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Showing posts from February, 2011

The world cup fever is on

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The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is on. The cricket fever is now officially on. There is less traffic on the roads, everyone talking about the matches and overdose of advertisements on TV and news.

I have to confess, in a land of cricket worshippers, I am an odd man out. I somehow don't have the fascination for it like I used to earlier. But, here are some interesting statistics.

Google have a product called Insights for Search. You can look at trends for certain phrases. I tried looking up phrases like "crickets score", "world cup 2011" and compared it with other random phrases like "bollywood", "budget" and "mobile".

You can see the results below.


Source: Google Insights for Search

While there was a temporary spike when the world cup started, people seem to be more interested in knowing or buying mobile phones and about the impending central budget. There is some hope after all!

Tech - Proliferation, panels and prices!

We have been seeing a proliferation of Android versions, manufacturer and network UI over the Android and various form factors. Now add to this potent mix, different kinds of screens.
The screen in a phone or a tablet is one of the most expensive components in the device. If you read the fine print, there are differences between various models of phones. Until now, these differences were in the processor and memory. Now, with a wide of variety of consumer segments, price points and form factors, there are different options being offered for screens as well. It looks like, AMOLED screens are short in supply while there are plenty of LCD screens available to manufacturers. I am not surprised given the explosion in sales of smart phones and tablets. And, we haven't seen the sales of these devices plateau yet.

Take the case of the Samsung Galaxy S I9000. This phone was launched around 6 months ago in India at prices ranging from Rs 28,000 - 30,000 (600 USD). We have two more models b…

Tech - Cloning is a good business model

According to Wikipedia, "Cloning in biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually.".
There is a lot of debate around cloning of life, be it human, animal or plant. When it comes to cloning of business models or technologies, there seems to be no such issue.

Here is an article on one of my favourite sites about one of the many new clones emerging in the web 3.0 businesses - Techcrunch
Typically, first mover advantage is what businesses aim for. However, it is also fraught with risks. What if the customer or the market do not warm up to it? Business that follow a competitor into a new segment however do not face such risks. They may or may not capture the market or mind-share, but they can still survive or even flourish. Take the case of the deal sites, there are so many clones of the original deal sites in countries like US, UK and Ind…

Movie Review - Roman Holiday (1953)

This movie was recently show in TV. With so many (useless) programmes vying for my attention, it was not easy for me to settle down for this movie. I had originally watched it when I was a kid during the "VCR" era.
The movie is directed by William Wyler, considered to be one of the greatest American directors of all time. He has directed more than 70 movies spanning his career. Watching his various movies is like a "master class" in the art of direction and cinematography.

Roman Holiday is one of the iconic movies of all time. The star of the movie undoubtedly being Audrey Hepburn. She deservedly picked up the Oscar for this role. Gregory Peck adds the required gravitas and charm to the movie.
The story is set in post war Rome. Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is frustrated with the restrictions placed on her by the royal courtiers. The opening scenes with her hook you in, where she plays from demure to bored to angry with equal ease and she slips from one emotion t…

A dual dish

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Here is a salad my wife and I made. It serves a dual purpose, as a side dish during lunch or dinner and you can use it the following day for breakfast with slices of bread.

You can use any vegetable you want. Ensure that you slice them thin or dice them small.


Ingredients:

1. Chopped lettuce - 5-6 leaves

2. Diced baby tomatoes - 6

3. Sliced avocado - 1

4. Diced broccoli - 1

5. Sliced cheddar cheese - 5-6

7. Mustard sauce - 1 teaspoon

8. Salt - 1 teaspoon (or to taste)

9. Pepper - 1 tablespoon (or to taste)

10. Mayonnaise - 1-2 tablespoon

Recipe:

1. Steam or roast all the vegetables until they are cooked.

2. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard sauces.

3. In a bowl, add all the vegetables and add the salt and pepper. Toss in the vegetables together.

4. Mix the sauces with the vegetables.

Tip: As a variation, feel free to add some other vegetable like - baby corn, mushrooms or carrots. For meat lovers, instead of vegetables, try adding boiled egg, chicken, lamb or prawn. You can add other se…

How to create a big picture

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Typically, you need wide view or fisheye lenses to capture a panoramic picture. An alternate method (though may not give the same quality) is to use software to create a panoramic image.

There are several software available which you can use to create a panoramic image. The concept is called - "stitching". Some of the software available are - PTGui, Panavue, PAX-it, AutoStitch and so on. I sometimes use AutoStitch to create the panoramas since I have a 50mm lens for now.

