, he'll have to first gather all his music collection to the computer, all hard drives, all CDs, all MP3s etc. etc.

What if instead of taking a backup your hard drive crashed? I don't know if you'd still be able to re-download the songs you bought from iTunes but I know that any MP3 that were on your computer would be gone forever. But you think, "Oh, thank god, I have them backed up on my ipod."

No, you don't. The next time you connect your ipod to the computer, iTunes will DELETE the songs from your ipod. Stupid, isn't it? And again, the user has NO control over how it works.

Apparently, after you jailbreak it, you can use iPhone as USB drive.

Compatibility - Be it Mac or iPhone or iPad, Apple users always bring this up as a big plus point. "Everything just works!", they are fond of saying. Well, all the devices and their peripherals are made by the same company, for the same device to work in that specific way. I'd be really shocked if they weren't compatible! It's like saying I and my brother are related! Well, d-uh!

Or like saying that my Samsung TV remote works perfectly with my Samsung TV. Well, it was made to work like that!

The flip side of it is that the Apple devices are not extensible. In my Dell laptop I can install a Western Digital hard drive and extend the storage. I'd still be covered for warranty except for that hard drive. But Mac Users must pay a huge premium to Apple for a part replacement when they even can get a part replaced. Most times they have to buy the new version of the item. But we were talking about iPhone.

Adapters - Every lead, every cable, every adapter for iPhone must be either made by Apple or be Apple specific. If I forget my charger home, I can just borrow somoene's mini-USB charger or PC-connector cable. These days so many phones have mini-USB chargers that I'd have a good chance of finding one in the office. iPhone owners must find the proprietary cable. This doesn't change even if you jailbreak the phone.

Camera - There was a time I was looking for a second phone just to use as a pocketable camera with the phone attached. At that time, I looked at iPhone spec's as well. Today I laugh at my misguided attempt! iPhone camera has always been behind time. (At that time I ended up buying a Samsung Pixon12 for the camera. A Non-android phone and my last non-Android phone even though it was great in itself.) That time iPhone had a 3.2MP camera with no flash.

Even in iPhone 4 you get a 5MP camera, when most camera phones have 8MP or better cameras.

What Apple fanbois will tell you though is that it's not megapixels that matter in photo quality, it's the camera sensor. What they would conveniently forget to tell you is that Samsung Galaxy S2 comes with an 8MP camera sensor while the iPhone4 comes with a 5MP sensor.

The Samsung Galaxy S II can take 1080P video but Apple fanbois will try to convince you that it doesn't matter. Having seen both 1080P and 720P let me tell you - it does matter! Open both on your laptop and you'll see for yourself.

New versions - This is my beef with the company for all their products. They release a device with very limited functionality and just as people start buying them they announce another one with some of the missing features added. Like the iPad had no camera but the iPad 2 had one. So, they didn't have the technology to install a camera in iPad, but got one in two months? How come Samsung and other manufaturers had no problem installing a camera in their tablets? And how come Apple call themselves innovators then? What do they innovate - new, flashy ads for their crippled, over-priced devices?

Just to set the record straight, I could do copy-and-paste on my Sony Ericsson non-smartphone phone 2 years before the iphone was launched. But the first iphone had no such capability. But the new version had copy-paste.

I am sure this makes the iPhone buyers feel like idiots when they see the announcement for the next version a week after they buy theirs.

With Android also there are lots and lots of phone with varied capabilities, but they are all very powerful and feature-rich, and the technology is always state-of-the-art not suppressed for marketing reasons.

Battery - iPhone battery life is supposedly great. Nothing compared to SGS2 though. But even with the first Android phone G1 I had the option to replace the battery. iPhone owners try to sell the idea that a replaceable battery is not a big deal, so let me prove why it is.

Extra power for "those" situation - Sometimes you don't have access to a power outlet..for example, I won't say getting stranded on a desert island, but beach trips, long flights, long train journeys, cruises, picnics, day get the idea. In all those situations and places, an Android owner can simply slap in a spare battery (cheap to buy) while the iPhone owner can only use their run-down device to crack nuts. Actually not, from what I have heard, it's not a very strong device, physically.

Then there's the question of repairs. If the battery dies, as in die forever, any normal phone can have a replacement. For an iPhone you have to send it to Apple and get the whole phone replaced. With a cost of course. I am sure you can guess that replacing a phone will be much more expensive than buying a battery for a tenner and putting it in yourself.

