Showing posts with the label General

The Many Faces of Val Kilmer

Tribute to The Saint This is a tribute long overdue. To the movie and one of my favorite actors - Val Kilmer. He’s had many successful movies, but perhaps a favorite of mine is “ The Saint ” from 1997. And, the luminescent Elizabeth Shue provides an apt foil for Val Kilmer. In keeping with the namesake in the movie, the original soundtrack for the movie by Graeme Revell is medieval and atmospheric. In a recent interview, the “Past Lives” actress Greta Lee describes Val Kilmer in this movie being one of her early inspirations. While the movie “The Saint” is not seen as a critical or commercial success, if it inspired a brilliant actress, who can complain. In the movie, Val disguises himself after Catholic saints. As a "Saint Head", something I always wanted to understand a bit more, a background of all the Catholic saints that crop up in the movie.  Simon Magus Val Kilmer as the character “Simon, The Magician” Simon Magus is a controversial figure in Christian history. He is

Light and Dreams

  Lights and Dreams  I drink in your sight, Along with bursts of morning light. As the shadows disappear, Our dreams appear. A short poem inspired by the haiku format.

Book Review - The Price of Being Fair

Overview  As the FairPrice group in Singapore completes 50 years, "The Price of Being Fair" book is a timely story of it's birth and evolution. The book has been authored by Sue-Ann Chia and Shing Huei Peh. While being true to history, the book has nuggets of "behind the scenes" information, given the time the authors have spent with various leaders at FairPrice. The book is already a best seller according to Kinokuniya book store. At under 200 pages, it makes for a breezy read. The Usual Suspects Having worked in retail industry for over two decades, the travails of  NTUC FairPrice seem familiar to me. A retail CEO once remarked that retail is a pretty "public" industry. There is not much behind which a retail business can hide. As such, retailers often have to follow the aspirations and concerns of the communities and customers they serve. The journey of FairPrice from being an EDLP (everyday low price) retailer to one having multiple formats, busin


Together  I see the sun set in you eyes. A sky full of stars, fills my sight. A short poem inspired by the haiku format.

Let Us Say Grace

As we head into another new year, the calendar has changed to 2018. But the differences in the world continue to remain. As long as the human condition prevails, these differences will always exist. These differences periodically surface as flash points in politics, economics, societies, arts and personal freedoms. Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell (Source - Wikipedia) There is a painting "Saying Grace" by the iconic American illustrator Norman Rockwell. It was created for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1951. As is characteristic of Norman Rockwell paintings, it captures an ordinary moment with extraordinary detail. A boy and his mother say their prayers in a restaurant before a meal in a restaurant. We can also see the reactions of the other diners, some fully, some partially and some not at all.  What is truth? What is justice? What is equality? What is morality? Before we even debate these topics, we must search for the meaning of them individ

Fiio and Sony - Music to the ears

Fiio is a relatively unknown brand in India when it comes to portable music players. The Chinese company manufactures reasonably priced high resolution digital audio players. The Fiio X1 player is the entry level model. It is built using aluminium, making it light for everyday use. It has a basic user interface similar to the earlier Ipods. The key to the player producing great sound is the separate DAC chip - Texas Instruments PCM 5142 and an Intersil Amplifier. In addition, the player can play a variety of audio file formats (FLAC, MP3, WMA, AAC, ALAC, WAV And OGG). Now, that we get professional grade sound from the player, we need a professional grade headphone to listen to the music. The Sony MDR 7506 has been around for decades unchanged. It handles all genres of music effortlessly and cleanly. There is almost no distortion, be in the vocals or the background music. For those who are keen listeners of music, I would recommend the Fiio X1 (Gen 1 or 2) and the Sony

Musings from a Decade

So far, I have had a career in technology spanning 17 years. Recently, I completed 10 years in my current organization. I had the opportunity to work with great leaders, articulate managers, creative technical experts and incredibly hard working developers. While 10 years in an organization is a milestone, there are others who have served for many decades. In the words of the American poet Robert Frost, "There are miles to go before I sleep".  I was reflecting on the decade gone by. Here are a few musings for a fulfilling career. The Astrologer's Dilemma This is a folktale from Birbal. He was the advisor to the Mughal emperor Akbar. Birbal once had a merchant as his neighbour. The merchant's fancy was to constantly consult astrologers about his fate. An astrologer once read the merchant's palm and predicted various things. Towards the end, he also proclaimed that the all the near and dear ones would die before the merchant himself. This enraged the

