Friday, December 09, 2016

Cinematic Disease

I have developed a new disease - don't worry it's only a cinematic disease. All through "Dear Zindagi" I was thinking how great those dialogues of Jahangir Khan would sound if they were delivered by the great Amitabh Bachchan. After that, in my mind it was always AB delivering those deep, thought-provoking lines. And now pretty early in "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil" I realized what a nice character it was that Anushka was playing. Also, how great it would be if there was a good actress playing that part - like Parineeti Chopra.

After that, my mind took over and all of Anushka's parts I imagined Parineeti delivering on screen. And believe me, the Parineeti in my mind did a much better job than Anushka could ever hope to do.

This is why I had started to make films, because I was always second-guessing the directors but it seems that the problem still persists. So, it's not a new disease really, just a new strain of the old virus.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

GadgesFix Leeds - Service Review

I gave them my LG V10 to repair on 7th October 2016, Thursday. It had gone into boot loop and I was not able to fix it with factory reset so I thought I would try real professionals before giving up on my favourite phone.

After explaining to the owner that it was a Hong Kong variant of the V10 I told him that I don't put it on any hard surface because of the camera on the back, I don't want it to be scratched. He assured me that they would put it in a bubble wrap before sending it to the tech department. I was happy with that.

He gave the phone to another clerk to log it into the system and the first thing the clerk did was to put the phone down on the glass counter! I picked up the phone and reminded the owner that that's exactly what I was requesting to not do. The owner admonished the boy who put the phone on a plastic sleeve this time and that was that.

The owner quoted me £35-£45 if it turned out to be a software issue and £50-£60 if it needed hardware components. Then explained me that their minimum charge is £25 which they prefer to get in advance. When you want service you need to pay. I paid the £25 there and then without grumbling.

I asked if they would call me with updates and was told yes, but that I could also find out the current status by going to their website and clicking "Repair Tracker".

Cool. So far so good.

Next day I tried to use the repair tracker on their website. After I entered my details and the ID number that they had given me, I received an email that they had received my enquiry. No status update, then or later.

No update until Monday. Then on Monday morning I called them, and talked to the owner. The first update he gave me was that in their system it was showing "Collected by customer".  When I insisted that I had not collected it, he said that they could not fix it because it was a Hong Kong model. (I had told him this myself when I handed the phone in!) He promised to call back with clear status.

He didn't.

After waiting a couple of hours I went to their shop in my lunch break and collected the phone. I didn't get any details or discussion about the problem, just a quick apology that they could not fix it and if I had paid the charges. Then he checked that I had paid and was at ease.

On my part, I was out £25 with nothing to show for it. I give them 2 out of 5 stars simply because I don't want to act like a dick otherwise there was nothing in the whole experience for me that I would count as good. There was nothing in the service that would make me recommend their shop to anyone.

Not to imply that are not professional or anything. They are. But they were more professional about their money than your problem.

Good day? Bad day?

Being a positive person, I am careful never to call a day "a bad day" it condemns that day beyond reprieve. However, my positivity is being stretched to the limit today, it's not even 10 am yet and it's already been a 6 WTF day.

WTF 1: Got up very late.
WTF 2: Snowing outside.
WTF 3: Trump is president of America! (Big WTF this one!)
WTF 4: Realised that I am losing Indian money because leftover money from last India trip is in 500Rs. and 1000Rs. notes which the Indian prime minister has just made obsolete.
(Every India trip I leave some leftover currency in my wallet for the next trip. This lasts me for a day or two when I land in India and I don't have to find an ATM immediately. Last time I made an error in judgement and withdrew more money than I needed just a day before my flight back to UK. So, this time I had more money left over in, guess what, 1000Rs and 500Rs notes. Suddenly realised with a start this morning that I am losing that money. WTF!)

WTF 5: Guitar teacher cancelled lesson for tonight as he is unwell. (I was counting on this to get me through the day.)
WTF 6: The Lemsip I bought yesterday is sachets not capsules. (I should have looked more carefully but they also need to put the words Sachets on the package).