MicroSD card - The internal storage in iPhone is okay, but you never get the option to add an SD card. Again, it might make things easy for Apple, but doesn't help the user. No matter how big the internal storage an additional card slot can always outdo it.
No jailbreaking can fix this hardware limitation.

Form factor - iPhone models right from the beginning have been OK to Ugly. Ugly being iPhone 4 with sharp corners, heavy body and unwieldy feel to it. It pisses me off when people call it a "good-looking" phone. It's not. It's the magic of marketing that makes it look attractive to people.
Jailbreaking can't help that.

Body - Can you believe that this is something the Apple fanbois actaully defend and praise? It's a glass-and-aluminium body. Glass not only adds weight, it makes it fragile as well.
Once again, jailbreaking won't change that.

Screen - At one time 3.5 inch screen was a good screen. But no more. If you doubt me, put your iphone 4 next to my Galaxy S II and play a movie. We'll see who can see more detail. But the retina display was quite good and is still comparable to the current phones. So I'd give it that.

Customization - On my Android phone, I am the king, I have so much control it's scary. On iPhone you can't even control how your application icons will be displayed. My phone desktop is customized for maximum efficiency. On iPhone you can only have your icons as Steve Jobs wants you to.

App Store - The AppStore is another argument that Apple fans try to use in a debate. While on paper it does look much better than Android market, in reality it's not. The Android market beats is on a couple of points.

Just in sheer numbers there are more apps in the AppStore. Granted. But now that the number of Android apps have crossed the 100,000 mark with the growth continuing the difference is losing its significance. In reality so many of the apps are either useless or duplicate on both platforms.

From personal experience I know that a lot of apps on AppStore are paid while their Android cousins are free of cost.

Then comes the question of censorship. You simply cannot install a 3rd party app on the iPhone. On Android you can download and install from anywhere you fancy.

While the censorships is applied under the guise of security and decency, it doesn't just stop adult apps. Anything that Apple or Steve Jobs don't like can be blocked from the iPhone. Like Google apps. You can't have them. why? Because they said so!

After jailbreaking you can get around this.

There are some iphone Apps that are not yet available on Android. But the reverse is true as well. The caveat here is that while the missing iPhone apps may ultimately be developed for Android, the reverse is not true.

Here are some stories about Apple-banned apps that would surprise you:

Apple can ban an app for politicial or commercial reasons, trying to keep their competition out. Case in point, the app Podcaster that provided the user more functionality than the Apple itunes was banned. Same is true for Google Voice.

Problems - There have always been issues with the iphones. "You have to hold it exactly like this or it won't work." was the famous one, but there have been many, many others. Yet, Apple tries to suppress them and does manage to keep them out of the press, trying to maintain the image that everything works.

Lawsuit - In order to keep their market share, Apple doesn't just spend money on marketing, they also try to browbeat anyone else to suppress competition. The latest example is the lawsuit against Samsung for the design of their 10.1 tablet. How many of these are bonafide cases? Probably none.

The Cult - iphone fanbois have their cult. It's not allowed to say anything against Apple or iPhone. If you start pointing out things that are wrong with the iPhone the fanbois start frothing at the mouth and spouting profanities.

Unfortunately, this is becoming true of Android as well. I myself would get red in the face if anybody in my earshot defends Apple. Unless it's a girl.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Movie Review - RED

My system of finding and acquiring movies is quite varied, so I don't remember what criteria I used for getting this movie but I am very glad that I found it.

It's an action film, and as happens with actions films the direction is everything. This one has been directed very well by Robert Schwentke!

RED is a CIA abbreviation (in this film) that stands for - Retired Extremely Dangerous.

This is how it starts... Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired agent, he should be called superagent actually. He calls the CIA pensions department and talks to his case worker Sarah about his pension check that is incorrect. She assures him that she'll get another one sent in the mail right away. They have a pleasant chat during which we see Willis tearing up his original check which had nothing wrong with it.

Then he makes another call to her, another time, and tells her he's coming to New Orleans. She tells him to give her a call when he's there.

Next scene, we see him getting up at about 3 am and going to the bathroom. The camera retreats through walls and we see a unit of commandos with guns ready to raid his apartment.

But here is when we see the true colours of Frank Moses! He's not a gentle retiree from some paper-pushing job, he's a man with reflexes like a tiger and he's deadly like the tiger's mother.

After disposing off the agents, his next item of business is to travel as per his plans but instead of meeting Sarah, he kidnaps her.

