Lincoln is a unique biopic. Most biopics try to show a person’s whole life. Lincoln explores just the final months of Lincoln’s life.
We tend to think of leaders like Lincoln as larger than life. We think of them as people ahead of their time who make people buy their vision for a better world through sheer force of personality. Here, Lincoln is a weary politician who believes his emancipation proclamation is necessary for his country. He needs the elected representatives to approve the proclamation and has to resort to political machinations to see his vision fulfilled. It is about a normal person, his trials and his extraordinary efforts to change a country.
The genius of Spielberg is evident throughout the movie. It is not just about what he depicts but also, what he decides to leave out. An Abraham Lincoln biopic without Gettysburg address? No public speeches? No Civil War?. His Abraham Lincoln is just a character in the story. He never towers over the movie by design. He shines on his own because he is the purest man on display. This is Spielberg’s best work since Schindler’s List.
Spielberg is aided by great performances from his cast. James Spader is immense as the lovable rogue. Tommy Lee Jones is phenomenal. Sally Field shines as Mary Todd Lincoln who is Abraham Lincoln’s pillar of strength.
Daniel Day Lewis IS Lincoln. All other nominations for best actor are just formalities. Daniel Day Lewis’s Lincoln is a calm, confident, honourable politician but a realistic one. He brings alive Lincoln’s burden of wartime presidency, his struggles with the representatives, his love for his family and above all, his willingness to do anything to get the amendment passed. The quiet, long drawn dialogues are a treat. You wait for him to speak in every scene he is in. The use of shadows in Lincoln’s most pensive moments is a brilliant decision which makes the viewers a part of his most personal times.
Watch Lincoln at all costs. It is a Spielberg at his best aided by Daniel Day Lewis at the height of his powers.
Flipboard is the killer application of iOS. It was the iPad App of the year in 2010. It is truly the next generation reading experience and used to be the single biggest software reason for owning an iOS device.
They decide to support Android and get screwed.
Flipboard had plans to release their software for select Android phones (http://flipboard.com/android/). It was a key item in demo of recently announced Samsung Galaxy S3.
Then someone stole it and made it available for any android phone.
Flipboard is a free app. However, if they don’t want to release it for all Android versions, they have the right to do so. Someone stole their product and made it available for everyone without their permission.
Flipboard is doubly screwed if Samsung had an exclusive contract with them.
Why would anyone create apps for Android if it is so easy to steal their software and give it away for free without their permission?
Terms of Service for Skydrive, Google Drive and Dropbox all say that your data is owned by you. Things are not so Black & White though.
SkyDrive ToS: However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting (“Posting”) your Submission you are granting Microsoft, its affiliated companies and necessary sublicensees permission to use your Submission in connection with the operation of their Internet businesses (including, without limitation, all Microsoft Services), including, without limitation, the license rights to: copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate and reformat your Submission;
Google Drive ToS: When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).
I am fully aware that Google is already indexing all my chats, emails etc. However, allowing Google to index my personal documents is a very different issue and something I am not ready for.
The difference in ToS arises from the motivations behind the products.
Google Drive and SkyDrive is one more step for Google and Microsoft to better their ad platforms. Hence, they need access to your content.
Dropbox has no interest in content of your documents. Their motivation is to solve a long existing problem.
Also, Dropbox is the best bet to remain platform agnostic in the long run. Google Drive on Android will always be better than on iOS (if they release it for iOS). SkyDrive will be better on Windows than Mac.
Lastly, any product which was wanted by Steve Jobs and got away is worth rooting for (http://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriabarret/2011/10/18/dropbox-the-inside-story-of-techs-hottest-startup/).
Spoilers Alert: Ranting and cribbing follow.
Keyboard Dilemma: QWERTY layout was created in 1874. The reason for the QWERTY layout was to avoid jamming by putting most common letters in hard to reach spots and thus, slowing down the typists (http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question458.htm). This is no longer the problem. So should companies recreate the keyboard layout to a more scientific one?