Now, let's see what positives I can find in these.

I got up late but got ready in time and left the house in enough time to catch the same train I do every morning.
The snow slowed me down but still...I was in fact 3 minutes early at the station.
Despite changing to the heavier jacket, I didn't leave anything back - train ticket, office key card, headphones, smaller headphones that fit inside the jacket hoodies. All ok.
Although I do care about what happens to it, I don't myself live in America.
Yes, I will lose that money. No getting around it. But I can obviously afford it.
Without the lesson I will have time to work on the song I am writing. I was counting on my teacher's help but this will give me time to practice and present to him a more advanced project next week.
And I don't have to go back out in the snow once I get home.
I had a colleague who could lend me 2 Lemsip capsules and I can pay him back at lunch time. I have the money to buy new Lemsip and I know I can exchange the Sachet packet in the afternoon on the way back.
It might be snowing outside but I am inside a well-lit, warm building with access to the internet.

Things will get better from here.

And to borrow from my last post - we're still flying.

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to tell if it was a good day

One of the reasons (one of many) I really dig Firefly and Serenity is that the dialogue is very witty and sharp. There's nothing blase about the lines, never the cliche'ed crap that turns your stomach.

Example to illustrate.
It's the end of a very tumultuous day. Captain Malcom Reynolds and Dr. Simon Tam are in the cockpit.

Simon: I'm trying to put this as delicately as I can... How do I know you won't kill me in my sleep?
Mal: You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me, and you'll be armed.
Simon: Are you always this sentimental?
Mal: I had a good day.
Simon: You had the Alliance on you, criminals and savages... Half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded including yourself, and you're harboring known fugitives.
Mal: Well, we're still flying.
Simon: That's not much.
Mal: It's enough.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Noise, Noise, off the wall..

An interesting read by Purba.

She is quite right though. We do love our noise. It doesn't even have to be music, but usually we need something that can masquerade as music. I have even heard truck drivers on the highway honk their horns in short bursts of their homemade "melody".

While you do run into pubs and clubs which are too noisy for conversation the same thing is not so common in restaurants. Although, there are restaurants that have very loud music playing, the more classy (read expensive) ones have only subdued, soft music that is a good backdrop to conversation without getting in the way. I know some of these, but I have also been known to ask the management to reduce the volume if I go to the other kind of restaurant. I eat quite often in mall food courts during my India visits anyway.

The thing that drives me up the wall is the incessant hoking! During my recent trip, I had the pleasure(!) of being stuck in many traffic jams (Delhi traffic is off the charts right now!) and people honk for no reason at all. They are all stuck in traffic and everybody is moving as and when they can. But these people would still honk. Seems to me like they are clutching the last dregs of sanity by venting their frustration with their horns. Or they have gone crazy and think that the horn is a video game. I can't decide which!

One thing I thankfully did not run into this trip was a "mata ka jagran" near my house. They play what seems like a fake-bhajans, i.e. songs engineered from latest movie songs with religious words pasted on them. The only "mata" they would remind you of would be Katrina Kaif or Sunny Leone! And volume would be loud enough to rouse the whole neighbourhood, which I think is the idea. It's not limited to any one religion or god though. During Ramzan you can hear the azaan and the call to "sehri" just as loudly.

But coming back to music, it can sometimes be a real nuisance. During one of my India visits I had a young boy in a shop opposite my parental house who liked the song "Main tera boyfriend, tu meri girlfriend, tu mainu kehndi na na na na" a little too much. He put it in a loop and played it at top volume morning, noon, evening, non-stop. Normally, I am a "live and let live" kind of guy but that did get my proverbial goat. Finally, I went there and told him "Dude, change the song or reduce the volume! Or else!" It worked for a while!

You would find the same 5-6 songs playing all over the place - on the radio, in weddings, parties, discos and on TV channels. But new songs have a burnout time of about a month. They get phased out by other equally meaningless, blase songs in due course. Only the most obnoxious, loud and obscene ones would be remembered past 3 months, example Sheila ki jawani and Munni ki badnami.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Note 7 Catching Fire is Boon to Apple

I moved away from Samsung last year when they went in for a stupid double edge for the Note edge 2 but still this seems like a huge set back for the company especially in terms of reputation. And a setback for Samsung will be god's gift to Apple. I hate that.

