Tuesday, January 31, 2006

IE7 any better?

In comparison to firefox:
  • Navigation toolbar is slicker. Stop, Refresh, and new tab have been made more contextual. (Clearly, a user experience team at work).
  • New tab and Quick tabs work well. Not that firefox doesnt have these, but one needs to install a couple of extensions like foXpose to get this behavior.
  • Search Providers? No simple way to add Wikipedia as a search provider.
  • Thats the end of it. Bookmarks manager and Browser Settings just got carried over from 'pre-web' versions of earlier IEs. Isnt browser settings supposed to be a relatively geeky thing to go and fiddle with? Howcome IE7 hasn't got this part simplified?
  • Find continues to suck. Does it take IE9 or something to fix such a simple thing?
  • and on Firefox extensions...oh! there is just no point in getting started on that. Let's just say IE7 is lagging by a decade on that front.

Simplicity: Health Plans

Healthcare Industry desparately needs a 'Citi-Simplicity' version of a healthplan that doesnt ask elderly people to go thru the fine print to weigh in the pros and cons of different available plans in a decision matrix! Too many choices suck and thats an enormous business oppurtunity lurking in the fine print.

Its time for a daring company to come up with a plan that is bold and simple enough in terms of the strings attached. With increasing number of baby boomers, I think its also time to consider a DRAMATIC strip down of fine print and content on the websites. Keep It Simple and Superb.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Rang of Basanthi

Yeah, thats my poor French joke on Rang De Basanti. This is what went thru my mind as I was watching the movie:

  • First you think, "okay this is an 'enemy' perspective at Bhagat Singh movie" (the general's dairies and all that)...
  • then you think its about "an English girl making a movie with Indian cast",
  • then you think "Oh! man its a 5 person version of Dil Chahta Hai",
  • then you think "May be they do want to shoot a Bhagat Singh movie"
  • then you think "Why Bhagat Singh for the nth time on Hindi Screen man?"
  • then you think "Okay, this guy wants to deal with some issues of India too",
  • then you think "Oh! NO Why does this guy want to talk about every issue India has?"
  • then you think "The Bhagat Singh analogy is over stretching man"
  • then you think "Thank God! Its atleast funny occasionally"
  • then you think "They are going to get this Madhavan dude killed, man"
  • then you think "Enough of Sepia man! Enough of the analogy crap! Dont start making a complete mess out of it"
  • then you think "Oh! Well Congrats Mr. Mehra, you have officially stepped into the crap zone"
  • then you think "Mr.Mehra has well passed the finish line in crap zone..entering bullshit zone"
  • then you think "Now stop bullshitting me"
  • then you think "There is something called Electricity to pull the AIR signal out of air"
  • then you think "NDTV is doing a lot of product placement"
  • then you think "You go on a plane and make a joke that you have a gun. You'll know how sane the commandos are"
  • then you think "Enough of it man. This Amir dude gets shot and drags himself across India to reach the studio again"
  • then you think "Ah! well, this Mehra wants somebody to wakeup. But why does he make a pretense of making a revenge story a national issue?"
  • then you think "Ah! Now he makes a pretense of the movie being about MIGs"
  • All in all, Dont try to summarize this movie too many times. You end up in the experience of watching a montage of short films with different themes but the same cast.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

Those Tiny Great Moments

Why is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart a genius? NPR is running a week full of awesome collection of audio programs on greatness of some of Mozart's greatest compositions starting with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. As the saying goes, the difference between a genius and an ordinary on one hand is huge, while on the other, its really tiny. What are those tiny moments of divinty that make Mozart a genius? Try these for an answer: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5164428

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hyderabad's new airport: Disaster in-making?

Hyderabad, one of the tech hubs in India, is getting a new airport. Here's a little video:


New projects are always great oppurtunities to try out new things and not to repeat known errors. This one seems to be missing on both. The airport doesnt seem to be trying out new mechanisms in energy conversation (It uses glass and metal ceilings in a region where average temp is 40C). There is no mention of access to public transportation. A country of 1 billion needs enormous focus on efficient and affordable public transportation to prevent an ecological disaster. How sad that the video talks at great lengths just on retail, food and beverage, retail, food and beverage (did i mention retail, food and beverage?) and nothing else.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In or Out?

I heard Y!'s Europe Managing Director on BBC say "Google's philosophy is to get the user out of the network, while we want to get the user inside the network". So which one's better? "Let them get to the place they think is the best" OR "oh! No. Let them stay inside." ?? "Lets help them go to the place that does the best job" OR "Lets build the best in everything" ??

Sunday, January 15, 2006

EasyShare?

WTF do they mean when they say EasyShare? I cannot get in unless I have a userID and a passwd. I think companies should be made to be pay, say fine-per-use, when they say its Easy and dont really mean it.

A couple of Iranian Movies

Majid Majidi.

This Iranian director is extremely deft at the tugging the right chords of your heart. I happened to see two of his movies: Children of Heaven and The Color of Paradise.

Children of Heaven is about a young brother and sister living in a distant Tehran sub-urb. The boy accidentally looses his sister's shoes when he takes them to get it repaired. They decide to hide this fact from their father as he's financially broke at that time. They manage with the boy's single pair of shoes as both have different timings at school. The boy sees a flyer for a district-level under 10 running race. All his hopes are now pinned on the third prize: a pair of sneakers. I cannot believe that so much could be done around a pair of worn-out shoes! Heart-warming, unexpectingly funny, moving. In summary, Fantastic!