The first company to do that will die.
Gmail has moved to a new look which for want of a better word, sucks.
Gmail was more than an email service. it was a one-stop communication platform. Outlook wanted to be Gmail but couldn’t even come close. Gmail had inbuilt chat, labels, brilliant keyboard shortcuts, single page scroll, integrated calendar, cool apps like Rapportive, RTM on top of a fast, clean email panel. Not anymore. Its like they got bored of being the best web-based email out there and decided to let Hotmail & Yahoo catch up just for fun.
E-Gmail treats your labels as a step-child. Current interface has space for system labels + 4 user labels in “Compact” mode. Want to see more labels? Move cursor to the labels panel, wait for it to open up and show you 5-6 more. If you have more labels, click on More and scroll down.
Earlier, all labels defined as Show would show up on the left hand side. No scroll, no wait.
I love labels. I have labels for everything- pending bills, bank statements, annoying friends, FB updates, holiday plans, important chats etc. I could mark relevant labels as show and they will be on the UI. I could see if I had any bank statement or pending bill by the number of unread emails in corresponding label. Now I tend to miss those emails unless I go looking for them or clutter my inbox with them. And credit card companies do not accept this as an excuse for late payment.
Gchat was the USP of Gmail. Mark a contact as “Always Show” and you can ping them anytime. Not so much anymore.
I have about 20 contacts marked as “Always Show”. Earlier it was simple. Use the scroll on your mouse to scroll down, find the contact and click to ping.
Now, if you have friends whose names don’t start with “A”, go to the chat panel, activate the independent scroll, scroll down and find the person. Unnecessary, additional work.
Yes, chat can be moved to the right. Just like people might get used to using a different keyboard. After 5 years of having chat on the left, I have to move it to right to use it effectively for no reason. And then what about Rapportive or other apps which use the right hand side?
Remember Gadgets? You could have calendar, Remember the Milk under your chat window accessible through a single scroll. Now, gadgets can be accessed by a miniscule icon at the bottom. Again, unnecessary change.
What’s with the Themes?
The new default theme looks better with sunglasses on. Go ahead, try it. None of the new themes are worthy of trimming the toe-nails of earlier Gmail. If I wanted pebbles or sunsets or mountains as background, I would using Bing.
The interface is cluttered with icons and scroll bars. Has Google ditched the minimalistic design philosophy?
The Eye of Sauron?
This is less a grudge and more an observation. The black bar order is: +You, Search, Images, Maps, Play, Youtube, News, Gmail, Documents, Calendar, Orkut, Translate, Books, Blogger, Reader, Photos. It reminds me that Google wants all my data.
I have never ever searched from my mailbox. With both Firefox and Chrome supporting search from address bar, I don’t open Google.com except to check out the doodles. Out of the 16 options on the address bar, the only relevant one is Documents.
None of the links is relevant to the way Gmail is supposed to be used. Gmail was a communication platform. E-Gmail is a wannabe portal.
If you want to push a header bar at users, at least let them re-arrange them the way they want to.
Yes, none of the changes adds minutes to the Gmail experience just like a stray cow crossing the road doesn’t actually add hours to your drive, it just feels like it. It adds to the annoyance and makes the user experience worse.
Why can’t I revert back to the old look if I don’t like the new look. Isn’t Google supposed to be an Open company? Where is my choice?
Google pioneered the minimalistic look. They made it cool to have one text box and nothing else on the website landing page. Where does that design philosophy reflect in the new interface?
So why is Google doing this to itself? Answer is one word: Plus.
The E-Gmail has 4 hooks in Google+. +Name in the black bar. +Share next to your profile pic. Notifications update next to your profile pic. Circles icon to filter your mail based on your Google+ circles. This is like having more bathtubs than taps in a bathroom.
Dear Google, it is Gmail. It is your 2nd biggest hit of all time. Why would you screw it up to push a social product on people? Didn’t you do this with Buzz? Didn’t Microsoft get sued for doing something similar?
I never thought I would say it but as of now, Yahoo has a better interface than Gmail.