Here's the official Samsung link -

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

LG V20 - Complete Tech Specs - First Thoughts

Sometimes I wonder if everybody except me is an idiot. For example, why does everybody keep comparing the new LG V20 to the LG G5?? It's a clear successor to the LG V10, by name, by design and by the company announcement, so why are you comparing it to something completely unrelated, morons?

Well, with that off my chest, let's talk about the new LG V20. The model was officially announced yesterday and the specs are as follows:

Release date September 2016
Form factor Touchscreen
Dimensions (mm) 159.70 x 78.10 x 7.60
Weight (g) 174.00
Battery capacity (mAh) 3200
Removable battery Yes
Screen size (inches) 5.70
Touchscreen Yes
Resolution 1440×2560 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI) 513

Processor 1.6GHz  quad-core
Processor make Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
Internal storage 32GB
Expandable storage Yes
Expandable storage type microSD
Expandable storage up to (GB) 256
Rear camera 16-megapixel
Flash Yes
Front camera 5-megapixel
Operating System Android 7.0
Wi-Fi Yes
Wi-Fi standards - 802.11 a/ b/ g/ n/ ac
Bluetooth Yes, v 4.20
Infrared Yes
Headphones 3.5mm
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
Compass/ Magnetometer
Proximity sensor

As an upgrade, it's quite good. It's not a mind-blowing upgrade but as I mentioned to my brother only 3 days ago, what can they really upgrade in a phone that already has everything. And he mentioned these 3 things, RAM, Processor, Display.
LG has done just that and a little bit better.

The three things I wanted them to keep were:
The second display (it's more useful and less obtrusive than an Edge display)
The removable battery
The microSD card slot

I would not buy a phone without the last 2 things.

LG kept them all. Good job.

The three things I wanted them to improve were:
Display (I wanted 4K screen just like every other geek)
Battery (that's one weak part in the LG V10, but thanks to the removable battery, I can carry spares and be covered)
OS (Android moves leaps and bounds with each version and we always want the latest one)

LG gave me the 4K display but only improved the battery from 3000 to 3200mAh. On Android they did great, we get 7.0 right out of the box.

They have also added a wide-angle back camera and removed the front wide angle camera. I preferred it the way it was but it's not a deal breaker.

So, all in all, it might not be a radical upgrade, it's still worth it for me. I am one of those people who like to upgrade their gadgets at every opportunity and I have been looking for one but not finding any worthwhile contenders. I am very picky, I would not go for a screen .1 inch smaller, I would not touch a phone with a fixed battery, I would not spend money on a phone with no expandable storage..etc. etc.

That made me wait for LG's offering in the series and given that it's a nice upgrade even if not a spectacular upgrade, it's worth buying for me.

What about you?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Union is Dead, Long Live the Union

I find it highly ironical that the same people who want to drop out of European Union strongly suggest that Scotland and Ireland, (and London) should stay in the United Kingdom and continue to be integral part of the Union (UK, not EU).

Being an Indian immigrant my English is not all that great - should this be called hypocrisy or bigotry?

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Satisfaction Cost

“How much?”
“Combien?” (French)
“Cuánto” (Spanish)
“Quanto” (Italian)
“いくらですか” (ikura desu ka?) (Japanese)

No matter which language you use this is one expression that is universally important!

How to ask the price of something is an essential phrase whether you are out visiting the market or “agora” in Greek or shopping in the neighbourhood market for melons.

The significance of this question is twofold - to find out if you can afford it and to judge whether it’s worth that price. The order of these considerations changes based on various factors.

And then there’s the whole economics of price vs. supply vs. demand. There are already many books written on this topic so I won’t go into that. However, I do want to discuss the price vs. perception of quality phenomenon.

