Song Review - Power of Love

Posted by Rajan Manickavasagam December 29th, 2012 Rating: 5 out of 5 Usually, covers of old songs pale in comparison to the original. The recent rendition of 'Power of Love' (originally by Frankie Goes to Hollywood) by Gabrielle Aplin goes against the convention and how! Gabrielle is a young and upcoming singer from Wiltshire, UK. She has been famous on Youtube with covers of other songs. The song is a haunting ballad with the strong vocals accompanied by the piano. Her voice is controlled, smooth and restrained. Throughout the song you expect her to break free with the vocals, but the restraint remains to the end, making the song stand out. This song was also used by the UK retailer John Lewis in their Christmas TV advertisement, with telling effect. It also captured the no. 1 spot in the UK charts and has been in the top 10 for a couple of months now. Hope we get to hear more from Gabrielle in future. Meanwhile, listen to the song from the link below.

Tech - Battle for shopping 'eyeballs'

As we enter the peak shopping period across some countries around the world, competition is increasing to capture customer's attention. For the past few years, there have been various techniques used in online, mobile trading channels​ to attract customers. Companies have resorted to building widgets, affiliate tools, price comparison websites/apps etc. The impact of 'showrooming' is only becoming too apparent in markets around the world. Recently, the 'pitch' to the customer is getting even more aggressive. Some recent notable developments - Windows 8 allows searching within applications (through the charms feature) - Amazon Search now baked into latest version (12.10) of free operating system Ubuntu - In some countries, default homepage of Mozilla Firefox browser has link to shopping add-on

Tech - Evolution of Google Search

In my previous article , I compared the evolution of google and bing. Now, google seems to be going deeper into it's knowledge graph.  The changes are becoming apparent for multi-word searches where a context can be derived. Try searching for  'daniel day lewis movies', 'tolkien books', 'murugan idli shop in chennai', 'london theatres'. The search results are completely transformed. I have to admit, I personally like the results. The results have a bit more coherence and context, not just a list of links to sites.  Search results from on 27-November-12. Click image to zoom. As with everything, there are both pros and cons to the knowledge graph. Pros: Use curated content in the knowledge graph to offset the current lack of integration with popular social networking sites like twitter and facebook. Mitigate the risk of content moving behind paywalls (example - news) or state intervention (as being proposed in France, Ge

Savour the time

Savour the time Turin is one of Italy's foremost industrial and cultural centres. Befitting that status, the slow food movement started from this city. Turin recently hosted the international slow food festival . Today's recipe is a tribute to the slow food movement. As much as the food, it matters that you also savour the time you spend making it. Sambar is a pretty common dish in south India. Here is a variation with some mango in it. Contributed by  Rajan Manickavasagam . Published  25. November 2012 Mixed Vegetable Sambar Ingredients 1 green chilli 2 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 chopped red onion 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste 1 sliced drumstick 2 diced small aubergines 1 diced raw mango 1 diced tomato  1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste) 1 teaspoon of turmeric 1 tablespoon of sambar powder 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder 1 cup of moong daal (split yellow lentil) 1 teaspoon of asafoetida 1 tablespoon of crushed black peppe

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

Summer Soup

Summer Soup Usually in the summer months, I prefer light food. Soups fit the bill perfectly. I tried a soup with a fruity twist to it. Contributed by  Rajan Manickavasagam . Published  29. July 2012 Summer Soup Ingredients 1 green chilli 2 tablespoon olive oil 1 chopped red onion 3 peeled garlic cloves 2 diced carrots 20 diced pieces of pumpkin 3 slices of musk melon 1 tablespoon of olive oil with dried basil 8 pieces of chopped ginger  1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste) 1 tablespoon of crushed black pepper  1 peeled and sliced cucumber Instructions Heat the olive oil in a pan. Sauté the onions, green chilli and garlic for a few minutes. Add the carrots, pumpkin, cucumber and musk melon. Cook them until they are soft Add the salt and black pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Remove the vegetables from the heat and allow it to cool. Blend the vegetables in a food processor. Add water or milk based on the consistency you want.  S

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,

Banana Spread

Banana Spread Bananas are probably the favourite fruit for most people, I am no exception. I had a few bananas going very ripe, so I had whip up something quickly with them. Here is an easy recipe to make a spread out of bananas. Contributed by  Rajan Manickavasagam . Published  12. July 2012 Ingredients 2 ripe bananas 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder 3 peeled cardamoms 2 tablespoon honey Instructions Remove the seeds from the cardamom pod. Add all the ingredients and mash them using a hand blender. Ensure that the mash has a thick spread like consistency. Refrigerate the spread overnight. The spread can be used as a topping for bread, pancakes, cornflakes, oats or ice cream.  Happy eating. Further details Serves  3-4 people . Preparation time is approximately  5 min . Cooking time is approximately  5 min .

Tech - Search: Curation versus Algorithm

For those who remember the early days of the internet, they will be familiar with the free web hosting sites like Geocities. Before Geocities was taken offline, it's content was archived and is now available for download as a 650 GB torrent. While this seems like a large amount of data, it is estimated that around 2,551,568,697 GB data per day was created in 2011! While the earlier days of the internet were largely image and text based content,  data today is in the form of images, text, social media posts, videos, businesses, services and user generated content. All this only increases our dependency on search engines. More than the challenge of indexing all the data, search engines are starting to grapple with relevancy of results. The added complication is that some of the social media and other sites are not publicly available to be indexed. The two main search engines - Google and Bing seem to be taking markedly different approaches. Fundamentally, the approach is relyin

Frittatas for breakfast

Frittatas If you are looking for an easy breakfast for a Sunday morning, frittatas fit the bill perfectly. It is healthy, filling and easy to make. Contributed by  Rajan Manickavasagam . Published  20. May 2012 Ingredients 1-2   tablespoons  olive oil 1  chopped garlic 1   teaspoon  pepper 1  chopped onion 1  diced carrot 1  diced potato 1  chopped mushroom 1  chopped tomato 1   teaspoon  of salt (or to taste) 3  eggs 1/2  cup milk Instructions Pre-heat the oven to 175 C for 5 minutes. Mix all the vegetables in a baking dish. Add salt, pepper and olive oil and toss all the vegetables. Bake all the vegetables in the oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and milk together. After the vegetables are cooked, pour in the egg and milk mixture into the vegetables. Bake for a further 15 minutes and the frittata should be ready. Happy eating. Further details Serves  3-4 people . Preparation time is approximately  10 min . Coo