Outlook plus Gtalk is better value than E-Gmail. Gmail > (Outlook + Gtalk) > E-Gmail. Don’t believe me. Try doing that for a week. I have.
Bane is another one of those sane madmen that Batman specializes in antagonizing. Bane is also known as the guy who "Broke the Bat"
Bane possesses genius level intellect (Ra’s Al Ghul says "Bane has a mind equal to the best he has known" & Ra’s Al Ghul is over 500 years old) with a eidetic memory. He is one of the few villains to have deduced Batman’s identity on their own.
Bane draws his strength from Venom, an addictive steroid that grants superhuman strength to the user. Physically, Bane is an unstoppable juggernaut.
Intelligence, strength coupled with tactical, strategic thinking and oodles of patience make Bane one of the most fearsome villains around. Think of him as an "Evil Will Hunting" with physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger from Predator or Hannibal Lecter with 25" biceps.
Finest Hour: Upon deducing that Bruce Wayne is Batman, Bane realized that full on frontal assault against Batman is at best, a coin flip. So, he broke into Arkham and frees all the inmates including Joker, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Penguin etc. Batman spends 3 months capturing all of the escaped convicts. At the end of 3 months, an exhausted Batman returns to his home, batcave, and finds Bane waiting for him. In the epic fight that follows, Bane breaks the back of Batman rendering him a paraplegic. With Batman out of the way, Bane becomes the king of the underworld (Knightfall story arc)Tom Hardy put on 30 lbs to play the role of Bane and the result makes me fear for Batman. I was skeptical about Hardy being able to do justice to an iconic role like Bane but seems Christopher Nolan has once again pulled off a casting coup.The Dark Knight Rises releases July 20, 2012. Countdown begins
If wishes were horses, India would canter to the throne and become world champions. Everyone wants India to win the World Cup. Indians want it for Sachin. Advertisers want an Indian victory as it will maximize their revenues. ICC would love an Indian victory as it will fill their coffers and make cricket’s popularity go through the roof in its biggest market. Politicians want India to win as it will take the spotlight away from the scams. Lets face it: scam of 1,00,000 crore vs India winning the World Cup. What will make the front page?
Just one minor issue. It will not happen.
In many ways, India is to cricket what England is to football. Most glamorous and cash rich league. Check. Great team on paper. Check. Crazy, passionate fans. Check. Insane media coverage. Check. Unrealistic expectations of winning everytime. Check. 1 World Cup win in history. Check.
It is no coincidence that the best moments in India’s cricket history have come when nobody gave them a chance. WC 1983 was supposed to be a walkover for West Indies. Twenty20 WC 2007 had India as one of the underdogs with a young, inexperienced team. India performs to its best when there is no expectation and no pressure to win.
But this time, pressure is unbelievable. 15 cricketers carry a nation’s hopes which comes with a fine print. If you fail, there is going to be payback in the form of burning effigies, pelting stones and media assassination. How many batsmen will be able to take this pressure when the asking rate climbs above 7 or 8 in a knockout match? Who are the bowlers who can run through a batting line up or even contain the batsmen when going gets tough? Indian bowlers barely defended 338 on a home pitch against an English batting lineup which is one of the weakest when it comes to power hitting.
So if not India then who?
Spin is Australia’s Achilles’ heel and the 4 teams from subcontinent have enough spin power to take advantage of this fact. Also, batting is too dependent on the top 3 with Michael Clark no longer the force he was.
The first team that comes to the mind of a cricket fan on hearing “chokers” is South Africa. They have always had a star studded lineup but have not made it to the finals even once. Their run depends upon their ability to hold their nerves and reading the Duckworth Lewis table right. Historical evidence says this is quite unlikely.
Sri Lanka are strong favourites being the co-hosts and have a balanced attack. The middle order does not seem like it is suited for late order hitting. Their fortune might depend on performances of Matthews.