In Hindi we have a saying, “Mehnga roye ek baar, sasta roye baar baar” meaning the one who buys expensive cries once (for having to pay a high price) but the one who buys cheap cries again and again (when the thing breaks down or lets him down).

Generally, that’s the idea, something that’s more expensive is better in quality. This was based on certain factors that were true in the industrial age. The price of the item depended on the materials used, the workmanship, the machines and other manufacturer-oriented factors.

And then entered advertising into the field. If you could make the consumer want the item, the actual quality of the item could be made secondary. Readers of my blog, and my friends (and strangers) know that I don’t like iPhones and I have commented more than once that they would be alright if they were priced at about £100-£200. It’s advertising and clever marketing that allows Apple to sell them at the exorbitant price that they don’t deserve.

So, what is the real driver for the cost here? It’s Satisfaction. Companies are able to set the prices of their products based on how much a given product will satisfy the customer. You would be more satisfied carrying the likes of Samsung, LG or Sony mobile in your pocket than some unknown brand that originated in a nameless factory in a far east Asian country. The factory maybe situated down the road from the Samsung factory but the product would not give you the same pride, same assurance, same Satisfaction if you will...

Given that it’s not simple enough in these times to compare two products and judge their intrinsic quality from holding them in your hands like you could compare two earthen pitchers, it becomes necessary to take things at face value or Brand Value.

This phenomenon causes the disconnect between cost and price. Companies no longer set the prices  of items based on their cost price and overhead but based on Satisfaction Cost, what the consumer can be made to pay for that item.

[Credit to my brother Anil Goswami, for the term: Satisfaction Cost]

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Captain America:Civil War - My pre-thoughts

(BTW, the May 6 must be the American premiere date, here in UK it's releasing on 29th April 2016.)

I like both Cap and Tony because they are both good men. But they both have weaknesses. Right now Tony is driven by his guilt complex over Ultron just as Steve is driven by his compassion for Bucky as well his guilt at letting him "die" in Switzerland.
In TWS the Cap dropped the ball when he chose to go head to head with TWS instead of putting a bullet in his brain. Cap jeopardized the mission, risked the freedom of the whole world in order to treat his old friend with compassion. Wars are not fought with compassion and he's a solider isn't he?
Cap is so self-righteous that he would not see or accept that his behaviour in TWS was not befitting a soldier. And now he goes against his friend Tony who fought shoulder to shoulder with him and laid his life on the line on many occasions? Not done,Captain.
Just to be clear, I am absolutely opposed to the Avengers being made answerable to the "stupida$$" (Nick Fury's word) World Council. So what I am saying is that on principle, I am 100% behind #CaptainAmerica but I don't like that he is also majorly driven by personal reasons.
Having said that, it's absolutely heart-wrenching that my favourite superheroes are fighting each other. But that makes for great cinema, does it not?

#teamcap #teamironman 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How To Post Spoilers On Facebook With This Easy Trick

This is a case of necessity being the mother of invention. I wanted to post a comment on my Facebook wall about an episode of Big Bang Theory from season 8. Even though that was last season (we are way into season 9 at the time of this writing), I didn't want to spoil it for anyone who has not yet seen that season. And my comment did contain big spoilers.
(I have been guilty of spoilers before in real conversation without really meaning to, so trying to reform here, people!)

I couldn't find a solution on the internet that would work from the writer's side. If you are a FB user there are apps etc. that you can use to avoid spoilers about TV shows and movies but nothing that helps you write it in such a way that it doesn't spoil things for the people who read your wall. So, here's my trick.

Follow these 7 simple steps:

1. In your post, type the line "SPOILER ALERT" followed by the TV show name, season and episode that the spoiler is about, or the movie name.

2. Press enter to go to next line.

3. Then hold down ALT key on your keyboard and type 255 on the numeric keypad. This will type an invisible character. It's called a hard-space.

4. Press Enter. This creates a line that contains only one character, the hard-space.

5. Copy this line using the keyboard or mouse. Keep in mind that the hard-space will look like a normal space when you select it, but it behaves differently.