The story is not slow up to this point, but it picks up good speed from here on. Actually, maybe that's not right, but you do get a sense that the story is going to take off now.

What I really loved about the film is that despite being a formula action film it's different from the typical action movie. It progresses at a good pace without getting boring and somehow it manages to avoid the usual cliches.

The plot itself is quite good, simple but with enough twists that you don't get bored. The action unfolds nicely as well. No slack anywhere, but still the film moves at a comfortable pace, entertaining and amusing all the way through. It's a 2010 movie so technology is pretty current, stunts are very good.

The cast of characters is quite good. Apart from Bruce Willis there's Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss  and John Malkovich.

It's easy to identify with Bruce Willis. He is shown to be a man of action and thought as the situation demands. His romantic side is quite endearing and makes it easy to like him despite his habit of going around killing people.

In the beginning I thought Mary-Louise Parker was "kinda ok" but by about halfway through I realized, she's very cute. I wouldn't call her "hot" but she's very cute!

Karl Urban makes a very good antagonist as a CIA agent. John Malkovich - as soon as he appears on screen you know he's a seasoned actor. He does a great job of playing a paranoid ex-CIA agent. Helen Mirren I liked on sight. She's a bit old for me to think of her as "hot" but there is something loveable about her and the way she portrays Victoria.

The film, despite being an action film with a good amount of violence, is light and fun. I don't want to give too much away in case my readers decide to watch it but there were a few good stunt scenes and a couple of nice drama scenes that would be memorable.

Even as it was running, I was feeling quite happy that it was still going on. Despite being a violent film it has a feel-good factor. When things go wrong you feel confidence in Bruce and his team.

The plot has some good twists and turns which keep one entertained and lead to a normal, enjoyable conclusion. Although I don't mind the gruesome, gory violence that you see in some films, I prefer the "Red" kind of simple violence without too much focus on blood and breaking bones.

All in all a very watchable film for fans of action films.

Samsung Galaxy S2 - My experience

I was going to write two posts one for my Samsung Galaxy S2 and one to list out how iphone sucks (yes, another one), but I decided to do the SGS2 post first. I think there are a lot of review sites for mobile handsets but most of them work either from paper spec's or an early review unit or sometimes just on a display piece in a technology conference. Not a whole lot of user reviews based on actual experience. So I decided to do one.

I am not gonna do a long and detailed review of all the features and settings because that would take too long. This phone does have a LOT of features! I will just talk about the few things that I really dig about this phone and how they influence my life on a day to day basis.

First off is the shape and size. Samsung boasts of this being the thinnest smartphone on the market and I think they are right at 8.49mm thickness. It feels really nice to hold in the hand because of this shapely body.

The downside is that you have to be really careful when texting one-handed or when taking photos. Also the body is plastic, which people seem to have something against, I don't. The back cover is textured plastic which feels good in the hand.

The first time I opened the back cover to install battery, I hated it. It looks so flimsy and cheap, plus it has hooks on 3 sides of so it was hard to open. I was worried I might crack it any moment. But I didn't. And I realized later that having hooks on 3 sides it fits really snug and feels safe when closed. No wobble or play in the back cover. I like that classy feel. Also being light it doesn't add much to the overall weight which is just 117gms.

I received the phone on 22nd of August, (a nice b'day present for myself), and since then I have gotten used to the weight a bit, but if I pick up my old Desire HD and then pick this up, it feels so light! The shape is still pleasing after 3 weeks. I love to pick it up!

Now let's talk about the screen. The resolution is same 800 X 480 that I have seen on many devices so far, but this is a Super AMOLED Plus screen, and while that sounds good to the ears, you have no idea what it means until you see the screen! It's gorgeous!

Just this morning I turned off my morning alarm on two devices, my old Desire HD and then on the new SGS2. And I noticed the difference in colours and vibrancy of the display even though I was half-asleep and wasn't looking for anything like that.

Also, in practical terms, I have to keep the brightness of the screen lower than I used to on the Desire HD otherwise it is too bright to be comfortable. In the direct sunlight, I jack it up to full bright and it's comfortable to use outdoors.

Last weekend while I was traveling, I forgot my tablet in the office and had to watch videos on my SGS2 in the trains. I didn't mind at all! The 4.3 inch screen is great for watching movies and TV shows esp. in HD!

It's one thing to say that the SGS2 has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and it's a totally different thing to see it in action and be wow'ed by it. Right from the home screen you begin to see and feel the difference that a fast processor makes. This effect continues as you keep working with the phone, opening documents, launching applications, interacting with various dialogues, it's all amazing!