That brings me to my prediction for this world cup- Pakistan to win their second world cup. A bitter pill to swallow for Indian fans but all evidence points to it. Last world cup for the likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq and possibly Shahid Afridi. Good batting lineup, complete bowling attack. Power hitters like Afridi, Umar Akmal and Abdul Razzaq.
Pakistan stunned the world in 2009 ICC World Twenty20 and gave Pakistani fans something to cheer about at home. The situation is worse as their best bowlers have been banned and there are no matches of a subcontinental World Cup in their country. Once they get a feeling of “Us against the world”, Pakistan become unstoppable. The “cornered tigers” as they are aptly called.
Cricket World Cup is an oddity in many ways. The format changes in every edition. This edition practically requires that the winner wins 3 matches on a trot as qualification to the Quarter Finals is virtually guaranteed to 7 test playing nations (The toss up for 8th place is between Bangladesh and West Indies). 3 matches to win with the biggest prize at the end of it? Pakistan might surprise us all again. Although on second thought, is it a surprise when a team surprises you again and again?
Ebook readers have been around for quite some time and have been scorned by bibliophiles. The argument being that ebook readers cannot replicate the experience of reading a real book. Amazon took on the challenge in 2007 with their first Kindle. It has taken 3 iterations and 3 years but Amazon has finally cracked it. The new 3rd edition Kindle (6 inch display) is almost the perfect ebook reader.
"The Scoundrel Christ". Many authors have made a living out of fictionalizing the dark side of Christianity but most have steered clear of taking any pot shots at the son of God. Philip Pullman is clearly not pulling any punches but as the back side states, "This is a Story" or more accurately his fictionalized version of the bible.
Undoubtedly, Jesus Christ is the most influential man ever. He is the central figure of Christianity, the most powerful religion in the world. Wars have been and are still being fought over his teachings. However, as the book states "There is time, and there is what is beyond time. History belongs to time, but truth belongs to what is beyond time". History is the chronicled text which survives the test of time but is history always the same as the truth? Bible is the chronicled story of Jesus Christ but is it the true story of Jesus Christ?
Christ is not a name but a title. Christ is Hebrew for Messiah believed to be the savior of humanity. Jesus of Nazareth was bestowed the title of Christ and over centuries became Jesus Christ. The book separates the man from the messiah by literally creating two different identities. It is an ingenious way to look at the son of God.
"The Good Man Jesus" is an influential, charismatic, extrovert preacher teaching men to take care of fellow men, to follow the commandments, to be good, to be modest, to practice abstinence etc. In the story, Jesus is not all white and his his human flaws. He gets angry with his followers, his family, priests and even with God. He has the power to perform miracles but is reluctant to use them all the time. Above all, he does not give a damn about creating and propogating a religion in the name of God and believes that Kingdom of God will come by itself.
"The Scoundrel Christ" is the shy, introspective side kick who thinks like a messiah while staying in shadow of Jesus. Christ has big ideas about creating a church of God, with majestic temples, huge palaces, a body of believers who act under the authority of one supreme director, a regent of God on earth. Christ fervently believes that this is the way to bring Kingdom of God to earth and tries to convince Jesus. This leads to tensions and issues between brothers with both doing things in their different ways.
The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ is a short rewriting of the story of Jesus Christ and a contribution to Cannongate Myth Series. The author, Philip Pullman (Dark Trilogy), a staunch atheist, has dissected the myth of Jesus Christ and come up with a masterpiece. Thinly veiled insults at the Church like Jesus himself saying I can imagine some philosphical smartarse of a priest in years to come pulling the wool over his poor followers’ eyes: "God’s great absence is, of course, the very sign of his presence", Jesus having doubts over what God wants, the dilemma faced by Christ are the highlights of this thought provoking read.
The book is also a showcase for the power of story telling. History is chronicled text which gets embellished over time and gets further away from the truth without becoming a lie. Hence, Christ the chronicler defines Christianity and not Jesus the preacher. Time has merged the two into a single entity and Philip Pullman tries to separate the two. It is a tragic story of two brothers with one becoming a God even if he doesnt want to because his chronicler brother wanted him to be with a deeply disturbing, poignant end. A must read on religion, God and history.