6. Paste this line about 10-12 times after your spoiler alert line.

7. Below this type your actual comment which contains the spoilers.

Now, when you post your comment, the readers will only see the Spoiler Alert line, followed by a link "See more" Now they have been warned. If they want to read your comment they can click on See more and read it, or they can just keep scrolling and not read the part of your post containing the spoilers.

If you simply typed a lot of spaces or pressed Enter to insert empty lines, that does not work because Facebook collapses all empty spaces and the post is displayed in continuation. But hard-space is treated like a character not like a space therefore, it works to create the extra space that forces Facebook to treat the post as a long post and display only the top part of it with the "see more" link below it.

Enjoy, and let others enjoy! :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Movie Review with Spoilers - Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice - Injustice to the viewers

Warning: This review is full of strong language, creative epithets, violent suggestions and sexual references. It also contains detailed spoilers. Read at  your own risk. 

An absolute piece of crap! That's my honest and concise review of this movie. And I do reserve this review result for movies that truly deserve it.

I guess I am angry because this is one of those rare times when the movie trailer managed to fool me. I had no intention of watching this movie, then I watched the trailer and thought it was worth watching. Wrong decision!

Now the question of why, why do I call it a bad, excuse me, terrible movie.

I have said this before in a review, and I say it again here - there is the science of filmmaking and there's the art of filmmaking. The science includes all your cameras and fancy lenses and other technological wonders that are at the disposal of a modern-day director.

The art is that crucial part which helps a director create a movie that puts the audience at the edge of their seat. And they (the directors) don't usually need any special technology to do that.

This movie is full of the former but shows no discernible sign of the latter.
Let's take it piece by piece.

Story is pretty simple as superhero stories sometimes are. Superman is framed for collateral damage during a Lois Lane rescue and people want him answerable.

Characters are very boring with one or two exceptions. And the director has shown the characters in a bad light. Batman comes across as petty, insecure and evil. Superman comes across as stupid and simple-minded. Also, an idiot.

Most of the actors have done a good job given the terrible story and characterisation. Except one.

The guy playing Lex Luthor, Jesse Eisenberg, he starts overacting from his first appearance on screen and never stops. If anything made me want to hurl a shoe at the high-resultion IMAX screen, it was this guy. If this was Bollywood I would surmise that this boy was the son of the film's financer. Actually, that kind of thing happens in Hollywood as well, doesn't it?

Jesse Eisenberg plays the evil mastermind so horribly that I am sure if he was playing this part in a college play the director would kick him out after the first rehearsal.

OMG! Does director Zack Snyder know that there are other shots in the book than close up's and ultra close up's? It was driving me nuts how he was going for a close up or super close up for about 90% of the time. This also starts right from the beginning of the film.

Other than super close-up's the movie uses way too much slo-mo in scenes where it's obviously not required. It slows down the pace and makes you want to tear your hair out.

There is one particular fight scene with Batman fighting multiple goons which made me want to take the cinematographer and editor to the top of a volcano and kick them in! You can actually see the junior artists waiting their turn to attack the big star, Ben Affleck and get beaten by him. They are ALL holding a long barreled gun but none of them fire, they all step up one by one and attack him close range so that he can beat them with his fists.

What's worse, it shows that Ben Affleck is old and out of shape. Not a good thing to do to your superhero character.

The dialogue is way cliched. You might actually think - "Guys, did you ever have an original thought?"
Really boring dialogues in really cliched situations.

Background Music
Just like the dialogue the background music is cliched and in some scenes really intrusive. I was screaming inside - "Can you please just fuck off? I am trying to watch the scene here!"

Because the movie is full of all kinds of cliches it's very predictable. If you watch movies regularly you would actually be able to say "Okay, this character will use this line later in the film." "Ah, she's throwing the spear in the water, that means they will need it later when things are going critical."

And when you can predict to that level the movie becomes very boring. Actually, I was yawning all through the second half of the movie.

What also pissed me off was that for a movie called "Batman Vs. Superman" majority of the movie only shows Clark Kent fighting Bruce Wayne with tired, cliched dialogue. There is only one battle between Batman and Superman in the whole film and even that is not real because the villain has captured Superman's mother and he's fighting for that rather than on principle. That battle made me doubt Superman's sanity.