I haven't used the camera a lot, esp. not manipulated the taken pictures on the computer but whenever I have taken any pictures, I have absolutely loved the speed. The settings available for the camera are also really impressive. Mobile cameras are not meant to replace the digital compacts but this one comes very close.It's a 8MP camera with an LED flash. Works well enough to snap on-the-spur shots, for really great shots you'll take your camera with you anyway.

There's no use talking about Android as that is common across both my phones, but this one has version 2.3.4 which does feel improved. There are small enhancements that you notice as you do stuff.

And now, the battery life. SGS2 has a 1650 mAH battery which is a big improvement on the Desire HD but the real difference is in the real life performance. With the Desire HD I used to get a day's worth of use at light use. I could not use it as a replacement for my Tab because it would run down quickly. When I used to go to London, by the time I got back at night, my battery would be below 10% or sometimes already dead.

With SGS2 I made a 3 hour train journey, used it continuously, to watch movies, play games, and make calls. Battery expenditure was slightly less than 40%. I am happy with that.

In daily use also, I check battery level often and the way it goes down I will get about 20 to 50 hours of use in a typical light use pattern. I have never used it straight 20 hours yet, I charget it when I get home. But as I said, I look at the numbers throughout the day. Usually when I get home after a working day. In about 14 hours, it has lost about 20-50% depending on how much I used it through the day.

What the great battery life means to me in real terms is that I can have live wallpapers and other widgets and background applications that would be nice to have but do use more battery. Now I can enjoy them all without worrying. When I go out, I don't carry a charger with me (to office, for example). And I don't take an emergency charger when travelling by train. Sometimes I can leave the tablet behind when travelling.

With SGS2 I also got Swype pre-installed which I was enjoying very much on my Samsung Tab. So that's a big plus for text-entry. You don't know what you are missing until you try it.

There are some bad things also. But I don't whine about them as I knew them before I bought the phone. (Unlike iphone buyers, I don't say "Oh, that looks pretty!", I do my research.)

One bad thing is the absence of the search key on the handset. I didn't use to use it a lot before, so I am not missing it much. Or at all. There's always a soft search key in all programs where I can search.

Another bad thing is that it gets too warm in certain conditions. It doesn't happen a lot but it's a shortcoming. Happens esp. when I make it a wifi hotspot and use it for extended periods of time. Also sometimes when downloading a really big file on the phone. Doesn't happen often enough to make me annoyed.

The third thing I hate in phones is the location of the SIM card and microSD card slot. In this phone both are under the battery cover which is hard to open, so that does annoy me. Recently I found a solution to transfer my files without using cables. There are two solutions actually.

One is to use Kies Air by Samsung that comes pre-installed. It's really cool. You connect the laptop and phone both to the same Wifi hotspot, then start Kies Air. It gives you an IP address, you enter that IP in your browser on the laptop and voila, you can see a huge amount of information from the phone on your laptop - photos, files, videos, text messages, call history, a lot. You can do a lot of things from there, but the shortcoming I found is that I can't transfer a file bigger than 100MB. So I searched for another way.

There are a lot of free FTP servers available for Android. Using them is like using a normal FTP server. Start the server on the phone, then connect to it, using the browser or an FTP client from the laptop. I am very comfortable with FTP clients and prefer them, like Filezilla (also free). This was fine for transferring movies across, a lovely interface.

But if I gave that solution to an iphone owner, they might faint. All they know how to do is to sync using iTunes. And they love staying within those limits. *evil grin*

I am going to stop here it's gone on much longer than intended it to be anyway.

Next, expect a post from me on why Apple sucks. ;)

You have to play by Apple's rules

That's not me, that's what Apple says to its consumers and rest of the community:
If you don't believe me, read this new item captioned

Norway declares Apple’s iTunes illegal

It's like you buy an audio CD from a shop and are told that you can play it ONLY in the CD players bought from that shop. Or that you buy a pen which will write only on the pad you buy from that same shop.

And watch the arrogance of the company to call the French law (a year before this) "state-sponsored piracy"! How is it piracy to want to listen to an MP3 you bought and paid for? Just because you want to listen to it on a device not made by Apple? Jeez, this company makes me sick!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reblog: 8 Things that Suck about iPad

25000, baby!

This week my visitor counter hit the 25000 mark. It took almost 5 years to do it, but for a personal blog it's still a big deal for me!

I would like to thank all my visitors, especially my blog friends whose regular visits have helped me achieve this Silver Jubilee number.