The true independence day

All countries celebrate an independence or a national day. The week went by with India celebrating yet another independence day, it's 65th.  Flags were flying on all the roads and vehicles. Patriotic music blaring from the speakers in apartment complexes (and this from people who look down on poor people doing the same). All of this contrasted with people of the north east fleeing from cities back to their home state because of some rumours. The irony could not be any more stark. Some Indians did not have the freedom even to live, work and study in their own country. Today, more and more people live in countries and cultures away from their own. And that is leading to a growing appreciation and tolerance of different communities, cultures, people, languages, customs and even food. As an old tamil poet once said "All the people are my people and all the villages I consider as my own". It is probably a utopian dream. True freedom for all is - freedom from inju

An Austin State of Mind

View of Austin from South Congress Avenue Earlier this year, my wife and I visited America for the first time. The first pit stop was to meet family and friends in Chicago. Some of my initial impressions were as expected - big roads, bigger cars, even bigger skyscrapers and you get the big picture. No puns there!  And then, we landed in Austin. As soon as stepped into Bergstorm Airport, the first sight that greeted me was the "Keep Austin Weird" t-shirts. Cities often try to project a polished or aspirational side to themselves, and here was a city unabashedly celebrating it's quirkiness. Then, there was the country music blaring in the airport, not some manufactured pop. Austin is known as the 'live music' capital of the world, there are  several live shows daily. I was already warming up to the city. Who says first impressions don't count. Over the next few days, we stayed with family near Round Rock. As we drove around the city and suburbs,

Importance of defining a problem

Image Credits: Often a problem is defined on it's own, something like 'I want to reduce traffic jams in a city'. The advantage of having an open statement like that is that it can be interpreted in different ways and people come up with various ideas and solutions. But, the downside is that a lot of time is spent in coming with the various solutions. Alternatively you could define the problem within a boundary. The same problem could be defined in other ways like - 'I want to reduce traffic jams in a city without building new roads' or 'I want to reduce traffic jams in a city without increasing public transport' etc. This way the problem and the constraints are known and therefore any further ideation, solution is more focussed. All this probably increases the chances of a solution being successful. Another way to define a problem is as a contradiction. An example would be - 'I want to create a

Why everyday should be a Friday

Surprise, I am writing this post on a Friday. It all started post lunch in the office with someone singing as they were working. Suddenly, the question of someone's age came up. And, then someone else was nominated the 'Daddy' of the group, by virtue of being the oldest! A few quips and laughs and people were quickly back to work. It's just once of those 'Friday' moments in work places all over the world. It's certainly something you don't see on a Monday. While I prefer a quiet work atmosphere, office banter keeps the spirits going and helps people bond. And, probably it will be good if every day were a 'Friday'. Nevertheless, happy weekend.

Hell hath no fury

Nature has often been quoted as a an ally of Japan. The most famous instance being the "kamikaze" or "divine wind". When Japan was threatened by Mongol invasion in the 12th century, typhoons destroyed the invading naval armada and saved Japan. But, yesterday Japan was a victim of a nature's fury and power. It suffered from one of the deadliest earthquakes and tsunami. This tsunami is several times bigger than the one that hit the Indian ocean in 2004. While the exact reasons or cause for the earthquake and tsunami are being worked out, The world is already aware of the massive scale of destruction. The japanese people are one of the most prepared against such natural disasters. But, in this case, it may be too much to bear for them too. To see a 20-30 foot high wave travelling at 500 km / hr must be terrifying. As seen on TV screens around the world, it looked like a scene out of the movie - 2012. Hopefully, much of the damage can be repaired soon and th

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

Birds of prey

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!

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.

Winds of change

Sekhmet, the daughter of the powerful Egyptian god Ra is known as the protector of good and destroyer of evil. According to mythology, blazing desert winds are supposed to radiate from her body. A sudden gust of wind seems to be sweeping across the middle east. First was the swift "jasmine revolution" which caused a change of the ruling government in Tunisia. Political commentators were quick to note that there was a potential for the change to sweep across the middle east. Looks like change is imminent in Egypt (at the time of writing the blog). It now remains to be seen, what will be the effect on the remaining countries. So sudden has the change been that some of the major countries have not had a chance to respond. There are some people who have attributed these changes to the latest avatar of the internet namely, social networking and all. But, I think at the most, the internet and increased communication has a marginal impact. The real reason seems to be that