The movie is also way too serious. There is absolutely no comic relief. I can't help but contrast this with Marvel movies like the Avengers where they manage to create nice comic scenes without breaking the tension of the moment.

Redeeming qualities
Yes, thankfully there were some. Well, two. Lois Lane played by Amy Adams and Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. (Did you notice the alliteration - LL AA WW GG?) Both the characters are the best characters in the movie and both the girls have played them wonderfully well.

Lois Lane comes across as a sensible girl dealing with extraordinary situations with consummate skill and level-headedness.

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman comes across as a powerful, strong woman with remarkable abilities backed up by a remarkable character.

In spite of every bad thing I have said here I do plan to acquire a full HD version of this movie for two reasons when the Blu-Ray comes out.

One, there's a bath tub scene with Amy Adams that's just gorgeous in high-res. No, you don't see any nudity but she is a stunningly beautiful girl and that scene is worth watching for her.

Two, during the climactic battle, when Wonder Woman makes her first  appearance as Wonder Woman in this movie, she materilises on the battlefield blocking an attack by the Cryptonian monster. The best action scene of the whole movie! Gal Gadot looks amazing as Wonder Woman and just as ravishing in her WW armour as she does in the sexy cocktail dresses in the early parts of the film.

BTW, in this whole movie, Wonder Woman is the only superhero worth watching.

That's all folks. Go waste your money on it or not, I leave that up to you.

P.S. I watched Zootropolis right after this movie. Much better story line, better characters, excellent plot twists. A more worthwhile choice!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thank God Kapil Sharma is coming back

After Kapil Sharma walked out of Colors people were disappointed including yours truly. But now Kapil is coming back with his team bringing his new show on Sony - The Kapil Sharma Show. This is the perfect name for it as "Comedy Nights with Kapil" was also mostly referred as "Kapil's show" among the public and celebrities.

Watch this short clip where a reporter is trying to talk to the team on their set. Even these simple interviews are very funny. You can imagine how great the new show will be.

From what I know from watching the various YouTube videos about it, the first episode will be a live show in a stadium in Delhi. The rumour/news is that Shah Rukh Khan will be part of the first episode. Since Colors has served notice on Sunil Grover and Kiku Sharda that they can't do the Gutthi and Palak characters so they will be playing new characters. Ali Asgar will also play a male character. Sumona wil again play Kapil's screen wife.

I am looking forward to it just as all of India is waiting for it. It's starting from 3rd April, 9 PM IST, on Sony. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Do you tip, bro?

I am sharing this because I think it's important and it's one of those rare things where we can make a direct and useful impact. So, I am taking the time to write this.

A while ago I read in a Facebook post that different restaurants have different policies about tips. Sometimes the policy is not to pass on the tips given by customers to the waiting staff.

Personally, I think that the tips are an important part of the waiting staff's income and the restaurant should not interfere or intercept them. But since reading that FB post I have started to ask every time I eat out and have been surprised to see many different policies.

Some places pass the whole amount to the waiting staff, some places do a percentage (ranging from 40% to 80%) and in some places it depends on the method of payment. For example, a place where we had lunch today, the waiting staff doesn't get any tips left by a customer if it's added in the card payment. If the tip is cash, they get all of it. Needless to say, I paid my bill by card but left the tip in cash.

The waiting staff cannot say this to the customer, it would be against the rules and will be unprofessional but if you ask them they will tell you freely what the exact policy is.

My take on the thing is that the waiting staff should get all their tips, the amount depends on the service as well as the customer's inclination, but they should get their tips, in most cases, it's considered part of their remuneration when the employer fixes their salaries.

From my side, the suggestion is that you ask your waiter/waitress about the tipping policy in the place when you are paying your bill, but of course you are free to do as you please. If you feel like this is worth sharing, feel free to forward it on FB or elsewhere. You don't need to link back or anything but I am happy if you do as well.

And a funny collection of tip jar pictures for your amusement:


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