At this point I want to mention why I still keep blogging. There is no one single reason but the strongest reason is that I enjoy it. Ultimately, I would like people to read what I have written, but just the act of writing a post is also quite enjoyable and gratifying. Another reason is to share stuff. It could be a movie, a funny picture, a touching poem or an amusing anecdote, I love to share these with my readers. I sometimes also use my blog to archive things. For example, my hatred for chatspeak or Apple Inc., my love for Android and books and TV shows. Many times instead of repeating myself I can just give someone a URL to my post for these things.

I don't want to make this unneccessarily long, let me just say I am quite happy about hitting the 25000 mark and thank you again to all my readers. I hope you will keep visiting and leaving your comments.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Smartphone comic

Apple Sucks Once again

Oh, look, a whole blog dedicated to the universal fact that Apple sucks.

Reblog: Why Apple sucks

Just to remind, most of these reasons are valid for all Apple products. Enjoy :)

Top 10 things iCrap owners say

1. "Flash is on its way out.."

2. "iphone is good, it just can't do this one thing..." (Repeated 329 times in a half hour conversation)

3. "I don't really need that feature."

4. "Yes, I know Apple is evil, but look how good this looks!"

5. "Apple is a great innovator." (Yeah, right!)

6. "I don't really need third party Apps."

7. "Apple protects me."

8. "Android did look better but all my friends had an iphone so I bought one as well."

9. "I hate it but it looks so nice."

10. "I am a girl."

Shayri 101 - Ghalib - Koi din ghar zindgaani

Once again I have picked a favourite ghazal of mine. (The image contains the same ghazal in Urdu)

This is written by Ghalib and it's very popular as expected. It is one of his simple-language ghazals, but still has a few tough words. Let's get into it.

koii din gar zi.ndaganii aur hai
apane jii me.n hamane Thaanii aur hai

Meaning: This is very simple. The poet says that if he has any more days to live, he has some different plans for his life. Don't we all do that? We keep making plans for our life. After every mistake or every adverse event, we make some different plans. I think it's a good habit.

aatish-e-dozaKh me.n ye garmii kahaa.N
soz-e-Gamhai-nihaanii aur hai
[dozaKh=hell; soz=passion/heat; nihaanii=hidden ]

Meaning: The fires of hell don't have the same heat as the burn of the hidden pain. So true man, so true!

The beauty of this sher, IMHO, lies in the long word - soz-e-ghamha-e-nihaani. It's a compound word, joining 3 words together. Soz = burn or fire. Gham = sorrow and ghamhae = plural of gham, sorrows. Nihaani comes from the word nihaaN meaning hidden. So the whole word means fire of the sorrow that is hidden. The hidden pain is more painful because the world doesn't see it but it eats awat at you inside. And because it's hidden, you do not get any sympathy from your friends and family just bear the pain in silence. You see why it's worse than the fires of hell?

baarahaa dekhii.n hai.n unakii ra.njishe.n
par kuchh ab ke sar_giraanii aur hai

Meaning: I have seen her angry mood many times, but this time her anger seems very different. Sar giraani literally means heavy head, but it's expression for anger, naraazgi.

deke Khat muu.Nh dekhataa hai naamaabar
kuchh to paiGaam-e-zabaanii aur hai

Meaning: This is my favourite sher. "The messenger is watching my face after handing me the letter. There is something she has said to be delivered verbally. "
Even though the literal meaning is quite clear the hidden meaning has to be derived from it. I mean, why is the messenger watching his face, what is he waiting for? His expression on reading the letter? His reaction? What is that verbal message and in what condition will the messenger deliver it? For example, consider the following scenario. when she wrote the letter, she was not free to say what she wanted, written under duress, you know. But then she was able to whisper something to the messenger before he left. And now the messenger is waiting to see his reaction before delivering the real message.

I should mention that all these things only make sense in the context of Indian culture.

ho chukii.n "Ghalib" balaaye.n sab tamaam
ek marg-e-naagahaanii aur hai
[balaaye.n=calamities; marg=death; naagahaanii=sudden/accidental]

Ghalib says that he has seen faced all the trials and tribulations of life except one. The unseen, unexpected trouble of death, that's the only one he's waiting to face now.

The beauty of this sher is that it can be interpreted in two radically different ways. It can be interpreted as a show of confidence. The poet has handled all the problems of life and is ready to face even death. Or it can be interpreted as the sigh of a man who is tired from life after being subjected to all the troubles in his life and is just waiting for the final trouble - death, that would deliver him of all the other pains and sorrows.