The Color of Paradise? A 9-year old blind boy wants to know the color of paradise thru his finger tips. A selfish father wants to get rid of this unfortunate child to better his prospects at a second marriage. But the boy has a loving granny who cares a lot. Once when the granny is away, the father sends away this boy to a professinal blind carpenter. And all that is left to see for the boy, thru his fingers is: different types of wood! At the end, the granny and the boy both see the color. They find that it is bright. An Intensely Emotional movie experience.

Both movies showcase rural and sub-urbian life of Iran which is very different from the usual axis of evil picture painted by Uncle Sam Propaganda machine.

Sense of Community is the key

One of my friends was participating in the CHI 2006 student contest on making ppl healthy. I kept pointing that sense of community is the key in helping ppl watch their diet & weight and technology should help them get that done instead of being overly intrusive. I was suggesting a version of Y! games where ppl wud be able to compete during their workouts. Here is an article on USA Today reporting new treadmills, stairmasters and gym equipment connecting to internet allowing people to compete with others. I am keen on seeing this succeed.

Mahima

A new album I discovered this week: Mahima by Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman. Fast paced music with Indian folk themes. You should like it. My personal favorites included: Tagore Street Blues and Jibaner Gan.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Who should get it?

Hey, lets say we have used up 90% of world fuel and 80% of rest of world's resources. Then there is a huge competition for the rest of the resources. Who should get these resources? Should it be the guy who can afford it thru money? or the one who cannot afford it? Sounds silly? Well, my argument is that the rich guy is rich, most probably because he has used up a significant chuck of those used-up resources, while the poor guy is yet to use any of them. The fundamental Q I think I am trying to ask is...Are the balance sheets really balanced?

China and resouces

Lester Brown is talking about the rise of China and and its impact on planet's sustainabilityt on NPR's Science Friday. Lester makes it sound so western-centric that as he says things like "China is threatening to consume all of world resources" (yeah right, west hardly consumes resources.), "This western model of economy is not going to work for China" (yeah but, what about the model working for the west and the rest of the world?).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stone the Satan Inside

Its really disappointing to see people at Hajj rushin to stone the Satan, resulting in a catastrophic stampede killing 345. Isnt the biggest Satan inside? BTW, NPR has a great and politically-right interpretation of the tragedy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Telling the truth

Victor Lomardi asks, "Central planning. Unnecessarily large teams. Official ideology. Poor moral. Are you working in a totalitarian company?"

I am tempted to answer, but I wont.

on JUST Western Europe and United States!

The guy reading news on the WBUR had the following comment on birdflu: "As bird flu breaks in Eastern Europe, there is a threat to Western Europe and United States." (or something to that effect). I can understand that the audience of that news bulletin is primarily United States. But that does not make me appreciate the incredible narrowness of interpretation of the news and the humongous self-centeredness of the western media.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An OST from Vanity Fair

I dont know how popular this one is...but here is one quintessential Rajasthani tune sung by Richa Sharma and Shankar Mahadevan. The words "Gori Re", sing in praise of a fair woman (gori) who has managed to get over all her obstacles and won every heart on her journey. The song appears in the movie ends as the character played by Reese Witherspoon climbs yet another step in the ladder. The two voices Richa and Shankar give the song a great depth.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tolerance or Intolerance?

Here is a little dance drama in a south Indian classical dance style, narrating the story of Jesus from His birth to crucifixion. For a moment I was thrilled, but it was a little disheartening to see the dancer not wearing a bindi. I can understand that Indian Christians don't wear one, but bindi is the center of the whole universe of facial Aaharya (costume and make-up of the artist). I don't know if this enactment of Jesus' story should be called an act of tolerance OR if not wearing a bindi should be called intolerance.

Not so OCW-ish

Columbia has this supposedly great interactive medium called "Scientific Habits of Mind", but you got to be on Columbia's network to access it. How Sad! How not so OCW-ish!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Second Green Revolution?

The Ruling Congress Party and the Prime Minister Dr.Singh keep talking about a second green revolution to empower farmers and villages etc. Dont simple market rules of demand and supply
apply to food production? I mean isnt the world already producing an excess of food. Weren't the problems with distribution? If that is true, shouldn't developing nations help their farmers learn new skills and not be farmers anymore?

Lady Indian Busdriver

BBC reports this story about a lady bus driver in Rajasthan, India. Believe me, this one is a little different from the usual blonde driver joke.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year, Taipei 101


Happy New Year, Taipei 101
Originally uploaded by Coolmitch.

my lifelong fascination


Toy Train
Originally uploaded by HELLO, my name is _____..
i love these trains...they always give me a good sense of the country they are in.

Gaming will start eating into films

May be they have already begun eating into movie markets' revenue by making people more addicted to game consoles and thus keeping them away from movies houses. On the other hand, some movie houses started churning out extra revenues by giving out movie-based games. The BBC reports that the games are now starting to unfold based on players reactions. So movie houses might as well make movies of length of just one hour, building the charaters enough and let players unfold the rest! Too many alternative endings??!!