Price: Rs 499/- at Landmark
Rs 389/- at Flipkart.com
Mar 2008: The dream comes true. I get my first Macbook Pro and name him Marvin after my favourite fictional android. (Yeah, I name my gadgets. I am geeky. Live with it).
July 2008: NVIDIA acknowledges a packaging defect on 8600M GT graphics processor which affects Macbooks and Macbook Pros manufactured between May 2007 and September 2008. Apple increases warranty of Motherboards with NVIDIA 8600 M GT (including Marvin) to 3 years from date of manufacture. Check out the details on http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2377
1700 hrs, Jan 3, 2010, Day Zero: Marvin refuses to boot kicking off one of the worst starts to a new year till date. HDD is working, fans are whirring but no video on the screen. I panic and rush Marvin to nearest iMagine store at Forum, Koramangala. 1700/- to take a look at Marvin and 2 days to report back. Anything you want my friend but please get him back to life
Day 2: iMagine- We need 2 more days
Day 4: iMagine- Operating System is corrupt. We need the Operating System DVDs which we said are not required when you gave us Marvin
Day 5: I submit Operating System DVDs to iMagine.
iMagine- Sir, give us 2 hours to install
Me- Going and coming back in Bangalore traffic !! I think I will just loiter around.
2 hours later
iMagine- Sir, we need 2 more hours to install
Me- Screw you, I will collect it tomorrow
Day 6: iMagine- We installed OS, formatted your HDD for the issue and realized that issue is not with OS but with Motherboard. We need 2 more days for analysis
Day 8: iMagine- The Motherboard is screwed up. We need to replace it. It is out of warranty and will cost you Rs 70,000 only. Yeah, we sell a new Macbook for 85,000 and want you to pay Rs 70,000 to replace just MB of your Mac. We are not joking around or anything.
Day 9: I find out about the issue with NVIDIA chipset, do some research, discover that the issues mentioned on Apple’s site are exactly the same as the ones I am facing.
Day 10: I call up iMagine and tell them about the Nvidia issue and also that it is covered under warranty.
Day 12: iMagine- We checked your Motherboard again and guess what, the issue is with whole, complete motherboard and not just the graphics chipset. We can see that your HDD is working, the fans are whirring, the OS is booting as we can hear the Apple startup chime but all these things happen even if the motherboard has gone kaboom. We need to replace your MB and it will cost you Rs 70,000.
Me- What do I look like? A Manager? I am a Computer Engineer and you are trying to take me for a ride on a computer related issue.
Tech Info: If the MB has gone kaboom, the computer will refuse to perform any action. ZERO. There will be no HDD sounds, no OS startup, nothing.
Day 13: I pick up Marvin back. Curse the iMagine staff. Try to educate their engineers and cough up 1700/- for them doing absolutely nothing.
Day 14: I find out about BCT. Another Apple authorized service provider situated in MG Road. I ship Marvin to them and inform them about the suspected issue.
Day 15: BCT- The issue is with NVIDIA chipset. Your MB will be replaced for free. However, the HDD is not working and is damaged. We need to replace the HDD which will cost 5k and will take 2 weeks to change as HDD is not in stock.
Note: HDD was working and booting when Marvin was given to iMagine
Day 30: BCT- We have replaced the HDD, Motherboard and reinstalled the OS. You can come and pick it up. Total charges: 6700/-
It has been almost 20 days since I got back Marvin and I have not faced any issue so far (fingers crossed).
Moral of the Story: iMagine is jazzy and cool looking. Under the hood, they suck when it comes to customer service or technical support. If you own an Apple gadget and face an issue, do not, do not go to iMagine. You will save a lot of dough, avoid unnecessary headache and the feeling of wanting to hurt their staff that comes from listening to their inane arguments. Search around on the internet, find out the exact issue and go to some other authorized service provider (I recommend BCT) but not iMagine