I have tried my best to translate and interpret it, but it's Ghalib's poetry, research scholars work on things like these and thesis are written on each of Ghalib's sher's. So, my humble attempt may leave a lot to be desired. Still, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to put them in the comments.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 10 Characteristics of an iCrap owner

Top 10 Characteristics of an iCrap owner

1. The last time you took a risk was when you were 2 and tried to stand up by pulling yourself up to the couch.

2. When you need to make a choice, you look at others to see what they are doing then follow suit.

3. Technology scares you.

4. You start frothing at the mouth when you see someone coming towards you holding an Android phone.

5. The words iPhone-Killer give you nightmares and you wake up in cold sweat during the night.

6. You are quite happy for other people to make your choices for you.

7. You pray to Steve Jobs in private and hope that he will bless you with "Flash" some day.

8. Logic and reason are not your strong points.

9. You no longer take offence at being called "sheeple".

10. You consider it a privilege to be made to buy inferior technlogy at a higher price because you think it's "cool".

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Android Wallpaper of the day

iPhone wallpaper of the day

iPhone 4 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

Warning: The following article may (and will) cause serious heartburn in iphone owners. While the comparison by the reviewer have been made based on paper spec for SGS2, I can vouch that the specs are true and the real life experience for all these features is as he expected, in most cases it's better than expected.

Edit: Even after posting this I was reading the comments on that article. And believe me comments are the real fun where Apple fanbois come out and try to discredit the review with really great comments like "iphone is more fun". This one comment really impressed me, well done. My favourite line I have put in bold. ;)
I'll post more if I like any other comments..

CAN’T wait to ditch my iPhone 4 for this beauty!!! Apple is about to be SPANKED, and most deservedly so. This thing is a BEAST. Can’t wait to make the leap from stupid non-innovative, oversimplistic, money-grubbing, mass-appeal/brainwashing blind-sheep-herding Apple to Google and Android. Good riddance Steve Jobs. Getting rid of my iPad 2 for a Galaxy Tab 10.1 as well. To quote the inimitable Captain Jack Sparrow, “Gentlemen…I wash my hands of this weirdness.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friends with Benefits - Must Watch

Now that I have been to see it twice I think I should review it as well. Don't worry I won't review it twice.

I have seen it twice so you can guess that I love the movie. Here I am just going to list out the things I loved.

First and foremost Mila Kunis. She is a petite girl, but man, what a body! She's absolutely gorgeous! Even in simple sleeveless shirts and tank tops she looks very hot! Acting wise....huh, acting? What acting? Just kidding. I did notice the acting and she has done very well.

The second thing is casting. All the characters in the movie are well-established actors, I am not talking star cast, I am talking character actors who know their craft. Justin Timberlake has done well in his role as the male lead. All the characters have been cast well and they have all done justice to their roles. Jenna Elfman plays the role of the hero's sister quite well. She is an experienced actress and it shows in her performance.

The third thing is also casting. The casting director is obviously a man after my own heart. Wherever he has to have a female extra, he thinks - let's bring in a real hottie! Well done, Lisa Miller Katz. Oh wait! It's a woman, who did that casting?!! Honestly, I checked the IMDB page for the crew after I wrote the beginning of this para. And now I see that there are a lot of women on the crew.

Including Tia Nolan who has done the editing. And she has definitely done a great job. It's not often that I am impressed by someone else's editing these days without try to find faults, but Tia has made her mark there.

Another one of my favourite characters is Woody Harrelson. I saw him first, like most people, in the American sitcom "Cheers". He has done well in his films as well since then. But in this one he really shines. He plays the gay sports editor who works with Justin and he is hilarious!

The story in itself is simple but not weak. If you had to plan a movie on the theme of two friends who try to add casual sex to their friendship I am sure you'd be able to plot it along similar lines. But still the direction and editing are fast-paced and the story doesn't lag.

Dialogues are extremely smart. They are witty and quick and quick-witted as well. (You see what I did there ;) ) I loved the dialogues right from the first scene.

Justin's father has been shown to have Alzheimer's and I am glad they have treated the disease with dignity and restraint. They have managed to introduce humour into the situation without disrespecting either the father character or people with Alzheimer's. In fact, there's a scene where Dylan (Justin) supports his father in public and the scene is both humours and touching, esp. to me.

Soundtracks are very well-chosen, even the phone ringtones.