Each of these software vary in price and features. The added advantage is that you can take the pictures using any kind of camera - digital, phone or SLR.

Steps:
1. Visualize the picture you want to take.

2. Use your camera and "divide" your image into rows and columns. An example being - 2 rows and 5 columns.

3. Take 10 pictures to cover your entire image.

4. Use any of the software to "stitch" them together.

Here is an example of a panorama created using AutoStitch. I took 8 (2 rows x …

It can't get any greener than this

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Spinach belongs to the class of vegetables that is not so liked by everyone, like broccoli. Made as it is, it makes for somewhat bitter taste. Change it's form, it is loved by everyone

A famous Indian dish is Palak panneer (spinach and indian cotage cheese). This dish is again a staple dish in Indian restaurants all over the world. I am making a variation here with potatoes instead of the Indian cottage cheese.




Ingredients:

1. Cumin seeds - 1 tablespoon

2. Fenugreek seeds - 1 tablespoon

3. Sliced green chillies - 2

4. Vegetable oil - 3-4 tablespoon

5. Chopped onion - 1

7. Diced potatoes - 2

8. Salt - 1 teaspoon (or to taste)

9. Ginger garlic paste - 1 tablespoon

10. Chopped spinach / palak - 2 bunches

11. Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon

12. Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon

13. Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon

14. Coriander leaves - 1 bunch

15. Chopped tomatoes - 1

16. Cold milk / fresh cream - 1/2 cup

Recipe:

1. Heat oil in a pan.

2. Add the cumin and fenugreek seeds, chopped onion and gre…

Movie Review - Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Posted by Rajan
February 18th, 2011


Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recently, we visited a friend of our's for dinner. They happen to have a very energetic dalmatian. During the course of the evening they were narrating the story of this movie - Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009). Being pet owners, they were naturally very moved by this movie.

It is based on the true story of a dog in Japan, which does not give up looking for it's master even after his death. It is the true story of undying loyalty of a dog. Often people say that man is superior to all other animals in this world. Sometimes, an animal can humble or inspire the best in us. The original is a Japanese movie called Hachi-ko (1987). The same story was remade in English as Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009).
This is one of the movies where the story is central. Irrespective of whether it is true or not, it tugs at your heart. Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) is a professor who comes across a puppy. He brings i…

Movie Review - Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Anne Hathaway has for long been seen as a promising star and actress. In my opinion, till date, her career has been a bit insipid. The most notable of her movies being films like - Princess Diaries and Devil Wears Prada.

In Love and Other Drugs, she gears up to play her first major path breaking role. She plays a strong, free spirited, foul mouthed and impulsive woman suffering from Parkinson's disease.


The movie is about a young woman Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) suffering from early stages of Parkinson's. She gets to know Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), an ambitious medical salesman. Maggie is a woman who knows that her healthy days are numbered and Jamie thinks only about his sales numbers. This is where the script takes you on a journey and shows how two unlikely people come together and start caring for each other. As the movie progresses, there are plenty of hilarious moments but tempered with reality. The story draws a fine line between portraying the seriousness of…

Movie Review - Nine (2009)

Nine was a recent movie (musical) aired on Sony Pix. It is about the creative and personal journey of a movie director.
The movie is set in Italy with a once successful director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) now struggling to make his next movie. As he tries to overcome his issues, he looks back at his life through the various women he has come across.

An ensemble cast plays the various women starting from his mother (Sophia Loren), friend (Judi Dench), wife (Marion Cotillard), admirer (Kate Hudson), mistress (Penelope Cruz), muse (Nicole Kidman) and childhood crush (Fergie).
Daniel Day-Lewis plays a stellar role as he fluctuates from frustrated to charming. He in fact came out of his retirement to act in this role. Each of the actresses too essays their roles brilliantly as per the script. The other highlight of the movie is the musical pieces set for each of the women. Each musical piece is a song and dance and it explores the relationship that Daniel Day-Lewis has with them. Th…

Birds of prey

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There is a wide variety of birds of prey in nature. These are ranging from the eagle to the kite to the condors. Each a specialist in their own way.

It is only natural that the man's birds of prey - military aircraft should be named after nature's birds. Thanks to my father, I was able to get a vantage view at the recent air show in Bangalore - Aero 2011. It is a bi-annual event attracting more aircraft and crowds as each edition goes by.


This year too, the F-18 Super Hornet, F-16 Falcon, Eurofighter Typhoon, Tejas, Saab Grippen, Mirage Rafael, Sukhoi-30 and many other aircraft enthralled the crowds. Just as in nature's birds, each of this had it's own speciality.