The "small cute thing" and the "big romantic gesture" type things have been done well with good direction. They are corny as any Hollywood romcom would be but not cringeworthy.

There's some male nudity in the film. This was my biggest complain about The Inbetweeners even though I liked the movie on the whole. In FWB, it has been more than compensated by the female nudity (Mila Kunis, man!) so I am looking the other way on the male nudity (notice the pun!).

The bad things about the movie? That'll be hard, but I'll try. Everybody in the movie makes a big deal about the difference between L.A. and New York. Almost like LA people are hillbillies. They are both modern, American cities of considerable size. I don't think there's that much difference in the cultures. But I have only been to NYC not LA so I won't sue anybody based on that.

In the beginning of the movie, Mila is trying to sell Justin on NY and he gets taken in very easily. It's like he was just waiting to be sold.

Mila and Justin become good friends a little too quickly. I found it hard to buy. Though I might be just jealous that the bastard got to bang Mila. ;)

In conclusion, it's a good entertainer and well worth going to see. Another beauty of the film is that you can go to see it either with your special someone or your mates. You'd enjoy it either way. Piece of advice, the first time you see Mila's legs on screen, don't say "God, I want her!" out loud if you are seeing it with your girlfriend!


Sahir Ludhianvi - Favourite Songs

I found this post by chance and I am quoting it here because it contains 10 really great Sahir songs with good information about them. They are not my top 10 but 9 of them are very high on my list of favourite songs. One I have never heard - Pighla sona door gagan pe.

I will just list my 3 top most favourite songs from this list:

Tum apna ranj-o-gham
Man re tu kaahe na dheer dhare
Aage bhi jaane na tu

Please feel free to add your favourite songs in comments. I always love to find or be reminded of great Hindi songs.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein..

The original nazm by Sahir Ludhianvi a part of which you have heard in Amitabh's voice in the film Kabhi Kabi.

Kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n Khayaal aataa hai..
ke zindagii terii zulfo.n kii narm chaao.n me.n
guzarane paatii to shaadaab ho bhii sakatii thii
ye tiirgii jo merii ziist kaa muqaddar hai
terii nazar kii shuaao.n me.n kho bhii sakatii thii

ajab na thaa ke mai.n begaanaa-e-alam ho kar
tere jamaal kii raanaaiiyo.n me.n kho rahataa
teraa gudaaz badan terii niim-baar aa.Nkhe.n
i.nhii.n hasiin fasaano.n me.n maaho rahataa

pukaaratii.n mujhe jab talKhiyaa.N zamaane kii
tere labo.n se halaawat ke ghuu.NT pii letaa
hayaat chiikhatii phiratii barahanaa-sar, aur mai.n
ghanerii zulfo.n ke saaye me.n chhup ke jii letaa

magar ye ho na sakaa aur ab ye aalam hai
ke tuu nahii.n, teraa Gam, terii justajuu bhii nahii.n
guzar rahii hai kuchh is tarah zi.ndahii jaise
ise kisii ke sahaare kii aarazuu bhii nahii.n

zamaane bhar ke dukho.n ko lagaa chukaa huu.N gale
guzar rahaa huu.N kuchh a.njaanii guzar_gaaho.n se
muhiib saaye merii simt ba.Date aate hai.n
hayaat-o-maut ke pur_haul Khaarazaaro.n se

na koii jaadaa na manzil na roshanii kaa suraaG
bhaTak rahii hai Khaalaao.n me.n zindagii merii
i.nhii.n Khalaao.n me.n rah jaauu.Ngaa kabhii khokar
mai.n jaanataa huu.N merii ham-nafas magar yuu.N hii
kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n Khayaal aataa hai

Beautiful, isn't it?

I am not going to translate it as I myself don't understand all the words exactly, and because it's so poetic it'll be hard to translate exactly, and even then it'd lose all its beauty and depth of emotion.

Random quote from Osho - The Drop

One drop has just fallen.
It is a precious moment, and one that is full of poignancy. In surrendering to gravity and slipping off the leaf, the drop loses its previous identity and joins the vastness of the water below. We can imagine that it must have trembled before it fell, just on the edge between the known and the unknowable.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Random Quote from Osho - The Seed

Read it and tell me it doesn't inspire you.