The added attraction were the Red Bulls acrobatic team from Czech republic. It's nice to see that the air show is increasing in stature and largely well managed too. Except for the traffic snarls!

Bring your pictures to life

Animoto is a new service which lets you import pictures from anywhere and lets you create videos out of them. I created a sample video using Animoto. You can import pictures from your computer, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, Facebook and so on.


Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Lunch for the lasses

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Last weekend, one of my wife's friends came over visiting. Needless to say I had to endure a weekend of gossiping and giggling. While they went about gallivanting around town, the task of cooking lunch was left to me.

So, I had the house to myself, which is not a bad thing. I have two recipes to write about. One is a very easy ghee rice and the other is a basic egg curry.



Ingredients:

1. Cumin seeds - 1 tablespoon

2. Cloves - 4

3. Sliced green chillies - 1

4. Vegetable oil - 3-4 tablespoon

5. Ghee / clarified butter - 3-4 tablespoons!

6. Cinnamon sticks - 1-2 teaspoon

7. Green peas - 1 cup

8. Salt - 1 teaspoon (or to taste)

9. Ginger strips - 4

10. Sliced carrot (juliennes) - 1

11. Pepper - 2

12. Basmati rice - 4 cups

13. Water - 8 cups

14. Coriander leaves - 1 bunch

15. Mace - 1

Recipe:

1. I used an electric cooker to make this dish.

2. Except the rice and coriander, add all the ingredients into the cooker. Saute for a few minutes.

3. Add the rice and water.

4. Cook until the rice…

Mother of all dishes

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Perhaps, this should have been my first recipe in this blog - Maa ki dal. That's what the dish is called in some places, honest! It happens to be the first dish I learnt from my mom. And it is also my favourite dish of all times. I can eat it 3 times a day, 7 days a week, for all the weeks of my life! So, it is really the mother of all dishes (pun intended!).

It is an quite easy dish to make and a perfect side dish for chappatis. Some probably find it a bit bland.



Ingredients:

1. Cumin seeds - 1 tablespoon

2. Chopped onion - 1

3. Sliced green chillies - 1

4. Vegetable oil - 3-4 tablespoon

5. Diced tomato - 1

6. Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon

7. Toor / Moong daal (Yellow lentils) - 1 cup

8. Salt - 1 teaspoon (or to taste)

9. Garlic cloves - 4

Recipe:

1. In a pan, heat the vegetable oil.

2. Add the cumin seeds, green chillies, garlic and onions. Saute for a few minutes.

3. Add the diced tomatoes. Continue sauteing until all vegetables are mashed together.

4. Add the turmeric powder.

5.…

Tech - A new search on the web

In a space dominated by Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines, there is a new one - Blekko.

Blekko seems to be specialising in search with a "social" twist to it. You can login to Blekko with you Facebook ID. Once you start searching, it shows you the results like other search engines. In addition, it shows if any of your friends have "Liked" the results. I would call it "social ranking or relevance". You can also filter the sites by Flickr or Youtube videos.

Somehow, I didn't find it to be an intuitive user interface. Also, how difficult is it for existing search engines to provide a similar features (like social relevance, custom search engine, filters) albeit in a different manner. One thing which I hope Bing and Google are toying over is allowing users to "share" their search. It can be done even today but in a manual sort of way, by sending someone the address from the browser.

My wife and I are not happy

There is a new gadget in the house. No, it's not a XBox Kinect or Apple iPad that's causing fights. It is a simple yet humbling gadget - a weighing scale.


It is only been in the house for a day and is already the the reason for much consternation, heartburn, depression and trauma. I hope we both soon get into the right side of the scale!

Ever noticed how a simple thing like a mirror or a weighing scale can be the bane or boon of our lives.

Tech - These will help you cook

For all you foodies out there, here are a couple of great ways to find recipes you are looking for. There is a beta site - Foodily.


It's a great a new approach. You can use this site to search various food sites. So, when you search for apple, it shows you all the apple related recipes from all the sites. You can then filter the recipes based on ingredients or sites etc.

Having said that, it looks like Foodily is stepping into "search engine" territory. All the indexing and searching that Foodily is doing, someone like a Google can do better. If you want, you can try the Food Recipe search engine that I created using Google custom search here. The user interface will not be as great as Foodily, but I suspect a Google would give more accurate or relevant results.

In the "general" search engine space, it is pretty much competition between Google and Bing. It will be interesting to see if either of them ventures into what I call "applied" search. Searc…