The seed cannot know what is going to happen, the seed has never known the flower. And the seed cannot even believe that he has the potentiality to become a beautiful flower. Long is the journey, and it is always safer not to go on that journey because unknown is the path, nothing is guaranteed.
Nothing can be guaranteed. Thousand and one are the hazards of the journey, many are the pitfalls - and the seed is secure, hidden inside a hard core. But the seed tries, it makes an effort; it drops the hard shell which is its security, it starts moving. Immediately the fight starts: the struggle with the soil, with the stones, with the rocks. And the seed was very hard and the sprout will be very, very soft and dangers will be many.
There was no danger for the seed, the seed could have survived for millennia, but for the sprout many are the dangers. But the sprout starts towards the unknown, towards the sun, towards the source of light, not knowing where, not knowing why. Great is the cross to be carried, but a dream possesses the seed and the seed moves.


My Teachers: Kaushik Sir

I have this great way of starting new series and then abandoning them. So, let's start another one - my teachers. May be 3 days late after Teacher's Day but better late than never.

I think you'd agree that teachers play a defining role in our life. I have been blessed with some great teachers in my life. Actually most of them were great for one reason or another, but some were outstanding! When I decided to write about Kaushik Sir, I thought why just him, I have had some other teachers as well that I would never forget, so why not make it a series? And so, here we start another series, My Teachers, with the first instalment as Kaushik Sir.

He was my English teacher. I had him in more than one classes but the most memorable was the period of 11th and 12th standard. During these 2 years most of my classmates who were serious about school were focusing their energies on Physics or Maths and the interest in English was quite low. It was stupid of them, no matter whether you go for engineering or medical, you still needed to pass English and get good marks in it. I saw several of them suffer because of this shortsightedness when the results were out.

But the low attendance didn't bother Kaushik Sir. He loved to teach and he taught with the same enthusiasm if the number of students was 4 or 40. His period was 4th, the last one before recess and by 11th class the fear of teachers and school discipline kind of wanes. We think of ourselves as almost-college students, not school students. So people used to feel quite free to leave before the 4th period started.

However, Kaushik Sir never missed a class, even if there were 2 students in the class he would teach. I know this from experience. There was one time when only I and another student were there in the class but Kaushik Sir didn't even raise the question of "Should we continue the class?" He just took out the book and started teaching with a smile.

That was another thing - his equanimity. Never a shout, never a temper tantrum, and never a harsh word. Always a smile on his face and always a dedication to doing his best in making us learn.

His teaching style was simple and effective. He always went beyond mere translation of the lesson and question-answer. By that time I was good enough in English that I used to read all the stories in the text books in the summer vacation itself and then enjoy them immensely when they were taught in class one by one.

For me, after wading through Physics, Chemistry and Maths, English was like a picnic! It was a reward! It was a joy! So, I never missed a single class.

I don't want to keep repeating that Kaushik Sir was an amazing teacher and a great person so let me illustrate with a couple of examples.

We were studying this story called "The Coin Diver" which is a great story. I still think of it as one of the best stories we read in school. In the story, there is scene where the 3 main characters of the story, Diamond Jim, Nancy and Charlie (names from memory) are on a single path and their placement relative to each other was important to the story.

When Kaushik Sir started explaining that passage he changed their positions from where they were in the story. I interrupted and called him on it immediately. When the discussion started, another student, the other guy who never missed a class, also supported my view.

Kaushik Sir said he would get back to us tomorrow.

Now here's the beauty part. He didn't forget, and he didn't try to roll past it. The next day, right as rain, he just ambled into class, opened the book and in front of a full class (about a dozen or so students) admittedthat we were right and he was wrong! I mean who does that? What teacher sets aside his ego like that and just concedes so openly? He told us that he had read the book last year and was thinking he didn't need to again this year to teach.

More than The Coin Diver, that was the lesson I learnt, be willing to admit your mistakes and don't get bogged down in ego!

Next instance was also during the same story. In the last passage the author used the word "breast" for the male character. That confused me. So I asked Kaushik Sir and he told me that sometimes the author goes by the quality of the person's body as in, it is a female quality to be able to love so much, and here Charlie has shown that quality so the author used the feminine word for his body. I accepted that.

He repeated that with slightly different words that gave me enough of the clue that I realized the difference later. (In both males and female the bone structure etc. is called chest and the flesh part on top is called breast). It was not him bullshitting me, it was just him stepping around a sticky topic, but not at the cost of leaving me in the dark. That was another lesson I learnt from him, though later, honesty in a difficult situation!

My memories of Kaushik Sir are like that, a man with immense knowledge, a really mature character and a great teacher!

If this reminds you of your teachers or a particular teacher, feel free to share with us in comments. 

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